Other careers that could have had a Sampras style ending?

BGod

Legend
Like pulling an Elway in US Football, what other careers, ATG or not could have ended in the same fashion as Sampras winning a Slam as their last match? This may not be on talent but on gift draws. Some examples below:

John McEnroe winning 1990 USO
Given his history I doubt he'd ever retire at any other venue so 92 Wimbledon somehow getting to the final nd beaten Goran is out. I think post 85 this was legitimately his best shot losing to Sampras in 4. I've watched the match on tape at least 3 times that I can remember and I do not see any technical way he gets past Sampras unless he wins that 2nd set and Pete as a youngster folds in the 4th down 1-2. But it's certainly plausible. Now sure Mac was a cocky one but at that point in his career I don't think he'd be absolutely driven to play more seasons to garner more titles since he'd be at least tied with Connors.

Federer at 2012/2017/2019 WMB
We don't have to mull about 2012/2017 since they actually happened. With 2019 it takes just a second of mulling the 90% likely outcome (though Novak I suppose had a 90% chance with his history even at 15-40). The big question is Basel and I think that's what makes 2019 Basel the likeliest end had he won Wimbledon anyway.

Borg at 1982 FO
With his Wimbledon crown lost Borg was clearly pushed out by the ITF not of his own accord in 82. However had he wanted to retire anyway, doing so after winning his 7th French Open seems to be more fitting than back to back losses including a Slam he never won in New York.

Agassi at 2005 USO
Quite clearly feasible if he wins that 3rd set tiebreak. In terms of likelihood, Agassi has never explicitly said he would have retired had he won but given his absence from AO, FO and a 3rd round exit at Wimbledon he played already planning to retire, I sincerely doubt he would have made the two additional appearance as the reigning USO champ and having surpassed Connors with 9 majors.

Becker at 1997 WMB
Given this was his 2nd last Slam appearance and with a gap with his last also being Wimbledon, it's almost guaranteed he wouldn't have played another Slam had he won this. And he would have won it had he gotten past Sampras instead of losing in 4, but two bread sticks make it a hard sell.

Martin at 2000 USO
He played Safin closer than Sampras and after the blown opportunities the year before and being unseeded I think Martin could have seen the writing on the wall and retired a champion.

Kerber at 2021 WMB
Yes she might have played the USO regardless to end the season but more women have ended careers with last Slams than men and given her form and ranking had she gotten past Barty and won it all in front of a full crowd I think she would have called it a day. She won't have another opportunity in my opinion.
 

HBK4life

Professional
Looking back Agassi 2003 Aussie open should have called it. But who knew? He still played well but…
 

NedStark

Semi-Pro
Richard Krajicek 2002 WMB - he would have reached the final had he got passed Malisse. Beating Hewitt is unlikely, but if that happens he would have retired right away.

Boris Becker 1991 WMB - that was actually his intention had he won according to some news.
 

NedStark

Semi-Pro
Becker at 1997 WMB
Given this was his 2nd last Slam appearance and with a gap with his last also being Wimbledon, it's almost guaranteed he wouldn't have played another Slam had he won this. And he would have won it had he gotten past Sampras instead of losing in 4, but two bread sticks make it a hard sell
Thing is, the rest of his opponents were a joke that year. And Becker routinely beat Pioline well into 1998/1999.
 

BGod

Legend
Richard Krajicek 2002 WMB - he would have reached the final had he got passed Malisse. Beating Hewitt is unlikely, but if that happens he would have retired right away.

Boris Becker 1991 WMB - that was actually his intention had he won according to some news.
That seems odd as he was only 2 years removed from winning both Wimbledon & USO and had he won Wimbledon he would have been reigning champion at 2 Slams (having won AO that year).

He of course made 5 more Slam Semis, 2 Finals and 1 more Slam, along with two WTFs and 4 Masters. Where is the source on this?

I'm going to say Edberg USO96. Hey, it's not more farfetched than any of the above suggestions.
How so? Edberg of 96 beat a 22 year old Henman in the R16 and lost to Goran in straights. Sampras proceeded to beat Goran in 4 and Chang in 3. And Chang had beaten Edberg in their last 5 hard court encounters only losing way back in 92 USO in a 5 set thriller. So we have to stretch quite a bit for him to beat Goran, then Sampras and then Chang. Absolutely more than any of the examples in the OP in my mind.
 

NedStark

Semi-Pro
That seems odd as he was only 2 years removed from winning both Wimbledon & USO and had he won Wimbledon he would have been reigning champion at 2 Slams (having won AO that year
He was beginning to lose his interest and focus in 1991.
 

boredone3456

G.O.A.T.
Venus Williams Wimbledon 2017- I love Venus but I just think her body doesn't have anything left. Wimbledon was her best, Had she beaten Serena, retiring then with her sister standing next to her, would have been a moment.

Lindsay Davenport 2005 Wimbledon- Oh Lindsay..The Williams just had your number in the biggest matches. But this...this was so close. She had championship point which Venus saved with a spectacular shot. Had she won this, conquering one of her greatest rivals, it would have been an epic way to end her career.
 

ibbi

Legend
That's a very random final inclusion :-D I had to check google to make sure I hadn't missed something.

Goran could have not come back after winning Wimbledon.

It seems impossible given the gigantic gap between the guys he beat and the guys who remained in his way, but if Connors could have found a way through those last two matches at the US Open in 91 that'd be even more legendary than it already is.
 
The womens game is too crazy open to say for sure Kerber won't have another opportunity IMO. If the womens game gets some order then yeah her window should be closed completely now, but that hasn't happened yet. While it remains in its current chaotic state I still give her a fighting chance.
 
Richard Krajicek 2002 WMB - he would have reached the final had he got passed Malisse. Beating Hewitt is unlikely, but if that happens he would have retired right away.

Boris Becker 1991 WMB - that was actually his intention had he won according to some news.
Krajicek, even in his 2002 state, is one of the only type of players that could beat Hewitt on grass at this point IMO. Just with his playing style. With the broken draw I remember already saying the winner of the Phillippousis-Krajicek 4th round was the only one who could beat Hewitt left, even if I ultimately never expected either to even reach the final to try. Someone like Henman was never going to do it. Nor was 2002 version Nalbandian on grass. I am not saying he would have won the final, he still would be the likely loser, but I could see it happening if he had a good day and didn't get injured.
 

NedStark

Semi-Pro
Krajicek, even in his 2002 state, is one of the only type of players that could beat Hewitt on grass at this point IMO. Just with his playing style. With the broken draw I remember already saying the winner of the Phillippousis-Krajicek 4th round was the only one who could beat Hewitt left, even if I ultimately never expected either to even reach the final to try. Someone like Henman was never going to do it. Nor was 2002 version Nalbandian on grass. I am not saying he would have won the final, he still would be the likely loser, but I could see it happening if he had a good day and didn't get injured.
Second this.

IMO they would have reached finals had the conditions been more like 2001 or 2003, or at the minimum, semifinal, because Sampras would have likely reached that stage in this scenario.
 
Last edited:
Top