ATP HERITAGE PROGRAMME
Sampras, Agassi Mark No. 1 Anniversaries
Sampras, Agassi No. 1 Anniversaries
by Paul Macpherson|
On an anniversary likely to make many tennis fans feel a little older, it was 20 years ago today that Pete Sampras first became No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. This week additionally marks 18 years since Sampras' greatest rival, Andre Agassi, also first reached the pinnacle of the sport.
Sampras, who holds the record of finishing year-end World No. 1 for six consecutive seasons between 1993-98, usurped the top spot from fellow American Jim Courier on April 12, 1993, ending the redhead's 27-week reign. (Courier had four different periods at No. 1, totalling 58 weeks.)
Sampras reached No. 1 one day after winning the Tokyo outdoor title, crushing Brad Gilbert 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 in the final. It was part of a 19-match winning streak (eventually broken by Jacco Eltingh in the Atlanta semi-finals), that reaped titles in Miami, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Sampras was just 21 years and 8 months old when he became No. 1.
Sampras and Agassi are two of the 16 year-end No. 1s honoured in the ATP Heritage Programme, launched this year to celebrate the 40th year of the Emirates ATP Rankings.
During a career that included 14 Grand Slam titles and 11 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns, Sampras held No. 1 for a total of 286 weeks, a mark that stood until last July, when Roger Federer broke it after equalling Sampras' record seven Wimbledon titles. (Federer now holds the record for 302 weeks at No. 1.)
Sampras' first reign at No. 1 lasted 19 weeks before Courier returned to the top spot for just three weeks. But Sampras reclaimed No. 1 by winning the '93 US Open and held it for 82 weeks before Andre Agassi moved to No. 1 18 years ago this week.
Agassi rose to No. 1 for the first time on April 10, 1995 after starting the season by winning the Australian Open (in which he beat Sampras for the only time in a Grand Slam final) and titles in San Jose and Miami (where he avenged his loss two weeks earlier to Sampras in the Indian Wells final).
Agassi, who famously slipped to No. 141 in 1997 only to fight his way back to No. 1 two years later, finished year-end No. 1 in 1999. Agassi spent a total of 101 weeks in the top spot during his career. On six occasions during their careers, Agassi and Sampras displaced one another as World No. 1.
Editor's Note: This is the first in an on-going series of stories and video to commemorate the ATP Heritage Programme. Learn More