WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND — WIMBLEDON, England -- Pete Sampras, known as The Gentleman of tennis, walked to the edge of the grass on Wimbledon's Court No. 1 and shouted at the old men in the bright red uniforms in the fourth row to stop "messing around" with the plastic bags they were passing among themselves.
In the post-match interview, a writer for one of the London tabloids cleared his throat and asked:
"Ah, Pete, did you know the men you told to 'Stop doing that!' were the Chelsea Pensioners, veterans of World War I?"
It was the only real misstep Sampras took all day. He dropped three consecutive games after the bag incident but handled Australian Neil Borwick, 6-7 (12-10), 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.
Sampras, 21, the world's No. 1 player, needed a good day. He came to the first-round match at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club bothered by a nagging problem in his right, serving shoulder.
That's not all that's bothering him. He hasn't won a Grand Slam tournament since the 1990 U.S. Open -- which is also his only Grand Slam victory.
bottom line is that I aim to be No. 1 at the end of the year, and I think the person who is there will have the best results in the Grand Slams," said Sampras after moving into the second round today against 58th-ranked Jamie Morgan. "Jim [Courier] won two last year. I'm No. 1 for right now, but I think it would mean more to me if I became No. 1 at the end of '93."
But the route he is taking is beginning to wear on him. He lost in the Australian Open semifinals to Stefan Edberg. He lost in the quarterfinals of the French to the unheralded but eventual winner Sergi Bruguera.
He lost in the Round of 32 at Queen's earlier this month and then developed his shoulder problem.
"I felt very unprepared for this match," Sampras said.
His physical problem started with a twinge of discomfort in his right shoulder and escalated to a pain so distressing that, by last Wednesday, he couldn't even brush his teeth.
Tests showed severe inflammation of a tendon, and his doctotold him to "play it by ear."
He took anti-inflammatory drugs, iced it and worked on "some strength stuff" and by Monday he began feeling better.
"I wasn't sure at all that I'd be able to play here," he said. "But my shoulder made giant steps since Sunday. It feels good. It didn't bother me at all in the match, and I'm really happy about that."
Andre Agassi caught it in the Daily Star yesterday. The paper ran side-by-side photos of Agassi last year and this, evidently showing he has shaved his stomach and his legs. After Monday's opening match, one journalist quipped: "He's very puffy, isn't he? He looks five months pregnant."
Shriver limited to doubles
Pam Shriver of Lutherville, Md., withdrew from singles competition here saying she has a left leg stress fracture. But she was still scheduled to play doubles today on Court 8.
KEY MATCHES TODAY
+ (Seeds in parentheses)
CENTRE COURT Steffi Graf (1), Germany, vs. Clare Wood, Britain; Pete Sampras Tampa, Fla., vs. Jamie Morgan, Australia; Boris Becker (4), Germany, vs. Alexander Volkov, Russia.
COURT 1 Joao Cunha-Silva, Portugal, vs. Andre Agassi (8), Las Vegas; Elizabeth Smylie, Australia, vs. Jennifer Capriati (7), Saddlebrook, Fla.; Sandon Stolle, Australia, vs. Michael Stich (6), Germany.