Inspired by his countrymen's gritty 3-2 win over England in April, Pete Sampras has decided to change his priorities and join Jim Courier and Todd Martin on the U.S. Davis Cup team for the rest of the year. Sampras said he intends to play doubles when the United States hosts Australia for a second-round tie next month, although captain Tom Gullikson left open the door for Sampras to slip into one of the two singles spots.
"I am just very sensitive to the idea of jumping on the bandwagon," Sampras said. "That's the last thing I want to do. Those guys sacrificed to play in that first round and I didn't show the same commitment. But I am showing the commitment here by playing doubles and by playing for the rest of the year, if we get through this tie."
Sampras has not participated in Davis Cup competition since 1997, preferring to focus on retaining the No. 1 ranking. But some recent failures, including missing the Australian Open and an early-round exit at the French Open, altered his thinking.
He contacted Gullikson about joining the U.S. team in mid-April and also had discussions with Courier and Martin.
Gullikson will choose one more member for the U.S. squad in the next two weeks, although that person would not necessarily be Sampras's doubles partner. Sampras and Martin have played doubles together before, and Gullikson could decide to use Martin for both the singles and doubles matches. But he also reserved the right yesterday to place Sampras in the singles competition instead of either Courier or Martin, despite Sampras's protestations.
"Certainly Todd and Jim played great over in England, so they certainly deserve the first shot at the singles," Gullikson said. "But in the end we are a team, and . . . there is some flexibility in the selections of who plays what, where."