Pete Sampras Biography [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

Pete Sampras Biography

angiel
11-16-2004, 02:06 AM
A BIOGRAPHY OF PETE SAMPRAS - by JockBio.com.Pete Sampras



Jordan, Gretzky, Tiger—in the last decade we have probably seen the greatest players in three different major sports. Make that four. Pete Sampras won more Grand Slam singles titles than any man living or dead, and he did it in the game’s most competitive era. He won as a teenager, he won in his 20s, and he is still a dominant presence on the pro tour in his 30s. There were no secrets to Pete’s success; what you saw with him is what you got. His attacking style and all-around arsenal offered opponents little in the way of openings—and nothing in the way of hope when he brought his A-game to the court. Hailed for his class and commitment, but criticized for his dishwater-dull personality, Pete stands as one of the most perplexing, surprising, frustrating champions tennis has ever known. This is his story…

GROWING UP
Pete Sampras was born on August 12, 1971, in Washington, D.C. His parents, Sam and Georgia, already had two children, Stella and Gus. Another girl, Marion, arrived after Pete. Sam’s parents were Greek; Georgia grew up there with six sisters and two brothers. She didn’t come to the U.S. until she was 25. Not surprisingly, Greek culture was an important part of Sampras family life. As a kid, Pete attended Greek Orthodox Church services every Sunday with his parents and siblings.

Sam and Georgia also taught their children the value of hard work and discipline. Pete’s father had two careers, one as an aerospace engineer for the Department of Defense and a second as part-owner of a delicatessen. Georgia was a beautician at a local salon. She took the job when she first arrived in America, before she learned to speak English. Times were tough back then on her family, and she sometimes slept on a cement floor in their cramped apartment.

Sam and Georgia met in the late 1960s and got married within a year. He continued to work both jobs, while she stayed home to look after the kids. Sports and games were not priorities in the Sampras household. Pete discovered tennis on his own after finding an old wooden racquet. He first learned to play by hitting a tennis ball against the basement wall.

Pete’s parents decided to move the family to California after his seventh birthday. Georgia wanted to live somewhere warmer, in a climate closer to that of her homeland. Sam, meanwhile, had grown tired of the hectic schedule created by his two jobs. The family strapped all of its possessions onto the roof of their station wagon and drove across the country to Rancho Palos Verdes, near Los Angeles.

By now Pete’s passion for tennis was intensifying. His father noticed this, and often took Pete and Stella (who was also crazy about the sport) to courts near their new home. Though Sam knew little about tennis, he could tell his son was a natural. The youngster’s forehand was powerful and accurate. His backhand, a two-hander, looked like Bjorn Borg’s. The elder Sampras read as much as he could about the game, hoping to coach Pete himself. It was a short-lived experiment.





Sam next began looking for a coach for his son. He brought Pete to the Jack Kramer Tennis Club in Palos Verdes, where he assumed they would find a top teaching pro. Instead, Pete and Sam were approached by Pete Fischer, a pediatrician with a genius-level IQ. Fischer was an awful player with no coaching experience. Yet his philosophies on teaching kids made sense to Sam. With money tight, Fischer’s offer to work with Pete for free was too good to pass up.

Fischer focused mostly on the mental part of tennis. He wanted to transform his pupil—known back then as “Smilin’ Pete” because of his easy manner and goofy grin—into a steely competitor. Fischer showed Pete films of great players, and continually talked about the game’s history, referring again and again to the Grand Slam events. He also introduced him to some of the mind games he could play with opponents.

Before long Pete began competing on the junior circuit. It was Fischer’s opinion that he should hone his game against older players. When Pete debuted in the 12-and-Under division, he faced an opponent with considerably more experience and was beaten 6-0, 6-0. But that was expected, so no one panicked.




Over the next several years Pete developed into something of a phenom. By 1981, he knew he wanted to play tennis professionally. A win over David Wheaton, a highly ranked junior, helped make up his mind—even though he lost to Mal Washington the very next day. Pete set the bar high—he wanted to eclipse the record of 12 Grand Slam singles titles held by Roy Emerson. Pete’s idol was another Aussie legend, Rod Laver. He admired him both for his amazing versatility as a player and his wonderful sportsmanship. When Pete was 11, he had the opportunity to hit with Laver. He was speechless.

The following year, Pete started entering tournaments against players as old as 16. By 1984, he was one of the world’s top players for his age. But to take his game to the next level, Fischer recommended a major change, advising Pete to switch to a one-handed backhand. The teenager grudgingly agreed to try.

Pete’s life now revolved completely around tennis. He had no friends at school, and barely socialized with anyone away from the tennis court. He went home at lunchtime everyday, and spent his afternoons practicing at the Jack Kramer Tennis Club.

At first the hard work seemed pointless. Pete had trouble learning his new backhand, and his ranking plummeted. But with time he mastered the one-handed stroke. He also harnessed a devastating serve. In 1987, Pete was selected to play on the United States Junior Davis Cup team. Later in the year he beat top-seeded Michael Chang at the U.S. Open Junior Championships.

ON THE RISE
Pete joined the ATP Tour in 1988. His parents weren’t crazy about their teenage son turning pro, but there was little question that he was ready. He blasted his serve at well over 100 mph, his backhand was good enough to keep opponents at bay, and his forehand was strong and accurate. Pete’s instincts and athleticism also were strengths. He favored an attacking, serve-and-volley style. In his first year on tour, Pete entered 10 events, and won half of his matches. He ended the season ranked in the Top 100.

Pete jumped 19 spots to number 81 in the world ranking in 1989, claiming victories in 18 of 37 singles matches. The highlight of his sophomore season came at the Italian Open, where he and Jim Courier—a friend from his days as a junior—won the doubles championship. At the U.S. Open, Pete lasted until the fourth round. A short time later he decided to break away from Fischer, feeling there was nothing more he could teach him.

Pete broke through for his first ATP title in February of 1990, defeating Andres Gomez 7-6, 7-5, and 6-2 in the final of Philadelphia’s Pro Indoor Singles Championship. The win came a month after a strong showing in the Australian Open, during which he advanced to the Round of 16 before falling to Yannick Noah. In June he won another title in Manchester, England, which led many tennis insiders—including Fred Perry—to predict big things for him at Wimbledon. When Perry spoke, England listened. The tabloids dogged Pete and suddenly everyone seemed to know who he was. Unaccustomed to the hype, Pete lost in the first round to Christo Van Rensburg.




Pete rebounded from that disappointment and rose to number 12 in the rankings heading into the U.S. Open. After solid wins in the first four rounds, he met Ivan Lendl, then the world’s top-ranked player. The two were friends, and knew each other’s games well. Ten months earlier, Pete had spent time with Lendl at his Connecticut home in preparation for the Masters tournament in Madison Square Garden. The teenager noted his host’s rigorous training regimen; he was starting to understand the commitment and sacrifice it took to be #1. Their match was a titanic struggle. Pete took the first two sets, then Lendl stormed back to grab the next two. In the final set, Pete dominated with his powerful serve and near-flawless play at the net, and advanced to the semifinals.

Next he faced the crafty John McEnroe. Pete’s strategy was to control the match with his serve. McEnroe countered with his unique combination of touch shots and gamesmanship, but could not overcome his opponent’s awesome power. The 19-year-old won in four sets to earn a spot in the final against Andre Agassi.

The match against his old rival from juniors trained the spotlight for the first time on Pete’s public persona—or rather, his lack of one. He dressed in traditional tennis whites for most matches, respected courtside officials, and never said anything controversial to the media. This was in direct contrast to Agassi, whose game was as flashy as his personality. Pete, however, was too focused on winning his first Grand Slam to be concerned with how fans perceived him. Interestingly, that attitude has never changed.




Rather than slug it out from the baseline, Pete decided to rush the net as often as possible. Agassi never had a chance. Pete beat him easily—6-4, 6-3, and 6-2—to become the youngest champion in U.S. Open history.

Pete admits today that he wasn’t ready emotionally for the responsibility of capturing a Grand Slam title. As one of the game’s bright young stars, he was expected to play in tournaments and exhibitions almost every week. The media also demanded more and more of his time. Life in the public eye left him little chance to work on his game. To his credit, Pete sensed that his phenomenal two-week run in Flushing Meadow had been an aberration. He was not the best player in the world; he needed to mature before he could develop into a consistent winner. This became apparent over the next two years—Pete often struggled, but learned valuable lessons from his travails.

Pete was a marked man. In 1991, he failed to defend his crown in Pro Indoor Singles Championship against Lendl. Goran Ivanisevic manhandled him in the final in Manchester. At Wimbledon, Derrick Rostagno ousted him in the second round. A month later Pete got his first win of the year in Los Angeles, beating Brad Gilbert in the final. He collected another title in Indianapolis when he defeated Boris Becker in three sets. He also posted victories in two European events. These titles were offset by criticism he received during the U.S. Open. After losing to Courier in the quarterfinals, Pete told a crowd of reporters that he actually felt relieved. A number of players, including Jimmy Connors, reacted angrily to his comments, and blasted him publicly. The backlash bothered Pete. He wasn’t saying he was happy that he lost, but that’s how his remarks were interpreted.

Not much changed during the 1992 season, except that Pete hired Tim Gullikson as his coach. The ATP’s Newcomer of the Year in 1977, Gullikson had enjoyed modest success on tour during his 10-year career. He was most dangerous as a doubles partner with his twin brother, Tom. After retiring, Gullikson made a name for himself as a coach, helping stars such as Martina Navratilova, Aaron Krickstein and Mary Joe Fernandez. He tried to open Pete’s mind to the concept of change—to step back from his game, look at it as an opponent would, then work to improve one area at a time. Gullikson’s biggest challenge was to make Pete accept the fact that his serve alone would not be enough to get him to #1. He would have to become a complete player.

Deep down, Pete wasn’t buying Gullikson’s program. He won five events in 1992 and was #1 for several weeks, but in the big tournaments he sputtered. His most embarrassing loss was to Andrei Cherkasov in the Olympics. His most frustrating moment occurred at the U.S. Open. He reached the final against Stefan Edberg, and during their match the Swedish star gave Pete many opportunities to seize the momentum. When they walked off the court, however, Edberg was the champion, a winner in four sets.

MAKING HIS MARK


Pete stewed all winter over the loss to Edberg. It finally dawned on him that Gullikson was right. A game built around a shotgun serve and big forehand was not going to get him his 13 Grand Slams. Pete’s coach deconstructed his game, and made him enter a handful of claycourt events in 1993. The slower surface gave him extra time to think his way through points. By the time Wimbledon rolled around, Pete’s game was transformed.

Already in his young career Pete had experienced his fair share of problems at the All England Club. The year before, in fact, he had complained about the grass—earning him an an earful from John McEnroe, who questioned his attitude. Now Pete knew how to hang in points until he had an opportunity to win them. This skill, combined with his still-sizzling serve and quick hands at the net, gave him newfound confidence on the grass. Pete surged through the first four rounds, outlasted Agassi in a five-set quarterfinals match, then whipped Becker in three sets to reach the final.

He squared off against Courier in an “all-American” championship on July 4. Both were near-perfect in the first two sets, with Pete taking each in a tiebreaker. Courier rallied to win the third set, but the fourth saw Pete recover to win 6-3. Claiming his second Grand Slam title lifted a great weight off his shoulders. He was no longer a “one-hit wonder.” Relaxed and smiling, he even joked with the press afterwards.

Two months later at the U.S. Open, Pete dominated. He lost his serve just seven times in seven matches. In the semifinals, Alexander Volkov did not come within a point of breaking Pete’s serve. In the final, he broke Cedric Pioline’s serve to begin each set, and won his third Grand Slam singles title 6-4, 6-4, and 6-3. At season’s end, Pete was the top-ranked player in the world.

A few months after his triumph in New York, Pete picked his way through the draw at the 1994 Australian Open. Surviving tough matches with Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Magnus Gustafsson, he reached the final and beat Todd Martin, who was coached by Tim Gullikson’s twin brother, Tom. Eight more tournament victories came Pete’s way in ’94, including a second Wimbledon title. Foot and hamstring woes slowed Pete in the second half, but he won frequently enough to hang on to his #1 ranking.

Rested and healthy, Pete was eager to resume his winning ways in 1995. But he got a shock when Gullikson collapsed during the Australian Open. X-rays revealed four cancerous tumors on his brain. Gullikson immediately flew back to the U.S. Playing with a heavy heart, Pete managed to advance to the quarterfinals against Courier. After dropping the first two sets, he roared back to knot the score. As the fifth set began, thoughts of Gullikson raced through his head, and he wept uncontrollably on the court. A good-natured wisecrack from Courier snapped Pete out of his emotional meltdown. Composed, Pete won the match, and eventually earned a spot in the final, but lost to Agassi in four sets.

One of the contributing factors to Pete’s on-court breakdown was the death of Vitas Gerulaitis—a good friend and former Top 10 player—less than a year earlier. He perished in a freak accident, overcome by carbon monoxide while staying at a friend’s house. To honor Gerulaitis’s memory and pay homage to Gullikson, Pete decided to redouble his commitment to tennis. By the time Wimbledon rolled around, he was on fire. He won there for the third straight year.

At the U.S. Open, Pete escaped a third-round scare versus Mark Philippoussis, and ultimately moved to the final against Andre Agassi, who had usurped his # 1 ranking. Early in the match the two superstars produced what might have been the most thrilling point of the last 50 years. They exchanged no fewer than 21 blistering shots before Pete unleashed a wicked, cross-court backhand winner. When it was all said and done, Pete had his third U.S. Open title, 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, and 7-5. Later in the year, he regained his #1 ranking.

Pete’s primary focus during the final months of 1995 was winning the Davis Cup. In September, the U.S. beat Sweden to earn a berth in the final against Russia. On foreign turf 10 weeks later, Pete played some of the finest tennis of his life. He overcame Andrei Chesnokov and Yevgeny Kafelnikov in singles, and wiped out the Russians in doubles. The U.S. reclaimed the Cup after three years. Team USA members expected some recognition for their achievement when they returned home, but received almost none. The reaction soured Pete on all future Davis Cup competitions.

Pete took eight titles in 1996 and finished #1 for the fourth year in a row. In the process, he won his fourth U.S. Open. What should have been a fun season, however, was overshadowed by Tim Gullikson’s death in May. Pete found a replacement to coach him in Paul Annacone, a Long Island native and two-time All-American at Tennessee. With his new pupil at the top of his game, Annacone didn’t see any reason to make changes. This hands-off approach resulted in eight more singles championships in 1997. Pete held the top spot in the rankings every week of the year. His two toughest matches came during the Australian Open (a grueling five-set win over Dominik Hrbaty) and Wimbledon (a classic with Petr Korda). Pete went on to win both tournaments, running his Grand Slam total to 10.

In 1998, Pete began to hear footsteps, as youngsters Patrick Rafter and Marcelo Rios were gunning for the # 1 ranking. Pete won just two tournaments in the season’s first half, raising questions about his ability to fend off this new crop of challengers. He silenced some of his critics when he overcame Goran Ivanisevic in a five-set Wimbledon final, 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (11-9), 6-4, 3-6, and 6-2. The victory was Pete’s 11th Grand Slam title, drawing him even with Bjorn Borg and his idol, Rod Laver. A loss to Patrick Rafter in the U.S. Open semis, however, refueled the argument that his best days were behind him.




Late in the year, Pete admitted to Annacone that he was obsessing over his #1 ranking, and that it was starting to affect his game. He desperately wanted to be the first player to hold this honor six straight seasons—so much so that he had lost his appetite, couldn’t sleep, and was losing his hair. Also weighing on Pete’s mind were the legal troubles of Pete Fischer. His old coach had been convicted of child molestation. Pete knew what everyone was wondering—was he molested by Fischer, too?

With three events left in 1998, Pete needed strong showings in at least two tournaments to hold off Rafter and Rios. In the Paris Indoors, he made it to the final against Greg Rusedski. Three weeks later, he advanced to the semis of the ATP Championships in Germany, which clinched the top ranking. It wasn’t pretty, but #1 is #1. To this day, Pete cherishes this accomplishment more than any other.

Pete finally slipped from the top of the rankings in 1999. Hampered by a nagging leg injury during the season’s first few months, he missed several important events, including the Australian Open. Back to full health by June, he beat Tim Henman in the final at the Queen’s Club in London, then cruised through the draw at Wimbledon. When Pete routed Agassi in the final 6-3, 6-4, and 7-5, he tied Roy Emerson for the career record of 12 Grand Slam singles titles.




Going into the ’99 U.S. Open, Pete was in position to regain the top ranking from Agassi. But a herniated disk sidelined him just before the tournament began, and kept him out of action for more than two months. The two met in the final of the ATP Championships that winter. Although Agassi had the #1 spot nailed down, Pete wanted to send him a message—he wiped out his old rival in straight sets to end the year on a high note.

Agassi exacted his revenge at the 2000 Australian Open, beating Pete in an epic five-set duel in the semifinals. During the match, Pete tore a hip flexor—an injury that required two months to heal. He tried to play for the U.S. in the Davis Cup in February, but was forced to pull out of a match against Zimbabwe. The decision drew the ire of American captain John McEnroe, who thought Pete was dogging it.

By the time Wimbledon rolled around, Pete’s confidence was at a low ebb. After defeating Jiri Vanek in the first round, he was slowed by tendonitis in his left shin. Unable to practice, Pete labored through the tournament. His daily itinerary included acupuncture, massage, icing, and liberal doses of anti-inflammatories and pain killers. Somehow he managed to advance to the final, where he faced red-hot Patrick Rafter. Had it not been a Grand Slam final, Pete might have stayed in bed that day. But his serve was hissing over the net at more than 120 mph, and the pain wasn’t as bad as he anticipated.

After winning winning the first set, Rafter went ahead 4-1 in the second-set tiebreaker. Pete flicked the switch, won six of the next seven points to even the match, and cruised to a four-set victory. The win gave him his record-breaking 13th Grand Slam title. It was all the more special because his parents were on hand to see him in a major final for the first time since 1992. Also in attendance was Pete’s fiancee, Bridgette Wilson. The two had begun dating in September of 1999, and he had proposed to her just weeks before. They were married in September of 2000. Wimbledon turned out to be Pete’s last title of the year. He surged to the final at the U.S. Open, but was hammered by Marat Safin in three sets. He entered only one event the rest of the year, preferring to spend time with his new bride.

The 2001 season proved to be Pete’s most frustrating ever. The media and fans wondered whether the 30 year old was over the hill. When he didn’t register a win in the first eight months of the year, the questions became more pointed. Looking for answers, Pete made several decisive moves. He replaced Annacone with Tom Gullikson, and cut ties to Nike after the apparel giant insulted him with a lowball offer to renew his contract. He also threatened to dump his management group, Artists Management Group. He only agreed to stay after CEO Michael Ovitz promised a revised marketing strategy.

Entering the U.S. Open, Pete’s game was languishing. He had reached only three finals in 2001, losing twice to Agassi and once to Tommy Haas. His draw in Flushing Meadow was murderous. Starting with the Round of 16, he faced Patrick Rafter, Agassi, and Safin in succession. The trio accounted for every U.S. open men’s singles title since 1996. After overcoming Rafter in four sets, Pete and Agassi took the court opposite each other for the 32nd time in their careers. The match was a classic. Pete recorded 80 winners en route to a thrilling four-set win completely decided by tiebreakers—6-7, 7-6, 7-6, and 7-6. Pete easily dispatched Safin in the semis, but ran out of steam in the final against Lleyton Hewitt, falling in three sets.




Again Pete took it easy to finish the season. The only event he played was in Stuttgart, where he fell to Max Mirnyi in two sets. As the year closed, he plummeted to number 10 in the world, his lowest ranking in 12 years.

Pete resolved to make “one more hard push” in 2002. Bridgette agreed to put her career on hold to help him focus on his game. He hired Brett Stephens as his personal trainer, and adopted a no-nonsense training regimen that included sprints, weightlifting, and one-on-one volleyball. He sought the advice of a nutritionist and physical therapist about his diet and conditioning. He also spoke to Wayne Gretzky and Maurice Green about the keys to achieving peak performance after turning 30.

Early on, the extra work didn’t appear to be paying off. After exiting the Australian Open in the fourth round, Pete nearly lost a Davis Cup match against 19-year-old Karol Beck of the Slovak Republic. In his next Davis Cup appearance two months later, he lost to Spain’s Alex Corretja. The defeat was particularly disheartening because the match was played on grass in Houston, a surface that hardly suited the Spaniard’s game. Not long afterward, Yevgeny Kafelnikov suggested publicly that Pete retire before he did irreparable damage to his legacy.




Pete, meanwhile, continued to tinker off the court. He canned Jeff Schwartz, his agent of seven years, and also said good-bye to Gullikson, turning to Jose Higueras instead. A native of Spain, Higueras grew up playing on clay courts, and made his reputation as a coach by molding Michael Chang and Jim Courier into champions. His emphasis on intense practice was viewed by many as exactly what Pete needed.

It wasn’t until the 2002 U.S. Open, however, that Higueras’s influence truly became evident. In the best shape of his life, Pete methodically advanced through the draw. His third-round match against Greg Rusedski went the distance. Though the loser was unimpressed with his opponent, Pete was building all-important momentum. Part of his inspired play was a direct result of the support he received from the fans in New York. Sensing the four-time champ might be on the last magical run of his career, they cheered him with uncharacteristic fervor. He had always been respected by tennis enthusiasts at the U.S. Open, but never embraced. Pete noted his newfound popularity, and fed off it. In the quarterfinals, he rolled over rising star Andy Roddick. Pete was given little chance of winning this match, which was billed by the press as a “passing of the torch.” The torch was passed, all right, just long enough for Roddick to get burned. Pete then won in the three sets against Sjeng Schalken to gain a berth in the final.

It was only fitting that he faced his friend Agassi, who had also upset younger, fitter foes to earn a shot at the championship. The two had been excellent rivals during their careers, pushing each other to unimaginable heights and staging some great matches in the process. On this day, Pete’s serve was simply too much to handle, even for a master counter-puncher like Agassi. He took the first two sets, dropped the third, then closed out the fourth to claim his 14th Grand Slam title. Pete’s 33 aces were key, but limiting his errors spelled the difference. As they met at the net, Pete told Andre that he was the best he’d ever played. Then he made a bee-line for Bridgette in the stands, and shared a long hug. Her support during the tournament had buoyed him when his confidence wavered.

Pete decided to take a few months off after the Open, amidst conjecture that he was pondering retirement. As each major event passed without his presence, it became clearer to him— and his fans—that he might not be coming back. Pete put in three days of hard training in the spring of 2003 and never got the fire back in his belly. That was sign enough for him. He made it official in August of 2003, announcing that he would call it quits at the U.S. Open.

On the tournament’s first evening, Pete waved farewell to an adoring crowd. He carried his son, Christian, on the court, and shed a tear or two as the applause grew. He was never a favorite in Flushing, but the New Yorkers grew to love him in his waning years, when he was more a pop-gun than a pistol. As Pete walked off the court, he did so knowing he was the only player in history whose final match was a win in a Grand Slam final.

Where Pete goes from here is anyone’s guess. Reports estimate his net worth at over $100 million, so finances aren’t a concern. He loves golf, and is committed to lowering his handicap. Pete is also deeply devoted to the Gullikson Foundation, which raises money for research into brain cancer, and quietly contributes to many other charitable organizations.

Secure in his legacy as history’s greatest player, Pete can ride off into the sunset any way he wants.


PETE THE PLAYER
Although Pete was already a U.S. Open champion when Tim Gullikson got him, the coach’s influence during their short time together defined the player he became. His serve and forehand were excellent, as were his instincts around the net. What Gullikson taught Pete was to look for the chinks in his own armor, and methodically fill them in. Thus, each year, he got a little better instead of getting a little worse. Rival coaches were unable to pick apart his game, meaning rival players had to pray that he’d have an off-day.

When the 30-something Pete was “on,” he we remained as tough a player as anyone in history. He could dominate with his first serve, while his second was more than solid. He did not have a weakness in any other part of his game. And though Pete lost a half-step speed-wise over the years, he gained it back in experience. Indeed, as his victory at the 2002 U.S. Open vividly illustrated, he knew what to do with every shot, and in any game situation.

Mimi
11-16-2004, 02:48 AM
its too long, i gonna print it out and read it in teh afternoon :wavey: thanks anyway :worship:

angiel
11-16-2004, 02:52 AM
:wavey: :wavey: Thank mimi - please do that my dear - hope the rest of the guys will read it also. :worship: :worship:

angiel
11-16-2004, 03:16 AM
Grand Slam No. 1: US Open, 1990


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Float Like a Butterfly, Serve Like a Bazooka
Laid-back Pete Sampras blasts his way into tennis history
by Andrew Abrahams, Cindy Dampier (on Amelia Island) and Tom Cunneff (in Los Angeles)

September 24, 1990 -- In a small, one-bedroom condo on Amelia Island, a posh resort off the northeastern coast of Florida, Pete Sampras grabs a golf club and takes some practice swings. The olive-skinned 19-year-old appears skinnier and gawkier than he did two days before, when he demolished Andre Agassi in the men's final of the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadow, N.Y. Sampras is describing the phone call he made to his parents in exclusive Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., after walking off the stadium court. This was before they got around to changing their phone number, before their answering machine broke. ''They were more stunned than anything,'' says Sampras. ''They said, 'Congratulations, you worked hard and you deserve it. Now enjoy the next couple of weeks and then get back to work.' ''

That sense of dedication instilled by his parents quietly created tennis's newest star. With a seismic-quality serve clocked at 120 mph and an unflinching calm at the net, Sampras dispatched Ivan Lendl in the quarters, John McEnroe in the semis and took the Day-Glo out of Agassi, winning 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 to become the youngest men's champion in the Open's 110-year history.

While Agassi represents the brash, cocksure new breed of young players, Sampras is a throwback to the 1960s, when elegant serve-and-volleyers like Australia's Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall dominated the game. ''I've always looked up to people like Laver, and I changed my game to play like those guys,'' says Sampras, whose ranking has gone from 81st to sixth in less than a year.

Sampras also absorbed some of the personal reserve of the earlier era's players. ''He looks like he grew up playing with a wooden racket,'' says Mary Carillo, a CBS tennis analyst. ''You can tell his values are steeped in the past. He's anti-entourage; he wears whites on the court. People say, 'Where did this guy come from?' He came from the '60s, that's where.'' Even Sampras' taste in music is anachronistic: He prefers the mellower tones of Cat Stevens and the Eagles to the hipper trends of rap or heavy metal.

But Pete's greatest source of inspiration comes from his Greek-American family. His brother, Gus, 22, is often the only person who travels with him and, as his financial adviser, must now think about prudently investing Sampras' $1 million earnings and any subsequent endorsement money. His parents, Soterios, 53, an engineer for the Defense Department, and Georgia, a housewife, encouraged Pete through the long years of junior tennis in California but now find it too nerve-racking to watch him play. (They went to Presumed Innocent during Pete's semifinal win over John McEnroe and cruised a Long Beach shopping mall during the finals.) Sampras' older sister, Stella, 21, plays for the UCLA varsity tennis team and plans to turn pro, and his younger sister, Marion, 16, swings a racket for Palos Verdes High.

Sampras is a self-conscious young man with a quick, booming laugh. A high school dropout -- he turned pro after his junior year -- Pete has no girlfriend and is shy to a fault, maybe even a double fault. ''He's quiet almost to the point of dull,'' says ex-coach Dr. Peter Fischer. But all that may change now that Sampras has been thrust into the limelight.

It didn't take long for the Open triumph to transform other aspects of Sampras' life. On Sunday night, according to agent Ivan Blumberg, Pete was so excited he ''didn't sleep a minute, not a minute.'' Perhaps it's just as well, considering how early he would have had to get up to do all three network morning news shows. By noon he was on a plane for Florida, where he was due to play an exhibition.

Two days after his victory, the new champion is planning to relax and work on his golf game. (He is a 16-handicapper.) He knows his win at the Open makes him the man to beat now. ''It's a lot of pressure, but I think I'm mature enough and capable of living up to that responsibility,'' Pete says with aplomb. Meanwhile, he's going to indulge in a little old-fashioned glory- basking. ''I'm just going to try to let this sink in,'' says Sampras, taking a smooth swing with his sand wedge. ''I'm on a high right now.''

Article supplied by Amanda Lonnick :worship: :worship: :angel: :angel: :cool: :cool: :wavey: :wavey:

Mimi
11-16-2004, 03:19 AM
don't worry, i will read it in the afternoon, coz if i read it now, i cannot reply to your other threads :wavey:

you know i cannot post in the afternoon, so reading is a good thing to kill time if there is nothing to do ;)

please see my post in "some news", may be its b etter to post all interviews/articles in this thread only :wavey:

angiel
11-16-2004, 03:34 AM
You can even take it home with you mimi - take you time my dear - no rush ............ okay. :D :p

I will post the articles here too. :wavey:

angiel
11-16-2004, 03:47 AM
Grand Slam No. 2: Wimbledon 1993








Rockets on the 4th
By Sally Jenkins

July 12, 1993 - With his booming serve, Pete Sampras launched 22 aces to beat Jim Courier in an all-American Wimbledon final on Independence Day

There was perfection and order at Wimbledon this year. For the first time since 1977 not a drop of rain fell during the fortnight, and the crowds enjoyed a seemingly endless reverie of sunbathing and stargazing. A numerical symmetry began to take shape when the top four men's seeds -- Pete Sampras, Stefan Edberg, Jim Courier and Boris Becker -- reached the semifinals, something that hadn't happened since 1927. On the Fourth of July, in the first all-American men's final since 1984, the No. 1 player in the world, Sampras, defeated the No. 2 player, Courier.


Sampras has only one Wimbledon title, and it is a significant step forward for him. It proved to him and the world that he deserves the No. 1 ranking he took from Courier in April. In fact, Sampras may be the most complete player in the game, though an emotionally fragile one.

He quietly cut through the tournament like scissors through silk, moving so softly that he was labeled uninteresting by the British tabloids. PETE'S A BORE read one headline. In a whimsical radio survey in which 1,000 Brits responded to the question: Whom would you most like to share strawberries and cream with at Wimbledon? Sampras received only one vote. (Chris Bailey won, followed by Agassi, Henri Leconte and Fred Perry.) Told of the outcome of the poll, he shrugged and said, "I let my racket do the talking. That's what I'm all about, really. I just go out and win tennis matches."

Sampras was also called a hypochondriac. He moped and winced through several matches, moaning over the tendinitis in his right shoulder that, he said, was so painful he nearly withdrew from the tournament. He said that on the Wednesday before Wimbledon began, "the pain was so bad I couldn't brush my teeth." When he got a nosebleed during his third-round match against Byron Black of Zimbabwe, the gimpy label stuck.

Whether Sampras really suffers from constant ailments, or whether most of his aches are in his mind, no one knows for sure, not even Sampras. He admitted that his aching shoulder was "50 percent mental and 50 percent physical." At last year's U.S. Open, in which he lost in the final to Edberg, he complained of shin splints, cramps and the aftereffects of a stomach virus. This much was sure: If Sampras wanted to win Wimbledon, and thus fulfill the potential he displayed in winning the 1990 U.S. Open and the destiny predicted for him by no less than Perry, he was going to have to suck it up.

For all of the pained expressions he made, Sampras did just that. In the fourth round he dispatched Britain's last hope, Andrew Foster, and gave the hostile crowd a clenched fist and a snarled epithet as he left the court. When asked later what he had mouthed to the British fans, Sampras facetiously replied, "I said, 'Have a nice day. God bless you.' "

Next he defeated the most popular man in town, Agassi. For 10 days Agassi had captivated the public with his showboating, his relationship with Streisand and his valiant efforts to repeat as champion. Streisand has been an admirer of Agassi's ever since he called to tell her how much he admired The Prince of Tides. Streisand had promised to come to Wimbledon if Agassi reached the quarterfinals. When he did, she flew to London from Greece, where she had been vacationing. Her arrival electrified Fleet Street. She appeared for his quarterfinal in a sailor suit and nautical cap. She bobbed and cheered for Agassi and annoyed Sampras's supporters in the friends' box by clapping whenever Sampras made errors.

Agassi appeared to be on the verge of victory when Sampras called for a trainer midway through the fifth set to massage his aching shoulder. But it was Agassi whose serving arm had flagged. He dropped his serve twice in a row and fell behind 4-2. Sampras then easily held serve twice to close out a 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4 win that would turn out to be his most difficult test of the tournament. He also had the private satisfaction of knowing that he, too, had a celebrity friend. Sampras had played tennis with Elton John at John's palatial Windsor home the week before the tournament began. So there, Andre.

Sampras never lost his serve in his 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 defeat of Becker in their semifinal. Said Becker, "Sometimes I think he forgot the difference between his first serve and his second serve." Becker himself had won all 27 of his service games in a five-set quarterfinal victory over fellow German and 1991 Wimbledon winner Michael Stich, but he couldn't maintain that constancy against Sampras, who hit his best shot of the tournament to create match point. Becker unfurled a down-the-line backhand that seemed bound to be a winner. Sampras, however, twisted and caught the ball with a diving forehand volley that curled across the net so sharply that Becker couldn't reach it. Sampras yanked his fists toward his body in triumph and yelled to his coach, Tim Gullikson. It was perhaps the most emotion Sampras had ever displayed on a tennis court.

As for Courier, his performance was a total surprise, especially to him. "I thought I'd be playing golf tomorrow," he said last Friday, after defeating Edberg in the other semi.

Courier's strength is his thorough preparation. As a result, he has reached the final of all four Grand Slam tournaments and has won both the French and Australian Opens twice. Once Courier gained the measure of the greensward, he became a pulverizing force from the baseline. Witness his 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 triumph over Edberg, a two-time Wimbledon champion who supposedly possessed a far superior grass-court game. After a tight first set, Courier commanded all the authority in the match. "I had it, then I lost it and never got it back," Edberg said.

Courier was an ugly American during the fortnight, grim and quarrelsome, but that attitude served him well. He was nearly defaulted for allegedly swearing at the umpire during his third-round victory over Australia's Jason Stoltenberg. He appeared to swear again during his semifinal with the gentlemanly Edberg. Although that epithet went unpenalized, the British press jumped on him for it. "Nobody's perfect in this world," said Courier at a press conference after the match. "If we were, it'd be pretty boring." He then invited writer David Miller of The Times of London to step outside.

No amount of feistiness, however, could overcome Sampras's howitzer serve in the final. En route to his 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 victory, Sampras delivered 22 aces, many with his second serve, which averaged 97 mph and burned the lines. Sampras lost only eight points on his serve in the first set and four in the second.

Thus, even though he had not lost his own serve, Courier found himself trailing by two sets. His fate was decided when he could not convert a set point in the second-set tiebreaker. Sampras hit a forehand volley that barely caught the baseline.

In the third set Sampras suffered an adrenaline lag. His shoulders drooped, and so did his game. He became careless, and Courier won the set with something approaching ease. In the fourth, though, Sampras came back with a vengeance. He broke Courier for a 4-2 lead by winning a lengthy baseline rally. When Sampras held for 5-2, the match was all but over.

Sampras knew it when he took his chair for the changeover. He put his head in his hands and placed some ice on his neck, and he breathed slowly and deeply. For a moment, nearly everyone at Centre Court had the impression that Sampras was sick or injured -- and that he might not make it through a fifth set should Courier force one. Sampras returned to the court looking pale. "I told myself to stay calm," he said later.

Courier easily held serve, and suddenly Sampras was serving for the title. "I knew he was tired," Courier said, "but when you serve at 125 miles per hour, you don't have to move much. I still had to break serve."

Courier won a spectacular first point, and Sampras sagged. But three huge serves later, he held double match point. "The biggest point in the world for me," he would say.

Courier saved one with a searing forehand return that Sampras half- volleyed into the net. Sampras crouched at the baseline for a moment and then rose to his feet. He drilled one more serve. Courier popped it up, and Sampras knocked off an easy backhand volley. Then he raised his arms in exultation.

It was the second time within a month that Courier had lost in a Grand Slam final: Sergi Bruguera of Spain had upset him at the French Open. "It stinks," said Courier. "It stinks twice."

Afterward, Sampras was so relaxed that he fed a line to the tabloids. When asked if he had noticed that the princess of Wales was rooting for him from the royal box, Sampras smiled and said, "Maybe she has a crush on me."

Courier, too, couldn't help mocking the tabs' preoccupation with the players' love lives. When he was asked about his relationship with Sampras, he smiled coyly and murmured Agassi's standard reply to the Streisand question: "We're friends, just friends."

Sampras has often remarked that his U.S. Open victory had an element of luck to it, and that back then he was just an unconscious 19-year-old kid riding a hot streak. This time he was so conscious of the occasion that he almost fainted on court. "You can't take this title away from me," he said. "I don't think there will be any more controversy [about my No. 1 ranking]."

As Sampras raised the championship chalice above his head on Centre Court, he heard a new, rewarding sound. The British were applauding him. "I think they've grown to like me," he said later and smiled.


:worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship:

ataptc
11-16-2004, 04:22 AM
wow all these articles are really long! guess i'll have to read them later.. but thanks angiel! :)

angiel
11-16-2004, 04:25 AM
Do that my dear evelyn - read till your heart content .............. they are great articles that most people never saw or read before. :D :D :) :)

What happen to you icon? :(

Mimi
11-17-2004, 02:27 AM
finsihsing reading almost half angiel :wavey:

angiel
11-17-2004, 02:36 AM
You have all the time in the world to read then mimi - take youe time my dear - no rush.

Every day I find more interesting articles about him - and I am going to post then here.

ataptc
11-17-2004, 04:10 AM
:lol: those words on my icon are there on purpose!

angiel
11-17-2004, 04:19 AM
Why? :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

Mimi
11-17-2004, 08:02 AM
finished on reading, this Fisher coach despite of having bad reputation on harrassing kids, did a great job on pete, changed his double hand backhand to single hand and taught him the most imoprtant of all, his mental toughess :worship:

i only know now that he was suffering from so many injuries but still winning the 00 wimby :worship: :worship:

angiel
11-18-2004, 12:24 AM
Pete Fischer idea was to make him the most perfect tennis player, and wimbledon was alway major goal since he was 7 years old, and to think that this man was not even a tennis coach, but a doctor. :worship: :worship:

Pete was alway suffering from one ailments after another when he was playing - and he do suffer from some illness - can't remember the name right now, but will in my next post. :eek: :eek:

Even winning his first wimbledon - he was injury - that is what makes him so special - tell me which present player can do what he did, and still comes out with 14 slams. :p :p

Mimi
11-18-2004, 01:25 AM
i think pete should thanks this Fischer a lot :wavey:

then pete is a man who surrpass all to win, whats more, he never used injuries as the excuses for losing like serena ;)

angiel
11-18-2004, 01:43 AM
He do thank him a lot mimi - he is not ungrateful at all. :angel: :angel:

He didn't need to use injuries as an excuse - most players lost the match even before they play with him. :mad: :eek:

Thalassemia - a low-iron blood condition - that affect people of Mediterranean descent - Pete suffer from this condition too - and still manage to dominate tennis for so long. :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship:

Mimi
11-18-2004, 02:00 AM
ummm, coz i used to hear him thank Tom more than this fisher :confused:

hehehe, pete was scary for them, lol :devil: :devil:

hey this illness, will this break out during his match :confused:

angiel
11-18-2004, 02:36 AM
Tim was his best friend Mimi - they were such good friends to each other, and his illness and death was so sudden and shocking - it was out of the blue - no signs that he was sick and have that terrible disease - that killed him. :angel: :angel: :angel: :angel: :angel: :angel:

They phys-out before a ball been struck. :devil: :devil:

He mostly get affected when the weather is terrible hot - so yes it could break out during his matches - especially in places like Austraila and at the US open in new York. :mad: :eek:

Mimi
11-18-2004, 02:43 AM
pete is a kind person, i always think so, not a robot as they described, his loyalty towards his friend and coach are touching :worship: :worship:

poor pete, he always hide this illneess at his prime, fearing that the plaeyrs will attack him more when knowing his illness, break down his mental power, now i know why he won less in ao open coz its too hot :mad:

angiel
11-18-2004, 03:27 AM
Pete is more than a kind person - he was generous, loving and loyal to all around him, and still his to this day. :bigclap:

Mimi - thalassemia affected him - not stop him from winning and new york is more hot than Austraila in the summer - and he won 5 US open titles - so I dont think that is the reason he won less Aussie open at all. :smash: :unsure:

angiel
11-18-2004, 04:45 AM
Tuesday, July 22
For Pete's sake, when is it enough?
By Mark Kreidler
Special to ESPN.com


Maybe, for Pete Sampras, this is simply how it has to be. Maybe this is the last best chance of finding the spark -- enduring tournament after tournament of relative underachievement, occasionally being beaten by players who at another moment in his career wouldn't have been fit to fill Sampras's water bottle.


Pete Sampras hasn't been able to hold his head high lately after matches.
Maybe it takes exactly that much punishment, sometimes even embarrassment, to get Sampras to the boiling point.

Maybe that's the idea.

Sampras said the other day that he'll play through 2003 before deciding whether to retire, and what that suggests is that he remains at least theoretically willing to risk, between now and then, the diminishment of his own legacy for a few more shots at glory. The risk returns this week at the U.S. Open, where Sampras was a finalist as recently as 2001 and now, as a No. 17 seed, would be seen as a fantastic long shot for such a championship run.

The Open was the site of some of Sampras's greatest triumphs; now, you can almost feel people looking away, squinting with one eye to get a sideward glance at the man as he struggles to right himself and again become a going concern on the men's tour. His attempt to warm up for the championship, at the Waterhouse Cup in Commack, N.Y., fizzled in the second round with a defeat by 20-year-old Paul-Henri Mathieu of France. That brings to 33 the number of tournaments Sampras has entered consecutively without winning a title.

He said bluntly this week that "the days of dominating and being No. 1 are over," and as self-evident as that would appear to be, for a whole legion of people who watched tennis during the Sampras years it remains a tough pill to swallow.

Count Sampras among that group. At times people have colored him uninterested -- we said uninterested, not uninteresting, which is another discussion altogether -- but a truly listless Sampras simply would have taken his 13 Grand Slam titles and his millions of dollars and walked away. This Sampras is a more complicated tennis pro. He knows he isn't what he once was but appears to think he can rise up for one final run. What he's searching for is a way to connect points A and B -- a motivation as much as a way through.

"I'm a little discouraged," he said after losing to Mathieu, "but you've got to look at the big picture."

And so he plays on, right through the worst of it. He plays through a first-round loss at the French Open and a second-round dispatch at Wimbledon and the likes of elimination from the Waterhouse Cup on a Tuesday. He plays and he talks, and his words are the words of a man who thinks he can get his game back, even as his play is the play of a man who doesn't appear to know which road leads to it.

And he commands attention, of course, because ... well, because he's Pete Sampras. He is the great Sampras, and when he so much as clears his throat in a news conference people reflexively lean forward, wondering if this is the day he simply decides to pack it in and enjoy the fabulous rest of his life.

Instead, he speaks of amazing things. Unattainable things, maybe.

Championship things.

"My goal is to win another major," Sampras said. It's hard to know how many people believe he can. Harder to know, still, is whether Sampras, a realist at heart, believes it himself.

There exists a school of thought that Sampras' cruise through the 1990s somehow is working against him now -- that, essentially, Sampras had so little ongoing rivalry during his greatest years that he never fully developed the kind of killer competitiveness he might need to summon to get back near the top of his game.

It seems unfathomable, remembering Sampras at his peak. That Sampras was so complete as a player, so utterly focused, that it's difficult to construct a scenario under which a consistently worthy rival could emerge. Opponents were choked out with barely a whimper. What the men's game did, mostly, was wait for Sampras either to lose his edge or lose a step.

Now he appears to have done both, yet that's still Sampras out there, making his appearances on the tour, popping up at the majors and, lately, absorbing his beatings. That is Sampras out there, playing below his legend, taking his medicine, walking the unfamiliar walk of the early-exit loser in Grand Slam events and comparatively obscure tune-ups alike.

It is Sampras, and because it is Sampras it probably won't be over until he says it is. He returns to the U.S. Open not in triumph but in free-fall, and even then he cannot be fully discounted. It is Pete Sampras out there, searching for that boiling point. And here is the sticking point: You can't boil without fire.

Mark Kreidler is a columnist with the Sacramento Bee and a regular contributor to ESPN.com


:help: :help: :banghead: :banghead: :bs: :bs: :crazy: :crazy:















.

Mimi
11-18-2004, 05:26 AM
no, angiel, Melbourne is way hotter than New York! Have you seen pete resting with ice on his head at 97 ao? do you remember Hingis lost to Jennifer due to hotness in 2002 :wavey:

Mimi
11-18-2004, 05:28 AM
pete proved them all wrong by winning, itsn't it magical :lol: :haha: :woohoo: :yippee:

angiel
11-18-2004, 07:24 PM
Yes Mimi - the 2002 US open will be long remembered - it's history - did you know - he is the youngest and oldest winner there? yes he is.

When did Higgins retires from tennis mimi?

angiel
11-18-2004, 08:05 PM
http://www.newspagedesigner.com/users/1182/SamprasRetires.jpg

Mimi
11-19-2004, 01:55 AM
yes i know about this 19 and 31 ;)

hingis retired from tennis 2 years ago, you don't remember? She was leading Jennifer C 6:4, 4:0 before she melted down in the heat of Melborne :mad:

she is a perfect example of having good lucks first then bad lucks, just like monica, winning so many and then the stabbling, while Hingis, winning so much when she was so young and then cannot beat the bigger opponents and then having ankle injuries :sad:

angiel
11-19-2004, 03:08 AM
:retard: :retard: Hiingis should have done what Henin did, and naybe she would still be around playing now, are maybe not because Henin is have injuries problems now too. :help: :help:

I dont think the heat has anything to do with her loss mimi - her melted down was - Jennifer was much stronger then her - that was her problems - the players were bigger and stronger than her. :boxing: :crying2: :nerner: :smash: :smash:

Mimi
11-19-2004, 03:15 AM
i don't know, may be henin although also is small, is more powerful? Monica was also very little and slim when she was young, but she has so unbelievable power :worship: :worship:

hey, she was really leading, and then the beat becomes higher and higher that she cannot stand, both were given some resting time, jennifer has a more healthy body and can stand, while hingis could not move any more so at least she lost :mad:

angiel
11-19-2004, 03:57 AM
She was leading mimi, but jennifer over-power her in the last two sets - and she did won the aussie open before. :tears: :tears: :boxing:

Henin learn from Higins mistakes - and developed strength in her upperbody and legs - hingis didn't do that. :mad: :mad:

angiel
11-19-2004, 04:22 AM
Close Encounters with Pete
By: Philip Ip
Hong Kong SAR
There were three most memorable occasions. They include the Malboro Championships 1994 and Salem Open 1996 in Hong Kong, and the Australian Open 2000.

I first saw Pete play (or any live Pro tennis) when he came here in 1994 for the exhibition. I have always liked his style of play, but not until he autographed my Wimbledon cap did I realize I would forever be a Samprasfanz.



In 1996 Pete returned to the Victoria Park Centre Court to add a silverware to his mantle piece. It was after his second round match win that he was chased by a group of fans who hustled him for autographs. He seemed reluctant and was walking away quickly. While he was walking towards my direction, I shouted, "Hey Pete, sorry to bother you but would you sign this for me?" That was my second autograph from him, on 'his' Nike shirt.

Going to the Oz Open 2000 was a big investment for me "financially". It was my first Grand Slam tournament and I was hoping to witness Pete making history by winning his 13th Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park. I prepared a banner saying "Pistol Pete Playing for History" for the occasion. The only match I saw Pete played was the epic Sampras-Agassi semifinal match. As he sat at his courtside chair drinking his Gatorade after his warm-up, he looked up and stared at our banner for a long while. At that moment, I felt the excitement and satisfaction of Pete actually 'noticing us'.




:kiss: :kiss: :bowdown: :bowdown: :dance: :dance: :woohoo: :woohoo: :banana: :banana: :tennis: :tennis: :rolls: :rolls: :music: :music:

Mimi
11-19-2004, 06:25 AM
oh this fan must be from HK, my fellow countryman :D. He is very rich, going to melborne to see him :eek:

angiel
11-20-2004, 01:17 AM
See Pete has fans all over the world mimi - Phillip is your country man alright and one of pete biggest fans - they are part of Samprasfanz at large website they created for Pete. :kiss: :kiss: :fiery: :fiery: :crazy: :crazy: :toothy: :toothy: :bdaycake: :bdaycake: :apumpkin: :apumpkin: :music: :music: :rain: :rain:

Mimi
11-20-2004, 01:45 AM
i am happy to hear that but strangely my classmates do not adore pete too much, they love Becker :wavey:

angiel
11-20-2004, 02:13 AM
:cuckoo: :cuckoo: Your classmates dont know what they are missing mimi - their lost not your or mind - i like Becker too, but he is not pete and will never be.. :tape: :tape: :cuckoo: :cuckoo: :shrug: :shrug: :sobbing: :sobbing:

Mimi
11-20-2004, 02:16 AM
becker is also very good, do you remember how he pushed pete to 5 sets at 96 atp final championship :wavey:

he also has a booming serve and great skills as well but pete is mentally strongly than him so he won more :rolls: :apumpkin: :umbrella:

angiel
11-20-2004, 03:05 AM
I know that Becker is good mimi, and i like him - but pete is my one and only okay - i remember that match, Pete did won though. :worship: :worship: :angel: :angel: :dance: :dance: :drive: :drive:

Mimi
11-20-2004, 03:13 AM
do you know pete said he respects Becker a lot and whats more he is afriad of him coz he knows that becker can push him to hisl limits, just, like Agassi :wavey:

angiel
11-20-2004, 03:28 AM
Sampras outlasts Becker at ATP

By Nesha Starcevic, Associated Press writer
November 25, 1996


HANOVER, Germany -- The din of the crowd shook the building. The shotmaking was dazzling, the aces blinding. By the time they were through with five sets, Pete Sampras and Boris Becker were down to heart and guts.
And Sampras, who has spent a career playing big matches, knew just how special this one was.
"This is one the best matches I have ever been a part of," he said yesterday after beating Becker 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (11-13), 6-4 to win the ATP Tour World Championship. "This is what the game is all about. It's not the money, it's not all that, it's the great matches."

Becker pelted 32 aces in the four-hour match but was unable to retain his title in this season-ending event.
"To be part of such a match is a highlight of my career," he said. "It was so incredibly close, we ran our guts out. At the end he was one shot better. At the end, I didn't really care who won."
In winning this tournament for the third time, Sampras indeed played like he was the No. 1 player in the world. He and Becker hugged at the net at the finish. When asked if he had ever played a more dramatic match, Sampras said, "I don't think so."
Before a roaring, wave-happy crowd of 15,000, Becker treated his home fans with four straight aces to start the match. He saved two match points in the fourth set and kept up the intensity until there was no more tennis to play.
"They were rooting for him, but they were not against me," Sampras said. "It was a great atmosphere and it raises the level of tennis and it's fun to be part of it."
Becker actually won 12 more points than Sampras, but he dropped his serve to fall 5-4 behind in the final set and Sampras served out the match.
"I tried my best, but it was not to be," Becker said during the victory ceremony. "I didn't lose it, you won it Pete."
Sampras avenged two straight losses to Becker in Germany, the last three days ago in a round-robin match of this $3.3 million tournament, which featured the world's top eight players.
In nine finals this year, Sampras lost only once -- to Becker in Stuttgart one month ago. This victory gave Sampras a tour-high eight titles this year, including the U.S. Open.
Sampras was playing his fourth final in seven appearances at the championship, which he won in 1991 and 1994. His career record against Becker is 10-7.
The outcome was a repeat of the 1994 championship, when Becker also beat Sampras in the round-robin stage, only to lose the final.
It was one the biggest paydays in tennis, with Sampras collecting $1.34 million and Becker earning $640,000.
Becker, ranked sixth in the world and the reigning Australian Open champion, was playing the eighth final of the year-end event. He won the 1988 Masters, and twice more (1992, 1995) after the event became called the World Championship and moved to Germany.
Becker broke Sampras in the fourth game, finishing the set with a backhand winner. The German faced two break points in the sixth game of the second set. Sampras put away a volley to win the tiebreak and let out a scream, clenching his fists.
It was Sampras turn to get into trouble next, again in the sixth game. But he fired aces on two break points.
In the second tiebreak, Becker came back from a 3-0 deficit, but double faulted to go down 5-4. A service winner and a backhand passing shot clinched the set for Sampras.
Sampras came within two points of winning the match at 5-4 in the fourth, but Becker hit a service winner, a volley and an ace.
The tiebreak produced a thriller. Sampras had two match points, but wasted both with long shots. Becker squandered four set points, then made the fifth when Sampras hit a forehand volley long.
Becker held during his first 27 service games, but he cracked in the 28th to go down 5-4 in the fifth set. He saved two break points, but Sampras finally converted the third with a backhand passing shot.
"I hit one of the best passing shots I've hit all week," Sampras said.
Serving for the match, Sampras wasted two more match points. Then Becker netted a backhand after a long baseline rally, and the title finally belonged to Sampras. :dance: :dance: :hatoff: :hatoff: :banana: :banana: :sport: :sport: :tennis: :tennis:

angiel
11-20-2004, 03:34 AM
:worship: :worship: :angel: :angel: here is some reading about that match mimi - yes of course Pete respect him - they are both good friends also - he was one of the few players that Pete liked on the tour. :bigclap: :bigclap: :secret: :yeah:

He came all the way from Germany to attend Pete's retirement cermony - remember. :smooch: :bigwave: :bigwave:

angiel
11-20-2004, 08:26 PM
http://66.51.113.130/bio/yearhighlights/1996atp3.jpg

angiel
11-20-2004, 08:29 PM
1996

1996 ATP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
HANNOVER, GERMANY

November 24, 1996

P. SAMPRAS/B. Becker
3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4), 6-7(11), 6-4

An interview with: PETE SAMPRAS



Q. How does it feel, Pete?

PETE SAMPRAS: I feel relieved. I really do. I felt he started off the match so well with the crowd. I mean, he was playing the best tennis I have played against anyone for the first set. If he would have maintained that level, I would have been more than happy to shake his hand. Then once I won the second set, as far as the crowd, they kind of calmed down a little bit. I felt the momentum changed. And, fifth set matchpoint, I got a little conservative, played some tight points, and I was a little bit flustered in the beginning of the fifth for the first 4 games. The match could have gone either way. Very little separating Boris and I out there. It was, this is what it is all about. I am sure if I would have lost today I would been very disappointed, but walking down those steps was an unbelievable feeling. I mean, the crowd -- even though they are not rooting against me, they are rooting for Boris. It was nice to be a part of that, and that is what the game is all about. It is not the money; it is not all that. It is the great matches, and this is one of the best matches I have ever been a part of.

Q. Do you think if this had been played anywhere else in the world, would it have been straight sets for you?

PETE SAMPRAS: It is hard -- no, no. Not on -- no. No, I mean, like I said, I mean, a set can turn on a couple of shots here and there. And, you know, Boris is very tough to beat on any surface anywhere in the world. Sure, he has a little bit - has an edge on this court with this crowd, but it was good tennis. I thought we played both played very well. It is just a couple of points separated us. And I converted. And that is really the difference.

Q. How difficult was it possibly to just keep the game and the momentum going after you lost that fourth set knowing it could have been over?

PETE SAMPRAS: I was very flustered. I was, you know, second-guessing myself a little bit on the g matchpoints; I went out wide to the backhand. Missed it. I just got conservative. Boris is not going to miss, especially on a very tight point. And I was just, you know, I could have been in the locker room. This match could have been over with the swing of a racket. But it is two sets. All you try to look at, some sort of positive outlook and, you know, just hang in there. Whatever happens, happens. I wasn't going to quit. I wasn't going to give up. Just keep on fighting. Hopefully convert on a breakpoint or something. And I did. I hit one of the best passing shots I have hit all week on the breakpoint, and I had a lot of emotion in me. I was kind of staying calm with the crowd and everything, and I just let it all out and it felt real nice.

Q. What does it mean to you emotionally at the end of this year when you have been through so much?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, this year, especially off the court has been very difficult. Like I said out there. I had lot of support from my family and Paul and Todd and everyone around me to get me through it. And Tom Gullikson, Tim's brother. And, you know, Tim would want me to keep on playing hard and playing well and continuing to be happy. And when you play matches like this, it reminds you have the things he told you. And told me and, you know, nothing really else I can say. It still hurts, but we have - just have to move on.

Q. Towards the end of the match when you were tied -- were you tired or was it frustration?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, the matchpoint was a very tense moment. It was a long point. One of the best moments reminded me of a little bit of that point against Agassi in the finals a couple of years ago. Both of them side to side, and your pulse is moving, and I was feeling it, talking to Boris on the court, he was feeling it a little bit. I was just glad it is over. Glad I won the match and it really ends my year on a great note.

Q. Out there on court, match finished, you said that is probably the most dramatic match I have ever played in. Now you sort of had 40 minutes or so to calm down a bit. Is that still the case?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, sure, there are special matches. I have played U.S. Open, Wimbledon, but just the crowd all week, and especially today, it was - there weren't too many lulls; they are really into every point. They weren't rude; very, very respectful of the tennis we were playing. Like I said, walking down those steps it was like, wow, this doesn't happen very often on Tour. And 15,000 people into the match, it is a great atmosphere, and it raises your level of tennis, and it is fun to be a part of it.

Q. Would you say, Pete, Boris says that he respects you more than any other player in a lot of ways. How do you feel about Boris, would you say?

PETE SAMPRAS: The respect is very mutual. What can you say? His career has been phenomenal. 6 Grand Slams, been No. 1 in the world. 3 Wimbledons. He is so dangerous to play. I mean, he really is. He does everything very well. He doesn't really have any weaknesses in his game. I really can't point out one thing that he doesn't do well. And there is a lot of respect. I mean, he just goes out and plays, and there are no personal problems we have with each other. The better man wins and we shake hands, and that is really it. So it is real nice to be a part of that.

Q. What did he say to you immediately afterwards?

PETE SAMPRAS: The crowd was -- I don't think we really heard each other. The crowd was pretty loud. Talking a little bit in the ceremony, and he was saying fifth set I obviously - I was getting a little bit tired, and he felt the same way. Talking about the crowd. And this is the biggest tennis crowd in Germany, and very into it. So, just talking a little bit. Is that cool? Okay.



End of FastScripts.... :kiss: :kiss: :drool: :drool: :tape: :tape: :drink: :drink: :awww: :secret: :secret: :wazzup: :wazzup:

Mimi
11-22-2004, 02:10 AM
oh thanks angiel, those were the days, i miss them so much :sad:

and whats more, its more easy for roger to win the money, he only needs to play 3 sets and not 5 setsd :mad:

angiel
11-22-2004, 08:29 PM
Men's tennis is not what it used to be mimi - and you are so right Roger is playing much easier tennis - i can't believe they only have to play 3 sets - that's why nobody is watching the game these days.

