1994 US Open 4th round: Jaime Yzaga defeats Pete Sampras
Without a doubt one of the biggest upsets in the US Open history.
“Right before the 1994 Wimbledon, I got out of my Sergio Tacchini contract and signed a new clothing and shoe deal, with Nike. Wimbledon was my first official tournament for my new brand, and I was pretty fired up about being with the US-based giant. The color of the money might have been the same in Italy as Oregon, but having your big endorsement deals with companies in your native land is always preferable; it’s just a much more natural connection that can be exploited more effectively for everyone’s benefit.
Nike had developed a nice, classic clothing line for me, along with a shoe that was part of the massive new Air campaign that would prove to be such an enormous hit. Unfortunately, the shoe didn’t agree with my foot, and by the time I left Wimbledon my right foot was hurting and swollen. I went to a doctor and had an MRI, and was subsequently diagnosed with posterior tibial tendinitis.
I was scheduled to play Washington, but had to withdraw. I also pulled out of Montreal and Cincinnati; my summer preparation for the US Open was shot and Nike was scrambling around to find me a shoe I could wear for the American Grand Slam.
I survived three matches at the Open, but my fourth-round opponent was the crafty, slightly built Peruvian Jaime Yzaga. A player with nice touch and nimble feet, Yzaga moved me around, made shots when he most needed them. He found a way to break me enough times on a hot, humid afternoon to drag me into a fifth set.
I was in poor condition and had very little left in the tank, but remembering the pact I’d made with myself, I fought like mad. The New York crowd was firmly behind me, and they really appreciated the lengths to which I went to try and stay in the match. But woozy and clearly on my last legs, I lost, 7-5 in the fifth. The struggle was of such high quality that it captivated many, and by the time it was over, chaos more or less reigned . Jaime and I had turned in the most riveting match of the tournament, providing many with an unforgettable moment.
As soon as the match ended, tournament officials hustled me into the referee’s office, which was alongside the short tunnel through which players entered Louis Armstrong stadium. Attendants there stripped me and hooked up the IV bags. […]
When the IV kicked in for me, the first thing I saw was the familiar face of Vitas Gerulaitis. Seeing the kind of shape I was in, Vitas had rushed down from the commentary booth as soon as the last ball was hit. He volunteered to go over to the locker rooms to get my clothes and incidentals. When he returned, Vitas waited until I was sufficiently recovered to dress, and the he helped me out of the place, carrying my racket bag.
I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the last I would see of my friend Vitas. He died in a tragic accident just weeks later, succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning while sleeping in the pool house on a friend’s estate in the glitzy Hamptons on New York’s Long Island.”