Sampras Fights to Keep the Dream Alive
June 28, 2000
Following his second round victory over Karol Kucera, Pete Sampras was left wondering if his dream of winning a 7th Wimbledon title and breaking the Grand Slam record of 13 titles in the process was now possible.
Today when the top half of Pete Sampras' draw had opened up nicely for him, what should have been joy at reaching the 3rd round was marred with worry at the possibility of having to withdraw from the tournament that has come to be known to him as his "home away from home" due to an injury.
In the 3rd set after working hard to gain a 5-1 lead, Sampras began to wearily come in towards the net when serving. At 5-2, after an alarm bell had interrupted his concentration and added to the already tense atmosphere of the match, Pete Sampras asked for the trainer to come. The trainer then heavily strapped the defending champion's leg just above the left ankle.
For sometime after having the trainer come out he seemed to be having serious problems. Most watching even wondered if it might force him into withdrawing from the match. But, like the true champion Pete Sampras is, he battled on, consistently serving amazing service winners; whenever the skilful Kucera threatened to over throw him with testing returns of serve.
Pete Sampras was visibly in a lot of pain and discomfort, but managed to save 2 breakpoints in the 2nd game and two more to avoid falling behind 2-4 in the 4th set. The pressure was on and it was Kucera who faltered by serving a double fault to go 3-4 down in the 4th set. But Kucera still bravely managed to save 3 match points in a spectacularly fought last game in which Pete Sampras already needing to be careful of his troublesome back double faulted 3 times.
At precisely 8 minutes past 9 in the evening, the Centre Court crowd, still filled to approximately 80% of it's capacity all stood up and gave a standing ovation for the defending champion after he closed out the match with a hard fought painful triumph, 7-6 (11-9), 3-6. 6-3, 6-4.
All that matters now for Pete Sampras is what the severity of the injury to his left leg is, and whether or not he will be able to continue his defence in the 3rd round where he is scheduled to meet his compatriot, Davis Cup player Justin Gimelstob.
Pete Sampras was so concerned that he promptly cancelled his post-match press conference and immediately went to a hospital to have an MRI scan to enable him to know the severity of the injury.
On the brighter side for Pete Sampras, he may have managed a small smile at the fact that in his half of the draw the only seeded player left was Sweden's Thomas Enquist.
The injury that Pete Sampras had sustained was officially declared to be an inflamed left foot. Sampras was going to have treatment on it and then assess the injury the following morning before making a decision on whether he would be able to continue with his defence.
It would be a massive blow to Sampras if due to this injury he would be forced to withdraw, as he has made his intentions and desire to break the Grand Slam record very clear. The past 12 months of Pete Sampras' career have seen him suffer from many painful injuries and setbacks. He was forced to withdraw from the US Open in 1999 he then lost to his staunch rival Agassi in the semi finals at the Australian Open, and then after 2 months of injury he was defeated by Mark Philippoussis in the 1st round of the French Open.
Based on "Wimbledon: Sampras Dream Hangs in the Balance" by John Parsons, Electronic Telegraph and "Sampras Left to Fret over Injury" by Alix Ramsey.