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Last Updated: Monday, 31 May, 2004, 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
Wimbledon legends: Pete Sampras
Pete Sampras
Born: 12/8/71
Washington DC, USA
Wimbledon titles:
1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
Grand Slam titles: 13
Prize money: $43,280,489
Pete Sampras made Centre Court his own in the nineties, although he did not have the best of beginnings in SW19.

The American won only one match in his first three years at Wimbledon before things came right, and in some style.

In the 1993 final he beat the then world number one, Jim Courier, having already dismissed Andre Agassi and Boris Becker in previous rounds.

From then on, of course, 'Pistol Pete' dominated successive tournaments winning seven titles in eight years.

Although his early losses proved puzzling to a man who had won the US Open at the age of 19 his serve-volley game eventually proved almost unbeatable.

From victory in the first round in 1993 to his last title win in 2000 he lost only one match in 1996, a quarter-final defeat to eventual winner Richard Krajicek.

That defeat split his haul into three titles in the early nineties, and four in the run up to the millennium.

After seeing off Courier in 1993, Sampras saw off Goran Ivanisevic and Boris Becker.

And following his failure in 1996 he lost only three sets, all tie-breaks, en route to the final where he comfortably beat Cedric Pioline.

Ivanisevic was the only man who took Sampras the distance in any of his Centre Court finals, but again the Croat came up short, as Andre Agassi and Pat Rafter did in 1999 and 2000.

Sampras may not have gone for quite the pace of an Ivanisevic or Greg Rusedski on his serve, but its accuracy, disguise and above all consistency, made it far and away the best the game has ever seen.

Similarly, Stefan Edberg could claim to have been a better volleyer and Rafter a superior athlete, but no one ever put it all together like Sampras on grass.

The American also boasted fierce groundstrokes, a sensational jump smash and a will to win that saw him play through injury and sickness on a regular basis.

These are all reasons why Sampras has won more Grand Slams than anyone else and was voted the best player in the history of the Association of Tennis Professionals.

If any of Sampras' games are forgettable, which many are, it is because he was so far ahead of the rest, they could barely give him a game.





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