Pete Sampras’ numerous achievements made him a legend of the sport way before he called it quits. However, he ended up skipping the Davis Cup quite often. After leading his country to the title in 1995, he hardly received any attention for his efforts.
The American then stayed away from the tournament since he assumed it wasn’t on people’s radars. He returned to the American squad in 2002, mainly in light of then-captain Pat McEnroe’s words following the tragic events of 9/11.
Sampras expanded upon his decision during a chat with Sports Illustrated in 2002.
He was also in the midst of reinventing his career to keep up with new challengers. He made several changes during this period, from his racquet to the coaching staff.
The Davis Cup also offers players the opportunity to be part of a team event, which is in contrast to the largely solitary nature of tennis. Sampras was one of the most experienced players during the 2002 Davis Cup. His younger teammates, Andy Roddick, James Blake and Mardy Fish, watched his every move like a hawk.
Pat McEnroe was quite impressed with the sight, comparing Sampras’ influence to the one wielded by Michael Jordan.
The USA would go on to reach the semifinals of the Davis Cup in 2002, where they would lose 3-2 to France.
The United States are Davis Cup royalty, winning the tournament a record 32 times. Pete Sampras was part of the winning squad on two occasions, leading his country to the title in 1992 and 1995.
Sampras reached the final for the first time in 1991, but the American squad was defeated by France. He was also part of the team that made it to the final in 1997 but came up short against Sweden in the end.
Sampras won 15 singles ties while representing his country in the Davis Cup, while losing eight of them. The American team’s last title was in 2007, which was also the last time they made it to the championship round. They bowed out in the quarterfinals during the most recent edition.
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