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angiel 03-24-2005 08:37 PM


Australian Open 1994: Sampras drifted precariously close to defeat in the second round against an unknown adversary named Yevgeny Kafelnikov. The 19-year-old Russian tested the American to the hilt in some compelling baseline exchanges. Sampras was two points away from a bruising departure at 4-5, 30-30 in the final set, but he won on willpower, pulling through 9-7 in the fifth set. From that juncture, there was no stopping him. He became the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to take three Grand Slam titles in a row.

angiel 03-24-2005 08:54 PM

Re: Sampras - AUSSIE OPEN

angiel 03-26-2005 07:18 PM

Re: Sampras - AUSSIE OPEN

King Pete is aiming for French Crowning Glory!
By: Barry Flatman, Daily Express
Originally Published on: January 31, 1994

A Digger's hat sufficed for a crown as Pete Sampras was again hailed the modern king of tennis.

Never one of the game's madcaps, there were no victory pranks as Sampras celebrated his third consecutive Grand Slam triumph in the Australian Open.

Not for Sampras a celebratory Jim Courier-type dive into the Yarra River. Nor a bizarre Boris Becker dance around a gum tree while the Flinders Park crowd waited for the presentation.

But the 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Todd Martin put Sampras into regal company with tennis legends he has revered since childhood.

No man since Rod Laver 24 years ago has won three Grand Slam championships in a row. No man since Roy Emerson four years earlier has taken the Wimbledon, United States and Australian titles in that order.

Yet within minutes of victory Sampras was thinking about going one better and becoming only the third man in history after Laver and Don Budge, to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.

"Winning the French Open and completing the set is definitely going to be hard to achieve. But I feel that win on clay will be the biggest challenge of my career," said Sampras before he had even banked his £200,000 winnings. "I still feel I am a bit behind the Couriers and the Sergi Bruguera's on clay. I need a little more time to mature but one time I'll just get lucky."

Luck had nothing to do with the two hours 33 minutes defeat of big final rookie Martin.

Sampras did not produce the level of play that completely eclipsed defending champion Courier in the semi-final, but even the world No.1 can only achieve that level of on-court brilliance once or twice during his career.

Apart from a close first set that saw Sampras's self assurance pull him through in the tie-break, he was largely superior to 6ft 6in Martin who dwarfed him by 5 inches.

In only his second service game Sampras unleashed a 125mph ace, the second fastest of the tournament, but ninth seed Martin refused to accept second best until he hit a crucial volley into the net to trail in the tie-break. From that point Martin seemed deflated and it appeared only matter of time before Sampras added another title.

In last September's US Open final, Cedric Pioline fell away in three sets and it became increasingly apparent Martin was going to do the same.

But as coach Tim Gullikson pointed out afterwards: "Pete has more options to his game than players like Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe or Jim Courier."

"Nowadays he does not let negative things build up inside and he has the ability to make great players look ordinary."

Martin is not a great player yet but beaten semi-finalist Stefan Edberg can vouch he is more than useful. Try as he might, he could not halt the Sampras victory charge.

Whereas the first set took 63 minutes, the second was a 45-minute sprint and the third looked to be going even quicker when, Sampras admitted, he let his thoughts wonder.

"I knew what was at stake, three consecutive Grand Slams. I knew only six players had done it in the past and that was on my mind," said Sampras. "Instead of taking things point by point, I was looking ahead and taking things for granted." Officials were beginning to busy themselves for the presentation and the victory cheques had even been written when Martin raced to three break points.

Sampras saved two but a forehand flew long to introduce a brief air of tension. But he simply re-gathered his concentration, let Martin hold his serve and then delivered another couple of aces to set up two championship points. In the end he only needed one, sweeping a forehand across court before raising both hands in that increasingly familiar victory gesture.

Martin said: "He is just too good I guess, but he deserves everything he is getting because he is working his butt off." Few in tennis could be more succinct.

Article supplied by Georgia Christoforou

angiel 04-02-2005 07:21 PM

Re: Sampras - AUSSIE OPEN

Sampras solidifies stature
By: Associated Press
Originally Published on: 1/31/1994

