1998 was a very strange year. Despite Sampras finishing as no. 1 on the computer, I can't give that year to him.
4 years titles is very poor for a year end no. 1. Yes Federer 'only' won 4 titles as well in 2009, but he won 2 slams and 2 masters series events that year and he reached the final at all 4 slams.
Apart from Wimbledon, Sampras didn't win any other big titles in 1998 and his other 3 titles were at Philadelphia and Atlanta which had pretty weak fields, and at Vienna when Becker donated his wildcard to him as he pursued that 6th consecutive year end no. 1 ranking. Admittedly though Sampras's QF demolition of Henman at that tournament was one of the best performances I ever saw from him. Sampras's form at Wimbledon was patchy to say the least (unlike his form there the year before) and he was very lucky to walk away with the title. Plus he failed to reach the final at any of the other 3 slams.
Had Rios won the Australian Open final against Korda then 1998 would have been his year considering he won the titles at Indian Wells, Miami and Rome. Plus he won the Grand Slam Cup which was unofficial at the time but is now officially counted as part of his playing record.
Possibly you could give the year to Rafter as won 6 titles in total, including the Toronto-Cincinnati-US Open triple, and he won both of his matches against Sampras that year in Cincy and Flushing Meadows. Then again he did nothing significant at any of the other 3 slams.
Maybe 1998 was a tie between different players. A bizarre year and I don't think Sampras did enough to have that year all to himself. His level of play that year was significantly worse than his overall level during his 1993-1997 peak or his summer of 1999 resurgance.
Last edited by Gizo : 05-11-2012 at 02:13 PM.