An incredible career of Pete Sampras had always been associated with the home Major, winning the US Open as a teenager in 1990 and ending his tennis journey at the same place with another title in 2002, beating his most significant rival Andre Agassi in both finals.
A five-time US Open winner started to struggle with injuries in 2000, but nothing could stop him from making a deep run at his beloved tournament again, reaching the title matches in 2000 and 2001 when he got beaten by the young guns Marat Safin and Lleyton Hewitt.
World no. 145 George Bastl stunned Pete at Wimbledon in 2002, and one of the greatest players of all time didn't have a plan what to do after the US Open, motivated to give one last push in New York before further decisions.
Pete was titleless since Wimbledon 2000, and despite advancing to the final in the previous two years, no one could expect much from Sampras in New York that summer.
Roger Federer spoke about Pete Sampras in Indian Wells 2003.
Still, he showed his greatness one more time, going all the way to win the 14th Major title in what would be his last career match.
After losing the final in Houston against Roddick, Sampras lost ten of the next 16 encounters before heading to New York, needing no time to find the form and build confidence with commanding victories in the opening rounds.
Pete had to work harder against Greg Rusedski and Tommy Haas to reach the quarter where he took down the young American Andy Roddick, entering the last four and defeating Sjeng Schalken to set the title clash against Andre Agassi.
Sampras won that one in four sets to collect the 14th Major trophy, enjoying the moment and not thinking about getting back for some more tournaments. Asked about Pete in Indian Wells 2003, Roger Federer said that nobody would be surprised if the American decides to retire, making a comparison with Bjorn Borg, who left the Tour two decades earlier.
"Whenever Pete Sampras retires, it would be a loss for tennis; he has achieved so much. Still, if he pulls out and retires, nobody would be surprised. It wouldn't be a shock, like maybe when Bjorn Borg retired or someone like him.
It's going slowly down, and even though he won the US Open, we don't know for how long he will remain active. His focus is on big tournaments, and he could play for two or three years with no problems; I don't think people are thinking that he is going to retire now. I can't give him advice; he knows better than me," Roger Federer said.