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ATP Heritage: Pete Sampras, 1993-98

On 23 August, ATP celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Emirates ATP Rankings. We continue our countdown with a look at Pete Sampras, the 1993-98 year-end No. 1. #ATPHeritage

Being the best mattered to Pete Sampras

Aged 19 years, 28 days, Sampras had become the youngest US Open champion in 1990. But it wasn't until 12 April 1993 that he became the 11th player to rise to No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

Even then, at 21 years, eight months, the American didn't feel he deserved it. 

Three months later, he won at The Championships, Wimbledon, for the first time and "discovered that I really wanted to be a champion, that I had a champion's heart and mind and will."

Discuss Sampras Using #ATPHeritage On Twitter

From that moment on, records tumbled throughout the career of the quiet, understated and rather introverted champion.

For six consecutive seasons, the American finished the year at No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. He was at the summit for a total of 286 weeks, a record only beaten by Roger Federer (302 weeks) in 2012.

"I wanted to stay at the top as long as I could," said Sampras, who spent 11 spells at No. 1 between 1993 and late-2000. "I liked it there, but it meant you had to keep on winning, especially the big events and that took its toll."

Sampras won 14 majors – seven at Wimbledon, five US Opens and two Australian Opens – from 18 finals. He captured 64 singles crowns, including five year-end championships (1991, 1994, 1996-97, 1999). 

Read Sampras DEUCE Feature (August 2010)

"I was able to stay at the top for a long time and I'm very proud of that. There are only a handful who were able to stay at the top for such an extended period of time. I suppose it's iconic."

Read more about Sampras in "No. 1", our special commemorative coffee table book, celebrating all year-end ATP World Tour No. 1s over the past 40 years. Buy Online Through Tennis Warehouse: Europe | Outside Europe

This year, the ATP pays special tribute to 25 former World No. 1s as part of the ATP Heritage programme, marking 40 years since the ranking system was introduced in 1973.


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