My win at Wimbledon in 1993 was really the beginning of my career as a dominant champion

Extract from Sampras‘ autobiography A Champion’s mind:

“I was nervous from the moment I woke up on the day of the final – it was the opposite of how I’d felt before playing Edberg in the 1992 US Open final. I’d slept horribly and, although I didn’t throw up, my stomach was so jumpy I had trouble eating. I was haunted by memories of the 92 US Open. This was my first major final since then, and I experienced something new – the fear of losing. I felt it would be devastating if this chance, too, slipped away. It felt less like I was going to play a tennis match than to stand trial, and I had no idea what the outcome would be. Although I had played a few dozen tournament finals by then, this was a Grand Slam and it was going to be more like my first time.

Tim wanted me to impose my game on Jim – smother him with a serve-and-volley display. Jim used pretty extreme grips and fired his forehand with rifle-like power and accuracy, but if I could keep the ball low and keep him from setting up to unload the way he did on clay, I might keep him off balance. But Tim also knew I was capable of getting down on myself, and even wilting in the heat.

The tension was excruciating. It was the Fourth of July, and hotter than hell. But as soon as Jim and I started the warm-up on Centre Court, everything went away . All the anxiety, nerves and pressure. Thirty six hours of intense pressure just went out of the window. I had this acute realization that I could finally breathe, and it felt great. I’ll never forget that feeling. The weight of my shoes was the only thing that kept me from floating away.

From the start I played well – very well. But it was never easy against Jim, and I had to take care of my serve and look for my opportunities to break him, which didn’t materialize in the first two sets until the tiebreakers. In a way, this was the dangerous aspect of grass-court tennis personified. I dominated with my serve, and backed it with precise volleys.
But solving Jim’s serve was a far tougher assignment. As we arrived at each tiebeaker, I was well awae that an errant shot by me here, or a great or lucky shot by him there, would win him the set.

But even with two sets in hand, the job wasn’t nearly done. In fact, the enormous relief I felt when I won the second set led to a huge letdown on my part. Serving the second game of the third set, I double-faulted on break point and that put a new puff of wind into Jim’s sails. I managed to get the break back, but I was still drained from all the nervous energy I had expended, and although I was still playing hard and playing well, I was starting to feel fatigued.

We battled on serve for five games in the fourth set, and I sensed that I was in trouble. And that’s when my newfound determination kicked in. A yea earlier, I might have wilted in the sun and let the fourth set slip away and then – who knows? I pulled my game together and I broke Jim in the sixth game of the fourth set with another running forehand pass.

Suddenly I had room to breathe, and I was just two gamesfrom the title. Those games went by in a flurry of aces and winning volleys. And when I converted match point, I felt this surge of joy mixed with relief.

I finally understood what it meant to be a worthy Grand Slam champion

Andre Agassi, Wimbledon 1992

Extract of Andre Agassi‘s autobiography Open:

The talent assembled in London in 1992 is stunning. There’s Courier, ranked number one, fresh off two slam victories. There’s Pete, who keeps getting better. There’s Stefan Edberg, who’s playing out of his mind. I’m the twelfth seed, and the way I’ve been playing I should be seeded lower.

In my first-round match, against Andrei Chesnokov, from Russia, I play like a low seed. I lose the first set. Frustrated, I rip into myself, curse myself, and the umpire gives an official warning for saying fuck. I almost turn on him and fire a few fuck-fuck-fucks. Instead I decide to shock him, shock everyone, by taking a breath and being composed. Then I do something more shocking. I win the next three sets.

I’m in the quarters. Against Becker, who’s reached six o the last seven Wimbledon finals. This is his de facto home court, his honey hole. But I’ve been seeing his serve well lately. I win in five sets, played over two days.

In the semis I face McEnroe, three time Wimbledon champion. He’s thirty-three, nearing the end of his career, and unseeded. Given his underdog status, and his legendary accomplishments, the fans want him to win, of course. Part of me wants him to win also. But I beat him in three sets. I’m in the final.
I’m expecting to face Pete, but he loses his semifinal match to Goran Ivanisevic, a big, strong serving machine from Croatia. I’ve played Ivanisevic twice before, and both times he’s shellacked me in straight sets. So I feel for Pete, and I know I’ll be joining him soon. I have no chance against Ivanisevic. It’s a middleweight versus a heavyweight. The only suspense is whether it will be a knowkout or a TKO.

