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Pete Sampras
Pete Sampras

Born: August 12, 1971, Maryland USA

Wimbledon titles: 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000

Grand Slam titles: 13

Career prize money: $41,394,315 (to May 21 2001)

Believe it or not, in his first three years at Wimbledon, Pete Sampras only won one match, losing twice in the first round and one in the second.

It was puzzling to a man who had won the US Open at the age of 19. Although he had barely played on grass as a junior he thought his serve-volley game would be well-suited to the fast grass courts of SW19.

But things eventually came right, to put it mildly. In the 1993 final he beat the then world number one, Jim Courier, having already dismissed Andre Agassi and Boris Becker in previous rounds.

Since then, of course, “Pistol Pete” has made Centre Court his own. He may not go for quite the pace of a Greg Rusedski or Mark Philippoussis on his serve, but its accuracy, disguise and above all consistency make it far and away the best the game has ever seen.

Similarly, Stefan Edberg could claim to have been a better volleyer and Pat Rafter a superior athlete, but no one has ever put it all together like Sampras.

Add to that the fierce groundstrokes and a will to win that has seen him play through injury and sickness on a regular basis and you start to realise why Sampras has won more Grand Slams than anyone else and was voted the best player in the history of the Association of Tennis Professionals.

If any of Sampras’s games are forgettable, which they are, it’s because he’s been so far ahead of the rest they can barely give him a game.

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