Tennis - Pete Sampras is a legend in the game. He held the record for most number of Grand Slam singles titles in men's tennis until it was broken by the Big Three - Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. When the American won his 13th Grand Slam title at the 2000 Wimbledon Championships, he broke the all-time record of Roy Emerson (12 majors) that had stood for over 30 years.
Sampras won his first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows in 1990 and became the US Open's youngest-ever male singles champion at the age of 19 years and 28 days.
Pete Sampras on his 1990 US Open run and the 2020 edition
In a recent live chat with Tim Henman for the ATP Champions Legends Live series, he spoke about his surprising run to the 1990 US Open title and also gave his views about the 2020 US Open Championships.
“I was pretty young at the time I was only a pro for a couple of years and I was sort of a dark horse. I am just trying to make the second week quite honestly, I am not looking to win it, I am just looking to get better.
But the mindset was just I had nothing to lose. I just went out there and played great tennis." Pistol Pete, as he was known, credited his serve as one of the major reasons for his big breakthrough at the 1990 tournament.
“Basically, it was my serve, I had a pretty good serve as a junior. And for those 2 weeks, it just got into the zone. I developed this 125 mph served down the middle playing my game trying to get into the net and serving and volleying and trying to stay at the backcourt with Andre a little bit in the final and I just got in the zone."
Speaking about the 2020 US Open which gets underway on Monday in New York under very different circumstances - including no fans in the stadium and the players being put inside a bubble, the 49 year old American says, “It is gonna be awkward.
30 years ago, Pete Sampras won his first of five #USOpen titles 🏆
Pistol Pete talks to Tim Henman for the @ATPChampions Legends Live series 👇 pic.twitter.com/ajBuQFeTv6 — ATP Tour (@atptour) August 30, 2020
When you have no people in there, it’s a big stadium and there’s an echo in there and not to have any people is gonna be weird. "I think the player that mentally is really strong like the not gonna let anything really get to them.
You just try to bring the intensity and the energy on your own and when you’re down you just kind of sort of find a way. Because so often when you’re down you sort of hear the crowd, they sort of really get you going and not to have that energy is going to be tricky."
Pete Sampras won his 14th and final major at the 2002 US Open and did not play another tournament post that - he announced his retirement from the game just prior to the 2003 US Open.