The sport need more rivialries for the sport to be more interesting - you need somebody who can take the game to Federer - poor Hewitt dont have the strength to do so - as for Roddick - he is a loser - can't win to save his life.

I misses them too mimi - they make the sport watchable.

Mimi
11-23-2004, 01:44 AM
you are right, i have to say that Roger is playing unbelievable good tennis, but it can also be seen that others are not playing too good, roger is not god, so how come no one can touch him, just a little bit :confused: :confused:


roddick should be able to challange roger more coz he is much stronger than hewitt and can serve many aces, so i don't understand why he cannot win against either roger or hewitt, seems pete has no hier (i mean for his country, usa)

angiel
11-23-2004, 07:08 PM
Because there are no one challenging him Mimi - that is why he is winning everything - you need someone to do that - Roddick and hewitt and the others are not taking the game to Federer - look how they all play - baseline tennis - you need a attacking serve & vollyer like Pete to do so. :smash: :smash:

Roddick big serve alone will not do it - he needs an attacking game - if he dont he is going to live in Roger shadow all the time. :unsure: :unsure: :scared: :scared:

Roddick need to go talk to pete about his game, maybe he can help him. :help: :help: :banghead: :banghead:

angiel
11-23-2004, 07:27 PM
'History Will Be Pretty Good To Me'

[August 26, 2003] After his farewell in Flushing, Pete Sampras told Dan Patrick and Rob Dibble that he is done with the game he loves. "I really felt like I was standing there saying goodbye to something I love to do. And the US Open has meant so much to me," he said.

A selection of the Aug. 26 interview:

Irreplaceable challenges
Dan Patrick: What do you do now?
Pete Sampras: What do I do now? Well, I pretty much am doing what I've been doing for the past year. I've just been playing golf, hanging out … having some fun, doing some things I didn't have a chance to do, going on a few trips here and there. I love it. I love not having the responsibility of being on the tour and enjoying this retirement.

DP: But you find that athletes need something, that there's that competitive juices that you need to get into to let 'em flow. Is golf going to be that outlet for you?
PS: Golf is more recreation and fun, not necessarily going to replace tennis in any way. But I don't know. We'll see over time what I want to do. Nothing will replace walking out to Wimbledon or the U.S. Open in front of packed house. I know it's time. I know it's not in my heart anymore to go out there and play. It is a transition. But I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to finding something over the next couple of years to see what I like, whether it's some sort of business or just not doing much, just having some fun. I am competitive, but I think I'm only competitive in tennis. I'm not needing that in my life. The limelight hasn't been something that's really important to me. I'm just going to ride off into the sunset, so to speak, and enjoy this time in my life.

'Picking up a racket is the last thing I want to do'
RD: If you need a little extra spending money, why don't you just go spank (Jimmy) Conners and Bjorn Borg and (John) McEnroe in that old-timer's tour, now that you're retired?
PS: Honestly, the thought of picking up a racket is the last thing I want to do.
RD: It's probably the last thing they want you to do, too.
PS: But I don't see myself playing any senior tennis. I still enjoy hitting the tennis ball. But the thought of hopping on a plane and going to Chicago or anywhere else in the country, I really have a hard time doing that right now. Maybe in three or four years I might do it for the fun of it, just to get out. But I don't see it happening anytime soon. DP: You have another kid, Bridgette gets pregnant again, you going to want to get out on the road, you may want to play tennis. You know what? McEnroe may never look better when get out on the road I think to go to play tennis.
PS: You're talking to the man with experience. You have what, six kids now, Dan?
DP: At last look, I think I've got seven. I haven't been home in a couple of days, so she may have had another one. But I think you still owe me a tennis match in your back yard. Didn't I bid some ungodly amount of money?
PS: Sure did. Whenever you're in LA. I'm not going anywhere. Tennis, golf -- I have time.

'It hit me all at once'
DP: Do you say to yourself last night, I don't want to get emotional?
PS: Yeah. It accumulated all day. It really did. It did for the last eight months just slowly saying goodbye. I think my life for the last eight months, year, have been great, I haven't thought about tennis, I've been having some fun. But I think getting back to New York, I took a drive to the site, which I've done for 15 years. Being at the site, seeing a lot of people, I think it did hit me that I really am leaving, that I'm saying goodbye. There's a sense of closure there. And when I walked out there, I think it stored up for months and the day ... the ovation from the crowd was very touching. I felt really appreciated. Definitely hit me. I really felt like I was standing there saying goodbye to something I love to do. And the US Open has meant so much to me. Winning the US Open for the first time and winning there last year, it just kind of emotional. It just hit me all at once, that I'm never going to play again.

'People want to see you suffer a little bit'
DP: But wasn't it interesting in your career that once you became vulnerable, it's almost as if people rooted for you a little bit differently or a little bit more so?
PS: Absolutely. When I was dominating in my early-and mid-20s, there wasn't a rival. I was winning majors and people really didn't know me that well. I didn't show a lot of emotion. There wasn't a ton to cling on to. The more I won, I felt a little more appreciation. Then I really felt I like I got a lot of support when I was losing. For the past couple of years it's been a struggle. Like I've said all along, I felt like a got more fans over the last two years as I lost more.
DP: Isn't that interesting?
PS: People want to see you suffer a little bit. They don't like to see someone dominating, making it look too easy. They want someone to cheer for. So the past couple of years I just felt I got some more fans, especially at the Open, knowing that I've been dropping in the rankings, not sure how much more I was going to play. And so I think I felt that last night from the fans. I think I felt appreciated. It felt really good to know that. I think history will be pretty good to me over time. So it is the way it kind of works in athletes in an individual sport. Once you start suffering a little bit, then you start to get those fans.


Source: ESPNRadio :wavey: :wavey: :clap2: :clap2: :bigclap: :bigclap: :hug: :hug: :yeah: :bigwave:

Mimi
11-24-2004, 02:53 AM
sorry i don't know too much about tennis skills :confused:

roddick does not attack :confused: , i always see him going for an winner :confused:

thanks for the nice article :wavey:

angiel
11-24-2004, 08:56 PM
Roddick is a baseliner Mimi - not an attacking player - he stays back and dont attack the net or serve and volley at all.

Mimi
11-25-2004, 01:47 AM
what i meant was that he also loves to go for winner and avoid in engaging long rallies, he wants to finish the point quickly, just like Pete :wavey:

Roddick is a baseliner Mimi - not an attacking player - he stays back and dont attack the net or serve and volley at all.

angiel
11-27-2004, 04:16 PM
No Mimi - Roddick is only a big serve - his game is nothing like pete - Pete has a 10 times better serve than Roddick will ever has - a fast serve doesn't mean a good serve Mimi.

Roddick is only beating the crap out of the ball - where as Pete play tennis beautifully - he needs to watch some of pete old matches. :retard: :retard:

Roddick and the others need to get into Roger face on every point of the match - and let us see what will happen - take him out of the game. :help: :help:

angiel
11-27-2004, 05:17 PM
Pete Sampras needs an ace

The seven-time Wimbledon champ might make a tennis comeback, but he's in trouble on the golf course

September 2003
By MICHAEL ARKUSH
Contributing writer, GOLF MAGAZINE

Pete Sampras could always slice a backhand. But a 4-iron? After hitting a "fore left!" drive on the 18th hole at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California, he has one chance to reach the green: a big cut from behind the trees.

"In tennis, I wouldn't be over here," he mutters. Then he succeeds in cutting the ball, but overcooks it. His face falls. But with a respectable chip and a 15-foot par putt, Sampras ties his career low with a 78.

America's best tennis player has left the game -- probably for good. But unlike, say, Ivan Lendl, he doesn't plan to channel his
competitive fire into golf. Sampras has taken only one lesson, doesn't keep a handicap, hasn't been fitted for clubs and doesn't
solicit tips. "I just enjoy the game," says the Bel-Air Country Club member who plays to about an 8. "I don't have it in me to spend hours on the range. If I was a 5, I'd be happy. I've already driven myself enough -- my whole life."

Sampras plays golf the way he played tennis: swinging hard, always attacking. He drives it more than 300 yards and relishes the thrill of trying to pull off great shots. "I don't lay up much," he admits. "If there's an opening, I'm going for it."

After slashing a 340-yard drive on the 512-yard 11th, he pulls his approach into a water hazard. He takes a drop, pounds his fourth shot to the green and recovers to make bogey. "That's my game."

Growing up in Palos Verdes, California, Sampras first played golf at 16. It wasn't until the mid-1990s, though, that his interest grew. Between matches on the road he would join Todd Martin, Jim Courier and other tennis stars for an occasional round. "It was good for me to get away from the tennis life," he says.

Now he has taken a huge step away. After upsetting Andre Agassi in an inspiring U.S. Open final last September, extending his record of Grand Slam titles to 14, Sampras semiretired. He's not ready to call it quits, but he is quite comfortable at home in Beverly Hills, California, with his wife, actress Bridgette Wilson, and their son, Christian, born last November. For the first time in almost 20 years, Sampras needn't worry about his next nutritionally perfect meal, his next practice session, his next tournament. "Being home for the last eight months -- I love it!" he says. And while he hasn't picked up a tennis racket in months, he still hits the gym three or four times a week, "to stay reasonably fit," in case the comeback bug bites.

Pete and Bridgette have played golf together, but mixed doubles isn't his golf game. "Boys need to be with boys," says Sampras, who plays with tennis coach Paul Annacone and actor Luke Wilson. He has also enjoyed several rounds with hockey immortal Wayne Gretzky, a Sherwood member. Today, when Sampras bumps into Gretzky on his way through the grillroom before the round, the two make plans to hook up again.

Early in our round, the talk turns to Annika Sorenstam, who is playing against the men at Colonial this very day. Sampras says he is impressed with Sorenstam's game but dismisses any thought of a similar stunt in tennis. If Serena Williams were to play Lleyton Hewitt, he says, "she'd get killed. There are college kids who could beat her. You really can't compare the two sports in that way. In tennis, you do more running."

Sampras played in the 1999 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and spent last spring making plans to play the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship in July. "The Hope was best-ball with a pro, so I didn't have any score. I was nervous, especially on the 1st tee. But after that, I was fine."

Sampras plans to play in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am early next year -- unless he returns to more familiar turf. "I'd be curious to see if I could do it," he says of a return to competitive tennis. "I haven't closed the door."

Meanwhile, he won't need golf to satisfy a thirst for competition. "It's not a burning thing in my gut," he says. "I'm
happy being the best in what I did."

 

Vital stats
Age: Turns 32 August 12

Claim to fame: Won 14 Grand Slams (7 Wimbledons, 5 U.S. Opens, 2
Australian Opens)

Career record: 726-222

Career moment: Beating Andre Agassi to win 2002 U.S. Open

Home club: Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles

Best shot: "I eagled the 16th at TPC at Sawgrass -- hit a driver and
a cut 4-iron to eight feet...I was pretty happy. :bigclap: :bigclap: :bolt: :bolt: :wazzup: :wazzup: :cat: :cat:

Mimi
11-29-2004, 06:57 AM
oh angiel, how come you know so much about tennis :confused: , do you play tennis yourself, why you behave like a tennis expert :confused: :worship:


No Mimi - Roddick is only a big serve - his game is nothing like pete - Pete has a 10 times better serve than Roddick will ever has - a fast serve doesn't mean a good serve Mimi.

Roddick is only beating the crap out of the ball - where as Pete play tennis beautifully - he needs to watch some of pete old matches. :retard: :retard:

Roddick and the others need to get into Roger face on every point of the match - and let us see what will happen - take him out of the game. :help: :help:

Mimi
11-29-2004, 07:12 AM
oh, why i have not read this article, when will pete returned :confused: :wavey:

angiel
11-29-2004, 02:40 PM
That is an old article Mimi - Pete is not coming back - dont worry - someone from the golf world wrote it - Pete is retired and his staying that way - playing golf, yes.

You dont need to be an expert Mimi - if you follow the sport long enough - you will know something about it after a while - and no I didn't not play tennis - wish I had though.

What Roddick and the other need is a more rounded game - and not just a hugh serve - else Roger is going to win everything - I have hope that someone will come along to match Federer, soon.

angiel
11-29-2004, 08:22 PM
Game, Set, Career
by Rick Reilly (June 16, 2003 SI)


Just inside Pete Sampras's front door in his cushy Beverly Hills house is a case of unopened cans of tennis balls.

"We give them to our friends who have dogs," says his wife, the actress Bridgette Wilson.

Suddenly, she stoops and covers her mouth. "Oops! Did I say that out loud?"

It's the worst-kept secret in tennis. The greatest player who ever lived has quit, without a parade, without a tour, without a goodbye. He has taken his record 14 Grand Slam singles titles and his unseeable serve and called it an era. He's traded his Wilson for his Wilson.

O.K., Sampras says there's a "five percent" chance he could come back and maybe play Wimbledon in 2004. "but the problem is wanting to." The way his nose wrinkles when he talks about it, you get the feeling he'd loofah-scrub Al Roker first.

"It's weird to say, but I'm content," Sampras says. "I'm happy. I've got nothing left to prove to myself. That's a big statement. I'm coming to terms with it, you know? I'm like, "I'm stopping?' But there's nothing left in tennis I want to achieve."

So winning at least one French Open means nothing to you? "If it did, I'd have been there this year," he says flatly.

Now wait a minute! You just don't do this in America! Not at 31! You don't just stop! You're supposed to keep striving, wanting aching to be more, better, greater. In this country the day you buy your Saab 900 is the day you start working your buns off towards the Saab 9000. The carrot is for chasing, not eating, damn it! "I know," he says with a grin. "It's crazy, huh?"

So the final act was his smash hit: the unforgettable Big Fat Greek Upset over Andre Agassi in the finals of the 2002 U.S. Open, when the 17th-seeded Sampras climbed into the stands to hug the person whom the media had blamed for his 26-month winless streak--his pregnant wife.

"[A TV commentator] had called her the Yoko Ono of tennis," he says, venom in his eyes. "That sooo pissed me off. Criticize me, criticize my game, but don't criticize my wife. She pulled me through the hardest period of my tennis life. That's why that [Open win] felt so damn good. I shut them all up in two weeks of work. I showed them that the best part of me was her."
Full yet empty at the same time, he took the rest of 2002 off and the first three months of 2003. In late April he was just about to begin the two-month sweat-a-thon that would get him ready for this year's Wimbledon when something turned up missing--his desire. "I've always had this little thing I do when I tie my shoes," Sampras says. "I finish tying them, slap the ground and say to myself, Here we go! But this time, it didn't feel good. And I stopped, right there and then."

He stewed over it. Was his career really over? He called friends in and out of tennis. Finally, when he called Wayne Gretzky and asked him what to do, the hockey god said simply, "You're the only one who can know." Sampras realized then that he already did. And that has pleased exactly nobody else.

His family, his friends, Bridgette, they all want him to play one more Grand Slam event. "I want it to be up to him, but, just personally, I'm going to miss watching him play," Bridgette says holding the six-month -old boy, Christian, for whom she's happily suspended her acting career. "And I'd love for Christian to be there once, even if he'd never remember."

But Sampras is choosing this new Huggies life, this Gymboree world where he's a hero to nobody but a kid who will never see him play. "My life not playing is too good!" he says, and that life includes adults--too much golf with his pal, actor Luke Wilson, and too many welts from banging with his three-on-three hoops buddies out on his tennis court. (Hey, you gotta use that space for something.)

He's a new man. You should see him chug the baby's baby's chocolate soy milk straight out of the carton, order the extra dessert, eat dinner without a thought of carbohydrate counts. "If I want steak instead of a big plate of pasta, I can," he gloats. "Or I can not eat at all. I'm free! I don't have to worry all the time: How am I going to play tomorrow? How're my legs? Did I eat the right combinations?"

But doesn't America deserve a chance to watch you take your last bows? "Acch," he says with a shrug. "I see Michael Chang doing the farewell tour thing, the rocking chair in each city thing, taking the bows. I don't want that. I hate to be honored. I took my bows at that Open. I just didn't know it."

I pity Pete Sampras. I do. He's lost the drive, the ambition, that will that keeps the rest of us busting his butts. There is no hope for the satisfied man, they say. Sampras is 31, and he'll never do anything greater in his life. He's doomed to spend the rest of his days with a neck-snapping blonde and a gorgeous son in a hilltop palace with nothing to do but find new and creative ways to blow his career winnings of $43 million.

(Hey, Pete, need any help?)
:worship: :worship: :angel: :angel: :bowdown: :bowdown: :haha: :haha:

Mimi
11-30-2004, 03:02 AM
oh angiel, you are a lot smarter than me, even i play a bit tennis, i don't understand too much about the skills :o

thanks for the article, hehe, wilson gave the balls for the dogs to play :D

angiel
11-30-2004, 08:24 PM
oh angiel, you are a lot smarter than me, even i play a bit tennis, i don't understand too much about the skills :o

thanks for the article, hehe, wilson gave the balls for the dogs to play :D

The game is not that hard to understand my dear.

Well, there is one using them, so the dogs will, heheheheh, smart dogs. :cool: :cool: :devil:

angiel
11-30-2004, 09:17 PM
A Great One Goes Out in Style

[August 25, 2003 Sally Jenkins] Pete Sampras will leave the game as he played it, a modest, easy, all-time great. You see all kinds of retirements in sports, and most of them are emotionally awkward and difficult to watch. There's the weeping news conference. There's the endless, ceremonial you'll-miss-me tour. There's the stutter-step retirement, in which the athlete retires only to unretire when he craves attention or needs the money.

Almost no one retires well.

But Sampras is retiring in graceful self-control. He plans to announce his retirement in a ceremony at the U.S. Open tonight, and a lot of people wonder why Sampras won't make more of the event, allow himself to be more elaborately feted. The simple answer is that
Sampras doesn't need it. He doesn't need a last jolt of adrenaline or dose of adulation. He doesn't need a prolonged ego bath. He doesn't need more money, or trophies. He doesn't need any of the things that other athletes find it so hard to walk away from. He's content.

That contentment is a kind of achievement in its own right. Sampras has made himself invisible since his victory in last year's U.S. Open. His 14th major championship now stands as the last match of his career, the perfect finish.

He's never played in another tournament. He's declined all interviews. He's simply stayed at home with his wife and new baby. Typically, he's chosen the anticlimactic first night of this year's tournament, rather than the last, to make his announcement. The session isn't even sold out.

Some may find this disappointing, but I find it to be utterly true to who Sampras is. He never trusted fame, and always boxed up and guarded his ego.

Here are two true stories about Sampras, and how he consistently handled his success from the time he won his first U.S. Open at 19, to his last at 32. In 1996, Sampras was traveling cross country in first class on a commercial jet, and sat next to Barry Bonds. Bonds
didn't recognize him, and Sampras, shyly, didn't introduce himself. Behind Sampras sat a friend of Bonds, who wanted to sit with the ballplayer. Bonds pointed at Sampras. "If this kid gets [up], you can move up here," Bonds said. Sampras shrugged and moved, without a word.

At around the same time, he tried to go to dinner at a Florida steakhouse, only to find that the line for a table went out the door. Sampras, for perhaps the only time in his life, tried to use his influence. He walked up to the hostess and asked for a table. The
hostess didn't know who he was. Sampras went to the back of the line, embarrassed, and never did it again.

Sampras has been the same reserved and methodical player throughout his career, no matter how many tournaments he won or records he set. Which achievement will stand longest? His record 14 Grand Slam titles? His seven Wimbledon titles? His six straight years as the year-end No. 1 player in the world? It's the latter that Sampras might be proudest of, because it bespeaks an entire philosophy of the game, tennis as ethic. He wasn't just great, he was dependably great. He never tanked, never ducked a commitment and struck every ball with serious intent. His work habits were equal to his talent.

For this he was labeled boring, but the label did a disservice to a player who made professionalism into artistry, and vice versa. He played complete and deeply realized tennis, but the lulling beauty of his game was so hypnotic that audiences couldn't imagine it came from sweat and work. In fact, it was the product of grim focus, self-deprivation and discipline. He burned to win so much that he got ulcers. He spent hours sweating with weights in a Florida garage with no air-conditioning -- "They don't air-condition the court at the Open," he said.

He traveled without seeing countries, rarely leaving his hotel except to practice, and he ate the same monastic training diet for years, sauceless pasta and chicken. "Every meal, whether I liked it or not," he said. "Choking it down." A rare splurge was to go to Vegas to play blackjack for a weekend, or to Peter Luger's steakhouse in New York, which more often than not left him queasy because he wasn't used to such rich food.

It was a source of frustration to him that the audience didn't grasp how much effort was behind the ease. "People watch him win, and think that doesn't look too hard," his coach, Paul Annacone, said. "But he'd like people to understand just how difficult it is."

The problem was that Sampras wasn't willing to abandon his reserve in exchange for understanding. If that was the price, he preferred to be misunderstood. He suffered a rare public breakdown at the Australian Open, after learning that his coach and friend, Tim Gullikson, had terminal brain cancer, and wept on the court in the midst of a match against Jim Courier. But later, he was bothered by his new popularity as a result of the episode. "It galled me that it took something like that for people to say, 'He's human,' " he said.

He preferred to stay sheltered in the hills above Los Angeles in a home that was comfortable, not palatial, and hidden behind towering old trees. "No one can see in and I can't see out, and I like it that way," he said. "I'm Howard Hughes." He kept his trophies on a shelf in the TV room, and enjoyed showing them, but with typical self-deprecation. "They aren't as heavy as you think," he said.

The press always found Sampras difficult to render precisely because he was so moderate and well-regulated. His genius came without the McEnroe-esque emotional torture, and therefore was un-dramatic. He was neither heroic nor villainous, he was simply excellent. Greatness was his only real excess. A villain or tortured genius would have been easier to describe. He was not a good conductor for audience emotions, either, because the whole point of him was that he was great every day, and the last thing audiences want at a sports event is the everyday.

But I'll miss him, both personally and professionally. I'll miss his hugely aspiring game, cloaked in that lazybones demeanor. I'll miss the prodigious sleeper, the slouchy, gangly, drowsy kid who napped in the player lounge and shuffled around in flip-flops for the past 15 years. I'll miss the determined, glowering athlete who internalized pain but couldn't keep it from coming out sideways. I'll miss the dedicated player who made a champion out of himself by deciding that his work should be equal to his talent. I'll miss his gorgeous classicism, his buried humor, his essential decency and his shy friendliness.

I suspect I won't see Sampras coming out of retirement to struggle to one more quarterfinal, just so he can hear applause again. I won't see a seedier, paunchy version of him on the senior tennis circuit a few years from now. The only place any of us is liable to see him is courtside at a Lakers game, or walking his baby in the park, contentedly. But then, Sampras has never wanted to be seen. He only wanted to be great.

:worship: :worship: :cool: :cool: :angel: :angel: :hearts: :hearts: :bigclap: :bigclap: :clap2: :clap2: :shout: :shout: :rolls: :rolls:

Golfnduck
12-01-2004, 12:58 AM
Great article!!! :)

Mimi
12-01-2004, 02:18 AM
welcome to our party, goldnduck :D, by the way, my mum loves Roddick like you :)

Great article!!! :)

Mimi
12-01-2004, 02:20 AM
thanks for the lovely article, pete is so humble, and how come the waitressed did not know him :mad:

angiel
12-01-2004, 07:54 PM
Great article!!! :)


:worship: Thank you Golfnduck - and please visit anything - we love having you. ;)

Roddick - needs to change is game though, talk more about that. :wavey: :wavey:

angiel
12-01-2004, 08:02 PM
thanks for the lovely article, pete is so humble, and how come the waitressed did not know him :mad:


Because he doesn't use his fame or money - for people to like or know him Mimi - as the article said - he never want to be seen - only to be great. :kiss: :kiss:

That is one of the big reason I love him so much :angel: :angel: - he knows how to be great - not like some i could name. :o :o

Mimi
12-02-2004, 02:16 AM
totally agreed with angiel :worship:

Because he doesn't use his fame or money - for people to like or know him Mimi - as the article said - he never want to be seen - only to be great. :kiss: :kiss:

That is one of the big reason I love him so much :angel: :angel: - he knows how to be great - not like some i could name. :o :o

angiel
12-02-2004, 08:08 PM
Big up mimi, Pete rule. :worship: :worship: :angel: :angel: :bounce: :bounce: :lick: :tennis: :tennis: :timebomb: :timebomb:

angiel
12-02-2004, 08:12 PM
Lessons from a champion

[October 29, 2003 Zenaida A. Amador] IN an exclusive interview one night over BBC, Pete Sampras fielded a lot of questions on his career as a tennis champion for six straight years.

Two questions and answers intrigued me no end. The first question asked of Sampras was about when he decided to pursue his career seriously. Meaning serious to the point of being determined enough to win all those titles.

Pete Sampras answered that he was just happy sailing along in the game as the number six player in the world. He was enjoying himself, no pressure, happy where he was. And then one day, at a match which he lost and he realized he could have won, the defeat was so stinging that he decided he wanted to be number one. He realized it meant a lot of hardwork and pressure, but at that moment it became crystal clear to him that he wanted to be dead serious about the game. He was going to the top and he was going to stay there. The rest is tennis history.


What struck me is how a defeat led to hundreds of victories. The defeat did not overwhelm Sampras, it spurred him to glory, fame and money.


The second question was about what helped Sampras stay on top. And how he kept his cool everytime there were bad line calls and he did not like umpire's decisions or when his opponent was rude or ill-mannered. Sampras answered that he just focused on what he had to do to win. He said it was a waste of time and energy to argue or quarrel. That was not part of the game. Not part of the sport. There you have it. Jewels of wisdom from a true champion. Victory indeed, is often achieved in the mind.
:angel: :angel: :kiss: :kiss: :awww: :awww:

angiel
12-03-2004, 08:23 PM
Mimi is too sick to post - hope you get well soon my dearie - i hate been sick. :wavey: :wavey:

angiel
12-04-2004, 07:07 PM
Teen ace Pete Sampras an unlikely U.S Open champion
Posted: Wednesday July 28, 1999 03:55 PM

By Alexander Wolff

He takes three balls from the ball boy and examines each. The briefest frown may cross his face before he throws the fuzziest one back, as if it were an undersized bass. That frown is all the emotion you're likely to get from Pete Sampras, the youngest man ever to win the U.S. Open and the first American to prevail since 1984. He keeps two balls, thrusts one into his pocket, hoists the baldest one -- ''I like the fuzz thin,'' he says, ''because the thinner ones go through the air quicker'' -- rocks, cocks and powders it toward some poor soul obliged to do something with it.

One hundred times, over the length of the tournament, the best tennis players in the world, including Andre Agassi, Ivan Lendl and a rejuvenated John McEnroe, could do nothing with the serve of Sampras, 19 years old, seeded 12th and now all-three-network-morning-shows famous. ''I've got a heater and a changeup,'' he says like some phenom just up from Triple A. Sampras is so welcome to U.S. tennis precisely because he splits the difference between the pious Michael Chang and the ostentatious Agassi. His style is classic serve- and-volley, and someday this Southern California kid of Greek ancestry will win Wimbledon. But Sampras will be forever linked with the U.S. Open, just as Boris Becker and Mats Wilander are identified with the tournaments that midwifed them, Wimbledon and the French Open, respectively.

Tennyson, anyone? In Sunday's final, Agassi watched cannon to the left of him, cannon to the right of him, as Sampras thundered and volleyed. Agassi could not make reply; he could not reason why. ''Why are you so slow?'' he muttered to himself between points. There was an answer in the numbers that the announcer up in the Flushing Meadow press box calls ''sadistics.'' Sampras hit 13 aces in the match. Agassi not only never had a break point in the first two sets, but he also never even forced a deuce game on Sampras's serve, which hovered around 120 mph during the final. The final arithmetic -- 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 -- had a grim progression to it.

Sampras's father stayed home too. For all their son's reserve, Soterios (Sam) and Georgia Sampras, who reside in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., are so emotional that they can't even watch him live on TV, preferring instead to view the matches on tape, with the outcome already known. Not that Pete believes in on- site support. He has a coach, Joe Brandi, but his spiritual mentor is none other than his victim in the quarterfinals, Lendl. Last December, to prepare for the Masters, Lendl invited Sampras to his Greenwich, Conn., home to be a workout and hitting partner. Sampras sampled the ascetic life-style -- rigorous training, plenty of sleep, eat-to-win diet -- that had turned Lendl into the best player in the world. Between the end of last year and the start of the U.S. Open, Sampras rose steadily from No. 81 to No. 12. Still, he had no premonition of what he would do at the tournament. Indeed, after an easy third-round defeat of Jakob Hlasek, Sampras summarized his chances thus: ''Maybe in a couple of years, but I don't think it's realistic right now.''

Only after he had upset Lendl 6-4, 7-6, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2 did Sampras feel he could take the prize. In the final he seized breaks early in the first two sets, and by the third, Agassi's spirit was broken. Sampras went up 4-2 in the clinching set by breaking Agassi at love, and wherever he was, Robby Benson must have been bracing himself for the prospect of people stopping him in the street and saying, ''Hey, aren't you Pete Sampras?''

Sampras had learned from his opponent's semifinal. ''Agassi hit it in the corner for three hours,'' Becker had said after losing 6-7, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3. But Sampras realized that Becker had let Agassi do so.

''Becker had a bad game plan,'' said Sampras. ''He tried to outslug Andre. He should have come to the net as soon as possible.''

Only five years ago Sampras was just another counterpunching junior with a two- fisted backhand. After he did poorly in the 1985 Easter Bowl junior tournament, his coach at the time, Dr. Peter Fischer, prevailed upon him to change his game. Sampras went to a one-handed backhand, improved his serve by studying tapes of Rod Laver and began rushing the net. Over the short term the switch seemed rash; he lost to players he had beaten easily, and his ranking plummeted. But the trade-off was meant to pay dividends later on. As Sampras grew into his body, the tumblers of his serve-and-volley game began falling into place. It was Agassi's misfortune to get whacked in the face as the safe door swung open. After reaching the finals of the only two Grand Slam events he played this year, drawing one guy (Andres Gomez) who seemed too old to beat him and another (Sampras) who appeared to be too young, Andre was oh-fer.

''For whatever I do the rest of my career,'' Sampras told the crowd as he accepted his trophy on Sunday evening, ''I'll always be a U.S. Open champion.''

To some, image may be everything. But Sampras -- with his feet on the ground, an ace in the air and a “NO I'M NOT” T-shirt in his future -- has proved that reality counts for something too.

:worship: :worship: :angel: :angel: :cool: :cool: :p :p

Mimi
12-06-2004, 12:59 AM
yes pete's serve is the best :worship: :worship:

his temper is also the best :worship: :worship:

angiel
12-06-2004, 02:38 PM
yes pete's serve is the best :worship: :worship:

his temper is also the best :worship: :worship:


His everything is the best. ;) ;) :p

See you later. :wavey: :wavey:

angiel
12-06-2004, 08:51 PM
Triumph and Disaster: Reflections on Pete Sampras

[August 22, 2003 David Higdon ATP tour.com] Inscribed above the entry to Wimbledon's venerable Centre Court, the hallowed green lawn which seven-time champion Pete Sampras turned into his own private backyard, is a quote from Rudyard Kipling:
"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same."

No verse could more accurately reflect the route to greatness undertaken by Pete Sampras. He will go down in history as the best player who ever wielded a tennis racquet, but his victories will pale compared to the trials and tribulations that he endured along the way. Who can reflect on Sampras' triumphs without recalling how he once cried and then later literally spilled his guts on court for his coach and best friend, Tim Gullikson, who died in 1995 from brain cancer. His record-breaking Slam title at Wimbledon in 2000 will be remembered as one he won under the threat of darkness, flashbulbs turning dusk into a flutter of lights as he broke down under the watchful eyes of his reticent parents. Everyone will forget, however, that he practically played the entire last week on one leg, his injured left foot requiring painkilling injections prior to play so he could endure another day frolicking so athletically on the manicured grass.

Sampras projected a cool, detached presence, and rarely let his guard down. But that's what made those moments, when the door to his soul opened ever so slightly for all or some of us to see, so enlightening. Following his triumph at Wimbledon four years ago, Sampras eventually relented to my pressure-he referred to it as "nagging"-to stop for a day in New York City on his way back home to Los Angeles for a round of media appearances. At the end of a long morning of interviews, he was escorted by a coterie of TV personnel toward an elevator. He suddenly stopped and said he'd prefer to walk upstairs instead, quickly shoving me into a stairwell and letting the heavy door slam loudly behind us.

"#&%*!" Sampras barked when we were out of earshot. He then took off his shoes, and with his left arm braced on my right shoulder, we walked up several flights of stairs, his left leg barely useful to him. The painkillers he had taken earlier, prior to The Today Show appearance at the crack of dawn, had worn off completely. When he opened the door at the top of the stairs, however, his shoes were back on, he strolled quickly to a sound stage for his final round of interviews and didn't mutter a word about his discomfort to anyone.

Sampras stands alone in his chosen sport, both figuratively because of his achievements and literally because of its nature. Tennis remains unique in the world of sports in that its participants still compete naked on stage. As writer Jay Winik once stated in an editorial in The Wall Street Journal: "Sports commentatorsut Mr. Sampras in that special category reserved for the likes of Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Mark McGwire. But this almost certainly understates Mr. Sampras's achievements. With all due respect, none of these marvelous athletes has faced the withering day-to-day pressures confronted by Mr. Sampras. And all have had someone to fall back on during "off" days: In golf, there's your caddy; in boxing, your corner; in baseball and basketball, your teammates. Not so in tennis?Mr. Sampras has done it utterly and totally alone."

Sampras seemed blessed from the moment at 18 months when his Greek father took him out back and watched him repeatedly kick a football straight through some uprights that he had rigged up. Soterios (Sam) Sampras eventually pushed Pete into tennis, then entrusted his son's training to a doctor sporting an IQ of 200 but absolutely no background in coaching tennis. Dr. Pete Fischer was a pediatric endocrinologist who had mad scientist designs to "create" the perfect tennis player. He plucked his malleable student in front of old 18-millimeter films of Rod Laver and told Sampras that some day he would be better than the "greatest player ever." All this before the kid could hit a decent backhand passing shot.

But the talent was there. Even when he was losing plenty of tennis matches as a junior player, observers gushed. "When they were passing out talent," USTA junior development coach Greg Patton told me in 1987 when I was writing about Sampras for Tennis Magazine, "they not only dumped it on Pete Sampras, they not only sanded down Pete Sampras and put a layer of paint on him, they put 12 different coats of high-premium paint all over this kid. He is a piece of art." Fischer dismissed all concerns about Sampras' lack of success in the juniors as irrelevant in his preparation for the pros. "The goal has always been Wimbledon," Fischer said, "The competition has always been Rod Laver."

At Sampras' first four Grand Slam tournaments, he didn't get past the second round. But at the 1990 U.S. Open, Sampras strung together the hottest two weeks of tennis in his fledgling career-a "premature blip," he now calls it. He won the event at age 19 to become the youngest men's champion in the tournament's history. Along the way, he beat four former and future No. 1 players: Thomas Muster, Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe and Andre Agassi. Sports Illustrated put him on its cover under the slug line: "A Star is Born."

Then he fell back down to earth.

In 1991, losses piled up, the media and fan attention drained him of energy and Sampras quickly retreated back into his former shell. The low point occurred at the 1991 U.S. Open. After falling in the quarterfinals to Jim Courier, at the time a rising young American, Sampras admitted that the pressure of defending his title was a "bag of bricks." When his comments were relayed to Jimmy Connors, in the midst of his crowd-pleasing run to the semifinals at age 39, the veteran ripped into Sampras. "That's the biggest crock of #%#@," Connors said. "Being the U.S. Open champ is what I lived for. If he's relieved at losing, something is wrong with the game?and wrong with him!"

Sampras, the child prodigy, soon found Tim Gullikson, the former lunch-bucket pro. They were the Odd Couple. When the two first started working together, Gullikson was reading a book on Tao; I'm not convinced Pete has even read a book since perusing The Catcher in the Rye in high school.

Gullikson's friends nicknamed him Mr. Intensity; Courier dubbed Sampras "The Sweet One" for his effortless, casual approach to life. Gullikson would want to lose weight, so he'd start running 10 miles a day, seven days a week. Conversely, the serene Sampras expected positive results more than he wanted to work for them. Lendl once had taken Sampras under his wing for a week but declared the time together a waste. "He doesn't know what it takes," Lendl said. "He isn't willing to do what he needs."

Sampras already had dispatched a host of coaches when he hired Gullikson. An acrimonious split with Fischer soured him on "mentors," and he had little respect for what someone else could teach him. Gullikson was once ranked No. 18, Sampras calculated, and never even played during the final weekend of a Grand Slam tournament. What does he know about becoming World No.1? But their partnership worked until Gullikson's untimely passing. "Pete validated me," Gullikson said just prior to his death. "It's funny. I feel like I belong now."

Certainly Sampras belongs on a list of the greatest athletes of the 21st century, an accolade earned in large part under the wise and inevitably under-appreciated direction of Paul Annacone. Sampras was the ATP World No. 1 for a record-breaking six consecutive years, an achievement that many of us consider even more untouchable than his Grand Slam titles record. His career prize money earnings exceed $43 million, nearly double rival Andre Agassi's, a testament not only to his ability to deliver during prime time-14 Grand Slam titles, 11 Tennis Masters Series titles and five year-end championships-but also his relentless, steady pursuit of perfection throughout his 15-year career.

The aforementioned quote on the Wimbledon Centre Court entry reflects the essence of Pete Sampras the Tennis Player. But it's the entire verse by Kipling that more accurately reflects his spirit, and guides him as he now steps toward a new life as husband and father:

"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same.
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings-nor lose the common touch.
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And-which is more-you'll be a Man, my son!"
:worship: :worship: :angel: :angel: :bowdown: :bowdown: :dance: :dance: :woohoo: :woohoo:

Mimi
12-07-2004, 02:45 AM
angiel,thanks for the article, but do you read them all :wavey: , then you read very quickly :worship:

i don't know that pete's one leg was not working at 00 wimby, then he is a man of great mental power, how come he surpassed the injury to win :angel: :eek:

angiel
12-07-2004, 09:30 PM
angiel,thanks for the article, but do you read them all :wavey: , then you read very quickly :worship:

i don't know that pete's one leg was not working at 00 wimby, then he is a man of great mental power, how come he surpassed the injury to win :angel: :eek:


My dear Mimi - I read all of the articles I post here - there is not one article here that I haven't read myself - I read about everything for Pete that I can find - I told you I have 6 scrapbooks about him - that I made. :D


Mimi - pete was injury during 00 wimbly, didn't you read about it in the news - it was all there, most of his 14 slams are won while he was injury my friend, remember the 1996 US open, how sick he was. :cool: :cool:

He is the most mentally balance athlete I have ever see, that one of the reasons he is the greatest of them all, pete was not just a tennis player Mimi - he was an athlete, I think he could of excell at any sports he choose. :worship: :worship:

angiel
12-07-2004, 10:31 PM
On Sunday, the men's championship between Pete Sampras and Patrick Rafter of Australia was delayed several times by rain, but when it began in earnest, it was a doozy. Sampras had a lot at stake this time, wanting to win his 7th Wimbledon and set a record for winning the most grand slam tournaments -- ever. An exciting match, with serves reaching 130 miles an hour. Sampras won and was very emotional, apparently because he had spent a week with a sore leg and hadn't warmed up or moved except in his matches -- but also because his parents were on hand for the first time since 1992, when he lost the U.S. Open. I'm not sure why they have not attended his matches, but he was thrilled they were there.

I'm such a sop that I get emotional too. I'm just right in there -- clapping, telling the players what a dumb move they just made, doing a little arm pumping, (which apparently is acceptable when Pete Sampras does it after a good shot, but not when golfer Tiger Woods does it. Gee, I wonder why.)

Well, anyhoo -- it was an exciting week and the next stop is the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York. See you there.

:worship: :worship: :worship: :worship:

Mimi
12-08-2004, 02:22 AM
yes pete is unbelievable, winning against all odds in us open 02 and had to fight against not only his opponents but also the injuries :music: :rocker2:

angiel
12-08-2004, 10:10 PM
yes pete is unbelievable, winning against all odds in us open 02 and had to fight against not only his opponents but also the injuries :music: :rocker2:


You dont spend 6 years as the number one player in the world, if you are not mentally tough - and has game to boot. GREATEST. :yippee: :yippee: :tennis: :tennis:

angiel
12-08-2004, 10:12 PM
yes pete is unbelievable, winning against all odds in us open 02 and had to fight against not only his opponents but also the injuries :music: :rocker2:


You dont spend 6 years as the number one player in the world, if you are not mentally tough, and has game to boot. GREATEST. :tennis: :tennis: :timebomb: :timebomb:

angiel
12-08-2004, 11:05 PM
Thank you for the memories Pete, we miss you! :wavey: :wavey:

Sampras' departure left us all with void.

[June 24, 2003 Peter Kerasotis FLORIDA TODAY ] We begin to recognize Pete Sampras' greatness now as we observe it in the rearview mirror of history.

Eye-rubbing statistics spill forth -- a record 14 Grand Slam titles, for instance -- and it's hard to believe Pete Sampras accomplished all that he did and that he's still only 31.

Even harder to imagine that he is only 31 and walking away from tennis. Perhaps for good.

For the first time in 15 years there is no Pete Sampras at Wimbledon, and the taste it leaves is like bread without butter.

Sometimes, you don't realize how good something was until you don't have it anymore.

We weren't that way with Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky, of course. Time stood still when they were on center stage. We savored the moment.

Time passed quickly with Pete Sampras. Now we savor the memory.

Jordan and Gretzky are the perfect analogy because they were not only the greatest of their era, but of all time. The Sampras era ran almost concurrently with Gretzky's and Jordan's, and he not only dominated his sport like they did theirs, but also was the greatest of all time.

But we really didn't notice, did we? Not like we should have.

We perceived Sampras as boring and mechanical, and a little too private for our liking. Once upon a time, Joe DiMaggio was like that, and yet his stardom never suffered from a lack of wattage. But we live in different times now, for sure.

Good guys like Tim Duncan and David Robinson can front the best team in the NBA and produce the lowest live TV ratings in the history of the NBA Finals.

Pete Sampras wasn't flashy enough in a sport that has been declining in popularity anyway. It hurt his popularity. But so be it. He wouldn't have done anything differently.

Sampras never wanted to be flashy. Pick out a picture from the Sampras era and you'd be hard-pressed to attach a date to it. Early '90s or late '90s? It'll be that way years from now, too. Why? Because Sampras never wanted his pictures to look dated, swayed by the fads and fashions of the day.

You can form a pop culture timeline by looking at Andre Agassi's pictures through the years. From big hair to no hair, from beard to goatee, from headband to bandanna, from the day-glo garb of a decade ago to whatever the fashion flavor is today.

That was Agassi.

Sampras basically wore, well, your basic whites. Short-cropped hair. And that was it. Nothing much changed. Nothing to indicate, even, that he played when he played.

The reason behind that is Sampras wanted his look, like his game, to be timeless.

And so it is.

But now his time has come and gone. He didn't play in the Australian Open, and it was because he was taking a few months off for the birth of his first child. Then he didn't play in the French Open, and we thought maybe it was an anomaly. After all, he never much cared for the French and its clay surface, reflected in the fact that he never won the tournament.

But Wimbledon was different. It is where he won seven of his 14 Grand Slams, most in the modern era. But the thrill of the grass doesn't thrill him anymore. His wife recently said the tennis balls that still come in boxes to their home, they give away "to friends who have dogs."

If Wimbledon, where Sampras once went 54-1 in matches during an eight-year stretch, couldn't pull him back, then what will?

And so we look at the end of an era as a time to analyze and theorize.

Will anyone win 14 Grand Slam tennis titles again? Hard to imagine. But then again, it was hard to imagine someone approaching Jack Nicklaus' record 18 majors in golf. Until Tiger Woods came along. Point is, we won't appreciate how hard it is to win 14 Grand Slams until someone tries to do it again, which then will put Pete Sampras' name to the fore in a way that it perhaps never was as a player.

Even now, it's hard to believe that when ESPN gave us its list of the 50 greatest athletes of the 20th century, Pete Sampras barely made the radar screen. He came in at 48th, wedged between Edwin Moses and O.J. Simpson.

The greatest tennis player of all time is only the 48th greatest athlete of his century?

Please.

How embarrassing. Not for Sampras, but for ESPN.

History will be a friend to Pete Sampras, the friend he never had when he was playing. It will grow his stature and put his accomplishments in bold print with exclamation points. It will move him up the list of all-time greatest athletes.

I still think Sampras has what it takes to be the best in the world, like he was late in the summer of 2002, when he summoned all his greatness and won the U.S. Open, and then left the court for the stands, where he hugged his pregnant wife and shed a tear.

It was a scene more symbolic than we realized, for it is his family and his life away from tennis that now captivates his interests.

"I took my bows at the U.S. Open," Pete Sampras said of that moment. "I just didn't know it."

We know it now.

His era came and went.

It wasn't like we blinked and missed. It was more like we hardly gave it a look.
:sad: :sad: :mad: :mad:

Mimi
12-09-2004, 05:26 AM
thanks, wimby misses pete :wavey:

angiel
12-09-2004, 07:45 PM
Mimi - dont you see that I am getting crazy - i have two of the same post yesterday - I am losing my head I tell you, jee. :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad:

angiel
12-09-2004, 07:46 PM
thanks, wimby misses pete :wavey:


I say Amen to that Mimi - the both of then goes hand in hand, take away one, you take away the other. :angel: :angel:

Mimi
12-10-2004, 02:00 AM
wimby also has to say thank you to pete, if he still plays, then the trophy probably still goes with him, that means, fewer chances for others and their local British players as well ;)

I say Amen to that Mimi - the both of then goes hand in hand, take away one, you take away the other. :angel: :angel:

Lalitha
12-10-2004, 12:38 PM
thanks, wimby misses pete :wavey:

Only Wimby mimi, every tennis lover misses him!

angiel
12-10-2004, 08:14 PM
Only Wimby mimi, every tennis lover misses him!


You are so right lalitha - everyone of them misses him now - well they alway say "you dont Know a good thing until you lose it" :worship: :worship:

angiel
12-10-2004, 08:16 PM
wimby also has to say thank you to pete, if he still plays, then the trophy probably still goes with him, that means, fewer chances for others and their local British players as well ;)


No Tim Henman winning that great trophy - well i think this is his last chance, next year, dont you? :topic: :topic: :crazy: :crazy:

Mimi
12-11-2004, 03:42 AM
i have sympathy for tim but seems he is already 30 or 31? yes may be last chance for him, may be he can do the same as goran but if roger and roddick etc are here, not too many chances :wavey:

No Tim Henman winning that great trophy - well i think this is his last chance, next year, dont you? :topic: :topic: :crazy: :crazy:

angiel
12-11-2004, 07:03 PM
Tim is 30 years old Mimi - and you are right - maybe he can win it all next year - never say never - a lot of people would love to see him win - and it would be good for British tennis. :worship: :worship:

angiel
12-11-2004, 08:24 PM
How hard is Pete's serve? Check strings
E N Q U I R E R S P O R T S C O V E R A G E


(August 16, 1999) Pete Sampras doesn't know his own strength. He couldn't. He couldn't imagine how intimidating he is without standing on the opposite baseline, contemplating the Sampras serve.

He couldn't know the unholy terror of trying to contend with topspin at 133 mph, or the chilling sensation of having somebody's shot turn your strings to spaghetti. No other tennis player defeats or demoralizes so many opponents. Pete Sampras couldn't possibly comprehend his power unless he got himself cloned.

“I felt intimidated on his serve the whole time,” Patrick Rafter said Sunday. “Even when I was there, it was very difficult to get back.”

Rafter is the world's fourth-ranked player and a two-time U.S. Open Champion, but he might as well have been wielding a ping pong paddle on the ATP Championships springy Stadium Court. Sampras claimed a 7-6, 6-3 victory, his third career ATP title and the singular distinction of hitting a serve so hard that it sailed clean through his rival's racket.

Sampras was serving with a 3-2 lead in the first-set tiebreaker when he shredded Rafter's thin, 17-gauge strings on an otherwise faulty serve that was measured at 128 mph. Professional tennis players break strings all the time — Sampras typically breaks two or three strings per match — but Alex Bullock of Jay's Custom Stringing said it was the first time anyone could recall a shot breaking through to the other side of the racket.

“When you have big servers and you mishit a return, you are at great risk of breaking a string,” said Nate Ferguson, Sampras' racket specialist. “But I've never seen it go through the string bed before.

“It sounded like a broken racket. But when he came over for a new racket, four (broken) strings were visible — just enough for the ball to speed through. What does that tell you? Pete comes with a lot of heat.”

Ferguson has seen enough of Sampras that he shouldn't be surprised by much anymore.

But this was something new, something out of a Popeye cartoon or a Nike commercial. It was as vivid a show of strength as tennis has produced since Boris Becker was a bachelor.

“That doesn't happen very often,” Sampras said. “I can't remember that happening. (But) It was more important I got a first serve out of it, which was nice.”

Leave it to Sampras to look at the profound and see the pragmatic. He is the best player of his time by as big a margin as Bill Tilden or Bjorn Borg, but he leaves the hype to Andre Agassi. Sampras saw Rafter's broken racket not as a symbol of his own supremacy but as a reprieve for a faulty first serve. Because Rafter was obliged to replace his racket, Sampras was able to serve again without fear of a double fault.

He went on to win the point, and then smoked a 133 mph ace past Rafter, as if for emphasis. Rafter would rally to lead the tiebreaker, 7-6, but then failed to return Sampras serves of 116 and 131 mph.

When Sampras was able to break Rafter's serve in the second set, the outcome became inevitable. Those who would break Sampras' serve depend primarily on double faults.

“The amazing part of it is the way Pete hits his serve,” Ferguson said. “He plays with a small-headed racket — 85 square inches; the tightest tension (usually around 75 pounds) and the heaviest racket. How he generates that pace is beyond me. I've never faced him, but to stand at the baseline I'd have to guess which way he's going. Half the time, he'd have a clean ace, and the rest of the time I would be dodging the ball.”

Sampras' serve is not the fastest on record. Gary Rusedski's reached 149 mph last year at Indian Wells, Calif. But no other player hits his spots so consistently with so much steam. Imagine Greg Maddux with Randy Johnson's fastball.

“It was a bit annoying,” Rafter said of Sampras' breakthrough serve. “I looked at it and I just thought, "That's pretty indicative of the way he's serving.'”

tsullivan@enquirer.com

:explode: :explode: :timebomb: :timebomb: :tennis: :tennis: :boxing: :boxing:

Mimi
12-13-2004, 01:47 AM
pete's serve is more threatening than goran's coz goran made a lot of double faults :o

angiel
12-13-2004, 02:07 PM
pete's serve is more threatening than goran's coz goran made a lot of double faults :o


I agree Mimi - Pete serve is so heavy and has lots of spin, and just look how he serves, the motion is fluid and so easy - that is what young players need to copy. :worship: :worship:

ataptc
12-13-2004, 03:10 PM
“It sounded like a broken racket. But when he came over for a new racket, four (broken) strings were visible — just enough for the ball to speed through. What does that tell you? Pete comes with a lot of heat.”
:eek: :eek:

:yeah:

angiel
12-13-2004, 08:01 PM
:eek: :eek:

:yeah:


hey, hey. :banana: :banana: :sport: :sport: :haha: :haha:

angiel
12-13-2004, 08:43 PM
One For The Ages


Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi deliver a "classic"


[September, 2001 Edward T. Chase]

Why couldn't Andre Agassi hit down the line to Pete Sampras's backhand when returning his serves instead of into Pete's forehand in the deuce court? Instead, Andre returned his forehand returns cross court into Sampras's forehand volley, as Pete, now at the net, volleyed them into Agassi's ad court, beyond his reach.

The answer, of course, is that the down the line return of Pete's service was too risky, too tough a shot given Pete's strong serve, and Pete and Andre both knew it. This was one of the crucial patterns in Sampras's infinitely close win over Agassi at this year's Open. That plus some of his monster forehand cross court drives while in extremis--and rare but devastating, almost flat, high-velocity, down-the-line, killer backhands by Pete. Just enough of these tactics and some miraculous half volleys gave him that tiny edge in this, their 32nd meeting. Now Pete has 18 wins, Andre 14, over this decade of play.

Andre's defining virtue was his relentless, unwavering focus throughout. As he correctly said, just a rare few key points determined the match outcome. A match that could have gone either way, so unbelievably equal were these two warriors. Who can recall a three-hour-plus match at the highest level of tennis without a service break, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6?! What incredible serving by both men! How many times did each avoid disaster with an ace down the "T"! Imagine, at two-all, first set, Andre down 40 love, implacably stayed in focus, won the game. No break!

Old -timers, searching their memories, may recall two or three such memorable matches--for instance, Lew Hoad's annihilation in the pro finals over Pancho Gonzales 6-2, 6-2, 6-2, or Rosewall's over Laver, in another Pre-Open pro battle, or Krajicek's famous blowout over Sampras, and Budge over Von Kramm in the Davis Cup.

So Andre's fatal mistake, a routine forehand into the net in the final tie-break, led to his "defeat," surely the wrong word for this mutual gallantry.

This Wednesday night, September 5th, will always be a night to remember--tennis at its very best, legendary stars, serve and volley versus miracle "groundies." No wonder it was the most watched match ever in TV history. Perfect weather, no humidity, cloudless, the slightest breeze--and I sat front row in the lively company of son Chevy Chase, Mike Wallace, Tom Brokaw, USTA President Merv Heller and his delightful wife Mary, tennis-knowledgeable folk with different favorites. Fun!

One marvels how Agassi and Sampras maintained their cool, their concentration, their energy. No lapses hour after hour of virtually errorless play on the big points. Agassi's service was almost as punishing as Sampras's. And each uncorked second serves over 100 mph at critical junctures. Guts. One ruminates that some day Steffi and Andre's child will watch this with wonder.

The match statistics themselves reflect the virtual evenness of these opponents: first serve percent, Sampras 63, Agassi 65; aces, Sampras 25, Agassi 18; first serve winning percent, Sampras 79, Agassi 75; second service winning percent, Sampras 59, Agassi 53; total points won, Sampras 176, Agassi 162.

Just two categories here reflect the basic differences between these titans: unforced errors, Sampras 40, Agassi only 19; net points won, Sampras 96 of 137, Agassi 12 of 21.

The department of both was admirable (but I do wish Andre, dressed in total black, would, like Pete, wear traditional all white shirt and shorts). Yes, they brought out the best in each other, like knights of yore. Even personal items (trivia) enhanced this marvelous tennis experience--Davis Cup captain Pat McEnroe and I recollecting how we both grew up (different eras!) in the same house at 252 Beverly Road, Douglaston, N.Y., where John won the men's singles at the tennis club just down the block when only 13, and later Pat did at 14! Singer Tony Bennett, next to us, promising to learn my favorite '30s jazz tune, "Restless." Mary Heller taking me and Mike Wallace on a tour of the magical roof of the stadium on that perfect starlit night, breathtaking view of the city and the vast stadium below.

:kiss: :kiss: :drool: :drool: :bowdown: :bowdown: :dance: :dance: :woohoo: :woohoo:

Mimi
12-14-2004, 01:15 AM
but seems Hewitt is the one who can return pete's serve well :confused: , thanks for the article, angiel, i remember that match, i was following the live scores :wavey: , very exciting :angel:

angiel
12-14-2004, 10:15 PM
but seems Hewitt is the one who can return pete's serve well :confused: , thanks for the article, angiel, i remember that match, i was following the live scores :wavey: , very exciting :angel:


If you are taking about him beating Pete at the US open - forget it mimi - Pete was below is best in that match, it was one of his worse - if pete was at his best, no way Hewitt would have beaten him - return his serve my foot. :eek: :o

Pete and Andre brings the best out of each other - that match was a thriller, something we may never see again. :timebomb: :timebomb:

angiel
12-14-2004, 11:54 PM
Wednesday, 5 July, 2000, Wimbledon
Sampras planning to re-write history



Pete Sampras is three games away from glory

Six-times Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras returns to Centre Court on Wednesday, on the verge of becoming the most successful player in the game's history.
Victory against fellow American Jan-Michael Gambill would place the defending champion just two matches away from winning his seventh singles title at the All England Club, a feat achieved by only one other man - William Renshaw between 1881 and 1889.





Another title at SW19 would also be Sampras' 13th Grand Slam championship, eclipsing the record of 12 he already shares with the legendary Roy Emerson.

Sampras, who if successful will face either Byron Black or Vladimir Voltchkov in the semi-finals, has improved throughout the tournament, overcoming a bout of tendinitis just above his left ankle to slip into the quarter-finals with relative ease.

On Monday, he defeated Jonas Bjorkman in three sets and Gambill is well aware of just how awesome the man now known as 'Mr Wimbledon' can be.






"Even if Sampras had a broken leg, I wouldn't say the match is won," Gambill said.

"It's going to be a tough encounter and there's no doubt I'm going into the match as the outsider."

Sampras, himself, has tired of talking about his injury.

"I'm fed up of discussing it" he said. "I'm going out there and trying my best under the circumstances.

"I'm definitely going to give it everything I have this week."

Tired of talking

Sampras is no stranger to physical setback, of which the shin is just another on a long series, but the top seed would much prefer to concentrate on events on the court than his visits to the trainer.

"It's not an injury that is career-threatening, I'm not going to rip anything, it's sore - that's pretty much it," he said.




The American is still staying well away from the practice court, however, letting the injury rest on his days off, in the hope of progressing all the way to Sunday's final.

"The pressure is on my opponents. They can believe what they want to," he said.

"It's still two guys playing out there. The pressure's on them and they're not liking it."

As a master of both the psychological as well as the best at the grass-court physical game, Sampras has learned a few things in his decade or more in tennis.

"I've had my moments on court (getting sick at the 1996 US Open on court and the same again last March in Miami).

"But I've always prided myself on getting through whatever I have to get through.

"Athletes are injured, you play through injuries - that's the bottom line."

Bjorkman has been warned.

Search BBC Sport Online


:worship: :worship: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bolt: :bolt:

angiel
12-16-2004, 12:52 AM
:bigwave:


Don't give up on Pete yet!
Source: Tennis Magazine - September 2002

By George Vecsey -- Pete Sampras may be in the twilight of his career. But for Pete's (and his fans') sake, he should stick around.

We all know Pete Sampras hasn't won a major since Wimbledon in 2000. He got bumped in the first round of the French this year and the second round at the All England Club. He's even had to suffer voluntary career guidance from a career quarterfinalist like Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who suggested that Pete contemplate the dreaded R word. But where is the rule that he should jump on a funeral pyre?

Rather crankily, Sampras asserts his intention of playing until he's good and ready to call it quits. I have one word for him: Bravo! Unless there's something wrong with his health, and there isn't, he should keep doing what he does best. I guess this is a selfish reaction, because great players are hard to find (don't we all still miss Chris, Martina, Jimbo, and Mac?). And the guy is only 31, after all. Why should we be in a rush to feel nostalgic about him?

Retirement is serious. Some regular civilians who pick up their pensions reinvent themselves, but others keel over from sheer boredom. It's even trickier for athletes, who retire at an age when they have half their lives ahead of them. Pete has some general post-tennis plans--he'll host an instructional show on the soon-to-be-launched Tennis Channel, for example--but it's not as if he has a place waiting for him in med school. It could be that retiring at this stage would be a way of avoiding a bigger challenge than he has ever faced, namely, reinventing himself as a formidable tennis player in his twilight years.

Many superb athletes experience a trough in their careers. Baseball pitchers who rely on power in their youth often have a losing season before they learn to mix up their pitches and keep batters off balance. Pete hired a new coach, Jose Higueras, and is actually practicing after matches, so maybe he's on to something. Let's give him a chance to find out.

It's true that young sharpshooters come along, looking like Billy the Kid, eager to knock off the old gunslingers. At the U.S. Open last September, Lleyton Hewitt was fresh in every sense of the word when he defeated Pete. But while Sampras still has that serve and springy extension he should push himself to fight these squirts off for as long as he can.

Pete might also want to look at the athletes who missed the buzz and then tried to come back--Magic Johnson, Guy Lafleur, Michael Jordan. Unless you've been at the top of a sport and experienced the adrenaline rush, it's unreasonable to ask these athletes to walk away from the Big Show. Pete should remember the roar of the crowd when he and Andre Agassi played their wonderful quarterfinal at last year's Open. The thrill that comes from competing in a match like that can't be duplicated in retirement.

Granted, it's hard to cope with slipping from the top. Chris Evert couldn't stomach the losses, but more importantly she also wanted to start a family. Pete insists he could be Mr. Mom for his wife, Bridgette Wilson, but I suggest he take a look at Agassi, whose professional attention span seems to have grown now that he's both husband and father.

Before Pete mothballs himself, he may have discovered that grueling practices, fear of losing, challenges from opponents, travel, critical press, and adoring fans have helped make up the best years of his life. As part of his own life experience, he should see what more he can accomplish, not out of desperation but out of joy. One major title in his early 30s, when he's a bit creaky, might just be more fun than any of the 13 Slams he won when he was young and bouncy and didn't know any better.



:worship: :worship: :angel: :angel: :wavey: :wavey:

angiel
12-17-2004, 08:16 PM
:banana: :banana: :umbrella: :umbrella: :aparty: :aparty: :apumpkin: :apumpkin:


The holidays are here guys, happy holiday, merry christmas, and a better 2005. :D :D

angiel
12-20-2004, 08:20 PM
Sampras tells his story - Champ to pen autobiography


[October 10, 2002 Peoplenews]

Seven-times Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras is planning to write an autobiography. The 31-year-old, who is generally thought to be in the twilight of a career, has apparently started hawking ideas around the New York publishing houses. The book is expected to concentrate on his battles with Andre Agassi and spill the beans on some of his fellow pros. However, the opinion is that Pistol Pete, a man as famed for his dourness as his flashing forehands, may find it harder to than he might have thought to secure the deal. 'The book would be compared to McEnroe's recent book, You Cannot Be Serious,' said a publishing insider. 'Pete just can't compete with that. McEnroe's drug-taking, his marriage to Tatum O'Neil and the general carnage of his career made a fantastic tale. Sampras is a great player, but that doesn't necessarily make a great book.'

Within days of winning the U.S. Open against Andre Agassi last month, we hear, the 31-year-old tennis champ started shopping around a proposal for his autobiography. "It's just one long paragraph," reports a publishing insider who has read the pitch. "If you were on the fence in thinking readers would come to Pete Sampras, this wouldn't have convinced you." Although he's no John McEnroe -- whose best-selling memoir, You Cannot Be Serious, retailed juicy tales of temper tantrums, drug use, and a messy Hollywood marriage to Tatum O'Neal -- Sampras may have some surprises. After the U.S. Open gave him his first tournament victory in two years, Sampras admitted to having suffered bouts of anxiety when his career fell to an all-time low in June after he was knocked out in the second round at Wimbledon. And he, too, has a Hollywood marriage, albeit a happy one. He and his wife, actress Bridgette Wilson, are expecting their first baby next month. "She lives with me every day," Sampras told USA Today after the Open. "Trust me, it's not easy. When you're struggling, you're not having fun."


His life will make a great story, I hope he do tell us. :worship: :worship:

 

Mimi
12-21-2004, 06:10 AM
oh my, its not that i don't want to reply to your other threads, its taht the site doe snot allow me to, it does not work and moves extremely slow :sad: :sad:

poor pete wasted too much energy in the mach with Safin/Rafter/Agassi, no energy left in the final against Hewitt :sad:

pete is a bit too young to write a book, may be after 5 years, hehe ;)

angiel
12-21-2004, 09:43 PM
oh my, its not that i don't want to reply to your other threads, its taht the site doe snot allow me to, it does not work and moves extremely slow :sad: :sad:

poor pete wasted too much energy in the mach with Safin/Rafter/Agassi, no energy left in the final against Hewitt :sad:

pete is a bit too young to write a book, may be after 5 years, hehe ;)


:wavey: hey mimi - will you please reply to the other posts, we need to keep the site up. :p

I know the site moves very slow sometimes, but do reply will you, it moves slow for me too here. :p

How can you say he waste too much energy against these players, Mimi it is not easy to defeat these guys, you know - but not to worry, he did win before he retired, so there you go, and where is Hewitt since then, getting beat up by Roger Federer. :smash: :smash:

Pete is a old man, compare to me and you, he could write many books about his life, my dear - do you know how much lives he has live already, and he is just 33 years old. :hatoff: :hatoff:

Mimi
12-22-2004, 01:53 AM
ai yar, don't worry, i will reply, but please understand that this is not just because the site moves slowly but also it did not work out many times, i cannot even post! so how can i reply your posts??

don't worry, if the conditions allow, i will always answer you, please undrstand that sometimes i also have no time, you know i am at work, it needs many tiem to read the long articles :wavey:

pete an old man, hehe, yes may be in accordance with his life experience, he is an 60 years old man ;)

angiel
12-22-2004, 11:49 PM
Reply when you can my dear, but we dont post, the board will be empty - i look at some of the other board, and there are alway someone there - viewing or posting. :drive: :drive:

We need more of pete's fans here, long time i dont hear from Joyce or landoud, where are they? :scratch: :scratch:

Mimi
12-23-2004, 12:40 AM
i understand, i just do not post for 2 days because simply i cannot post, you are sometimes too sensitive angiel, of course i will post but please don't press me, you have to understand that i post at work, even i don't like my work, i need the monies, i can only post when i am free from work, ok :wavey:


its christmas time, may be joyce and Linda go to parties ;)

Reply when you can my dear, but we dont post, the board will be empty - i look at some of the other board, and there are alway someone there - viewing or posting. :drive: :drive:

We need more of pete's fans here, long time i dont hear from Joyce or landoud, where are they? :scratch: :scratch:

ataptc
12-23-2004, 06:51 AM
maybe they're busy with their studies and job

angiel
12-23-2004, 06:51 PM
Yes guys,maybe they are busy with their job and studies, or as mimi say, parties. :D :p

I am having a party, and everybody is invited. :bigclap: :bigclap: :bolt: :aparty:

angiel
12-27-2004, 08:46 PM
Hello everybody, how are you all today, did you all have a great day, see you later. :D :D :wavey:



I am back, and it is cold outside. :bigwave: :bigwave: :nerner: :nerner: :scared: :scared: :ignore: :ignore: :aplot: :aplot:

Mimi
12-28-2004, 03:53 AM
i had one party for my office, and one party at my friends' home, its ok, i ate a lot and become very fat ;)
QUOTE=angiel]Hello everybody, how are you all today, did you all have a great day, see you later. :D :D :wavey:[/QUOTE]

angiel
12-28-2004, 10:27 PM
i had one party for my office, and one party at my friends' home, its ok, i ate a lot and become very fat ;)
QUOTE=angiel]Hello everybody, how are you all today, did you all have a great day, see you later. :D :D :wavey:[/QUOTE]


How fat did you get mimi - and you did have a whale of a time it seems - well now you can go to the gym, and take all that fat off, should be fun doing so. :drool: :drool:

My christmas was good too - I ate a lot too, but I think I work it all off already, and look forward to the new year. :tape: :tape: :drink: :drink:

Mimi
12-29-2004, 01:33 AM
i have not weight my weigh so i don't know how fat i become but i know that i have gain some weight, just that i can feel it, when i wear the old trouser, i feel my butt is very tight :mad: :mad:

what did you eat at christmas, turkey or Jamaica food :confused: :wavey:

angiel
12-29-2004, 11:50 PM
i have not weight my weigh so i don't know how fat i become but i know that i have gain some weight, just that i can feel it, when i wear the old trouser, i feel my butt is very tight :mad: :mad:

what did you eat at christmas, turkey or Jamaica food :confused: :wavey:


Oh, those trouser are old and tight, not you gaining waiting my dear - good. ;) :p

I ate, turkey and I did have some Jamaican foods too, rice & peas, curry goat, I drink sorrel, and i had some christmas cake, plus lots of vegs. :aparty: :aparty: :rolls: :rolls:

Mimi
12-30-2004, 02:04 AM
thanks for your comfort, but the trousers are not too old, i just bought it last year :sad: , so it must be that i gain many weight :o

then Jamaican foods are quite healthy, mainly rice and peas, vegetables :D

angiel
01-05-2005, 12:19 AM
thanks for your comfort, but the trousers are not too old, i just bought it last year :sad: , so it must be that i gain many weight :o

then Jamaican foods are quite healthy, mainly rice and peas, vegetables :D


That is just too bad, putting on all those weight, but not to worry, we can't all be slim, can we - I am not slim either, and I will not bother myself about it at all - I soon reach the big 40 anyway, so i figures what the hell. :devil: :mad:

Yes the foods are healthy, much better than the foods here in the US, for sure, I miss the jamaican foods a lot, my daughter brought me some, fried fish and roast breadfruit, it was so good I can still taste it in my mouth. :haha: :rolls: :rolls:

Mimi
01-05-2005, 01:21 AM
angiel, this may be because i jog since last september, so my legs have become more muscular and so do not fit in my old trousers :mad: , its difficult for me to lose weight, coz whenever i do exercises, i gain a lot of muscles very soon :confused: and become even bigger :confused:

what is this roast breadfruit :confused:

angiel
01-06-2005, 12:09 AM
angiel, this may be because i jog since last september, so my legs have become more muscular and so do not fit in my old trousers :mad: , its difficult for me to lose weight, coz whenever i do exercises, i gain a lot of muscles very soon :confused: and become even bigger :confused:

what is this roast breadfruit :confused:


That is strange too, you exercise and you gain weight, never hear that before - you are not lifting weight are you, to get all those muscles - are training for the body-building competition ;) :p :eek:

My weight dont get out of hand, it is alway the same, not too fat and not too skinny. :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

breadfruit is a fruit, it grows in the tropic, warm climate that is, it is a round shape and green on the outside, and white on the inside, it grows on some tall trees, and very tasty when cook or roast, yum, yum. :cool: :)

Mimi
01-06-2005, 01:10 AM
i mean i don't have too much fat tissues, more muscles, you know muscles are heaiver than fat! :mad:

no i do not do lifting, but even i swim for a few times, my arms become more muscular and big :mad: , seems doing exercises is not good for me, but without exercise, even worst coz my health will be weakened :mad: , very confusing :mad:

sorry i never like to eat cooked fruits :p

angiel
01-10-2005, 02:12 PM
i mean i don't have too much fat tissues, more muscles, you know muscles are heaiver than fat! :mad:

no i do not do lifting, but even i swim for a few times, my arms become more muscular and big :mad: , seems doing exercises is not good for me, but without exercise, even worst coz my health will be weakened :mad: , very confusing :mad:

sorry i never like to eat cooked fruits :p


You should still eat them mimi - fruits & vegs that is - hey muscle lady, how are you doing :D - may be you need to get some of those slim potions, they are alway touting on tv, about how :mad: :sad: slim you will get, in seconds if they are to be believe.

Mimi
01-11-2005, 02:28 AM
yes i do eat fruits and vegs, just that i don't like to eat cooked fruits, i prefer fresh fruits :wavey:

You should still eat them mimi - fruits & vegs that is - hey muscle lady, how are you doing :D - may be you need to get some of those slim potions, they are alway touting on tv, about how :mad: :sad: slim you will get, in seconds if they are to be believe.

angiel
01-11-2005, 10:57 PM
yes i do eat fruits and vegs, just that i don't like to eat cooked fruits, i prefer fresh fruits :wavey:


You are to eat the fruits raw Mimi, and the fresher the better, so no excuse okay. :p :rolleyes:

angiel
01-11-2005, 11:07 PM
The magic (and talent) of Pete Sampras

[Sep 14, 2002 By Matthew Cronin, tennisreporters.net]

When you talk to Pete Sampras, you sometimes
think he has turned on on a switch in his head and he becomes a
sports clich?automaton, ready to tell you for the zillionth time
that the U.S. Open is "our Super Bowl" and that Andre Agassi
always "brings out the best in me."

But he really does see and feel life that way and as his coach, Paul
Annacone said on Sunday night after Sampras stopped his greatest
rival Agassi, 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 to win his fifth U.S. Open title,
the magic and artistry of the insular 31-year-old is best discovered
when you watch him caress a backhand drop volley from the service
line that trickles over the net.

"The bottom lime is every time he plays a match like this is going
to be fun," Annacone said. "He really loves the occasion. As
introverted as he is, this is how he shines. He just plays. That's
his emotion."

In a nearly three-hour contest that featured all the ebbs and flows
of the Hudson River, 14-time Grand Slam champ Sampras overcame a
monumental effort by Agassi in the last two sets, cracking his
returns when it counted most and volleying with the utmost
confidence under pressure.

FROM RUIN TO RESURRECTION
It was a phenomenal title run for Sampras, who hadn't won a title in
more than two years entering the Open and had had a poor summer:
pummeled in Paris, crash and burning at Wimbledon and sputtering in
hard court warm-up tournaments. He had parted ways with coach Jose
Higueras after Wimbledon and then asked Annacone to throw him a
lifeline.

"He was down in the dumps," Annacone said. "You get tired, doing it
for long time, not winning a lot of matches. You're traveling all
the time, lose some tiebreakers. There are a million things that
happen when you do it all year for 15 years. It's tiring. Everywhere
he goes, it's news. It sounds like this is a life of glory and
glamor but it can be exhausting. If you do that and your not
winning, it's can all lead to a downward spiral and that leads to
not being happy on court. But he was ready to turn it around. ... We
communicate well together. I seem to say right things and he
believed in that. It was either get back to work and push forward
and keep trying to get better, or wallow in mediocrity of fade.
Luckily, he chose the first."

Sampras said that although he was as depressed as he ever was at any
time in his career after he was shocked at Wimbledon, he never lost
the faith.

"Struggling and hearing I should stop, the negative tone of the
commentary, to get through that and believe in myself at a very
tough time means a lot," Sampras said. "It means more than anything
because I had to go through the adversity."

Annacone said that Sampras needed to be convinced that he could
still impose his will on a large group of players who were thumping
him and still had the ability to turn up the heat so high that all
comers would be seared by his shot making.

"It's about his approach and trying to play a certain way," Annacone
said. "He needed to put being the competition is at the forefront.
Nothing else matters but the desire to compete. If you combine that
with his talent, that's a lot. He was changing his practice habits.
He had been working hard all year, but his practices were negatively
connoted where you are so pissed off that you are going to work
harder. When you are driven by that stuff, it's hard to radiate a
positive feelings when you play the matches."

BACK TO BASICS: SERVE AND VOLLEY
So Annacone and Sampras sat down and figured out why he won 13 Slams
and dominated his sport for six years. He needed to get back to his
basics, which was to set the tone with the most fearsome, well
struck, high variety of serves ever seen of the planet, close at the
net as quickly as possible and play threatening, high risk tennis
with his returns and groundstrokes.

"All the negative stuff that was written about him was short sighted
because when you are that talented you just don't wake up and can't
play," Annacone said. "He got to the final of the U.S. Open last
year and he got to the final of three other tournaments. The problem
with these guys is the bar is so high they only make news when they
lose."

Once he arrived in New York, Sampras got a taste of that U.S Open
magic again and served and volleyed as well as he has. He played
nearly perfectly in the first two sets, taking Agassi completely out
of his return games with wicked slice serves to the deuce court,
huge flat serves down the middle and big kickers out wide to the ad
court. Sampras was crisp on his hard volleys and showed delicate
touch with his drop volleys. Moreover, he was aggressive in his
return games, rarely allowing Agassi to exhaust him in long back
court rallies.

"I was having a hard time getting on his serve, getting off the mark
and making any impact at all," Agassi said. "He sensed that and that
allowed him to play loose on his return games."

Agassi fought hard to get himself into the third set and began to
get a better read on Sampras' serves.


THE FOURTH SET
He had his chances to snare the fourth set, but couldn't break down
Sampras and blew two realistic break opportunities. Then Sampras
began to crank it up on his return games and Andre was dust once
again.

"Everything clicked today," said Sampras, who nailed 84 winners to
only 27 from Agassi. "I played as well as I could. I knew he was
going to start playing better in the third. I was in the zone for a
while. It was hard to keep up that pace against him. He's great. But
you have to match his game and I did."

Andre noted that anyone who believed that Pete would never rise from
the ashes has no clue as to how to the stuff that legends are made
of.

"His game is to be able to raise himself at the right time," Agassi
said. "It's gotten tougher for him, but there's a danger in the way
he plays and how good he is. Anybody that says different is really
ignorant. They don't understand the game because Pete has a lot of
weapons." :worship: :worship: :angel: :angel:

Mimi
01-12-2005, 02:19 AM
no i do eat a lot of fruits every day :wavey:

You are to eat the fruits raw Mimi, and the fresher the better, so no excuse okay. :p :rolleyes:

angiel
01-12-2005, 10:56 PM
no i do eat a lot of fruits every day :wavey:



Okay my sweet :angel: :angel: I believe you. :D

angiel
01-13-2005, 08:09 PM
Fifth title earns Sampras an Open embrace

[September 9, 2002 (SF Chronicle) Scott Ostler]

PETE SAMPRAS set us up.

After he won Wimbledon in 2000 for his record-setting 13th Grand Slam title, Sampras must have thought: "They're taking me for granted, those fans.

They say I'm so good that I ruin the game, and that I'm a boring guy."
So he purposely (so goes my theory) stopped winning, sunk like a rock in
the rankings and started laboring around the court, his aura having left
the building.

When Sampras started swinging his way through the pack at the U.S. Open,
he had paid his hard-time dues, and the fans and media were able to accord
him all the admiration and affection we withheld when he dominated the
game with his boring excellence.

How else to explain Sampras' amazing comeback from Palookaville to the
penthouse, capped by Sunday's dramatic yet decisive 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4
victory over Andre Agassi?
How else to explain that Sampras had lost 33 straight tournaments, then
showed up at the U.S. Open with that old lightning-bolt serve and matador
volley?

Thirty-three aces Sunday against the man who invented the return of serve? Twelve aces in the first set? That's just frightening. For the first hour
out there, Agassi must have felt like he was swinging a chopstick against
Roger Clemens.

Sampras' 14th Slam was authoritative, and gutsy.
"This one might take the cake," Sampras said, mentally placing the 2002
silver cup onto his groaning shelf of Grand Slam hardware.

"The goods," that's what Sampras told us earlier in the week that he still
had. The goods: A package that includes the serve, the volley and the guts
to come back when you're sucking wind in the fourth set, the points are
stretching out like a bad hamstring and you're facing a world-class
battler who has just caught a whiff of opportunity.
In the third set, Sampras was serving at 5-6 and Agassi came back from 40-
love to break and turn a rout into a match.

The zip on Sampras' serve seemed to be fading, and memories were stirred
of the last two Open finals, when Sampras twice showed the strain of the
two-week battle by falling to younger foes in straight sets.

This time Sampras worked through the fatigue. In the fourth game of the
fourth set, Agassi was starting to look like Rocky, fighting off five
Sampras chances to close out the game. But Sampras used his serve and
volley to win the 20-point, seven-deuce classic.

"I was feeling (fatigue), I was definitely feeling a little bit of
fatigue, " Sampras said. "I just hung in there the best that I could at
the end and got it done."

With the crowd roaring and rooting hard for an Agassi comeback to prolong
the drama between their two favorite players, Sampras seized the moment.
"I had it in my hands to serve it out," Sampras said. "And 30-love, second
serve up the middle (at 119 mph), I hit an ace. That felt really good."

Who'd-a thunk it, besides Sampras? He was seeded 17th here. He has been
saying for weeks now, "I know I've got one more in me," but until a few
rounds into the serious action, it sounded like he was referring to kidney
stones.

Does Sampras now have another one in him? He didn't say Sunday evening,
and even left the door slightly open for retirement.
He almost surely won't, but if Sampras does walk away now, check out those
career bookends! It all started for Pete right here at the Open in '90,
when he won it as a 19-year-old nobody. Sunday he won his fifth Open title
as a 31- year-old, re-inventing legend and becoming the tournament's
oldest winner since 1970.

He said this is the best one, and that might be because of the love and
admiration he has finally pried out of the fans as he evolved from boring
young fogy to exciting senior citizen. Like Agassi, Sampras learned that
there is nothing like growing old and overcoming adversity to win the
fans.

And, realizing that the fans can be his allies, Sampras has reached out,
let us get to know him. After the semis Saturday, he said he planned to
relax that night, have a beer. Several veteran tennis writers dropped
their notebooks. Hey, even if it was a nonalcoholic brewski, it's the
thought that counts.

Sunday, no doubt nursing the world's tiniest hangover, Sampras came out
smoking. Credit an assist to Agassi. Not only did the presence of Pete's
foremost foe ratchet up the excitement of the afternoon, but Agassi is a
big part of the reason Sampras is still here.
"He's made me a better player," Sampras said. "He's brought moments to my
career that are like (Bjorn) Borg and (John) McEnroe. Those guys needed
each other. I've needed Andre over the course of my career. He's pushed
me. You know, he's forced me to add things to my game. He's the only guy
that was able to do that. He's the best I've played."
So . . . same time next year?

CHART: ALL-TIME MAJOR TITLES
-- MEN
14 -- Pete Sampras
12 -- Roy Emerson
11 -- Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver
10 -- Bill Tilden
8 -- Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, Fred Perry, Ken Rosewall

Mimi
01-14-2005, 01:34 AM
pete always has high praise for andre so i don't know why some andre fans always critisie him :rolleyes: :mad:

angiel
01-14-2005, 08:38 PM
pete always has high praise for andre so i don't know why some andre fans always critisie him :rolleyes: :mad:


Dont you know, they are just jealous of him Mimi, Pete has done things in the sport, that Andre will never even achieve in this life time - look at Federer now, everybody is comparing him to Pete, you never hear them say that about Andre, every up-and-coming young player is been call the next Pete Sampras, not Andre Agassi - that should tell you something, so his fans are pissed. :devil: :devil: :mad: :mad: :wavey:

angiel
01-15-2005, 08:11 PM
Sampras validates greatness with another Slam

USA TODAY, NEW YORK .

Andre Agassi was beaten and bare-chested as he stuffed his rackets and shirts inside his bag, hanging his head low as Pete Sampras passed him by, looking at Agassi but not speaking to him, moving toward his stall and a place in history his vanquished rival will not touch in this lifetime or next.

Agassi was at locker No. 238, Sampras at locker No. 163, the loser and winner separated by 20 feet and a million miles of achievement. Sampras had his bag slumped over his shoulder, appearing 15 years older than he had four hours back. His thinning hair was frazzled, his hobble was lame, his cold sore was growing from his lip to his nose, but still he was nodding toward a reporter who made him swear after his very first match.

Sampras briefly turned profane when told his mentor and former coach, Pete Fischer, had called portions of his straight-sets victory over Albert Portas, sloppy and trocious.' As it turned out, Fischer's comments would prove mild when measured against those delivered by Greg Rusedski, a boob who tried to wish away Sampras but unshackled his inner beast instead.

This whole tournament was a referendum on who Sampras is and what he has been. When voices from the present and past called for his retirement, Sampras insisted on a my-way-only goodbye. When Andy Roddick tried to roll into his first Grand Slam semi with a Jimmy Connors style and no Jimmy Connors substance, Sampras made their generational gap tighter than Roddick's throat. When Tommy Haas busied himself making a muscle-head fashion statement, Sampras said, 'you know, it is about the tennis,' before sending the perspective-challenged Haas into the night.

It is about the tennis, after all, and hallelujah to that. After going winless for 26 months and 33 tournaments, the sport's greatest champion needed four sets to win his 14th major, double Agassi's total, beating his antagonist for the third time in three Open finals and beating him like Serena Williams beat her big sister Saturday night.

Sampras had 84 winners to Agassi's 27, 33 aces to Agassi's 7. This Open was closed the second Rod Laver made the coin toss, right after Laver was introduced to the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd as arguably the greatest men's player of all time.'

That argument was less convincing at 7:40 p.m., when Sampras finally struck his Louis Armstrong pose on the Ashe court. He had won his fifth Open six years after his fourth. At 31, he had become the oldest Open champ in 32 years, the oldest Grand Slam champ in 27.

The flashbulbs exploded around Sampras as he hugged Agassi at the net and ran up to his private box, climbing his stairway to heaven and high-fiving fans like Hale Irwin did at Medinah in 1990, the year a teenage Sampras seized his first Open. Sampras would hug his pregnant wife, Bridgette Wilson, a first-time winner in the Sampras camp. He would hug his sister, Stella, the UCLA coach, and point to his friend, Rick Fox, who knows where to hitch his wagon in two different sports.
 

'this one might take the cake,' Sampras would say.

He did not destroy Agassi like he had at Wimbledon in 99, and did not beat Agassi at his best like he had in their forever quarterfinal here last September. But for most of this match, Sampras was packing Bob Gibson heat and Agassi was flailing away with a broomstick.

The greatest returner could not deal with the greatest server. Yes, Sampras looked nearly as washed up as Rusedski claimed he was after taking the first two sets, breathing life into Agass's legs. But his was a temporary state of distress. In the fourth set, Sampras desperately clung to the seven-deuce fourth game, during which he stared down a lines judge, leaned his exhausted body on the net and, ultimately, stared into the night as the crowd cheered his survival.

Sampras endured a break point in the eighth game, broke Agassi in the ninth, then put him away in the 10th.
 

'Like Borg and McEnroe, Sampras said.' Those guys needed each other and I needed Andre....He brings out the best in me.?

It hasn't always been a two-way street. In the end, the best of Sampras was far better than the best of Agassi. They first played as juniors in Northridge, Calif., the eight-year-old Sampras beating the nine-year-old Agassi. Andre was the giant back then, taller than Pete if not quite as skilled. Nothing changed besides their metabolism.

No matter how often Agassi reinvented himself -- from Barbra Streisand to Brooke Shields to Steffi Graf, from rock star to Zen master to family man, from No. 1 in the world to No. 141 in the world to back on top -- Sampras was always there to hammer him back to Earth.

Image is hardly everything. Inside the locker room last year, before he played Agassi in the quarters, Sampras recalled their classic first-set point in the ?5 final - he won it -- and their pivotal four-set result -- he won that, too -- as the moment the air went out of Andre a bit. That popped his balloon for quite a while.?

This result likely popped his balloon for good.

'There's still a danger in the way (Sampras) plays and how good he is,' Agassi said. 'Anybody that says something different is really ignorant, because Pete has a lot of weapons out there. I am well aware of that.'

Too aware. Agassi had forecast this showdown as a 'ice toast to the past....Inside my own mind, I have been pulling for him.'

Moral of the day: be careful what you wish for. If Agassi and Sampras wore Nike swooshes and could be labeled bald and balding, the comparisons died right there.

'A story-book ending', Sampras said. 'it might be nice to stop, but....'

He still loves to play, still lives for the moment. Sampras left open the possibility he might retire in the coming weeks, might ride off into the sunset like John Wayne and John Elway. But he wants his last Wimbledon match to be played on the right patch of grass, he said, 'not Court 13 or 2.'

Either way Sampras will keep a promise to himself and listen to his own heart. The game will be played on his terms, precisely why Sampras refuses to credit Rusedski as his inspiration the way Jack Nicklaus credited a Jack-washed-up article in Atlanta as his inspiration at the ?6 Masters.

It is about the tennis, after all. Sunday night, Pete Sampras earned the right to say hallelujah to that.
 

Mimi
01-18-2005, 03:46 AM
thanks angiel, i love this article, pete always won in important matches against andre and thats why the andre fans hate pete, hehe :p

angiel
01-18-2005, 09:17 PM
thanks angiel, i love this article, pete always won in important matches against andre and thats why the andre fans hate pete, hehe :p


Amen to that Mimi - the article says it all - well written :worship: :worship: Pete alway get the better of him, when it counts. :hatoff: :hatoff: :zzz: :zzz:

Mimi
01-19-2005, 03:15 AM
yes i think andre scares pete a bit ;)

Amen to that Mimi - the article says it all - well written :worship: :worship: Pete alway get the better of him, when it counts. :hatoff: :hatoff: :zzz: :zzz:

angiel
01-19-2005, 09:57 PM
yes i think andre scares pete a bit ;)



If you has a lethal serve as the one Pete has, I think you would have scare any one on the tour. :scared: :scared: :ras: :ras:

Mimi
01-20-2005, 02:54 AM
yes pete has the best serve, better than goran although goran has more aces, he has more double faults as well :cool:

sorry i am busy again, gonna reply your other threads tomorrow :wavey:

If you has a lethal serve as the one Pete has, I think you would have scare any one on the tour. :scared: :scared: :ras: :ras:

ataptc
01-20-2005, 03:45 AM
i think the right word is effective. pete has the most effective serve :)

angiel
01-20-2005, 07:58 PM
yes pete has the best serve, better than goran although goran has more aces, he has more double faults as well :cool:

sorry i am busy again, gonna reply your other threads tomorrow :wavey:


okay my dear - and dont work too hard now - I have to get up early this morning and now I am sleepy. :rolleyes: :p

angiel
01-20-2005, 08:00 PM
i think the right word is effective. pete has the most effective serve :)



Right word evelyn, very effective - it can knock you off your feet. :bowdown: :woohoo: :woohoo:

angiel
01-21-2005, 08:56 PM
Classy Sampras forever a Champ

Source: USA Today

[September 2, 2002 NEW YORK] — Pete Sampras is sitting there with his headset on, nodding and smiling and waiting out the rain, reminding you there is at least one place in sports offering refuge from the divas and louts. His U.S. Open locker is No. 163 if you're scoring at home. No brooding, ranting or preening allowed, just ordinary grace from an extraordinary champion who has every right now to abuse a racket or three.

He should be raving mad, Ilie Nastase mad, over this question posed by writers and fans who should know better: How dare Sampras win 13 majors and then stumble about his sport the way a failing Muhammad Ali stumbled about the Bahamas while Trevor Berbick rearranged his pretty face?

Excuse me, but can Andy Roddick advance to one Grand Slam semi before we ask Sampras to quit committing unforced errors against his own legacy?

No, this five-set victory against Greg Rusedski wasn't a work of art and, no, the odds of Sampras winning five matches in seven days aren't good. But the man just turned 31, not 41. Phil Mickelson is older than Sampras, for goodness sake, and nobody's telling him to surrender his hopeless pursuit of Major No. 1. Jack Nicklaus endured five years without a Grand Slam title before taking his 18th at 46, an Augusta National triumph that defines him like no other Sunday.

In his heart of hearts, Sampras believes he has an '86 Masters coming his way. "Yes I do," he said. "That's why I'm still here. I think I've got one or two moments left in me, one more big bang."

As he spoke inside the locker room, Sampras was oblivious to the rain-delay testimonial playing on the overhead monitors. He was beating Andre Agassi all over again in last year's quarterfinal classic, a reminder that his best days and nights aren't the distant flickers many claim them to be.

Sampras was in the final here the last two years. Fatherhood beckons, but Sampras will still be a threat to win Wimbledon when his first grandchild's on the way; he is to grass what Anna Kournikova is to tan lines.

He shouldn't be escorted to the door now as if he were some dockworker getting ugly in a bar, not after peacefully making history while being told he wasn't making it with enough flair. "From Grand Slam 2 to 10," Sampras said, "people felt I was boring. It wasn't until Grand Slam 10 and 11 that people said, 'Let's appreciate what we're seeing here.' "

With the champion laboring on labor day the Louis Armstrong fans chanted, "Let's go Pete," before the decisive game in the fifth set.

Too little, too late. Sampras was convicted of being a vanilla scoop of serenity when he should've been celebrated for refusing to join the riotous band of village idiots headlined by Connors and McEnroe. "I never sold out," Sampras said. He remained true to himself, broke Roy Emerson's record with Arthur Ashe's class, and couldn't stir the public's imagination until his game and hair thinned. "That will always baffle me," he said.

It's not like he lived a humdrum life. Sampras suffered through the deaths of two friends (Vitas Gerulaitis and Tim Gullikson), married an actress, and cramped and puked his way through a few Shakespearean dramas.

He became the Tiger Woods of his sport, somehow without securing a fraction of Woods' mass appeal, before age and perspective conspired to keep him title-free since his historic Wimbledon two years back.

"I see a lot of similarities between Tiger and I," Sampras said. "It's that single-minded focus. It's his life, just like my life was being the world's best player. But now it's tough for me to be who I was five years ago. ... I've had enough of being No. 1 and looking over my shoulder."

That doesn't mean Sampras is Arnold Palmer trying to break 90 at The Masters, or Willie Mays trying to look able in the Shea Stadium outfield. It only means Sampras is a family man with fresh priorities, a forever champion who's earned the right to go out, as he said, "on my terms only."

Remember, boring isn't watching the greatest player ever chase his 14th major title, not when the alternative is watching Roger Federer chase his first.

:worship: :worship: :angel: :angel: :bounce: :clap2: :clap2:

Mimi
01-22-2005, 01:40 AM
Remember, boring isn't watching the greatest player ever chase his 14th major title, not when the alternative is watching Roger Federer chase his first.

strange, isn't it, the writer showed some prediciting signs, roger is chasing for his first and then he now become the heirer to sampras :eek: :eek:

angiel
01-22-2005, 05:43 PM
Remember, boring isn't watching the greatest player ever chase his 14th major title, not when the alternative is watching Roger Federer chase his first.

strange, isn't it, the writer showed some prediciting signs, roger is chasing for his first and then he now become the heirer to sampras :eek: :eek:


Yep, some very good insight for real :angel: :angel: some people know what they are talking about. :worship: :worship:

angiel
01-22-2005, 07:28 PM
Past and Future taking it easy before they play
Source: NY Times

[NY Times, Sept 4, 2002] - The day before his 28th major quarterfinal, Pete Sampras rested in Manhattan, working out on an exercise machine for a quick sweat.

The day before his second major quarterfinal, Andy Roddick made an appearance in street clothes at the National Tennis Center in the late afternoon to receive a two-hour treatment from the trainer Doug Spreen.

A night before their match, and a night after their tense four-set victories in the Round of 16, neither picked up a racket. That would come soon enough in their intergenerational showdown.

"It's going to be fun," the 20-year-old Roddick said with a grin, ducking into the locker room.

Roddick was 6 when Sampras turned professional. But Sampras, now 31 and seeded 17th, is not saying the past is prologue quite yet.

"I think the days of me dominating are over, but I still feel like I have a major in me," he said after his four-set victory over third-seeded Tommy Haas on Tuesday night. "We know Andy is the future."

The effect of Sampras's run could catch up to him. It is the first time since April, when he lost to Roddick in the final of the United States Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston, that Sampras has advanced to a quarterfinal.

He has played nine sets of tennis in 24 hours, starting with a five-set, serve-and-volley victory over Greg Rusedski on Monday night.

"I think last night was more tiring for him than Greg's match," Paul Annacone, Sampras's coach, said of the Haas match. "In the match with Greg, there were not too many tennis shots. But he said he feels good today."

Roddick, seeded 11th, was more banged up. He charged over Juan Ignacio Chela despite playing with a bruised left toe that he sustained in the middle of his third-round match against Alex Corretja.

"He felt a little bit better today," Spreen said. "We're doing everything to calm it down, but there was no reason to go out and reaggravate it today. He should be close to 100 percent."

Roddick would not dare give up his dream to play Sampras. "I hope it's a nightmare for him," Sampras said with a laugh.

Sampras and Roddick have met just twice, both of which Roddick won in two sets after a first-set tie breaker. Both players seem to be playing with a renewed vigor.

For the first time in a while, Roddick seems to be having fun. "I am — and this is the place to do it," he said yesterday.

Roddick has not won a tournament since beating Sampras in Houston, at times growing quieter and more intense on the court.

While Roddick can crank his serve past 140 miles an hour, Sampras has been hitting them in the range of 130 m.p.h. at the United States Open — and with more accuracy.

As Sampras predicted after losing his opening match of the warm-up tournament at the Hamlet Golf and Country Club two weeks ago, he has become a different player at the Open.

"This past week and a half, I feel like I have kind of got my game going," Sampras said. "I'm comfortable playing here, the conditions. This is our Super Bowl. I'm pretty pumped, ready to

angiel
01-24-2005, 08:03 PM
The US Open finals


[Sep 14, 2002 Zenaida A. Amador] SUNDAY before last, tennis fans witnessed an unprecedented finals game between contenders Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi.

That was the kind of finals tennis fans wanted to see. The contest between two champions who had previously met 33 times before. Sampras had beaten Agassi 19 times and lost 14 times. In order to get to the finals both had to defeat the young and very powerful contenders, among them Hewitt of Australia who was the defending champ. Sampras is 31 years and Agassi is 32. To get to the finals they both beat powerful 20-some-year-olds. At around 30, you see, a tennis player is considered old because you can see even by watching only one game how much punishment the body takes during play. Modern tennis players now rely a lot on power and it is beautiful to watch a finals where it is not just power but brains and game plans that are on show.


Ultimately, as the commentator said, the finals were not a question of the game or the power, it boiled down to character. Both Sampras and Agassi are men of character. First off, they are both gentlemen of the sport. They never indulged in tantrums or raucously contested line calls which anyway is a futile exercise. Also both players have tremendous respect for each other and they played their games beautifully. It was a classic tennis game. People stood and cheered for good points whether from Sampras or Agassi. Of course in the end one had to win and one had to lose. Sampras won and Agassi lost the game. But the grace with which Agassi accepted his defeat spoke so well for himself and for the sport of tennis.


In my view both of them won the day.
 

Mimi
01-25-2005, 01:28 AM
no in my words, only pete won, not andre and not both of them, hehe :devil: :devil:

roddick will never meet pete's achievements, he is not as young as we think, he will be 23 this year, while Nadal is only 18 :cool:

angiel
01-25-2005, 09:21 PM
no in my words, only pete won, not andre and not both of them, hehe :devil: :devil:

roddick will never meet pete's achievements, he is not as young as we think, he will be 23 this year, while Nadal is only 18 :cool:


Naughty mimi :devil: :rolleyes:

I think i agree with you about Roddick, and is Nadal your new guy now? ;)

Mimi
01-26-2005, 01:25 AM
sorry i only like goran and pete always, as for others, i have those who i love to watch more and who i dislike to watch but no one can match goran and pete, but as for nadal, i love to watch him coz he is cute and always fight very hard, by the way, all people including the old mum loves to watch young guys, who love old men, bad mimi again :devil: :devil:

Naughty mimi :devil: :rolleyes:

I think i agree with you about Roddick, and is Nadal your new guy now? ;)

angiel
01-26-2005, 09:48 PM
sorry i only like goran and pete always, as for others, i have those who i love to watch more and who i dislike to watch but no one can match goran and pete, but as for nadal, i love to watch him coz he is cute and always fight very hard, by the way, all people including the old mum loves to watch young guys, who love old men, bad mimi again :devil: :devil:


Atta girl to your mom - but did you see Nadal pants - he look like a girl in those pants. :haha: :haha:

Mimi
01-27-2005, 02:06 AM
yes i did notice his pants, seems they are about to fall and we gonna see his butt butt soon :devil: :devil:
Atta girl to your mom - but did you see Nadal pants - he look like a girl in those pants. :haha: :haha:

angiel
01-27-2005, 07:26 PM
yes i did notice his pants, seems they are about to fall and we gonna see his butt butt soon :devil: :devil:



:haha: They sure looks that way, lucky he never fall out of them :devil: these players who think they are fashion guru, give me a break - they should follow Roger lead and stop trying to look fashionable. :mad: :mad: then maybe they would win some more and start challenging him. :rolleyes: :p

angiel
01-28-2005, 08:27 PM
Sampras Searching for the Perfect Sunset

[August 12, 2002 Selena Roberts, Washington Post]

All those years, Pete Sampras ambled around the court with his head in a full-blown droop, staring down at the gritty surface in the kind of solitude reserved for beachcombers.

All those years, he did not see anyone, only the familiar choreography. It was as if paint-on footprints laid out his path to 13 major titles: big serve, step to the net, volley winner. One-two-three, one-two-three.

"It was workmanlike," Sampras said in an interview last week. "I wasn't showing emotion. I'd play a two-week tournament, and hold that trophy up."

During this monotony of the 1990's, the public became more intrigued with the reincarnations of Andre Agassi than the numbing greatness of Sampras.

"If either of us woke up as the other one, we would probably go back to sleep, praying it was a dream," Agassi said last week. "Just two different people."

They cannot even walk toward a sunset on parallel lines. In two weeks, they will arrive at the United States Open having experienced an unexpected flip-flop in terms of public sentiment. If Agassi's introspective personality made him complex, his stable existence at age 32 has made him a simpler soul.

"I consider myself quite boring, to be honest," Agassi said.

If winning provided Sampras with a layer of invincibility, losing at age 31 has given him an appealing vulnerability. One year ago at the Open, the magic spell on Sampras's strings outlasted the gantlet of Pat Rafter, Agassi and Marat Safin before it expired in front of Lleyton Hewitt, a 20-year-old Australian who raced across the court as if running over hot coals.

For the title, Hewitt beat Sampras with the energy of youth. In the year since, Sampras has been a car on cinderblocks. With his game in a constant state of repair, Sampras has revealed uncharacteristic anxiety and self-doubt during his weekly struggles to win. But out of these human frailties, the once-detached Sampras has also developed a long-awaited connection with the public.

"You know, it's like when you see Jack Nicklaus walk up the 18th, not knowing if it's the last time," Sampras said with a smile. "Not that I'm putting myself in that class, no, but it's a chilling feeling. You can step out of what you're doing, appreciate the support and actually look into the stands. There's a little eye contact here or there. You lift up your head a little bit. I've never done that before.

"It's not that they cheered against me in the past, it was just different. It's been a good feeling, but it's ironic how I've turned the corner in that way."

Agassi has always been the emotional favorite, but his midcareer success does not make for many dramas. Agassi has a marriage to Steffi Graf that has elicited no criticism, and a baby boy to round out his life. He has also won one major and seven titles in the last two years, and is still ranked in the top 10.

Sampras is the one searching for a happy ending, the one whose marriage has been blamed for his demise, the one who views his approaching fatherhood with a joyful smile and some self-deprecation. "I did something right this year," he said.

"We're very happy," added Sampras, whose wife, the actress Bridgette Wilson, is due to give birth in late fall. "I guess I've got to grow up, be responsible."

This is one life change Sampras can embrace. Trying to reinvigorate his inspiration this year, he turned his professional routine upside down, hoping for a snow-globe effect. But the scene was the same. He was still losing.

Back to square one. Desperate to take control of his career's final stages, Sampras reached out last month to Paul Annacone, the coach who was by his side at the 2001 United States Open and for 8 of his 13 major titles.

In June, Annacone was just another spectator at Wimbledon when Sampras vowed to play on, tearfully refusing to be remembered as the seven-time champion who crumbled to a lucky loser in the second round. Days later, Sampras knew he needed more than a cameo coach.

Jose Higueras never quite clicked with Sampras. Hired by Sampras during the spring, Higueras often hinted that his legendary student did not work hard enough. Then again, Higueras was not available to push him as much as Sampras wanted, either. "I needed more one-on-one," Sampras said. "Once he wasn't able to do that, I just flat-out asked Paul how he felt about helping a friend. He knows what makes me tick. That knowingness has been kind of lacking all year."

Annacone is not known as a tough-love kind of coach, a trait that left some to wonder if he was Sampras's yes man for too many years. But if so, so be it. After Wimbledon, Sampras needed some fortune-cookie optimism during what he called one of "the lowest points."

"Paul told me, `You're in a position to do something you've never had to do, and that's come back,' " said Sampras, who is ranked No. 17 and is scheduled to play on Long Island next week. "Just when Paul said that, it kind of got me inspired. This is the toughest challenge of my career."

Failure may make Sampras more human, but he does not want to end as a sympathetic has-been.

"He's the all-time Grand Slam record-holder," John McEnroe said after playing a World Team Tennis match recently. "But he can't go on indefinitely where he goes out and keeps on losing."

Sampras wants one more major. One more, and tennis's oft-cited statistic will vanish: since he won Wimbledon in 2000, he has not captured a single Tour event.

He has not been the same since the day he won No. 13. All at once, he felt relief, joy and one annoying thought in his head, "What now?"

The timing of that question coincided with his marriage in the fall of 2000. Of all the criticism he has absorbed, he cannot tolerate those who whisper, "Marriage has ruined Sampras's career." Wilson has devoted herself more to Sampras's career than her own, guiding him on some professional choices this past year including his decision to switch agents.

"If I'm going to get any criticism of my game, it should be aimed at me, not my wife," Sampras said. "I'm the one who hit a crossroads in my game after No. 13. Don't blame my wife or my marriage for me not winning. It's not fair. Blame me for not playing well."

This kind of visceral reaction was rarely revealed during Sampras's years as the most dominant player. While he mechanically amassed $42 million in prize money, he drew heat for dulling down the sport. For some observers, that image lingers.

"Pete is a guy who is one of the greatest players of all time," said Murphy Jensen, the colorful niche star of doubles play. "But he is leaving the game in a worse state than when he started."

Maybe Sampras's burst of personality is too late to save tennis, but some fans are fond of the late-bloomer. In Paris, a city that has never embraced him, Sampras received a standing ovation this year after he whacked his racket and cursed himself during a first-round loss at Roland Garros.

Out of nowhere, the French began chanting his name. Before he disappeared into the tunnel, he lifted his head to acknowledge the act of kindness.

He did find the perfect sunset. :bounce: :bounce: :bigclap: :bigclap: :bolt: :bolt:

angiel
01-31-2005, 08:22 PM
Missing the man, missing the magic

Nirmal Shekar, The Sportstar
June 21, 2003

London June 20. On a glorious summer's day worthy of Keatsean literary splendour in celebration, on Church Road in southwest London, in the borough of Wandsworth, the sights were familiar. So indeed were the sounds.

As you stepped out of the Southfields underground station, the same old newspaper vendor greeted you on the pavement and up the hill towards that great old cathedral of tennis — the All England Lawn Tennis Club — you saw everything you expected to see.

Pavement hawkers of souvenirs were putting together their temporary stalls hoping, as usual, to make a killing during the famous Wimbledon fortnight.

Contract workers were painting the doors of portable toilets for use by the thousands who'd queue up for tickets over the two weeks.

Ageing golfers were putting in overtime on the course across the road from the AELTC, a touch sad that their favourite links would be taken over by the famous tennis club during the fortnight to be used as a car park.

The charm never fades


Over three decades of visiting this anachronistic annual pageantry that is the mother of all Grand Slam events, you have seen it all. Nothing much changes in these parts. They all love their routines here. They all get addicted to the glorious old place and its grand spectacle and spend the other 50 weeks of the year craving for another chance to get back here.

And they all come back to soak in its infinite charms yet again. This is true as much too of the visitors, including the international media. Once you have been here, once who have managed to smell the lush green grass, once you have thrilled in the music of the ball hitting the racquet strings and listened to the collective ooohs and aaahs on the great centre court, this is no longer a playing arena to you as much as a place of worship.

You are in awe of the great theatre. And you cannot wait to get back here.

Yes, everybody who has a chance to come back to Wimbledon does actually come back. Except a gentleman named Pete Sampras. Someone who won a record seven titles in a magical eight-year span from 1993 to 2000.

Of course, everything is the same here this year, yet nothing will be the same once Lleyton Hewitt goes out on court to begin the defence of his title on Monday.

Wimbledon without Pete Sampras? That's like trying to remake Godfather without Marlon Brando, or seek to stage Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark.

It will be said during the fortnight — and it is true too — that Wimbledon will go on as ever, Sampras or no Sampras. It went on just as merrily after Bjorn Borg, who sank to his knees on the centre court each year after winning every one of his five titles between 1976 and 1980, walked away from the place, from the game.

It survived the exits of John McEnroe and Boris Becker too, a pair of champions considerably more charismatic than Sampras. And it was just as famous an event after Steffi Graf's retirement too.

After all, this business has been going on for a good 94 years before Sampras was born in 1971. So, of course it will go on. Great institutions don't fold up the moment a great player departs from its stage.

Yet, given what we were treated to by the great man in the last decade of the second millennium, how can things be the same in these parts without his presence?

The strawberries might taste the same — even if they are a touch more expensive — but the tennis won't.

For, Sampras' absence — permanent from the looks of it — might well usher in a new era in Wimbledon in the men's game. Actually, perhaps it was already ushered in last year, when Lleyton Hewitt managed to win the title playing almost every point from the back of the court.

And with the retirement of Pat Rafter and the fading away of Goran Ivanisevic, serve and volley masters of lawn tennis appear to be a dying breed — which is all the more reason why the great man will be missed during the fortnight.

Wimbledon will be just as huge a spectacle even without its greatest champion of all time. But those of us who know that there will never be a Pete Sampras again also know that Wimbledon tennis won't ever be the same again. Miss you Pete, really do; but thanks all the same. Thanks for being the player you were, the champion you were, the gentleman you were.

In my mind, the tag Wimbledon Champion will always be synonymous with Pete Sampras

angiel
02-01-2005, 10:49 PM
Greatest Champions: Pete Sampras

by Alix Ramsay, AELTC
2003

This is a doddle. Pick a champion, the boss said, and make the argument that he is the greatest champion of all time. Bags I do Pete Sampras, then, says I. Seven Wimbledon Championships, 14 Grand Slam titles in all – beat that anybody. That's it, then, I win. My boy is the best, no questions asked.

Actually, there is a little bit more to it than that. 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.

His last moment as a player was probably the US Open last summer. Again he faced Agassi, again he won and again he set a new record (14 Grand Slam singles title notched up). Since then he has not lifted a racket in anger. With nothing left to achieve, he can enjoy a life of retirement as a husband and a father. And, of course, the greatest ever Wimbledon champion. QED.

angiel
02-05-2005, 06:11 PM
Sampras, kids prove sportsmanship exists

by Greg Cote, Miami Herald
Tuesday, August 26, 2003


Those emotional thank-yous on each end of the East Coast on Monday -- the retirement of tennis great Pete Sampras in New York and the celebration of a Little League team in Boynton Beach -- were considerably closer in meaning than in miles.

A shared feeling may be drawn when marking what Pete Sampras meant to his sport and what a show that bunch of 11-- and 12-year-olds just gave us. At the intersection of one great professional career and one remarkable kids baseball tournament, you found something that made you wish neither had to end.

Simple sportsmanship.

A font of grace.

The game at its essence, splendidly unadorned.

There is a wistfulness in saying goodbye to Sampras and to those Little League moments, because they were an island apart from the coarseness that too much of athletics has become. They were a nice place to visit; the kind of place that makes you sad to leave because you're not sure if you will ever get back there again.

Sampras and those boys, in their own way, were a picture of sports the way Norman Rockwell might have drawn it.

The sullying of sports' good name can begin awfully early now. A loud minority of boorish parents, cheating coaches and preening kids have become graffiti on youth sports, spelling out an obsession on winning.

Two years ago, the Little League World Series was scandalized by the revelation a star pitcher was overage. Just last year in Williamsport, Pa., young players from one U.S. team peacocked and showboated as if choreographed by Deion Sanders.

It made this year's showing all the more impressive. It wasn't so much that the Boynton Beach team won the national championship, but its sportsmanship in doing so. If anything, Boynton's loss to Japan in the world final Sunday night showed the class of the local kids and coaches even more clearly, well-earning the heroes' welcome that awaited the team upon its return to Palm Beach on Monday.

Even crushed to be losing, Boynton infielders slapped hands with Japanese base runners after big hits, a charming, nearly unheard-of display of goodwill. The Japanese kids returned the sportsmanship, forming a human trampoline and tossing a smiling Boynton player in the air during a postgame celebration involving both teams.

Some seemed put off by ESPN and ABC televising so much of the Little League series, perhaps recalling those preening kids who had used the stage for self-worship.

But you know what? In an age when the bar has been grievously lowered on what deserves to be on TV, those young players we saw Sunday night earned their moments in the spotlight, as opposed to some idiot willing to eat worms on ``reality TV.''

And here's another reality to consider:

Those kids would have been doing the same things whether ESPN was there or not. Their smiles would have been just as wide, their tears just as real, even if the only people watching were a small crowd of proud parents.

What those Boynton Beach kids accomplished -- which was not less than polish the name of youth sports -- is precisely what Pete Sampras has been doing so well for so long in the play-for-pay division.

Simply: doing things right.

It isn't so much that Sampras won a record 14 Grand Slam singles championships, the number alone qualifying him unequivocally among tennis' all-time greats.

It is that he always demurred to not bugle his greatness or plan his own parade. He was the gentleman's champion. Fittingly, U.S. Open officials had to convince Sampras that his retirement should be the stuff of ceremony Monday night.

Sampras began to emerge nationally just as John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors were winding down circus-like, bellicose careers personified by their pantomime of outraged complaint over dubious line calls. Sampras worked roughly the same timeline as Andre Agassi, who served up a contrasting persona introduced by the Canon camera ad in which he declared, ``Image is everything.''

Now Sampras leaves his sport to Andy Roddick, who, for all his potential, thus far remains closer to Anna Kournikova than to Sampras in accomplishment: a pinup as much as a player, another ''image is everything'' star.

Sampras was all steak, light on sizzle, an old-schooler who seemed like he ought to have been playing inside a black-and-white TV in the era of Rod Laver and Stan Smith.

The gentleman champion retires but leaves us with an encouraging reminder that an athlete's great success and equally great humility need not be mutually exclusive.

Likewise, those boys from Boynton Beach reassured us that plenty of kids still play youthful games with eyes on a championship, but with hearts and minds on being good sports and having a ton of fun.

May their lessons prove contagious.

angiel
02-07-2005, 07:12 PM
SPORTSTAR

COVER STORY/PETE SAMPRAS


GOD OF BIG THINGS

"The higher you soar the smaller you appear to those who cannot fly." - Friedrich Nietzsche

THE man called Joker was right. Pete Sampras is history. Greg Rusedski was right. Pete Sampras is done. The Canadian-born Briton was right. Pete Sampras is slow. Rusedski was on the mark. Pete Sampras is old, a father to be soon.



He was, after all, giving voice to a belief that he shared with a lot of other players on the tour, an opinion that many a critic has brought to print, has aired on television.

They were all right. As a Grand Slam champion, Pete Sampras is history.

Is this the same Pete Sampras who, last fortnight, at age 31 and in front of a passionate crowd at the National Tennis Center in New York beat one of the all-time greats of the game - Andre Agassi - in the US Open final and then climbed into the stands to share an intimate moment with his heavily pregnant wife Bridgette Wilson Sampras?

Of course, it is. Yet, Greg Rusedski and all the others who swore that such an event would never happen again in Sampras's career were all right.

They were right because they said what seemed logical from their point of view. They were right because, they judged within the ambit of their own knowledge and experience. They were right because, given their limitations, they could not have said anything different.

That the Rusedski point of view is pedestrian is besides the point. That he - and all the others who sought to write off the greatest tennis player that ever lived - knows nothing about surpassing genius is hardly relevant.

What is relevant is this: it takes a touch of greatness to peek into the soul of the sort of greatness symbolised by Sampras and see it for what it is, see it for what it is capable of, see it for its timeless quality and transcendental brilliance. Average men with average thought patterns like Rusdeski's will never enjoy that privilege.

Then again, to hell with Rusdeski and his ilk. We are not here to bury them. We are here to praise one of the greatest athletes in the history of sport, to celebrate one of the greatest moments of his remarkable career, to marvel at a revival that is nothing short of the epic.

Who would have believed this was possible? Who - other than the great man himself - would have thought that an ageing legend who had lost to George No Name (Bastl) in the second round at Wimbledon last June and then sat slumped in his chair staring at the turf for a long, long time would win a fifth U.S.Open title 12 years after his first as a 19-year-old?

During the fourth and fifth sets of that match, Sampras pulled out a note written by his wife to inspire him and read it again and again. "My husband, 7 time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras," began the note. It was a touching moment but it failed to save Sampras ignominy on that day.

Long years spent in the trenches of sportswriting provide a person with an armour of impassivity. While you readily describe an event with passion and hold a mirror to the emotions played out on a sports field, you seldom let the events shake you up. You feel, yet you don't feel. You are moved, yet you are not moved.

In my career, that afternoon at Wimbledon was an exception. I simply could not believe something like that could have happened to Sampras, that the lord and master of lawn tennis could be so humbled by a man who made the main draw as a lucky loser after being eliminated in the qualifying rounds. Later that evening, in the press mini bus that drove us back to Central London, an Italian journalist said to me: "I guess this is it. Pete will never come back here again. It's all over."

I flashed a wan smile and said to myself, "Maybe he is right." Yet, as the hauntingly poignant image of the great man sitting, shoulders slumped, on the No.2 court played itself out again and again in my mind, I was hoping against all hope that the great man would somehow author a miracle.

But, then, truth to tell, for all the elements of the unexpected contained in the dramatic events of the second week at Flushing Meadows, Grand Slam title No.14 for Pete Sampras was no miracle. It was just that the great man finally overcame the biggest slump of his career, and did so against all odds.

It would have been a miracle if a lesser man had done what Sampras did, go without a single title for more than two years and then beat players of the calibre of Tommy Haas, Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi to win the U.S.Open.

But Sampras needs no miracles to win. He just needs about 80 per cent of his game. Yes, 80 per cent. Not even 100 per cent.

Having watched him from the time he beat a resurgent John McEnroe in the semifinals and then Andre Agassi in the final to win his first Grand Slam title in New York in 1990, having watched him win seven Wimbledon titles and two Australian Open titles, one can say this much with conviction: Sampras at 80 per cent will beat Andre Agassi at 100 per cent in five sets on a fast court. And he only needs to be at 70 per cent to beat any of the other active players in the game!

And what happens when Sampras plays at 100 per cent? As Agassi, his greatest rival, said after losing the 1999 Wimbledon final in straight sets, Pete walks on water.

A majority of tennis critics and a vast majority of fans have a natural tendency to favour matches of intense drama. Five set epics stay in the mind longer. The Bjorn Borg-John McEnroe classic of 1980 at Wimbledon, the Goran Ivanisevic-Pat Rafter thriller last year... these are the kind of matches that appeal to many.

But, in my mind, there is no greater match than the one in which Sampras outclassed an inspired Agassi in the 1999 Wimbledon final. From the time he was challenged on serve (down 0-40) midway in the first set to the time that he eased on the pedal just that bit late in the third set, Sampras put on an exhibition of tennis that would have been impossible even to dream of, if it had not actually been enacted in front of our eyes.

As the great man probed the very limits of athletic and artistic excellence, you sat in awe, often pinching yourself, and still wondering if it was a dream from which you'd soon wake up.

"Can anyone really play tennis like this" asked a French tennis writer, eyes wide, in the press box.

Well, Pete Sampras can. Pete Sampras did. And it was precisely because of that it was hard to digest the events of the last two seasons when the great man huffed and puffed to defeats against mere mortals.

Looking back, for a couple of years, Sampras has had a problem. After winning a record 13 Grand Slam titles, after winning a record seven Wimbledon titles, after finishing No.1 for a record six years, there was no new peak to scale, no one to beat, nothing to prove, no challenge to meet.

What does a mountaineer do after conquering the Everest? Everything else begins to look meaningless, pedestrian, unworthy of great effort.

And what does a tennis champion do after becoming the winningest Grand Slam champion of all time, after spending more weeks at No.1 than anyone else in history, after having dominated the spiritual home of tennis - Wimbledon - like no other player?

Maybe simply ease his foot off the pedal, find the woman of his dreams to marry, chill out a bit and soak up life outside the cauldron of tennis.

Sampras did just that. But, then, not much later, he wasn't the Sampras we knew anymore on a tennis court. Tom Who, Dick What and Harry Who's That started stepping on the court believing they can beat the great man. And many of them did too as Sampras went without a title in 33 tournaments over 26 months.

In Grand Slam after Grand Slam, as he said that he still felt he had another major or two left in him - after losing to lesser men - few were willing to believe him. It looked like the great man was chasing rainbows.

But like Muhammad Ali in another era, through all the traumatic events in the twilight of his career, Sampras continued to believe in himself, sure in his mind that he can recreate the magic of the past at least one more time.

After making the quarterfinals in New York, beating Haas, Sampras was asked for his reaction to Rusedski's comments following their third round match. And the great man said, "The things which Greg says don't faze me. I know what I can do out there. I don't have to prove people wrong. That's not why I am playing. I am playing to challenge myself and see if I can do it again."

That, dear readers, is the one true sign of surpassing greatness - how successfully you can challenge yourself when all other challenges have been met and mastered.

Ernest Hemingway trying to write a book that is even better than The Old Man and the Sea, the painter Vincent Van Gogh trying to come up with a work of art that can surpass the Sunflowers... the self-surpassing process is the ultimate yardstick of greatness.

This is a business that is bloody tough for an athlete with a limited shelf life. For, by the time you have begun to challenge yourself - after having overcome every other challenge - your legs are weary, your motivation runs low and the sportsman's biggest enemy, Time, is ready to take its pound of flesh, so to say.

Then, suddenly, you are back in the trenches again, as Sampras was. In the strange business of life, just when you think you have nothing to prove, it turns out there is everything to prove, to yourself more than others.

And, at New York on that Sunday, the greatest tennis player that ever lived did prove a point - to himself. He proved that he can challenge himself and come out on top. Surely, it was his greatest victory. For, on that day, Pete Sampras beat Pete Sampras. And, to Pete Sampras now, that is the only player worth challenging, and beating !

angiel
02-09-2005, 11:24 PM
History beckons Sampras, back permitting


By Nirmal Shekar, The Hindu
Monday, June 26, 2000

LONDON, JUNE 25. Three days back, during a regular practice session with his friend Tim Henman at the Aorangi Park courts in Wimbledon, Pete Sampras felt a twinge in his back after a fall and abruptly stopped in his track. Never one to push his luck or play a dangerous game of dice with his own over-worked limbs, the great man quickly made a decision, leaving the court for an alleviating rub in the locker room.

Watching Sampras leave the court with an idiosyncratic frown on his face, you somehow seemed convinced that celestial forces were at work to stop history itself in its tracks. While the whole world was talking about Wimbledon 2000 as the platform on which Sampras might celebrate his ascent to the ultimate summit as a Grand Slam champion - winning a record 13th title - here was the genial genius, a few days ahead of the championship, not even sure if his back would hold up through the fortnight.

And to think this was the man who, a year ago in this very championship, played the finest tennis anybody has ever on a grass court to beat an in-form Andre Agassi in straight sets in the final!

Approaching age 29, Sampras may never be able to recapture that piece of sublime magic ever again. And he may not need to, either. If he can do just over half as well as he did on the first Sunday of July 1999, nobody might be able to stop him in the first championship of the new millennium.

This, of course, means that barring the intervention of a suspect back, it might very well take celestial forces - forces not at the beck and call of mere mortals such as Agassi, Mark Philippoussis, Lleyton Hewitt, Patrick Rafter and Richard Krajicek - to deny Sampras next fortnight his place in history as the most successful Grand Slam champion of all time.

No male player has dominated these championships as comprehensively as Sampras - Bjorn Borg, who won five in a row, included. And nobody has ever instilled in opponents such a feeling of utter helplessness as does Sampras on the Wimbledon grass.

In sport there are times when you watch a contest and go back with the distinct feeling of having witnessed two entirely different games. You'd know all about this feeling if you had the privilege to watch Tiger Woods win the recent U.S. Open by a record 15 strokes.

And, surely, you would have had exactly the same feeling if you had watched Sampras take the hottest player of the Tour - Agassi - apart. Agassi was playing great grass court tennis. Sampras was playing something else, stuff not accessible to ordinary mortals.

So what do you - if you were the opponent - do when someone plays at such stratospheric levels. Just grin and bear it, perhaps - as did Woods's colleagues at the U.S.Open, as did Agassi here last year, as did the rest of the pack when the late Aryton Senna was on his magic-on-wheels routine on rain soaked Formula One tracks many years ago, and as did NBA rivals when Michael Jordan single- handedly decided play-off matches.

But, the problem is, sport is a cruel business, and its caprice can consume the very best of `em. The goddess of sport takes great pleasure in dropping its chosen ones from celestial heights to abysmal lows.

Sampras, of course, knows all about this. He will be the last one to imagine that his seventh title here is for the asking. He also knows that time is running out and there are now other priorities in his life - he recently got engaged to a former Miss Teen America and Hollywood actress Bridgette Wilson - which might very well affect his focus in the years to come.

The great man opens the centre court proceedings at 2 p.m. on Monday against Jiri Vanek of the Czech Republic. And, back permitting, he may not have to dig too deep until a possible quarterfinal clash with the teenaged Australian Hewitt, who beat him in the Queens final.

Wimbledon chief referee Alan Mills has said that Sampras's physio assured him that nothing was seriously wrong with the champion's back and the decision to suspend practice was only a precaution. Which, of course, is good news for the champion's fans.

For the man who is seeded to play Sampras in the final, arch- rival Andre Agassi, all the good news seems to have dried up recently. Right from the time he won the French Open in 1999 and began his much-publicised romance with Steffi Graf, Agassi was on a roll, right until this year's Australian Open where he beat Sampras in a memorable five set semifinal thriller.

But, since then the Agassi Express has been chugging along rather laboriously and Agassi himself admits that the ``last few months haven't been great for my confidence.'' For all that, with a couple of matches under his belt, Agassi might very well acquire the glow of a champion, although he has been handed out a tough draw with a prospective second round meeting with Todd Martin.

The top two seeds apart, there are only a handful of men who might reasonably expect to win the championship. At the head of this list are Philippoussis and Hewitt - strange indeed that they should have so quickly taken over the mantle from a man who seemed a grass court natural, Rafter.

Philippoussis was a touch unlucky last year when he had to quit after winning the first set against Sampras because of an injury. And this year he will be inspired by the presence of Boris Becker as his advisor.

Becker flew into Paris on his private jet to spend time with Philippoussis during the French Open but the German's expertise will be of greater benefit in these parts. And Philippoussis himself admits that he learnt more about championship tennis in an hour with Becker than he had in six previous years.

Meanwhile, we have learnt in the last two weeks that a slender pony-tailed Davis Cup team-mate of Philippoussis is no push-over on grass. Hewitt has a tremendous attitude, he is one of the finest movers on the court and his return of serve is next only to that of Agassi.

The blond teenager reminds me of the great Bjorn Borg although Hewitt has a long way to go before he can hope to accomplish half as much as the Swede did in his career.

In the third rung, as contenders, one might place men such as Richard Krajicek, Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski. As for the French champion Gustavo Kuerten, his victim Magnus Norman, the Russians Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin...well, they might need a giant slice, or two, of luck...of the sort no man has come by in these parts since Jan Kodes in 1973.

Meanwhile, it appears that a few Spanish stars are peeved at Wimbledon's decision to ignore their claims in ranking terms and promote men like Henman, Rusedski, Rafter and Krajicek in the seedings. While, on the face of it, it does appear that the Spaniards - Alex Corretja and Albert Costa - may have a case, it may be ridiculous to say that the Wimbledon Committee may have done it for commercial gain.

For, this is the very committee that chose to ignore Anna Kournikova's claims as a crowd pulling megastar and has seeded only the top 16 ranked players in the women's singles, leaving No. 17 Kournikova out in the open and facing a stiff first round examination against 10th seeded Sandrine Testud of France.

Millions of hearts will be broken should Kournikova - a player who has 18,000 web pages devoted to her on the net and has over 10 million hits on an average day - fail to get past the first round but it will hardly concern any of the genuine contenders for the women's championship.

The confidence of the defending champion Lindsay Davenport may not be at an all-time high but she is a natural on this surface and should fancy her chances even more than Martina Hingis, who has not won a Grand Slam title since January 1999.

Down the rungs, the Williams sisters can be a huge threat and Mary Pierce would like to believe that, at long last, she'd be able to master the slick grass of the All England Club

angiel
02-12-2005, 07:55 PM
THE GREATEST ?

by NIRMAL SHEKAR, The Sportstar
July 19, 1997

You'd have thought he was from Mars. There was a perceptible tone of awed wonderment to many of questions that were asked at the post-match press conference on the day Pete Sampras won his fourth
Wimbledon title, as well as two days earlier when he played the semifinals. It was almost as if we were sitting in front of an alien superman.
The line of questioning had little in common with other post-match conferences you have attended after a title match. And, in a, way it was understandable, too. The questioners wanted to get to the bottom of
one thing, as the Americans would say. How can somebody play as well as Sampras did? It was this amazement that was translated into many different questions.
In the event, as he was leaving the interview room on the day he beat Todd Woodbridge in the semifinals, the world champion turned around,
smiled and said, "You know, it's not that complicated guys." Of course, what Sampras really meant was there was nothing complicated about his being as good a he is on a tennis court. And, therefore, the attempts to get under the surface and bring out the mysteries, to unravel the secret of his success, were rather amusing to him.
In fact at one point, Sampras explained how simple grass court tennis was. "It's very simple out there, I mean, you just have to hold serve and hopefully you'll have a couple of chances to break if you return well. That's really it out there."
The message was clear. What Sampras was trying to say was, there was nothing astonishing about his tennis, nothing to be in awe of, it's all quiet simple.
Simple indeed. But, then, so Van Gogh might have thought after painting Sunflowers. So Beethoven might have imagined after composing a symphony. So Nietzche might have thought after writing 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra'. After all, masterpieces are simple to great masters. So it is on a tennis court to Sampras, too.
And, yes, his tennis is simple too; just too simply awesome-something that complicates things for people whose job it is to describe its breathtaking quality to readers. Little wonder it appeared on that
Sunday at the All England Club that the world's sport media was trying to collectively solve some kind of puzzle.
Actually, there is a simple solution to the puzzle - which is to accept that when Pete Sampras is at his peak, he plays at a level that, probably, no tennis player in history had ever achieved. Simplified, this means Sampras is, arguably, the greatest player that ever lived.
Comparison across generations is a complicated business. It is a fraught exercise that will take you along a road packed with potential landmines. Nor will numbers - major titles won, lost, etc. -do. As useful a yardstick as they maybe at times, it doesn't help this case.
And, then, men like Bill Tilden and Rod Laver never had the use of the modern graphite racquets. Playing in the high noon of the era of professional tennis, Sampras has certain unique advantage over Laver
and Tilden. But in much the same way, he carries a greater burden too. But, the point is, given the advantages, given the way sports and sportsmen evolve, Sampras is perhaps the best all-round player we have seen. He is to tennis what Michel Jordan is to basketball. Until a few years ago, John McEnroe had always insisted that Rod Laver was the best player he saw. On the morning of the final, before
Sampras beat Pioline to win his fourth title at Wimbledon last fortnight McEnroe wrote this in the SUNDAY TELEGRAPH: "Pete is in a different world. He looks like the best player I've ever seen in this
sport."
That's what Sampras has done this year - he's forced so many people to revise their opinions. Grand Slam titles no. 9 and no. 10 are nowhere as significant, by themselves, as this unique achievement of the great player.
Pioline is an introvert bloke, a man of few words. If he had Ilie Nastase's sense of humor, the Frenchman might have well said something similar to what the Romanian did after losing the 1976
final to Bjorn Borg: "He is from moon. We play tennis, he plays something else."
Indeed, when Sampras is at his best days, you often get the feeling that you are watching two different games - one by the great man himself and the other by his opponent. If this makes for rather undramatic one-sided contests, such as this year's Wimbledon final, then Sampras is the guilty party - he is guilty of putting on a show a level of excellence rarely seen in any sport.
"It was a pleasure to be out there playing against him today, because not many people get to appreciate how good a player he is because they have never been on court with him," said Woodbridge after losing to
the great man in the semifinals. "It's something I'll talk about when I am finished, how good he was."
Boris Becker, for his part, has always been talking about how good Sampras was. "For me, he was always the most complete player. He had power, he had speed, he had touch. You can't compare 60's with 90's, but I always felt he was for me the best player ever," said the German half an hour after he had told Sampras at net after their quarterfinal contest that he had played his last match at Wimbledon. So, where does Sampras go from here? He'll be only 26 next month and in the
middle of a year when he is playing the best tennis of his career, the world champion feels there is still room for improvement, and that he can actually become a better player than he is today. "I feel like I can get better as long as I am working hard and
staying healthy," says Sampras.
Getting better! Is he kidding? Already guys are getting blown off the court. And, at a time when a handful of players who can stand on the court and engaging him in an absorbing argument have all disappeared one after another - Stefan Edberg has retired , Boris Becker is on his way out, Andre Agassi is enjoying the longest honeymoon any tennis player has ever had - Sampras' domination of men's game is inevitable.
Of course, we said the same thing of John McEnroe in 1984, a year when the left-handed New Yorker lost just one match of any significance. But, at the end of the following year, McEnroe took a sabbatical and he was never the same player on his return to the game. And what of Borg? In 1980, when he was still the Mr. Invincible of the famous lawns, who would have expected the unflappable Swede to quit the game just over a year later.
In any event, who can say confidently that Sampras will not suffer the kind of mid-career blues that signaled the beginning of the end for men such as Borg and McEnroe?
Well, it's not impossible. But, given how much he is enjoying his job at the moment, given how different he is as a person, compared to Borg - who imposed a monastic life on himself without quite realizing
that he was not the kind of person who could enjoy it - and McEnroe, it seems unlikely that Sampras would go the way the two past world champions did. The other day Michel Stich pointed out that Sampras was as successful as he was because all he thought of was tennis. The World champion said something that was at once logical and revealing. I've got the rest of my life to do what I want when I'm finished at 30 or whenever I stop. So I feel like when I am done, I don't want to look back at my career and have years and months when I wasn't into the game at all. This is my job and this is what I love to do," said Sampras.
The Stichs of this world, as gloomy and ordinary as they are, will never understand that "love", the love of what they might imagine is hard grind. It is love of perfection and the willingness to strive for
it, no matter the cost. It is a sage's love for icy heights. Men like Stich can never contemplate it, much less understand it.

This is precisely why Peter Sampras is as great as he is.

angiel
02-14-2005, 09:22 PM
Pause to honor Sampras this week, because he won't make the rounds

By Tim Kawakami, Mercury News Staff Columnist
August 24, 2003

Six picks and assorted bric-a-brac and blurbs for the new sports week and beyond:

1. PETE SAMPRAS, WHO OFFICIALLY RETIRES MONDAY, is the anti-Michael Jordan. The guy who quietly quit 50 weeks ago and didn't get around to telling anybody until now.

Sampras, the greatest male tennis player of this era and maybe ever, is the one dominant athlete who absolutely isn't coming back. He'll never un-retire.

Sometimes, watching him wince through matches and news conferences, you wondered how he gathered enough energy to play when he was 22 -- so forget about it now that he's 32, a father and wealthy beyond his dreams.

We have had four or five chances to say a loud farewell to Jordan, and just as many with Sugar Ray Leonard and Arnold Palmer. Joe Montana had his Monday night goodbye as a 49er, plus his tenure in Kansas City. For Jerry Rice, the whole 21st century is a victory tour.

I was at Sampras' first pro victory -- Philadelphia, 1990 -- and even then he looked like he would rather sleep in and hit the golf course in the afternoon than pound the practice court to prepare for a French Open.

He won a record 14 majors -- the last at the U.S. Open a year ago, his final match a four-set victory over Andre Agassi -- but he never had the appetite for public worship that still prods Jordan, Agassi and other Great Ones.

He had no entourage. He played tennis, spectacularly. When he started to play less than spectacularly, he shut it down, and bided his time in private while the inner flame weakened. There is grace in that. Cool, distant grace.

Let's say a fond farewell to Sampras on Monday during the first day of the U.S. Open in New York. He'll looked embarrassed, say a few things, then vanish into the night, in plenty of time to get back to Beverly Hills for another long slumber.

Mimi
02-15-2005, 06:08 AM
thats why i don't want him to come back, a true champion will not change their mind :cool: , i don't like him to come back and retire and come back like michael jordan, this is not nice for me, i want a classic pete retirement, his last match was a grand slam win, peole will always rememebr him :)

thanks angiel for your efforts :angel:

angiel
02-15-2005, 09:59 PM
thats why i don't want him to come back, a true champion will not change their mind :cool: , i don't like him to come back and retire and come back like michael jordan, this is not nice for me, i want a classic pete retirement, his last match was a grand slam win, people will always remember him :)

thanks angiel for your efforts :angel:

You are right Mimi, and I dont think he will play again - maybe only to win the French Open some day :rolleyes:

angiel
02-15-2005, 10:04 PM
Farewell to Sampras the self-effacing superstar and champion

By John Roberts, Independent
August 23, 2003

From the moment his career took off at 19 as the youngest United States Open men's singles champion in 1990, Pete Sampras was destined to be something of an enigma. To some he was brilliant, an expression of all that was good in the sport. To others he was dull but efficient. The word that really sums him up is phenomenal.

Sampras came along towards the end of an era of pyrotechnics on the court, a time when a combination of tantrums and talent had turned the game into a media circus, as much about angry words and ill-tempered deeds as graceful play.

Ushered in by the Romanian Ilie Nastase, who was tantalising and irritating in equal portions, the age of the temperamental player continued apace with the arrival of the pugnacious Jimmy Connors and his fellow American sparring partner, John McEnroe.

Connors, a tremendous battler, tarnished his greatness with obscene comments and gestures towards officialdom. McEnroe, supremely gifted, was unable to control his turbulent nature and his deft touches were interspersed with daft outbursts.

First Bjorn Borg and then Ivan Lendl played splendid straight men in the vaudeville, and then came the bold precocious Boris Becker and the elegant Stefan Edberg.

Arriving in this milieu, Sampras seemed at a loss to know what to do for the best. Like Lendl, he could only be himself, devoid of artifice. He was a tennis player, pure and simple, and it took many of the game's followers a long time to realise that and to appreciate him.

Sampras, self-effacing but with solid values about his craft, considered that he was not mature enough to win the US Open in 1990, but he "just got hot for two weeks''. He was actually relieved when his defence of the championship ended in defeat, describing the sensation as "a monkey off my back''.

It is appropriate that the Californian will formally announce his retirement here at Flushing Meadows - where he won his last Grand Slam title a year ago - prior to the evening session when the tournament starts on Monday. The long journey he began in New York 13 years ago has led him to a place among the true greats of the sport.

Andy Roddick, the young American Sampras singled out as the future of the men's game in his country, summarised the 32-year-old champion's contribution perfectly when he said: "He was one of the most graceful players, one of the most quietly competitive players and one of the greatest pressure players.''

Andre Agassi, Sampras's long-time rival, continues to challenge all-comers at the age of 33, but Agassi would be the first to acknowledge that his career has lacked the intense consistency of Sampras. Agassi has had rest periods, some forced by injuries, others by lack of endeavour, whereas Sampras has meant business from the start. How else could he have won a record 14 Grand Slam singles titles (seven of them at Wimbledon) and reigned as the world No 1 for a record six consecutive years?

Leaving the stage to the likes of Roddick and Roger Federer, Switzerland's 22-year-old Wimbledon champion, Sampras is assured of his legacy and his status in the history of the sport.

Being persuaded to adopt a one-handed backhand and give free expression to his attacking style, Sampras watched videos of the "classy Aussies'' he came to admire so much, particularly Rod Laver, the diminutive left-hander who accomplished the Grand Slam as both an amateur and a professional.

Laver belongs to a gentler era, when players were admired for their skills and powers of endurance and the crowds were enthralled by sensational play between sportsmen.

Sampras has managed to restore that balance against the odds

angiel
02-19-2005, 08:20 PM
The Quiet American: Pete Sampras

By: Hemal Ashar, Mid-Day
August 24, 2003


P is for Power. Pistol Pete followed Boom Boom Becker into the game’s wham-bam era. The American packed a lethal punch when it came to a serve. The sight of Pete Sampras serving will remain frozen in time forever. The slight rocking back of his heels, the tongue hanging out, the ball high in the air and then the body which leapt behind the ball — strength coming from shoulder and torso while speed was generated from the swiveling hips. Almost Zen-like, Pete Sampras was ‘One with his serve’.

E is for Everything. Pete Sampras was an ideal champion — a man who could win on every surface and had all kinds of firepower in his arsenal. Sampras did not have a notable ‘chink’ in the armour. Quick hands and quicker feet made him get to the net fast.
He could camp at the baseline so he would not be passed on the flanks easily. He dug out deep shots, he ran down impossible-to-reach winners and could play with ‘soft hands’ when the point demanded it.

T is for Tears. Sampras in tears? The poker-faced player, who sent scribes into paroxysms of frustration with his dour demeanour, allowed the world a look into Sampras the human, when he broke down on court for friend and coach Tim Gullikson, who died in 1995 of brain cancer.
The phalanx of flash bulbs popped as they caught a private moment in the life of a discreet figure. A beam had pierced through flesh, bone, blood and sinew straight into the soul. Sampras was no longer a machine. He was a man.

E is for End. The end of the tennis road is here for Pete Sampras. Tomorrow, he will formally remove his tennis sneakers and step into the more conventional leather shoes as he prepares for his full time post-retirement roles of husband and father.
Characteristically, the going will be as silent as the stay has been. Do not expect grandiose goodbyes from Pete Sampras. He came, he played, he conquered — no fuss, no frills.

S is for Stayer. Stayers are slayers. In a world where the competition is so hot that even two months as number one player is considered an achievement, Sampras’ records are staggering. In a 15-year career, Sampras has been the Association of Tennis Professionals’ (ATP) number one player for six consecutive years. It is a feat unique in modern tennis.
He also has also won 14 Grand Slam titles. Pistol Pete had the hallmark of greatness, the big C that stands for consistency.

A is for American. He was touted as the great American dream, though it was his Greek father who gently shoved his son towards the racquet and fuzzy, yellow ball game. Tennis folklore reveals that Monica Seles’ late father used to draw cartoon characters on tennis balls to induce his eight-year-old to whack the ball.
It is hard to imagine his parents saying even to little Sampras: ‘a Mars bar for you if you stick to your tennis lesson’. From as early as pre-teen days, Sampras needed hardly any push to play. He has always scrambled around within his six-foot-one-frame and found the will to play inside.

M is for Motivation. Though he was combustive on court, Sampras was ice off it, compelling people to wonder where exactly he kept that desire to win. Sampras has never talked about his motivation.
In the early ’90s there was a feeling that it was all slipping out of his grasp as he started careening downhill. Then a coach called Tim Gullikson put it all back for him. It was the one outside ‘prop’ that brought the one-man-tennis-show back on track.

P is for Passing. With the curtains falling on Sampras’ career, the baton has passed on to Andy Roddick who has grasped it as eagerly as a waiting runner in a relay race. Unlike Sampras, Roddick has ‘attitude’.
In early days, players had charisma; now they have attitude. Whatever it is, the dude-with-attitude description would never fit Sampras. It would be like giving a pair of a tight, suggestively slashed at the thighs pair of jeans to a man more comfortable in cassock.

R is for Records. When you are talking records with Sampras, he has enough of them to rival a music store. But sweet Pete simply had no time for the big R of sport. Never in his career has Sampras spoken about being spurred on to a title because he wanted to break some record.
While legends come out of retirement closets spurred on to become the oldest person to win another tennis title, it is apparent that books hold little fascination for Mr Pete Sampras. Record books included.

A is for Australian. An Aussie called Rod Laver figured prominently in Pete Sampras’ life. Laver was an Australian tennis legend who won on all surfaces, had all the shots, and took all four Grand Slam events in 1962 and ’69. He had hardly said anything on court except ‘good match’. Sounds like the person being written about here.
Even as young as 10, Sampras’ scientist coach Dr Pete Fischer was showing him films of Rod Laver and telling him he would be as great as Laver one day.

S is for Sponsors. Boris Becker had commentated that the money in the game was ‘obscene’. Sampras will never have to worry about saving enough to send his kids to college. In a world where tennis players have to be performers — say witty things, pull down their shorts, give the finger to opponents to get sponsors in — Sampras was not.
Yet, the sponsors kept coming. As a player, he was too good to ignore. As for all those outrageous antics, frankly, my dear, Pete Sampras never gave a damn.

angiel
02-21-2005, 02:09 PM
He served up greatness
Pete Sampras, tennis' best ever, says goodbye

By Richie Whitt, Star-Telegram Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Muhammad Ali couldn't do it. Neither could Bill Parcells. Michael Jordan tried it twice, both times embarrassingly unsuccessfully.

Pete Sampras did it. And, like he always has, made it look easy. What Sampras pulled off Monday night at the U.S. Open is one of the most remarkable feats in sports.

He retired on top.

And, unlike some of the other names atop sports' Mount Rushmore, bet you a can of Wilsons he stays that way.

In a world where retired athletes and coaches are routinely, wrongly pushed back into business by that evil "itch that needs to be scratched," Sampras seems uniquely content. After 15 years and a record 14 Grand Slams, he's gone. For good. For great. Forever.

Oh, he made it official in New York, where a year ago he capped his unprecedented career with an unthinkable run to his fifth U.S. Open championship. But Sampras has been unofficially officially retired the past 12 months. After whipping rival Andre Agassi in the 2002 U.S. Open final, Sampras breathed a sigh of relief and retired his racquet.

He dabbled with the idea of returning in early March, practicing a couple of weeks with coach Paul Annacone. But neither the desire, nor the challenge, were there. The only uncapped peak resides in France, and with his game and his age, it's as remote as ever. Instead of dwelling on what he doesn't have, Sampras went back to his perfect life in the perfect mansion in Beverly Hills with perfect wife Bridgette Wilson and perfect 8-month-old son Christian. He played pick-up hoops, joined a beach volleyball game or two, watched Wimbledon, yawned and kept on being retired.

Since tennis turned out to be something Sampras did instead of being who he was, we're now only left with a lasting legacy of the greatest player to ever swing a racquet.

That's right, the greatest. It's a U.S. Open and shut case.

Rod Laver had more touch and Agassi a better return and Bjorn Borg a better backhand and Jimmy Connors better emotion and ...

In the end, Sampras has the better r?sum?. From 1993-98, a record six consecutive years, he was ranked No. 1. There's more. But do you really need it?

Between his first match as a 16-year-old in Philadelphia in 1988 to his fitting finale last September as a 31-year-old underdog in New York, Sampras never lost control. No drug busts. No frantic 911 calls made from his house. No 2 a.m. "misunderstandings" with police or fans or limo drivers or "entertainers." Unconditional focus was his greatest gift and nastiest vice.

Simple Sampras bored us with winning. Shame on us.

The record books won't let us forget Sampras. Hopefully, neither will the memories.

Vomiting on the court in the '96 U.S. Open quarterfinal against Alex Correjta but somehow recovering to stand up, much less win? That was Sampras.

Turning Wimbledon's fabled Centre Court into his personal backyard playground a record seven times? That was Sampras.

Crying on the court during an Australian Open semifinal after learning his longtime coach, Tim Gullikson, had terminal brain cancer? That was Sampras.

Slouching, shuffling through the U.S. Open locker room with sandals on his feet and a Pearl Jam CD blaring on his headphones? That was Sampras.

Rarely being hero or villain but routinely being a winner? That was Sampras.

And one of the most effortless, effective weapons in the history of sports? That, too, was Sampras.

The touch volleys, the stoic demeanor and the thinning hair -- all will be engulfed eventually by the Sampras Serve. Andy Roddick's is faster, John McEnroe's had a nastier angle and Boris Becker's a more violent kick, but Sampras' effortless motion not only produced the best ever serve in tennis -- but also one of the most clutch shots since the advent of keeping score. Simply unreturnable on the grass or the cement, Sampras' serve is up there with Nolan Ryan's fastball, Barry Sanders' spin, Ali's jab and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's sky hook.

He doesn't need more money or trophies or boosts to his ego. He climbed the mountain, and now he's enjoying the view.

Fittingly, Pete Sampras aced his retirement.

By the numbers

Pete Sampras retired from tennis Monday, a sport he dominated for more than a decade. A numerical look at his prowess:

First match Feb. 22, 1988, at age 16, Sampras loses to Sammy Giammalva Jr..

984: Matches

762: Match victories

88: Tournament finals appearances

64: Overall tournament titles

14: Grand Slam titles

6: Consecutive years ranked No. 1 (1993-98)

$43.3: Million in earnings

Last match: Sept. 8, 2002, at 31, Sampras defeats Andre Agassi to win the U.S. Open.

angiel
02-22-2005, 11:04 PM
Sampras, the classic tennis player

by Sukhwant Basra, The Economic Times
Sunday, September 7, 2003


TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 06, 2003 11:54:43 PM ]
Tennis’ future seemed tethered to the baseline; right there under the heel of the mass produced double-fisted backhand. They said the game had morphed beyond the purview of the volleyer.

They also said that power deigned a new genre of player with extreme grips, pushy parents and the mandatory ability to churn aesthetically-challenged topspin groundstrokes hours on end. Somewhere beyond the mushrooming hardcourts and the spew of the graphite-laden bazookas, the spirit of the game quailed.

Then it chose the avatar of Pete Sampras. Records may stay or wither. Even though Slamming the tennis world 14 times ain’t going to be beaten tomorrow, next year or a decade hence, that ain’t what makes a name as incongruous as ‘Pete’ revered wherever a rectangle measures 78X36 feet.

There’s more. Much more. Sampras played the classic game. He embodied the eternal, not a new-age fad. There was nothing revolutionary in his incisive r epertoire. Instead his greatness lay in raising the simple to a plane where it demanded reverence. Sampras showed us beautiful tennis. For a decade he stemmed the assault of the factory made player, transporting purists to an era that favoured craft over daft power. Perhaps we loved him even more because he refused to wear neon-coloured spandex.

At a time when his peers were amassing Mickey Mouse trophies in the juniors, Sampras was getting thrashed confronting the big boys on the men’s Tour. At the age of 16 he had the gall to flip to the elegant single handed backhand instead of the bread and butter double barrel.

Above all, he strutted around the net in the age of the graphite racquet. The portend was apparent: the boy was either mad or destined. When Andre Agassi’s father talked about hanging a ball over his crib to tune his reflexes and Monica Seles’ spoke of the novel bio-mechanics of two-handed strokes it was heartening to hear that Georgia and Sam were unable to watch son Pete play as it made them too nervous. No ear rings, no jarring style statements and a mild mannered demeanour made our parents love Sampras as much as we did.

Off-court the fellow was just too regular. Like most of us. So very easy to identify with. That he cried when long standing coach Tim Gullikson succumbed to cancer and refused to part with his trusty Staff till the end of his playing days even when endorsment deals for glitzier new frames beckoned reflect a humanity that’s been sapped from the game by the monster of professionalism. Though he did not put Davis Cup duty over individual glory, he still reminded us of a time when the call of relationships had not dwindled in the jungle of money bags.

“I will never sit here and say I am the greatest ever. I’ve done what I’ve done in the game. I’ve won a number of majors- I think that’s kind of the answer to everything,” Sampras, wearing a black suit, said at his farewell during the US Open. This talk about being the greatest belittles many we have never seen .

If it helps, he was declared the best player for the last 25 years by a panel of 100 past players, journalists and tournament directors. Sampras adds: “I don’t know if there’s one best player of all time. I feel my game will match up to just about anybody. I played perfect tennis at times, in my mind.” And on court too.

angiel
02-24-2005, 12:13 AM
The champion of champions

Pete Sampras was a class act, a pure one-off among the players of his generation. He symbolised sporting excellence at its apotheosis and his place at No.1 in the top 10 list of the last 30 years is indisputable, writes NIRMAL SHEKAR.

by Nirmal Shekar, The Sportstar
Cover Story, Septmeber 13, 2003


THAT's it! This was the final full stop.

As the great man, riding an emotional tidal wave, wept in public and banks of photographers went into overdrive to capture a deeply historic moment, the realisation suddenly hit me.

That's it. I would never get to watch Pete Sampras play tennis again. He's done, he's gone!

Through a suspenseful year since the 2002 US Open, although the indications were clear that the great man was unlikely to play again, a simple truth _ that I would never again get to see him play _ never dawned on me.

Even when his agents announced a few days before the start of the US Open that Sampras was going to make his retirement official at a ceremony on the first Monday, the full impact of the decision did not hit home.

It was only when the champion of champions broke down at the Arthur Ashe stadium during the ceremony, with thousands of fans chanting his name all around, that finally the truth clearly dawned.

It was like a longtime music critic suddenly realising that he'd never be able to attend a live performance of Pandit Ravi Shankar or M. S. Subbalakshmi. It was like a longtime movie critic realising that Marlon Brando would never face the cameras again.

Even worse, in fact. For, the best of music and movies can be replayed to some level of satisfaction. But recorded sport is never a passable substitute for live sport. I might choose to, at some point, watch the tape of the 1999 Wimbledon final when the great man elevated tennis to levels to which Van Gogh and Michelangelo elevated art. That magic hour when Sampras, from 3-4 and 0-40 down on serve in the first set, climbed on some invisible ladder to heights no human being might have ever scaled with a tennis racket in hand, would certainly rekindle fond memories.

But being there when he is doing that, merely being there when he is doing whatever it is he is doing wherever, watching him play at whatever level.... that's entirely different. And that, sadly, will never happen again.

As the great man walked a lap with his son Christian in his arms, hundreds of images flashed by the mind's eye: the impish smile of a 19-year old winning his first Slam title at the US Open in 1990, a grown man breaking down on the court during a night session match against Jim Courier at the Australian Open in 1995 on hearing a fan call out ''Do it for your coach, Pete'', a grand master of grass court tennis lifting his seventh Wimbledon trophy in the gloaming in July 2000, an ageing, tired icon slumped in his chair and staring at the pock marked turf in the No.2 court at Wimbledon after being beaten in the second round by a What's-his-name?...

How many glorious chapters, how many golden memories, how many unrecapturable moments of sheer joy watching the incomparable master!

I am not quite sure if I'd want to agree with what Andre Agassi had to say in 1998 in Stuttgart when he was asked to name the five best players of all time. For Agassi needed just one name — Sampras — for all five slots. His answer was, ''Sampras. Sampras. Sampras. Sampras. Sampras.''

But this much is sure: Sampras is, by far, the greatest player I have watched, the greatest player of the last quarter of the 20th century.

Whatever we happen to do in life, there are times when we look back and realise that there were just one or two reasons why we count ourselves lucky to be doing what we are doing, why we think that we are fortunate to have walked the road that we did. In my case, as a sportswriter, the one big reason is that my career coincided with Pete Sampras'.

The man was a class act, a pure one-off among the players of his generation. He symbolised sporting excellence at its apotheosis, never strayed from the straight path — to the very summit — he had set for himself and in the end achieved the kind of immortality that only a handful of men have done in the entire history of organised sport.

Pele. Muhammad Ali. Michael Jordan. Jack Nicklaus. Ayrton Senna. Don Bradman. Welcome to the club, Pete. At 19 the great man knew where he was headed. At 32, job done, Sampras knows that his place is secure in quite the most elite club in sport.

To win 14 Grand Slam titles over 13 years and to finish No.1 six years in a row in the most competitive era in the sport.... these are achievements that are truly mind-boggling, not to speak of the record seven Wimbledon titles over eight summers on the hallowed lawns of the All England Club.

When Bjorn Borg beat John McEnroe in an epic final that featured an unforgettable fourth-set tiebreak in 1980 to win his fifth straight Wimbledon title, I wondered if anybody would ever be able to beat Borg's record... win six titles, that is.

Little did anyone know then a man called Sampras would arrive and raise the bar higher than ever before in the history of the game.

In the event, it wouldn't be out of place in this essay to begin from the beginning of the Borg era and end with the end of the Sampras era and draw up a list of the top 10 male players.

The beginning of the Open Era (post-1968) would be a point of historic divide but for one reason alone I would not want to start from there. For, the second half of the great Australian Rod Laver's career stretched into the Open Era and this writer was not fortunate enough to have watched him at his peak.

As such, although loosely termed as the Top Ten of the last quarter of the 20th century, the men who feature in the list (see box) were players of some merit at different points in time during the Open Era starting with the mid-70s and stretching a few years into the new century.

Although the Open Era began in the late 1960s, it was with the rise of Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors that open tennis really took wings. And these two men were the first great superstars of the last quarter of the 20th century.

Borg was, in many ways, very much like Sampras — he let his tennis do all the talking. Yet, strangely enough, he was the first great teen idol of the modern era, a quiet man who carried the aura of a pop star. He was mobbed by ecstatic teenaged girls wherever he went.

Yet, his attitude to the sport and his day to day existence were very much like Sampras'. Both men shunned all sorts of distractions, neither cared much for parties and late night fun and games, both preferred room service to visiting popular restaurants and, right through their careers, Borg and Sampras led an almost monkish existence.

Then again, it was this one-pointedness of focus that helped Borg and Sampras achieve what they did. The one difference was, Borg forced this lifestyle upon himself — as hindsight would establish — while it came naturally to Sampras. This is the reason why Borg lost his way once he left tennis while Sampras, I am sure, will continue to be a very contented, happy family man.

Also, in terms of their playing styles, Borg and Sampras were polar opposites. While, as athletes, these two were in the highest class, Sampras was twice as gifted a player as Borg. He may not have had Borg's patience and staying power — virtues that saw the great Swede win six French Open titles — from the back of the court but Sampras certainly had a more powerful allround game.

There is no doubt at all in my mind that Borg would rank next only to Sampras in the list. Had he been a touch luckier at the US Open, he'd perhaps have won as many Grand Slam titles as Sampras.

The third slot should go to Andre Agassi for one reason alone: the bald one who revived his career remarkably in the late 1990s is one of only five players in the entire history of the game to win all the four Grand Slam titles.

As a shotmaker, Agassi is in a league of his own and the manner in which he has stayed competitive, and right at the top, past age 30 is almost incredible. Like Connors in the Borg era, Agassi was a touch unlucky that his career coincided with that of Sampras.

Like the Connors-Borg rivalry and the Borg-McEnroe duels, the world sat up each time Agassi played Sampras but the great man dominated the rivalry, particularly in the Slams, where Agassi's only final victory over Sampras came at the 1995 Australian Open.

It is a close race for the fourth place between Connors and McEnroe but I'd give it to the latter for two reasons: McEnroe was by far the most gifted player of that generation, an artist par excellence and he was, too, a wonderfully versatile player who dominated the doubles scene as well.

Connors, who carried working class tennis to heights few men might have aspired to — let alone achieve — owns the fifth slot while Boris Becker beats Ivan Lendl for the sixth.

Becker and Lendl have played some extraordinary matches and Lendl won almost twice as many career titles as did the German. But here again, for two reasons alone Becker should stay ahead in the list: his influence on the game as a charismatic champion far exceeded Lendl's and he was the more gifted one too.

There are two Swedes in the last three slots, Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg and Sweet Stefan will rank a step above his compatriot and friend with the 10th spot going to an Argentine, the Bull of Pampas, Guillermo Vilas

angiel
02-28-2005, 08:54 PM
A Grand farewell
Pistol Pete takes his final bow on center court

By WAYNE COFFEY, DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
August 24, 2003

Pete Sampras, who won 2002 U.S. Open as No. 17 seed,officially announces his retirement tonight.

Fifteen years ago in Philadelphia, before a midweek, midafternoon crowd of maybe 75 people, a 16-year-old high school dropout from Los Angeles made his pro debut against an ATP Tour veteran named Sammy Giammalva Jr.
The event was the U.S. Pro Indoor Championship, the site the Spectrum, the month February. Giammalva, a strong returner whose ranking went as high as No. 30, had little problem dispatching the kid - 6-4, 6-3 - and little doubt that Pete Sampras would not be losing matches for very long.

"I walked off the court and knew I'd played a great player, and that it would be just be a matter of time," Giammalva said.

Sammy Giammalva owns a racket club in Houston these days. He talked about Sampras Saturday night, after playing in a father-son tournament with Sammy III, age 6. He will watch with admiration tonight, when the U.S. Open commences with closure, and a salute to the newly retired Sampras, owner of a record 14 Grand Slam titles, the last of them coming 50 weeks ago on the same hardcourt where he will be honored tonight, in a scintillating victory over Andre Agassi.

It turned out to be Sampras' final match. Sampras grew up idolizing Rod Laver, appreciating the serve-and-volley artistry and graceful comportment of the greats from the past. The idea of finishing up with a title, with a splendid match against his greatest rival, was too perfect to resist. The symmetry - he won his first Grand Slam at the Open in 1990 by beating Agassi - wasn't easy to top either.

The victory made Sampras the youngest Open champion, at 19 years, 28 days. Agassi calls playing against Sampras "the greatest opportunity I'ver ever had - something that is never promised to any athlete no matter how great your career is, which is somebody to have a rivalry with.

"I'll never forget all our matches. We've played in the finals of the Australian, the finals of the U.S. Open three times, the finals of Wimbledon. We've been everywhere together, and now that will no longer be the case."

Jim Courier is another contemporary of the 32-year-old Sampras. His first vivid memory of Sampras came in a junior Davis Cup camp in Santa Barbara, Calif., Courier 15, Sampras a year younger. The players had to begin each day with a 7:15 a.m. run. "He was always the last one out of bed, and had the most swollen eyes," Courier said. "Everyone made fun of him."

Courier would go on to be a top-ranked player himself, a winner of four Slams, including two French Opens - the one major title that would elude Sampras. As much as he appreciated Sampras' stunning athleticism and deft volleys, Courier was most taken by Sampras' serve - and not just the first one. One of the foremost weapons in the history of the game, Sampras' serve wasn't just about its pace. It was about where he'd put it, and when.

"He was a great pitcher, and he knew he could put the strike on the outside corner when he needed, too," Courier said. "That was a large part of his genius - not only having the shot, but having the confidence to go for it at a big moment."

Big moments, indeed, were what drove Sampras. He was forever talking about the majors, about how they were the ultimate definition of greatness. In his career, his non-Grand Slam record was 559-184, a .752 winning percentage. In Slams, it was 203-38, or .842. At the U.S. Open and Wimbledon, Sampras' favorite tennis place of all and where he won an unsurpassed seven titles, his record was even better (134-16,.893).

"He's certainly the greatest player in the modern era, and you can put him in a conversation with Rod Laver as the greatest player ever," Courier said.

Emotionally restrained and almost clinical in his brilliance, Sampras was often accused of being boring, an automaton beneath his bushy eyebrows and hangdog bearing. He was never as dashing or charismatic as Agassi, and Paul Annacone, the coach he reunited with just before making his final Open run last year, is convinced his fluid style and unfaltering restraint made people underestimate not only his greatness, but his intensity.

Indeed, it wasn't until Sampras became vulnerable, until his record streak of six straight years (1993-98) as the year-end No. 1, that people began to warm to him. His unlikely Open triumph last year - as the No. 17 seed - ended a title drought of more than two years, and elicited more affection from fans than he'd ever had before.

Though deeply private, Sampras has a wry sense of humor, and an appealing regular-guy persona. Courier compares him to Joe DiMaggio in the way he'd prefer to let his bat/racket do his talking.

"It's not the era we live in. We live in the sound-bite generation," Courier says. "I think it's a bit of a pity that only in hindsight will his genius be fully appreciated." He paused and laughed. "We don't know what we got till it's gone, baby."

The reluctant genius will make a return tonight, and at last be fully celebrated. Sampras will be there with wife, Bridgette, and their 10-month-old son, Christian. Even Sampras' parents, Sam and Georgia, will be there, after skipping almost all of the big matches of his career, because watching made them too nervous.

As the most prolific champion in history officially says goodbye, the man who beat him in his first match 15 years ago will take it in, glad that his forecast was correct, and that adulation

angiel
03-01-2005, 09:38 PM
http://superstarpublications.iwarp.com/images/Pete%20Sampras.jpg



American idol
Sampras rounding into form at the perfect time

CNNSI
Thursday September 05, 2002
by Steve Wilstein, The Associated Press


NEW YORK (AP) -- Pete Sampras is a washed-up, step-and-a-half-too-slow, one-foot-in-the-grave old codger who just might win the U.S. Open again.

For all the loose locker room talk from losers who never had half his talent, for all the dimwitted suggestions that he should have retired by now, Sampras showed Thursday night that he's not ready to roll over.

If anyone was too slow on this balmy, breezy night it was 20-year-old Andy Roddick, the overhyped, underwhelming "future of American men's tennis."

At 31, Sampras was quicker to the net, steadier on his serves, crisper in his volleys, and deeper with his groundstrokes. He moved with a sense of ease and purpose while Roddick looked harried and lost and oddly enervated.

Sampras carved out a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 victory in a neat 1 hour, 30 minutes, playing Roddick like a puppet all the way.

He delivered a message with his first serve -- 131 mph down the middle -- and though it barely missed, Roddick realized right away just how serious Sampras was about dispelling all that over-the-hill nonsense. Sampras won the first seven points of the match, broke Roddick's serve and held for a 3-0 lead. The rout was on.

Roddick's bruised left foot had been bothering him since Monday, but that's not why Sampras bullied him around the court. To Roddick's credit, he didn't even offer the slightest excuse.

Roddick simply didn't have the game or the strategy to win. He made the mistake of staking out his territory five yards behind the baseline, yielding the net to Sampras and delivering few passing shots or lobs that could thwart him.

Sampras, whose record 13 Grand Slam titles include four at the U.S. Open from the first in 1990 to the last in 1996, should have been saying "thank you" after every game that Roddick stayed back. Sampras makes his living at the net, and Roddick let him live large. If Sampras wasn't drilling volleys and overheads, he was dropping them softly, far out of Roddick's reach.

Roddick, who grew up idolizing Sampras, looked too respectful, too cautious, too stiff. He cracked serves at up to 133 mph, but he never strung a bunch of big serves together. Sampras bunted them back, chipped and charged and sliced his way through Roddick's power, confusing and frustrating the younger player.

Roddick looked mesmerized.

"He is very graceful and fluid when he plays," Roddick said. "That makes it easy on the eyes to watch."

Sampras, 20-0 in night matches over the years at the Open, served as hard as ever, hitting one at 132 mph, many others in the high 120s, and some, just for variety, slower but with beguiling angles and spins.

"This is what I play for," said Sampras, who will meet Sjeng Schalken of the Netherlands in the semifinals on Saturday. "These are the big moments. He's the young up-and-comer that has a great future. I'm pumped up. I kind of feed off the energy of playing at night here."

There were a few older champions watching -- Boris Becker, Ilie Nastase, John McEnroe, Jim Courier -- and the sight of Sampras toying with Roddick and sometimes outslugging him had to warm them. It was an exhibition of power and finesse, experience triumphing over youth.

Any chance Roddick might have had evaporated when he double-faulted twice in a row to drop his serve early in the second set. Sampras took the gift and served for a 3-1 lead, delivering the eighth of his 13 aces and a 132-mph service winner before Roddick sailed a lob long.

Never broken, Sampras faced only one break point, and quickly erased that.

Fittingly, Sampras closed out the match with a drop volley that caught Roddick stranded out of position at the baseline. Roddick sprinted in but never had a chance.

It was vintage Sampras, the same style that allowed him to rule these courts for so many years and reach the last two finals. He has been struggling through the worst slump of his career, losing to nobodies in the early rounds, failing to win a title since Wimbledon two years ago, but on this night he was Pistol Pete once more.

Greg Rusedski should have been there, bowing to him. So, too, Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

Rusedski, who is 13 majors behind Sampras, lost to him in the third round and observed, inaccurately and with little grace, that Sampras was a step and a half slower.

Quipped Sampras: "Against him, I don't really need to be a step and a half quicker."

Kafelnikov had suggested on a couple of occasions that Sampras ought to retire. Not that Sampras sought or needed Kafelnikov's advice. Sampras' reply was that he would retire when he's good and ready.

"I feel like I can still do it," Sampras said. "If I didn't, I wouldn't be here."

He's one old geezer no one should doubt.

angiel
03-03-2005, 12:50 AM
http://perso.wanadoo.fr/grandchelemtennis/PETE%20SAMPRAS.jpg



Pete's revenge
Sampras sweeps No. 1 Agassi in ATP final

CNNSI
Sunday November 28, 1999


HANOVER, Germany (AP) - Pete Sampras beat the man who supplanted him at the top of the rankings, winning the ATP Tour World Championship on Sunday with a 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 victory over Andre Agassi.

In a final pitting the player of the year against the player of the decade, Sampras captured this season-ending tournament for the fifth time to equal the mark set by Ivan Lendl.

In round-robin play earlier in the US$3.6 million tournament, which features the world's top eight players, Agassi beat Sampras 6-2, 6-2.

But Sampras, coming off a three-month layoff because of hip and back injuries, was at his best Sunday and showed no sign of rustiness.

"It's been a tough week, but I played very well today," Sampras said. "I was able to play on a very high level."

"I wanted to prove that I still have it. I was very pumped up, ready to go," he said.

"Today was a big match and I've always believed in myself, that I can rise to the occasion," Sampras said.

"It was a bad day to be flat," Agassi said. "I was really unhappy with the way I played."

Sampras defeated Agassi four of the five times they played this year, and he leads their lifetime series 17-11. This was the fifth title of the year for Sampras, who completed only eight tournaments. He missed the U.S. Open.

Agassi, enjoying the best year of his career, won the French Open and the U.S. Open and lost the Wimbledon final to Sampras. He will finish the year at No. 1 for the first time.

Sampras paid tribute to Agassi. "He had an incredible year and deserves to be No. 1," he said.

Sampras had finished as No. 1 for a record six years. His run ended this year and he will finish 1999 at No. 3, two rankings higher than at the start of this tournament.

Agassi won this championship in 1990 when it was first held in Germany. The event switches to Lisbon, Portugal, next year.

Sampras hit winners from all over the court, including his trademark leaping overhead smashes, much to the delight of the crowd of 13,500. He finished with 47 winners to 14 for Agassi.

Sampras earned US$1.385 million for his victory and Agassi won US$685,000.

He got off to a quick start by breaking Agassi's serve in the second game. He broke serve again for a 5-1 lead and clinched the set with a backhand volley.

"I was on top of him early," Sampras said.

Sampras fell behind 3-0 in the second set. But Agassi hit a forehand long to drop his serve in the seventh game. A backhand into the net by Agassi put Sampras 6-5 up and he served out the set in the next game.

"I was frustrated with the rhythm of the match, he was changing pace," Agassi said.

The third set began with another break of serve for Sampras as Agassi hit a forehand long.

Sampras never lost the momentum and won the match with his 15th ace after one hour, 46 minutes.

"After the U.S. Open, I kind of accepted the fact that I wasn't going to be No. 1. I've done it longer than anyone. Beating Andre, who's had a phenomenal year, is what I'm most pleased about."

angiel
03-03-2005, 08:44 PM
http://www2.raisport.rai.it/news/rubriche/nss/200010/02/39d8c63904df0/sampras1.jpg



Pete's Open tears wash over Courier

by Dennis Passa, AP
January 25, 1995
Pete Sampras, recovering from a two-set deficit and crying openly on court in one of the most unusual and emotional scenes ever witnessed in tennis, hung on for a stirring five-set win over Jim Courier at the Australian Open championship.

Sampras began sobbing into his towel during the changeover after winning the first game of the final set. Throwing ice water on to his face in an effort to hide the tears, he was able to compose himself before returning to the court.

There were television reports that a spectator in the crowd, at the beginning of the fifth set, yelled: 'Do it for your coach', in reference to the illness suffered by Tim Gullikson.

Gullikson, who has had two strokes in the past three months, left for the United States yesterday after again becoming ill during the tournament and having to be hospitalised.

Sampras appeared to be composed after the changeover, but moments later, he again began crying and during one service game, blasted two aces past Courier in between wiping the tears away.

Sampras, who won 6-7 (4-7), 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-4, 6-3, had beaten Courier in 10 of 13 previous meetings. He now plays Michael Chang in the semi-finals tomorrow.

In the fourth set, Sampras broke Courier's serve in the 10th game when Courier slammed an easy overhead smash well outside the court.

The pair stayed on serve through the first 12 games of the opening set, forcing a tiebreaker, where they scored points on their serve to 3-3.

Sampras double-faulted to allow Courier to take a 4-3 lead, then Courier held on his next serve to go up 5-3. The next point had to be replayed when a linesman ruled that a Courier shot was wide and the chair umpire over-ruled. Courier won the set when a Sampras backhand went into the net.

The two also held service in the second set, forcing another tiebreaker that Courier won after going up 3-0 and watching a Sampras backhand go into the net on set point.

Sampras came fighting back in the third set, breaking Courier in the third and ninth games.

Earlier, Chang admitted that players often exploit injuries to their opponents. But he was reluctant to talk too much about one he may have sustained himself.

'Jim and Pete read papers,' Chang smiled when asked about an upper thigh injury he suffered during his 7-6 (9-7), 7-5, 6-3 quarter-final win over Andrei Medvedev.

Medvedev injured his left wrist while lunging for a Chang forehand passing shot that gave the American a 5-3 lead in the first-set tiebreaker.

Conchita Martinez, playing with the same determination that brought her last year's Wimbledon singles title, moved a step closer to another Grand Slam championship.

Martinez, the second seed, beat American Lindsay Davenport 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to advance to the semi-finals against Mary Pierce, who advanced with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Natasha Zvereva.

angiel
03-07-2005, 09:23 PM
http://pistol-pete.com/ausopen95.GIF



Exhausted Sampras talks about his harrowing, exhausting week

Reuters News Service

MELBOURNE, Australia - World No. 1 Pete Sampras spoke Thursday about the most harrowing and exhausting week of his tennis life and of how it felt to cry on center court as he fought what he said was the toughest match of his career.
Just 36 hours after he appeared head bowed and emotionally drained before the world's media following a five-set epic at the Australian Open against countryman Jim Courier, a more composed Sampras was able to reflect on his most public grief.

"I think people understand that I'm normal, I have feelings like everyone else...I'm not a robot out there," said the 23-year-old American who had been overcome on court by his concern for ailing coach Tim Gullikson.

"I'm as normal as the guy across the street, and I think that's what people have to realize, when they see tennis players, we're not above everyone, we do the same things everyone else does," he added.

He was speaking after beating fifth seed Michael Chang, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to make it through to his sixth Grand Slam final. He had just contacted Gullikson by phone in Chicago where he returned after falling ill here late last week.

Gullikson, who had two minor strokes late last year, flew back to the United States Tuesday and after intensive tests in hospital was now back home with his family, Sampras said.

"Tim is doing very good. I spoke to him this morning, I just spoke to him after the match and he's in good spirits," he added.

And over the next couple of days he would be talking to Gullikson again, "just chatting and strategy."

Sampras had broken down in uncontrollable tears at the start of a final set against Courier early Wednesday morning after a dramatic comeback from two sets down when a fan in the crowd had apparently shouted, "Do it for your coach."

"It was a very tough thing to go through and I'm happy I'm still here," Sampras said.

The top seed, wrapped up in his own thoughts and physically exhausted after two marathon five-setters against Swede Magnus Larsson and Courier, was not aware his four-hour quarterfinal classic had become part of tennis folklore.

"I didn't really realize what the impact was on myself and on tennis, I've really been kind of low key...I haven't been reading a lot of the papers and the TV," he said. "You guys probably know better than I do."

Sampras's emotional trauma this week has also touched other players, including Chang, a devout Christian.

"Pete has handled this past couple of weeks extremely well," Chang said.

"He's been very good as far as being able to focus on his tennis and still be a very compassionate person at the same time.

"We've seen a few different sides of Pete Sampras that we definitely have not seen in the past," Chang added."

Sampras said the Courier match "was the toughest battle I've ever played...I was even more sore today than yesterday."

He now has three days rest to recharge his body and his mind before the final.

Then Sunday he plays No. 2 Andre Agassi or fellow American Aaron Krickstein for what he says will be the most important match of his life.

"This is the most special to me because of the circumstances and the fact that I was down and out against Larsson and down and out against Courier and I really fought back."

angiel
03-09-2005, 08:59 PM
http://dolshouse.com/queensmen/image/pete_water.jpg




Courtside Reports from the National Tennis Centre, Flinders Park

Tennis Server report
January 25, 1995

Wednesday and Day 10 at the 1995 Ford Australian Open at the National Tennis Centre Flinders Park. But all the talk around the stadium today was of last night and how Pete Sampras was brought to tears in his five- set match against Jim Courier. Pete, after being 2 sets to love down, was moved to tears after a spector called out "Do it for your coach!" This was an emotional trigger for Sampras who then broke down and was visibly crying for the remainder of the match.
But even so, Pete was able to fire down ace after ace and was able to fight back, yet again, from 2 sets to love down to take out the match. One gets the feeling though that Jim Courier was also feeling for Pete and that probably was more of a distraction for Courier than for Pete.

In the after-match news conference, questions on why he broke down were banned and no comment was made except for that the illness of his coach, Tim Gullinkson, who yesterday flew home to the USA, was a contributing factor. Sampras was also not commenting today while practicing on an outside court. Even then, Pete was still unable to hold back the tears resulting in one of the most amazing press conferences I think I have ever seen!!

angiel
03-10-2005, 08:25 PM
http://www.tennisserver.com/wtt/images/sampraspc.jpg



from: Thorpie and the pop diva
By Geoff McClure , THE EGE
October 22, 2004

Sampras 'sets' record straight

It remains one of the most emotional matches ever played at the Australian Open, the 1995 quarter-final in which Pete Sampras lost the first two sets to Jim Courier but recovered to win despite breaking down in tears over his coach and good friend Tim Gullikson, who was dying of cancer. Well, Sampras has now revealed that Courier's call from the opposite end of the court, "Are you all right, Pete? We can do this tomorrow, you know" was more than what has since become a famous comment, it was in fact what spurred him to his memorable victory. "I think once he said that, I thought he was giving me a hard time," says Sampras in an interview on the new tennis show, Slam, on Channel Seven at noon on Sunday. "It kind of woke me up to be like, 'OK, let's focus' and it made me click into the match." And history tells us the remark fired up Sampras so much that he immediately sent down two successive aces on his way to taking the fourth set. Sampras said "for whatever reason" he had lost his composure for about five or 10 minutes and "although it felt good to release the anxiety that I was feeling for such a long time, I just didn't expect to do it in front of thousands of people in the middle of a tennis match".

angiel
03-12-2005, 08:33 PM
7. SEPTEMBER 4, 1996 U.S. Open Quarterfinal

Of all the great matches which Pete Sampras has won, this one most truly defines his championship qualities. During the 1995 Australian Open, his coach and friend Tim Gullikson collapsed as a result of the complications of a brain tumor. Sampras wept openly during his quarterfinal match against two-time champion Jim Courier when a fan yelled to him, "Win it for Tim!" but he regained his composure, and overcame a 2-set deficit to defeat Courier. Although he lost in the final to Andre Agassi, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6, 6-4, his performance in that epic five-setter was a classic.

The other was an even gutsier performance at the 1996 U.S. Open. Tim had died earlier that year, and Sampras had considered quitting tennis, but he decided to continue. Sampras, who has won 6 of the last 7 Wimbledon titles, took his one defeat there in the quarterfinals, to the eventual champion, Richard Krajicek.

Two months later, a despondent Sampras took his shot at his 4th U.S. Open title - unfortunately, he came down with a stomach flu. At one point during that match he was issued with a delay-of-game code violation for vomiting on the court. Sampras battled for 4 hours and 9 minutes against his body, mind and a gallant Spaniard named Alex Corretja.

On this night, the diminutive Spaniard had come to play. By the fifth set, Sampras' legs had started to buckle, and he began going for winners earlier and earlier in order to preserve energy. But his big serve kept him even in the fifth, and he hung on grimly to force a tie-break to decide the match.

The tie break was manic. Corretja, who would break into the top 20 in the men's ranking after the tournament, led 7-6 at one point, and had a match point on serve. However, he was foiled by a spectacular, lunging Sampras volley. Corretja's mistake was to play across court: anything down the line would have left Sampras stranded. Sampras was next to serve, and his second serve ace thrilled the gallery and bewildered the Spaniard. Corretja then double faulted to lose the match.

In his dazed stupor, Sampras looked over to Tom (Tim Gullikson's twin brother), who was at courtside, and in a sense his year came to a head right there. Later, Sampras said: "Everyone asks me if I had to win the Open for Tim. I tell them I didn't have to do it for anybody but me. But perhaps it closed the book on Tim."

angiel
03-14-2005, 07:32 PM
http://66.51.113.130/gallery/2000wimb1/L_r1_Volley2.jpg




Sampras injures ankle, guts out win

by Steve Wilstein, AP
June 29, 2000

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Pete Sampras limped from Centre Court to a hospital, his left ankle, heel and Achilles’ tendon bright red and swollen, his quest for a seventh Wimbledon title in doubt.

In as gutsy a performance as he’s ever put on at Wimbledon, Sampras endured the pain in his foot for nearly an hour before securing a 7-6 (9), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Karol Kucera on Wednesday.

Sampras called for a trainer to work on his foot at 5-2 in the third set. When he came back out, he could barely move and put up little resistance to Kucera’s serves. Then Sampras bore down on his own serve, going for aces and service winners to keep from running in rallies. At 40-0, Kucera returned a serve and Sampras launched himself headlong for a stretch volley to close out the set in the waning light at 8:30 p.m.

Forty minutes later, with the ball barely visible and his foot still throbbing, Sampras hit a service winner on his fourth match point to reach the third round.

Sampras left immediately for the hospital after the match for an MRI and to have his foot treated, ATP Tour trainer Doug Spreen said. He will be re-evaluated in the morning to see if he can play his next match against fellow American Justin Gimelstob.

angiel
03-16-2005, 12:40 AM
Injured Sampras plays on

By HUBERT MIZELL, St. Petersburg Times
June 30, 2000


WIMBLEDON, England -- Pete Sampras is aching. Nothing new. History's greatest champion winces with medical mortality, seemingly old at age 28, repeatedly mugged by a physiological scattershooting of injuries.

Since early last year, Sampras has been bummed by a cranky shoulder, herniated disc, bad leg, hip flexor and quirky quadriceps. If it's a major tournament, you expect a new malady. Now, at Wimbledon, where stakes are highest, Pete's left shin is a royal pain. What's up now, doc?

British newspapers radiated in 1995 with headlines about a messed-up Sampras shoulder, but in the final he gritted to a smackdown of Boris Becker, the third of the gifted Californian's six Wimbledon gems. Pete camouflages his hurts.

Here's one it took us five years to learn about: His conquest of Goran Ivanisevic in 1994 was despite what Sampras coach Paul Annacone termed "a terribly painful ankle that Pete, in characteristic style, kept from the world."

Pete's persona is odd, even unfair. In a sport where Anna Kournikova gets an overload of attention while winning nothing of substance, Sampras is the dominator of a dozen Grand Slams who, for reasons mostly superficial, is somewhat historically muffled.

For instance, how loudly might we have cooed admiration had it been Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky, Junior Griffey or some other highly marketed jock hero who fought through pain in a second-round Wimbledon match against Karol Kucera in the Wednesday gloaming?

"His shin was afire, an attack of pain," Annacone said. "I saw Pete grimacing during warmup. This time, it's tendinitis. He can't even walk (Thursday) without limping."

In the last game of a 7-6 (11-9), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 grinder against the Czech, every Sampras serve became a full-blast try for an ace. Including every second serve. Pete was desperate to get it over.

Darkness was near. If the match hadn't ended with that game, Wimbledon officials were poised in a Centre Court end zone, having decided to step in and delay the finish until Thursday. Pete could've been unable.

Today, he meets Justin Gimelstob. "We won't know Pete's physical fate until a few minutes before match time," Annacone said. He's not touched a racket since Wednesday night. Thursday's assignment for Sampras was mental preparation, which meant watching television.

"It was a scary sight, Pete's shin buried in ice packs. Inflammatory drugs administered. Hoping the pain lessens. Praying maybe. But this is Wimbledon. Few athletes have as little quit in them as Pete Sampras."

Maybe, because Sampras plays with such grace, serving with seemingly effortless thunder, delivering those signature leaping overheads, covering the court with easy speed, there is significant public/media shortchanging of the fellow who has exceeded Laver, Budge, Tilden and all the grand 20th century others.

Pete is chided for being dull. So what's he supposed to do, get a few body piercings, or peroxide the wavy hair, or get booked for some sensational felony, or become Jerry Springer's pal? I'll take Sampras as is, an artistic marvel worthy of ultimate status, based on his ballplaying. He's no Mike Tyson.

"Of all these ailments, nothing affected Pete quite like the herniated disc that knocked him from the U.S. Open last summer," said Annacone, who played the global tour 10 years. "It's a shocker for any accomplished athlete to suddenly be whacked by a dose of mortality.

"Pete knew this tennis joy ride could end, permanently, with such a problem. Result is, he now appreciates more than ever the privilege and joy of competing at the highest level of tennis. Hoping it goes on for a few years more."

While wondering, what's next? Sampras used to live in Tampa. For years, his housemate was Delaina Mulcahy, but they never married. She eventually asked for a long-range commitment. Getting hitched. Never happened. Sampras wasn't willing.

Pete moved to Orlando, becoming a Lake Nona neighbor of golfer Ernie Els. An actress, Bridgette Wilson, would come into Sampras' life. It's something he doesn't talk about. Like all his tennis injuries.

I don't know if Wilson pressed for a deal, but what Pete did admit, after losing in the first round of last month's French Open, is that he and Bridgette are engaged.

"If he's fortunate enough to play Gimelstob and win, then Pete gets a break," Annacone said. "He'd be off Saturday and Sunday. Nothing helps tendinitis but rest, along with ice and anti-inflammatories. Right now, Sampras can use a little improvement in medical luck."

angiel
03-16-2005, 11:28 PM
PETE'S FEAT IN 5TH SET WAS STUFF OF CHAMPIONS

By Bob Rayan, Boston Globe

BROCKLINE-THE FIFTH set was'nt doubles. That was 1 7/8 ths.
The fifth set was all about an all time champion doing what all
time champions do. Pete Sampras simply took over. He was Orr
going end-to-end; Bird telling people to give me the ball and get
out of my way; and Pedro telling the fielders to sit down while he
strikes out the side.
The fifth set was Sampras delivering aces, sending rockets back
at Australians and leaping around in Baryshnikovian fashion.
The fifth set was Sampras even lending some audio to the
gorgeous video.
The fifth set was Sampras serving searing winners in the first
game, delivering three aces in the 5th game, and serving for the
match in such a frenzied state he hardly recognised himself.
"Serving for the match I was jumping out of my skin", Sampras
said.
He never before had been to Boston. He may never have reason
to play here again. We have witnessed every team superstar
who's ever lived,but we never before had had an
up-close-and-personal glimpse of the consensus Best Tennis
Player On The Planet.
So for those of you not privileged to be among the 5,000-plus at
the Longwood Cricket Club yesterday afternoon, let me
summarize what we saw:
Oh.
My.
God.
...what we saw today, well, then, was Hogan at Carnoustie. He
might never play here again, but that would be OK. We in Boston
always will have the fifth set.

angiel
03-17-2005, 08:40 PM
Sampras Sends Australia Down Under

By Jennifer Frey
Washington Post Staff Writer
September 22, 1997

Mark Philippoussis sat in the locker room nervously, anxiously, as his Australian teammate, Patrick Rafter, played Pete Sampras in a crucial Davis Cup singles match at William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center yesterday afternoon. He watched Rafter win the first set, in a tiebreaker, and started to grow excited -- hopeful -- that Australia might have a chance to stage a comeback in this semifinal tie.

Philippoussis only needed to watch for the next 25 minutes -- the duration of the second set -- to realize his hopes were absurd. With an unbreakable serve and an ethereal return game, Sampras played one of the most brilliant sets, then went on to defeat Rafter, the newly crowned U.S. Open champion, 6-7 (8-6), 6-1, 6-1, 6-4. Sampras?s victory clinched the best-of-five-match semifinal for the Americans, and he celebrated by hugging the U.S. captain, Tom Gullikson, then seizing an American flag and making a triumphant lap around the court.

Afterward, Michael Chang (pictured) defeated Philippoussis, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-2), in the final singles match of the weekend -- the match was reduced to a best-of-three-set format because the outcome was meaningless -- and the United States emerged with a 4-1 victory. The Americans will play Sweden -- which beat Italy, 4-1, in the other semifinal this weekend -- in the Davis Cup finals, Nov. 28-30 in Goteborg, Sweden. Sampras and Chang have told Gullikson they will participate in the finals.

"This is a big match for me and the team," said Sampras, who, with partner Todd Martin, lost in doubles on Saturday for the U.S.?s only failure of the weekend. "It would have been nice to have clinched it yesterday, but it was nice to clinch it and to play the way I played. That, if anything, is the most gratifying."

There seem to be days when Sampras walks onto a court and simply decides, just like that, to play his best tennis. He is unbeatable -- almost untouchable -- on those days, and his opponent, sensing this early, has no earthly idea what to do. Yesterday was one of those days. Sampras?s serve was not broken in the match -- he never even faced a break point -- and that Rafter managed to win even one set, in a tiebreaker, was relatively astounding. Even Rafter had to admit that Sampras played on a level beyond anything he had experienced on a tennis court.

"This brings you back down a little bit," said Rafter, who has been on a personal high since he won the U.S. Open title two weeks ago. "It is good, though. Got to be knocked around a little bit."

Rafter changed his shirt twice and tried to adjust his serve to combat Sampras?s fierce returns, but all his efforts were essentially useless against Sampras, who gave Rafter a vivid lesson in how far removed his No. 3 world ranking is from Sampras?s No. 1. Humbled and appropriately reverent when it came to his conqueror, Rafter laughed when asked after the match if he had learned anything he could use against Sampras in the future.

"No," he said. "I?m sort of more confused now."

Sampras was still smarting from his fourth-round upset at the U.S. Open when he arrived in Washington for this event, and he went out of his way to call Rafter a "marked man" now that the words "U.S. Open champion" are attached to his name. He was anxious -- eager, actually -- to get on the court and reestablish himself as the world?s greatest tennis player and that desire was evident in the intensity of his game. On Friday, when he beat Philippoussis in the second match of this tie, Sampras played what he called the two best sets of his career. Yesterday, he stated, simply, that he played as well as he had in the previous match.

"A lot of people get into the match and get excited, but that?s as pumped up inside as I have seen Pete," Rafter said. "When he played Mark I felt the same thing, he was right into it, so maybe he plays better like that."

Sampras?s second set could stand alone as a monument to masterful tennis. He did not lose a point on his serve, made no unforced errors and hit on 75 percent of his first serves. To no one?s surprise, then, the emotional lift Rafter felt after his victory in the first-set tiebreaker quickly dissipated. And from his seat on the court, Australian Coach John Newcombe was left to marvel at the glorious display Sampras gave to the sellout crowd.

"I thought it would be devastating earlier," Newcombe said of Sampras?s focus and intensity, "but I didn?t know he?d be able to maintain it for that long. . . . When someone who?s been the best in the world for five years pulls it into top gear, you?ve got problems."

Philippoussis felt the brunt of that intensity on Friday, but when he saw Rafter pull out the first set he dared to hope that his mate could pull off the near impossible yesterday. That first set, though, was an aberration, an almost inexplicable phenomenon, one that Sampras and Gullikson both referred to as "unlucky." Philippoussis realized that, too, as he watched Sampras start treating Rafter with the same dismissive ease that he had shown in their match two days earlier.

"I thought he was going to make me the hero," Philippoussis said of his thoughts right after Rafter won the first set. "But I just couldn?t believe the tennis he was playing after that."

Rafter (pictured) was asked after the match if he thought it possible for the up-and-coming Aussies to ever capture the Davis Cup while Sampras is still an active player, and he gamely said it thought it was possible. At this point, though, the United States is the runaway favorite to capture its record 32nd Davis Cup crown on Thanksgiving weekend. The Swedes, represented in singles this round by Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Enqvist, had little trouble with the Italians, but Italy did not bring the world?s No. 1 and No. 2 singles players to the competition, as will the United States.

"I will take my chances against anybody with Michael and Pete," Gullikson said, grinning broadly. "That is for sure."

angiel
03-18-2005, 09:03 PM
SAMPRAS WIN PUTS US IN DAVIS CUP FINALS

CBS SportsLine wire reports
September 21, 1997


WASHINGTON -- Playing not only for his country but with a chance to humble a U.S. Open champion, Pete Sampras was at his impeccable best.
He didn't just put away volleys. He was up in the air - way up - spiking shots into his opponent's court. And Patrick Rafter and the Australians didn't stand a chance.

Sampras beat the reigning U.S. champ 6-7 (6-8), 6-1, 6-1, 6-4 on Sunday to send the United States to the Davis Cup finals for the second time in three years.

"I COULDN'T PLAY any better," Sampras said of the last three sets. ``I did everything that I could do very well, served well and returned well. ... I think the key was the crowd. That kind of got me going and pumped me up."

Sampras gave the United States an unbeatable 3-1 lead in the best-of-5 semifinal. Michael Chang made the final score 4-1 with a 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-2) victory over Mark Philippoussis in match reduced to the best-of-3 sets.

The United States will play the Nov. 28-30 finals in Goteborg, Sweden. The Swedes, last year's runner-up to France, defeated Italy 4-1 after sweeping Sunday's reverse singles.

After his winning volley, Sampras raised both hands and hugged captain Tom Gullikson. Sampras and Gullikson then each ran a victory lap with an American flag to the cheers of 7,500 - minus a couple of hundred Australians - at the FitzGerald Tennis Center.

SAMPRAS, THE WORLD'S top-ranked player, has won eight consecutive Davis Cup singles matches. But he raised his level of play against Rafter, who earlier this month won the U.S. Open crown Sampras had come to own for much of the 1990s.

"He knew coming into the weekend that he was a bit of a marked man," Sampras said. "He is someone that wins a Slam, and you want a piece of that."

Sampras did not face a break point the entire match, did not give up a single point on his serve in the second set and served seven games to love. He hit 14 aces and had just one double fault in the 2-hour, 19-minute match. He also faced just one break point in his victory Friday over Philippoussis.

"That was as pumped up inside as I have seen Pete," Rafter said. ``I couldn't read his serve and just didn't pick the ball up."

Asked if he had picked up anything that might help him against Sampras next time, Rafter said: "Not really. Sort of more confused now."

RAFTER MADE A VALIANT EFFORT to stay in the match through the first set, saving four break points in the fourth game and winning the tiebreaker. But his serve-and-volley game soon deserted him. He netted many easy forehand volleys and even had trouble with his toss, at one point kneeling with his head down to regain his composure after two consecutive wayward tosses.

Rafter's surprise U.S. Open triumph raised his ranking to No. 3, but he was taught tennis lessons this weekend with one-sided losses to both Chang and Sampras.

"Brings you back down a little bit," Rafter said. ``It is good, though, good to be knocked around a little bit. It makes me want to work harder, that is all it does."

SAMPRAS SKIPPED THE first round and quarterfinals of the Davis Cup this year. He said he will play in next month's final in Sweden, the site of his last Davis Cup singles defeat - a retirement because of a leg injury against Stefan Edberg in 1994.

"To commit to every tie is basically too much tennis," Sampras said. ``I have told the (International Tennis Federation) if they had a better schedule for Davis Cup, I would commit myself."

The United States will be playing in the finals for the 59th time and will be seeking its record 32nd title. The U.S. team last won the Davis Cup in 1995, when Sampras led a 3-2 victory over Russia in Moscow.

The Americans led 2-0 after Friday's singles when Chang defeated Rafter and Sampras beat Philippoussis. Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge kept the Australians alive with a doubles victory over Sampras and Todd Martin on Saturday.

In World Group qualifying this weekend: Zimbabwe beat Austria, Brazil beat New Zealand, India beat Chile, Belgium beat France, Germany beat Mexico, Russia beat Romania, Slovakia beat Canada and Switzerland beat South Korea.

The losers of the series will be relegated from the group of top Davis Cup teams.

angiel
03-19-2005, 08:46 PM
Who is this guy?
Fired-up Sampras takes it to Rafter, faces Agassi next

written: September 3, 2001
updated: September 4, 2001


NEW YORK (AP) -- Pete Sampras rediscovered his greatness Monday, dominating a dangerous opponent with nearly flawless tennis punctuated by a brilliant sequence of shots on the final point.

Disproving detractors who contend he's washed up, Sampras won a rare fourth-round showdown of former champions at the U.S. Open, beating Pat Rafter 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-4.

Sampras won't have long to savor his sweetest victory since winning Wimbledon last year. He will face Andre Agassi for the 32nd time in the quarterfinals Wednesday.

"Doesn't get any easier, that's for sure," Sampras said. "Another heavyweight that I'm up against. He, like Pat, brings out the best in me."

Such marquee matchups, more typical of the final weekend, are Sampras' dubious reward for failing to win a title in his past 17 tournaments. Now 30, he came into the Open with the No. 10 seeding, his lowest since winning the first of his record 13 Grand Slam titles in 1990.

But the challenging draw and whispers about retirement have revived Sampras' game. He took charge at the start against the No. 6-seeded Rafter, then held off the two-time champion's comeback bid with a thrilling finish.

Serving at 4-5 in the final game, Rafter dug a 15-40 hole, erased two match points and then confronted a third, which produced the longest, wildest rally of match.

Chasing down a crosscourt volley, Sampras whipped a running forehand that sent Rafter into retreat. Sampras sprinted forward and punched a volley into the corner. Rafter dug it out with a lob, but Sampras slammed an overhead for the victory.

"I scrambled pretty good there at the end," Sampras said. "I really felt like we were going to a tiebreaker, which I didn't really look forward to playing, to be honest with you. It was nice to end it at that point."

His relief prompted an unusual celebratory outburst. As the stadium erupted, Sampras arched his back and threw uppercuts with both fists.

"It's a huge match, playing Pat," Sampras said. "You have to emotionally treat it like a final. At least I did. I wanted to show some emotion."

The No. 2-seeded Agassi looked just as impressive. Bidding for his third Open title, Agassi never lost serve against No. 13 Roger Federer and won 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.

"I felt great about really every part of my game," Agassi said. "It just was coming off my racket so solid."

Sampras leads their rivalry 17-14, but Agassi has won the past three meetings. They haven't played at the Open since Sampras beat Agassi in the 1995 final.

"A lot of history," Agassi said. "It's a wonderful opportunity to play a high-quality level of tennis."

Defending champion Marat Safin, seeded third, beat No. 14 Thomas Johansson 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3). Safin will play Mariano Zabaleta in the quarterfinals.

On the women's side, No. 2 Jennifer Capriati moved into the Open quarterfinals for the first time since 1991, when she was 15. The winner of two Grand Slam titles already this year, Capriati erased nine of 10 break points against her and beat Barbara Schett 6-3, 6-3.

"It's almost like I play better on those points," Capriati said. "Maybe I just handle the pressure well. For as long as I've been playing, you just get used to it."

Capriati's opponent Wednesday will be No. 8 Amelie Mauresmo of France, who edged compatriot Nathalie Tauziat 6-0, 6-7 (1), 6-3.

Defending champion Venus Williams, seeded fourth, won the final 10 games to beat Sandrine Testud 6-4, 6-0. Her quarterfinal opponent will be No. 5 Kim Clijsters, who beat No. 11 Elena Dementieva 7-5, 4-6, 6-2.

On a warm, cloudless afternoon, Sampras' familiar mannerisms were on display, from the tug of the shirt shoulder to the wipe of the brow.

The booming serves and deft volleys were familiar, too. Thanks to that combination, he faced only two break points in 20 service games and erased them both.

More surprising were Sampras' lashing returns, especially with the backhand, supposedly the shot that made him vulnerable in recent months. And despite aggressive shotmaking, he committed only 14 unforced errors in 2 1/2 hours.

Rafter, playing perhaps his final Grand Slam match, struggled at first to match Sampras' level. He blew an easy high volley to lose serve in the fourth game, which cost him the opening set. In the second set, he lost serve twice more, with Sampras cracking a forehand winner from three steps behind the baseline for a 4-1 lead.

The near-capacity New York crowd, fearful of a three-set sweep, began to side with the Australian.

"We don't want to go home!" a fan shouted, and Rafter nodded in response.

"I thought he said, 'Do you want to go home?'" Rafter said later with a smile.

At any rate, he began to serve better, and in the tiebreaker he smacked two aces and two service winners to force a fourth set.

As shadows crept across the court, another tiebreaker appeared inevitable. But Rafter opened the last game by blowing two easy volleys, and a leaping Sampras overhead set up the final point.

"He was definitely the better player today," Rafter said. "A few areas of my game weren't real crisp, and Pete made me pay for it."

At the end of the year, Rafter, 28, plans to take a six-month break that might turn into retirement. Sampras plans to keep playing for another five years at least, which suddenly seems plausible in the wake of Monday's performance.

angiel
03-22-2005, 10:45 PM
Struggle with history for champion Sampras
by: Simon Barnes (Sunday Times, UK)


I SUPPOSE when a man has 12 Grand Slam titles to his name and he has held the world No 1 ranking for six years in succession, it is a bit strong to call him a choker. But to watch the men's single final at Wimbledon on television was to look into the eyes of an almost incomprehensibly successful man - and to read a million doubts.

And yet it is all there to be read from the past, for those who have any notion of tennis history. Pete Sampras won his first grand-slam title, the US Open at the age of 19, stunningly young to win a major in the men's game.

And it came close to destroying him. He went into a deep decline, spoke almost despairingly of the weight of being a champion.

His nature and his temperament were taken scathingly to task by various luminaries of the game. How is it possible for a man to be (a) a champion and (b) a sensitive soul?

A good question. No doubt it makes it far more difficult. And Sampras clearly is a sensitive soul, hard though he has sought to conceal that fact from the world.

And in fact, it was not until Sampras lost that title the next year that he began to regroup. No one then would have predicted that he would become the most implacable champion of the modern age: perhaps of all time.

Time and again we have seen him raise his game to unguessed-at heights at the hardest times. Wimbledon has been his special time and place: he has been winner there six times in seven years.

All the time he has had nothing to declare but his genius: scarcely showing us his emotions. Sampras is about the pursuit of perfection. Many tennis players wear their hearts on their sleeves. Sampras wears his in his chest.

It makes for constantly intriguing television: you see the majestic tennis, and then you look into his eyes and see no triumph. You, rarely, see his opponents temporarily gain the upper hand, and yet Sampras's eyes show neither doubt nor fear.

Until yesterday. Quite unexpectedly, we saw Sampras with self-doubt. Mind you, it was an amazing thing to have a moment of doubt about.

When he was 19 he doubted he had the right to be called a champion. Now, at the age of 28, he had to ask himself if he had the right to be called the greatest champion of all time.

It is the sort of idea that makes a man think, especially if he is a sensitive soul. And Sampras thought. For he had won 12 grand-slam titles going into this match, sharing the all-time record with Roy Emerson. One more and he would be out on is own.

It is a prodigious thing to take on board, and for long periods of this strange rain-interrupted day, Sampras wondered if he was the man to do it. Sampras was fraught. As he had once felt the weight of a championship heavy on his shoulders, now he felt the weight of history.

No wonder he could not convert ten break-points that he had earned for himself. In the first set, he dominated: holding easily and putting his opponent, Pat Rafter, deep into trouble on his serve. And yet he could not make the breakthrough.

And in the tie-break - well I can hardly believe it I am keying the words into here - Sampras lost by serving two successive double faults.

I mean, this is Sampras, this is his serve, this is Wimbledon, this is the final. Sampras does not do that.

But he did yesterday. Pat Rafter, an opponent with a vast all-court range and a deep-seated dislike of losing so much as a point, was going to make Sampras dig deep into himself.

That roar, that air punch: I have never seen Sampras do that, and it was only a winner in the second-set tie-break. Sampras does not celebrate, he gets on with it. It meant so much. He was fighting for history and for once, fighting his own nature.

He had to step beyond his own vision of himself, just as he had to after he had won that first championship. And so he closed out that second-set tie-break to level the match. The tide had turned.

After that, as the two men played into the gloom, it was going to be Sampras's day. The screen filled with shots of Sampras embracing his parents, and the day closed in a fog of emotion. A great athlete: to defeat all those opponents and to win those two decisive battles against himself. We will not see a better champion in anything, ever.

angiel
03-23-2005, 09:46 PM
Serve, set, match

BY Aaron Wasserman, THE UNDERDOGS
published September 4, 2003, in THE PHOENIX

Which episode of Pete Sampras’s career should be considered the most triumphant? Single-handedly winning the 1995 Davis Cup for America? His scamper up the stands of Wimbledon’s Centre Court to find his parents, first-time audience members, after winning the 2000 final to break the record for most Grand Slam championships? The magical comeback at last year’s US Open, which concluded with an afternoon of unmatchable tennis against Andre Agassi for Sampras’s final tennis title? Or, the trying fortnight at the 1996 French Open when he won three five-set matches in five days, all while looking disconsolate on the sidelines as his coach Tim Gullickson remained in the States dying from cancer?

My nomination is Sampras’s 1996 US Open quarterfinal match against Alex Corretja. In the fifth-set tiebreaker, Sampras looked vulnerable, no, wounded; he staggered along the baseline between points, his eyes rolled back into his head and his shirt hung limply from his body as he leaned in to return serve. Then, mid-tiebreaker he wandered to the back wall hunched over his racket and puked everywhere. He returned to the court, won the tiebreaker, the match and the whole tournament. Remarkable.

Tennis’s episodic nature suits Sampras’s career arc well, but maybe his career can’t be fully appreciated unless viewed from a bird’s-eye perspective in order to absorb all the long-term accomplishments. He is the youngest male US Open champion; he had a 56-1 record and seven titles at Wimbledon in an eight-year period; he spent six consecutive years ranked the world’s best tennis player; and he won 14 Grand Slam championships, the most of any male.

How is it possible that some don’t consider Sampras to be the best tennis player ever? Some criticize his inability to win the French Open, whose red clay never suited Sampras’s game; some think the greats from an earlier generation, Rod Laver and Roy Emerson, would’ve won more if not for different rules regarding professional status. These arguments are merited, but flawed because Sampras played in an era in which every player is superbly conditioned and muscular, and the equipment so well designed it provides relatively mediocre players with unimaginable power. Most importantly, he played in an era in which opponents specialize in mastering different court surfaces, making it nearly impossible for any player to consistently win Grand Slam tournaments. Yet, Sampras defeated them all. His Grand Slam record is the only modern sports record — along with Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak — that will never be broken.

Other critics even prefer Andre Agassi, Sampras’s main foe through his career, as the better player because Agassi was the more marketable one. This swipe is more perplexing because Sampras had the attributes to appeal to the mainstream, but no advertising executive ever found the correct approach to do so. Sampras’s serve-and-volley playing style possessed assembly-line efficiency: a thunderous serve followed by beautiful net-play — digging balls from his feet, lunges to his sides and short jumps to meet overhead smashes; points and opponents were controlled quickly. His modest court and interview mannerisms reflected a devoted work ethic. His lean, non-chiseled body type, panting open mouth, simple court attire and prominent bald spot represented the triumph of the everyman.

The retirement ceremony held last week in Sampras’ honor was, like his career, classy. There were nice speeches from rivals, but also his infant son perched in his arms symbolizing the next direction of his life, and just in case anyone forgot about his regular status, a little paunch and lots of chest hair peeking through his grey collared-shirt. It was a respectful, but profoundly sad way to begin this year’s US Open. Whomever wins the male side of the US Open this weekend will deserve the title— with an inimitable New York City gruffness, it’s tennis’ most challenging competition— but he will ultimately be an irrelevant footnote. For the past decade, for a player to even consider winning a Grand Slam or overtaking the top ranking, he had to worry about beating Sampras first. Now Sampras is gone and a large, empty shadow hangs over Flushing Meadows’ tennis complex and the rest of the sport. His one-handed backhand, swooping forehand and picture-perfect serve down the service line are gone— probably forever, as Sampras has said in interviews comments like, “To shut it out [of my life] has been nice,” but here’s to hoping he rediscovers that competitive fire. Please come back soon, Pete. Remind everyone that you are an athletic treasure.

angiel
03-25-2005, 08:58 PM
Sizzling Sampras proves his point

It was only one point, and it came early in the match. But, oh, what a point.

"That was a huge point," Pete Sampras said. "Thank God I won it."

It was the key point of the 1995 US Open, which completed its two-week run yesterday with Sampras defeating defending champion Andre Agassi 6-4,6-3,4-6,7-5 to win the men's singles title.

Back and forth the ball went, the two slugging it out at long range, moving each other from side to side.

Then, on the last of 22 deep, hard and angled shots, Sampras ripped a sharply angled backhand crosscourt that Agassi could only watch sail past. Thirty-four minutes after play had begun, Sampras had won the first set.

He raised his arms in triumph an emotional display that would come again much later. Agassi could only hang his head.

"Pete knows how to seize opportunities," Agassi said. "I ran him from 12 corners. He had to work for it, but he got it. And to think the wind was against him there."

After that, Sampras grew stronger, went for bigger shots. After serving just one ace in the opening set, he finished with 24-11 coming in the final set.

Agassi fell behind 3-0 in the second set, then won the third when Sampras started missing his first serve. When Agassi broke Sampras to close the third set, it seemed that finally he had switched the momentum.

"I thought I'd sneak my way into the fifth," Agassi said, "and roll the dice a little bit. But it didn't happen."

Instead, Sampras found the rhythm on his serve again - in the sixth game blowing four consecutive aces past Agassi.

In his moment of triumph, Sampras looked into the television cameras and sent a message to his coach, Tim Gullikson, watching in Chicago where he is recovering from brain tumour treatments.

"That was for you, Timmy," Sampras said. "Wish you were here."

Gullikson had to leave Sampras during the Australian Open in January, when the then-number one wept during the fifth set of a dramatic semi-final triumph over Jim Courier, Sampras went on to lose the final to Agassi.

Sampras lost his top ranking to Agassi in April and was ousted in the first round of the French Open. More important, he was fearful Gullikson might lose his life.

But his coach's condition stabilised. Sampras found an interim coach in friend Paul Annacone. And things turned around. Sampras won a third straight Wimbledon crown. Then came the Open and one of his finest moments.

"My year has been up and down," Sampras said. "I felt I could raise my level here as the two weeks went on and I did that. This was my best tennis. I just picked the right time."

Agassi found that out the hard way. He already knew that friendly rival Sampras had a special mission to win for Gullikson.

"It's tough to say how much that has truly affected him," Agassi said. " I know it has affected him on a personal level. But as for his tennis, Pete has done a great job."

"Maybe the weight of his coach being ill has affected him day to day. But in a certain sense, I think he draws a lot of strength from it, too."

Gullikson has kept in touch with Sampras and Annacone, talking by telephone every day during the Open.

"There are a couple of things Pete needs to continually work on and be reminded," Annacone said. "He needs to put more forward pressure on opponents. He's one of the few guys who can do everything. But if you don't use it, there's no sense having it."

"He heard that from Tim and I think he realised he has to do that."

Of that magic point, Annacone said: " That's one of the best points I ever saw in my life. You saw two superstars come up with I don't know how many shots I thought were point-ending. I sat there in awe as most of the other people did."

Naturally, Agassi saw it differently: "That point really sucked."

Article supplied by Ida Tang

angiel
03-26-2005, 08:42 PM
US TENNIS
March 1996
A winner becomes a champion
By John Feinstein




Tennis began 1995 hoping that the story of the year would be The Rivalry. Pete Sampras vs. Andre Agassi would save the game from itself.

More than 12 months later, The Rivalry is still a TV commercial waiting to happen. Not that there haven't been moments: Two good, though not great, Grand Slam finals (at the Australian and U.S. Opens); both men playing brilliant tennis at times; and the No. 1 spot being bounced back and forth. But we still weren't anywhere near Borg-McEnroe or McEnroe-Connors or even Becker-Edberg. That may come in 1996 or in the more distant future.

But 1995 did give us something special. It gave us The Champion. It gave us a hero. It gave us Pete Sampras. The case can be made that if Cal Ripken had not broken Lou Gehrig's consecutive-games-played record with such remarkable style, Sampras would have been
Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year. When was the last time an active male tennis player deserved serious consideration for the award?

Arthur Ashe won it the year before he died for his achievements after tennis. But none of tennis's recent No. 1 players has come close; none was very much more than a tennis-playing, money-making machine.

"What Pete has done is deal with being at the top better than anyone in the men's game since Arthur," says Mary Carillo, who saw Sampras up close as much as anyone in 1995. "Forget the tennis, the guy is just good people. He's always been that way. The difference is that now, a lot more people know it."

Adversity is always a part of heroism. That was certainly part of Ashe's story. It is also worth noting that the young Ashe was often labeled boring because he didn't show a lot of emotion on the court. He was quiet, almost shy, when he first came of age as a star. It was only later, toward the end of his playing career and then as Davis Cup captain, that he became one of the sport's more eloquent spokespersons.

It is unlikely that Sampras will go on to equal Ashe's monumental achievements. Few people reach that level in life. But it will be fascinating to watch him continue to grow. Last year, for the first time, people found out he wasn't boring; that he does have emotions; that he is far more than a kid with a huge serve and a sweet smile.

Sampras spent all of 1995 dealing with the illness of his coach and friend Tim Gullikson. The most unforgettable image of the year was the sight of Sampras, tears pouring down his face, battling through the fifth set of his quarterfinal against Jim Courier in Australia.

Everyone saw that match, or replays of it, and it changed Sampras's image forever. Of course that wasn't what he set out to do. In an era when almost every famous athlete counts on his agent or his shoe company to sculpt his image, Sampras changed his by showing his humanity.

The second most touching moment of 1995 wasn't seen by millions. In fact, it was seen by almost no one. It came during the meaningless final singles match of the U.S's semifinal victory over Sweden in Las Vegas when Tim Gullikson replaced Tom Gullikson in the captain's chair for several games while Sampras played Stefan Edberg. Carillo noticed what was going on and became so choked up she had trouble getting the attention of her producer to get a shot of Tim sitting in for Tom.

And through the year, through all this emotional upheaval, Sampras, pushed no doubt by Agassi, continued to become a better tennis player. By winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in '95, Sampras now has won seven Grand Slam titles. He won't be 25 until August. If he can stay healthy -- and that is always a big "if" with him -- he has a reasonable chance to match and surpass Roy Emerson's all-time record of 12 men's Grand Slam singles titles.

But to be truly special, a tennis player has to create a Davis Cup record for himself. Sampras hadn't done that before last year. In fact, some of his worst memories came from Davis Cup. When the U.S. drew the Russians in last year's final --on slow, red clay -- it looked as if Sampras would be nothing more than a bit player.

But then fate, in the form of Agassi's chest injury, intervened. Sampras went out on his least favorite surface and beat Andrei Chesnokov on the first day, collapsing with cramps at the finish. He came back less than 24 hours later to team with Todd Martin to win the doubles on a day when no one expected him to play, then blew away a shocked Yevgeny Kafelnikov to clinch the Cup on Sunday.

There is a big difference, especially nowadays, between a winner and a champion. Deion Sanders may be a winner, but he isn't a champion. Greg Norman is a winner, but not a champion. Mike Tyson is a winner, but not a champion.

A champion is someone who wins when it isn't easy; someone who gets it done when mere physical prowess isn't enough. Ripken is a champion. Steffi Graf is a champion. Hakeem Olajuwon is a champion. And now, Sampras is a champion.

Before 1995, he was a winner but hadn't taken the next step, in large part because he hadn't needed to. In 1995, he had a choice: fold, because life got hard, or rise to a new level.

Sampras rose. By doing so, he made 1995 a tennis year worthy of our cheers. And our tears.

angiel
04-02-2005, 07:10 PM
Who weekly (Australia)
July 8, 1996
Lesson Of The Heart
By Meg Grant



A grief-stricken tennis star mourns the coach and close friend he loved.

by Pete Sampras


The pre-eminent tennis player of his generation, Pete Sampras, holder of seven Grand Slam titles, including three consecutive Wimbledon championships, is known as a winner. Last week at Wimbledon he defeated Mark "Scud" Philippoussis, who had beaten him in straight sets at this year's Australian Open. But no loss hurt him as much as the death from cancer in May of his coach Tim Gullikson. "You try to prepare yourself," says Sampras, "but when death happens it leaves a sad, empty feeling."

The two weren't natural soulmates. Sampras, 24, a shy brooder with a surplus of talent, entered tennis's top ranks at age 19, in 1990, when he defeated Andre Agassi at the US Open to become the youngest men's champion in the event's history. Gullikson was a gregarious man who worked hard to make the most of his solid but unspectacular ability. During his 12-year career he won four pro-tour singles titles and 16 doubles championships (10 playing alongside his identical twin, Tom) before coaching such players as Martina Navratilova and Aaron Krickstein. Starting in 1991, Gullikson and Sampras built a coaching relationship that Sampras calls perfect. In the process they forged one of life's rare friendships.

In early 1995, after a series of fainting spells, Gullikson was diagnosed with oligodendroglioma, a rare form of brain cancer. He died on May 3 in Wheaton, the Chicago suburb where he lived with his wife, Rosemary, 43, a lawyer, and children Erik, 13, and Megan, 9. He was 44 years old.

Gullikson's funeral on May 7 was the first Sampras had ever attended. "I lost a friend to cancer," he says, "and whatever I can do to prevent that from happening again, I want to do." He has become involved in the Tim and Tom Gullikson Foundation, raising money for cancer research and treatment.

At a tennis club near his home in Tampa, Florida, where he lives with girlfriend DeLaina Mulcahy, 30, a law-school graduate, Sampras, sometimes weeping and often lapsing into the present tense when speaking of his late coach, took time out before leaving for Wimbledon to talk with correspondent Meg Grant.





At the end of '91, I was looking for a coach. I was ranked fourth in the world and felt I needed someone who could get me to No. 1. When I started on the tour, I'd run into Tim and Tom at tournaments but couldn't distinguish one from the other -- I called them both Gully. They had great reputations as coaches.

I first approached Tom -- not for any particular reason -- but he had a commitment, and I was looking for someone who was able to travel 26 weeks of the year. Tom said he was sure Tim would like to talk to me. So Tim came down to Bradenton (Florida), where I was living, to discuss what I could do to be a better player. He told me he was kind of a blue-collar player, worked hard, didn't have a lot of talent. That was something I lacked at the time -- I didn't have a great attitude. I had some talent, but I was a bit... flaky might be the word.

Our first full year together was 1992. Tim was very outgoing. He had a million stories, a lot of friends. He loves hanging around in the locker room talking to the guys. He instilled that in me over the years. I was always a shy kid -- I still am -- but he brought a little personality out of me off the court. He was my best buddy. We planned on working together for many years.

In October 1994, I was playing in Stockholm. Tim and I were in my hotel room joking and laughing. Then Tim went downstairs to check the schedule, but he didn't come back. I called his room, but there was no answer. At 11 pm, Bob Brett, one of the coaches, knocked on my door. He said there'd been an accident. Apparently, Tim had gone to his room and fainted. He hit his head on a glass coffee table, breaking his nose. Luckily, he'd left his door open. If he hadn't, maybe he'd have bled to death. When another coach walked by, he saw Tim lying on the floor. I just figured he'd fainted because he was dehydrated. Tim always wanted to lose weight, and I remember he was on this diet and not eating well. He was in the hospital three or four days.

At the beginning of December, I had the Grand Slam Cup in Munich. Tim and I were in the hotel lounge one night, and I'll never forget him saying to me, "Is this room spinning?'' I said, "No." He said he felt dizzy and was going to sleep. The next morning he looked like he wasn't there. He said, "I think I need to go home." He admitted he'd been throwing up in the night. I said, "I think you should get checked out before you hop on a plane," so he went to the hospital and they did a bunch of tests. They said he had a minor heart condition. Rosemary flew over, and Tim stayed in the hospital during the tournament.

Tim looked fine after a few days, but he went back to Chicago to have more tests. They decided he'd had a stroke and had heart problems (a false diagnosis). But his doctor said he was OK to go to the Australian Open with me in January. (There), right before my third-round match, he had another episode where he felt faint. He went to the doctor's room, I got Tom, and they took him to hospital.

He had a lot of tests done. To this day I don't know if Tim knew he had some tumours then, but I could see that he was very worried. He and Tom were crying. I got scared, but I wanted to be strong for them so I didn't cry. After four days in the hospital, Tim returned to Chicago. By then I had heard something about a tumour from someone. I don't recall who. It's a blur.

The morning he left, I had my quarter-finals match (in the Australian Open) with Jim Courier. I lost the first two sets, 7-6, 7-6, but I hung in and won the next two. In the fifth set I just cracked. Inside I was really hurting. There's a lot of emotion in a match anyway, but I had this mental picture of Tim crying in his hospital bed. I broke down, and for a couple of games I just couldn't control my emotions... I was trying not to cry, but in some ways it felt good. I was just letting it all out. Jim said, "Pete, are you OK? We can do this tomorrow." I didn't know if he was giving me a hard time or not, but it kind of angered me. I snapped out of it, and went on to win the Open.

I called Tim after the match. He'd seen it on TV, and he said, "Pete, you gotta win in straight sets because I don't want to see you cry any more." It was great to hear his voice. Two or three weeks later a brain biopsy confirmed that he had four cancerous tumours. Tim told me about the diagnosis and that he would be having chemotherapy treatments. Tom told me the tumours were slow-growing, that the treatments would, hopefully, keep the tumours small and maybe even get rid of them. He added that there are people who have brain cancer and have been around for 10 to 15 years. That was nice to hear.

The next couple of weeks were hard, though. Tim was scared and I could hear it in his voice. He cried a lot on the phone. Still, his attitude was very positive. He never complained, never asked, "Why me?" He started chemo in February 1995, and he handled it better than anyone his doctors had ever seen. He didn't even get sick.

We always had the feeling that Tim was going to beat the cancer. I was hoping that maybe there was a chance he could start travelling with me again. He stayed involved, watching me play on TV and phoning me about things I needed to work on.

All through those months Tim and I didn't talk about the cancer. I felt the best thing I could do for him was just have him very much a part of my team and go out and win -- when I won, he felt better.

For about six months after Australia I didn't see Tim. I was playing a lot and in some ways I was a little bit scared. But after Wimbledon I went to Chicago. He was fighting so hard. By September the tumours had shrunk some, and Tim's doctor gave him the OK to come to Las Vegas (for the US-Sweden Davis Cup semi-finals). Tom was US team captain, so Tim really wanted to be there. Just to be in the locker room was great for his spirits.

I didn't see Tim again until March of this year. He was swollen (from steroid treatments), he had no hair and he was confined to a wheelchair. He could still talk but was having a hard time getting his thoughts together. I gave him a kiss and he looked at me and called me Pistol, something he called me a lot.

The next day I flew to Asia for a tournament. When I got back, I spoke to Tom and Rosemary. They said, "It could be any week. You should probably come." Tim was struggling a bit more and having a hard time speaking. I think that's when I finally prepared myself that he was going to pass away. The hardest thing was seeing Megan and Erik. They were strong -- stronger in some ways than I was.

That trip was the last time I saw Tim. Before I left, we took a drive. That was where I said goodbye. I knew it was the last time I'd see him, so I just told him... I told him what I told him. I hope he heard it. It was my girlfriend DeLaina who told me Tim had passed away. While I was out, Tom had called and told her. I went for a walk and shot some baskets. Later I called Tom. His voice sounded just like Tim's and that was hard.

At the funeral, I spoke about this connection Tim and I had, how in Las Vegas we were in the team room with a lot of people and we'd listen to a conversation and be thinking the same thing and look at each other and just smile. I told everyone, "Those smiles I'll always miss."

I was supposed to play in Rome a week later, but I wasn't ready. I really didn't care about tennis. I wanted to have time to mourn. Accepting the finality -- the fact that you're not going to be able to speak to him or see him again -- was what made me feel that way.

Tim was 44, didn't abuse his body, was a good person -- and he was taken away from us. It made me do some soul-searching. Tennis is a great game, but ultimately it's going to end and it's not the most important thing in life. It kind of put everything into perspective. My father really helped me. He lost two sisters and his mother to breast cancer. He said, "Pete, you have had a very protected life. But this is life. You have to deal with it in your own way and accept it."

I'm trying to think about all the good times that Tim and I had: the jokes, the funny stories. And I talk to Tom, who's doing pretty good. We will continue to be close for the rest of my life. And, thank God, there are two of them.

After Wimbledon, I'll be competing at the Olympics. Tom's the captain of that team, so it'll be fun. Maybe I'll win a gold medal. Then I'm going to help out with Tim's foundation and the American Cancer Society. There are some cancers, like Tim's, that are just not curable yet, and we've got to find a cure. I don't think I'll ever get over Tim's death, but I'm trying to get through each day. And I'm OK now.

I'm OK.

angiel
04-05-2005, 10:17 PM
A Grand farewell
Pistol Pete takes his final bow on center court

By WAYNE COFFEY, DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
August 24, 2003


Pete Sampras, who won 2002 U.S. Open as No. 17 seed,officially announces his retirement tonight.

Fifteen years ago in Philadelphia, before a midweek, midafternoon crowd of maybe 75 people, a 16-year-old high school dropout from Los Angeles made his pro debut against an ATP Tour veteran named Sammy Giammalva Jr.
The event was the U.S. Pro Indoor Championship, the site the Spectrum, the month February. Giammalva, a strong returner whose ranking went as high as No. 30, had little problem dispatching the kid - 6-4, 6-3 - and little doubt that Pete Sampras would not be losing matches for very long.

"I walked off the court and knew I'd played a great player, and that it would be just be a matter of time," Giammalva said.

Sammy Giammalva owns a racket club in Houston these days. He talked about Sampras Saturday night, after playing in a father-son tournament with Sammy III, age 6. He will watch with admiration tonight, when the U.S. Open commences with closure, and a salute to the newly retired Sampras, owner of a record 14 Grand Slam titles, the last of them coming 50 weeks ago on the same hardcourt where he will be honored tonight, in a scintillating victory over Andre Agassi.

It turned out to be Sampras' final match. Sampras grew up idolizing Rod Laver, appreciating the serve-and-volley artistry and graceful comportment of the greats from the past. The idea of finishing up with a title, with a splendid match against his greatest rival, was too perfect to resist. The symmetry - he won his first Grand Slam at the Open in 1990 by beating Agassi - wasn't easy to top either.

The victory made Sampras the youngest Open champion, at 19 years, 28 days. Agassi calls playing against Sampras "the greatest opportunity I'ver ever had - something that is never promised to any athlete no matter how great your career is, which is somebody to have a rivalry with.

"I'll never forget all our matches. We've played in the finals of the Australian, the finals of the U.S. Open three times, the finals of Wimbledon. We've been everywhere together, and now that will no longer be the case."

Jim Courier is another contemporary of the 32-year-old Sampras. His first vivid memory of Sampras came in a junior Davis Cup camp in Santa Barbara, Calif., Courier 15, Sampras a year younger. The players had to begin each day with a 7:15 a.m. run. "He was always the last one out of bed, and had the most swollen eyes," Courier said. "Everyone made fun of him."

Courier would go on to be a top-ranked player himself, a winner of four Slams, including two French Opens - the one major title that would elude Sampras. As much as he appreciated Sampras' stunning athleticism and deft volleys, Courier was most taken by Sampras' serve - and not just the first one. One of the foremost weapons in the history of the game, Sampras' serve wasn't just about its pace. It was about where he'd put it, and when.

"He was a great pitcher, and he knew he could put the strike on the outside corner when he needed, too," Courier said. "That was a large part of his genius - not only having the shot, but having the confidence to go for it at a big moment."

Big moments, indeed, were what drove Sampras. He was forever talking about the majors, about how they were the ultimate definition of greatness. In his career, his non-Grand Slam record was 559-184, a .752 winning percentage. In Slams, it was 203-38, or .842. At the U.S. Open and Wimbledon, Sampras' favorite tennis place of all and where he won an unsurpassed seven titles, his record was even better (134-16,.893).

"He's certainly the greatest player in the modern era, and you can put him in a conversation with Rod Laver as the greatest player ever," Courier said.

Emotionally restrained and almost clinical in his brilliance, Sampras was often accused of being boring, an automaton beneath his bushy eyebrows and hangdog bearing. He was never as dashing or charismatic as Agassi, and Paul Annacone, the coach he reunited with just before making his final Open run last year, is convinced his fluid style and unfaltering restraint made people underestimate not only his greatness, but his intensity.

Indeed, it wasn't until Sampras became vulnerable, until his record streak of six straight years (1993-98) as the year-end No. 1, that people began to warm to him. His unlikely Open triumph last year - as the No. 17 seed - ended a title drought of more than two years, and elicited more affection from fans than he'd ever had before.

Though deeply private, Sampras has a wry sense of humor, and an appealing regular-guy persona. Courier compares him to Joe DiMaggio in the way he'd prefer to let his bat/racket do his talking.

"It's not the era we live in. We live in the sound-bite generation," Courier says. "I think it's a bit of a pity that only in hindsight will his genius be fully appreciated." He paused and laughed. "We don't know what we got till it's gone, baby."

The reluctant genius will make a return tonight, and at last be fully celebrated. Sampras will be there with wife, Bridgette, and their 10-month-old son, Christian. Even Sampras' parents, Sam and Georgia, will be there, after skipping almost all of the big matches of his career, because watching made them too nervous.

As the most prolific champion in history officially says goodbye, the man who beat him in his first match 15 years ago will take it in, glad that his forecast was correct, and that adulation will be directed to someone who has richly earned it. "He brought a class and grace to the game," Sammy Giammalva said. "Tennis players didn't have that good of an image when he came along, and he changed that. He's a tremendous champion who has been tremendous for the sport."

angiel
04-09-2005, 07:45 PM
Pete Sampras' Best Form Matches
by Hovav Amir


1. Davis Cup SF 97, 2:1 match vs. Rafter

Electric atmosphere brought Pete to produce the best tennis ever to be seen. Rafter, after his US.Open victory
was a "marked man" as Pete said. You got to see to believe.

- " ... I will say that Sampras played the best tennis I've ever had the privilege to witness."
(Tom Gullikson, US Capten - August 10, 2002)

Here are some of the things Chris Bradnam, NBC Super-Channel commentator, said during and after the match:

- "We are seeing something a little bit special right here."
- "...playing tennis that only this man is capable of playing. What can you say a part from... ."
- "I'm becoming lost for words... Words are not appropriate, just watch it and enjoy."
- "I don't believe it, I don't think he could believe it."
- "... but then, who ever said that Pete Sampras was normal."
- "I don't believe it. It's nothing this man can't do. And there is very little this man hasn't
done!"
- "Superlatives were running dry, for me, during the match, and I'm sure the team mates have seen
something special as well."


2. Roland Garros 97, 1st Round vs. Santoro

Man on a Mission (to win the elusive crown; if only not for the stomach issues on the night of the 3rd round match...).


3. Davis Cup SF 97, 1:0 match vs. Philippoussis

Simply in a great form. The atmosphere raised him even higher.



4. San Jose 96, Final vs. Agassi

In the battle for number 1, Pete gave Andre (in good form !) a clinic.



5. Roland Garros 97, 2nd Round vs. Clavet

Man on a Mission (see above).





6. Aus.Open 97, SF vs. Muster

On a surface more close to a clay than to a regular hard-court, Pete showed muster what a player he is.


7. Grand Slam Cup 97, Final vs. Rafter

One week after he had been demolished in Davis Cup, poor Rafter met Pete again. He got almost
the same treatment. read post-match pc: Sampras Rafter


8. Philadelphia 97, Final vs. Rafter

Another match, in which Pete's backhand never looked better.



9. Wimbledon 99, Final vs. Agassi

If you want to talk about changing gears between matches, this is it.
Pete didn't play good tennis (in his standards) the whole year, and
suddenly he produced one of his best performances ever, showing
his greatness.




10. U.S. Open 01, SF vs. Safin

After tremendous performences against Rafter & Agassi on his way to the semis, Pete raises his game even higher and beats another U.S Open champion with a superb serve & volley game.
read posth-match pc: Sampras Safin


11. Cincinnati 99, SF vs. Agassi

keeping his Wimbledon final form. Pete' running forehand - the best shot in the history of
the game - never looked better while managing to produce some unbelievable winners.
read post-match pc: Sampras Agassi

angiel
04-12-2005, 08:48 PM
SAMPRAS: THE MODEST SUPERSTAR

The Toronto Star
July 31, 2000, Monday

Pete Sampras has one foot in the grave.

By tennis standards, he's a Grand Slam granddaddy - even though he's just 13 days removed from his 29th birthday. No longer does he need to blow out the candles on his cake to realize he's getting on in a young man's game.

And Sampras should know how dangerous youth can be. It was as a skinny, fresh- faced 19-year-old that he won his first of 13 Slams, knocking out veterans Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe before dusting off Andre Agassi to win the U.S. Open.

Every year, newcomers hungry for success enter the tour, ravenous for a chance to prove themselves. Every year, Sampras feels that generational gap widen. Like when he fails to recognize many of the players as he strolls into tournament locker rooms. When he pines for more time off between tournaments and wishes he could play fewer of them. And even yesterday, when he showed a charming old-world disdain for the ATP Tour's cheeky marketing campaign for its rising stars called "New balls, please."

"It's not my cup of tea," Sampras said in Toronto, where he's preparing for the $2.95 million (U.S.) Masters Series event that gets under way today.

More Masters tennis coverage, E3
"They probably could find a better slogan, don't you think?"


Sampras had no problem with the up-and-comers the tour was promoting, players such as Magnus Norman, Marat Safin and Lleyton Hewitt. But he found the "new balls" idea distasteful in the same way he feels billboards emblazoned with " Only the ball should bounce" (as bra-booster Anna Kournikova gazes out fetchingly at the masses) witless instead of witty.

It is delightful, actually, that a guy who's not yet 30 finds advertising alluding to male genitalia offensive and is unafraid to say so. In addition to his skills, that mature sense of right and wrong has been an essential part of a 12-year career that has dominated tennis as no other man's has to date.

But don't ask him to describe himself as the finest player the game has ever produced.

"That will be one thing I will never say," Sampras said firmly, clearly feeling he needs a French Open title to deserve that mantle. "I don't think I need to say that."

And you believe him. You believe that he probably couldn't even say "Hey, am I ever good" in front of the shaving mirror without thinking he sounded really goofy.

That modesty, though, is mistakenly - and maliciously at times - thrown up as one of the few knocks against Sampras: that he's boring. But if being boring is his major flaw, then Mr. and Mrs. Sampras deserve plaques in the parenting hall of fame. Imagine raising a superstar without having to bail him out of jail or check him into the Betty Ford.

Instead, we saw their son run into the upper rows at Wimbledon after winning his seventh title to hug his weeping parents. His fiancee, Bridgette Wilson, shyly and adorably snapped photos of her honey with her pocket camera. For Sampras, it didn't get much better; having his family there, playing a huge match against Patrick Rafter and breaking Roy Emerson's record of 12 Grand Slams.

Sampras is one of those athletes who comes along once in a lifetime - like a Wayne Gretzky or Tiger Woods. Someone who is so consistently superb that we take them for granted while they're playing and don't fully appreciate the enormity of their achievements until they've retired.

Pete Sampras may have one foot in the grave. But the other one will be on your throat.

angiel
04-12-2005, 08:51 PM
Remembering 'Smiley'
SOUTH BAY QUICKLY RECOGNIZED SAMPRAS' TREMENDOUS TALENT

By Karen Crouse, DAILY NEWS of Los Angeles
April 6, 2000, Thursday


High on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Greek god of tennis appeared as if dropped from the heavens. He scudded across the court like a cloud, carrying in his hands a thunderbolt disguised as a tennis racket.

It was on the courts of Las Canchas in Torrance that strangers first gathered to behold this wisp of a wonder. It was there two oracles took his father aside one day and augured his greatness. Eleven years later, he would become the youngest U.S. Open men's singles champion.

Twenty years later, he towers over tennis, the winner of 62 titles, including 12 Grand Slams.

This weekend, he will lead the U.S. against the Czech Republic in the second round of the Davis Cup at the Forum, not far from where he grew up.

And yet, long before the world had heard of Pete Sampras, his tennis raised plenty of eyebrows around Southern California and one inexorable question:

Would his body stretch enough to fit his genius?

SAMPRAS WAS 8 when two lawyers saw him returning balls fed to him by his father, Soterios (Sam), on a court at Las Canchas. They recommended the family proceed as fast as its Ford Pinto would take it to the nearby Peninsula Racquet Club for professional instruction.

The two men had noticed immediately what was obvious even to Sam, an aerospace engineer unapologetically unconversant in tennis: His youngest son possessed uncanny coordination and quickness for someone so young.

In every other way Sampras was a normal kid. His older sister Stella and older brother Gus dragged their mother and father to the courts before dinner, and Pete, the third of the couple's four children, tagged along after them, retrieving balls and thrilling for any deflected attention.

By the time Sampras turned 10, he was routinely practicing with some of the game's top young players. The Samprases had joined the Jack Kramer Club in Rolling Hills Estates, which in the late 1970s and early 1980s was ground zero for the U.S. junior tennis explosion.

The club boasted more talented kids than television's ''Mickey Mouse Club'' would some 15 years later. There was Eliot Telscher, Derrick Rostagno, Lindsay Davenport, Trey Lewis and Jim Pugh, to name but a few.

Kids at the club called Sampras ''Smiley'' because he was the carefree exception in a cauldron of cutthroat competition. ''No one ever talked about him being a great tennis player someday,'' recalled Trey Lewis-Mason.

The reason Sampras didn't immediately register on a lot of the adults' radar was he wasn't much taller than the net. Too, he was as thin as the lines on the court. No matter how hard he tried, Sampras' well-developed skills couldn't camouflage his underdeveloped physique.

''You could just kind of tell the guy was special,'' said Eric Amend, an occasional hitting partner of Sampras' at the Jack Kramer Club. ''You just didn't know if he was going to grow.''

Amend was 16 and the national champion in his age group when he first hit with Sampras, who was 10 and so devoid of strength he gripped his racket with both hands on his forehand and backhand to generate more oomph.

In those days Stella, who is Pete's senior by two years, was his primary playing partner. They hit together often and when they kept score, it tended to be onesided.

''I used to always win,'' said Stella, now the women's coach at UCLA. ''We played hard. Neither one of us wanted to lose.''

Back then, Stella was about the only one who could wipe the grin off Pete's face. Sometimes he would grow so frustrated after she won another point, he'd retrieve the ball and hit it back to her with such spite, it would sail over her head and ricochet off the back fence.

Such displays of emotion would disappear along with Sampras' two- handed forehand and backhand shortly after Pete Fischer entered his life. No one knew it at the time but ''Smiley'' was about to become ''Stony.''

FISCHER WAS a pediatrician and a pedestrian tennis player who was a familiar figure on the Jack Kramer courts. It was hard not to notice when Fischer was hitting, Amend said, because his form ''was atrocious.''

One day Fischer approached Sam Sampras at the club. He told him he saw tremendous potential in Pete and offered to work with him, free of charge. The father delivered his son to Fischer and receded into the background.

''Dad saw that Fischer had an unbelievable mind,'' Stella said. ''He just kind of let Fischer take Pete and mold him into the player he thought he could be.''

One day early in the partnership of the Petes, Fischer enlisted Lewis- Mason, then in her early 20s and between pro tournaments, to hit with Sampras so he could work on his groundstrokes. They hit together occasionally for the next year or two.

''I hit harder than Pete, but the thing I remember was his strokes were so solid,'' Lewis-Mason said. ''He could do anything with the ball - topspin, slice, volley. When he was 12, he beat me in one or two close sets. I knew it was the last time I'd be capable of being on the same court as him.''

John Letts started hitting with him shortly after that. Letts had just been crowned the boys' 18 national champion. He thought he was pretty hot stuff. Then he took the court with Sampras.

''I distinctly remember the first time I hit with Pete,'' Letts said. ''I'm thinking, 'I'll do this little kid a favor and hit balls with him,' and he comes out hitting good topspin shots on both sides and a great slice. He was really pounding the balls back and forth, and his serve wasn't that big, but it had a snap on it you normally don't see. I was amazed.''

At 17, following his junior year at Palos Verdes High, Sampras turned pro. In 1989, as a just-turned 18-year-old, he advanced to the second round of the U.S. Open.

In February of 1990 Sampras won his first pro title, in Philadelphia. Seven months later, he shocked the world.

At the 1990 U.S. Open, Sampras upset Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe and found himself playing Andre Agassi for the championship. Sam and Georgia Sampras didn't travel to New York for their son's first Grand Slam final. Instead, they drove to the Del Amo Mall not far from their Rancho Palos Verdes home and walked off their nervous energy.

At length they passed a bank of televisions tuned to a channel showing an awards ceremony. Georgia walked up to a man who was staring at one of the screens and said, ''Is the U.S. Open men's final over?''

''Yeah,'' the man replied. ''The Sampras kid killed Agassi.''

The final score: Sampras, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2. Georgia and Sam let out a sound that was equal parts revelry and relief. It was safe for them to return home. Their son was on his way to immortality.

angiel
04-14-2005, 09:29 PM
Giving Pete his props
In Jordan comparisons, Sampras deserves to be considered

Jan 15, 1999
By David Porter
FOX Sports Online

From the moment Michael Jordan announced his retirement last week and left the NBA with a public relations nightmare in his wake, a debate has raged among sports fans over His Airness's place in the pantheon of sports greats. Granted, most of the rage originated mainly from irate hockey fans who have flooded sports-talk radio switchboards with screeds about Wayne Gretzky. But the question remains an intriguing one.

It becomes even more intriguing when it is considered that there is one athlete currently at the top of his sport whose name has yet to be mentioned as belonging in the same sentence as Jordan; not Ruth, not Ali, not Gretzky, not DiMaggio, not Nicklaus.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Pete Sampras.

Now that the guffaws have died down, take a moment to consider the facts, which, if molded and twisted and stretched to fit a columnist's premise, can lead one to the inescapable conclusion that ... they're not as far apart as you think.

Some of the disparity can be traced to image, where Sampras' problem is two-fold. One, since he plays an individual sport and thus can never be the object of solemn-toned pronouncements about "carrying the team on his back" or "making the players around him better." Two, he is about as exciting off the court as vanilla pudding.

It is the rest of what defines these two athletes that bears examination. To make things easier, we've divided the comparison into categories, which are completely arbitrary, naturally. As always, the opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of FOX Sports Online, News Corporation or anyone with even a modicum of common sense.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Jordan: won six NBA championships in the last eight years, missing out in '94 and '95 during self-imposed exile in baseball's minor leagues.
Sampras: finished No. 1 the last six years in succession, breaking the record held by Jimmy Connors.
Edge: Sampras.

INTESTINAL FORTITUDE
Jordan: scored 38 points in '97 NBA Finals while suffering from the flu.
Sampras: beat Alex Corretja in the '96 U.S. Open quarterfinals after vomiting on court during climactic fifth set.
Edge: Sampras.

ROAD-TESTED
Jordan: NBA's grinding, eight-month season sends him to exotic outposts like Milwaukee, Salt Lake City and Vancouver.
Sampras: 11-month season gives him opportunity to steal towels from hotels on all seven continents.
Edge: Sampras.

PUNCHING THE CLOCK
Jordan: plays about 45 minutes per game, and never plays more than two games on successive days.
Sampras: matches last between one and four hours; winning a one-week tournament can require playing four days in a row.
Edge: Sampras.

PROPS
Jordan: referees look the other way when he takes the extra step or two en route to the basket.
Sampras: linesman gave Patrick Rafter a questionable ace on match point against Sampras in Cincinnati.
Edge: Sampras.

INTANGIBLES
Jordan: loses millions playing golf.
Sampras: shoots in the 80s; probably wishes Jordan would challenge him.
Edge: Sampras.

By my count, that makes it 6-0 Sampras. Let's hope Michael likes bagels.

angiel
04-19-2005, 08:19 PM
Sampras Defies His Detractors

By CHRISTOPHER CLAREY, The New York Times
September 4, 2002

It was a situation and a schedule made to order for the younger, fresher man. After all, hadn't Pete Sampras run out of energy and inspiration at last year's United States Open when required to play three-of-five-set tennis on consecutive days against the next generation? And isn't Sampras a year deeper into a title drought and confidence slump that now deserves to be called decline?I

The answers were yes all around as the aging, 17th-seeded Sampras took to the Arthur Ashe Stadium court last night against the rising, third-seeded Tommy Haas. And yet it was Sampras, not Haas, who turned the situation to his advantage: winning by 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-5 and setting up a cross-generational, all-American quarterfinal with Andy Roddick, the 20-year-old who just recently stepped into his long shadow.

"I'm excited; I grew up idolizing him," said Roddick, who advanced with a rollicking four-set victory over Juan Ignacio Chela of Chile. "I have a great deal of respect for Pete, and what he's done. I don't think anybody here doesn't respect what he's done. It will be a very, very special moment for me out there. But you know, having said that, I want to go out there and play some ball."

Despite Roddick's generally reverent tone, there are some who don't respect Sampras's ability to still get things done, including Greg Rusedski, who had said he would be surprised if Sampras won his match against Haas. Rusedski made that uncharitable but hardly ill-founded pronouncement shortly after Sampras beat him in five sets in the third round on Monday night. Because of the rain delays that have compressed the schedule at Flushing Meadows, Sampras — and every other man who won his third-round match on Monday — had to come back yesterday and handle the pressure again.

A year ago here, the last time Sampras made a mark on a Grand Slam event, he wilted against Lleyton Hewitt in the final the day after defeating Marat Safin in the semifinals.

But though there were very occasional sightings of the drooping shoulders and hangdog expression that traditionally signal trouble and fatigue for Sampras, he was generally a net-rushing, serve-pounding pillar of strength last night. It had been nearly a decade since a Sampras victory in a Grand Slam event not held on clay could be termed an upset, but this one certainly seemed to qualify.

"I was feeling it at the end, but this is the U.S. Open," the 31-year-old Sampras said. "You dig deep, and do whatever you can to win."

As for Rusedski? "I don't really worry about what he says," Sampras said.
As for Rusedski's claim that he was a step and a half slower than in his prime? "Against him, I don't really need to be a step and a half quicker," Sampras said, deviating from the high road for a moment.

The only blip against the 24-year-old Haas came in the third set. Sampras had Haas 0-40 on his serve at 2-2 and let him wriggle free. In the tie breaker, Sampras, a four-time United States Open champion, missed two relatively straightforward volleys and also slipped while moving forward with a 4-3 advantage.

Early in the fourth set, the trainer Doug Spreen appeared at courtside just before a changeover. Sampras took his seat and began unlacing his shoe, but when Spreen walked on the court, he went to Haas's chair and began treating his sore right arm.

Sampras, who was merely changing footwear, was not the one who needed help in this match. He allowed Haas only one break point in four sets and no breaks of serve. He had 82 winners to 46 unforced errors and pushed forward with consistent conviction and success, winning 76 of 101 points when he came to net.

Until now, his career record against Haas looked like a graph of his career: he won their first four matches in the 1990's, then lost three in a row in the last two years. But the graph is now more difficult to read, and Sampras is back in contention if not in command at his second favorite tournament. Wimbledon, where he has won seven times, remains No. 1.

"It's confidence; it's being comfortable; it's getting into kind of a rhythm," Sampras said of his rebound, which has also coincided with his decision to resume working with his longtime coach, Paul Annacone. "I haven't really felt like I've settled into the year. This past week and a half, I feel like I have kind of got my game going."

Roddick has won more matches this year than any man on tour, including Hewitt. But he was either injured, ineffective or oddly muted in the year's first three Grand Slam events, failing to get past the third round. What better cure for sophomore slump than a bit of home cooking? For much of his 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Chela, he looked like the gung-ho, energy-to-burn freshman the fans got to know in a hurry last year. He did so despite being treated for a bruise on the outside of his left foot after losing the first set.

In the course of his emotional fourth-round ride, Roddick wore his joys and frustrations on his short sleeves: pumping his fists, rolling his eyes, thrusting out his tongue and doing his best Boris Becker tribute by diving fruitlessly but spectacularly to his left for a wide shot in the final set. He even cursed at the chair umpire for not overruling the machine that judges the service lines.

It was not necessarily the sort of behavior that will win him friends in the locker room, but it seems to be the sort of behavior that helps him win significant matches. He saved his most memorable behavior for a point at 3-3, 15-15 on Chela's serve in the second set.

After covering most of his half of the hardcourt at Louis Armstrong Stadium, hobbling after a drop shot, then chasing down a lob volley and ultimately firing an off-balance backhand passing shot for a winner down the line, Roddick thrust his arms into the humid summer sky, letting his racket go and leaving his hands free to exchange high-fives with spectators. It certainly felt like a turning point, and it was, as Roddick went on to break Chela's serve and win the next three sets.

angiel
04-23-2005, 06:37 PM
Guts And Glory
Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf proved indomitable at a chaotic and poignant U.S. Open

by S.L. Price, Sports Illustrated

Issue date: September 16, 1996



He took it slow, scanning the hollering crowd from left to right, section by section of ramshackle Louis Armstrong Stadium, knowing he would find the face he needed to see. Pete Sampras stood with his back to the net, looking fresh, grinning. Next to him, beaten and forgotten, Michael Chang shuffled his feet and waited. Both had said kind words about the fans and each other in the opening moments of the men's singles award ceremony of the U.S. Open, and soon some man in a suit would hand Sampras a $600,000 check and a trophy. But the 1996 U.S. Open champion and world's No. 1 player wasn't thinking of that just yet, because he had found Tom Gullikson in the crowd. The two locked eyes. Sampras nodded, Gullikson nodded back, and in that flickering exchange was merely everything important, every truth about caring and loss and letting go. "It's been very difficult for both of us, more for him—Tim was his twin brother," Sampras said afterward. "But I knew what he was thinking and he knew what I was thinking. We just looked at each other, and I knew. Those are the moments that are about more than just tennis."

It was then that Sampras understood, maybe for the first time: It's over. For on Sunday, Sampras didn't just dominate the world's second-best tennis player, or simply win his fourth—and most dramatic—U.S. Open title, or merely elevate the measure of his greatness with an eighth Grand Slam championship. No, with his 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 blowout of Chang, his first win in a major since his coach and best friend, Tim Gullikson, died of brain cancer in May, Sampras also released himself from the emotionally exhausting task of living out a sports clich?: winning a Grand Slam title in Gullikson's memory. He had failed in June at the French Open, the one major he has never won, and he had failed in July at Wimbledon, and only an almost mythic, five-set performance against Alex Corretja of Spain had kept him from failing at Flushing Meadows.

Coming into this Open, those closest to Sampras could sense the strain. "He's got to get to the point where he's playing for himself," Tom Gullikson said. "It's an emotional roller coaster playing for other people, other causes. It just puts extra pressure on him. And he's had to deal with Tim's situation in such a public way."

That's the strangest part. Sampras, never given to Connors-like histrionics on the court or Becker-esque philosophizing off it, calls himself a stoic. Yet more than Steffi Graf, who amid a soap opera of personal difficulties rolled to her 21st Grand Slam title over an outclassed Monica Seles—and perhaps more than any other athlete in memory—Sampras has displayed his emotions to millions. At the 1995 Australian Open, he wept during a match after learning Tim Gullikson was ill; on court at the '95 U.S. Open, he dedicated his win to him; in Paris this year, he looked to the sky and sensed Gullikson looking back. The quest had a touch of the macabre, but for someone who is at his most eloquent on a tennis court, it made sense. Sampras tried to give a eulogy at Gullikson's funeral and couldn't finish. But when Sampras stands between the lines, he rarely has a problem finishing. "He does live his life out on the courts," says his coach, Paul Annacone. "He doesn't show much emotion except when he's competing."

So it was that as his game gained momentum through this fortnight, Sampras grabbed hold of a tournament that set new standards for U.S. Open chaos. Flushing Meadows has always been the most unruly of Grand Slam tournaments, a noisome m?lange of screaming jets, outrageously priced food, cramped facilities and rude crowds. Few players will be sorry when Louis Armstrong is replaced next year with a state-of-the-art $234 million facility under construction next door. "It would take me 100 years to get used to this place," said Thomas Muster of Austria, the world's No. 3-ranked man.

The stadium seemed determined to go out with a final, anarchic bang. Before anyone took the court, the Open was awash in controversy over an abrupt change in the men's seeding system. French Open champ Yevgeny Kafelnikov, then ranked fourth but seeded seventh, pulled out in a snit, and other players threatened to follow suit. Then New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani boycotted the tournament, first because of boneheaded worries that public safety was being endangered by the rerouting of planes to and from neighboring LaGuardia Airport, and then, in protest of the high prices. Next, Muster's coach, Ronnie Leitgeb, called tournament director Jay Snyder "the head of cheating" when Muster was denied a private car, off-site security guards and preferred seating for his entourage. It continued: Graf's father, Peter, went on trial for tax evasion, the German press staked out her New York City apartment, and Steffi bulled into the final nonetheless. Andre Agassi looked and—against Chang in the semifinals—played like a stevedore found sleepwalking in his nightshirt and ended the '96 Slam campaign amid all the old questions about his competitive heart. Fergie showed up.

But when Sampras met Corretja in the quarterfinals, everything else faded. It was, simply, one of the most spectacular matches in tennis history. Expected to cruise over the 31st-ranked Corretja after having bulldozed Aussie phenom Mark Philippoussis in three sets, Sampras found himself on the final, steamy Thursday battling to stay on his feet. With Corretja stinging him with a superb forehand and making few errors, Sampras fell behind two sets to one and tried to revive himself and settle his stomach with a few gulps of Pepsi. By the fifth set he was severely dehydrated, and when the four-hour, nine-minute ordeal was over, he would need nearly a half gallon of intravenous fluids. Never before, Sampras said, had he felt so bad.

At 1-1 in the fifth-set tiebreaker, Sampras staggered behind the baseline and threw up. Finally, with vomit streaming from his nose, he served and won the point, but the match was far from over. Alternately sending his eyes skyward or bellowing in pain, Sampras looped his groundstrokes and served well enough to stay even. At 6-7 in the tiebreaker, he saved a match point with a desperate, full-extension forehand volley. "I didn't believe it," Corretja would say afterward.

That only set up the match's most remarkable moment. Ready to give in, Sampras popped a 76-mph first serve toward the deuce court that went just long. "After that, I wanted to get it over with," Sampras said. "I didn't want to get in a rally." So he gambled. He tossed the ball up and cracked a 90-mph second serve to Corretja's forehand at so sharp an angle that it stunned both men: ace. "I couldn't believe it," Sampras said.

Corretja couldn't recover. On his subsequent serve, at match point against him, his second ball sailed long, but Sampras wasn't sure it was out. For an instant his face crumpled. "The best sound I've heard in years was that Cyclops going off," he said.

The next best came right after, when Sampras raised his hands and the stadium shook with a girder-trembling roar. It was a defining victory for Sampras. Minutes after the match, John McEnroe found Sampras's girlfriend, Delaina Mulcahy, and blurted out, "I don't have that much guts."

Until the final moment Sampras had maintained his composure. He had even begun to believe that he could get past Gullikson's death without winning a Slam title. But that wasn't likely. From late 1991 until the '95 Australian Open, Sampras never made a move at the Slams without Tim. He won four titles with him as coach, and now, when he arrives in Melbourne, Paris, London or New York City, "it reminds me," Sampras said. "I'm in the locker room, and all the boys are around, and Tom's there, and it reminds me of Tim. It kind of rekindles the hurt."

The match with Corretja reminded him that it was Gullikson who taught him to compete this way. Afterward, as Sampras slumped in a cramped holding room with his agent, coach and trainer, Mulcahy rushed in. She saw Sampras's face and he saw hers, and all the hurt came back. As Sampras began to cry, the others hustled out, leaving him and Mulcahy. "This is for Tim," Sampras sobbed as they hugged. "This is for Tim."

Her father sits in a jail cell in Mannheim, Germany, on trial for tax evasion. Her mother, Heidi, sits across the table from her in the Open clubhouse. It is Sunday night, after the finals, and there is a glass of champagne in front of her. "You go through different emotions when you win," Graf says. "Sometimes you feel like crying. Sometimes you feel like screaming. Today I was definitely in the screaming mode. I was so happy to play good tennis. I didn't think it was possible."

Who did? Graf almost didn't enter the Open. She came into the tournament ailing from a calf injury and knowing that the pressure would mount once Peter's trial began during the second week of play. Steffi's concentration was so frayed that her coach, Heinz Gunthardt, half expected she would lose early; always, her impending return to Germany hovered. "It's going to be a not-too-pleasant time," Graf said. "That's why I treasure what I've had the last few days. It won't last so long."

But her win here should, she says, give her strength. Graf held off challenges from what Swiss sensation Martina Hingis calls "the new generation" of women's tennis, sampling and discarding both Hingis and the other teenager of the moment, Anna Kournikova of Russia. Then, before anyone could get excited about her first meeting with Monica Seles since last year's classic final, Graf had steamed past Seles 7-5, 6-4, to finish the year as the undisputed queen of the game.

"I tried to change it," Hingis said of this year's rerun of the 1995 final, "but it didn't work." She came close. Apple-cheeked and hot-tempered, she became the first 15-year-old to make the Open semis since Jennifer Capriati in '91. Hingis tested Graf throughout their first set, reaching set point five times before running out of gas. Her precocious all-court game and seeming normalcy make her the tour's hot young thing. "Martina is able to live with being that good," says her mother and coach, Melanie Zogg. "She's always been Number 1. Anything else would be funny."

In fact Hingis was able to pressure Graf more consistently than Seles was. "It was a weird ending," said Seles.

It was, indeed, one of the strangest ever in a Grand Slam final. Not only did a storm resembling the Apocalypse come churning over the lip of the stadium with Graf serving for the match, but at one point Seles had to stop Graf from serving because Seles was overcome by the giggles. The sound of a man singing Happy Birthday—badly—was drifting from the grandstand. There, Tom Gullikson was receiving his $9,500 check for winning, with Dick Stockton, the 45-and-over doubles title. Tom and Tim turned 45 Sunday.

Sampras didn't wake up Sunday thinking about Tim Gullikson. He woke up thinking about Chang. He also thought about how much he loves the emptiness of the locker room on the final day of a Grand Slam event. "The first week is hectic," he said. "You can't get a shower, there's no room. But each day, it's clearing out, clearing out, and the last weekend, when you walk in the locker room, no one bothers you. I love it."

He sat in the locker room early in the afternoon, the same place where Alex Corretja wept after losing to Sampras in the quarterfinals, where Goran Ivanisevic smashed and kicked his racket after buckling to him in the semis, where Chang would later come to pull himself together after the final. But Sampras was alone now, watching football, remembering. When the rain interrupted his match, Sampras moved to the same cramped room he had collapsed in after beating Corretja. He talked through the nearly three-hour wait with his coach and trainer. Finally, he walked onto the court with Chang and, one hour and 59 minutes later, walked off with a big piece of his life back.

"Tim's still with me," Sampras said late Sunday night, "but Tom made a good point. I can play for myself now."

angiel
04-23-2005, 06:40 PM
Flushing Meadows men's memories
A look back at five memorable men's US Open matches

BBC Sports - August 21, 2002


1996 Quarter-final: Pete Sampras beat Alex Corretja 7-6 5-7 5-7 6-4 7-6.

Those who describe Sampras as boring and having no personality would do well to watch a video of this match.

As it reached its latter stages, it was clear the American was ill with what was later diagnosed as dehydration.

Between points in the fifth set tie-break he would go to the back of the court and lean on his racket, wracked in agony from stomach pains.

As the tie-break reached its climax, he was physically sick on court.

What did he do?

He hit a second service ace. Corretja was so stunned he handed Sampras the match with a double fault.

Afterwards, the Spaniard slumped into his seat, his head in his hands. Few were surprised when Sampras went on to win his fourth championship.

angiel
04-28-2005, 10:13 PM
Tom Tebbutt

The Globe and Mail
Monday, August 25, 2003


If there was a mantra to Pete Sampras's career, it was, "I just let my tennis do the talking."

He repeated that over and over in recent years when asked about his place in tennis history.

That place is certainly secure and probably supreme after he officially announced his retirement yesterday.

He won a record 14 Grand Slam titles and finished No. 1 in the computer rankings an unprecedented six (1993-98) years in a row.

There was only one thing missing to make his record immaculate — a French Open title.

Brought up on California hard courts, he never developed a knack for sliding on clay and never really learned to balance his natural first-strike shot-making with the greater patience required on clay.

Then there was the thalassemia, the anemia-like condition that caused him to struggle in hot, humid conditions.

In 1996, he had his best chance to win in Paris. After a dramatic run just weeks after his coach Tim Gullikson died of brain cancer, he faced eventual winner Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the semi-finals.

He had beaten former champions Sergi Bruguera and Jim Courier in dramatic five-set matches but suddenly couldn't deal with weather that turned steamy. After losing the first set to Kafelnikov in a tiebreak, he faded miserably, losing the second and third sets 6-0, 6-2.

When Andre Agassi won the French Open in 1999, making him only the fifth man to win each Grand Slam event during his career, some observers speculated his feat was greater than Sampras's larger total of Grand Slam titles.

But Sampras's achievements at Wimbledon (seven titles to one for Agassi) and at the U.S. Open (five compared to two for Agassi) quickly ends that argument.

Sampras finished 20-14 against his greatest rival and, perhaps most tellingly, won all four times they played at the U.S. Open, the last three being epic contests.

The most recent was his 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 triumph in last year's final. He seemed a spent force entering the event as the 17th seed and without a singles title in 33 events spanning more than two years.

Greg Rusedski, beaten in five sets in the third round, proclaimed Sampras was, "a half a step" slower.

Brad Gilbert, now Andy Roddick's coach, was with Agassi from 1994 until the end of 2001.

"The 2002 U.S. Open final was disappointing for me," Gilbert said. "Andre was playing 50 times better — his record, everything. But unfortunately when he plays Pete, everything gets thrown out the window. Pete is somehow able to raise his game to another level.

"But you've can't take anything away from Pete. He's had Andre's number in a few big matches."

Sampras's own explanation of his uncanny ability to play well in pressure situations was characteristically uncomplicated. "Muscle memory," he said more than once about how he was able to summon his best in the clutch.

His first Grand Slam title, the 1990 U.S. Open, was won when he was 19. He blitzed no less a trio than Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe and Agassi in his last three matches.

He now refers to that breakthrough as a "premature blip." But after he won his second big one — at Wimbledon in 1993 — he dominated for the rest of the decade.

His all-round game was a model of power and fluid ball-striking that made tennis purists appreciate not only its efficiency but also its aesthetics.

Frequently criticized for not being as "colourful" as predecessors Jimmy Connors and McEnroe — he did not waiver in being his own man, win or lose.

His inglorious final exit from Wimbledon last year — a five-set loss to lucky loser George Bastl of Switzerland — was not followed by a fit of pique or ducking out on his commitments. He arrived in the interview room obviously "gutted," as the Brits say, but ready to fulfill his obligations.

That was typical Sampras, as typical as the sublime tennis that made him the best player of his time, and very likely the best to play the sport.

angiel
05-03-2005, 11:01 PM
The Quiet Champion

by Jay Winik, Wall St. Journal

Just how significant is Pete Sampras's Wimbledon triumph Sunday?

We've heard that this is his stunning seventh championship in eight years; that he has won an astonishing 53 of his last 54 matches on the gabled Wimbledon lawns; that he has been number one in the men's game for six of the last seven years; and that he has now surpassed Roy Emerson's record of 12 grand slam titles. All quite true and all quite remarkable, but ultimately only part of the story.

Consider this: Just shy of 29, he is an old man by tennis standards. In the last year alone, his body has been slowly breaking down--the herniated disc and the agonizing back spasms, the nagging thigh and troublesome shoulder problems, the pulled hamstring and the bouts of tendonitis, and over the Wimbledon fortnight, the ailing shin, requiring him to seek constant treatment and skip practice. And there was the pressure. Young hot shots like Magnus Norman and Lleyton Hewitt were poised to take the title, and, as the first week wore on, Andre Agassi looked very strong. Forget what the pundits have said. Under those conditions. It was not inevitable or ever probable that Mr. Sampras would break Emerson's record.

In the end, Mr. Sampras prevailed not because of his punishing serve, or his workmanlike volley, or his laserlike forehand, but because of sheer will. In the second set, Mr. Sampras was only three points away from a two-set deficit and near-certain defeat. But he beat back rain, darkness, two delays, and most of all the superb play of the gifted Australian, Patrick Rafter. When it was over, Mr. Sampras, wiping his eyes, was as humble and awe-struck as anyone else on Centre Court.

This show of emotion was out of character for the reticent Mr. Sampras. It has been said that he makes playing look too easy. Often as a match wears on, his tongue hangs out, and he looks tired, blas?, even disengaged. the only telltale sign of fire in the belly is an occasional fist pump or the glare out the corner of his eye. But all this is an illusion. To do what he does, Mr. Sampras must do more than your average superstar athlete.

Unlike other sports, the tennis season has virtually no end. Eleven months each year, players punish their bodies, playing week in and week out on four radically different surfaces (hard court, grass, clay and carpet), indoors and outdoors, in every time zone imaginable, from Cincinnati to Sydney. No surprise, the top players invariably burn out, and often early: Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe were 25 when they won their last grand slams, Stefan Edberg was 26, Boris Becker 28, and Ivan Lendl 29. For his part, Mr. Agassi plummeted mid-career, with his ranking dropping below 100. And on the men's tour, on any given day, number 30 in the world, or 50, or even a lowly 129, can -- and does -- beat number one.

A few sports commentators understand this. They put Mr. Sampras in that special category reserved for the likes of Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Mark McGwire. But this almost certainly understates Mr. Sampras's achievements. With all due respect, none of these marvelous athletes has faced the withering day-to-day pressure confronted by Mr. Sampras. And all have had someone to fall back on during "off" days: In golf, there's your caddy: in boxing, your corner: in baseball or basketball, your teammates. Not so in tennis. In breaking the grand slam record, Mr. Sampras has done it utterly and totally alone.

What makes this all the more extraordinary is the grace and sportsmanship with which Mr. Sampras comports himself. These are not words we often hear these days, but Mr. Sampras does neatly embody them, neither gloating in victory nor whining in defeat. The phrase he repeated most after this Wimbledon win on Sunday was "thank you," to his parents, his fianc?e, the fans, and, finally, just for the chance to play. Mr. Sampras is like an apparition from an earlier era, recalling a more gracious and less course America, a time when the match's winner gallantly jumped over the net.

But oddly, for mainstream commentators, being a quiet champion isn't enough. Too often, to listen to the chattering class, you would think Mr. Sampras has done nothing right. He is routinely called a "yawn." The networks prefer to air the women's tour, ESPN, in its roundup of the top athletes of the 20th Century, dwelled upon his "quirks," like sleeping "without any light," and ranked Mr. Sampras at number 48, 13 places below a horse (Secretariat). An no doubt, to the further consternation of some, he is an avowed Republican.

After Sunday, this should change. Mr. Sampras may not yet be the greatest tennis player of all time--the French Open, with its hot, baking red clay and tenaciously partisan crowds, still eludes him as do Rod Laver's two grand slams (i.e., winning the four major tournaments in one year). But he is arguably the greatest athlete competing today. He is certainly the most gentlemanly.
Here, is a little story. In 1994, on a back court at Wimbledon, Mr. Sampras joined three elders of the game, his idol, Mr. Laver, and also Ken Rosewall and Fred Stolle, for a half hour of hitting. Unlike a Jimmy Connors or John McEnroe or a Venus Williams or Martina Hingis, there was no flash, no trash talk, no theatrics or braggadocio. Just the soft thud of immaculate strokes, the sweet sight of Mr. Laver's and Mr. Sampras's running forehands, an occasional call of "good shot, mate," and the firm handshake at the net.

Mr. Sampras believes in tradition, in the history of the game. Sadly, he may be appreciated best only once he is gone.



Mr. Winik is a senior scholar at the University of Maryland School of Public Affairs. His book, "April 1865," will be published next year [2001] by Harper Collins.

angiel
05-12-2005, 07:55 PM
Men's tennis losing a complete gentleman

BY James Beck, Of The Post and Courier Staff
August 24, 2003


Men's tennis won't be the same. Even though Pete Sampras hasn't played since last year's U.S. Open, there was hope that he might show up this year at Wimbledon or the U.S. Open.

But now Pete is ready to officially announce his retirement from professional tennis on Monday. It's a sad but yet historic day for men's tennis.

This brings back memories of a spring Saturday afternoon back in 1988 when I stood next to a junior player on the porch at Wild Dunes Racquet Club. He was 16 years old and appeared to be about 5-9, 150 pounds. Pete Sampras had just failed in his effort to qualify for the U.S. Clay Courts, losing to another kid named Michael Chang.

There was much talk that week in USTA meetings at Wild Dunes about the declining prospects of American men's tennis. Neither Jimmy Connors or John McEnroe had made a Grand Slam final the past two years, and there didn't appear to be anyone ready to take their places.

Of course, little did anyone know then that the future of U.S. men's tennis was at Wild Dunes that year. Jim Courier was there, too, and Andre Agassi would win the U.S. Clay Courts the next year.

The next time the name Pete Sampras came to mind was two years later in 1990 while I was watching the U.S. Open. There was a grown-up Pete Sampras, suddenly a lanky 6-1 and heavier, playing near-flawless serve-and-volley tennis. He won the U.S. Open that year.

The things that stand out most to me about Sampras, other than his awesome serves on break-points and effortless volleys, was his character and court disposition. He was the complete gentleman of tennis, a relief from the racket-throwing, bad-mouthing images of Connors and McEnroe.

Sampras was never heard to speak harshly or negatively about his opponents or line crews and chair umpires. He won a record 14 Grand Slam titles, but he gave tennis far more in return.

angiel
05-12-2005, 08:00 PM
Sampras done at exactly the right time

By PETE YOUNG, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
August 24, 2003

Most hang on a little too long, such as Gretzky, Abdul-Jabbar and Jordan. A handful leave too soon, like Jim Brown or, well, Jordan (the first time).

The rare and fortunate get it just right.

Pete Sampras aced it.

Knowing when and how to call it quits seemingly is harder for the great ones than becoming great in the first place.

Here are the conundrums: Why quit when you still have the burning desire to play, even if your form has slipped, or, why retire after winning a title when, heck, you've just shown you're the best, who's to say you won't be the best in the near future?

As Sampras slogged through a middling 2002, he appeared to be hanging on too long. It took all he had to summon one final command performance: His 2002 U.S. Open championship.

But after his for-the-ages triumph, he started to engage in some sort of wishy-washy, pseudo-retirement. You didn't know if he was playing anymore or not.

It turns out he was just waiting for the right moment. Monday, on opening night at the Open, he will have a brief retirement ceremony. Perfect. The first and last of his record 14 Grand Slams were Opens, bookending his fantabulous career.

Sampras always seemed to have a greater perspective than the average jock. One last time, he is proving it.

angiel
05-17-2005, 10:03 PM
Sampras' combination of class, achievement spoke for itself on court

by Joe Hawk, Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist
Tuesday, August 26, 2003

The only racket he ever made was with his racket, and that's the way it should be as "Rants & Raves" opens this week with praise for a great retired champion, Pete Sampras:

In a sport where throwing tantrums can get you more notice than playing with your mouth shut and just taking care of business, Sampras, who officially announced his retirement Monday on the opening night of tennis' U.S. Open, was considered bland, even dull, by many sports fans. Hey, folks, sometimes vanilla is just the right flavor, as Sampras' record 14 Grand Slam titles attest. ...

Sampras has had his quiet detractors, those who hint he was less than gracious in victory. Could it be they expected more -- even too much -- from a competitor who emotionally didn't have a lot to give? ...

angiel
05-25-2005, 07:29 PM
Don's Extra Point
Substance Over Style: Isn't That What Counts?

by Don Harris, WOAI - San-Antonio radio
August 26, 2003


We've all asked why Tim Duncan doesn't get the respect he deserves. A look at Pete Sampras may show us why.

Pete Sampras took his victory lap Monday night at Flushing Meadow. A career unmatched, 14 grand slams - he was ranked number one for six straight years, statistically the greatest ever.

You didn't realize that did you? No because when we think of tennis, we think McEnroe, Connors. Yet nobody stayed in the number one spot longer than Sampras, or won more money.

He was 56-1 at Wimbledon winning it seven times in eight years. He was the youngest champ at the U.S. Open at the age of 19, and won it again last year at the age of 31, the oldest champ since 1970.

Like Tim Duncan, Pete was always substance over style, quiet, reserved, yet an animal with a killer competitive instinct and the drive to be number one.

Criticized for being boring most of his career, Sampras all along just wanted to be judged for what he did between the lines - same with Timmy. After all isn't that what counts.

Lalitha
05-26-2005, 10:03 PM
Criticized for being boring most of his career, Sampras all along just wanted to be judged for what he did between the lines - same with Timmy. After all isn't that what counts.

:worship: :worship: :worship:

angiel
05-28-2005, 07:54 PM
Sweet Pete memories

By Tom Tebbutt , THE GLOBE AND MAIL
Tuesday, August 26, 2003


1. The 1996 U.S. Open quarter-finals: Battling a stomach ailment and dehydration, Sampras threw up on court up during the fifth set of his 7-6, 5-7, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 win over Alex Corretja. Slumped over and using his racquet like a crutch, he somehow found enough energy to save a match point with a lunging forehand volley in the decisive tiebreak. He won the next point with an incredible second-serve ace, then the match on a Corretja double fault. He went on to win his fourth title at Flushing Meadows.

2. The 2001 U.S. Open quarter-finals: Sampras and Andre Agassi engaged in what was probably their best encounter, which Sampras won 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6 without a service break under the lights in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

3. The 2000 Wimbledon final: Suffering from a painful problem in his left shin, Sampras had to be carried out of the All England Club one evening. But he persevered on pain-killing injections and eventually beat Patrick Rafter 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the final. That set a record for Grand Slam titles at 13.

4. The 1999 Wimbledon final: After fending off three break points at 3-3 in the first set, Sampras played "in the zone" to beat the formidable Agassi 6-3, 6-4, 7-5, his finest display on his favourite surface.

5. The 1995 Davis Cup final in Moscow: On an indoor clay court, Sampras won all three points for the United States. He beat Andrei Chesnokov but then had to be carried off the court because of severe cramping. The next day, he was able to pair with Todd Martin for a doubles win and came back the following day to beat Yevgeny Kafelnikov 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 to seal the victory. His heroics went largely unrecognized in his homeland and led to a lessening of his enthusiasm for Davis Cup play.

angiel
06-01-2005, 07:40 PM
Sampras reign at Wimbledon

By Opinion Page staff, The Advocate
August 30, 2003


In sports, there are more "ends of an era" than there are really justifiably important "eras." But it's difficult not to use that phrase about tennis as Pete Sampras retired from the game in a touching ceremony in New York, where he won the U.S. Open at age 19.

The skinny young Greek went on to demonstrate incredible staying-power during 15 years in one of the most grueling year-round sports there is.

There might be some argument about whether he was the greatest tennis player ever. Perhaps Bill Tilden of the '20s or Rod Laver of the '60s would have been better with today's high-tech racquets. But probably no one would question Sampras' majestic domination of the grass-court game.

His seven Wimbledon trophies end that argument. Game, set and match.

angiel
06-01-2005, 07:44 PM
Sampras steps down
Pete Sampras, one of the greatest men's tennis players of all time, retires.

Editorial, The Free Lance-Star
Date published: 8/30/2003


The King of Swing calls it a match

HE STOOD in the middle of Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday, his 9-month-old son, Christian, in his arms, and with a wave of his hand and tears in his eyes, Pete Sampras said goodbye to professional tennis. But it will be a long time until tennis says goodbye to him.

No one in men's tennis can match Mr. Sampras' record. He won 14 Grand Slams during his career and captured 64 singles titles while tallying a won-lost record of 762-222. The Association of Tennis Professionals Player of the Year for six straight years, Mr. Sampras earned upwards of $43 million at his game.

Born in Washington in 1971, Mr. Sampras grew up in the Los Angeles area and began playing tennis at age 7. He went pro at 16 and became the youngest man ever to win the U.S. Open at 19. But it is not just his success at tennis that made Mr. Sampras special, it was the way he played. Devoid of the histrionics so many others exhibit, his game was cool, concentrated, focused. Leveling his dark eyes at his opponent, he returned their best shots in a pantherlike flash of movement. His lightning serves--clocked at 130 mph, much faster than Sandy or Nolan ever uncorked a heater--could knock the heart out of anyone's game. He exhibited an unyielding will to win, a commitment that transcended fatigue, heat, and pain.

One opponent, Dave Wheaton of Minneapolis, said Mr. Sampras had "confidence in who he was and what he could do. His tennis and his character had been tested under fire. He'd met those tests and he knew what was inside him."

What was inside him was a passion for the game--one shared by millions. Tennis is truly a worldwide, and lifelong, sport, with some 20,000,000 participants in the United States alone. Young up-and-comers and oldsters alike have the opportunity to walk in Mr. Sampras' shoes, playing with style and self-control the game they love.

angiel
06-04-2005, 06:41 PM
General of the Majors

by S.Kannan, HindustanTimes
August 23 , 2003


What’s the difference between a winner and a champion? If you asked even a tennis tyro that question, the obvious answer would be Pete Sampras.

As the 32-year-old American makes that one last appearance on the tennis court at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in noisy New York on Monday, you would not get to see those blistering aces or crunching volleys, but perhaps just a few quick words. A wave to fans, a goodbye.

For a man who strode like a colossus and literally had the world at his feet, retirement was never really far away, the moment winning at The Championships (Wimbledon) ceased to be a habit for him. The mecca of Tennis was the scene of a record seven singles titles.

They say, as long as one is winning, the joy is unlimited and there is no dearth of motivation. It was so true of Sampras. He had almost stopped bothering about playing a certain number of weeks on the ATP Tour because of his innumerable flirtations with injury.

All that mattered for Sampras was doing well at the Majors, which is why he could won a record 14 Grand Slam titles. When he surpassed Roy Emerson’s Grand Slam record in July 2000 at Wimbledon, the signs of emotion from Pistol Pete were quite unusual. After all, it was a very rare moment —- the reclusive champion had even invited even his parents over from the United States for the occasion.

Those fortunate enough to see vintage Sampras in action in that final against Pat Rafter will vouch for how tough the quiet American was when it came to handling innumerable rain delays with history beckoning. Greats like John McEnroe rave that Sampras was born for Wimbledon’s grass.

Quite arguably, the biggest win which Sampras achieved was at the US Open last year, the same venue where he won his first Grand Slam title in 1990. Having played so little in 2002 —- he was dumped by little known George Bastil in the second round at Wimbledon —- Sampras was never the favourite at Flushing Meadows.

But the man’s hunger for another Slam was always there, and that he beat none other than old rival Andre Agassi made it all the more special.

So rivetting was the decade-long Sampras-Agassi rivalry, that even the middle class fan never minded paying that extra buck to watch the two slug it out in true Wild West fashion.

If one could actually criticise Sampras, it would be on two counts. The first, he never gave Davis Cup the priority which it deserved simply because it fitted with great difficulty into his schedule. Second, he did not play as much doubles as he could have. After all, past greats from his own country like McEnroe did manage to find time to represent the country.

When champions call it a day, it comes after a lot of deliberation, and not just because the money at stake is huge. If Sampras has taken this decision to retire —- it would have come after a lot of discussion and debate with his wife Bridgette Wilson. He would be the last person on earth to ever talk of a comeback.

Then again, in an era when player’s can go to any extent to win a point, Sampras was the perfect gentleman. He rarely disputed line calls and treated the umpires sitting in the chair as umpire with utmost respect.

Oh yes, somewhere in Paris, you might still have the odd clay court fan wondering aloud whether Sampras was really the all-time great he is called because he never won at Roland Garros. If he had won there as well, his Grand Slam tally would have been even higher. But the critic would be the aberration. For most of the world, he was and will always remain Pistol Pete. Player extraordinaire, champion of champions and simply a joy to watch.

angiel
06-07-2005, 08:21 PM
A Salute to Pistol Pete

by Alan Trengrove, Australian tennis Magazine
August 2003

Whenever one of the truly great players retires - a Laver, Borg or Navratilova - we rightly regard it as an end of an era. And so it is with Pete Sampras.

The phenomenal American has yet to announce he has quit the game he graced for more than 15 years. But as he hasn't played since the 2002 US Open - which he won in magnificent style - and is now aged 32, and married with a baby son, we can safely assume there'll be no more High Noons for Pistol Pete.

His absence from the 2003 US Open is simply further evidence that a new era has begun, even though his most famous rival, Andre Agassi, is still dodging bullets (well, most of them) and remains very serious about hauling in the spoils.

A couple of months ago, at Wimbledon, where Sampras has won the championship seven times - in fact, every time he reached the final - the changing of the guard in men's tennis was obvious. Other great favourites of the '90s, such as Patrick Rafter, Richard Krajicek, Goran Ivanisevic and Michael Chang, had also faded away; and younger players like Roger Federer, Andy Roddick and Juan Carlos Ferrero were in hot contention for the old king's throne.

A cursory glance at the stats will be enough for future generations to appreciate what a giant of the game Sampras really was. Apart from those Wimbledon crowns, he gathered five US Open Championships, and two Australian Open titles to bring his Grand Slam tally to a record 14. This was two more than Roy Emerson's total, and as "Emmo" would be the first to admit, the competition was infinitely stronger and deeper in Sampras' era. Among the men superstars as Agassi, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Jim Courier, Ivan Lendl and Patrick Rafter.

Another impressive stat is Sampras' six successive years (1993-98) as the world's No. 1 ranked player. His dominance amazed other fine players, happy enough if they attained the top spot just briefly. "He was always the most complete player", said Becker. "He has the power, he has the speed, he has the touch. He is the best player ever."

Whether he is indeed the greatest male player in the history of tennis is open to argument. Jimmy Connors, who player over a much longer period, won many more titles. And John McEnroe, who was more committed to Davis Cup, compiled a better cup record. Nor should we ever underestimate the greatest of Rod Laver, the player whose skill and exploits, watched with reverence on videotape, inspired Sampras as a boy. Laver achieved two Grand Slams, one as an amateur, the other as a pro, and that meant, among other things, that he twice won the French singles on clay, whereas Sampras failed in 13 visits to Roland Garros.

Sampras freely admits that the absence of any French Open silverware in his trophy cabinet is regrettable. "It is not going to affect the rest of my life," he said recently, "but it was one of my more disappointing moments." He added that he'd been more relaxed at the other majors. In Paris he was always "trying to make it happen instead of letting it happen."

From the moment he won his first major, the 1990 US Open, at the age of 19 years and 28 days, Sampras usually had half his mind on his place in history. He became the youngest US champion at that even by beating Lendl, McEnroe and Agassi in the last three rounds. Lendl had particular cause to be rueful, since he had invited the youngster a few months earlier to spend some time at his Conneticut home and train with him. From that visit Pete learned of the Lendl work ethic and the value of physical fitness.

He was blessed with a naturally powerful game. At 14, he came under the influence of Dr Pete Fisher, a paediatrician who took up tennis coaching as a hobby and realised the lad was limiting his potential by using a double-handed back hand and rarely venturing from the baseline. Sampras switched to a single-handed, flowing backhand and gave his aggressive instincts full rein.

By the time he graduated from junior tennis he had acquired heavy ground strokes, including a running cross-court forehand that became a trademark. He was extremely quick and had the touch and athletic ability to become an excellent volleyer.

But the key to his prowess was his service. Simple and rhythmic, it reminded many old hands of Pancho Gonzales, the silkily smooth champion who had ruled Jack Kramer's pro troupe many years before. It's an old adage that a player is only as good as his second serve. Sampras' second delivery was almost as lethal as his first, and he scarcely ever double-faulted.

Dr Fisher made another important contribution to his protégé's development by encouraging him to choose Laver, Emerson and Ken Rosewall as models. The young American aimed to play a similar type of game as the Aussies, and, just as important, to comport himself as they did.

"They were all class acts", he used to say.

The 1990 breakthrough was followed by years of intense psychological pressure. Sampras lost his US title the following year, and was chided by Connors for saying he was glad to get the monkey off his back. Reserved and introverted, he needed to learn how to handle public expectations and make the best of his weapons on a consistent basis. The man who, more than anyone, helped him to mature was the amiable Tim Gullickson.

It was July, 1993, before Sampras captured his second major - Wimbledon. His four-set victory over Courier established a winning habit at the All England Club broken only once in eight years, when Krajicek beat him in the 1996 quarter-finals. The conditions at Wimbledon suited Sampras perfectly. Even when he'd been struggling in the previous months, he invariably hit good form once he felt the famous green sward under his feet and began pouncing on volleys.

"I don't know what it is about Wimbledon," he once said. "I don't have the recipe on how I do it. But I just have this inner belief that I will win there."

His Wimbledon record is so outstanding it puts his US Open performances in the shade, yet no player has done better at Flushing Meadows. Besides winning the title five times, Sampras was runner-up on three other occasions. Twice, he won the Wimbledon and US Open titles back-to-back.

Perhaps the most unfair and frustrating criticism of Samaras was that he was colorless and boring. The charge originated in the British press and appeared to be delayed reaction to the misbehaviour of McEnroe, who regularly had Wimbledon in convulsions in the '80s, and was a journalist's godsend.

Most of Sampras' critics didn't have clue about just how good a player he was. They tended to be columnists and feature writers whose one appearance-a-year at a tennis tournament was at Wimbledon, where they sought bright copy either in the form of controversy, comedy or eccentricity. Sampras wasn't of much use in providing any. As he put it himself, "I wanted to be the guy who won titles."

He possessed a couple of unfortunate traits that didn't help his image: in earlier days his head sagged when luck was running against him; a gaping mouth compounded an unflattering appearance. Increasingly in his career, though, he displayed emotion - especially joy in victory.

Few in the stands could gauge the intensity he mustered. Geoff Mackay, the former Davis Cup physio, once told me he was awestruck by the savagery of Sampras' game when observing it close up at ground level.

The fact is, Sampras had as much fire in his belly as any great champion has ever had, though it wasn't always discernible from a distance because his face was a mask. And being an attacking player with the speed and leap of a panther, the punching volleys and smashes of a front-court killer, his deadly deeds were often riveting. How on earth could he be considered dull?


And then there was the drama that occasionally surrounded him. When Tim Gullickson, his beloved coach, fell mortally ill at the 1995 Australian Open, Sampras was devastated. His night match against Courier developed into a marathon, with Sampras deeply distressed by emotional strain. At the start of the fifth set he broke down in uncontrollable tears when someone in the crowd shouted: "Do it for your coach!"

Against all odds, Sampras reached the final that year, but was emotionally and physically drained when he played Agassi, losing in four sets.

Another memorable occasion was the 1996 US Open quarter-final in which he battled Spain's Alex Corretja to a standstill. Exhausted and vomiting several times at the back of the court, he somehow got to a match-deciding fifth-set tiebreak. There he saved a match point with a lunging volley, and eventually won at 9-7 when Corretja double-faulted.

Late in the career it was revealed that Sampras suffers from a genetic condition common to those from a Mediterranean background. (Sampras is of Greek descent). He tends to be slightly anaemic, and physical exertion in extreme heat can be very difficult, if not dangerous, for him.

Sampras actually earned a reputation for winning matches when apparently on the brink of collapse because of illness or injury. At Wimbledon 2000, it was painful leg splints that threatened his survival. In match after match he received on-court treatment. Physios worked hard on him between matches, and his continued participation was a day-to-day proposition. In the final he met Rafter. He lost the first set in a tiebreak, and looked like conceding the second set, too, but wound up winning in four.

So what is Pete's legacy?

It would be nice to think there's a new wave of Sampras-like talent on the horizon - gifted up-and-comers endeavouring to play as he did. The truth is to the contrary. Just as in Australia there appear to be no budding Rafters in our midst, so the top American players over the next few years are more likely to be in the mold of Andy Roddick and James Blake, who use double-handed backhands and prefer playing from the baseline.

The big hope for Sampras fans is that Roger Federer continues to develop the aggressive all-court game that won him. Wimbledon. Federer could increasingly become a replica of Sampras, for he possesses much the same weapons, if not quite the same intensity. When he defeated the American in the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2001, he seemed ready to accept his mantle, but it took him another two years to fulfill his promise. Even so, he was within a week of the same age as Sampras when his illustrious predecessor first won the title.

Whether the laid-back Swiss has the ambition and drive to emulate Sampras' remarkable record, only time will tell. But he well may. Two Australian Open crowns was a modest haul for a player of Sampras' stature (compared, for instance, to Agassi's four). If he remains fit, Federer could finally do better than Sampras Down Under. His clay-court record suggests he won't be as frustrated at Roland Garros.

Sampras' chief monument is his stupendous feat of amassing seven Wimbledon titles. Federer, alone of the current players, seems to possess the exceptional attacking ability to equal or surpass that achievement. Should he one day do so, he'll surely owe some of his inspiration to the wonderful example set by Pistol Pete

angiel
06-07-2005, 08:24 PM
Tom Tebbutt

The Globe and Mail
Monday, August 25, 2003


If there was a mantra to Pete Sampras's career, it was, "I just let my tennis do the talking."

He repeated that over and over in recent years when asked about his place in tennis history.

That place is certainly secure and probably supreme after he officially announced his retirement yesterday.

He won a record 14 Grand Slam titles and finished No. 1 in the computer rankings an unprecedented six (1993-98) years in a row.

There was only one thing missing to make his record immaculate — a French Open title.

Brought up on California hard courts, he never developed a knack for sliding on clay and never really learned to balance his natural first-strike shot-making with the greater patience required on clay.

Then there was the thalassemia, the anemia-like condition that caused him to struggle in hot, humid conditions.

In 1996, he had his best chance to win in Paris. After a dramatic run just weeks after his coach Tim Gullikson died of brain cancer, he faced eventual winner Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the semi-finals.

He had beaten former champions Sergi Bruguera and Jim Courier in dramatic five-set matches but suddenly couldn't deal with weather that turned steamy. After losing the first set to Kafelnikov in a tiebreak, he faded miserably, losing the second and third sets 6-0, 6-2.

When Andre Agassi won the French Open in 1999, making him only the fifth man to win each Grand Slam event during his career, some observers speculated his feat was greater than Sampras's larger total of Grand Slam titles.

But Sampras's achievements at Wimbledon (seven titles to one for Agassi) and at the U.S. Open (five compared to two for Agassi) quickly ends that argument.

Sampras finished 20-14 against his greatest rival and, perhaps most tellingly, won all four times they played at the U.S. Open, the last three being epic contests.

The most recent was his 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 triumph in last year's final. He seemed a spent force entering the event as the 17th seed and without a singles title in 33 events spanning more than two years.

Greg Rusedski, beaten in five sets in the third round, proclaimed Sampras was, "a half a step" slower.

Brad Gilbert, now Andy Roddick's coach, was with Agassi from 1994 until the end of 2001.

"The 2002 U.S. Open final was disappointing for me," Gilbert said. "Andre was playing 50 times better — his record, everything. But unfortunately when he plays Pete, everything gets thrown out the window. Pete is somehow able to raise his game to another level.

"But you've can't take anything away from Pete. He's had Andre's number in a few big matches."

Sampras's own explanation of his uncanny ability to play well in pressure situations was characteristically uncomplicated. "Muscle memory," he said more than once about how he was able to summon his best in the clutch.

His first Grand Slam title, the 1990 U.S. Open, was won when he was 19. He blitzed no less a trio than Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe and Agassi in his last three matches.

He now refers to that breakthrough as a "premature blip." But after he won his second big one — at Wimbledon in 1993 — he dominated for the rest of the decade.

His all-round game was a model of power and fluid ball-striking that made tennis purists appreciate not only its efficiency but also its aesthetics.

Frequently criticized for not being as "colourful" as predecessors Jimmy Connors and McEnroe — he did not waiver in being his own man, win or lose.

His inglorious final exit from Wimbledon last year — a five-set loss to lucky loser George Bastl of Switzerland — was not followed by a fit of pique or ducking out on his commitments. He arrived in the interview room obviously "gutted," as the Brits say, but ready to fulfill his obligations.

That was typical Sampras, as typical as the sublime tennis that made him the best player of his time, and very likely the best to play the sport.

angiel
06-13-2005, 09:59 PM
Sampras, the classic tennis player

by Sukhwant Basra, The Economic Times
Sunday, September 7, 2003


TIMES NEWS NETWORK, SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 06, 2003

Tennis’ future seemed tethered to the baseline; right there under the heel of the mass produced double-fisted backhand. They said the game had morphed beyond the purview of the volleyer.

They also said that power deigned a new genre of player with extreme grips, pushy parents and the mandatory ability to churn aesthetically-challenged topspin groundstrokes hours on end. Somewhere beyond the mushrooming hardcourts and the spew of the graphite-laden bazookas, the spirit of the game quailed.

Then it chose the avatar of Pete Sampras. Records may stay or wither. Even though Slamming the tennis world 14 times ain’t going to be beaten tomorrow, next year or a decade hence, that ain’t what makes a name as incongruous as ‘Pete’ revered wherever a rectangle measures 78X36 feet.

There’s more. Much more. Sampras played the classic game. He embodied the eternal, not a new-age fad. There was nothing revolutionary in his incisive r epertoire. Instead his greatness lay in raising the simple to a plane where it demanded reverence. Sampras showed us beautiful tennis. For a decade he stemmed the assault of the factory made player, transporting purists to an era that favoured craft over daft power. Perhaps we loved him even more because he refused to wear neon-coloured spandex.

At a time when his peers were amassing Mickey Mouse trophies in the juniors, Sampras was getting thrashed confronting the big boys on the men’s Tour. At the age of 16 he had the gall to flip to the elegant single handed backhand instead of the bread and butter double barrel.

