For so long he hadn’t needed any of it; not the support of the fans, not the presence of family,not the on-court histrionics.Pete Sampras did not scream, “That’s what I’m talking about!” after winning a set in his prime,half a decade ago, and he didn’t take motivation from words lovingly scribbled on a piece of paper. His was a cool and lonely march to greatness and if his body sometimes betrayed him with a strange fragility, his talent carried him time and again. He had his hair and his nerve then. Losing it all, bit by humiliating bit, didn’t seem possible.
At 7:38 on Sunday, Sampras glanced across the court at his oldest rival, lifted his left arm and tossed a tennis ball up into the cooling New York night. Two points away from a victory no one had predicted; about to hit a second serve against the greatest returner in the game, Sampras felt the wind at his back. His stomach began to churn. His mind raced : What if I miss? But this time, unlike so many times in the past two years, he didn’t falter. He held nothing back ….
Pete Sampras winning his fifth US Open – as described by SL Price – Sports Illustrated 09/16/02