Pete Sampras' Current Situation
I don't believe Pete looks at his position as a slump because Pete Sampras has always believed that more great successes are just around the corner. Yes, he's slipped a fraction in the rankings, but Pete Sampras does not play for ranking points anymore, he plays for History. What else has he to prove? Nothing to anyone except to himself which is why he's still playing. Pete is a very fit athlete and I don't see any reason why he shouldn't continue to play for as long as he is still enjoying competing because the longer he plays the more he will imprint his name in the record books.
Hope is all I have left, and the many posts from the members of the Samprasfanz group which continually lift me during this very sad time. I find the Samprasfanz group a wonderful tonic because it's a place where I can go to vent my feelings whether angry, sad or happy about our GREAT CHAMPION THE GREAT PETE SAMPRAS. After having said this I find the hardest thing to cope with is the tennis writers opinions about what they think is the case everytime Pete loses a match, and what they believe Pete Sampras should do about it. However, since I've stopped reading the negative articles, I am beginning to cope better with Pete's current situation.
Pete Sampras' current situation of not winning a title since Wimbledon 2000 seems to be never ending. However, I have to keep reminding myself that Pete is playing for the Grand Slams and for history and then I immediately feel better. Pete helps me feel better too when he says that he's an optimist and he isn't getting too down on himself. Like Pete, I'm an optimist too and this certainly helps me to keep a positive outlook for his heroic comeback. One phenomenon that helps me to keep a positive outlook for Pete's return to winning ways is the aura which enveloped him whilst winning his first Grand Slam the US Open aged only 19 years. Pete is now the grand slam king, a legend and I believe all great players find a way to return. Many argue that Pete has lost his aura but perhaps they never saw it in the first place. I don't believe this just because he isn't winning at the moment because an aura and I quote: is a distinctive character or quality around a person that is a visible faint light, and a visible faint light never goes out (Chambers Dictionary). Pete has always had this light ever since he was a child and one lovely quote from player Justin Gimelstob who summed it up beautifully after he played Pete Wimbledon 2000. "Whilst in his mother's womb, God spent a little extra time on his right shoulder and touched it". This quote says so much and really sums up that aura's are everlasting.
"It is true that although Pete hasn't won a title since Wimbledon 2000, he is still as talented a player as ever and has the game to win more tournaments. For some time since that great and historic record-breaking win, it was possible (and certainly argued amongst the tennis elite) that he had lost the hunger and motivation to win tournaments, however I believe that this was only temporary otherwise he would have no real reason to keep on playing. Keep on playing he has, appearing to be as determined and committed as ever, and certainly fitter than he's been for many months. As he himself said "Before I needed to win (tournaments), now I want to". I am sure that elusive win will come sometime this year, and this so-called twilight period of his career where he seems to play himself into a tournament winning frame of mind and gradually gather momentum; whereas when he was younger, he was winning tournaments more frequently and earlier on in the year. He is certainly confident that he has another Grand Slam or two left in him" Sue Dodds, Australia
This he nearly did at last year's US Open after beating three former US Open champions on his way to the final. When you have been a champion like Pete Sampras has, the champion of all champions, I cannot begin to understand why so many are writing him off for more Grand Slam glories. He would not be treated like this in any other sport and I believe the constant hounding he is having to endure by the tennis media is absolutely unforgivable because they are certainly not helping him to make a revival by continually referring to the retirement question. Luckily for them Pete doesn't read half of what's written about him, but at the same time I believe a certain amount must filter back to the Sampras camp and to Pete himself which obviously isn't helping.
I found the US Open quarter-final match between Sampras and Agassi lasting three and a half hours one of the most nerve wracking matches I have ever seen and what made it worse was that the tennis experts were predicting that Agassi would win as he was the player in form. However, I felt as Sampras had beaten Rafter in such great style that perhaps he would be alright. I stayed with the match from the first point to the last and by the end I was over-tired but at the same time so elated that Pete came out the winner. Both players were playing at the highest level perhaps ever seen in the sport which made it according to many experts one of the best handful of matches ever played. I agree with these experts which leads me on to why I don't believe Pete Sampras should retire.
