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Samprasfanz » Archives 2003 to 2011 » Sad and Futureless

Sad and Futureless

[August 22, 2003 by Rahul, Samprasfanz] And the journey is finally coming to an end. 1 1/2 hours ago I opened my browser and it took me to the default page. A quick glance through the headlines had a little surprise. “Sampras to announce retirement”. Though we all had more or less expected this to happen it was still a surprise. I didn’t know how to react.

It is the feeling that you get when someone really old passes away. We are all expecting it, but it is still very sad when it happens. I am not sure why I feel so sad right now. I never expected Pete to pick up his racquet again. I knew that coming back would be more painful than joyful. But the finality is only now starting to sink in.

I am never going to see that first point ace. I remember vividly the first point of last years final. 0.3 seconds into the finals Agassi marching across to the other side of the court without moving a whisker. He might as well have stayed in his chair. The serve, a 130mph bomb down the T, the Pete trademark. Just the way Pete liked to start a match. Making his opponents know what they were up against.

Intimidating them right way. Pete never liked to waste time. No siree that was not his style. I am never going to see that second serve ace. The one that was just slightly slower but painted the corner, spinning with rpm only reserved for a car engine. And I am never going to see that monster forehand or the big backhand or those fearless forays to the net, the pass-me-if-you-can attitude and those sublime volleys. And the cat like grace and instinct.

Pete always reminded me of a cat on prowl. Always wanting to pounce on you. His opponents likened to preys. Alas, the cat has taken our leave. There will never be another king in the jungle. The Rogers, Andies and Juans and all will come and go. Agassi may keep playing well for another 5 years and sort of entertain himself. But when the real show is over and no main course is offered the opening acts and the little side orders have little meaning.

My first encounter with Pete, the tennis player, was 1989 when he beat Mats Wilander at the open. I was devastated. Mats was my favourite back then. I hated Pete for beating my favourite, but little did I know that this 18 year old in just another year would be holding the trophy in his hand. After an extraordinary performance where he beat Lendl in 5 McEnroe in 4 and Agassi… well just lets say it was ugly and beautiful.

The tennis, beautiful, the score ugly. Borrowing a journalist description, The scoreline had a grim progression, 4-3-2. Since that unlikely triumph in the tournament. Pete has made us laugh and cry. With the scale heavily tilting in the side of laughter. He has given us countless joy. I remember the days when he has lifted my spirits with performances that have left me in disbelief. From his first to his last wimbledon triumph. From every big serve to countless delicate volleys, from the running forehand to the sharp down the line backhand. We have lived through those tense moments and through those himalayan triumphs which were as much our trimphs as his. The unforgettable memories that he has served. The undying quest for greatness that he has displayed.

I remember during the 1995 US Open McEnroe, who has not always been very kind to Pete commenting. How can you beat this guy. He serves better than you, he returns better, he beats you from the baseline, he beats you at the net.

HOW DO YOU BEAT THIS GUY? It was strange, the exact sentiment going through my mind that very moment, McEnroe was tranced into saying it. Nothing is closer to the truth. On his best day Pete was simply on another planet. The best advice to his opponents was the advice that Becker gave Roddick last year “Get out of the stadium”. Becker was empathizing. The result on those special days was forgone conclusion. Just a inevitable statistic. On those days his opponents tried especially hard. Not because they thought they could win. Surely that was idiocy. No, to prolong the inevitable. Probably because they wanted to witness the mesmerizing display unfold from the best the seat in the house. To me, Pete is the greatest… I dont’ care what Laver did. I don’t care what Agassi has done, I don’t care want Borg and Conners or whoever else did. In my mind Pete is the greatest player, no arguments accepted. Whoever tells you that Pete isn’t the greatest because he didn’t win the.., you know what, tell them to shove it. Tell me to talk to me. Don’t listen. They have no clue what they are talking about. When Pete was on top of his game nothing, absolutely nothing would have made a difference.

I could go on and on about how I feel about Pete and I would probably end up with a book. But to cut it short, Pete you will be missed. The courts will be dry forever, no juice left in them. The era is ending, thanks for the ride, Pete. My regret would be to have never seen Pete play at Wimbledon. But it is a privilege to have seen Pete in his prime and witnessed one of his greatest victories. And that I shall always be very thankful for.

So with a heavy heart I begin my transition into a Pete less world. As they say C’est la vie. But the ceremony. I ain’t missing it for the world.

Is anyone buying tickets? I think the place is going to be sold out. Even Agassi fans wouldn’t want to miss this. I am thinking of buying tickets in advance tommorrow. I would love to be with more people from the group to create our groups little Pete corner though I have a feeling that every corner will be a Pete corner on Monday.

Filed under: Archives 2003 to 2011

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