November 21, 2000
After his 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 win over Pete Sampras in the fifteenth annual Chevy Chase Bank charity event in Baltimore, Todd Martin declared ruefully:
“He isn’t at his best, which is scary because I was and still barely beat him.”
It was the first time Sampras had played since the US Open, when he lost in the Final to Marat Safin, and he was clearly rusty.
“I needed a match to get rid of the rust and cobwebs”, he said. “It’s a good way to be in a competitive environment, put on a good show and get to do something for Pam [Shriver, the organiser] and a good cause.”
Even by Sampras’ standards, it has been an amazing year for him. Early season injuries and another disappointing French Open were precursors to winning his momentous 13th Grand Slam, at Wimbledon. Sampras clearly views this record-breaking win as a fulfilment of his destiny.
“I believe in destiny”, he told the New York Times recently. “I really do. I believe that things just happen.”
A perfect example of this would seem to be his forced withdrawal from the 1999 US Open, due to a back injury. Having won Wimbledon again that year, he was obviously hoping to break Roy Emerson’s record of 12 Grand Slam wins at his home Slam in New York. But it wasn’t meant to be. An unusually emotional Sampras told the media then:
“I hope one day I’ll understand why this happened.”
Fortunately, he didn’t have long to wait. During his long lay-off, resting his back, he met actress Bridgette Wilson. Sampras may have been missing his matches on court, but it was soon clear to him that Bridgette was a perfect match for him in his personal life. Having learned how a disappointment can lead to something more important, Pete put the US Open defeat behind him - and brought his wedding date forward!
“It’s official”, he declared contentedly. “I know I am with the person I will spend my life with. It’s the start of the next chapter in my life.”
But once the honeymoon is over, Sampras will return to his first love, tennis.
“The majors are my priority”, he stated once again. “So my goal is to get ready for the Australian Open in January.”
All those who enjoy watching Sampras play will hope that marriage agrees with him and will inspire him to many more wins.
Source: Glenn P Graham (Baltimore Sun)