Pete Sampras is a former World No. 1 who has won Wimbledon a whopping seven times, the US Open on five occasions, and the Australian Open twice. Known as "Pistol Pete," Sampras was considered by many to be the greatest player of all time before the arrival of the Big 3.
Nevertheless, Sampras had to fight his way through a number of difficult times in between his successes. One of these instances took place in the 1995 Australian Open quarterfinal matchup between him and his longtime friend Jim Courier, in which Sampras was the defending champion.
Before the fifth set even started, Pete Sampras broke down in tears after coming back from two sets to love down. All spectators were caught off guard by the situation, and it was later revealed that Tim Gullikson, Sampras' coach, had been severely unwell in Melbourne and had to fly home for a proper diagnosis. He died in May 1996 after being diagnosed with incurable brain cancer.
Thus, the American's reaction was justified, given that his mentor Gullikson was instrumental in helping him win Grand Slams and reach the top of the ATP rankings.
The 14-time Grand Slam winner received encouragement from his rival and the crowd throughout his meltdown. Jim Courier yelled at his friend after seeing him cry, "Are you alright, Pete? We can do this tomorrow."
"Do it for your coach,” a fan said to Sampras, who went on to win the match after 3 hours and 58 minutes with a score of 6-7 (7-4), 6-7 (7-3), 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.
"Mentally, what a player! Surely the best I've seen" - Pete Sampras heaps praise on Rafael Nadal
Pete Sampras praised Rafael Nadal's dominance on clay in a recent interview with L'Equipe, calling him the best player he has ever seen.
"Everything that (Nadal) does is exceptional," Sampras said. "Roger (Federer) and I had a period of dominance on grass, but winning the same big 14 times is incredible. And mentally, what a player! Surely the best I've seen."
The American also discussed Novak Djokovic and said that he has accomplished incredible feats over the past 10 years.
"Novak has done incredible things in the last ten years, he has good numbers against most players, he is the one with the record of being number 1. He has won everywhere. He has all the records except for the Grand Slam," Pete Sampras said.