He’s too old. He’s lost his serve. His game is gone. After taking home the championship at this year’s United States Open, Pete Sampras has silenced his critics. During the two weeks in which the U.S. Open was held, Sampras found his game and added an unthinkable 14th Grand Slam Title to his shelf.

On Sunday night, Pete Sampras defeated an old friend and rival, Andre Agassi in the finals of the U.S. Open, 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. He was in the groove, his serve was clicking, his volleys were clean and precise, and his ground game came through when he needed it to. As the match wore on, you could see Sampras’ play start to fade, but with the help of his 33 aces he managed to hold on for the victory.

On this day, Sampras’ serve was the difference. It was just too big and too good for Agassi to handle. Whenever he was down, Sampras reached into his pocket and pulled out another bomb leaving Agassi with no chance.

Before his U.S. Open victory, Sampras was amidst the biggest slump of his career. The 31 year old had not won a tournament in 33 tournaments over 26 months. Many critics felt he should have retired after winning his record setting 13th Grand Slam Title in July 2000 at Wimbledon, yet he repeatedly insisted he had one more major win left in his aging body. Sampras ended his drought and silenced his critics after winning America’s major for a fifth time, tying him with Jimmy Connors for the most U.S. Open titles.

The way this year had been going for Sampras he had to come up big if he was to have any hope at winning this tournament. He peaked at the right time, and nobody had an answer for his game.

Sampras became the youngest man to win the U.S. Open when he one his first major title at the age of 19 against the then 20 year old Andre Agassi. The stage could not be better set for Sampras to exit the tennis world. This victory over his life long rival in America’s tournament could be the last high note in Sampras’ career and it serves as the perfect ending to the career of the greatest tennis player ever. Though Sampras still loves to play it is questionable that he can compete at this level for much longer. The same critics that felt he should have stopped after Wimbledon, feel he should stop now. This time I would agree with them, because I cannot think of a better ending to the career of the greatest player to play the game. Right now he is at the peak of his life, but every day his body and game grows a bit older.

So will he retire? Time will tell. Regardless, it was a special night of tennis, and if you missed it you might have missed the end to an era. With Agassi at 32 and Sampras, 31, the two might never meet again on such a stage with so much at stake. If this match was the end, it was a great goodbye, bringing New York and tennis fans worldwide to their feet.

Fitzsimmons can be reached at afitzsimmons@campustimes.org.



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