Above all, he strutted around the net in the age of the graphite racquet. The portend was apparent: the boy was either mad or destined. When Andre Agassi’s father talked about hanging a ball over his crib to tune his reflexes and Monica Seles’ spoke of the novel bio-mechanics of two-handed strokes it was heartening to hear that Georgia and Sam were unable to watch son Pete play as it made them too nervous. No ear rings, no jarring style statements and a mild mannered demeanour made our parents love Sampras as much as we did.

Off-court the fellow was just too regular. Like most of us. So very easy to identify with. That he cried when long standing coach Tim Gullikson succumbed to cancer and refused to part with his trusty Staff till the end of his playing days even when endorsment deals for glitzier new frames beckoned reflect a humanity that’s been sapped from the game by the monster of professionalism. Though he did not put Davis Cup duty over individual glory, he still reminded us of a time when the call of relationships had not dwindled in the jungle of money bags.

“I will never sit here and say I am the greatest ever. I’ve done what I’ve done in the game. I’ve won a number of majors- I think that’s kind of the answer to everything,” Sampras, wearing a black suit, said at his farewell during the US Open. This talk about being the greatest belittles many we have never seen .

If it helps, he was declared the best player for the last 25 years by a panel of 100 past players, journalists and tournament directors. Sampras adds: “I don’t know if there’s one best player of all time. I feel my game will match up to just about anybody. I played perfect tennis at times, in my mind.” And on court too.

angiel
06-16-2005, 10:52 PM
High five! Sampras wins at Wimbledon
The Sporting News


WIMBLEDON, England (July 5, 1998) - There goes Pete Sampras, the best there ever was. Wearing white, slamming winners and turning improbable shots into effortless artistry. He is the natural of men's tennis. Nobody beats him in a slugfest on grass. And nobody still playing creates so much modern tennis history.

But Sunday, Sampras gave himself and Wimbledon something special. He went into uncharted territory against a ferocious rival named Goran Ivanisevic. For the first time in a Grand Slam final, he fought through a fifth set. And he won a high-wire, serve-and-volley spectacular to put himself into the record books.

Sampras beat Ivanisevic, 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (11-9),6-4, 3-6, 6-2, to win his fifth Wimbledon men's title, tying the modern mark established by Bjorn Borg.

It was a nail-biting match that pulled the best from both players. And when it ended, with Sampras winning a battle of volleys at the net, the players were exhausted and the staid Centre Court crowd was cheering.

Sampras sat for a few moments, with his chin buried in a towel. And Ivanisevic was utterly devastated, draping a towel over his head, beaten in his third and perhaps last Wimbledon final. But he was beaten by the best.

As he walked off the court, Sampras sounded dazed and somewhat awed by his latest accomplishment. He has 11 Grand Slam triumphs, tying Borg and Rod Laver, just one behind the record of 12 held by Roy Emerson.

And he has those five Wimbledons, matching Borg and H.L. Doherty, who played before World War I, and standing two behind W.C. Renshaw, who played in the late 19th century.

"It's just so hard to believe, Borg's five, I thought would never be broken," Sampras said. "I think I've got some years left in me, that I can hopefully do this again."

The kid who grew up idolizing Laver has grown into a 26-year-old man and the most dominant player of his or any other era. But even legends get nervous.

Sampras admitted that playing in a Wimbledon final is like nothing else in tennis.

"You wake up in the morning and you kind of have a pit in your stomach," he said. "You don't want to get to this point and come up short."

Sampras beat Ivanisevic because he was tougher and more focused on the big points. He beat him with second serves in a second-set tiebreaker. And he used all his strength and savvy to take the fifth and take the title.

And he also broke Ivanisevic's heart.

Ivanisevic played with fire and guts and crowded Sampras like a heavyweight shoving a rival into the ropes. For 93 minutes, he bullied the champion around the dust and grass of a rutted court. And he had him on the run in the second-set tie-breaker, twice getting to set point on a pair of Sampras second serves. And the champ was scared.

"I felt the match slipping away in the breaker," Sampras said. "I said, `God, this could be Goran's year. "

But it wasn't. Ivanisevic batted the set-point, second-serves into the net, lost the tie-breaker and saw his chance to win Wimbledon slip away.

"It feels bad," Ivanisevic said. "I cannot describe it. It's the worst moment in my life. I know I've had some bad moments, when you are sick or when somebody dies, But for me, this is the worst thing ever. Nobody died yet, but it's tough."

Not even the roar of the Centre Court crowd, which pulled for Ivanisevic and saluted him in defeat, could console him. He wanted to win this badly. He wanted to win for himself and his country, Croatia. And he wanted it to be the start of a sporting double, with Croatia's national team still alive in the World Cup. But after the match, he couldn't even bear the thought of going to see a soccer match.

"I cannot cheer anybody now," he said. "I can only kill myself. Now, I'm not good for anybody."

Sampras said he understood how Ivanisevic felt. For all his success, he still rues losing two Grand Slam finals.

"I feel bad for Goran," Sampras said. "I really do."

But in the fifth, Sampras was simply better. He got the service break to go up 4-2 by nailing a forehand return to Ivanisevic's feet. And then he broke him again to take the title.

"You don't want to make a mistake," Sampras said.

And he didn't.

Only two weeks ago there were whispers on the men's tour that Sampras was unmotivated, that he was about to be toppled as the world's No. 1 player.

"You don't play well for four months and people think you're done," Sampras said. "It's flattering to be at that standard, that high level. And it's not easy to do that month after month. So, it wasn't surprising to hear the talk. I guess I'm out of my slump."

angiel
06-23-2005, 10:03 PM
Ace Tennis Magazine
Issue 20 - April 1998

THE PASSION THAT DRIVES PETE SAMPRAS


It's been easy to take for granted Pete Sampras's unprecedented reign as world champion. His swift sweep of the competition over the last decade has often seemed effortless. His stoic demeanour has revealed little about his personal and professional struggles.

His guarded profile at times has made him the game's greatest enigma. Only in his most humbling moment at the Australian Open where he lost to Karol Kucera in the quarter finals did Sampras give a glimpse into the price paid for his five year rule as the World No.1.

Sampras was angry, somewhat indignant about the loss to Kucera. By now he had expected to notch his eleventh Grand Slam championship and hover closer to breaking Roy Emerson's record of 12 major singles titles. He wondered how the soft-spoken Slovak had found his Achilles heel and denied him his rightful crown.

"After that match, I was a wreck for a couple of days," said Sampras, "Some players can blow off a bad loss, but after eight or nine years of playing Grand Slams, it still bothers me. I couldn't believe it, I had rehabbed my knee [injured in December at the Davis Cup final] and was ready for a fresh start to the year."

"I had gone through the first week comfortably. And then I have a bad match against Kucera. I had bad feeling about the match when I started to get the worst calls ever. Could you believe those calls? I didn't shake hands with the umpire."

Sampras's disgust was palpable and somewhat surprising. After nine years on tour, surely one would have expected Sampras to develop a thicker skin for such setbacks, however rare. Who would have expected the World Number One to begrudge a few line calls weeks after the event? Lesser pros would have dismissed the injustices as a bad day at the office. But for Sampras each match seemed personal.

When he warned the umpire, "I'm watching you," after one disputed call in the Kucera match, television analyst John McEnroe picked up on the top seed's agitation and remarked "That's Pete Sampras having a temper tantrum."

Then Sampras's somewhat superhuman accomplishments have made his rare failings and displayed feelings more noteworthy. His career had read like his favourite Tom Cruise movies, Top Gun and All The Right Moves. The personal traumas and professional threats to his top spot usually have had well-tempered endings. But as he has matured and endured life's toils, Sampras has revealed smidgens of the passion that drove him to the top of his profession.

No Pain No Gain

"The biggest misconception about me is that people don't see how hard I compete," he says, "just because they didn't see emotion from me meant that I was boring, that I wasn't trying. They didn't see me struggle. Winning a title didn't seem a big deal to them. Now it's a different situation. They seem to know where my heart and mind are. I compete a little meaner in some matches which I really want to win. I still have that drive."

Typical of many teenage prodigies that have grown up on tour, Sampras has attempted to balance personal needs with his professional perfectionism. Two years ago, he refused to think of life after tennis. Post retirement pursuits were not an issue. Titles and training had to be the sole focus. When asked what would come first, a French Open title or marriage, Sampras was quite sure that the one Grand Slam title that still eludes him would.

"But now, I see marriage in the plan," he confides. "I am still very much a bachelor, but one day I want to have kids and a family. Eventually, I will move to Los Angeles so I can be close to my family. I want to buy a really great home there."

Sampras has not altered his regimen but has changed his attitude since dating actress Kimberly Williams, star of the movie Father of The Bride. His conversations unconsciously drift into a personal domain that he generally terms "deep stuff". His chest-thumping salutes to Williams after his Wimbledon victory last year were uncharacteristic displays of public affection. Recently when one journalist wrote, "Sampras would rather have his heart broken than his serve," Sampras fired back: "That's not true, that's not true at all. I didn't like that [comment]."

Conflicting Demands

Indeed, Sampras has wrestled with the conflicting demands of career priorities and weaving another person into his life. The once lanky teenager, recently voted one the game's sexiest player by one publication, is more comfortable with expressing himself. He can now smile at the days he needed to muster the nerve to ask Williams our for the first time.

They went hiking on their first day and eventually co-ordinated their schedules to fit two high-profile careers. Williams cheered court side at several event and Sampras attended several of her performances in the Broadway play, The Last Night of Ballyhoo.

"To a certain extent, you have to be selfish to be the best," says Sampras "I needed to be with someone who understands that I have to eat and sleep around my tennis, even it that means room service at midnight. I've been to more plays and on more hikes in the last year that I have in the past, but tennis is still my priority."

"The biggest adjustment between the ages of 20-26 is dealing with people. I've been exposed to enough situations now that I have a different perspective."

That is a slight departure from a man who frets over his equipment, diet and attire. Sampras is a creature of habit and scoffs at any deviation from his routine. He often restrings rackets after matches, broken or not. He sticks to a strict diet of low-fat turkey sandwiches and pasta and prefers baggy shirts that hang loosely like an unencumbered hot air balloon. He travels full-time with coach Paul Annacone and trainer Todd Snyder and returns to the sam events each year.

"Pete's a thoroughbred." says US Davis Cup captain Tom Gullikson. "He is fine-tuned and is sensitive to everything from how his rackets are strung to how his shirt tail hangs. He is an artist, and his kinetic strength is truly amazing."

In the last few years, Sampras has learned that he cannot control everything in his life. The death of his coach Tim Gullikson [Tom's twin brother] in 1996 was a cold reminder of life's realities. It took Sampras a few months to hurdle an ugly split with long-time girlfriend Delaina Mulcahy before he began dating Williams in April last year. Only recently, his former coach, Pete Fischer, pleaded guilty to two counts of child molestation after three boys accused him of sexual misconduct.

Sampras stopped working with Fischer in 1989 and had no knowledge or experience of Fischer's proclivities. The 56 year old paediatrician, who freelanced as a tennis mentor in Southern California to many junior stars, reportedly flew to the east coast two years ago to personally alert Sampras to the impending charges. Prior to Fischer's plea bargain agreement with the California court, Sampras had pledged his support and offered to be a character witness had the case gone to trial. Sampras and other Fischer students were stunned by the coach's decision to plead guilty. Fischer was sentenced to six years in jail.

"It's a sad situation," says Sampras. "Pete was a friend and a coach to me when I was growing up. That's all I can say."

But Sampras has plenty to say about his relentless scheduling and plans to temper his fast-paced lifestyle. The novelty of holding the silver cups and million dollar pay checks has worn off a bit. He prefers time at home to the constant travel. The tour's tunnel-vision lifestyle has become somewhat stifling. Retirement looms more vividly and history-breaking records gain great urgency. "I have absolutely no idea of what I will do after tennis," says Sampras who turns 27 on August 12.

Keeping busy

"Retirement is overrated, I'm sure that I would get bored after two or three months. I see John [McEnroe] and Jimmy [Connors] doing something. They had to be active.

After 15 years [of tennis] I will have to find some other interest. I will not be commentating on television or be the Davis Cup captain. I don't want to get into politics. Maybe I'll be an entrepreneur. But I will need some kind of simulus.

"Right now, breaking Roy Emerson's record does mean something to me. I would like to do it. And I still have the time to do it. For now, I'm staying in Tampa and sticking to my routine. Everything's simple there. It's easy to train. It's good for my taxes. It's a simple way of life and relaxing after all the chaos of travelling."

After tearing a calf muscle at last year's Davis Cup final in December, Sampras pledged to reduce his tournament schedule and the risk of further injury. Instead of relaxing on a golf a course, he spent his short December break rehabilitating the leg. The American, who has criticised the Davis Cup scheduling, confirmed that he will not play in the US's first two ties and most likely not at all this year.

"There are many sacrifices I make for my tennis," he says. "It's a 12-month season. Even when I have a week off here and there, I can never let go. I still think about my tennis or training for the next event. My wish would be to have six to eight weeks off so that I could really get away.

"I would go golfing with my buddies and then be with my girlfriend for the first three or four weeks. Then I would spend the other month getting into the best shape of my life. That's what I need at this point in my life. And that's why I am going to create an off-season myself this year."

According to Sampras, his competitive streak is limited to his tennis, although it has surfaced during golf games and casino gambling. He did not hesitate to replace any unlucky golf club and stuck to the poker tables at a casino in Australia despite mounting losses. By the time Petr Korda captured the Australian title and jumped to No.2 in the rankings, Sampras was back in the U.S preparing for his next event.

When Korda issued a challenge for the No.1 spot, Sampras thrived on the threat. As his voice grows noticeably direct and determined, Sampras welcome the opportunity to face his nemesis again.

"I don't plan on seeing his scissors-kick jump one more time on my court," Sampras says "I can't even look at it. I look forward to the day I play Petr Korda again. After I lost to him at the US Open last year, I couldn't wait to play him again at the Australian. I was very angry at what happened in Melbourne. How could I not be? I hope that I always care this much."

angiel
06-23-2005, 10:06 PM
It's Not Same Old, Same Old, as Sampras Soaks In Victory

Diane Pucin, LA Times
September 3, 2003

NEW YORK -- The sound came from deep within Pete Sampras. It was a
howling, yowling bellow of fear, of excitement, of desperate need, of
astounding conviction.

Sampras had seen the tennis ball as it used to be, as larger than life,
approaching slowly, so slowly. Sampras was able to line up his old
friend, the one-handed backhand, plot a course for a return of Greg
Rusedski's second serve, make the ball curve and spin under Rusedski's
racket and then drop safely inside the line, a resounding winner on a
crucial point in the third-set tiebreaker of a five-set, third-round
victory Monday night at the U.S. Open.

Before the ball landed, Sampras shook the tin walls of the main stage
here, Louis Armstrong Stadium, with a scream we've never heard from the
stoic champion.

Sampras has vomited on this court, has wept in victory and in exhausted
defeat, has held up trophies and stood stone-faced as the runner-up but
never had he screamed like this, as if this single shot validated him,
validated his refusal to retire as a 31-year-old winner of 13 Grand
Slam titles, validated his inability to accept that the whispers he
hears are true, that he is slower, weaker, less intimidating.

A little later the beaten opponent, Rusedski, said: "He's not playing
great. I'd be surprised if he wins his next match against [Tommy] Haas.
To be honest with you, I'd be very surprised."

But Sampras played great enough to beat Rusedski, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6
(3), 3-6, 6-4, and advance to the fourth round. He played well enough
to bring the wet, shivering fans to the point of chanting his name.

All around the grounds there were astounding matches, night matches
everywhere after nearly two days of rain. But on every changeover, the
Armstrong aisles would be crowded with fans scrambling up the wet
steps. They'd heard the screams, the rumble of an epic percolating, and
they wanted to see. Would Sampras, the great champion, walk away with
his head buried in a towel, or his fists pumping in triumph?

For all his adult life, Sampras has defined himself by what he did with
a racket and a ball at this court, at Wimbledon's Centre Court and at
the big, covered stadium in Melbourne, Australia. For a decade, Sampras
ruled with supreme confidence and a game both elegant and elemental.

"He's a step-and-a-half slow coming to the net," Rusedski said. "You
can get the ball down. He's just not the same player. I mean, he's a
great player from the past."

Sports are cruel and so are sportsmen, and that's what they say when a
man such as Sampras hasn't won a title in more than two years.

Rusedski, once a U.S. Open finalist, tried to present his own resume as
something special—"It's not like I haven't been to a U.S. Open finals,
it's not like I haven't won 12 titles, it's not like I haven't beaten
[Andre] Agassi, Sampras, [Andy] Roddick, players of that stature, it's
not that I haven't been able to do it."

But Rusedski hasn't been able to do it when it matters, when the
pressure is the greatest. Nobody has done it as often as Sampras, 13
times a winner in the finals of Grand Slams, and because of that
Sampras has seemed puzzled that so many seem so eager to have him walk
away from the game on someone else's terms, rather than his own.

Why is Sampras demeaning himself? That's what other players wonder
quietly in the locker room. Why is he diminishing the memories, leaving
us with the fresh impression of a balding, hunched-over, sad-eyed loser
instead of the greatest player ever?

This is why:

"Let's go Pete. Let's go Pete. Let's go Pete."

It is what the people want. Pete winning one more Slam title.

It was that backhand service return winner, the one where Sampras just
let go, just swung with his heart and the ball whipped by Rusedski. And
it was the slam-dunk overheads, three of them, which made the crowd
roar.

"The people and the atmosphere out on Louis was something I was
enjoying," Sampras said. "Those are moments that as you get a little
bit older, you kind of cherish a little bit more. The people were
really, really pulling for me."

Sampras is slower. Rusedski is correct. Sampras arrives at the net too
late sometimes to crack the angular, unhittable volleys that made him
the king of Wimbledon. Rusedski also said Sampras offers up too many
second serves, and that someone young and strong such as Haas will
feast on those easy balls.

Those second serves still huddle in the corners of the service box or
kick cruelly into the body of the receiver. They are not easy to
return, and when Sampras finds his rhythm, and he can, then the rest of
his game becomes smoother.

Haas, seeded No. 3, has beaten Sampras three consecutive times. It has
been four years since Sampras beat the German. If Sampras loses today,
what happened Monday will be forgotten by everyone except Sampras. He
will hear, again, how he should quit, how he shouldn't return to this
stage.

Yet Sampras will remember the cheers. He will still feel the passion
from the stands, and his hand will still tingle from the feel of the
two sparkling passing shots he hit in the final game Monday. And that's
still enough for Sampras. For now.

angiel
06-23-2005, 10:08 PM
Sampras Defies His Detractors

By CHRISTOPHER CLAREY, The New York Times
September 4, 2002


It was a situation and a schedule made to order for the younger, fresher man. After all, hadn't Pete Sampras run out of energy and inspiration at last year's United States Open when required to play three-of-five-set tennis on consecutive days against the next generation? And isn't Sampras a year deeper into a title drought and confidence slump that now deserves to be called decline?

The answers were yes all around as the aging, 17th-seeded Sampras took to the Arthur Ashe Stadium court last night against the rising, third-seeded Tommy Haas. And yet it was Sampras, not Haas, who turned the situation to his advantage: winning by 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-5 and setting up a cross-generational, all-American quarterfinal with Andy Roddick, the 20-year-old who just recently stepped into his long shadow.

"I'm excited; I grew up idolizing him," said Roddick, who advanced with a rollicking four-set victory over Juan Ignacio Chela of Chile. "I have a great deal of respect for Pete, and what he's done. I don't think anybody here doesn't respect what he's done. It will be a very, very special moment for me out there. But you know, having said that, I want to go out there and play some ball."

Despite Roddick's generally reverent tone, there are some who don't respect Sampras's ability to still get things done, including Greg Rusedski, who had said he would be surprised if Sampras won his match against Haas. Rusedski made that uncharitable but hardly ill-founded pronouncement shortly after Sampras beat him in five sets in the third round on Monday night. Because of the rain delays that have compressed the schedule at Flushing Meadows, Sampras — and every other man who won his third-round match on Monday — had to come back yesterday and handle the pressure again.

A year ago here, the last time Sampras made a mark on a Grand Slam event, he wilted against Lleyton Hewitt in the final the day after defeating Marat Safin in the semifinals.

But though there were very occasional sightings of the drooping shoulders and hangdog expression that traditionally signal trouble and fatigue for Sampras, he was generally a net-rushing, serve-pounding pillar of strength last night. It had been nearly a decade since a Sampras victory in a Grand Slam event not held on clay could be termed an upset, but this one certainly seemed to qualify.

"I was feeling it at the end, but this is the U.S. Open," the 31-year-old Sampras said. "You dig deep, and do whatever you can to win."

As for Rusedski? "I don't really worry about what he says," Sampras said.
As for Rusedski's claim that he was a step and a half slower than in his prime? "Against him, I don't really need to be a step and a half quicker," Sampras said, deviating from the high road for a moment.

The only blip against the 24-year-old Haas came in the third set. Sampras had Haas 0-40 on his serve at 2-2 and let him wriggle free. In the tie breaker, Sampras, a four-time United States Open champion, missed two relatively straightforward volleys and also slipped while moving forward with a 4-3 advantage.

Early in the fourth set, the trainer Doug Spreen appeared at courtside just before a changeover. Sampras took his seat and began unlacing his shoe, but when Spreen walked on the court, he went to Haas's chair and began treating his sore right arm.

Sampras, who was merely changing footwear, was not the one who needed help in this match. He allowed Haas only one break point in four sets and no breaks of serve. He had 82 winners to 46 unforced errors and pushed forward with consistent conviction and success, winning 76 of 101 points when he came to net.

Until now, his career record against Haas looked like a graph of his career: he won their first four matches in the 1990's, then lost three in a row in the last two years. But the graph is now more difficult to read, and Sampras is back in contention if not in command at his second favorite tournament. Wimbledon, where he has won seven times, remains No. 1.

"It's confidence; it's being comfortable; it's getting into kind of a rhythm," Sampras said of his rebound, which has also coincided with his decision to resume working with his longtime coach, Paul Annacone. "I haven't really felt like I've settled into the year. This past week and a half, I feel like I have kind of got my game going."

Roddick has won more matches this year than any man on tour, including Hewitt. But he was either injured, ineffective or oddly muted in the year's first three Grand Slam events, failing to get past the third round. What better cure for sophomore slump than a bit of home cooking? For much of his 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Chela, he looked like the gung-ho, energy-to-burn freshman the fans got to know in a hurry last year. He did so despite being treated for a bruise on the outside of his left foot after losing the first set.

In the course of his emotional fourth-round ride, Roddick wore his joys and frustrations on his short sleeves: pumping his fists, rolling his eyes, thrusting out his tongue and doing his best Boris Becker tribute by diving fruitlessly but spectacularly to his left for a wide shot in the final set. He even cursed at the chair umpire for not overruling the machine that judges the service lines.

It was not necessarily the sort of behavior that will win him friends in the locker room, but it seems to be the sort of behavior that helps him win significant matches. He saved his most memorable behavior for a point at 3-3, 15-15 on Chela's serve in the second set.

After covering most of his half of the hardcourt at Louis Armstrong Stadium, hobbling after a drop shot, then chasing down a lob volley and ultimately firing an off-balance backhand passing shot for a winner down the line, Roddick thrust his arms into the humid summer sky, letting his racket go and leaving his hands free to exchange high-fives with spectators. It certainly felt like a turning point, and it was, as Roddick went on to break Chela's serve and win the next three sets.

angiel
06-29-2005, 10:02 PM
Sampras Prevails in Major Way
Agassi Stopped After 4 Sets, 4 Tiebreakers

By Rachel Alexander Nichols
Washington Post Staff Writer
September 6, 2001

FLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y., Sept. 5 -- Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi flat-
out battled at the U.S. Open tonight. They pushed, they pulled, they
spent 3 hours 33 minutes playing through a career's worth of wins and
losses. And when it finally was over, a rivalry that has spanned more
than two decades and 20 combined Grand Slam titles simmered down to a
simple forehand popping into a net, a point that gave Sampras a 6-7 (9-
7), 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-5) victory he will remember for the
rest of his life.

"It was awesome," he said simply afterward, and for a while there
seemed to be no other word. "That's probably about as good as it gets,
playing the very best on a night match at the U.S. Open. It was so
close; it really was."

That Sampras, the man who entered this tournament with a rickety
backhand and a plummeting reputation, won the match over a fit and
feisty Agassi was only barely more stunning than the level of play on
an evening when neither player's serve was broken. When the two finally
met at the net amid a thunderstorm of applause, they exchanged a
handshake and a hug and, Agassi said, "we both expressed a tremendous
appreciation for the opportunity to be out there with each other."

The words echoed the sentiments of a raucous crowd of 23,033 that
shouted "Pete" and "Andre" through a match where no last names were
required. This was the 32nd time Agassi and Sampras have played each
other, and while the official prize, a berth in the semifinals against
defending champion Marat Safin, hardly was the grandest they have
battled over, the stakes seemed so very much higher than simply
advancing.

For the second-seeded Agassi, this was a chance to prove his longevity,
his stamina against a player who for a long time burned more brightly
than him but who he desperately wants to outlast. For Sampras, who came
into this match seeded a paltry No. 10, it was about something even
deeper, a pride that has been rumbling through his racket since he
stepped onto the familiar courts of the National Tennis Center.

He has not won a title in 14 months, he has been drummed out of the
early rounds of several recent tournaments and, worst of all to a man
who held the No. 1 ranking for six years, his nearly mythic presence on
the court seemed to have been reduced to the size of a thimble. For a
player who has won when he's been injured, won when he's vomited, won
when he was a kid who didn't know any better, this has been the
ultimate challenge, and for the last 10 days, he has risen to it with
increasing aplomb.

In five matches, Sampras has lost his serve only three times, and all
of those came at the beginning of the tournament. By the end of
tonight's match, he had held his serve 71 straight times, stringing out
an evening that effortlessly overcame what had been a tremendous
buildup. The magnitude of hype had been so extreme, in fact, that
earlier in the evening, when Jennifer Capriati took just over an hour
to thump Amelie Mauresmo, 6-3, 6-4, to earn her own semifinal berth
against Venus Williams, she had joked that "I just knew everyone wanted
to see the next match, so I made it as quick as I could."

Even with her efforts, by the time the men's match started, the crowd
nearly was choking on its own anticipation. The cell phones that
normally ring were silent, the fans who usually mill through the
massive stadium's 90 suites were sitting rod-straight in their seats.
So little noise filtered through the air during the first few points
that each squeaky slide of the players' sneakers ballooned out to fill
the void, although once the tug-of-war began in earnest, a chorus of
cheers began to swell.

The players' games also began to rise with each point, and although the
first little flinch came from Sampras, it was Agassi who fell behind 0-
40 midway through the first set. Sampras's attempts to take advantage
fell flat on a series of errors, and while Sampras again went ahead, 6-
3, in the first-set tiebreak, again Agassi battled, erasing Sampras's
set points and building two of his own to cement an early lead.

"I think when I won the first-set tiebreak, I think I certainly had the
momentum," said Agassi, who entered the match with a 49-1 record when
winning the first set at the U.S. Open. "I was trying to step up
because it felt like an opportunity for me to break things open a bit."

Already exhausted and elated after 54 minutes of play, the crowd leapt
to a standing ovation, although the match was truly only beginning.
Sampras and Agassi continued to interlock service games like teeth on a
zipper, and while Sampras seemed to stagger a bit, double-faulting
three times in one game, the second set barreled toward another
tiebreak. This time, Sampras was able to take control earlier and keep
it, and when he saw an open forehand up the line on set point, he
slammed his racket forward, setting up a winning backhand volley.

"Andre didn't miss much, so winning the second-set breaker was a huge
part of the match," Sampras said. "If I go down two sets to love
without losing my serve, mentally it would have been tough to come
back."

Instead the turn in momentum seemed to energize Sampras, who belted
through his next few service games with ease. And while Agassi was able
to keep up through the third set, guarding his own serve like a
Rotweiler, he delivered several unforced errors in the third-set
tiebreak to give Sampras a two-sets-to-one lead. Sampras continued to
push in the fourth, and even as Agassi pushed back, he fended off a
break point with a 116 mile-per-hour serve that swept far past Agassi's
extended racket.

Sampras then earned a break point of his own the very next game, a 30-
40 advantage that set off a hypnotizing rally, but Agassi was not yet
ready to relent. As the seemingly inevitable fourth-set tiebreak
loomed, the fans again rose to their feet, applauding the shots,
applauding the sweat, applauding the moment, and when Sampras broke out
a 119 mph hour serve a minute before midnight the noise was nearly
deafening.

"When the crowd stood up and there was that one moment, I was
like, 'This is pretty special what we're doing here.' But after that
was over it was back to work," Sampras said.

By the time he worked his way to a 6-3 lead in the final tiebreak, he
had to back away from the service line to wait out the noise, and while
he seemed to have the match easily in hand, nothing this night came
easy.

Sampras flung a forehand volley into the net to tighten the score to 6-
4; a double fault brought it to 6-5. But finally, after a long rally
and some blockbuster shots from both players, Agassi finally caved, his
own forehand sailing toward the netting as Sampras raised both arms in
victory.

"A match like this just boils down to a few shots and that's the
difficulty in it and that's the beauty in it," Agassi said. "You have
to give credit where credit is due. Pete played the big points well and
pulled out a match that's disappointing for me, but I'm glad to be a
part of it."

angiel
06-29-2005, 10:07 PM
Sampras outslugs Agassi

Four sets, four tiebreakers. The 4-time U.S. Open champ's resurgence continues with a 31/2-hour epic victory.

By SHARON GINN, St. Petersburg Times
September 6, 2001


NEW YORK -- They have met 32 times and won 20 Grand Slam titles between them. So in a quarterfinal match at the U.S. Open, what kind of dazzling stat could Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi produce on a Wednesday night that they hadn't been able to before?

The answer: Four.

As in four tiebreaks in four sets, an amazing 3-hour 32-minute marathon that ended with the underestimated Sampras on his way to the semifinals.

And the final score on its way to the history books: Sampras d. Agassi 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-5).

More amazing was neither player lost serve. Sampras has held serve in 72 straight games.

"What more can you do but not lose your serve?" Sampras asked rhetorically.

What more, indeed.

"A match like this just boils down to a few shots," Agassi said. "That's the difficulty in it but that's the beauty in it. Pete played the big points real well and pulled out a match that was disappointing for me, but I was glad to be a part of it."

The final isn't until Sunday, but this is the match people will remember, an astounding display of tennis between perhaps two of the most evenly matched players in history.

It was so big, celebrities will rush to claim they were there. Even Agassi's fiancee, a pregnant Steffi Graf, emerged from the shadows after midnight to watch anxiously. Officially, a capacity crowd of 23,033 filled Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Yes, Sampras had 25 aces -- many 118 mph blasts on second serve -- but Agassi's tenacious returns forced Sampras to be equally persistent. He ventured to the net, pulling out every shot in his arsenal, making minute adjustments, dropping them just so or placing them with dazzling precision along the line or in a back corner.

And though he double-faulted 12 times, including in the final tiebreaker, his serve did not fail him. Threatened with break point in the fourth set, Sampras boomed an ace at 30-40, then held a service clinic, quickly adding three more points to hold and force yet another tiebreaker.

Most years the victory would seem like no great feat, but Sampras hasn't won since Wimbledon 2000 and slipped to the 10th seed at the Open, an event he has won, yes, four times.

Will he make it five?

Does it really matter?

"It was a pleasure playing tonight," Sampras said. "The energy was phenomenal."

For once, a men's match completely overshadowed the women at the Open. The semifinal showdown everyone had hoped for was set: Venus Williams vs. Jennifer Capriati, Time magazine cover girl vs. the poster child for perseverance.

Capriati, winner of two Grand Slams this year whose steadiness in big events has been unmatched, beat overmatched Amelie Mauresmo 6-3, 6-4.

"Really I just wanted to stay on top of her and not let her back in the match," Capriati said. "That's also something I've been working on, just stay on top and try to bury them . . . keep the high intensity through the whole match and not have lapses.

"I've been able to play really well throughout. This match, I knew how to step it up and play some of my best tennis, and I did. It shows me that i'm just getting better each round."

Williams, the 2000 Open champion, was able to dispatch fifth-seeded Kim Clijsters despite 43 unforced errors.

Like Capriati, Williams has not dropped a set in this tournament. But Wednesday she wasted 11 of 16 break-point chances, including 7 of 9 in the first set. Clijsters, ranked No. 5 in the world, played even worse: She had 38 unforced errors, converted on 1 of 9 break-point chances and mustered five winners to Williams' 21.

"I wasn't stringing together the points the way I'd like to exactly," Williams said. "I did a few good points, and then I missed a few easy shots, too. But a win is a win."

Just ask the men's 2000 Open champion. After an erratic spring and mostly discouraging summer, No. 3 seed Marat Safin is back in the semifinals. He knocked off unseeded Mariano Zabaleta 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 and plays Sampras.

No. 4 Lleyton Hewitt also managed to stick around. His match against No. 16 Tommy Haas on Tuesday afternoon was suspended because of rain with Hewitt trailing 3-6, 2-2. But Hewitt roared back Wednesday morning, winning the second set and the next two.

angiel
07-05-2005, 10:00 PM
Game, set and match likely as Sampras declines Wimbledon start
By Bill Dwyre in Los Angeles
May 17 2003




Lucky 13: Pete Sampras, left, with Patrick Rafter after winning his seventh Wimbledon and 13th grand slam titles. Photo: Getty Images


Pete Sampras, whose status as a tennis legend is best represented by his record 14 major titles, has probably played his last competitive match.

Through his coach, Paul Annacone, Sampras withdrew on Thursday from three tournaments that were holding entry spots for him.

One was Wimbledon.

"Yes, for me not to be at Wimbledon, I guess that's big," Sampras said from his home in Beverly Hills, California.

Seven of Sampras's 14 grand slam titles came on the sacred grass of Wimbledon, where, in 2000, he beat Australian Patrick Rafter in the final. That gave Sampras his record-breaking 13th grand slam title, topping by one the standard established by Australian Roy Emerson in 1967.


Sampras beat Rafter after losing the first set and trailing in a second-set tie-breaker 4-1. When Rafter returned wide on match point in the fourth set, giving Sampras his seventh Wimbledon title in eight years, a period in which he had a 53-1 record, Sampras sank to his knees, emotions pouring out that were seldom seen from him.

He climbed high into the stands to embrace his somewhat reclusive parents, who were making a rare trip to watch him, and he spent much of the immediate aftermath battling to fight back tears.

He was still a month away from his 29th birthday then, but the high of his 13th major title was so hard to maintain that, over the next two years, he went on a 33-tournament victory drought that did not end until he stunned a tennis world that had begun to believe he couldn't win a big one again by doing just that.

He beat Andre Agassi in a dramatic US Open final last September. That was his 14th major title, the 762nd tour victory of his 15-year career, against only 222 losses, and took his earnings total to $43,280,489, by far the most ever.

He has not played since.

Late last year, he announced that he would begin a comeback at a February tournament in San Jose. But that event came and went, as did one withdrawal after another, followed by statements that he wasn't quite ready to come back, stirring speculation the real comeback might be never.

But Wimbledon was always the carrot held out by those in the tennis community who felt he would not be able to resist returning there for one more try, especially because his 2002 experience there, a second-round loss to unheralded George Bastl of Switzerland on a side court, left both a bad taste and some unfinished business.

"I'm going to watch some of Wimbledon on TV," Sampras said. "I'll be curious. I won't watch a ton, but it'll be interesting to see how I feel."

Sampras said he hadn't totally closed the door to a return.

"More like maybe 95 per cent," he said, adding that, by the end of the year, "it'll all be more clear to me".

Sampras also pulled out of the French Open, which begins on May 26, and the Queen's Club event, a grass-court Wimbledon lead-in tournament in early June. Wimbledon starts on June 23.

Few expected him to play the French, his least favourite of the major tournaments because its slow clay surface does not suit his serve-and-volley game. The French is the only major he has not won. He advanced as far as the semi-finals only once and lost in either the first or second round seven of the 13 years he played there. Besides his seven Wimbledon titles, he won the US Open five times and the Australian Open twice.

Sampras's decision was gradual. In March, the first real alarms went off in the tennis world that he might, indeed, never play again. He missed the Masters Series event in Indian Wells, an event that had been one of his first as a pro and one close to home.

At that time, he said he had been training hard and was ready physically to play, but the thought of playing matches that didn't mean a lot, then going back to an empty hotel room made him change his mind.

"Maybe my juices will start flowing when the slams get closer," he said then.

But as it became time to get ready for the one that really mattered, Wimbledon, Sampras found he really wasn't ready.

"I know what it takes, the time and the training," he said, "and I just feel it isn't in me right now. If I went to a major, I would go there to win, not just to say goodbye."

angiel
07-09-2005, 08:23 PM
http://www.samprasfanz.com/gallery/1997wim2/97wimbhi.jpg

angiel
07-09-2005, 08:24 PM
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angiel
07-13-2005, 10:33 PM
Sampras reign at Wimbledon

By Opinion Page staff, The Advocate
August 30, 2003


In sports, there are more "ends of an era" than there are really justifiably important "eras." But it's difficult not to use that phrase about tennis as Pete Sampras retired from the game in a touching ceremony in New York, where he won the U.S. Open at age 19.

The skinny young Greek went on to demonstrate incredible staying-power during 15 years in one of the most grueling year-round sports there is.

There might be some argument about whether he was the greatest tennis player ever. Perhaps Bill Tilden of the '20s or Rod Laver of the '60s would have been better with today's high-tech racquets. But probably no one would question Sampras' majestic domination of the grass-court game.

His seven Wimbledon trophies end that argument. Game, set and match.

angiel
07-13-2005, 10:37 PM
Sampras Wins One for the Aged
By Patrick Hruby-Washington Times

September 9, 2002 NEW YORK - This one was for the eulogists. This was for the mockers, the nay sayers, the ditch-digging doubters dumping fresh dirt onto Pete Sampras' still-open professional grave. The foes who counseled retirement. The knuckle heads who said he's lost a step (or two). The fans who showered him with the sort of pleading, sympathetic applause usually reserved for underdogs and lost causes.

Of course, this one was for Sampras, too.

In a performance culled from his seemingly long-departed prime, Sampras topped old rival Andre Agassi 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in the U.S. Open final yesterday at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"This one might take the cake," said Sampras, who won his first tournament in two years and his first Open title since 1996. "To get through adversity means a lot."

With the victory, the 31-year-old Sampras captured his fifth Open title and his 14th Grand Slam, adding to his all-time record.

Shredded in the last two Open finals by youngsters Marat Safin and Lleyton Hewitt, Sampras also delivered the strongest message yet that he will walk away from the game in an hour - and in a manner - of his choosing. "To beat a rival like Andre in a major tournament, a storybook ending, it might be nice to stop," Sampras said. "But I still want to compete. I want to play."

Billed as the latest - and perhaps the last - edition in the long and storied Sampras-Agassi rivalry, the match was as much a referendum on Sampras' sagging fortunes, his deep decline following a decade of dominance. Title-less for the longest stretch of his career, his confidence shaken by a string of humiliating losses, his aura as faded as his patchy hairline, Sampras came into the tournament as a No.17 seed, his lowest entry position since 1989.

"There were moments where I was struggling to continue to play," he said.

“ I've done too much in the game to hear negative things and start believing them. I still felt like I had one more moment - maybe a couple of moments - and that's what happened today.”
—Pete Sampras
Against Agassi, however, Sampras looked nothing like the creaky veteran who lost to someone named Paul Henri-Mathieu in the first round of a pre-Open warmup tournament - and far more like the serve-and-volley maestro who bullied would-be successor Andy Roddick in a quarterfinal spanking. Trademark running forehands. Sharp volleys. Even a handful of backhand winners down the line. Early on, the old Sampras gifts were all accounted
for, unwrapped and fresh.

Above all was his serve: smothering, overpowering, largely untouchable. Sampras reached into the Wayback Machine for 33 aces and over a dozen service winners ? down the line, out wide, one at 132 mph, his fastest delivery of the tournament.

"I was having a hard time getting onto [his serve], getting off the mark, making any sort of impact at all," Agassi said. "I think he sensed that, and it was allowing him to play pretty loose on his return games. At that point, he was solidly better."

That said, Sampras slowed considerably in the third. Serving to force a tiebreaker, Sampras staggered to four deuce points against Agassi's shoestring returns; on the fifth, Sampras double-faulted, then dropped the set on a tight forehand volley that failed to clear the tape.

That gave Agassi - clearly fatigued from his draining semifinal duel with world No.1 Hewitt - new life. With Sampras down 2-1 and serving in the fourth set, Agassi forced a 20-point game, the longest of the match. Twice, Agassi earned break points, once on a double fault and again on a hustling forehand lob save; two times, Sampras responded with points at the net before taking the game with a pair of forehand volleys. "I felt like I still had a little ways to go to secure the momentum," Agassi said of winning the third set. "I had a few break points [in the fourth] and I didn't do it. And that turned out to get me."

After saving another break point to make it 4-4 ? this time with an overhead and an ace wide ? Sampras turned the tables. He pushed Agassi to two breaks, then captured a third by placing a forehand return just inside the baseline, one that Agassi couldn't dig out.

Serving for the title, Sampras jumped to triple match point on a gutsy 119-mph second serve down the middle; following an Agassi winner, he closed the match with a backhand volley."It all worked out," Sampras said. "So much of what I was going through this year was mental. It wasn't forehands and backhands and serves. It was in my head."

In a sense, things have come full circle for Sampras. As a skinny, unheralded 19-year-old, he upset the 20-year-old Agassi for his first major title at the 1990 Open.

Since then, Sampras has become the greatest player of his era, a seven-time Wimbledon winner whose classical playing style helped him break Roy Emerson's career record of 12 Grand Slams and spend six straight years ranked No.1 in the world.

Along the way, Sampras engaged in a spirited rivalry with Agassi - Sampras leads the series 20-14 - including a clash in last year's Open quarterfinals that is widely considered to be one of best matches ever played.

Still, time passes; so too did the game seem to pass Sampras by. There was the two-year title drought. The straight set skunkings in the last two Open finals. Three coaches since January. A humiliating loss to Swiss journeyman George Bastl at Wimbledon.

Following a third-round loss to Sampras, loudmouthed Brit Greg Rusedski - who has never won a tournament of consequence - had the gall to predict that Sampras wouldn't win another match, adding that his opponent had lost "a step-and-a-half."

"I've done too much in the game to hear negative things and start believing them," Sampras said. "I still felt like I had one more moment - maybe a couple of moments - and that's what happened today."

When it was over, Agassi hugged Sampras at the net, offering a "good job." Sampras clambered into the stands, embracing his expecting wife, Bridgette -whom he credits as a major source of emotional support - and exchanging high-fives with spectators.

"[Sampras´] game is able to raise itself at the right time," said Agassi, the man who has always known best. "While the discipline and the daily grind of what it takes to be at the top has obviously gotten tougher for him, there's still a danger in the way he plays and how good he is.
Anybody who says something different is really ignorant."

As Sampras raised his arms in triumph following match point - taking in the moment, basking in title that few thought possible - that much was obvious.

angiel
07-18-2005, 09:13 PM
Once More, With Feeling
Recalling Glory Days, Sampras Tops Agassi for Fifth Open Crown
By: John Jeansonne, Newsday.com

They played past twilight. Not theirs; New York's.


Dinner time passed and the sun went down, but old favorites Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi were still out there, actually gaining momentum in their latest production of high tennis theater.

The sellout crowd of 25,210 in Arthur Ashe Stadium had been warmed up slowly with an overture of two Sampras-dominated sets, then was presented new dramatic possibilities as Agassi's game snapped to attention and the U.S. Open final moved deeper into the fourth set, Sampras trying to close out the match and Agassi desperately trying to extend it.

Increasingly boisterous, talking back to itself with cries of "Pete!" answered by shouts of "Andre!", the crowd expressed simultaneous, divergent desires. It wanted history: a 14th major tournament title for Sampras. It wanted more tennis: a fifth set. It wanted happiness for Sampras, appreciated but not necessarily loved most of his career. But also happiness for Agassi, always a fan magnet.

Before long, everyone would get a 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 Sampras victory, after a final set that recalled why Sampras-Agassi can light up a stadium with its unpredictable tugs-of- war played out with contrasting styles.

For the 31-year-old Sampras, having heard for almost two years that his star has faded, raising his fifth U.S. Open trophy was almost more than he could ask for. "This might take the cake. This might be my biggest achievement so far," he said, "to come through the year I've had and win the U.S. Open, that's pretty sweet."

For the 32-year-old Agassi, it was "disappointing to lose, but I think I've been more disappointed in my career." After all, he had been part of what everyone knew could be the last Grand Slam tournament final between the two leading characters from the Greatest American Tennis Generation.

Never before, in the 34 years of the open era, had this tournament's championship final featured two men over 30 years old. Yet the mood, quite the opposite from recent talk of finding new stars, was not only to savor another Pete repeat or another Andre ecstasy, but beyond that: Why get rid of a good thing?

"We're still out here doing it; it's hard to get around that fact," Agassi said.

Through the early going, the only danger was Sampras' play, so crisp it was strangling potential excitement. His serve - he would finish with 33 aces - was either winning points outright or setting him up for his equally keen volleys.

"There were points that reminded me a little bit of Wimbledon," he said, thinking of his seven championships there. "I got in the zone and everything clicked."

Agassi felt "pretty outplayed those first two sets," but the original Sampras-Agassi glory days magic would rear up in the third. Agassi began to demonstrate his dead-reckoning service return, snapping the ball back at Sampras' feet and tangling him up. Agassi began to break the spell of Sampras' net control with some screaming passing shots.

The show was on when Agassi's hot backhand return broke Sampras at the end of a long 12th game to give Agassi the third set, 7-5. "The crowd was so electric," Sampras said. "and there was that huge roar when he broke me to take the third."

With Sampras leading two sets to one but beginning to take more and more time between serves, it was logical to wonder if Sampras' fuel gauge was dipping below the quarter-full mark and that, if Agassi could get to a fifth set, the momentum might swing his way. "I was feeling it a bit in the third," Sampras said.

But Sampras made it through a tense 20-point game early in the fourth set to hold serve and again saved a break point in the tough eighth game to stay even at 4-4. Then came Sampras' quick break of Agassi in the ninth game, and Sampras served out the match with two service winners, an ace, and a volley winner.

With that, could it be that the grand Sampras-Agassi rivalry is over? "To beat a rival like Andre in a major tournament, at the U.S. Open in a storybook ending," Sampras said, "it might be nice to stop. But . . . I still want to compete."

Besides, Agassi's son Jaden is 10 months old and Sampras' wife, Bridgette, is expecting a child later this year, and the two have traded barbs over whose offspring would prevail in the next generation.

"For sure," Agassi said, "I see Jaden beating up on his kid a little bit on the tennis court. If it's a little girl, I've got 100 bucks that says she has a crush on Jaden."

angiel
07-18-2005, 09:16 PM
Pete Sampras: Resurrexit
ByTeodoro C. Benigno, Philippine Star

[Wednesday, September 11, 2002] -A couple of months ago, we were on the verge of writing a black-border column "Requiescat in Pace" sealing the tennis career of Pete Sampras. We couldn't stand the sight of the erstwhile great and unbeatable Sampras losing to unknowns in preliminary rounds. He was a champion turned Bowery bum. It was agony. It was like seeing Michael Jordan stumped on a basketball court by a sandlot simp. It was like watching Muhammad Ali lace on the gloves only to be bowled over by a six-rounder cadging money for a bottle of booze.

Pete had to be told. He no longer had his pistol. He was washed out. It was a great shame for this tennis immortal with 13 grandslams to venture into a tournament court only to be bushwhacked by journeymen who couldn't even carry his tennis shoes in the old glory days.

But Pete Sampras was not listening at all. The only one who listened was his beautiful actress wife Bridgette Wilson. Now pregnant and occupying the upper boxes, she looked on with unabated confidence her man would come through. Bridgette stood by him, this blonde who rarely smiled. She believed, like Pete, that someday he would pick up all the shattered pieces
of so many late defeats. He would piece them together again, and bring out the golden burnish of old. I didn't believe anything like that. I figured that just like any other athlete who had reached his peak, Pete Sampras was now tooling around like an old wasted T-Ford and picking up the crumbs. They never learn, do they?

Then after his 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 victory over Andre Agassi in the US Tennis Open, Sampras supplied the answer.

In a post-game interview, he said: "So much of what I was going through this year was mental. It wasn't forehands and backhands and serves. It was kind of my head space. I wasn't real positive, kind of got down on myself extremely quick out there." Mental. So that was what it was. Mind over matter, the old saw goes. The body was there. The arms, the legs, the whippet-niched muscles. Sampras still had the body that the best training and physical conditioning in the world could shape. After all, even Michael Jordan was able to prove that at age 39, he could still fix his mind. And from there, motivate the lowly Washington Wizards to soar and settle once, twice on the eagle's mountain perch.

Mental, that's up there. What we didn't believe in, Sampras believed in. He just couldn't believe the fluids had completely gone out of his body. He just couldn't believe the mind had deserted the body, and couldn't control it anymore, make it do its bidding. Along the route, along the way, he was fashioning the lock that could bring both together again. Not for a comeback that would last long, but a comeback that would stitch a cynical world together in one last great superhuman effort. This would give tennis its old magic, its old mystique, a dazzle not seen before Sampras and not to be seen again except for this one last time. At Flushing Meadows.

And it had to be with Andre Agassi.

Here was another tennis great who Pete had played 34 times. The marvel was that Agassi brought out the best in Sampras. Each time they met in the finals, whether Wimbledon or the US Open, Agassi's was the sculptor's hand working on rare marble. He constantly chipped at this marble with such a plodding fury that it brought out a Sampras rarely seen and rarely beheld - a champion who brought tennis to perfection. It's the same with some actors and actresses on screen and on stage. They are at their best when another prodigy is around, challenging, motivating, igniting, spurring. It is the same too with writers. The best is the best because he or she wrestles the others to the ground.

So when Pete Sampras finally nudged his mind to center stage during the US Open, he could stroll into and out of the court like the Pistol Pete of old. In white T-shirt and white shorts with a white band on his left forearm, he walked the center court of Flushing Meadows with a brisk professional stride. This absolutely left no doubt the greatest of the great was back to
his old stomping grounds. Pete had no swagger or swashbuckle at all. But you knew as he walked he owned Flushing Meadows more than anybody else, five US Opens now tucked under his belt.

The game? The least one can say is that it left everybody breathless.

Now as I look back, I can see Sampras' mental game. He had geared his mind to sweep like so many cameras into the playing styles of his major opponents in the Open. He had them all pat, Greg Rusedski of Britain, Tommy Haas of Germany, Andy Roddick of the US. He looked for weaknesses and found them. He knew where cross-court placements could be most effective, volleys and half-volleys could catch the foe wrong-footed. And what was more, his 130 MPH serve had lost none of its speed and sting. They were knives thrown by a Mohawk straight to the heart.

Sampras' mind told him he had to rush the net more often than before. This would cut playing time. He could commit errors particularly in half-volley's which he netted quite often. But he could also force his adversary into errors. Something happens when Sampras surges to the net. Its like Joe Louis leading with a left, his right cocked for a crushing blow. Sampras at the
net forewarns his opponent a knockout stroke could be forthcoming and this unsettles the latter, breaks his rhythm. The apprehension is psychological. Nobody is more fearsome and deadly than Pete at the net. A wobbly or errant return often gets into Sampras' volley. This is a conductor's baton that controls every musical instrument.

Now, nothing matters any more.

Little tufts of curly hair have evacuated the back of Sampras' pate. But otherwise, the thick shock of hair remains. The old boyish grin now seldom shows. He doesn't pump his right fist anymore after a fierce exchange, though at times he talks to himself, reminders perhaps as to how he can improve his game. Mental. Everything mental. After Rusedski, I didn't think
Sampras could get past Andy Roddick, the so-called "future" of American male tennis. Roddick, who had twice beaten Sampras, could only look in awe as Sampras got out of a magic box and beat him in straight sets.

As has been my wont, I normally go into a brief description of a championship game. I have said everything I want to say. And it is well that I spotted Pete Sampras early on in the US Tennis Open. And yes, started writing about him in this space. I can't say or write anything more. It was Andre Agassi who described him best a year or so ago after one of their
classic encounters. He said it was hard to beat a man "who walks in the air." He does walk on air and makes it look easy..["..walks on water", Wimbledon, 99]

And we are all the richer for still being around.

angiel
07-20-2005, 11:48 PM
Sampras beats Agassi to win ATP

By Nesha Starcevic, Associated Press Writer
Monday, Novenber 29, 1999

HANOVER, Germany -- No longer No. 1, Pete Sampras still has the heart and the game of a champion.

He stopped Andre Agassi 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 Sunday to win the ATP Tour World Championship, beating the man who supplanted him at the top of the rankings.

''I was humiliated a few days ago and I wanted to prove that I still have it. I was very pumped up, ready to go,'' he said.

''Today was a big match and I've always believed in myself, that I can rise to the occasion,'' Sampras added. ''I really saved the best for last.''

Earlier in this $3.6 million tournament -- a season-ending event for the world's top eight players -- Agassi defeated Sampras 6-2, 6-2.

But Sampras, coming off a three-month layoff because of hip and back injuries, was at his best Sunday in a final pitting the player of the year against the player of the decade.

''I can still play this game, which I never questioned,'' he said. ''But you don't really expect to play at the level I did today.''

In 10 consecutive appearances at this tournament, Sampras has won the title five times to equal the mark set by Ivan Lendl.

Sampras defeated Agassi four of the five times they played this year, and he leads their lifetime series 17-11. This was the fifth title of the year for Sampras, and the fire was clearly there.

''I was on top of him early,'' he said. ''He always brings out the best in me.''

He made a strong start by breaking Agassi in the second game. He broke again for a 5-1 lead, and after trailing early in the second set seized control.

''It was a bad day to be flat,'' Agassi said. ''I was really unhappy with the way I played.''

Agassi, enjoying the best year of his career, won the French Open and U.S. Open and lost the Wimbledon final to Sampras. He will end the year with the top ranking for the first time.

''He had an incredible year and deserves to be No. 1,'' Sampras said.

Sampras had finished No. 1 for a record six years. His run ended this year and he will finish 1999 at No. 3, two spots higher than at the start of this tournament.

''The ranking isn't quite as significant,'' Sampras said. ''It's nice, but beating Andre, who's had a phenomenal year, is what I am most pleased about.''

Agassi won this championship in 1990 when it was first held in Germany. The event switches to Lisbon, Portugal, next year.

Sampras won $1.4 million for his victory and Agassi earned $685,000.

Sampras hit winners from all over the court, his leaping overhead smashes delighting the crowd of 13,500. He finished with 47 winners to 14 for Agassi.

Sampras fell behind 3-0 in the second set. Agassi hit a forehand long to lose serve in the seventh game. Sampras went up 6-5 up when Agassi netted a backhand, and he served out the set the next game.

''I was frustrated with the rhythm of the match,'' Agassi said. ''He was changing pace.''

The third set began with another break for Sampras, and he won the match with his 15th ace.

''After the U.S. Open, I kind of accepted the fact that I wasn't going to be No. 1,'' Sampras said. ''I've done it longer than anyone. Beating Andre, who's had a phenomenal year, is what I'm most pleased about.''

angiel
07-20-2005, 11:52 PM
Never write off Sampras

June 30, 2000, BBC

Justin Gimelstob has been told not to write off Pete Sampras as the two Americans prepare to lock horns on Centre Court on Saturday.

The defending champion may be struggling with acute tendinitis in his left ankle but even a less-than-fully-fit Sampras is still a big danger.

That is the view of Jan-Michael Gambill, who is on course to meet Sampras in the quarter-finals.

"I certainly would never count Pete out - injury, broken leg, anything," said Gambill.

Limping

"I think he's too good a player just to let that happen to him."

There were fears Sampras would have to pull out of Wimbledon after limping to a second-round victory over Slovakia's Karol Kucera.

But the top seed has been give an extra day to recover after Friday's rain interruptions.

If Sampras can overcome his injury and the threat of Gimelstob, he will have an excellent chance of making yet another men's singles final at the All England Club.

Sweden's Thomas Enqvist is the only other surviving seed in the top half of the draw.

angiel
07-20-2005, 11:56 PM
It's Not Same Old, Same Old, as Sampras Soaks In Victory

Diane Pucin, LA Times
September 3, 2003

NEW YORK -- The sound came from deep within Pete Sampras. It was a
howling, yowling bellow of fear, of excitement, of desperate need, of
astounding conviction.

Sampras had seen the tennis ball as it used to be, as larger than life,
approaching slowly, so slowly. Sampras was able to line up his old
friend, the one-handed backhand, plot a course for a return of Greg
Rusedski's second serve, make the ball curve and spin under Rusedski's
racket and then drop safely inside the line, a resounding winner on a
crucial point in the third-set tiebreaker of a five-set, third-round
victory Monday night at the U.S. Open.

Before the ball landed, Sampras shook the tin walls of the main stage
here, Louis Armstrong Stadium, with a scream we've never heard from the
stoic champion.

Sampras has vomited on this court, has wept in victory and in exhausted
defeat, has held up trophies and stood stone-faced as the runner-up but
never had he screamed like this, as if this single shot validated him,
validated his refusal to retire as a 31-year-old winner of 13 Grand
Slam titles, validated his inability to accept that the whispers he
hears are true, that he is slower, weaker, less intimidating.

A little later the beaten opponent, Rusedski, said: "He's not playing
great. I'd be surprised if he wins his next match against [Tommy] Haas.
To be honest with you, I'd be very surprised."

But Sampras played great enough to beat Rusedski, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6
(3), 3-6, 6-4, and advance to the fourth round. He played well enough
to bring the wet, shivering fans to the point of chanting his name.

All around the grounds there were astounding matches, night matches
everywhere after nearly two days of rain. But on every changeover, the
Armstrong aisles would be crowded with fans scrambling up the wet
steps. They'd heard the screams, the rumble of an epic percolating, and
they wanted to see. Would Sampras, the great champion, walk away with
his head buried in a towel, or his fists pumping in triumph?

For all his adult life, Sampras has defined himself by what he did with
a racket and a ball at this court, at Wimbledon's Centre Court and at
the big, covered stadium in Melbourne, Australia. For a decade, Sampras
ruled with supreme confidence and a game both elegant and elemental.

"He's a step-and-a-half slow coming to the net," Rusedski said. "You
can get the ball down. He's just not the same player. I mean, he's a
great player from the past."

Sports are cruel and so are sportsmen, and that's what they say when a
man such as Sampras hasn't won a title in more than two years.

Rusedski, once a U.S. Open finalist, tried to present his own resume as
something special—"It's not like I haven't been to a U.S. Open finals,
it's not like I haven't won 12 titles, it's not like I haven't beaten
[Andre] Agassi, Sampras, [Andy] Roddick, players of that stature, it's
not that I haven't been able to do it."

