Pete Sampras, owner of 14 Grand Slam titles, turns 50. The American won the Wimbledon crown seven times and completed a magnificent career. A review of ten great moments of his career in the world of tennis in the style of ESPN Tennis:
1- The first official ATP title
The American had his baptism as ATP champion in Philadelphia, in his country, in 1990. There, at just 18 years old, he took the first of the 64 tournaments harvested on the official circuit in singles. On the way he beat his eternal rival, Andre Agassi, and another Top 10 of the moment, Tim Mayotte, until he beat Andrés Gómez in the final. That week, the then young man Pistol Pete it was out of the Top 30 and it took a quality leap. It was his first big warning.
2- His first Grand Slam, the US Open ’90
Months after his first title, Sampras gave himself the pleasure of winning his first big cup by winning the US Open. Again before his people, he began to make himself known with his offensive proposal, supported by a deadly serve and a deadly right. Until then, in the Grand Slam, he had not passed the round of 16 and had four eliminations in the first round, but he was uncovered in New York, with three victories over the Top 10 of the moment, Thomas Muster, Ivan Lendl and Andre Agassi in the final, plus the legend of John McEnroe.
3- The first consecration as a Teacher
In 1991, in his second participation in the final ATP Masters, Sampras was crowned champion. In the round robin, beat Michael Stich and Agassi and lost to Boris Becker, beat Lendl in the semifinal and Jim Courier in the final. It was the first of his five titles in the tournament that brings together the eight best of the year each season and the peculiarity is that in each of his five coronations he always lost a match in the group (three were against Becker).
4- His first big celebration at Wimbledon
For the American, 1993 was a turning point to begin to cement a sensational career and his reign at Wimbledon, only surpassed years later by Roger Federer. It is that Sampras achieved that time the first of his seven titles on the lawn of La Catedral, thanks to his great triumphs over Agassi and Becker and the decisive one against Courier. It was his fifth performance at the London Grand Slam and his first final there. It was the beginning of his dynasty at Wimbledon, with seven cups in an eight-year span. Really, historical.
5- In 1994 he achieved more and better tournaments
There was a year, 1994, in which the American reached the mark of 10 singles titles and did so for the only time in his career. That season was the second of four in which he won two of the four Grand Slams at stake. For the first time he was consecrated in the Australian Open, he also added his main cup on clay, his weakest surface, in Rome, his second Wimbledon in a row, for the only time he took three Masters 1000 in a calendar, with Indian Wells, Miami and the aforementioned Rome, and closed it with another celebration at the end of the year Masters.
6- The Davis Cup, twice in your hands
The legendary tennis team tournament had several times the United States, its top winner, as a luxury protagonist. Sampras was crowned Davis Cup champion for two years, but with different participation: in 1992, at home against Switzerland, he won the doubles together with McEnroe in the final and in 1995, when he visited Russia for the decisive clash, he was vital in Moscow with his victories in the three successes of his team, in singles against Andrey Chesnokov and Yevgeny Kafelnikov and in pairs with Todd Martin. Undoubtedly, that conquest was unforgettable for Pistol Pete.
7- He regained his smile in La Catedral
In 1997, after another failed attempt at Roland Garros, the only Major that he could never win, without even playing a final, since the best was the semifinal of 1996, he was really happy again at Wimbledon. In his second home, where he had won three consecutive titles, he yielded in the 1996 quarters to Richard Krajicek, to return to shine fully. The American had a high-level course, beating Becker, one of his main opponents, in the quarterfinals and an easy victory over Cedric Pioline in the definition. That year he won eight tournaments, the second best record in his career, a figure matched on two other occasions.
8- Record of years finished as N ° 1
For Sampras, 1998 was a special season. The particularity did not lie in his titles, but in that he fought against his colleagues and had the luxury of finishing for the sixth year in a row as the leader of the ATP world rankings. Since this classification was created in 1973, no other man has been able to finish six years as No. 1 and to top it all he achieved it consecutively. With five they are followed by Jimmy Connors, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Therefore, it is a truly enviable record.
9- His seventh Wimbledon cup
Memorable and record triumph at the time. It was in 2000 when Sampras won his fourth title in a row and seventh overall in the Major from London, to score a record high that Federer could barely beat with eight. That time, the American took advantage of the fact that he did not face any Top 20 in the ranking in his seven games and defeated Patrick Rafter in the final match. At the time, his 13th Grand Slam success was record-breaking, marking his 10th grass-court title, a milestone that only Federer could leave behind on the men’s circuit.
10- A big goodbye at the US Open 2002
It was an unforgettable coronation, wherever you look at it. After the seventh Wimbledon, the American had not been able to stand out in another great tournament that was not the Open in his country, since he fell in the 2000 and 2001 finals. He arrived in New York in 2002 being 17th in the ranking, eliminating figures like Tommy Haas and Andy Roddick to beat none other than Agassi, his archrival, in the very final. There he achieved his fifth drink in that Major, record equaled with Connors and Federer, to surprise almost everyone. He did not play any other tournament again and a year later he announced right there, at the US Open, his permanent retirement from the circuit. A movie close.