Pete Sampras: From start to finish, the American was a legend in every aspect

Sampras’ domination in tennis exceeded unimaginable heights as the former player ruled the world for many years.

Pete Sampras file photo: Credit: US Open Tennis Twitter page

Arguably one of the greatest tennis players of all time, Pete Sampras was a treat to watch on the court. His offensive style of play with pinpoint accurate serves made him the most feared player of his time. His 14 Grand Slam titles was a record at his retirement as Sampras dominated the tennis world in stellar fashion. Clay was the only court he failed to mount his supremacy, but it cannot deny the legendary status the former American star deserves.

Sampras began his career when fellow American players like John McEnroe and Andre Agassi were ruling the sport. He not alone faced competition from the outside but had to overcome stern challenges from his own countrymen. America was enjoying one of the best times in their tennis history. Turning professional at the age of 16 in 1988, Sampras had to wait for couple of years to make his mark.

The breakthrough

In 1990, the right-handed American won his first singles title at the Ebel US Pro Indoor in Philadelphia. But his major breakthrough came months later at the Flushing Meadows. After getting knocked out of the first round in Wimbledon, Sampras headed into US Open with little hope. Against all odds he embarked on an impressive journey, beating McEnroe in the semifinals and Agassi in the final.

It was this unexpected win at Flushing Meadows announced the arrival of a new superstar. Sampras showed no fear. He would play an offensive brand of style from the baseline. His trademark serve and volley made him difficult for opponents to deal with. With all-round skills, he was quick with his feet and was an excellent returner of the ball. He charged to the net regularly, making his game unpredictable for his opponents to decode.

His powerful first serve was Sampras’ main weapon. It helped him get out of tricky situations. Sampras was equally efficient in his second serve as he had to ability to conjure aces with his second serve as well. He was one of the few complete players tennis has ever seen. He excelled at all the courts, barring the clay as the semifinal run in the 1996 French Open remains to be his best at Roland Garros.

Departing with a bang

He has won two Australian Opens – the first of which came in 1994. But it was the Wimbledon where he attained stardom by winning seven of them. The grass court king was equally efficient in the hard court. US Open is where he had his first and last Grand Slam success.

After a sluggish lead up to the 2002 US Open, Sampras was seeded 17th at the Flushing Meadows. With many believing Sampras’ best days were behind him, the veteran player reminded everyone of his abilities to build an unlikely title charge. Just like his first US Open, Sampras yet again defeated Agassi to register a fifth title at the Flushing Meadows and a then-record 14th Grand Slam crown.

He never player another Slam, making him the only player in the Open Era to have won the final Grand Slam he competed. He also holds an Open Era record of six consecutive year-end World No. 1 rankings from 1993 to 1998. Even though a French Open title remained elusive to him, Sampras’s monumental achievements at other major tournaments are enough to consider him as one of the greatest players to ever play tennis.

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