As powerful as Ivanisevic’s serve is under normal circumstances, today it’s a work of art. He’s acing me left and right, monster serves that the speed gun clocks at 138 miles an hour. But it’s not just the speed, it’s the trajectory. They land at a 75-degree angle.
[…] He wins the first set, 7-6. I don’t break him once. I concentrate on not overeacting, on beathing in, beathing out, remaining patient. When the thought crosses my mind that I’m on losing my fourth slam final, I casually set that thought aside. In the second set Ivanisevic gives me a few freebies, makes a few mistakes and I break him. I take the second set, then the third. Which makes me feel almost worse, because once again I’m a set away from a slam.
Ivanisevic rises up in the fourth set and destroys me. I’ve made the Croat mad. He loses only a handful of points in the process. Here we go again. I can see tomorrow’s headlines as plain as the racket in my hand. As the fifth set begins I run in place to get the blood flowing and tell myself one thing: You want this. You do not want to lose, not this time. The problem in the last three slams was that you didn’t want them enough, and therefore you didn’t bring it, but this one you want, so this time you need to let Ivanisevic and everyone else in this joint know you want it.

Now Ivanisevic’s serving at 4-5. He double faults. Twice. He’s down 0-30. I haven’t broken this guy in the last hour and a half and now he’s breaking himself. He misses another first serve.He’s coming apart. I know it. I see it. No one knows better than I what coming apart looks like. A puff of chalk shoots up as if he hit the line with an assault rifle. Then he hits another uneturnable serve. Suddenly it’s 30-all.
He misses another first serve, makes the second. I crush a return, he hits a half volley, I run and pass him and start the long walk back to the baseline. I tell myself, You can win this thing with just one swing. One swing. You’ve never been this close. You may never be again. […]

He tosses the ball, serves to my backhand; I jump in the air, swing with all my strength , but I’m so tight that the ball to his backhand side has mediocre pace. Somehow he misses the easy volley.

His ball smacks the net and just like that, after twenty-two years and twenty-two million swings of a tennis racket, I’m the 1992 Wimbledon champion.

Extract: Serious by John McEnroe

Some people talk about my 6-1 6-2 6-2 destruction of Connors in the 1984 Wimbledon as my greatest match ever, but the truth is – between you and me – I thought Jimmy was just a little flat that day.
I was also having one of those days, when everything seemed to be going almost too right. I got out of bed in the morning feeling great, and in my practice session, the ball looked as big as a cantaloupe. Since I always manage to worry when things are going well, I stopped the session early – I was afraid of leaving my best stuff in practice.

But it just kept getting better.
In fairness, Connors had had a tough semi against Lendl, a four-set slugfest on a very hot afternoon,while I had won in three agaisnt that feisty Aussie whippersnapper Pat Cash. Cash was a tough serve-and-volleyer in that great Down-Under tadition, still a little green at nineteen, but a great athlete and a fine tennis player. I thought he was a comer – especially after he shouldered me on a changeover during the second-set tiebreaker. That, I felt, was a very interesting move: here I was, number one in the world, a two-time Wimbledon champ, one of the game’s grand old men at twenty five … This kid’s got the right attitude, I thought.

Meanwhile, my attitude had utterly changed. I had wasted too much energy at the French by getting angry, I realized; from the first match at the All England Club that year, I was determined not to do anything that would derail me from avenging Roland Garros – my only loss in fifty-two matches so fa in ’84 – and winning my hat-trick Wimbledon. I was on a five-match winning steak against Jimmy, and I felt confident I could make it six.
I just didn’t know it would be so easy.

The heat wave had continued, but I was hotter than the weather that Sunday afternoon. From the start, Connors just couldn’t find his rhythm, while I was serving unbelievably well – slicing it wide, popping it up in the middle, doing whatever I wanted. I hit seventy-four percent of my first serves in the match, with ten aces and no double faults. I had three –three – unforced errors in the match.

That’s the best I ever played

I said in the press conference afterward. It was also the best I’d ever acted at Wimbledon: The London tabloids dubbed me ‘Saint John‘.

From McEnroe‘s autobiography Serious:

Connors was never intimidated by anyone – at least he never looked that way – and he was in the midst of an amazing year. From the jump, we played a very aggressive final, nothing like either of my last two against Borg, where the play had been more consistently fine, but also more subdued.
Every match I ever played against Jimmy was like a prizefight. At Wimbledon that day, I was ahead two sets to one, we went to tiebreaker in the fourth, and then I was three points from winning the match. Yet somehow, I just could’t dig deep enough to pull it out – maybe Jimmy was just hungrier. In retrospect, I should’ve said to myself, ‘Don’t let it go to a fifth set – stop him here or you’re finished.’

But I didn’t stop him, and when we went to the fifth, I think my body language showed what I was really feeling: between my ankle and my state of mind, I had done well just getting this far in the tournament. And that was as far as I went in the longest final in Wimbledon history.
Connors pulled off an amazing feat – he won his second Wimbledon eight years after his first – and I would have to wait another twelve months before I could prove I wasn’t a flash in the pan.”

Check out some pics of Ana Ivanovic, Maria Kirilenko, Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga adidas outfits:

Ana Ivanovic:

Wimbledon 2012: adidas players outfits

Maria Kirilenko:

Wimbledon 2012: adidas players outfits

Andy Murray:

Wimbledon 2012: adidas players outfits
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