With Courage Under Fire, Sampras Marches On
Defending U.S. Open Champion Overcomes Emotional, Physical Pain to Stop Corretja
The Washington Post (pre-1997 Fulltext) - Washington, D.C.
Author: Jennifer Frey
Date: Sep 6, 1996
Sobbing in the arms of his girlfriend, Delaina Mulcahy, [Pete] Sampras choked out the words "This is for Tim," after beating unseeded Alex Corretja, 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (9-7), in a quarterfinal match that lasted 4 hours 9 minutes and will be remembered for the sight of an ill and emotional Sampras lurching about the court in an anguishing fifth-set tiebreaker. In the few words he spoke before being helped away for medical treatment, Sampras dedicated the victory to Tim Gullikson, his coach and close friend, who died of brain cancer in early May.
Frequently doubling over in pain -- and once stopping to vomit on the outer edges of Stadium Court -- Sampras barely seemed capable of continuing play at several points in the tiebreaker, which was decided when Corretja, a 22-year-old Spaniard, double-faulted at match point. While Corretja fell to his knees, broken-hearted in defeat, Sampras walked to the net, his fists on his hips, his body almost listing.
POINT 1: Corretja serving. Corretja nets a forehand after Sampras hits a forehand down the line. Sampras, 1-0. POINT 2: Sampras serving. Corretja hits a forehand volley at Sampras's feet after Sampras comes to the net for a short volley. 1-1. POINT 3: Sampras serving. After getting sick and being called for a time violation, Sampras serves and wins the point when Corretja hits a forehand long. Sampras, 2-1. POINT 4: Corretja serving. Sampras hits an inside-out forehand return just wide. 2-2. POINT 5: Corretja serving. Sampras finishes a long topspin rally with a forehand winner. Sampras, 3-2. POINT 6: Sampras serving. After doubling over in pain before the start of the point, Sampras hits a big, grunting forehand but follows with an inside-out forehand into the net. 3-3. POINT 7: Sampras serving. Sampras serves an ace at 122 mph. Sampras, 4-3. POINT 8: Corretja serving. Corretja hits a backhand approach and Sampras's backhand passing shot way long. 4-4. POINT 9: Corretja serving. Sampras hits a forehand cross-court winner that leaves Corretja sprawled on the court. Sampras, 5-4. POINT 10: Sampras serving. Corretja hits a forehand volley cross-court forehand winner. 5-5. POINT 11: Sampras serving. Corretja hits a backhand passing shot wide after getting to a Sampras jump overhead. Sampras, 6-5. POINT 12: Corretja serving. Corretja hits a running forehand down the line, and Sampras nets the return. 6-6. POINT 13: Corretja serving. Corretja runs in on a short ball for a forehand winner. Corretja, 7-6. POINT 14: Sampras serving. Sampras lunges for a forehand volley winner. 7-7. POINT 15: Sampras serving. Sampras hits a second-serve ace at 90 mph. Sampras, 8-7. POINT 16: Corretja serving. Corretja double-faults. Sampras wins, 9-7.
12-01-2006, 12:36 PM
Retired Enqvist facing a foe far tougher than Sampras
Posted: Thursday November 30, 2006 2:31PM;
For Thomas Enqvist, the last four weeks have been more intense and demanding than any since he joined the pro tennis tour in 1991. The 32-year-old Swede, winner of 19 singles titles and runner-up at the '99 Australian Open, has been drilling in fundamentals eight hours a day.
Enqvist just completed a French immersion program that at times reduced him to stammering, tongue-tied impotence. He polished his pronouns and flexed his past participles at the Institut de Français, a luxurious villa overlooking the Mediterranean on the Cote d'Azur.
"For a solid month it was French, French, French," says Enqvist, whose wit is drier than a fine Sancerre. "I felt like I was playing in Key Biscayne on a windy day when I'm not in shape."
Until he retired from the tour in April, the straight-talking, flat-hitting Enqvist was almost always in shape. You have to be to finish in the top 10 four times and win at least one ATP title for six consecutive years.
He signed up for classes in deference to his fiance, Carine Demaria, a native of nearby Aix-en-Provence. They met seven years ago in Monaco, where they now share a home. They're expecting their first child in February.
