Sampras burns on the inside. Otherwise he wouldn't keep seeking out those never-satisfied types like Fischer and, now, Pat Etcheberry.
Sampras recently was lying on the floor of a sweltering garage in Saddlebrook, Fla., heaving. He was in the midst of a workout, preparing to defend his U.S. Open title. "No air conditioning at the Open," said Etcheberry, the Marquis de Sade-like trainer who has also been responsible for the physical development of Jim Courier and Sergi Bruguera.
Six days a week Etcheberry puts Sampras through routines: sprints on a stationary bike, lifting 500 pounds on a leg press, throwing a medicine ball around the room and doing abdominal crunches to the point of screaming. On this day Etcheberry piled more weight on the leg press. "Pat, Pat. I have 10 more of these to do," Sampras pleaded. Etcheberry responded by putting on yet another plate of weight.
"Inflation," Etcheberry said.
Sampras claims Etcheberry knows him better than anybody else these days. They have worked together since 1990, when Sampras had a reputation for being nonchalant. Etcheberry needed one 20-minute jog to know differently. "He has to be a half step in front the whole time," Etcheberry says. "And if you get a half step in front of him, he turns it into a race."
Recently Etcheberry discovered something else about Sampras. The longer he's No. 1, the more ambitious he gets. "Most guys, when they win, they want to take a break," Etcheberry says. "Not this guy."
No matter how big the trophy, Sampras has already started working toward the next title by the morning after. "It's all about winning," Sampras says. "It's all I really care about. It's the only thing and everything. I'm obsessed."