This Friday is a very special day in tennis history, as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of one of the all-time greats - four-time Grand Slam champion Jim Courier - rising to No.1 for the first time.
Just three years after turning pro in 1988, Courier put together an absolute breakthrough season in 1991, not only winning his first major at the French Open at just 20 years old, but sweeping back-to-back titles at Indian Wells and Miami as well as reaching the US Open final later in the year.
A lightning start to 1992 was what put him over the top, though - a second major at the Australian Open and another final in San Francisco propelled him to No.1 on Monday, February 10, 1992.
He actually clinched it with his semifinal win over Derrick Rostagno in San Francisco. “I was very stressed out about it,” Courier said during an interview with Tennis World in 2013. “I was very aware of the situation. I just wanted to get there for one week, just to say I’d been to the top of the mountain.
“We went to three sets and I toughed it out,” he recalled of the semifinal victory. “I remember going down to my knees, ‘This is it, this is the moment, and they can never take it away from me.’”
Courier was just the third American man to reach No.1 at the time after Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe (since joined by Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick). He’d spend a total of 58 career weeks at No.1 and win two more majors at the 1992 French Open and 1993 Australian Open.
Here’s a snapshot of what the world was like on February 10, 1992, the day Jim Courier became No.1 for the first time:
- The No.1 women’s player was Monica Seles (and she’d just won the Australian Open too).
- Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi had a total of one major between them.
- Jack Sock and Madison Keys are among the current tennis stars who weren’t born yet.
- I’m Too Sexy by Right Said Fred was the No.1 song on the Billboard Hot 100.
- Ropin’ The Wind by Garth Brooks was the No.1 album on the Billboard 200.
- Euro Disney (now Disneyland Paris) was still two months from opening.
- Barney & Friends wasn’t on television yet.