Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ailing, Exhausted Sampras Wins Epic Match

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ailing, Exhausted Sampras Wins Epic Match

Article excerpt

Exhausted to the point of sickness, barely able to move, forced to lean on his racket like a crutch between rallies, Pete Sampras survived an epic ordeal Thursday against indefatigable Alex Corretja.

Sampras vomited on court in the middle of the fifth-set tiebreaker and looked as if he would pass out. Yet somehow he summoned the strength to keep going and set up a second match-point with his 25th ace. Then he watched in utter relief as the Spaniard double-faulted, ending one of the most dramatic matches in U.S. Open history, 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (9-7).

Corretja collapsed to his knees and Sampras slumped onto the net before they embraced each other tenderly amid a long standing ovation after the 4-hour, 9-minute struggle - the longest match of the tournament. Moments later, Sampras hugged his girlfriend, Delaina Mulcahy. "This one was for Tim. Tim was there with me," he whispered to her, referring to his late coach, Tim Gullikson, who died in May. Everyone who watched this match had to be cringing as Sampras limped around the court, wobbling dizzily at times, trying to stay on his feet, and playing on and on. He vomited at the back of the court at 1-1 in the final tiebreaker, received a time delay warning, but came right back to win the next point. "A lot of people saw things today that most won't see in a lifetime," said Paul Annacone, Sampras' current coach. "Alex Corretja should get a lot of credit for what he did. What Pete did, there are no words. It was exhilarating to watch. "The guy is pretty special, and special people do special things." "I saw him at a couple of times really tired, but he was more dangerous then," the No. 31-ranked Corretja said. "At 3-3 in the tiebreaker, he served at 124 mph. If he was tired, he can't serve like that." But that's exactly what Sampras did before going off to receive an intravenous drip for treatment of dehydration. Sampras will have to find a way to recover by Saturday when he plays in the semifinals against Goran Ivanisevic, who sent two-time champion Stefan Edberg into retirement at night, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (11-9) after his record 54th consecutive Grand Slam tournament. …

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