During his coaching career, Paul Annacone had a chance to work with the legends like Pete Sampras and Roger Federer, leading both players to Wimbledon crowns and earning his place in the record books. Between 1995-2002, Paul and Pete were the most famous coach-player combo in the world of tennis, winning numerous titles together and making one last push from July 2002, just before the final tournaments in Sampras' career.
Plagued with injuries since 2000, Pete started to slow down and lose ground to the youngsters who took the US Open titles away from him in 2000 and 2001, staying titleless since Wimbledon 2000 and slowly losing interest to train and compete.
After losing the final in Houston against Roddick in the spring of 2002, Sampras lost ten of the next 16 encounters before heading to New York, needing no time to find the form at his home Major and building confidence with commanding victories in the opening rounds.
One thing led to another and the 13-time Major champion found himself in the third straight US Open final against all the odds, beating his greatest rival Andre Agassi there just like in 1990 and finishing his career in glory, as he never returned to the court.
"Before the US Open 2002, Pete Sampras hadn't won a tournament for some 25 months," Annacone said. "He had to go through a lot of changes in his life and became emotionally tired. Pete loved the idea of competing and winning Majors but he is not a social, outgoing world traveler like Roger Federer.
I remember the day he decided to quit, we walked on a practice court and he told me he is done and can't play anymore. He didn't have anything to prove to himself anymore and didn't want to compete any longer. His last match came in the final of the US Open 2002 and it was a poetic one, facing Andre Agassi just like he did 12 years earlier. That was a great moment."
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