1992 US Open champion Stefan Edberg

From Sampras‘ autobiography ” A champion’s mind”:

“Edberg and I had a few things in common. We were both reserved, shy, old-school sportsmen. Although Stefan grew up in Sweden, he went against the grain in that clay-court haven and switched to a one-handed backhand, much like I had, because he wanted to play attacking tennis. Edberg was a prodigy, too, but in a slightly different way. He’d won a junior Grand Slam. As a pro, he’d been through something similar to the struggle I was unconsciously dealing with in 1992 – the battle to become a great competitor as well as a great talent. In Stefan’s case, the catchphrase that haunted him wasn’t “ton of bricks” but “fire in the belly”. Early in his career, Stefan was accused of lacking a gut-level, burning desire to win.

In a good example of bad timing, I was catching Edberg just as he was proving the critics wrong. The previous year, he had taken over my US Open title with a flawless, artful, straight sets deconstruction of Courier’s straightforward game.
Any remaining doubters were convinced by the epic way Edberg went about defending his US title at Flushing Meadows in 1992. In his last three matches before the final, he was down a break in the fifth and final set against high-quality opponents: Richard Krajicek, Ivan Lendl and Michael Chang.
The semi against Michael remains one of the all time great matches, in term of the struggles if not the quality of play.

Lanky and tall, Edberg was a great mover. He lived and died by his kick serve, which he liked to follow at the net, where he could use his superb volley to cut off all but the sharpest of returns. Stefan’s game plan was straightforward: get to the net.

I came out pretty strong and won the first set. But it was a terrible struggle from there. The “new” Stefan Edberg was on full display. He was full of emotion, pumping his fists, yelling, doing everything to show he had fire in his belly. He won the second set.
At the critical juncture of the match – a third set tiebreaker – I threw in an ill-timed double fault to give Edberg a 6-4 lead and double set point. Stefan capitalized to go up two sets to one, and then I double faulted away the first game of the fourth set. In a blink, it was 3-0 Edberg. I went through the motions the rest of the way; I packed in it.”

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

This was the moment when the Wimbledon baton was passed from me to him

Roger Federer - Pete Sampras

Roger Federer - Pete Sampras

From Sampras‘ autobiography ” A champion’s mind”:

” I got a great draw at Wimbledon. I had, in successive matches, Francisco Clavet, a clay courter, Barry Cowan, a British long shot in through a wild card, and Sargis Sargsian. Beating those guys brought me up against a young Swiss guy I’d already heard good things about, Roger Federer.
From what I’d been told, he was very talented, but he ran a little hot and cold. I expected to win, but very early in the match I realized that I was up against a kid with a complete game and talent to burn.”
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