"On the tour, everyone speaks English," says Enqvist. "I always told Carine that after I finished my career, I would learn her language. She's been very encouraging."
Incoming students at the Institut de Français are tested in speaking ability and listening comprehension, then placed in appropriate groups of no more than 10 students. Enqvist, a novice, was put in the "debutante" class. "No," he says, "I didn't have to wear a ball gown."
Only French was allowed -- anyone caught speaking another language risked a fine from the cook as well as a croissant to the ear. The kitty went toward champagne and French Provencal hors d'oeuvres on graduation day.
Before he enrolled, many of the French words Enqvist knew were unsuitable for a family Web site. "They were not words a student could say to a professor's face," he allows.
So what's his favorite French word now? "Bouillabaisse," he cracks.
Invariably, the most grueling part of Enqvist's day unfolded in the language laboratoire -- known to the mutinous as l'abattoir. By the end of the four weeks, he was expected to slip direct and indirect pronouns into passé compose (past tense) and negative sentence structures.
Lab work, he says, required the patience of a clay-court specialist. "It was difficult," he recalls, "but it was also difficult to return the serves of Pete Sampras." For the record, Sampras beat Enqvist nine times in 11 matches.
Ultimately, French grammar proved more intricate than French vocabulary. "In French, you can have the exception to the exception," Enqvist says. "That reminded me of Pete Sampras, too."
"Pete was an exceptional player."
12-11-2006, 02:15 AM
yes, i never forgot that memorable match, pete's loyalty towards his death coach touches me so much :worship:
12-12-2006, 06:28 PM
yes, i never forgot that memorable match, pete's loyalty towards his death coach touches me so much :worship:
:worship: :angel: :wavey: :D :)
12-15-2006, 10:28 PM
Tennis: Wimbledon - Tears that testify to the true Sampras
Independent, The (London), Jul 10, 2000 by James Lawton
IT'S A FAIRLY boring thing to do, falling on your knees on Centre Court and leaking a tear or two. But that's Pete Sampras for you. He's an open book.
You read it according to your nature and, perhaps, your feeling about what exactly separates the great from the merely talented.
If you have any sense of this at all, the odds are you turn the pages of the Sampras book as you might those of "Moby Dick". You're not reading about tennis, or deep sea fishing. The subject is fortitude, and how certain men get an idea in their heads and refuse to have it shaken loose.
Sampras knew, you could see it in every nuance of his face and his body, that this was the time to take his place in history, to win his 13th Grand Slam, and seventh Wimbledon, and set a mark that is unlikely ever to be surpassed. And because Sampras is who he is and what he is, there is no mystery about his reactions to any given situation.
When his beloved coach Tim Gullikson was dying, Sampras wept on court in Melbourne. When he beat Pat Rafter last night, he wept again. Different tears, different situation, but the same source of emotion, the same level of regard and passion that sometimes just has to burst from the tight coiling of a man who simply plays tennis with every fibre of his being. Some of the fibre had been a little frayed these last two weeks, but not at his competitive core.
When Rafter, who had played so sublimely against Andre Agassi 48 hours earlier, faltered on the point of winning a second straight tie- break, to go two sets up, there was a stiffening of Sampras's resolve that down the years so many opponents had seen with an instant slippage of hope. Rafter had had Sampras in trouble, no doubt, and from that point the match's stacatto rhythm, which had been imposed by a two-and-a-half hour break for rain, was over. Sampras had returned to a zone of action, and competitive composure, never equalled in the annals of the game.
Boring Sampras? Sure. Boring in the way of the sun in the morning when it comes up the usual way, eschewing some wild diversion from its axis. Boring in that way of consistency, which rejects whim and mood and just goes on producing levels of performance which make the opposition want to sue for peace. Sampras has been all of this all of his adult life, which at the age of 28 must sometimes strike him as being quite a long time, all those years since he exploded on to the consciousness of the sporting world as a 19-year-old winner of the US Open. All of those years of being asked to liven up his act, add a little spice, a little colour, a little of the wildness of McEnroe or Connors or Agassi, can wear a man down, but Sampras has not been for wearing down. He has been for playing, for operating on the highest ground of his sport, and if the world cried for a little titillation, the world would have to be disappointed. The world could take the best of Sampras, only that.
Here in victory he tried to cut loose with a few of the humanities, thanked his parents Sam and Georgia, his fiancee Bridgette and God, and promptly apologised with the swift announcement that he was not "going religious".
But he did seek out his parents in the stand, not in the flamboyant style of Pat Cash or the ecstasy of Venus Williams, but with the measured tread of a dutiful son.
He explained why he had urged his parents to make a rare appearance at one of his big games. He said: "The older that I've gotten, you want your family around, you know. They've always given me my space when I've been playing, competing. They don't want me to worry about them. But I told myself if I got to the final here, or any major, that I wanted to to have them here. They don't like all the attention. They get very nervous.
"Not just that, but being superstitious, they are very shy people, they don't want to be on camera. So they don't want you to know where they are sitting."
Because of this, Sampras took some time to find his mother on the terraces of the arena he has made his own more completely than any of the great ones, Laver, Borg and McEnroe.
There was maybe a clue or two in the matter of Sampras's desire to have his parents on the scene of his latest Grand Slam victory. It might, you had to believe, have something to do with his sense that his time at the very top of his game may at last be ebbing.
"They've always been very supportive, very loving. They weren't the typical parents, where they were with me every week. I'm my own man. They always give me my independence. They supported me throughout all the highs and lows. They've seen me at my best and my worst. They're not tennis parents. You see a lot of cases were parents get too involved. They've always kept their distance. I mean when I go home I'm the same Pete they've always treated as a kid. They've given me the strength and the heart to be here. They gave me the chance to play this great game."
It was, all in all, one of the longest speeches Pete Sampras had ever made, and what was it about? About the solid values of his Greek tradition, of parents who shunned the camera and got on with their lives. Lives that some might say were, well, a little boring. But Sampras clearly didn't care. They had made him what he was, and he knew well enough now it was to be a champion of the world who might just never be touched. It was something to hold against the boredom.
Something, he added, which would no doubt deepen down the years but he didn't, after all, come into the game to dazzle everyone with his personality. He came to win, and keep on winning, and now he said: "This is one of my best moments and I know that over time I'll appreciate it much more than I could do right now."
OSM 50 heartbreaking moments: number 37
Sampras wins it for his dying coach
Sunday January 7, 2007
24 January 1995, Australian Open, Melbourne
West Coast boy Pete Sampras often brought Hollywood-style drama to the tennis court, but never more memorably than on the night at the 1995 Australian Open when he played Jim Courier in a quarter-final.
Earlier that day, Sampras's coach, Tim Gullikson, had flown home from Melbourne having suffered his third stroke within three months, a manifestation of the brain cancer that would kill him.
Sampras was in a bad enough way with blistered feet that needed attention three times during the five, ultra-competitive sets. What really cracked up Sampras, though, was when in the fifth set with the time well past midnight a spectator yelled: 'Win it for your coach, Pete!' Sampras began to weep and Courier shouted across: 'You all right, Peter? We can do this tomorrow, you know.'
It was tomorrow and Sampras wanted to keep going. It was 1.09am when they eventually finished walloping each other to a standstill, Sampras winning 6-7 (4-7) 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 6-4 6-3.
02-21-2007, 02:48 PM
Q: What's the Greatest Performance of an Ailing Athlete?
Written by Mental_Floss
Published February 21, 2007
Part of mental_floss Question of the Day
A: Sure, if you're a sports fan, you probably know all about the big ones. For instance, it's widely known that on June 11, 1997, Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to a 3-2 series lead over the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals, despite suffering from the flu to such an extent that his teammates were nervous to touch him.
And certainly, Michael's feat is pretty legendary, and it's hard to top. But in our minds, there actually is one better. That's right, we're talking about the impressive show that came one year prior, when tennis great Pete Sampras — he of the toughness, the unibrow, and the unparalleled lack of charisma — played Alex Corretja at the U.S. Open.
Why's the match so remarkable? Well, for one thing Sampras wasn't just sick; after he vomited on the baseline during the deciding fifth set, the umpire threatened to disqualify him if he puked again. Ever the trooper, Sampras held it down and actually finished victorious.