"Really, how much pressure does Pete have"- When Jim Courier criticized Pete Sampras for comments at the 1991 US Open

Jim Courier (L) and Pete Sampras (R)
Jim Courier criticized Pete Sampras' comments at the 1991 US Open

Four-time Grand Slam champion Jim Courier wasn't pleased with Pete Sampras' post-match comments following their quarterfinals clash at the 1991 US Open.

Sampras won his maiden Grand Slam title at the 1990 US Open and entered the following year's tournament as the sixth seed. He reached the quarterfinals following wins over Christo van Rensburg, Wayne Ferreira, Stephane Simian, and David Wheaton. In the quarters, the then-20-year-old faced Courier and lost 6-2, 7-6(4), 7-6(5).

Pete Sampras said in his post-match press conference that he felt the "monkey is off my back."

"It’s kind of like the monkey is off my back a little bit," the then-20-year-old said.

Jim Courier was far from pleased with his rival's comments and said that Sampras should not take on too much pressure considering he was young and already had millions in the bank.

Courier also stated that everyone in the world would want to trade positions with his compatriot.

“Really, how much pressure does Pete have?” Courier said. “He will never have to work another day in his life. He has got millions in the bank. He is 20 years old. I really think that he should just be able to go out there and swing freely and have fun. I mean, everybody in the world would trade positions with him. He has got the world at his feet. All in all, Pete, he is doing OK.”

Jim Courier eventually reached the final of the 1991 US Open before being beaten 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 by Stefan Edberg.

Pete Sampras ended his career with an exceptional record at the New York Major, winning it another four times in 1993, 1995, 1996, and 2002.

How did Pete Sampras fare against Jim Courier?

Pete Sampras during an exhibition match at the Madison Square Garden
Pete Sampras during an exhibition match at the Madison Square Garden

Pete Sampras and Jim Courier locked horns on 20 occasions, with the former enjoying a comprehensive 16-4 lead in the head-to-head. The first meeting between the two came in the round of 32 of the 1988 Eagle Classic in Scottsdale, Arizona, which Sampras won 6-3, 6-1.

The two Americans locked horns in eight Grand Slam matches and the 14-time Major champion came out on top in six of those. Sampras also won the only Grand Slam final where he faced Courier, beating him 7-6(3), 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-3 at Wimbledon in 1993.

The final meeting between them came in the second round of the 1999 Lipton Championships (now known as the Miami Masters). Sampras beat Courier 6-3, 7-6(3) to reach the third round of the tournament.