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Regardless of Results in Paris, Pete Sampras Deserves to be Respected and Acknowledged for His Achievements

May 29, 2000

Pete Sampras may have stumbled at the first round of the French Open in Paris, the only Grand Slam title to have, eluded this great player, but he went out fighting in a five set thriller against Mark Philippoussis.

Some people in the media and commentary part of the game are constantly debating on the question of whether or not Pete Sampras is the greatest tennis player? Many believe that because he has not won the French Open that he cannot be classed as the greatest.

I feel that this is a comment made without weighing up all the other incredible achievements this talented and genius of a player has achieved in a career spanning a decade.

For Sampras has his name already etched in the History books following his record equalling 12th Grand Slam title last year. Compiled of 6 Wimbledon, 4 US Open, and 2 Australian Open titles. I dare anyone to bet against Pete Sampras breaking Roy Emerson's record at Wimbledon in July, it would be a brave person to bet against him!

He has been a winner more consistently than any other player in the game and this was demonstrated when he became the first man in history to end the year as the World Number 1 ranked player for a sixth consecutive year. This feat demanded a lot of dedication to playing many tournaments and was achieved in an era of the game in which the competitiveness of play was at its highest, with many good players that would have created obstacles along the way to this record!

He has also led the USA Davis Cup team to victory, most notably in Moscow on his least favoured surface…CLAY!

Of course, it would be the icing on the cake if he could add at least one French Open title to this already remarkable list of titles and records. But now that he is as many would consider as the Autumn of his career, the French Open is likely to become even harder to win, but surely all the other successes in his career far out weigh his lack of success on the red stuff?

His idol, Rod Laver won the French Open and won 2 Grand Slams of all 4 titles in one year this firmly placed him as a legend in tennis history. There are only a handful of players that have won all four Grand Slam titles on the different surfaces during their careers Andre Agassi is the most recent of those players and he is also guaranteed a place in tennis history. But who should be named the greatest of all time? This is such a difficult question to answer as it also involves comparing the different eras. As the eras have changed so has the game, the stakes are higher, not only in the money aspect but in the ranking points. Also the playing schedules are more demanding now than ever and sponsorship commitments also play a role too.

Perhaps we should all listen to those who are more knowledgeable in the sport, which have been or almost been at the same summit during their playing days. Boris Becker and John McEnroe have both named Pete Sampras as "The Best" when asked to name a player. Players of the Laver era tend to choose Laver. Both eras can give very good and valid reasons for their choice. Our minds can be made up from there.

I personally would ask that when Pete Sampras finally hangs up his tennis racket and shoes, which may still be a few years from now that whether or not he has won on the red clay courts in Paris doesn't completely blur the decision of, who the greatest player is! This is just a small missing piece from a very successful career in which many a record have been smashed and many a title been won.

Based on "Still One of the Best" by Phil Jones, CNNSI


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