Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Biography of Pete Sampras

Pete Sampras (born August 12, 1971) is a former American tennis player and former World No. 1. During his 15-year tour career, he won 14 Grand Slam singles titles, the second most that any male player has achieved, surpassed in 2009 by Roger Federer.
He had a 203–38 win-loss record over 52 Grand Slam singles tournament appearances. He is frequently regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. Sampras debuted on the professional tour in 1988 and played his last top-level tournament in 2002 when he won the US Open, defeating rival Andre Agassi in the final.
He was the year-end World No. 1 for six consecutive years (1993–1998), a record for the open era. His seven Wimbledon singles championships is a record shared with William Renshaw. He spent 286 weeks at top of List of ATP number 1 ranked players, the most of any player.
His five US Open singles titles is an open-era record shared with former World No. 1 players Jimmy Connors and Federer. Sampras is the last American male to win Wimbledon.
Playing Style
Sampras was an all-court player who would often serve and volley. In the early years of his career, when not serving, his strategy was to be offensive from the baseline, put opponents in a defensive position, and finish points at the net.
In his later years, he became even more offensive and would either employ a chip-and-charge strategy; just chip back the return and run up to the net, waiting for a volley or try to hit an offensive shot on the return and follow his return to the net. He was known for producing aces on critical points, even with his second serves. He had an accurate and powerful first serve, one of the best of all time.
His second serve was nearly as powerful as his first, possibly his most dangerous weapon. He had great disguise on both his first and second serves. Sampras was also known for having arguably the best "running forehand" of all time. He was able to catch attacks wide to his forehand using his speed and hitting a forehand shot on the run. When successfully executed, he won many points outright or put opponents immediately on the defensive, due to the extreme pace and flat nature of the shot.
 He also popularized the jump smash, or "slam dunk", where he jumps and then hits the smash in mid-air. The regular smashing shot, along with the downward force of a falling body, make this type of smash nearly undefeatable. The nearest Sampras came to having any weakness in his arsenal was his backhand. Many players tried (especially late in his career) to serve a high "kicker" out to the Sampras backhand in an attempt to draw a weak return.
A similar tactic was employed by many players in rallying Sampras; they would play shot after shot to the Sampras backhand, hoping to wear him down. Many times in this situation Sampras could be seen running around his backhand to employ his forehand to devastating effect; his dangerous running forehand allowed him to camp on the backhand wing in many rallies daring his opponents to challenge his running forehand; this court positioning made it easier for Sampras to run around his backhand.
The Sampras forehand was extremely potent, particularly on faster surfaces such as grass, hardcourt and indoor carpet, due to the combination of extreme pace and almost no spin; the ball would skid through extremely low making it even harder to retrieve than the more common topspin shots most players employ.
Sampras used one racket type, the Wilson Pro Staff Original, for his entire professional career - a racket first introduced in 1983. He played with Babolat natural gut, with all his rackets re-strung before each match (used or not) at 75 lbs tension (more or less depending on conditions). His rackets had weight added to bring them close to 400g, but the proper frame was a production model manufactured from St. Vincent, an island factory in the Caribbean.
The handles were custom-built. Post-retirement, Sampras has used the slightly modified Pro Staff Tour 90 and in 2008 had a new version of the original Pro Staff produced, with in-between head size of 88 square inches and heavier weight at 349 grams unstrung.

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