Published January 26, 1995 on THE AGE:

Old friends battle it out to the death

The Pete Sampras-Jim Courier quarter-final was among the best in recent Grand Slam history. This is an edited version of how American tennis writer Bud Collins saw the dramatic contest.

Across two days, those old pals Pete Sampras and Jim Courier hammered and slashed away at each other. Five sets, four hours, hundreds of brilliant shots, a million emotional tremors as they clung to each other like leeches.

When their Australian Open quarter-final was over at 1:09 am, having begun the night before, 15,000 yelled-and-eyeballed-out customers filling Flinders Park were almost as battle weary as Courier and the unlikable victor, Sampras.

Both men were cramping. Sampras had literally come through blood, sweat and tears, dealing with gashed blistered feet that thrice required a trainer’s attention, but mostly turmoil within.

It was a capital-E Epic that No. 1 Sampras, sobbing at times, nevertheless grittily tore away from Courier, the revitalized champion of 1992-93, 6-7 (4-7), 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.

If being pushed behind two sets by the savage long-range firing of Courier wasn’t enough, Sampras also trailed, 2-4, in the fourth.

During this, the foremost revival of his career, immediately following the Sunday rebound from two sets down over Magnus Larsson, defending champion Sampras came close to falling apart psychologically.

“I thought he might be unable to go on,” his girlfriend, Delaina Mulcahy, said. Sitting in the first row, she kept calling: “Hang in, honey, hang in.”

Somehow he did. It was mental anguish over the illness of his coach, Tim Gullikson. Gullikson, who had suffered his third stroke within three months, flew home from Melbourne earlier in the day. Tournament director Paul McNamee announced: “Gullikson’s situation was the reason for Pete’s anguish, but he doesn’t want to talk about it to the press.”

This was obvious when he appeared at a post-match conference.
Sampras, barely controlling himself, answered a couple of questions, then abruptly departed.
“I didn’t quit,” he said, still teary. “It means a lot to me that Jim and I fought our hearts out and neither of us game an inch.”

At 1-1, 30-0, in the fifth set, someone in the heavily pro-Sampras crowed, yelled: “Win it for your coach, Pete!”
That triggered a gusher. Sensing the trouble, Courier showed the warmth that underlies their years as friends and rivals for the top. He shouted across the net, jocularly: “Are you all right, Pete? We can do this tomorrow, you know.”

It was tomorrow. But Sampras bucked up and launched the 21st and 22nd of his 25 aces to win the game. He would not be behind again.

“We both could have collapsed then,“ said the super-fit Courier. “We were cramping, the intensity took its toil, but we never let up. I knew by the second set this was something special in our lives. I can’t feel bad about losing like that.

“Pete looked bad, I feel bad … but it’s no surprise to me that he came back. That’s Pete. This is a major. We both wanted it so bad.”

Courier felt it probably got away from him when he double-faulted on his third game point in the eighth game of the fourth. “Cramps really grabbed me then,” he said.

Through his tears, Sampras rose to a fifth-set crescendo, losing but four points on serve. He hounded Courier for the decisive break to 5-3, even though Courier had five game points.

Amid wild cheering, after Courier missed a passing forehand bid at match pint, they embraced at the net.
“I know you’re dead, Pete,” Courier told his conqueror, “because I’m dead.”

(taken from the Boston Globe)

Prosaic reports on the match are available here.

Courtside Reports from the National Tennis Centre, Flinders Park

Tennis Server report
January 25, 1995

Wednesday and Day 10 at the 1995 Ford Australian Open at the National Tennis Centre Flinders Park. But all the talk around the stadium today was of last night and how Pete Sampras was brought to tears in his five- set match against Jim Courier. Pete, after being 2 sets to love down, was moved to tears after a spector called out "Do it for your coach!" This was an emotional trigger for Sampras who then broke down and was visibly crying for the remainder of the match.
But even so, Pete was able to fire down ace after ace and was able to fight back, yet again, from 2 sets to love down to take out the match. One gets the feeling though that Jim Courier was also feeling for Pete and that probably was more of a distraction for Courier than for Pete.

In the after-match news conference, questions on why he broke down were banned and no comment was made except for that the illness of his coach, Tim Gullinkson, who yesterday flew home to the USA, was a contributing factor. Sampras was also not commenting today while practicing on an outside court. Even then, Pete was still unable to hold back the tears resulting in one of the most amazing press conferences I think I have ever seen!!


Exhausted Sampras talks about his harrowing, exhausting week

Reuters News Service

MELBOURNE, Australia - World No. 1 Pete Sampras spoke Thursday about the most harrowing and exhausting week of his tennis life and of how it felt to cry on center court as he fought what he said was the toughest match of his career.
Just 36 hours after he appeared head bowed and emotionally drained before the world's media following a five-set epic at the Australian Open against countryman Jim Courier, a more composed Sampras was able to reflect on his most public grief.

"I think people understand that I'm normal, I have feelings like everyone else...I'm not a robot out there," said the 23-year-old American who had been overcome on court by his concern for ailing coach Tim Gullikson.

"I'm as normal as the guy across the street, and I think that's what people have to realize, when they see tennis players, we're not above everyone, we do the same things everyone else does," he added.

He was speaking after beating fifth seed Michael Chang, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to make it through to his sixth Grand Slam final. He had just contacted Gullikson by phone in Chicago where he returned after falling ill here late last week.

Gullikson, who had two minor strokes late last year, flew back to the United States Tuesday and after intensive tests in hospital was now back home with his family, Sampras said.

"Tim is doing very good. I spoke to him this morning, I just spoke to him after the match and he's in good spirits," he added.

And over the next couple of days he would be talking to Gullikson again, "just chatting and strategy."

Sampras had broken down in uncontrollable tears at the start of a final set against Courier early Wednesday morning after a dramatic comeback from two sets down when a fan in the crowd had apparently shouted, "Do it for your coach."

"It was a very tough thing to go through and I'm happy I'm still here," Sampras said.

The top seed, wrapped up in his own thoughts and physically exhausted after two marathon five-setters against Swede Magnus Larsson and Courier, was not aware his four-hour quarterfinal classic had become part of tennis folklore.

"I didn't really realize what the impact was on myself and on tennis, I've really been kind of low key...I haven't been reading a lot of the papers and the TV," he said. "You guys probably know better than I do."

Sampras's emotional trauma this week has also touched other players, including Chang, a devout Christian.

"Pete has handled this past couple of weeks extremely well," Chang said.

"He's been very good as far as being able to focus on his tennis and still be a very compassionate person at the same time.

"We've seen a few different sides of Pete Sampras that we definitely have not seen in the past," Chang added."

Sampras said the Courier match "was the toughest battle I've ever played...I was even more sore today than yesterday."

He now has three days rest to recharge his body and his mind before the final.

Then Sunday he plays No. 2 Andre Agassi or fellow American Aaron Krickstein for what he says will be the most important match of his life.

"This is the most special to me because of the circumstances and the fact that I was down and out against Larsson and down and out against Courier and I really fought back."

from: Valuable experience, says Sania, by  V.V. SUBRAHMANYAM
The Hindu, February 11, 2003
(it is about Brian Langley, Star Sports commentator until 1997)

Langley counts the Australian Open quarterfinals between Jim Courier and Pete Sampras as his best match as commentator.

Sampras fought back from two sets down to take the issue in the fifth set. Then a spectator from the crowd shouted, "Do it Pete, for your coach Tim Gullikson (who died just before the event of a brain tumour)."

The sight of a visibly moved Sampras rendered Langley and Vijay Amritraj speechless. Eventually, Sampras won. "It was a great match with a humane touch," recalls Langley.


from: Thorpie and the pop diva, By Geoff McClure
THE AGEOctober 22, 2004

Sampras 'sets' record straight

It remains one of the most emotional matches ever played at the Australian Open, the 1995 quarter-final in which Pete Sampras lost the first two sets to Jim Courier but recovered to win despite breaking down in tears over his coach and good friend Tim Gullikson, who was dying of cancer. Well, Sampras has now revealed that Courier's call from the opposite end of the court, "Are you all right, Pete? We can do this tomorrow, you know" was more than what has since become a famous comment, it was in fact what spurred him to his memorable victory. "I think once he said that, I thought he was giving me a hard time," says Sampras in an interview on the new tennis show, Slam, on Channel Seven at noon on Sunday. "It kind of woke me up to be like, 'OK, let's focus' and it made me click into the match." And history tells us the remark fired up Sampras so much that he immediately sent down two successive aces on his way to taking the fourth set. Sampras said "for whatever reason" he had lost his composure for about five or 10 minutes and "although it felt good to release the anxiety that I was feeling for such a long time, I just didn't expect to do it in front of thousands of people in the middle of a tennis match".

The night Pete cried

By Jackie Epstein, The Sunday Telegraph
January 23, 2005

JIM Courier admits to feeling indifferent about the result of one match in his career.

The firebrand American hated losing, but it was irrelevant after one of the most enthralling and emotional contests ever played at the Australian Open.

It is almost 10 years ago to the day Courier and Pete Sampras locked horns in a brutal quarter-final on the second Tuesday night in 1995.

"You're never happy to lose, but I take a lot of satisfaction away from that match," Courier said this week.

"I played just about as well as I could and the quality was of the highest level and some days you just get beat by a better player and on that day Pete was a better player.

"I can't look back on it and say, 'Gosh I should have done this and should have done that', because I thought I did everything that I needed to to win the match and just came up a fraction short."

The final scoreline read 6-7 (7-4) 6-7 (7-3) 6-3 6-4 6-3 after a marathon 3½ hours of toil between two great rivals.

Courier was the world's best and Sampras was the supreme challenger.

The pair already had shared a host of memorable matches but this one was unique. Sampras's coach Tim Gullikson had collapsed in the Melbourne Park locker rooms.

He was rushed to Epworth Hospital, spent several days undergoing tests and was told he was suffering from two brain tumours.

Sampras had been close friends with his mentor and the news was stunning.

So in the early hours of one stifling morning, the supposedly granite facade of the American prodigy crumbled under the weight of emotion.

When one of the 14,000 well-meaning fans yelled out "Do it for your coach" early in the fifth set, Sampras wept uncontrollably.

With the scores locked on 1-all in the fifth, he paused while serving to wipe away the torrent of tears. By then it had become a familiar sight.

Courier graciously offered to finish the match at a more suitable time.

Somehow Sampras found the nerve, and the composure to fight on.

"It's one of the matches that will stick with me for the rest of my life," Courier said.

"It was an emotional match. The first time that Sampras really showed us there was more to him than just a brilliant tennis player

"You could see for the first time that he had feelings and was hiding that as best he could and he could no longer do it out there in the most public of places.

"The level of tennis was exceptional in that match and just high drama all the way through. And a really great sense of camaraderie after the match which Pete and I shared in the locker room having been through that together."

Sampras lost the final that year to Andre Agassi, but won fans the world over for his rare and genuine display of emotion.

Sixteen months after that extraordinary quarter-final, Gullikson died, aged 44.

"I got an e-mail from a friend the other day and he was saying that he'd bumped into some people and the first thing that they said when they got around to talking about me was that match," Courier said.

Courier said he and Sampras remained friends throughout their careers.

It's unlikely the two will ever meet again on Rod Laver Arena but the occasion will never be forgotten.

As soon as he walked back into Rod Laver Arena in his role as Seven's specialist commentator, Courier felt the memories flooding back.

The combatants gave it their all during that epic, now renowned as the night Peerless Pete cried.

Courier was desperate to win, but ultimately he was not fussed about the result.

Ten-Year Anniversary of Emotional Sampras Match Mirrors Ten Years of Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation


PALM COAST, Fla. – On January 24, 1995, Pete Sampras played the toughest tennis match of his life and his coach, Tim Gullikson, began to fight a battle unlike any he’d ever experienced on the court.

As the Australian Open celebrates its Centennial, the Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation, which helps support brain tumor patients and their families, recognizes its 10th year. Both found their wings in Melbourne, one consciously, the other because of one of life’s double faults from which few recover.

Ranked No. 1 in the world ATP rankings, Sampras, along with Gullikson were in Melbourne, Australia preparing for Sampras’ tournament run when Gullikson had a seizure. Accompanied by his twin brother Tom, Tim Gullikson was admitted to a Melbourne hospital where doctors thought he had brain tumors.

“It was a very uncertain time,” Tom Gullikson recalled. “Pete came to see Tim everyday after practice and other coaches and players were taking time out of their training routines to do the same.”

Sampras, who arrived in Melbourne with a tournament title as his goal, found himself determined to play exceptional tennis for his ailing coach.

“I remember having to play knowing that Tim was not doing that well and wanting to get through some tough matches for him,” said Sampras who is retired from professional tennis.

Before Tim left Australia to travel home for further testing, close friends and associates visited to wish him well. Among them were Sampras and Jim Courier who were scheduled to play one another in a tournament quarterfinal the following day.

What happened January 24 is etched in Aussie Open archives and was the most emotional display of a coach and player bond in professional sports history. As Tim and Tom Gullikson flew home to Chicago, Courier and Sampras played a tight match. Down two sets to love, a spectator yelled to Sampras “do it for your coach,” at which point the prot?g? broke down on the court. He would continue the match with tears streaming throughout. Sampras played each point with heart and tenacity, and captured the next three sets and match from Courier, 6-7, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.

It was Tim Gullikson who helped Sampras develop the tenacity he showed on the court, even as he bowed to Andre Agassi in the Open’s title match.

“Tim’s attitude about practicing hard, his work ethic and knowledge of the game made a lasting impression on me on and off the court,” Sampras said.

Tim Gullikson used the same determination to battle brain cancer.

“This was obviously an emotional time for Tim and our family,” