Career Highlights - 1996
- Was challenged in the number 1 ranking by Agassi, Kafelnikov and Chang.
- In the Aussie Open, lost to Mark Philippoussis in the 3rd round and dropped to no. 3 behind Agassi and Thomas Muster.
- With wins at San Jose and Memphis, regained the no. 1 ranking on Feb 12
- Suffered ankle injury and withdrew from Rotterdam
- Back to back titles in Hong Kong and Tokyo puts him back on top.
- On May 3, his coach Tim Gullikson died due to cancer and he withdrew from the Italian Open. At the funeral service, Pete described their special friendship, "We would be surrounded by people, and all we had to do was look at each other and we would both smile and know..." At that point, Sampras broke into tears and was unable to continue.
- Played only 2 clay court matches before the French Open but reached the semi-finals losing to eventual winner, Kafelnikov. En-route, he defeated former FO champs Bruguerra and Courier
- Exhausted and had to withdraw from Queens
- In Wimbledon, he lost in the QF to Richard Krajicek
- Indianapolis was his first title since April
- At the US Open, he had an epic QF clash against Alex Corretja that lasted 4:09. After losing the second point to make it 1-1 in the 5th set tiebreak, .Sampras stooped over beyond the baseline and vomited, drawing a time warning from the umpire. But he battled on The unseeded Spaniard held match point leading 7-6 in the tie-breaker but Sampras, struggling to suck in air, saved himself with a lunging full extension forehand stab volley. On the next point, Sampras spun a stunning second-serve 90 MPH wide ace to Corretjas forehand to reach his second match point at 8-7. Then he watched Corretja send his second serve long.
- After the match, Sampras said to girlfriend Delaina, This one was for Tim. Tim was there with me.
- Defeated Chang in the US Open finals and upon winning the title, dedicated it to his coach, whose birthday fell on the same date. "Today was Tim's birthday. He would've been 45 today.. I've been thinking about him all day and all during the match, about things he told me. I still feel his spirit. He is still very much in my heart.''
- News about Pete's thalassemia was published.
- Named ESPY Player of the Year
- In Hannover, defeated Boris Becker in a magnificent 5 set match to take his 3rd ATP Championship."What a match! Five sets against Boris on his home soil," Sampras said. "It was not easy." Becker added: 'I can't play better than that. That was the ultimate match for me. To be part of a match like that is one of the highlights of my career. [Post-match interview]
- Sampras became the fifth player to win the championship, which used to be known as the Masters, three or more times. Becker and John McEnroe have also won the title three times, Ilie Nastase triumphed four times and Ivan Lendl won five championships.
Photo Collage by Sonja Stransky
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