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Wimbledon icon: Pete Sampras

Pete Sampras is the joint-second most successful male player in Wimbledon Open era history with seven singles titles, the same as Novak Djokovic and one fewer than Roger Federer.

The American held the record on his own until 2013 and maintained a share of the record until Federer's last Wimbledon victory in 2017.

Sampras' victories came during an eight-year spell of dominance between 1993 and 2000 and all were achieved before his 29th birthday.

However, the American was to make just two more Wimbledon appearances – reaching the fourth round in 2001 and the second round in 2002 – before retiring from the sport, aged just 31, in 2002.

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Sampras turned pro at the age of 16 in 1988 and made immediate progress to finish the year at 97th on the ATP rankings.

He was a first round loser on his Wimbledon debut in 1989 – suffering a four-set defeat to Australian doubles specialist Todd Woodbridge – but just over a year later, at the 1990 US Open, he was to claim the first of 14 Grand Slam victories.

Sampras was 19 at the time of his straight sets US Open final triumph over Andre Agassi, making him the youngest ever male champion in the competition's history.

His powerful serve and volley style made him ideally suited to faster courts so he was soon recognised as a likely future Wimbledon winner.

However, he lost three of his first four singles matches at the All England Club until enjoying a run to the semi-finals in 1992.

Sampras made ominous progress through the draw in 1992, dropping just one set in his opening five matches, before losing out 7-6 6-7 4-6 2-6 to Goran Ivanisevic.

Pistol Pete opens his Wimbledon account

At the time of Sampras's fifth visit to Wimbledon, Pistol Pete, as he had become known due to the speed of his serving, had competed in 12 Grand Slams, claiming a solitary triumph at the 1990 US Open.

However, he arrived in London as the number one seed and showed his quality from start to finish.

Sampras was pushed hard in his quarter-final against Agassi (the defending champion) winning 6-2 6-2 3-6 3-6 6-4, but he dominated Boris Becker in the semis, winning in straight sets, and overcame compatriot Jim Courier 7-6 7-6 3-6 6-3 in the final.

Winning Wimbledon for the first time was a key moment for Sampras, who quickly followed up with successes at the 1993 US Open and the 1994 Australian Open, meaning he was the reigning champion of three of the four Grand Slam events.

Era of dominance interrupted by Krajicek

Sampras's efforts to hold all four Grand Slam titles ended in disappointment at the 1994 French Open with a quarter-final loss to Courier, but his success at Wimbledon was to continue.

Later that summer Sampras dropped just one set on the way to winning Wimbledon for a second time, but he was pushed a lot harder in 1995 before clinching the title with a 6-7 6-2 6-4 6-2 triumph over Becker.

Sampras was now beginning to think about challenging five-times champion Bjorn Borg as the most prolific Wimbledon winner of the Open era, but his progress was halted the following year.

Thomas Muster's late withdrawal resulted in a seeding for big-serving Dutchman Richard Krajicek, who took the Austrian’s place in Sampras's quarter of the draw.

And Krajicek's effectiveness on the grass courts helped him secure a shock 7-5 7-6 6-4 quarter-final success over Sampras before going onto win the tournament.

Sampras's defeat to Krajicek was his only loss among 54 singles matches at the All England Club between 1993 and 2000.

Records tumble before swift exit from the sport

Losing to Krajicek in such a disappointing fashion was a major setback, but Sampras soon rebuilt his aura of invincibility on the Wimbledon lawns.

He overcame first time Wimbledon finalist Cedric Pioline in 1997 and saw off a tougher challenge from Goran Ivanisevic in the 1998 final to win his fifth Wimbledon crown and draw level with Borg's tally.

Sampras surpassed Borg by claiming further titles in 1999 and 2000 and there seemed plenty of room for further success.

The American was just 29 when he prepared to go for a fifth successive Wimbledon title in 2001 but his trophy defence was ended at the fourth round stage by rising star Federer, who triumphed 7-6 5-7 6-4 6-7 7-5 in a thrilling match.

Sampras made his last appearance at Wimbledon just a year later - suffering a second round loss to a less famous Swiss, George Bastl, but he ensured a fairytale end to a glorious career later that year with a 6-3 6-4 5-7 6-4 victory over his long-time rival Agassi in the 2002 US Open final.

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