My love affair with Pete Sampras – PART II

In 2000 I flew to Paris for Roland Garros; I knew it was a long shot for Sampras because he has always struggled on clay. He didn’t even make it out of the first round, losing to [25] Mark Philippoussis (AUS) 6-4, 5-7, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-8.  I always dreaded Philippoussis; although Sampras led their head to head, Philippoussis made life difficult for Pete.  I believe to this day that Philippoussis would have beaten Sampras in the 1999 Wimbledon quarterfinals (he was leading Sampras 6-4, 1-2) if he hadn’t retired due to injury.

Richard Krajicek (NED) was Sampras’s kryptonite and I was probably more anxious than Sampras whenever they were on the same side of the draw or whenever they met in a final.  In fact, Krajicek is one of the few players who has a winning record against Sampras; he leads their head to head 6:4.

I never got to see Sampras play on grass. I went to Wimbledon in 2002 and was thrilled that Sampras was still playing.  I hoped that if he won another Major before he retired, it would be Wimbledon (he hadn’t won a title since the 2000 US Open). I figured that the Wimbledon loss in 2001 to [15] Roger Federer (SUI) 6-7(7), 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(2), 5-7 was an anomaly and he would right the ship in 2002.

I landed at Heathrow and was in the car when I heard the shocking news: [13] Pete Sampras (USA) had lost in the second round to [145] George Bastl (SUI) 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 4-6.  Who was this guy that had beaten Sampras?  I had never heard of him. How could Sampras do this to me?  I finally made it to Wimbledon and he was gone.  I was devastated.

I resolved never to get that involved with another sports figure, it was too taxing.  Nevertheless, I must confess that there are currently a few players that I admire quite a bit, but there will never be another Pete Sampras.

Sampras ended his career having won a total of 64 singles titles: 14 Majors; 11 ATP Masters 1000; 5 ATP Year End Championships; 2 Grand Slam Cup; and 2 doubles titles. Sampras ended the year as the number one ranked player, six (6) consecutive years:  1993-1998.

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