MELBOURNE, Australia - Pete Sampras, the ultimate power tennis player of the 1990s, evoked images of the sport's past while winning his first Australian Open title. Sampras, who defeated Todd Martin 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, 6-4 in Sunday's all- American final, became the first man in nearly three decades to win Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open consecutively. He reasserted his dominance of men's tennis, drawing comparisons with boyhood idols such as Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall, by overpowering Martin with 126 mph aces and unreturnable groundstrokes. His match with golf buddy Martin was a throwback in other ways to the yesteryears of tennis, when gentlemen wearing crisp white outfits were more concerned about performance than personality. Sampras and Martin, both of whom have been ridiculed at times as boring and too polite, praised each other after the match. ``It makes it more fun for me when people appreciate two guys who just go and play tennis,'' Sampras said. ``I think that is the way tennis should be played, with class and someone who doesn't lose his temper and embarrass himself.'' Martin, wearing a cowboy hat given to both finalists afterward, said he appreciated ``all the support a little American kid can get.'' Martin looked up with a bemused smile when a woman in the crowd yelled, ``C'mon Todd, play hard,'' during the second set. He was playing hard, but was unable to pose much of a threat to Sampras after the first set. Martin, seeded ninth, had his best chance at 3-3 in the first set when he had four break points, but Sampras saved them all and eventually forced the tiebreaker. After that, the top-seeded Sampras was in control, finishing with 13 aces. ``When I did lose the breaker, I think it motivated Pete, it loosened him up,'' Martin said. ``Like most of the top players, he plays a lot better when he's ahead.'' Sampras was so consistent that when he had two aces in a three-point span in the final set, each of the serves went past Martin at exactly 119 mph. Martin and Sampras put their arms around each other's shoulders at the end, and Martin needled Sampras about leading 5-1 in the third set and dropping three straight games including a service gamebefore finally ending the match. ``He said, `Way to serve it out,''' Sampras said. ``He was giving me a hard time.'' It was the first all-American final at the Australian Open since 1982, when Johan Kriek defeated Steve Denton. Sampras received $322,000, Martin $161,000.

angiel 04-05-2005 10:50 PM

Re: Sampras - AUSSIE OPEN

angiel 04-05-2005 11:04 PM

Re: Sampras - AUSSIE OPEN

angiel 04-05-2005 11:12 PM

Re: Sampras - AUSSIE OPEN

angiel 04-09-2005 07:59 PM

Re: Sampras - AUSSIE OPEN

angiel 04-13-2005 10:00 PM

Re: Sampras - AUSSIE OPEN
Ten-Year Anniversary of Emotional Sampras Match Mirrors Ten Years of Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation

1/25/05 9:29 PM

PALM COAST, Fla. – On January 24, 1995, Pete Sampras played the toughest tennis match of his life and his coach, Tim Gullikson, began to fight a battle unlike any he’d ever experienced on the court.

As the Australian Open celebrates its Centennial, the Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation, which helps support brain tumor patients and their families, recognizes its 10th year. Both found their wings in Melbourne, one consciously, the other because of one of life’s double faults from which few recover.

Ranked No. 1 in the world ATP rankings, Sampras, along with Gullikson were in Melbourne, Australia preparing for Sampras’ tournament run when Gullikson had a seizure. Accompanied by his twin brother Tom, Tim Gullikson was admitted to a Melbourne hospital where doctors thought he had brain tumors.

“It was a very uncertain time,” Tom Gullikson recalled. “Pete came to see Tim everyday after practice and other coaches and players were taking time out of their training routines to do the same.”

Sampras, who arrived in Melbourne with a tournament title as his goal, found himself determined to play exceptional tennis for his ailing coach.

“I remember having to play knowing that Tim was not doing that well and wanting to get through some tough matches for him,” said Sampras who is retired from professional tennis.

Before Tim left Australia to travel home for further testing, close friends and associates visited to wish him well. Among them were Sampras and Jim Courier who were scheduled to play one another in a tournament quarterfinal the following day.

What happened January 24 is etched in Aussie Open archives and was the most emotional display of a coach and player bond in professional sports history. As Tim and Tom Gullikson flew home to Chicago, Courier and Sampras played a tight match. Down two sets to love, a spectator yelled to Sampras “do it for your coach,” at which point the protégé broke down on the court. He would continue the match with tears streaming throughout. Sampras played each point with heart and tenacity, and captured the next three sets and match from Courier, 6-7, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.

It was Tim Gullikson who helped Sampras develop the tenacity he showed on the court, even as he bowed to Andre Agassi in the Open’s title match.

“Tim’s attitude about practicing hard, his work ethic and knowledge of the game made a lasting impression on me on and off the court,” Sampras said.

Tim Gullikson used the same determination to battle brain cancer.

“This was obviously an emotional time for Tim and our family,” Tom Gullikson said, “and Tim took it at as hard as anyone would. Tim said, though, that he had two fundamental choices. He could wait to die or he could fight the brain tumors for all it was worth.”

Once Tim Gullikson knew what he was facing he developed a game plan to fight the disease that is the No. 2 cause of cancer deaths in children and young adults, and the No. 3 cause of cancer deaths in middle-aged adults. Then he turned his attention to others who fought the disease. If he, who had a loving and supportive family and the best medical attention available found it challenging to find information about how to live with this disease on a daily basis, how would other patients and caregivers cope?
“Tim said if someone had to face something as serious as brain tumors, it was good that it was him because he had so much support from family and friends,” Tom Gullikson said. “He reverted to a coach’s role. Tim believed in incorporating the principles of team-building, mental attitude development and coaching on how to best treat and live with the illness to create a source where patients and families could go for information and fill a gap in doctor’s offices.”

Tim Gullikson, with Tom, wife Rosemary and other family members founded the Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation.

“Tim continued to coach Pete over the phone,” Tom Gullikson said. “Paul Annacone was brought in to coach Pete on-site on an interim basis. Tim fully expected to return to Pete’s side as his coach.

“Tim handled everything with amazing fight, hope and a positive attitude. He never had a bad day.”

Although Tim Gullikson died on May 3, 1996, his legacy lives on. Ten years and more than $3 million dollars later, the Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation awards scholarships to college-bound students whose lives have been affected by brain tumors, supports research regarding quality of life issues that confront brain tumor patients, provides camp scholarships to children who are brain tumor survivors to attend Ronald McDonald Good Time Camps, funds social workers on the East and West coasts and in the Midwest who have developed social service programs for, and provide support via a toll-free telephone line and the Internet, to brain tumor patients ,caregivers and brain tumor networking groups.

The Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation played an instrumental role in developing the Brain Tumor Family Support Center at Duke University Medical Center, a model support program for large teaching hospitals.

In 2005, the Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation celebrates its 10th anniversary. In launching a yearlong celebration, benefits will be held throughout the United States beginning in March with Desert Smash in California and Tennis for Tim in Southeastern Wisconsin.

“The Foundation has done such a wonderful job at keeping Tim’s vision firmly intact, and I have no doubt that it will continue to do so,” Sampras said.

According to Tim’s wife, Rosemary Gullikson, Tim was always a coach who cared about other people and their needs. As the Foundation that bears his and his brother’s names recognizes its 10th anniversary, she believes that the Foundation’s programs pay tribute to that legacy.

The Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation was founded in 1995 by former tennis professionals Tim and Tom Gullikson and their families after Tim was diagnosed with brain tumors. The mission of the Foundation is to assist brain tumor patients and their families manage the physical, emotional and social challenges presented by the illness. It funds care and support programs of organizations with similar missions, and through college and camp scholarships. The Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation. It may be reached at 1-888-GULLIKSON and

angiel 04-13-2005 10:07 PM

Re: Sampras - AUSSIE OPEN
Brawn, Sweat and Tears

January 24, 1995 MELBOURNE, Australia-Long before he won this tortured passion play that masqueraded as a quarter- final match at the Australian Open, Pete Sampras, the event's defending champion and the world's No. 1 player, had already done the unthinkable. He broke down in tears under the spotlight on stadium court. And the instant this 3-hour-58- minute tear-jerker ended in a 6‚7 (4‚7), 6‚7 (3‚7), 6‚3, 6‚4, 6‚3 post-midnight comeback against the ninth-seeded Jim Courier, the traditionally stoic Sampras was again overcome by sobs.

"I think we were both just playing our hearts out," said Courier, who suspected that his opponent's uncharacteristic histrionics might have something to do with his unease over going on with a title defense while his coach had been sent back to the United States for further treatment of a serious heart ailment.

Long before Sampras had resurrected himself from the ultimate in Grand Slam predicaments -a two-sets-tonone deficit-for the second match in a row, his opponent was coping in secret with a body-racking case of leg cramps. "I just physically gave out," said Courier, this Grand Slam event's champion in 1992 and 1993. "At 4‚3 in the fifth, either one of us could have collapsed, but he was the one left standing. Pete's pretty determined, and certainly at a Grand Slam he's going to do whatever's in his power to win."

Sampras had worn himself into an emotional frazzle worrying about the health of his coach and best friend, Tim Gullikson, who spent the weekend undergoing tests in a private hospital after apparently suffering the latest in a series of strokes linked to a congenital heart ailment, which was first diagnosed in December.

Sampras was unable to talk about his crying jag, which began after he held serve in the opening game of the final set and then resumed intermittently throughout the set. "Hopefully I can recover from this whole experience," said Sampras, whose composure had reached the cracking point even before a spectator incited him to "win this one" for his coach. "I was really happy that I fought back; I didn't quit," said Sampras, who hurled 23 aces at Courier, two of them between sobs as he took a 2‚1 lead in the final set.

It wasn't until Sampras took his first lead of the match by holding serve to start the fifth set that his emotions floored him. He sat down for the change-over and, with his shoulders heaving and his face buried in his towel, he burst into uncontrollable tears. He struggled through the next two games, then called the trainer over to help talk him through his distress.

Sampras had appeared on the verge of giving up the match, but instead he soldiered on, broke Courier in the eighth game, and converted his first match point when Courier's forehand return soared long. Up at the net, Sampras apologized to Courier and embraced him; Courier had, after all, been part of a group that, on the eve of this match, shared dinner with Gullikson before he flew home. Gullikson learned the results of the match while changing planes in Los Angeles en route to a doctor's appointment in Chicago.

Pete Sampras defeated Michael Chang in the semifinals and lost to Andre Agassi in the final (see Jan. 29). Tim Gullikson died of brain cancer in May 1996 at Wheaton, Ill. He was 44.

angiel 04-16-2005 07:00 PM

Re: Sampras - AUSSIE OPEN

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 04-16-2005 07:22 PM

Re: Sampras - AUSSIE OPEN

Published January 26, 1995 on THE AGE:

Old friends battle it out to the death

The Pete Sampras-Jim Courier quarter-final was among the best in recent Grand Slam history. This is an edited version of how American tennis writer Bud Collins saw the dramatic contest.

Across two days, those old pals Pete Sampras and Jim Courier hammered and slashed away at each other. Five sets, four hours, hundreds of brilliant shots, a million emotional tremors as they clung to each other like leeches.

When their Australian Open quarter-final was over at 1:09 am, having begun the night before, 15,000 yelled-and-eyeballed-out customers filling Flinders Park were almost as battle weary as Courier and the unlikable victor, Sampras.

Both men were cramping. Sampras had literally come through blood, sweat and tears, dealing with gashed blistered feet that thrice required a trainer’s attention, but mostly turmoil within.

It was a capital-E Epic that No. 1 Sampras, sobbing at times, nevertheless grittily tore away from Courier, the revitalized champion of 1992-93, 6-7 (4-7), 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.

If being pushed behind two sets by the savage long-range firing of Courier wasn’t enough, Sampras also trailed, 2-4, in the fourth.

During this, the foremost revival of his career, immediately following the Sunday rebound from two sets down over Magnus Larsson, defending champion Sampras came close to falling apart psychologically.

“I thought he might be unable to go on,” his girlfriend, Delaina Mulcahy, said. Sitting in the first row, she kept calling: “Hang in, honey, hang in.”

Somehow he did. It was mental anguish over the illness of his coach, Tim Gullikson. Gullikson, who had suffered his third stroke within three months, flew home from Melbourne earlier in the day. Tournament director Paul McNamee announced: “Gullikson’s situation was the reason for Pete’s anguish, but he doesn’t want to talk about it to the press.”

This was obvious when he appeared at a post-match conference.
Sampras, barely controlling himself, answered a couple of questions, then abruptly departed.
“I didn’t quit,” he said, still teary. “It means a lot to me that Jim and I fought our hearts out and neither of us game an inch.”

At 1-1, 30-0, in the fifth set, someone in the heavily pro-Sampras crowed, yelled: “Win it for your coach, Pete!”
That triggered a gusher. Sensing the trouble, Courier showed the warmth that underlies their years as friends and rivals for the top. He shouted across the net, jocularly: “Are you all right, Pete? We can do this tomorrow, you know.”

It was tomorrow. But Sampras bucked up and launched the 21st and 22nd of his 25 aces to win the game. He would not be behind again.

“We both could have collapsed then,“ said the super-fit Courier. “We were cramping, the intensity took its toil, but we never let up. I knew by the second set this was something special in our lives. I can’t feel bad about losing like that.

“Pete looked bad, I feel bad … but it’s no surprise to me that he came back. That’s Pete. This is a major. We both wanted it so bad.”

Courier felt it probably got away from him when he double-faulted on his third game point in the eighth game of the fourth. “Cramps really grabbed me then,” he said.

Through his tears, Sampras rose to a fifth-set crescendo, losing but four points on serve. He hounded Courier for the decisive break to 5-3, even though Courier had five game points.

Amid wild cheering, after Courier missed a passing forehand bid at match pint, they embraced at the net.
“I know you’re dead, Pete,” Courier told his conqueror, “because I’m dead.”

(taken from the Boston Globe)

angiel 04-26-2005 09:44 PM

Re: Sampras - AUSSIE OPEN
Emotional Sampras wins in 5

By Alan Attwood, The Age
January 25, 1995

This wasn't tennis; this was war. And after an extraordinary battle spanning two minutes short of four hours, a tearful Pete Sampras finally conquered Jim Courier. He later broke down while attempting to begin the post-match news conference.

In the finest, most dramatic, and longest match of this Australian Open, the defending champion defeated Courier in a match that finished in the early hours of this morning, taking Sampras through to the semi-finals. He won 6-7 (4-7), 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.

For the second successive match Sampras had to fight back from two sets down. That he was able to do so was testimony to his extraordinary stamina and determination to hang on to the Open title he won last year. But the effort took him to the edge of exhaustion, and early in the final set he started to cry.

At that stage Courier called out to him: "You all right, Pete? We can do this tomorrow, you know." Sampras only reply was to serve consecutive aces.

Missing from his customary place at courtside was Sampras' couch of three years, Tim Gullikson. Se fell ill last Friday, was taken to hospital, and flew home to the United States yesterday.

Asked later if he could explain Sampras' distress on court, Courier said afterwards: "I don't know about emotional distress, but he was definitely in physical distress. We were both cramping at the end."

But before Sampras appeared for his news conference, tournament director Paul McNamee said he would not answer questions about Gullikson. Sampras appeared, broke down, and returned only after a few minutes, still very emotional. He later said he was unsure if would be able to recover fully before his semi-final, tomorrow, against Michael Change, who yesterday defeated Andrei Medvedev in straight sets.

Courier said he was aware early in the match that "something special was happening out there". Sampras said: "It was definitely one of the better matches I've ever taken part in. I’m just pleased I fought back and didn't quit." It was certainly one of the best matches ever played Flinders Park.

The crucial game of a stirring final set was the eight, with Courier serving, trailing 3-4. Five times Courier held game-point to lick up the deciding set at 4-all. Five times Sampras wrested back the advantage. Then, when Courier hit a backhand long, the centre court crowd erupted as Sampras gained break-point.

Courier, himself a former Open champion, wearily dumped a forehand into the net to concede the game. Summoning all his last energy, Sampras served out the match to love, sealing an incredible victory.

The pair embraced at the net, though Sampras seemed hardly able to raise his arms to celebrate his triumph. At the net, Courier said to Sampras: "I know you're dead, because I'm f---ing dead." Sampras left to cheers, as did Courier. The beaten man held a white towel above his head. It was a symbol of farewell, not surrender.

The first two sets resembled old-style trench warfare, with both Sampras and Courier fighting for every inch of ground. Courier, however, seemed to be marginally more confident and aggressive than the defending champion.

There were no breaks of serve at all, with both sets going into tiebreaks. Even in the first tiebreak, points went on serve until Sampras double-faulted to give Courier a 4-3 lead. Two points later, Sampras upset when the umpire over-ruled a linesman who had called a Courier shot out. The point was replayed, Courier won it, and soon afterwards claimed the set.

In 13 previous meetings, the winner of the first set had gone to take the match on 12 occasions, Courier trailed 3-10 in those career matches, but had won their last meeting at the French Open, where he also took the first set. At last year’s Australian Open, Sampras won a semi-final match 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

Early in the second set, Sampras received treatment for a cut on one foot. He seemed frustrated by his inability to find a chink in Courier’s game. But still there were flashes of fire: in the seventh game he served three aces, interrupted by a double fault, to take the game from deuce. Again the set went to a tiebreak. Courier bamboozled Sampras with a mixture of drop-shots and lobs and wrapped it up 7-3.

After a fraction over two hours it was crisis time for Sampras. He had not had his own served broken, but trailed by two sets to love. As had been the case against Magnus Larsson two days earlier, he faced the toughest assignment in the game: having to recover from two sets down to win the match in five.

angiel 04-26-2005 09:50 PM

Re: Sampras - AUSSIE OPEN
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 04-30-2005 08:12 PM

Re: Sampras - AUSSIE OPEN
from: Valuable experience, says Sania, by V.V. SUBRAHMANYAM
The Hindu, February 11, 2003
(it is about Brian Langley, Star Sports commentator until 1997)

Langley counts the Australian Open quarterfinals between Jim Courier and Pete Sampras as his best match as commentator.

Sampras fought back from two sets down to take the issue in the fifth set. Then a spectator from the crowd shouted, "Do it Pete, for your coach Tim Gullikson (who died just before the event of a brain tumour)."

The sight of a visibly moved Sampras rendered Langley and Vijay Amritraj speechless. Eventually, Sampras won. "It was a great match with a humane touch," recalls Langley.

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