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post #31 of 34 (permalink) Old 07-30-2005, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Out Of Bounds - Sampras

Guide - History

Wimbledon Legends: Pete Sampras

©Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum

With seven Wimbledon Championships - 14 Grand Slam titles in all – Pete Sampras has the most outstanding record of any of the men's Champions. Although the records and statistics are the dry proof that Sampras was king in his time at the All England Club but sport is not just about numbers. What grips us, the lucky few who get to sit at the court side, is the passion, the fear, the blood, sweat and tears that separates the players from the champions and the champions from the truly great.

Passion? Sampras? Oh, my, yes. Sampras was never the most expressive or effusive of characters on court, but there was a fire in him that burned brightly and scorched all who came near it. His whole life was devoted to achieving greatness and then hanging on to it. For six years between 1993 and 1998 his every waking moment was consumed with the thought of winning and maintaining his position as world No. 1. He did it, too.

During that spell, he won five of his Wimbledon titles together with three US Open and two Australian Open trophies. But it was here at Wimbledon that he felt most at home. Here he was in his comfort zone, here he had a head start on any opposition. The mere fact of playing the great Sampras reduced all but the best to tatters and gave him a few points in the bag before the match had even begun.

Every year he would come to London from the French Open looking grim. He could never win in Paris and the fact hurt. But as soon as walked through the gates of the All England Club his spirits lifted and he became a different man. He won here when he was injured, he won when his form was at its lowest and he won when his critics had written him off. Put Pete on Centre Court and he was unstoppable. On one leg and in a blindfold and he was still unstoppable.

Then there were the occasions when Pete was in his pomp. The 1999 final against Andre Agassi was possibly the greatest display of grass court tennis that Wimbledon has ever seen. He had stumbled around the circuit for the first half of the year, winning nothing and looking miserable but then he went through that Lazarus moment as he returned to the grass. He won at Queen's and then began his campaign for The Championships.

Round by round he gathered momentum until he was ready for Agassi. His fellow American had just won the French Open, he was the story of the moment having hauled himself back from a ranking of 141 and reinvented himself as a champion. He was at his peak. And in the first set he had the temerity to manufacture three break points on the Sampras serve.

That was it. That was the moment Sampras moved from champion to genius. He snatched back the break points and then took off. For a couple of minutes Agassi shook his head and tried to work out what happened but by then the first set was gone and he was a break down in the second. It was not that Agassi was playing badly, it was just that Sampras was sublime.

"Today he walked on water," Agassi said later. Sampras said simply: "Sometimes I surprise myself." He ended on a second service ace - naturally.

He was back the next year for his last Championship victory at Wimbledon, beating Pat Rafter in an emotional rollercoaster of a Final. He came to London on the back of a serious back injury and not having won anything since March and again his chances were not great. He had even been beaten at Queen's two weeks before but still Wimbledon worked its magic on the man. And him on it. Even the tendinitis that had almost felled him in the early rounds was shaken off as Sampras wrote his own chapter in the history books.

It carried his tally of Grand Slams to 13, breaking Roy Emerson's record and establishing Sampras as one of the truly great figures of the game. That was one of the rare times he allowed the world to witness the pent up emotion that he had hidden for more than a decade. As the last point was played, he burst into tears and then raced off to embrace his parents seated high up in the stands.

In his last game before retiring, Sampras defeated Andre Agassi in the 2002 US Open final to total 14 Grand Slam titles in all.

Written by Alix Ramsay

Singles Champion: 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
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post #32 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-08-2005, 11:04 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Out Of Bounds - Sampras

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post #33 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-16-2005, 10:58 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Out Of Bounds - Sampras

Thursday, July 17
Sampras says he was misquoted
Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England -- Pete Sampras walked down the stairway to the parking lot after practice Sunday, hoping to stick around Wimbledon for the two weeks of this year's tournament and beyond.

A day before opening defense of his fourth consecutive title on the grass courts where he's virtually unbeatable, Sampras said he planned to keep playing "as long as I'm still enjoying it."

Sampras smiled after practicing for an hour under sunny skies. He didn't seem upset over a newspaper report that he could "call it a career" if he wins Wimbledon this year for the record eighth time.

"Total misquote," he said of the report in the Sunday Telegraph of London. The newspaper attributed its story to an interview Sampras did with TNT commentator Jim Courier, himself once the world's top-ranked player.

Portions of the transcript of the interview provided by TNT to The Associated Press quoted Sampras as saying, "In a perfect scenario, you'd love to play your last match here and win it and call it a career. Who knows what's gonna happen in the future? We'll see."

The quote reported by the newspaper was, "In a perfect scenario, I'd love to play my last match here this year, win it and call it a career."

Efforts to reach officials at the Sunday Telegraph for comment were unsuccessful. The weekly paper, with a separate staff from the Daily Telegraph, was closed until Tuesday and contact numbers for editorial staff were unavailable.

