Close Encounter with Pete Sampras
Location: Flushing Meadows, New York
Date: 2000 US Open Final
I have known about Pete after he won the US Open 1990 but I was not really interested in Tennis. I became a real fan of Pete since I was 14 - when he was going for his 2nd Wimbledon title in 1994.
I live in South Korea and it is kind of barren land for tennis even though we have H.T. LEE playing on the ATP Tour. (He actually played Pete at 4th round of US open in 2000). There are not much tennis broadcasted on TV but thankfully there is an internet world.
I came to the US to get more experience. My first mission on arrival was to go to Flushing Meadow to watch Pete plays at the US Open - which would be an 8-year old dream coming true. I bought the ticket 2 months in advance but I did not have the money and time to see all the matches. So I went for the final only. It would be a disaster if Pete won't make that far!
I arrived at the site early at 10:40 a.m. and had a good look around. Prior to the match Tony Bennet was singing The American National Anthem. I could see everything clearly from where I was sitting even though it wasn't a courtside seat! My heart was pounding as Pete enters the arena! It was like a dream came true!
It would be perfect if I could take a photo of Pete holding up the US Open trophy - but it was not meant to be. Safin was good, and Pete was not his usual self. I was hoping to see at least a 5 set battle but I had only three.
Although I was really disappointed about the loss but at least I got to see him play live and in an US Open final. I will go to Flsuhing Meadows again, but not for a while yet, and by which time Pete may have retired.