Sampras Serves Notice
August 30, 2000
The look on Justin Gimelstob's face seemed to say: 'Message received - and understood'. He could only watch, motionless, as Pete Sampras delivered the first of 13 aces on the very first point of their second round match. It came at him with a speed of 133 mph, straight down the middle. From then on, there was virtually no let-up, with Sampras pounding out the same implication, game after game. The younger man could hardly have failed to understand it: he wasn't going to win. And Sampras was showing what a force he is to be reckoned with, in pursuit of a fifth US Open title. Firing four impeccable aces in a row, Pistol Pete dismissed his compatriot in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3. Gimelstob may have wished he had a white flag to wave, after nearly being bageled in the second set, but Sampras seemed to go easier on him in the third, when his ace count dropped a little.
" I couldn't hang with him", admitted Gimelstob. "He just played much too good. He was moving the ball around well, and placing it so well, and obviously hitting it hard. It was pretty impressive stuff, and if he can keep up this level, nobody will beat him."
Sampras seems in no mood to disagree. This win took his tally for night matches at the US Open to 14-0.
"Night matches here in New York are always special," he said . "It's a great atmosphere, you're all keyed up, and there's a lot of focus on the one match here. This is our Slam, and you do whatever you can to try to win it. Historically, I've done well."
Will history repeat itself again?
"It was one of those matches where everything kind of clicked", said a satisfied Sampras. "You hope it carries over for the rest of the tournament, but it's pretty tough to keep that level up. But it can be done."
He has done it before often enough. Agustin Calleri, Sampras's third round opponent, will be the next player to test the Grand Slam King's chances of adding another jewel to his crown at this year's Open.