Pete's terrific display at last years US Open showed me that Pete can hold his own in very tough matches which proves he's not over the hill by any means. Pete shouldn't retire just to please those in the tennis media whose theory is that he's over the hill because he hasn't won a tournament since Wimbledon 2000. Perhaps Pete not winning a tournament since his historic Wimbledon 2000 victory might be due to how much it mentally it took out of him when he was only about 80% physically fit due to suffering with tendonitis in his ankle. Pete has said that winning Wimbledon 2000 did take a lot out of him mentally. So why is it then that some want him to retire?
Is it because Pete Sampras is 30 years old that he's supposed to be over the hill, washed up and finished by so many, or is it because some in the tennis media want to see him go to stand aside for the next generation? Whatever the reason, the tennis media should just leave him alone to enjoy the rest of his tennis career. When Pete is ready to go he will announce his retirement to the world and in the meantime he doesn't need this continual harassment from the tennis media. Pete has said on many occasions that he will stop playing when he doesn't want to go to the practice courts anymore because this will tell him that he isn't enjoying playing tennis anymore.
At first the talk about Pete's retirement really upset me because the media were relating to his age as the most important factor he should be considering to continue on in the sport he has always loved. But I am learning from those in the know that you shouldn't be listening to the media talk, because these sports writers are more interested in the style than the content. So I now ignore the writers whose articles are just painting doom and gloom, that is writing negatively.
"Ah, the dreaded 'R' word. For those who love Pete, whenever he retires will always be too soon. I still firmly believe that he will beat the demons which are hounding him, but it seems increasingly possible that he may need some extra outside help to do so. However, I am still hopeful that his mighty champions heart will finally break the mental chains which are fettering him" Cynthia Smith UK
"I think the retirement issue is something that shouldn't really be discussed, especially as Pete Sampras himself has made it clear that he has no intention of retiring anytime soon. As long as he has the desire to play, physical health and has the belief that he can still compete with the rest of the guys on the tour then I don't see what right anyone has to comment on this matter" Georgia Christoforou, UK
"Pete will retire when he believes he's no longer in contention for winning Grand Slams. It is his inherent belief that he still may have another Grand Slam (or two) and this is the fuel which drives him to keep striving for that goal. As he has said in the past "winning the majors is what it's all about for me" Sue Dodds, Australia
I believe Pete Sampras will win another Grand Slam or two as do all those in his camp/entourage, Jose Higueras, Patrick McEnroe, Bridgette his beautiful and very supportive wife, Tom Gullikson, and Paul Annacone when he is able to support Pete on court. Also the very supportive Samprasfans who help me everyday to see that there will be a light at the end of this dark tunnel. If the people Pete has most contact with believe that he can, then why should anyone else question his ability to do so? I suppose they question because he hasn't won a tournament since Wimbledon 2000 but quite honestly Pete judges his years by what he does in the slams and not a first round exit somewhere in some 3rd league tournament. I know winning breeds winning but in Pete's case this isn't how he should be being judged. As a fan, desperation has begun to set in as to when the number fourteen will happen but my faith in Pete succeeding remains high because whenever I see him play either on court or on the television I still see that wonderful aura that has enveloped him from the very first time I saw him win his first slam at the US Open 1990.
"I have no doubt and every belief that Pete can and will win another Grand Slam title…. He came very close at last year's US Open…and had his draw been a little less mentally and physically exhausting then he would have won the title. I believe that with all my heart! His new coach will help him to do this and I cannot wait to see him claim a fourteenth Grand Slam. J Also it will satisfy me greatly to see all the people that have doubted this will happen being made to eat their words and perhaps be brought to their knees begging for forgiveness or even mercy from Pete Sampras" Georgia Christoforou, UK
"As a fan of his for many years I still believe he has the talent to win at least one more slam, if not two. The fact that he has made the final of the past two US Opens is indicative enough for me that he can still do it, and crack that magic number fourteen. This is something that I don't expect to see any other player do for many years, maybe not even in my lifetime" Sue Dodds, Australia
Conclusion: Pete's current situation hopefully won't continue for much longer and as I said at the beginning I have to keep optimistic, holding the belief that the best player ever will find a way back to within the top five. I say the top five because Pete isn't interested anymore in the number one ranking as he has been there and held that position for six consecutive years 1993-1998. To be fair to Pete he has told the world this in many an interview, so for those who don't know, now you do. Another belief is that in other sports, the great sportsmen do have a habit of coming back and doing great things. This I believe will be the case for THE GREAT PETE SAMPRAS, THE GREATEST TENNIS PLAYER IN THE HISTORY OF THE SPORT OF TENNIS.
June 8, 2002