PETE SAMPRAS(U. S. A.)
Australian Open 1994,1997
US Open 1990,1993,1995,1996,2002
At his peak Pete Sampras was awesome. A lethal serve, formidable forehand and accurate volleys, allied to a great temperament, meant that he was virtually unstoppable, particularly on grass courts. A quiet and single-minded boy, Sampras set his sights on becoming a tennis champion. One of Samprasí early coaches, Dr Pete Fischer, taught Sampras his unreadable serve by telling him which direction to hit the ball after he had tossed it in the air. Originally a baseliner, Sampras worked hard as a youngster to become a serve volleyer so he could one day win Wimbledon. At the age of 19, Sampras beat Thomas Muster, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe before thrashing 20 year old Andre Agassi in the final to win the 1990 US Open. Everyone expected this to be the first of many successes but Sampras failed to impress in 1991. At Wimbledon 1992 he thrashed defending champion Michael Stich in the quarters before losing in the semis to Goran Ivanisevic in four sets. Sampras was runner up at the U.S. Open to Stefan Edberg in four sets. Edberg beat him again in the semis of the 1993 Australian Open in straight sets. In April Sampras took the number one spot away from his fellow countryman and childhood friend Jim Courier. Sampras beat Agassi in the quarters, Becker in the semis and Courier in the final to win Wimbledon. At the U.S. Open he overcame Cedric Pioline in the final in straight sets and took his third Grand Slam title in succession when he claimed the 1994 Australian Open beating Todd Martin in straight sets in the final. At the French Sampras' winning streak came to an end in the quarters where he lost to Courier. At Wimbledon Sampras beat Ivanisevic in straight sets in a serve-dominated final. At the 1995 Australian Open Sampras had an epic comeback from two sets to love down against Courier in a five set quarter final. Sampras cried on court for his coach Tim Gullikson, who was stricken with brain cancer. Gullikson died a year later. In the final Sampras lost in four sets to Agassi. At Wimbledon he edged out Ivanisevic in the semis and beat Boris Becker in the final in four sets. At the U.S. Open Sampras beat Courier in the semis and overcame Agassi in the final in four sets. After overcoming Bruguera, Martin and Courier in five set epics Sampras was mentally drained and lost easily to Yevgeny Kafelinikov in the semis of the 1996 French Open. At Wimbledon he came up against an on form Richard Krajicek in the quarters and lost in straight sets. At the U.S. Open Sampras was involved in an epic quarter final with Alex Corretja. Sampras was sick on court and struggling with stomach cramps as they headed into a fifth set tie break. Corretja held match point which Sampras saved with a lunge volley to make the score 6 points all. Sampras stood doubled up on the service line and hit a lame first serve long. Then, suddenly, he stood up to his full height and banged in a second serve ace to set up match point. Corretja double faulted to hand Sampras the match. Sampras went on to beat Ivanisevic in the semis and Chang in the final to claim his fourth U.S. Open title. Then he took the 1997 Australian Open, beating Muster in the semis and Carlos Moya easily in the final. At Wimbledon he beat Pioline in straight sets in the final. At Wimbledon 1998 he was a set down in the final against Ivanisevic before grinding out a tight second set tie break and going on to win in five sets. At the U.S. Open Sampras was outplayed by Pat Rafter in the semis. Sampras retained his Wimbledon title in 1999, an awesome serving display accounting for Agassi in the final. Agassi got his revenge in the semis of the 2000 Australian Open in an epic five setter. At Wimbledon 2000 Sampras considered pulling out with an injury early on in the tournament, but he played on and made it through to the final. There he beat Rafter in four sets to finally overtake Roy Emerson's record of 12 Grand Slam titles. This great milestone achieved, Sampras seemed to lose motivation for the game. Marat Safin thrashed him in the final of the US Open. The following year he lost in the fourth round at Wimbledon to rising star Roger Federer and was humiliated in the US final by another youngster Lleyton Hewitt. In 2002 Sampras suffered a poor loss to lucky loser Georg Bastl in the second round at Wimbledon. He came into the US Open with no form under his belt, but after surviving a five setter with Greg Rusedski in the third round, he beat Tommy Haas, Andy Roddick and Sjeng Schalken. In the final he overcame his old rival Agassi in four sets, despite suffering from fatigue. It proved to be the last match in Sampras' glittering career. Although Sampras retired having won his last Grand Slam tournament it would be wrong to think he retired at his peak. By the end of the 1990s he was making more unforced errors on his groundstrokes and he was slower around the court. As an injured Sampras was involved in the early rounds of Wimbledon 2000, a lot of pundits said that he had no chance of winning the tournament and thought that even without the injury he was over the hill anyway. Sampras proved them wrong and did so again at the U. S. Open two years later when it seemed impossible that Sampras could win the event. This is because Sampras retained the ability to conserve energy and raise his game on the big points. Also he could usually rely on his phenomenal service, made all the more devastating because his second serve was so good. Even Agassi, one of the best returners in the game, was often at a loss to know where Sampras was going to serve the ball. Back in 2000 when Sampras won his thirteenth Grand Slam title to go ahead of Emerson, there were many who thought that Sampras' record would never be equalled. Yet less than a decade later Roger Federer was on course to do just that. It may be that other dominant players in the future will win even more titles, though it seems unlikely that anyone will ever surpass Ken Rosewall's record of 26 Grand Slam/Pro Slam titles.
© GRAND SLAM TENNIS ARCHIVE
HEAD TO HEAD Win-Loss: A.Agassi 6-3, B.Becker 3-0, S.Bruguera 1-1, M.Chang 4-1, A.Costa 2-0, J.Courier 6-2, S.Edberg 0-2, R.Federer 0-1, L.Hewitt 1-1, G.Ivanisevic 4-1, Y.Kafelnikov 1-1, P.Korda 1-1, R.Krajicek 1-1, I.Lendl 2-0, J.McEnroe 1-0, C.Moya 1-0, T.Muster 3-0, Y.Noah 0-1, P.Rafter 2-1, A.Roddick 1-0, M.Safin 2-2, M.Stich 1-0, M.Wilander 1-0
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