Today, April 7, is an anniversary to forget for Pete Sampras and Mal Washington, who lost memorable Davis Cup matches ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY. The excerpts from the April 7 chapter of my book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.tennishistorybook.com) is excerpted below.
2000 – Pete Sampras suffers the worst Davis Cup loss of his career, losing to Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the opening day of play in the USA vs. Czech Republic Davis Cup quarterfinal at the Forum in Los Angeles. With Captain John McEnroe sitting with him courtside, Sampras is unable to break serve and fails on all 11 of his break point opportunities. Says Sampras, “I just got out played. I haven’t said that too often throughout my career, but today I ran into someone that was pretty much in the zone…It’s been a while since I felt I was getting outplayed like that. Right now I’m trying to figure out why and what happened.” Andre Agassi defeats Slava Dosedel 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to even the score at 1-1 after the first day of play.
1980 – Seventeen-year-old Tracy Austin assumes the No. 1 ranking on the WTA Tour computer – the fourth player to hold the position following Chris Evert, Evonne Goolagong and Martina Navratilova. Austin holds the ranking for two weeks, before surrendering it back to Navratilova. Ten weeks later, she again assumes the ranking for a 20 week period, before losing the ranking to Chris Evert, never to hold the ranking again.
1996 – MaliVai Washington is defeated by Petr Korda 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-2 in the fifth and decisive match as the Czech Republic regisers a 3-2 Davis Cup quarterfinal win in Prague over the United States, playing without its top four players – Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Michael Chang and Jim Courier. Washington is unable to convert two set points with Korda serving at 4-5 in the first set, which ultimately proves critical in the loss. ‘When you win that first set, it changes the whole complexion of the match,” Washington says after the match. ”If I could have won that first set, it would have been a lot different.” Earlier in the day, Todd Martin evens the series at 2-2 by routing Daniel Vacek 7-6 (1), 6-3, 6-1 in a flawless display as the American never loses his serve and during one incredible stretch in the first and second sets wins 34 consecutive points on his serve, including seven straight love service games. Says Vacek to Martin at the conclusion of the match, “Just how much should I pay you for the lesson?”
1996 – In her 10th appearance, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario defeats Barbara Paulus 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 to finally win her first title at the Family Circle Magazine Cup in Hilton Head Island, S.C. Says Sanchez Vicario, “I was coming every year, hoping to do a little better than the year before. Finally, the 10th time has been the one.”