But Rusedski hasn't been able to do it when it matters, when the
pressure is the greatest. Nobody has done it as often as Sampras, 13
times a winner in the finals of Grand Slams, and because of that
Sampras has seemed puzzled that so many seem so eager to have him walk
away from the game on someone else's terms, rather than his own.

Why is Sampras demeaning himself? That's what other players wonder
quietly in the locker room. Why is he diminishing the memories, leaving
us with the fresh impression of a balding, hunched-over, sad-eyed loser
instead of the greatest player ever?

This is why:

"Let's go Pete. Let's go Pete. Let's go Pete."

It is what the people want. Pete winning one more Slam title.

It was that backhand service return winner, the one where Sampras just
let go, just swung with his heart and the ball whipped by Rusedski. And
it was the slam-dunk overheads, three of them, which made the crowd
roar.

"The people and the atmosphere out on Louis was something I was
enjoying," Sampras said. "Those are moments that as you get a little
bit older, you kind of cherish a little bit more. The people were
really, really pulling for me."

Sampras is slower. Rusedski is correct. Sampras arrives at the net too
late sometimes to crack the angular, unhittable volleys that made him
the king of Wimbledon. Rusedski also said Sampras offers up too many
second serves, and that someone young and strong such as Haas will
feast on those easy balls.

Those second serves still huddle in the corners of the service box or
kick cruelly into the body of the receiver. They are not easy to
return, and when Sampras finds his rhythm, and he can, then the rest of
his game becomes smoother.

Haas, seeded No. 3, has beaten Sampras three consecutive times. It has
been four years since Sampras beat the German. If Sampras loses today,
what happened Monday will be forgotten by everyone except Sampras. He
will hear, again, how he should quit, how he shouldn't return to this
stage.

Yet Sampras will remember the cheers. He will still feel the passion
from the stands, and his hand will still tingle from the feel of the
two sparkling passing shots he hit in the final game Monday. And that's
still enough for Sampras. For now.

angiel
07-20-2005, 11:58 PM
PETE TURNS BACK OPEN CLOCK

By MARK HALE, New York Post
September 3, 2002

They had been with him all match. And now, as Pete Sampras shuffled his feet, gathering himself to receive for match point deep into the fifth set, the roar at Louis Armstrong Stadium reached a crescendo.
Oh, part of it was because of the situation - Sampras hadn't broken England's Greg Rusedski since midway through the second set. But most of it was a tribute simply to Sampras himself, almost a toast to what the fans hoped was one more inspired Grand Slam run.

Moments later, Rusedski's forehand flew wide and both Sampras and the crowd had their wish. Sampras thrust both hands skyward, screaming "Thank you" before flashing an enormous grin on his face as he basked in the cheers.

"There are moments when you get older that you kind of cherish a little more," Sampras said after his 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-4 third-round win. "The people were kind of pulling for me, and it was nice to carry it out."

Coming into the Open, many doubted the 17th-seeded Sampras' chances for a possible 14th Grand Slam. In fact, many were urging him to retire altogether after what they expected to be an early-round loss.

But in case you had doubts, the man is not going to be vanquished easily, nor is he about to fade quietly into the night. It would be hyperbolic to call last night's encounter with the 33rd-seeded Rusedski an instant classic, but a three-hour-and-15-minute heavyweight fight? Go right ahead.

Rusedski, the hard-hitting Brit, gave Sampras all he could handle. His booming serve - which reached breakneck speeds of 132 mph - gave Sampras fits, its power and pace jamming him into repeated mis-hits and errant shots off his frame. Play was even throughout and Rusedski, in fact, actually captured more games than Sampras, 28-27.

But on big points, Sampras showed more poise, especially in the tiebreakers when Rusedski struggled with double faults and erratic play.

"I lost the match. He didn't win," Rusedski said. "When it counted, I gave him a little too much respect."

It's true that Sampras committed an unsightly 42 unforced errors, one of the reasons why he admitted that he played "solid, not great." Still, he had plenty of umph on his serve, racking up 17 aces, and he recorded a remarkable 81 winners.

"I enjoy playing," Sampras said. "That's why I'm still here, because I look forward to the challenge."

How far Sampras can go in the Open? It's anyone's guess. He is, after all, seeded 17th, meaning his draw the rest of the way could be a murderer's row that includes Tommy Haas (his fourth-round opponent), Andy Roddick, Gustavo Kuerten and Lleyton Hewitt.

"I'll be surprised if he wins his next match against Haas," Rusedski said. "He's just not the same player."

Maybe not. But he's still playing.

angiel
07-27-2005, 11:46 PM
Pete Sampras: a US Open Champ Once More
By Howard Ulman, AP


NEW YORK - The tennis champ tossed his racket off the court, walked wearily into the stands and hugged his wife.

Whether Pete Sampras, husband and father to be, picks up his racket again is a mystery as deep as trying to solve his strong, spinning serve.

"I'm sure the next couple of weeks I'll reflect on it and kind of see where I'm at," he said, his mind still reeling from his amazing career revival with Sunday's U.S. Open ( news - web sites) championship.

Andre Agassi didn't have the luxury of time to figure out Sampras' serve - or catch up to it if he did - when the two 30-something Americans thrilled a crowd that rooted for both.

The final cheers were for the once-dominant Sampras, who won his first championship in more than two years, 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.

"I still want to play. I love to play. But to beat a rival like Andre in a major tournament at the U.S. Open, a storybook ending," Sampras said. "It might be nice to stop. But ..."

Then the 31-year-old long shot who was seeded 17th smiled.

While he contemplates how the two loves of his life - family and tennis - can coexist, he can savor one of the most gratifying wins of a career in which he beat Agassi in the 1990 and 1995 Open finals and was the top-ranked player from 1993 through 1998.

He won his fifth U.S. Open title and 14th Grand Slam championship, breaking his own record of 13 set at Wimbledon in 2000.

"This might take the cake. This might be my biggest achievement so far to come through a very, very tough time and to win the Open," he said. "I mean, that's pretty sweet."

Sampras hadn't won since that Wimbledon triumph two years ago. He lost the only final he reached in 15 previous events this year. And he was knocked out in the first round at the French Open.

Then he returned to Wimbledon for a second-round disaster against George
Bastl, who played only because another player withdrew.

"It was an empty feeling," Sampras said.

Sunday was full of emotion.

He was playing the 32-year-old Agassi for the 34th time and the winner would be the oldest U.S. Open champion since Ken Rosewall, who was 35 when he won in 1970.

Sampras clenched his fist after breaking serve, making it 5-4 in the fourth set.

A game away from victory, it was time for that big serve, the serve that faded after an astounding 12 aces in the first set.

With Agassi ahead 4-3 in the fourth set, Sampras had three double faults, but saved one break point and held serve. But Agassi didn't expect that serving trouble to continue.

"He senses the important times of a match and puts pressure on you," Agassi said, "then elevates his game."

In the last game, Sampras hit two service winners then a 119 mph (191 kph) ace. With three match points, he got a towel from a ball boy and wiped his face.

The final point was a snapshot of two playing styles - Agassi at the baseline and Sampras serving and rushing.

Agassi hit a forehand from the right corner, but Sampras was in the perfect place at the net. He hit a backhand volley to the other side, out of Agassi's reach.

Sampras thrust both arms up then put a hand on his head. The players embraced at the net.

Then Sampras threw his racket by his courtside chair, turned his back on it and walked across the court and into the stands.

He slapped hands with fans on his way to his sister, coach Paul Annacone and actress Bridgette Wilson, whom he married two months after his last Wimbledon win.

"I met the woman of my dreams and now we're going to have a child," Sampras said. "That's what life's about."

The other celebrity wife, Steffi Graf, watched Agassi start flat, gain momentum late in the third set but never hit enough winners to deny Sampras his day.

"There's still a danger in the way he plays and how good he is," Agassi said. "Anybody that says something different is really ignorant."

Nobody who watched Sunday's match could say that and mean it.

Sampras had 33 aces - one reaching 132 mph - 84 winners and 69 points at the net. Agassi had seven aces, 27 winners and 10 net points. Sampras' aggressive approach led to 46 unforced errors to 21 for Agassi.

The match started with neither player losing a point on his service through four games. But in the eighth game, Sampras broke.

Agassi won the third set when a tiring Sampras netted a forehand on break point.

"I felt like I still had a little ways to go to secure the momentum," he said.

He nearly grabbed it in the fourth game of the fourth set, a 20-point endurance test in which Sampras saved two break points.

"Put him away, Peter!" a fan shouted early in the game. Sampras lost the next point as Agassi made it deuce.

Fans jeered when Sampras showed dissatisfaction with a fault call by putting his hands on his hips then leaning on the net. On the next point, he won the game with a forehand volley, tying the set 2-2. The fans cheered.

"I think a lot of people get support towards the end of their career," Agassi said.

Agassi won four tournaments this year and said he plans to play at least the big events.

Sampras hinted that he might play Wimbledon next year or may never play again. He said coyly that he and Agassi may not meet in another Grand Slam final, "but maybe next year we'll do it again."

Maybe not.

"I could step away from the game and feel really good about what I'd done," Sampraas said. "But I still felt like I had one more moment, maybe a couple more moments."

angiel
08-06-2005, 07:46 PM
http://www.tennismagazin.de/tennis/images/interviews/sampras2.jpg


Sampras Shows He's Still Master
By Howard Fendrich (AP)


NEW YORK, Sept. 8 — Pete Sampras was right all along: He did have a 14th Grand Slam title in him. And just like the first, all those years ago, it came in a U.S. Open final against rival Andre Agassi.

His serve clicking, his volleys on target, his forehand as fluid as ever, Sampras beat Agassi 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 Sunday to win America’s major for the fifth time. At 31, Sampras is the Open’s oldest champion since 1970.

Sampras’ play faded in the third set and the fourth, and it was hard to tell whether Agassi or time was taking the bigger toll. But he managed to hold on, the rebuke to his doubters as loud as the sound made by his 33 aces as they slapped the walls behind the baselines: Pop!
When Agassi put a backhand into the net to give Sampras the last break he would need, making it 5-4 in the fourth set, Sampras was so drained he barely lifted a fist, slowly pumping it once as he trudged to the changeover.

He then served it out, with an ace to match point, and a volley winner to end it. And he had enough energy to climb up the stairs in the stands to kiss and hug his pregnant wife, actress Bridgette Wilson.

Sampras hadn’t won a title since July 2000, a drought of 33 tournaments, and his match record this year was barely above .500 coming into the Open, resulting in a seeding of merely 17th. He’s been deflecting questions about retirement for some time now, always insisting he could still produce on the big stage. After all, he figured, his 13 major titles were a record.

Indeed, Sampras played his best tennis at the U.S. Open the past two years, making it to the championship match before losing in straight sets to a pair of 20-year-old first-time Grand Slam finalists: Lleyton Hewitt in 2001, Marat Safin in 2000.

On Sunday, Sampras got to pick on someone his own age: the 32-year-old Agassi, winner of seven Grand Slam titles. They’ve played each other since the junior ranks, before they were 10, and now have met 34 times as pros (Sampras holds a 20-14 edge, including 4-1 in major finals).

If Sunday’s match signaled the end of an era, they produced a gorgeous goodbye. The crowd of more than 23,000 in Arthur Ashe Stadium split its rooting evenly, throwing more vocal support to whichever player trailed. Still, any time a yell of “Pete!” came from one corner, an “Andre!” would follow.

What a study in contrasts. Agassi is the baseline slugger, the greatest returner of his generation, and a true showman (he is from Las Vegas, after all), blowing kisses to the crowd. Sampras is a serve-and-volleyer always looking to get to the net, the greatest server of his generation, and almost always staid on court.

Each played the assigned role to perfection, Sampras smacking his serves at up to 132 mph, and winning the point on 69 of 105 trips to the net. Agassi ventured to the net just 13 times, but conjured up 19 groundstroke winners to Sampras’ 16.

Yet, as though a mirror were at the net, each also showed he can do what the other built a career on. Sampras whipped a backhand return to a corner to set up a service break in the second set; Agassi slammed a service winner at 117 mph to save a break point at 3-3 in the fourth set.

The first four games of the match ended at love, Sampras finding the lines with first and second serves, and Agassi cracking ground strokes right where he wanted them.

Agassi already was walking to the changeover chair when Sampras ended the seventh game with an ace at 117 mph. Pop!

In the next game, Sampras earned the first break point of the match and converted when Agassi’s backhand pass flew wide. Then, serving for the set at 5-3, Sampras faced his first break point. How did he handle it? A second-serve ace at 109 mph. Pop! That helped him take the set.

The second set was similar, Agassi not quite handling the speed and movement of Sampras’ serving - he held at love four times - and Sampras getting the break he needed.

Agassi finally was able to measure Sampras’ serve with some regularity in the third set, like a hitter who finally catches up to a tiring pitcher’s fastball in the late innings.

With the crowd cheering Sampras’ faults - hey, they wanted to see more than three sets - he obliged with a double to give Agassi set point. And Agassi took advantage, stretching for a sharp backhand return that Sampras volleyed into the net.

Showing a bit of gamesmanship, Sampras took a bathroom break. He faced a break point with Agassi ahead 4-3 in the fourth set, and how did he erase it? An ace. Pop!

They had walked out for the match as shadows started to creep across the court, and neither looked much like they did in their 1990 U.S. Open final, where Sampras started his collection of majors.

Back then, Sampras was bushy haired and his arms were as thin as a ball boy’s. Agassi was Mr. Image is Everything, showing up on court with long blond tresses, denim shorts, Day-Glo bicycle tights.

And on Sunday, there was Sampras, his hair thin on top, his bulging right forearm three times thicker than his left. There was Agassi, his head shaved, his outfit downright conventional. Both of their wives were in the crowd - Agassi’s, Steffi Graf, watching with their baby son.

Based on recent play, the showdown seemed improbable. Take a look at what happened at July’s Wimbledon: Both lost in the second round to players ranked outside the top 50.
But both are still in great shape. Agassi was out under the midday sun, swatting shots on a practice court in a black T-shirt. Sampras, headphones on, jogged in the hallway outside the locker room shortly before taking the court.

The last time they played on the Grand Slam stage was in last year’s U.S. Open quarterfinals, a match Sampras won in four tiebreakers, with neither player breaking serve even once. It was presumed by many to be their last meeting at a major.

After, Agassi leaned over the net, offering wishes of good luck the rest of the way in that tournament by whispering, “Win this thing.”

One year later, Sampras did.

Yes, the same Sampras who beat Agassi 12 years ago in the U.S. Open. Sampras was 19 then, and still holds the record for youngest winner at the Open.

Nice career bookends, huh?

angiel
08-17-2005, 10:25 PM
Tennis Week
December 21, 1995
American Ascension
By Bud Collins





"Did the earth move?"
That oft-quoted Hemingway line from "For Whom the Bell Tolls," uttered by Robert Jordan, the brave American a long way from home and out of his element, is a query to his Spanish lover regarding the seismic reverberations of their first tryst.

It would be unreasonable to compare the bravery of a soldier in the Spanish Civil War with that of a tennis player. Pete Sampras, also in the wrong neighborhood, didn't lay down his life for his comrades and a cause as Jordan did in the novel. Yet it seemed that for three days the usually hostile European earth did move for him, giving way to his moxie in a very gutty, demanding performance that, with the Davis Cup at stake, ranks up there alongside any American's abroad, at least since Stan Smith tripled to beat Romania in Bucharest 23 years before.

Czar Peter the Great, possibly the most imposing figure in Russian history, a mover, innovator and warrior who ruled the country for 43 years, until 1725, might well have admired current Pete the Great ("don't call me Peter") whose own reign lasted only three days. But it probably made former Comrade Lenin-under-glass twirl in his tomb at nearby Red Square.

Nothing was deader in this town than Lenin (though his blue polka dot tie is natty) and the clay court that was laid and tailored specifically to embalm the Americans. But Sampras, in a totally unexpected three-way stretch, drove his troika over Andrei Chesnokov, then Yevgeny Kafelnikov, and, in between, with Todd Martin on board, over Andrei Olhovskiy and Kafelnikov, too. Pete was the triple threat for Captain Tom Gullikson's gang such as the United States hasn't ridden since John McEnroe, and, before that, Stan Smith. His three points were just enough.

The label "triple-threat" used to be applied to football greats in the more individualistic days before specialization. Backs like Sammy Baugh who excelled at running, passing and punting. A tripler in tennis, winning both singles and the doubles, is worth his weight in Davis Cup, and will guarantee one, as Pete did. Not to overlook staunch assistance from grand handyman Martin.

This was the making of Pete Sampras as the United State's main man in Cuppin' around, becoming suddenly, after an only so-so previous three years, an unpredicted take-charge guy, the No. 1 who acted the part in that rougher sector or the world beyond the reach of slinky, the ATP computer.

Sampras, saying afterwards, "I never thought about Davis Cup as a kid, didn't even know about it as a junior," just may have started a romance with Dwight Davis' gaping silver bauble as he made the ground shake within the tumultuous Moscow barn called Olympic Stadium. Tremors from his shotmaking and combativeness toppled all Russians, players and patrons, while he lugged the United States to a 31st Cup, 3-2.

"I really got into it," he reflected. "The huge crowd, the noise and flags, so different from any other tennis. I was playing for other people, my coach, Tim (Gullikson), for Tom (Gullikson) and my teammates...and my country. It was on my shoulders and I liked it."

He had come well beyond the "devastating" baptism in 1991 -- "overwhelmed by nerves and the crowd" -- at uproarious Lyon, the defeats by Henri Leconte and Guy Forget as France rose spiritedly to a 3-1 triumph, until Moscow Pete had shown no particular keenness for the nationalistic hurly-burly, his singles record wasn't even fair for a great player: 9-5.

"I wasn't a John McEnroe, really up for it to play whenever I could. I got a lot of criticism when I didn't play, like when we lost to Australia in '93, but I was thinking more about my own schedule."

That mood appeared to change on the chilly, snow-flecked first day of December as a frenetic, noisemaking mass of 16,000 homebodies crammed the double-balconied, curtained-off area surrounding the court in the colossal 42,000-seat concrete canyon. Regardless of the court and Lenin, there was nothing dead about the Moscow atmosphere when my British Air flight descended. The old Cold War rivalry was back for a few days, as Americans and Russians clashed for a first time in tennis. Tickets, scaled at $50 to $10 (serious cash here), had been sold out for weeks, and the populace was hungry to beat the U.S.A. in something -- anything.

Referee Stefan Fransson made sure that the court wasn't flooded to aid mudder Chesnokov as it had been to give the natives sea legs and help them stun Germany in the semifinals. Chesnokov's charming coach, Tatiana Naumko, responsible for the heavy dew, smilingly denied it all: "The roof must have leaked."

But the presence of a clay rectangle within seemed to the loyalists enough of a dirty trick to undo Sampras. They knew Pete had been a clay pigeon in 1995 (5-5), a first-round loser in Rome and Paris to whozits Fabrice Santoro and Gilbert Schaller, and that he was now in a different world from Centre Court and Flushing Meadow, a speed trap of sepia-toned soil where his No. 1 ranking meant as much as a swimming gold medal in the Sahara.

The customers were ready to pounce on Sampras with the wily, undying Russian bear Chesnokov as their surrogate, a man who had been tapped by Prez Yeltsin for the Order of Honor. A medal usually reserved for military heroes, it was Chessie's after his surrealistic nine-match point stand against Michael Stich to snuff out the heavily favored Germans, 3-2.

They wanted to see the Yank fall, and Pete obliged dramatically, though perhaps a second or two too late for their edification, as well as spunky Chesnokov's. His collapse with cramps occurred flabbergastingly as he was lifting his fists in victory. His legs were going...going -- and abruptly he was gone, a flattened fighter carried to the dressing room by his handlers. It was a fantastical double knockout, only the five-set decision went to Sampras, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-4, giving the United States a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.

"Maybe...if I could get that last shot back," said the noblest Russian, Chesnokov, elder of the series at 29, who has played for his country since 1983, grinding it out on legs and bottom, "Maybe...but I didn't."

As the 3-hour, 40-minute wowser unfolded to its penultimate point, 5-4, 40-15, Sampras serving, Chessie's people pleaded for him to hang on as if Sampras were a Titanic lifeboat, just as he'd done in eroding another Wimbledon champ Michael Stich in September. Sampras served to Chesnokov's backhand and charged, only to flub a backhand volley.

Roars, horns, bangers (inflated plastic tubes that looked like baguettes and sounded like tin pans when clapped together) raised the roof. Red-white-and-blue flags flapped maniacally, both the Russian version and those relatively few lofted by the support troop American fans in star-spangled caps, and inspired by a silver-haired Gabriela, indefatigable hornblower Renee Rucker of Gladys, Virginia.

Would Chessie repeat himself? Has there ever been one game at the summit to equal his unflinching blockade of Stich? Consuming 20 minutes, 24 points, nine deuces, their 14th game of the fifth set turned the semifinal away from Germany and toward Chesnokov and Russia. Again and again, Stich served only one stroke away from reaching a final against the United States that would have been held in Germany.

Nine straight match points: Chessie repelled every one, if not as violently as the Russians stopped the Germans at the outskirts of Moscow in 1941, at least as definitively. Stich started his agonies by missing a backhand volley identical to Sampras's. An omen?

Now, match point two for Sampras, a phenomenal rally, Pete going for the jugular and Chessie thwarting him with incredible retrieving, swat after swat. It appeared finished by a Sampras smash -- but the sprinting Russian transformed it into a splendid lob, and on they went to the 22nd stroke. An all-or-nothing swing for Sampras, as it turned out.

His cramps began pinching at 3-3 in the fifth and Pete knew he had to get it over -- "Be more aggressive!" Capt. Gullikson urged at that changeover. He came in one last time, lashing a net-skimming forehand, and Chessie was running, running...somehow reaching the ball with both hands...making contact...but unable to propel it back into Pete's court.

"If he had...I don't know. I don't think I had another shot in me," recalled Pistol Pete, his barrel empty. It was over, and so was he. "I had this strange sensation like nothing that ever happened to me on a court. Cramps in my right hamstring and left groin. I lost control of my legs, and the next thing I knew they were dragging me away."

As Chesnokov looked for somebody to shake hands with, team physician Dr. George Fareed and trainer Bob Russo had Pete in their grips, removing him for treatment. Pete's legs had failed him but not his heart.

"That's Davis Cup," he said, a statement understood by anyone who's been through that wringer. "Emotional and physical exertion and exhaustion, the crowd tearing down your concentration...I'll never know if I could've played another point. I should've won it sooner." True enough. He had baselined firmly with Chesnokov, asserted himself enough at the net to arrive at 4-2, 40-15 in the fourth. A double fault started his slide toward a tie breaker, a strange overtime in which he lagged, 1-5, spurted to 5-5 -- two points from victory -- and threw it away on a double fault.

But as the cramps assaulted him in the fifth, and Chesnokov and the crowd intensified, Pete squirmed through a four-deuce game, dismissing a break point to 3-3. Bracing himself for a last thrust, he rolled up 10 straight points, from 3-4 to 5-4, and stumbled home.

One point in the U.S. pocket, but was this going to be a Sweden '94 rerun? Remember that 2-0 U.S. lead going up in the smoke of a Sampras leg injury, sustained in barely beating Magnus Larsson? Unwisely he tried to take on Stefan Edberg the third day, defaulting quickly. Gritty but futile, Larsson beat Todd Martin, and the Swedes went on to Moscow to win the Cup on the lickety-split carpet usually reserved for the ATP's Kremlin Cup stopover.

Too poor to put the brakes on rug-cutter Edberg with a slower court a year ago, the ARTA (All Russian Tennis Association) is flush with sponsorship money today. Thus the earth really moved, tons of it carted in from Sweden to give the Germans, then the Americans, adventures in quicksand-land at $70,000 a separate pop.

Not that impromptu construction of a home-court advantage is anything new. The United States, after nothing but grass for finals (20 of them) built a clay court in Cleveland in 1964 to hobble Australia, aka Roy Emerson and Fred Stolle. It didn't work. After that, 1969 and 1970, to successfully leave the dirtkickers of Romania (Ilie Nastase, Ion Tiriac) and Germany (Willie Bungert, Christian Kuhnke) behind, the same patch was transformed into the quickest of hard courts, suddenly prosperous in clay talent in 1990(Andre Agassi, Michael Chang), the United States took Australia's best, offense-minded Patrick Cash, out of the singles lineup by playing the dirty court card within St. Petersburg's Sundome to win comfortably.

This home loam was not exactly a stage for Sampras to emulate Mikail Baryshnikov at the Bolshoi a couple of miles distant. In fact our hero, swooning with not a second to spare on opening day, looked more like the all-time local ballerina, Anna Pavlova, in her beloved "Dying Swan" routine. But Pavlova always revived, and so did Pete for sensational encores.

"I'm not hurt like I was in Sweden," he said after being iced down and rehydrated to relieve the cramps."I'll play again."

Few guessed how soon. But Jim Courier, suffering tie-breaker doldrums, allowed Kafelnikov to inflate his confidence in a winning first set. Thereafter the slick 21-year-old blond was free and easy, and his glossy shotmaking kept Jim ever from a comfort zone, 7-6 (I), 7-5, 6-3, for a first day split.

That, said U.S. Capt. Tom Gullikson, made the middle-day doubles "huge" and his worries substantial, considering that he had no combination blooded in Cup play, and Kafelnikov and Olhovskiy were 5-2.

Go back a ways in this season-long cup scenario, and you'll grasp how unlikely it was for Pete to corner the Cup. Andre Agassi, a forlorn spectating face at courtside, was supposed to have one singles job. But he was out after pulling a pectoral muscle in beating Mats Wilander in the semifinal decision over Sweden.

Was he ready to play by December? Only Andre, who says "No," knows. His teammates were skeptical. What's the logical counter-play? You sign up impassive, pressure-neutralizing Michael Chang, who won the Cup on clay in 1990, competing fiercely whenever invited. In any other professional sport, you go after whatever help you can get -- an available pitcher, a quarterback, a point guard. Whoever.

Yes? No, says Capt. Gullikson, "I'm sticking with the guys who got me here." The captain's loyalty is "much appreciated by the guys," said Sampras. "We feel the same way."

How did the redoubtable Chang get lost in the shuffle? "We invited him to play the first two matches [France and Italy], and he turned us down," said Gullikson. "Next year it could be different. Obviously, Michael's a guy you'd like to have."

The Chang camp doesn't have quite the same picture. Michael felt left out when USTA Prez Les Snyder made the All-the-way-with-Pete-and-Andre pact prior to Italy without consulting him. Clearly Snyder envisioned a fast-lane final in Germany rather than scuffling in Muscovite muck. However, Pete's tour de force made it all academic.

But, Gullikson said, "After we beat Sweden at Vegas, and Russia upset Germany, I figured my best bets in singles were Andre and Jim Courier. I talked to Pete and asked him if he'd be willing to go to Moscow but only play doubles. He said he'd have to think about that one, but came back with, 'whatever it takes, I'm your man.'"

"I couldn't fault Gully," Sampras said, willing to do a one-day cameo. "Being objective I'd probably pick Andre and Jim, too, on clay."

Gullikson said, "OK, Andre drops out, so naturally it's Pete in singles. I know he can play better on clay than he has this year."

That brings us to Friday evening, first day, Sampras with a sore hamstring, but saying to Gullikson. "I'll play doubles if you want me. Whatever you need."

"Sleep on it, we'll talk in the morning," was Gullikson's response. A captain's option is to change a pre-announced team (Richey Reneberg and Martin in this case) up to one hour prior to 1 p.m. post time. Annoyed that the Russians had said he was conceding the match by using Martin and Reneberg, Gullikson also knew they might be right. And he had to have the match.

"We lost the Cup in the doubles," said Kafelnikov, also right in his post-script.

Doubles, generally ignored by the elite, has been a crap shoot for the United States since the days of Ken Flach-Rob Seguso, Rick Leach-Jim Pugh (the record, 4-4 since the last Cup in 1992). "We all talked it over," said Gullikson. "Reneberg, a great team man who doesn't let his ego get in the way, urged me to pick the strongest pair regardless. I decided I wanted the two biggest servers, Todd and Pete. But I waited until they hit Saturday morning. Pete was stiff, but said he could do it. At 12:30 I named them."

"I was really nervous at first, and maybe trying to do too much until Pete got loosened up," said Martin, broken immediately. Nevertheless, this spire of a spare part at 6'6" stood taller than ever, and that's been pretty tall, considering his clinching semifinal victory over Thomas Enqvist as stand-in for Agassi, the only time a sub has ever won a vital match for the United States.

Todd calmed, soon becoming brutal with two-fisted backhand returns from the left court. Pete's returns started humming, and their volleying was superior. Their elan exceeding the Russians' experience together, Pete and Todd delivered the critical go-ahead point, 7-5, 6-4, 6-3.

Kafelnikov double-faulted, then blew a volley as the Yanks caught up at 4-4. Sampras aced away a break point to 6-5. Kafelnikov, after double-faulting again, was nailed by Martin's set point return, and turned sullen and ineffective.

"Todd had a pulled abdominal muscle, but forgot about it in his big serving game," applauded Gullikson. That came in the second, Martin crashing out of 15-40 to 5-4 on crushing serves, two of them aces.

The role of one-man crowd in three acts, that he hadn't even considered a couple of weeks before, concluded with Pete's immaculate clincher, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(4), over Kafelnikov. He called it, "considering the situation, Davis Cup, the Cup maybe on my shoulders, the best match I've played on clay."

Absolutely.

He was more attack-minded than customary -- "I have to do that if I'm going to win on European clay." His serve was mammoth (16 aces, three service winners in 15 serving games), his forehand murderous: down the line, crosscourt, inside-out (19 winners). Kafelnikov scrounged two points against serve in the first set, five in the second, finally grasped at five break points in the second game of the third, but nothing doing.

"Pete was getting tired," he said. "If I can win that third, who knows?" Pete agreed. "I couldn't let him do it" -- and didn't. Sampras slugged
.568, 64 winners of 111 points.

This was Sampras of Wimbledon slickness -- pirouetting touch volleys, elegant running forehands, onerous smashes and serves -- only he was a dirtkicking dandy, too, patient enough, a mixmaster of pace and spin from the backcourt to position the forehand blasts and rushes to the net.

Not since John McEnroe's two singles and a doubles (with Peter Fleming) in the 5-0 win over France in 1982 had an American tripled in the final. But merely 10 triples have been registered in Cup history when the tripler scored all the points. Henri Cochet in 1931 was the first, for France, 3-2 over Britain; Smith in 1972 the fifth, 3-2 over Romania; McEnroe in 1981 the ninth, 3-1 over Argentina; Sampras the 10th.

Two's company (but not enough). Three's a winning crowd, and Pete the Great came on like a crowd of Cossacks to clear the joint out.

Dwight Davis, the rich Harvard kid who gave the prize to the world in 1900, dreamed of scores of countries taking part and Cup winners spread across the earth. From the original starters, Britain and the United States, the tournament has multiplied to 115 countries in 1995. Alas, only nine have won the Cup, and Russia will have to wait.

Put in the perspective of Davis's admirable talent, a Russian break-through triumph rather than a U.S. 31st would have been a better story, heartening a troubled new democracy. Prez Yeltsin could have swilled vodka with his team from the Cup that has been drained of seas of victorious champagne.

Sadly for them, Pete the Great, wobbly but willing, was interested only in his own dreams and making the earth move for himself and his cohorts.

angiel
09-03-2005, 06:48 PM
http://66.51.113.130/bio/yearhighlights/1999uso2.jpg


UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION

1999 U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP
Flushing Meadows, New York

August 31, 1999

An interview with PETE SAMPRAS & DR. BRIAN HAINLINE

USTA: Questions, please.

Q. What's the scoop, Pete?

PETE SAMPRAS: I'm sorry?

Q. Tell us what happened.

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, well, I was hitting on Sunday with Kuerten, and, you know, went for a shot. I felt my back -- I felt my back go a little bit. I walked off the court and saw the doctor immediately. You know, I got some treatment on it. It was basically for the past 48 hours struggling with just getting around my hotel room. And last night, I did a few tests, CAT scan and an MRI, and it showed I have a herniated disc, which will obviously have to pull out of this event and be out for quite some time. That's pretty much how these last three days have gone.

Q. How much pain are you in? Are you in discomfort sitting there?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, no. I'm fine sitting. Anytime I bend, bend over, I'm very limited. It's really very sore, and that's it.

Q. How hard is it for you to pull out of this event, to have something wrong with you like that?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's very hard to pull out of the event. I was looking forward to having the opportunity to play here. I love playing the US Open. The way that I've been playing the last two months, I liked my chances here. But it's happened, and it's kind of a fluke thing. I've never had this situation before where I've played aand pulled my back like this. But I believe, you know, everything happens for a reason. These last couple days, I've been trying to figure out, you know, that reason. I'm sure it will be very clear to me in six months' time or a year's time, you know, why this has happened. But right now, I'm obviously very overwhelmed, and I really wanted to have the chance to play here. I'm not saying I was going to win here or whatever, but, you know, to break the all-time record was a dream that I had, to do it here in New York. But, you know, it just goes to show how important your health is. Without my health, I can't play.

Q. Do you have any uncertainty that you will still get the chance to break the all-time record?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I'm going to have many US Opens ahead of me, and many Grand Slam opportunities ahead of me. As hard as this is right now, I'm sure a month from now, or six months from now, I'll have another chance. But as competitive as I am, I was hoping to do it here. It's obviously not going to happen. But, you know, I'll get through it. I know I will. I'll get through this, and look forward to next year. Hopefully one day I can do it, but it's not like I'm sitting here, you know, 32, 33, I feel like I've got a few good years in me, providing I stay healthy. This is definitely a setback.

Q. Are you under the impression you're going to require surgery?

PETE SAMPRAS: No.

Q. What type of treatment, have they explained to you at all?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, rest is the main thing, and giving little stress to my back as possible. Not doing anything. I see myself for the next couple weeks just getting treatment twice a day and not doing anything. I can't do anything.

Q. How do you feel about Kuerten and do you blame him?

PETE SAMPRAS: No.

Q. You said you'd be out quite some time. Is there a time frame on that?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, the doctor can probably answer that better. You know, I'm definitely -- we're looking at a good month where I'm not really going to play. I don't know what the rest of the year really -- what I have in store for the rest of the year. You know, I'm sure he can give you more of a definite answer.

Q. You said you were trying to find some reason for this problem. What do you think that could be?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, I was talking about a reason more in my life versus anything else. I mean, like I said, there's a reason, you know, that I believe this has happened. Like I said, I don't know what that reason is today, but in four months' time or six months' time or a year from now, I'm going to, you know, figure it out, it's going to make sense to me. It's a setback. I mean, it's definitely tough. The last three days have been hell, just feeling like I could -- the worrying about not playing and the stress, then finally getting some tests done on it was really the last straw that said, "That's it, it's over."

Q. Once you got that diagnosis that it was a herniated disc, there was no question you were not going to play?

PETE SAMPRAS: Once I heard that, I was out.

Q. On Sunday night, Monday morning, did you still think there was a small chance?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah, Sunday night and Monday, I felt that I had some back spasms, it was something I could get a Wednesday start and kind of work it through, you know, just do whatever I can to play. Dr. Hainline made a good call in doing an MRI just to make sure we cover everything, and we did that. Obviously, you know, the news wasn't what I was hoping for. It was a little bit more serious than I thought. But, you know, once you do something to your back and a disc, it's dangerous, and I don't want this to be an ongoing problem over my career. It's best to take care of this now. Like I said, I'm going to have many US Opens ahead of me, and it's hard to say, but I'm looking forward to coming back.

Q. Can Dr. Hainline give us his assessment?

DR. BRIAN HAINLINE: I'm sorry?

Q. Could you tell us your assessment?

DR. BRIAN HAINLINE: Well, I think Pete has summarized it pretty well. I think the salient features are that he's never had a back problem before, and this was his first episode of a back problem. We were fortunate in being able to diagnose the herniated disc very early, before it became anything serious. In fact, when we look at the MRI, his discs look very healthy. There's a very, very focal tear right in the center. It's not pressing on any nerves. It's so focal, it's relatively small, that we would expect him to recover fully from this. It's just being prudent to allow him to rest because when something is early and small like this, there's a risk that the tear can enlarge, and then you're set up for back problems that become more chronic.

Q. Can you describe where in the back it is?

DR. BRIAN HAINLINE: It's at what we call the L-5, S-1 level. It's between the fifth lumbar vertebrae and the sacrum.

Q. Is this the kind of injury that results in cumulative stress, or it goes from one month to the next?

DR. BRIAN HAINLINE: I don't think we would call it cumulative stress. It's something that happened, and we can try to analyze it biomechanically and from our points of view and not get a wholly satisfactory answer.

Q. Is this the kind of injury that also radiates down the leg? Do you feel the pain down the leg? Is it close to a rupture?

DR. BRIAN HAINLINE: If the disc ruptures and it starts going off to the side, it will then press on a nerve, and then you have what's called sciatica, or pain radiating down the leg. This is very small. It's right in the center. It's not pressing on a nerve. It's just pressing on a pain-sensitive ligament. We expect it would stay like that. As Pete had said, it's really about a month of rest and then the proper rehabilitation, then it should heal completely.

Q. What kind of rehabilitation would he require?

DR. BRIAN HAINLINE: It's first rest, and then working with a good spine therapist. It's learning the proper exercises to strengthen the back in a certain way. Ultimately, to do what we call stabilization, to learn how to stabilize the spine to help prevent something like this happening in the future.

Q. The initial indication we had Sunday was that this was a mild back strain, that it shouldn't be a problem. Do you have cause to believe that something happened between then and last night's test to further aggravate it, or was it just more serious than you originally thought?

DR. BRIAN HAINLINE: I think that common things are common. In the tennis tournament, we might see 20 back strains. Pete had initial back pain. It was relatively well-localized. There wasn't anything else. There wasn't a compelling reason to think it was a disc herniation, although we talked about that possibility. It's that he really didn't recover over a period of 24 hours, was having trouble bending, that we went the next step.

Q. Was this a move you made on the court extremely unusual? Did you hear a pop? Was it a forehand, backhand?

PETE SAMPRAS: It was on a return of serve. I didn't hear anything, but I felt something go. I felt my back just got, you know, it was stabbed by a knife. I immediately stopped. I was plenty warmed up. I hit for a half hour. I just started playing some points. You know, I went for this backhand return, and I felt it. It scared me. There's no question it scared me. I just walked off the court. That's where I'm at.

Q. Over your career you've had many physical setbacks. Emotionally, how does this compare with the others?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, this is, up to this point, will be the most difficult for a number of reasons: because of the buildup playing here, the way I've been playing the past couple months. I felt good coming in here. You know, I've had some nagging injuries, muscles that I can play through, through adrenaline or whatever. But this one was past the point of being able to play. I'm sure these next, you know, two weeks will be tough emotionally because I want to be here. I've been part of the US Open for every year of my career. I'm going to miss it. There's no question I'm going to miss playing here. But I'll be fine. I've got my family to support me when I go back home. I'm looking forward to seeing them, just getting through.

Q. Do you see yourself spending the next weeks, months at home? Do you have any plan yet as to what you're going to be doing?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. I'm just going to go home and take care of my back.

Q. Home to California?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. I'll just do whatever the doctors want me to do to get this thing better because it doesn't feel good. You know, I'm very limited in what I can do. Just moving around my hotel room, I've just been struggling with that. Just get treatment twice a day, you know, taking care of it. That's not fun, you know. It's not how I want to spend my time off. This is the position I'm in.

Q. There's a tremendous amount of injuries right now, especially amongst the men. Do you feel the schedule is just too much or this age of power tennis is possibly going to be shortening careers, as opposed to 20 years ago?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, it's really hard for me to say, to comment on that right at the moment. For me, I've only played ten tournaments this year, so I haven't overplayed. You know, injuries are part of sports. You play a lot, you know, for many, many years you're going to have some different injuries. I can honestly say that this injury was more of a fluke than anything. It wasn't from overplaying. It wasn't from overstress. It was just a bad move at the wrong time. That's what happened. I mean, I've had some things over the years, but, you know, my schedule is really important to me these next few years, how much I want to play. But, you know, injuries is part of sports.

Q. Sometimes with athletes, back injuries are attributed to issues of flexibility or conditioning. Despite the fact that you're playing so well, are you content with that side?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. The way I've been playing and moving these last two months, some of the best tennis I've played ever. You know, conditioning-wise, I'm as fit now as I've ever been. It's just a bad move, you know. I did something, and my body wasn't ready for it, and it went. I knew it when I did it, that this was a little bit more serious than I thought. Like I said, it just wasn't chronic stiffness. I felt it on one particular move. When that happens, you get a little worried. I was planning on playing. I woke up Monday morning -- Monday I was, "Okay, let's get rid of this stiffness and I'll be fine." All credit to Dr. Hainline here. He recommended an MRI just to cover everything. It was the right call, because he saw something, which obviously was not good news for me.

Q. Doctor, given this injury and that you have a superior athlete who is going to get the best possible rehabilitation therapy, what would be the most optimistic forecast for Pete to be back on the court playing competitive tennis?

DR. BRIAN HAINLINE: I think one can be very optimistic. Again, this injury was caught quite early. It's very focal. He should be able to heal. He should be back playing full force, if all goes well, in one to two months. Again, because it was caught early, it wasn't a complete rupture of the disc, so the long-term consequences on the back are actually reasonably good, that the rest of the disc looked fine. This disc itself looks fine, except for one small area. To be able to return as he had been, without any limitations from his back, I think one can express that with confidence.

Q. When you say rest, is bed rest the most optimum thing or not bed rest? Actually being in bed, not moving around?

DR. BRIAN HAINLINE: No. Actually, rest really would mean not to be working out at a competitive level, and even for the first couple of weeks, just walking, not doing any lifting or excessive bending. But not staying around in bed. You really want to keep the back muscles working, as well.

Q. Could you repeat the medical phrase you used in reference to Pete's injury and spell it?

DR. BRIAN HAINLINE: Well, there's a small disc, d-i-s-c (laughter), herniation at L-5, S-1. Usually we write that as a L-5, S-1.

Q. Doctor, if this injury were to reoccur, would you recommend that that would be it from a professional standpoint in terms of the kind of athletic performance required at this level?

DR. BRIAN HAINLINE: I think any time there's an injury, you assess the nature of the injury, and you put that in context of the person you're working with. If it were to reoccur at a microscopic or minor level such that it is right now, there would be no reason not to continue to work with this. Maybe to rethink the rehabilitation program. If it were to be something else, then you might think that way. But really, and in all honesty, that's not even our forecast because this is so early. Again, just emphasizing the spine really looks good on the imaging studies. I think some of what we're doing is because Pete's in pain, and you can't play tennis in pain and expect to do well. Some of it is being very reasonable and preventive because there is still such a good chance that he should be able to compete at a high level, and this should not prevent him from doing so.

Q. You won four titles here, but you also have had incidents of injury and illness against Corretja, Yzaga, Rafter last year, and then now. Do you feel a little bit unlucky?

PETE SAMPRAS: No, I don't feel unlucky. I don't feel like that at all. I feel I'm very disappointed. I was looking forward to an opportunity to play the tennis I've been playing these past couple months. But I've been fortunate with some of the matches I've won here over the years. Sure, it is unlucky, but it's nothing to do with being in New York City or playing the US Open. I couldn't think of a worse time for this to happen, on the Sunday before a major tournament. But it's happened. Listen, I'm going to be very bummed out this next week, next couple weeks. Each day I'll get up in the morning, and it will get a little bit easier. I'll look forward to this tournament finally being over and moving on and learning from this, you know, figuring out how I can prevent it or just kind of going from there. But I plan on being back. There's no question. I'll be back here.

Q. Do you think you'll watch any of it on TV?

PETE SAMPRAS: I'm going to try not to.

Q. Will you go to the clinic?

PETE SAMPRAS: No. I'm figuring that out now.

Q. Have you talked to any of the other players in the draw?

PETE SAMPRAS: Andre called me this morning, talked to him for a little while. He feels bad for me. Very classy thing to do on his part.

Q. He already knew when he called you?

PETE SAMPRAS: I knew last night. I'm sorry, what was your question?

Q. When he called you this morning, he already knew?

PETE SAMPRAS: Do you think he was calling me to tell me he won last night (laughter)? No, I'm sure he knew.

Q. Do you feel any more or less pain, or was it the same from the time the injury happened Sunday until you woke up yesterday?

PETE SAMPRAS: It's been pretty much the same from Sunday night to right now. I just feel very limited, can't really bend. You know, I was hoping by Sunday -- Sunday night I was hoping by today it would start feeling better, I could hit some balls and play on Wednesday. Obviously it's much more serious than I thought.

Q. If you had been able to play and you had been able to win, break the record here, there's talk that would make you less inclined to go to Australia and play. Do you think you're more inclined to go and play the Australian Open now?

PETE SAMPRAS: I haven't thought that far ahead, what I'm going to do next year, what I'm doing for the rest of this year. But, sure, not going there this year didn't help my tennis for the first three or four months. I'm going to figure it out. I'll figure it out over the next couple months. If I go down there, I'd like to go down there, what tournaments in Europe I want to play. My first and main concern is to try to take care of my back. Once I take care of that, I can kind of move ahead and make a good schedule.

Q. In Indianapolis, was your back hurting then?

PETE SAMPRAS: No.

Q. Did you withdraw in that match?

PETE SAMPRAS: I hurt my hip.

Q. You had back problems in Bercy last year and this year in Barcelona. Any connections?

PETE SAMPRAS: That was different. That was more muscular spasm, which you just got to play through. That's more of a chronic problem that I've had every now and again. You know, this situation, doing it on a particular move, which scared me, and getting some tests done yesterday which showed a little tear is enough for me, you know, to take a break and get this thing better. I've never had disc problems. I've never had serious back problems like this one. I've had chronic stuff. If it was chronic, I'd play tomorrow. But it seems a little bit more serious than that.

Q. The hip problem has disappeared?

PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah.

Q. What sort of medication are you on?

PETE SAMPRAS: Well, last couple days, I've been on Naprosyn, you know, a thousand milligrams, 1,500 milligrams a day, just trying to knock it out. Hasn't really helped, you know. Doesn't feel like it's getting much better. I'm sure these next couple weeks, I'll treat this very aggressively.

Q. Doctor, could you comment on the question before, is there a problem of the schedule with being tennis more powerful than possibly a decade ago?

PETE SAMPRAS: You don't want to answer that. He's not a tennis expert, but you can answer it if you want (laughter).

DR. BRIAN HAINLINE: I've never played the schedule. I think two things have happened. In addition to perhaps there being more play, the trainers are working so much more progressively with the players. I don't think there are data that demonstrate that the injury rate is different than it was 10 or 20 years ago. There are more players playing at a top level, highly-competitive level. I think the whole health care system has evolved with that. I don't think there is an answer right now. You know, that question has been looked at. The data just doesn't support any hypothesis at present.

Q. You said you had trouble moving around your hotel room. What specifically couldn't you do?

PETE SAMPRAS: Whatever. I mean, I felt it in trying to fall asleep. Every time I moved a different direction, I was feeling it. Moving around, picking up things, just doing the day-to-day stuff people do. You know, you need your back to do whatever you need to do. I just was struggling these last couple days just with whatever. I couldn't imagine picking up a racquet and trying to play. That's something I know I'm not ready to do quite yet.

angiel
09-12-2005, 10:03 PM
Sampras competes against best -- ever
By Larry Schwartz
Special to ESPN.com


His opponents aren't Agassi, Rafter and Rios. They are Laver, Rosewall and Emerson.

Pete Sampras isn't playing for today; he's competing for history.


Pete Sampras needs to win on the clay of the French Open to be considered the best ever.

When he won his sixth Wimbledon championship in 1999, it gave him 12 Grand Slam singles titles, tying Roy Emerson ior most majors all time.

Though he had earned more than $35 million in ATP Tour earnings going into 1999, it is Grand Slams that consume him. The easy-going, hard-hitting Sampras would trade a dozen of his 55 Tour victories (through 1998) for one French Open or another Australian. Let others play for money; he's playing for majors.

"I measure my year on how I do at the majors and the more that I have won over the years, the more I want to win," Sampras said. "I don't look at myself as a historical icon, but the reality of it is, yeah, I am playing for history now."

Sampras, 27, is not the indifferent jock he pretends to be. While he gives the impression that he doesn't play with a passion, he deeply wants to be remembered as the best ever. "I don't think it's arrogant," Sampras said. "I'm not ashamed that I feel that I can actually do it."

Yet, he is uncomfortable in the spotlight. He is a throwback to the days when gentleman played the sport of tennis. "I could be a jerk and get a lot more publicity, but that's not who I am," said Sampras, who believes in the past, but came of age in the 1990s.

Although Sampras is tied with Emerson for the Slams record, he was taught to emulate Rod Laver, the winner of two Grand Slams, 11 majors, and generally regarded as the game's greatest.

"There wasn't an American that I really idolized," Sampras said. "Sure, I respected (John) McEnroe's talent and (Jimmy) Connors' intensity, but the Aussies, those guys were great guys." And the players he admired most were the gentlemanly Laver and Ken Rosewall.

Since 1993, when he first claimed the No. 1 ranking, the 6-foot-1 Sampras has stood head and shoulders above his playing opponents. While he has a ferocious forehand and sensational serve, his greatest gift may be his will to win. He's not afraid to leave his guts on the courts -- literally.

He was born Aug. 12, 1971 in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Palos Verdes, Cal. His father, Soterios, called Sam, was an aerospace engineer for the Department of Defense and his mother, Georgia, was a homemaker.

He began playing tennis at seven and when he was nine, his father asked Pete Fischer, a physician and amateur player, to hit with his son. Fischer was so impressed with the youngster's ability, he became his coach.

When Sampras was 11, he had the opportunity to trade groundstrokes with Laver, his idol. "Pete was so nervous he couldn't get the ball over the net," Fischer said.

Sampras rarely won a major junior tournament. Fischer believed his protege needed to play "up" in age groups, against stronger and older players to develop his all-around game. "From the very beginning, the competition was always Laver," Sampras said.

At 14, Fischer changed Sampras' backhand from two-handed to one-handed. He also switched him from a safe defensive baseliner to a classic risky serve-and-volleyer. "I played just like (Michael) Chang, grinding from the baseline," Sampras said. "When I started serving and volleying, I became much more laid back."

Fischer told him that someday these changes would help him win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Sampras turned pro at 16 following his junior year in high school. By the late 1980s, he split with Fischer because he thought his coach was an overbearing perfectionist, someone who "wanted to put his brain in my body."

In 1990, Sampras, who was ranked No. 81 at the start of the year, stunned the tennis world -- and himself -- by becoming the youngest U.S. Open winner at 19 years, 28 days. The 12th-seeded Sampras defeated Ivan Lendl, McEnroe and Andre Agassi in the last three rounds for just his third tour victory. He served 100 aces in his seven matches and attributed his first Slams title to "a hot two weeks."

When he lost in the 1991 U.S. Open quarterfinals, Sampras said he was more relieved than disappointed and that he felt like "a ton of bricks" was lifted from his shoulders. Connors and Jim Courier, among others, criticized him.

"That quote reflected the truth of how I felt," Sampras said. "I wasn't sure then that I really could win another Grand Slam title."

Sampras rebounded in 1992, going 70-18 and winning five tournaments. He also helped the United States win the Davis Cup, capturing five-set doubles matches with McEnroe in the semifinals and finals.

But it was a defeat that turned around his career. After losing to defending champion Stefan Edberg at the U.S. Open final, Sampras discovered how much he wanted to win.

"I realized that I had given up in the match," he said. "Just a touch, but enough to lose. I came to the realization that getting to finals wouldn't be good enough anymore."



New coach Tim Gullikson showed Sampras the value of playing percentage tennis -- going for smart, conservative shots rather than flashy, difficult ones. On April 12, 1993, Sampras reached the No. 1 ranking for the first time, and only occasionally has he fallen from that perch. He's been there at the end of the past six years, a record in men's tennis.

His record improved to 83-15 with eight tournament victories, including his first Wimbledon and second U.S. Open. When he won the 1994 Australian Open, he became the first player since Laver in 1969 to win three consecutive Grand Slam titles. After losing at the French Open, Sampras won his second Wimbledon.

At the quarterfinals of the 1995 Australian Open, Sampras wept in the fifth set against Courier when a fan shouted for him to win the match for Gullikson, who had left the tournament because of complications from a brain tumor. Sampras regained his composure to defeat Courier. However, he lost the final to Agassi. It would be the second -- and last -- time Sampras would lose in 14 Slam finals.

He became the first American to win three consecutive Wimbledons and he regained his U.S. Open title. He capped 1995 by accounting for all three points as the U.S. defeated Russia in the Davis Cup final.

On May 3, 1996, Gullikson, 44, died of brain cancer. Sampras lost in the first three majors that year, but retained his U.S. Open title, showing his guts against Alex Corretja in a four-hour and nine-minute quarterfinal.

With the score 1-1 in a fifth-set tiebreaker, a dehydrated Sampras vomited twice. Refusing to lose, he saved a match point at 6-7 with a desperate, full-extension forehand volley winner. After a fault on a weak first serve, the exhausted Sampras found the strength to deal a second-serve ace. The match ended when Corretja double faulted on the next point.

"I hate to lose, and I do whatever I can to win, and if it is ugly, it is ugly," said Sampras, who needed a half-gallon of intravenous fluids afterwards.

Sampras won the 1997 Australian Open and took Wimbledon in 1997, 1998 and 1999. His six Wimbledons are the most for any player in the 20th century. "There's a certain aura about the place that you don't feel anywhere else," Sampras said. "The echo of the balls hit on Centre Court -- it just feels significant."

The only thing missing from Sampras' resume is a victory on the French Open clay. He realizes that without it, he might not be regarded as No. 1 all-time, no matter how many Slams titles he wins.

angiel
09-28-2005, 12:06 AM
Old Article From German Tennis Magazine.

Boris Becker- On Pete Sampras - during his retirement Cermony, 2003.



For Boris Becker was Pete Sampras more than one rival around cups, premiums and placements. The American was its inspiration. Pete knew before Wimbledon that he stops. There are things, which more fun makes to fly than in two days from Munich to New York and back. But when one invited me to the parting ceremony of Pete Sampras, my resolution was certain fast. There are not many dates, which are more important, if it concerns tennis history. I doubt that it will again give a player such as Sampras. We played 19-mal against each other, he won 12-mal. The first time, when we crossed the Rackets, I triumphed still. It was 1990 in Stockholm, one month, after it had won US open. The last meeting was 1997 in the quarter final of Wimbledon. It swept me from the place, and I knew to hand that it is final at the time, the keys for my earlier living room to it over. But was clear me already before: If it and I played our best tennis, it was better. Sampras was the ultimative professional. It was no matter to it, how it looked, which for things it carried. He trained and ordered themselves his meal on the room. Briefly before its parting in New York we had a short discussion. He said to me the fact that its resolution was certain when it became clear that he does not have no more the motivation and energy to play this year in Wimbledon. Sampras selected the perfect time for a resignation. It was the best one.
__________________

Greg-Pete fan
09-28-2005, 06:13 AM
Very good article :cool:

angiel
10-04-2005, 11:11 PM
Pete Sampras; They Just Dont make Em Like Him Anymore.

Sampras, Sampras, Sampras, Sampras and Sampras" was Andre Agassi's reply when asked who
are the five best players of all time in tennis. Oct 30, 1998. Stuttgart, Germany.

The US Open is on nowadays, but its missing its brightest spark - Pete Sampras. In a career spanning three decades, he recreated the record books of men's tennis game and redefined the word "Champion". His quite confidence, undying courage and unparalled dedication to excellence in his sport defined him as a player and as a human being.

I remember, in the mid 1990s, watching his matches with my dad and my brother. Everytime he was down 0/40 on his serve,which very rarely happened, I would cover my eyes in anxiety. I would almost cry out aloud saying, "God! Please, please let this honest/hardworking guy win this game, I promise I will walk barefeet to the temple next time!!". How I wish I had prayed with just as much dedication during school exams. However, he did not either need my prayers or my brother's hollering to win, time and again.

So why won't there be any tennis player like him? Well, inspite of being in the media glare, he did not let comments or criticisms derail him from his one passion - playing tennis. He paid almost no attention to endorsements, except the few such as Nike and Movado, but did not make a career out of it. He was criticised for his "washboard" personality of showing no emotion or enthusiasm on court. When his coach passed away during his most successful phase, his critics had finished him off. However, he left aside "trash-talking" and insulting his critics or opponents in interviews and let his game speak for itself. Once that serve-volley game and backhand was on fire, his critics and opponets burned with resentment and defeat. All through the 1990s, rival coaches could not dismantle his game and rival players wished that he had an "off day". Morever, in 2002 he recieved reams of criticism for not playing upto his standard because he was married and had become "domesticated". Once again, he came back to win his last US open in 2002 beating Agassi; who is a tennis champion in his own right; in the finals. His invincible game on grass; i.e. winning seven Wimbledons; took him beyond legendary scales. He retired in August of 2003, while still on top of his game, in a ceremony at the US open organised by the ATP and attended by all other tennis champions as well as his wife and son.

Sampras's career is a mark which stands against time, as well as his legacy as a man who graced the sport of Tennis with brilliance and class. He now boasts a resume which comprises of being,

* Leader of all time number of grand slams won - 14. ( 7- Wimbledons, 5- US Opens, 2 - Australian Opens)
* World # 1 at year-end for 6 consecutive years (1993-1998, ATP rankings)
* Voted ATP "Player of the Century" with a total of 762 victories on the tour's circuit.
* Olympic gold winner in 1987 for Men's Singles.

~ Kudos to "Sampy"!! - from a true fan ~

angiel
11-05-2005, 08:53 PM
Sampras reign at Wimbledon

By Opinion Page staff, The Advocate
August 30, 2003


In sports, there are more "ends of an era" than there are really justifiably important "eras." But it's difficult not to use that phrase about tennis as Pete Sampras retired from the game in a touching ceremony in New York, where he won the U.S. Open at age 19.

The skinny young Greek went on to demonstrate incredible staying-power during 15 years in one of the most grueling year-round sports there is.

There might be some argument about whether he was the greatest tennis player ever. Perhaps Bill Tilden of the '20s or Rod Laver of the '60s would have been better with today's high-tech racquets. But probably no one would question Sampras' majestic domination of the grass-court game.

His seven Wimbledon trophies end that argument. Game, set and match.

the_natural
11-06-2005, 01:59 AM
Thankyou so true!!

angiel
11-07-2005, 08:52 PM
Thankyou so true!!


Hey you! how doing - he is the greatest of them all. :drool: :drool: :fiery: :fiery: