Pete Sampras has now won a record 14 Grand Slams in his illustrious career.
His latest triumph came on Sunday night against his celebrated foe, Andre Agassi.
It was against Agassi, coincidentally, whom Sampras beat to claim his first major back in 1990 at Flushing Meadows.
Sampras made the cover of Sports Illustrated and the caption for the picture - a youthful looking Sampras hitting one of his famed overheads - reads A Star Is Born.
Here is a look back at the King of Swing's momentous triumphs.
1 - 1990 US Open - Sampras makes the first of 18 appearances in a Grand Slam final and breezes past Agassi 6-4 6-3 6-2. It was an symbolic tournament in terms of the changing of the guard. Sampras knocked out former US Open champions Ivan Lendl (quarter-finals) and John McEnroe (semi-finals).
2 - 1993 Wimbledon - The All England club did not know it at the time, but it was witnessing the player who would go on to become its greatest champion. Sampras, facing American stalwart Jim Courier, survived a couple of tie-breaks before triumphing 7-6 (7/3) 7-6 (8/6) 3-6 6-3. Again, Sampras had to overcome a who's who list of opponents, beating Agassi in a quarter-final and then eliminating former champion Boris Becker in straight sets in the last four.
3 - 1993 US Open - Sampras could not have had it any easier, dropping just two sets in his entire tournament and clinching his second crown at Flushing Meadows with a 6-4 6-4 6-3 hammering of Cedric Pioline of France.
4 - 1994 Australian Open - The Pete Sampras show won for the first time Down Under, but only after surviving a five-setter against then rising star Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia on his way to the final. He snatched victory thanks to a 9-7 win in the deciding set. Later, in an All-American final against Todd Martin, Sampras claimed a 7-6 (7/4) 6-4 6-4 success.
5 - 1994 Wimbledon - Goran Ivanisevic helped set up a match of limited break opportunities but in the tie-breaks Sampras proved more formidable. Twice he beat Ivanisevic in tie-breaks before wrapping up a 7-6 (7/2) 7-6 (7-5) 6-0 win.
6 - 1995 Wimbledon - Few players got the better of Boris Becker in SW19 and lived to tell about it, but Sampras was the exception. Having beaten the German on the famed courts two years earlier, the German appeared to be ready to exact his revenge. He won the first set in a tie-break but Sampras's class showed as he fought back for a 6-7 (5/7) 6-2 6-4 6-2 victory.
7 - 1995 US Open - Presented with a rematch, Agassi did not take advantage. Sampras dropped one set but prevailed 6-4 6-3 4-6 7-5.
8 - 1996 US Open - In danger of finishing a season without a Grand Slam, Sampras showed up at Flushing Meadows and reasserted himself as the game's dominant force. He struggled against Jiri Novak in the second round, needing five sets. He then, despite getting sick and vomiting on court, beat Spaniard Alex Corretja in a fifth-set tie-break for a quarter-final win. That match lasted four hours, nine minutes. In the final, he hammered Michael Chang 6-1 6-4 7-6 (7/3).
9 - 1997 Australian Open - Dominik Hrbaty and Albert Costa made Sampras work in five-set showdowns but he cleared both hurdles. In the final, Carlos Moya provided little resistance as Sampras won 6-2 6-3 6-3.
10 - 1997 Wimbledon - On Centre Court where he truly had no equals, Sampras laid waste to Pioline again, this time winning 6-4 6-2 6-4.
11 - 1998 Wimbledon - Ivanisevic's disappointment grew as Sampras this time had to work for a five-set victory. Sampras won 6-7 (2/7) 7/6 (11/9) 6-4 3-6 6-2.
12 - 1999 Wimbledon - Mark Philippoussis looked a good bet to knock Sampras out and he gained the earlier initiative in their quarter-final by winning the first set. But the giant Australian suffered a serious knee injury and had to retire from the match. He lost the first set against home favourite Tim Henman but hit back for a four-set win. Then against Agassi, who had looked an unstoppable force in the tournament, Sampras took a 6-3 6-4 7-5 win.
13 - 2000 Wimbledon - Pat Rafter, twice a winner at the US Open, looked to add the grass court Grand Slam to his CV but Sampras denied him. In a match that lasted into the early evening hours, Sampras won 6-7 (10/12) 7-6 (7/5) 6-4 6-2.
14 - 2002 US Open - Having endured a Grand Slam drought in 2001, Sampras appeared to be a spent force and no one gave him a chance at Flushing Meadows. Even Greg Rusedski wrote off Sampras after the American had won their encounter. But Sampras made the Briton's predictions look ridiculous, beating Tommy Haas in the fourth round, Andy Roddick in the quarter-finals, Sjeng Schalken in the semis and then his long-time rival Agassi yet again in the final, 6-3 6-4 5-7 6-4.
06-07-2005, 09:07 PM
Q&A with Pete Sampras on underwear ping pong at Davis Cup
By Andy Halperin // usolympicteam.com // April 2, 2002
Pete Sampras, a 1992 U.S. Olympian, is widely considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time. The "King of Swing" has won more Grand Slam titles (13) than any other men's player in history. At one point in his career, Sampras held the year-end No. 1 world ranking for a record six consecutive years between 1993 and 1998.
Sampras is back representing his country as a member of the 2002 U.S. Davis Cup team. The 30-year-old has begun to have his reign as the world's best challenged by a young group of stars, including budding sensation Andy Roddick of the U.S. Sampras talks about his perspective entering the quarterfinals against Spain in Houston April 5-7. He also shares some of his Davis Cup stories, including his 1992 doubles match with John McEnroe and an incident involving some of his younger teammates and a match of ping pong in their underwear.
Q1. How are you feeling about your play at this point in the season?
PETE SAMPRAS: It hasn't started the way I wanted it to. The confidence hopefully will grow this week and just sort of build going into the claycourt season, but there is still some time to work on a few things-to get into a little better shape. It was a tough couple of weeks, but I try to put that behind me and look at the big picture of the rest of the year and there is no reason to panic just as long as I am working hard.
Q2. Has the Davis Cup become more important to you as you have progressed through your career?
PETE SAMPRAS: Yeah. Davis Cup has always been a tricky one over the years because I felt like to stay No. 1 and play Davis Cup was too much. At that rate, I would have been done by now. That is why I decided not to play a few years of Davis Cup-to focus on the majors and being ranked No. 1. There is no question that Davis Cup means something. Playing for your teammates and your country, there is a sense of urgency when you play out there that I need to feel as I have gotten a little bit older. You push harder and you dig deeper and I need to be in those situations.
Q3. Speaking of you history in the Davis Cup, what was it like playing doubles with John McEnroe in 1992?
PETE SAMPRAS: He is probably the best doubles player of all time and to be matched up with him, I think we jelled pretty well. I think my kind of calm personality and his … more animated personality-I think we gelled pretty well and we both played well. I think that is the key: playing well and winning, and we did that. He plays with a lot of urgency and a lot of emotion and I really don't. I think we gelled together as well as we could. I think we came back in that match from down two sets to none and the crowd was very vocal. That was one of the better moments I have had in Davis Cup.
Q4. Do fans get a little bit crazier at Davis Cup matches as compared to other regular tennis events?
PETE SAMPRAS: I hope they are pretty crazy here. That is what Davis Cup is all about. I'm sure if we were playing these guys in Spain, we would hear it. It would be nice to have these Spanish guys hear it-some American noise. That's one of the advantages of playing at home. You have that support. On the tour, fans come out to really cheer the sport. But here, when you are playing for your country, people are more vocal and into it.
Q5. What kind of impact will playing on grass have on you and the team?
PETE SAMPRAS: Grass helps our game. Grass is a difficult surface to play on if you are not used to it. It takes experience and time to figure it out, but these guys are experienced pros and they have been around. It's a tricky surface. It is a surface where you have to stay sharp. A couple of mistakes here and there and you could lose the set. We're hungry and we're ready and we will hopefully get a little better as the week goes on and by Friday we will hopefully be peaking all at the same time.
Q6. A lot of people have said that Andy Roddick is the next Pete Sampras. What has it been like competing with him in the Davis Cup?
PETE SAMPRAS: I have gotten to know Andy a little bit better this week. He has got a very mature head on his shoulders. Really, he knows where he wants to go. He's a pretty focused young guy that I think has got all the elements to go possibly all the way. His game speaks for itself. He has got a huge game. I practiced with him one day-he has got a lot of heat. That's what you look at in a young guy-what kind of weapon he has. But, he's just a nice young guy that has a pretty good head on his shoulders and I think he's going to do just fine.
Q7. Given the team nature of Davis Cup, do you help out guys like Andy in learning how to master grass as you have?
PETE SAMPRAS: I'd be more than happy to help any of the players, Andy in particular, with my experiences. But I think he is well-adjusted and knows how he wants to play. He is going to be a great player and he can figure it out. It takes time. Grass is not a surface that I particularly liked when I turned pro, but as time went on, I seemed to enjoy it more and more.
Q8. The younger guys said they have learned a lot from you. Have you learned anything from them?
PETE SAMPRAS: There's not anything I am learning-it is more that these guys are coming out, bouncing off the walls. They have got a lot of energy. They are watching the Simpsons at night and I am with Todd Martin watching On Golden Pond. They can't sit still for half an hour. They have dinner, they are up in the room playing games and playing ping-pong in their underwear. That's what these guys were doing. At practices they came out firing away and it just inspires you, inspires me to try to beat these young guys in practice. So in a way it has been fun.
Q9. Do these guys remind you at all of yourself at that age, or were you different as a younger player?
PETE SAMPRAS: I have always been pretty low-key, even when I was a young guy on the team. I just kind of kept to myself and I still do that today.
Q10. A lot of the guys on your team really look up to you as a role model. How does that make you feel?
PETE SAMPRAS: It's flattering. I feel a certain amount of respect, which is nice. But I don't walk around like I am an icon around the team. That's just not my personality. I try to lead by example: not by saying a whole lot, just my attitude out there on the practice court and going out and playing. And if that helps those guys, that's great.
Pete Sampras - Nicknamed "The King of Swing", he's arguably the best mens Tennis Champions of this past decade. Pete recently retired after winning 14 Grand Slam Titles and 6 consecutive years of being the top ranked Tennis player in the world.
23 Reasons to Love Sampras
I wanted to write a post on Sampras as I was getting bit nostalgic during the wimbeldon and was digging the net for sampras quotes and articles. Here is an article by Paul Fein which says all I wanted to say and more
"Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit, and lost without deserving." (Othello, Act II, Scene 3).
Superstar Pete Sampras reigns in an era when the muddled sports world celebrates anti-heroes rather than heroes and exalts personality above character. Strangely, the media act as accomplices in this farce. ESPN's so-called tribute to Sampras as one of the 50 greatest athletes of the century downplayed his virtues and belabored the "boring" image he has never shed despite its patent falseness.
Boring -- compared to what and whom? Mike Tyson, a convicted rapist and ear-biting fighter? Dennis Rodman, a cross-dressing psycho notorious for thuggish playing tactics and going AWOL? Latrell Sprewell, who sued rather than repented after attacking his coach? Europe's legions of drug-taking cyclists? Or even tennis' shamelessly boorish John McEnroe? The list of sports' louts grows, while attention seldom focuses on the good guys.
It's high time to note "Sweet Pete's" admirable traits and contributions to society, let alone sports. So, in the spirit of fairness, I offer reasons why we should love, or at least like, sport's most unsung hero.
1. His oft-stated reverence for the sporting champions of yesteryear, such as Aussies Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall and Roy Emerson.
2. He plays his most sublime tennis in Grand Slam finals, where his 12-2 career record (.857 percentage) tops all men players this century.