The TNT interview was scheduled to be aired Monday morning before the top-seeded Sampras' first-round match against unseeded Francisco Clavet of Spain.

So how long will Sampras keep playing?

"It's like (Michael) Jordan finishing," he said, looking back over his shoulder as he reached the parking lot. "One day."

For now, the 29-year-old Sampras is focused on Monday, when he's likely to start a much better run than he had last month at the French Open. He lost in the second round in straight sets to unseeded Galo Blanco of Spain on clay, his fourth consecutive exit from Paris in the first or second round.

On Wimbledon's grass, he has one loss in his last 54 matches. That would be 60-1 if he wins the final July 8.

On Sunday, Sampras was back on the fast surface that suits his game, and his concentration was sharp.

During one stretch, he hit four of seven serves off the top of the net and back on his side.

"That tape has to be high," he said to his coach, Paul Annacone. "I guarantee it."

Then one more serve slapped against the white net cord and landed on his side.

"I bet it's three-quarters of an inch high," Sampras said.

When his workout was over, he walked to the net and measured its height with his racket, showing no emotion. Then he left the court.

"It was a little high. He can tell," Annacone said.

How much higher than it should have been?

"Probably about three-quarters of an inch," Annacone added.
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post #34 of 34 (permalink) Old 08-16-2005, 11:03 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Out Of Bounds - Sampras

Thursday, July 17
Sampras hated grass courts at first
By Joe Lago

While growing up in Southern California, Pete Sampras learned to love the true bounces of hard courts. In fact, being weaned on them -- and possessing a powerful serve -- helped Sampras win the first of his record 13 Grand Slam titles at the 1990 U.S. Open at age 19.

"Everything," Sampras said of the fast, cement surface, "was perfect."

Of course, Sampras would learn to appreciate grass courts even more, particularly those at the All England Club.

Having won seven of the past eight Wimbledon singles titles, including four consecutive, Sampras has found a permanent place in his heart for the tournament he calls tennis' "Super Bowl." Still, it's somewhat remarkable that a skinny kid from Palos Verdes, Calif., would become one of the game's all-time, grass-court masters.

Barry MacKay, who gave a 17-year-old Sampras his first wild-card entry into a pro tournament in Northern California, has a logical explanation.

"When you think about it, the old fashioned California cement isn't that dissimilar from grass," said MacKay, a Wimbledon analyst for TNT. "It's fairly fast and the ball comes through pretty quickly, so a big serve like Pete's is rewarded. Even when Pete was growing up as a kid, it was faster then than today. It certainly helped that he grew up playing on that."

Sampras' first taste of grass courts was akin to a child's first sampling of spinach -- he hated it.

The first time he played Wimbledon in 1989, Sampras lost in the first round and suffered another one-and-done setback the following year. In 1991, he finally scored his first singles victory against Italy's Danilo Marcelino but got bounced by fellow American Derrick Rostagno in the second round.

"When I first came over here, the first three years, I didn't really enjoy grass," Sampras said Thursday on a teleconference call from England. "I thought it was a fast surface that was unfair. I kind of had a negative attitude towards the grass. I just didn't like the speed."

Sampras' coach, the late Tim Gullikson, decided to retool his prized pupil's game -- and attitude -- for Wimbledon. Gullikson shortened Sampras' strokes to compensate for the low bounce on grass. He also placed a bigger emphasis on service returns because, as Sampras pointed out, "that's how you win Wimbledon -- by returning serve well."

A new and improved Sampras returned to Wimbledon in 1992 and disposed of defending champion Michael Stich in the quarterfinals. He lost a tough, four-setter in the semifinals to eventual runner-up Goran Ivanisevic but came away with a new appreciation and zeal for sod.

Sampras would lose just once more in his next 54 matches at Wimbledon.

"Working with Tim definitely helped me to get over the hurdle of playing on grass," said Sampras, whose last singles loss at Wimbledon came against Richard Krajicek in the quarterfinals in 1996.

"I was nervous the first time I played there," he added. "Over the years, I've been out there so many times, it (Centre Court) is a comfortable court that I have grown to love. ... I feel like I'm at my court at home."

MacKay believes Sampras benefits from a homecourt advantage. By being the perennial top seed, Sampras has the luxury of playing his matches on the well-manicured lawn of Centre Court, which stays in better shape than the other courts over the tournament's two-week run.

"There's more running room there, too," said MacKay, who thinks the extra space allows Sampras to unleash one of his biggest weapons, the running cross-court forehand.

"You can do a lot of things there that you can't do on, say, Court 12, because of its size. Court 12 is like 60 by 100 feet. Centre Court is like 80 by 140 feet. That gives someone an advantage no matter who he's playing."

Sampras agreed.

"I'm very comfortable with (its) speed. I'm comfortable with the surroundings. ... It's a comfort level that I don't have to think twice about," he said.

"I love the court because it's small, intimate and you get to see the people. You play in some of these stadiums around the world and you don't feel connected to the people. With Wimbledon, you feel a certain connection."
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