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
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.
All Wimbledon 2012 posts are tagged Wimbledon and are listed up below:
The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club:
Wimbledon guided tour – part 1
Wimbledon guided tour – part 2
Wimbledon Centre Court roof
Court 3 : a new Show Court at Wimbledon
Waiting in the Queue to Wimbledon
Wimbledon Museum: The Queue exhibition
The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum: Player Memorabilia
Fashion and gear:
Caroline Wozniacki adidas outfit for Wimbledon 2012
Rafael Nadal Nike oufit
Roger Federer Nike oufit
Maria Sharapova Nike dress
Serena Williams Nike dress
Petra Kvitova Nike oufit
Li Na Nike oufit
adidas players outfits: Ivanovic, Kirilenko, Murray and Tsonga
Kim Clijsters Fila Collection
A trip down memory lane:
Wimbledon past champions: stats and records
Wimbledon ‘s biggest upsets
Rod Laver – John Newcombe Wimbledon 1969
Bjorn Borg – Ilie Nastase Wimbledon 1976
Virginia Wade, Britain’s last Wimbledon champion
1981: First Wimbledon title for McEnroe
1982: Jimmy Connors defeats John McEnroe
1984: John McEnroe defeats Jimmy Connors
Wimbledon 1991: the first Middle Sunday
1992: first Grand Slam for Andre Agassi
1993: Pete Sampras defeats Jim Courier
2000 Wimbledon SF: Pat Rafter defeats Andre Agassi
2000 Wimbledon Final: Pete Sampras defeats Pat Rafter
2001 Wimbledon 4th round: Federer defeats Sampras
The Spirit of Wimbledon: a 4-part documentary by Rolex retracing Wimbledon history
Recap and analysis:
Grand Slam Tennis 2 will include a host of gameplay features including:
• All-New Total Racquet Control: Control every shot with the right analog stick, smashing forehands, backhands, overheads and volleys with precision, accuracy and power. Utilize this innovative control system to take your game to the top! But if you prefer the old school button controls, those are still available!
• Become a Champion: Become a true Grand Slam tournament champion by capturing all four major championships in succession. The prestige of some of the most historic events in tennis come alive like never before, including the Australian Open, French Open, U.S. Open and exclusive to EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis franchise – Wimbledon.
Pete Sampras ran out of steam against the 20 year Australian. In a match that recalled the 2000 final, he was thoroughly outclassed by Hewitt 7-6 (4), 6-1, 6-1.
From Sampras‘ autobiography ” A champion’s mind”:
“It had been a draining second week for me. After beating Rafter and winning that epic four-setter over Andre, I handled Marat Safin with relative ease.
I had to play Hewitt in the final barely twenty- four hours after finishing my semi, and by that point my brain was already slightly fried and my legs were feeling a little heavy. For a veteran, that twenty-four-hour turnaround at the Open is one of the toughest assignments in tennis, mentally as well as physically.”
“Hewitt was just twenty, and he still had peach fuzz on his face. With his long hair and clear blue eyes, he looked like a teenage surfing or skateboarding champ, and he played with a healthy disdain for etiquette, forever punctuating his better shots with gut-wrenching screams of “Come awwwwwwwn”. A year earlier, I had barely managed to containHewitt in the US Open semis, winning two of my three sets in tie-breakers.”
He was now a year older, a year wiser, a year hungrier – and a year stronger.
From Sampras‘ autobiography ” A champion’s mind”:
“We had a tremendous crowd for our big quarterfinal in Flushing Meadows. Word must have gone out all over Wall Street, the Upper East Side, and Central Park West that this was potential classic, for all the scenemakers, movers and shakers, and celebrities were out. The best thing was that you could feel this respect and appreciation for tennis in the air. It wasn’t the usual noisy New York crowd, being semiattentive. Everyone seemed riveted and there were moments when you could have heard a pin drop.”
“Andre and I gave them their money’s worth – this was a battle pitting the best serve-and-volleyer against the best returner and passer.
It was different from our final of 1995, because I attacked more – in fact, I attacked relentlessly. I think I served and volleyed on every single service point I played for more than three hours. ”
“That match also represented the longest period of time over which Andre and I both played really well at the same time. We each had our little lulls and hiccups, but nobody lost serve for more than three hours. I had chances to break Andre in the first set, but I blew it. I lost the first tiebreaker, but I came back to win the next three. It was a blunt and sometimes brutal battle that was decided most of all by execution and mental focus, rather than strategy or the way our strokes matched up.”
“In a way, that high point of our rivalry was also a microcosm of our decade-long battle. I held a six-win edge in our rivalry (20-14), although if Andre had not taken significant breaks from the game we might have played fifty times.
I performed a little better in the majors holding a 6-3 edge. He won all our clashes at the Australian and French Open; I won all the ones we played at Wimbledon and the US Open. We met in five major finals, and I won on every occasion but one, the Australian Open of 1995. We had a few epics.”
In the long run, I was just a little better at those giant moments, just like I was on that sultry New York night when Andre and I played our masterpiece.