3. His dry wit. On the late Princess Diana's fervent rooting for him at Wimbledon, Pete joked, "I think she has a crush on me." On the recent rash of bonding among longtime American rivals Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and him, Pete quipped, "There is a lot of love in the air."
4. His exciting style of play, highlighted by his slam-dunk jump overhead, his signature flashy shot. His running forehand and diving volleys are terrific, too.
5. He doesn't duck his weakest surface, clay, unlike some past and present stars who skipped major tournaments they knew they had little chance of winning.
6. He's an athlete you can proudly tell your kids to emulate. "If there's one role model in tennis, it's Pete Sampras," said former rival Boris Becker. "He's behaving perfectly on the court, he's a nice fellow off the court, and he's playing great tennis altogether. I think he's extremely good for the game of tennis."
7. His straightforward honesty. After trailing 4-6, 2-1 in his 1999 Wimbledon quarterfinal when power-hitting Mark Philippoussis retired with a knee injury, Sampras told the media, "He was beating me."
8. He cares deeply about his family, whom he phones several times a week, and friends. Pete wept unabashedly on court against Jim Courier at the 1995 Australian open after hearing the news that Tim Gullikson, his coach and confidant, was diagnosed as having four inoperable brain tumors.
9. Unlike some players who know and care little about the pro game, Pete invariably makes insightful and fair-minded comments and proposals.
10. He courageously admits when he is wrong. Confiding that he truly missed the spirit de corps and camaraderie that the American Davis Cup team displayed while beating Britain in April, Pete asked captain Tom Gullikson if he could join the team for its big quarterfinal in July against Australia.
11. He's a serve and volleyer -- on grass and hardcourts -- and there aren't many practitioners of this adventurous but dying art left in men's tennis.
12. Surprise! Pete has his own jet. Well, OK, he leases a Cessna Citation 10 to get to tournaments. And, in an ironic role reversal, far-flashier archrival Andre Agassi sold his airplane.
13. He is a great-looking, sexy guy, especially when he takes off his shirt during matches, so say women and girls.
14. He respects his fellow players. When Pat Rafter last year said, "Pete is becoming a little bit of a crybaby," Sampras responded: "Pat is not the type of guy to say that. I'm sure it was something the media egged him on to say.... I know Pat well. He's a stand-up guy."
15. Pete has been a frequent and generous giver to worthy charities, such as the American Cancer Society, the Tim and Tom Gullikson Foundation, the Vitas Gerulaitis Youth Foundation, the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS, the ATP Tour Charities program, and the Kids' Stuff Foundation.
16. His off-court training has given him a fitness level that has enabled him to win marathon matches, even though he suffers from a rare form of anemia that hampers his stamina.
17. Pete's willingness to talk candidly about both his professional career and his personal life is refreshing and humanizes him. For example, Pete said their time-consuming careers caused his recent break-up with actress Kimberly Williams and confided, "We didn't do anything wrong."
18. He nearly always exhibits excellent sportsmanship in matches, and typically limits his disappointment over a dubious line call to a look at the linesman.
19. Instead of "settling" for tons of money and the good life, as Agassi has done intermittently during his career, Pete sets his goals high and consistently works hard to attain them, tieing and breaking a host of all-time records, including Jimmy Connors' ranking No. 1 for five straight years and Emerson's 12 career Grand Slam singles titles.
20. Pete has successfully handled the pressure and demands of being No. 1, as few others in the Open Era have -- with grace, dignity and modesty.
21. His clean-cut appearance -- no earrings, no do rags, no long hair -- although he could ditch the baggy, wrinkled, too-long shorts.
22. He is quick to congratulate others when they win a big tournament, as Pete did when he phoned Agassi after his archrival won the 1999 French Open to complete a career Grand Slam.
23. Sampras is tennis' refutation of Leo Durocher's infamous "Nice guys finish last" line.
PS: I sincerely hope Federrer gets a knee injury. If he is playing the way he is, Sampras will be just a name in the history books of tennis.