Year 2000 - A year to Remember; Year 2001 "The annus Horribulis"
October 27, 2001
Put it this way, year 2000 was a dream. A perfect dream for Pete. By Winning Wimbledon for the 7th time in 8 years, breaking his and Roy Emerson's Grand Slam mark of 12 titles with a lucky 13th, Pete gave the record-obsessed sports world an opportunity to finally give him his props. The victory in the fading British summer night, in front of his parents (who were at Wimbledon first time), on the best court in the world, in the biggest event in tennis. What more could Pete and we, his fans, hope for?
"Wimbledon was a huge event and achievement... breaking the record" Pete said. "All the pressure I put on myself to break the record and I wanted to do it. But even more so, having my parents there and the way it ended, it was the way I've always wanted it. It was kind of a dream come true."
Following the victory, Pete was at long last recognized by the media. Tennis magazine called him Male tennis player of the year, ESPY gave him Record breaking performance and Male Tennis performer, even GQ magazine crowned him with an Individual Athlete award, instead of Tiger Woods.
Besides career achievements of the most Grand Slams, the never-be-broken again record of finishing the year as world number one for six consecutive years, he found his own court outside tennis. On September 30 he married stunning actress Bridgette Wilson.
'Everything happens for a reason', Pete said. 'If I did not hurt my back and missed the open (US Open 1999) I would never have met Bridgette. It was a great ceremony at my house, I had a fun night and then went on a nice honeymoon."
Pete ended 2000 on top of the world.
What was to follow was an annus horribulis. The year 2001 marks the first time since 1993 where Pete has not won at least one Grand Slam title per year.
"I put so much emphasis on the majors, I measure my year on how well I do on them" he said.
Even on his own court, the Wimbledon King was pushed to five sets by an unknown Brit by the name of Barry Cowan, then subsequently succumbed to Roger Federer in the round of sixteen - the only other man who has beaten Pete at Wimbledon was Richard Krajicek in 1996.
At that point we were beginning to wonder what was going on with his life. Was it motivation? Lack of practice? Off-court distractions?
Losing to players like Ilie, Levy, Calatrava and (Alberto) Martin, amongst others he would once have dismissed with ease has proved frustrating for Pete, as has the realization that he is no longer the dominant force on the tour.
"Being so dominant over the years, it obviously gets a lot more difficult as the years go on to keep staying dominant," he said.
Although he has reached the finals in four events (Indian Wells, Los Angeles, Long Island and the US Open), he has not captured any titles for 19 consecutive tournaments.
Too many first times? - this year is also the first time he has not won anything in a single calendar year since 1989. It is the first time since 1990 he has failed to qualify for the season-ending Masters Cup; it is the first time since 1991 that he will finish the year outside the top five.
Reaching the age of 30 is a milestone for most sporting professionals, particularly as the dreaded 'retirement' word crops up more and more in media conferences. He has dismissed talk of retirement throughout the year and believes he is a victim of his own high expectations.
"All this retirement talk has gotten a little bit carried away. I've got many, many years left. I'm going to contend for every Grand Slam for the rest of my career. I've raised the bar so high and when I don't win titles every couple months I'm probably judged much tougher than anyone in the game."
After losing to Mirnyi in Stuttgart last week, citing a 'dead arm', Pete finally decided to bring his miserable season to a premature end by pulling out of Basel and Paris events as well.
"I don't know what I will do..." Pete said.
As his fans, what will be our expectation of him from now on?
Will he come back to play like his usual self, which we have saw a glimpse of when he took out Agassi in the US Open? How many more Grand Slams will he win?
Only Pete can answer these questions. And if he does not know, where do we stand now?