TOKYO, Japan - Two days after we celebrated the anniversary of Andre Agassi reaching No.1 for the first time, today we celebrate the anniversary of one of his greatest rivals, Pete Sampras - a fellow tennis legend, and a fellow American national treasure - reaching No.1 for the first time himself.
It was 24 years ago on April 12, 1993 when Sampras first ascended to the top spot, and it was after a phenomenal start to the season that saw him win 25 of 28 matches and three titles at Sydney, the Masters 1000 event in Miami, and Tokyo - it was the title run in Tokyo that propelled him to No.1.
After conquering the Japanese capital - beating Brad Gilbert in the final for his fourth title of the year - Sampras passed another American, Jim Courier, for the top spot on the ATP World Tour rankings.
Here are some highlights from the 1993 Tokyo final - Sampras’ last match before becoming No.1:
“It’s hard to get to No.1, but it’s harder to stay there,” Sampras reminisced recently.
“You feel like you’ve got a bullseye on your chest - you’re constantly looking over your shoulder.”
Sampras would spend 286 career weeks at No.1 between April 1993 and November 2000, which would be the all-time record until Roger Federer passed him after winning Wimbledon in 2012.
He does still hold the record for finishing the most years at No.1 - he was year-end No.1 six times, all in a row, in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998. Federer (and Jimmy Connors) did it five times.
Sampras finished his career with a total of 14 majors - two Australian Opens, seven Wimbledons and five US Opens. He’s tied with Rafael Nadal for second-most all-time (Federer leads with 18).
And here are some throwbacks to April 12, 1993, the day Sampras first got to No.1:
- Monica Seles was No.1 on the women’s side
- Venus Williams would make her professional debut 18 months later
- Indecent Proposal was the No.1 movie at the US box office (Jurassic Park, The Fugitive and Mrs. Doubtfire are among the movies that came out later that year)
- Chance the Rapper wasn’t born yet (April 16, 1993)
- And this was the No.1 song in the US that day: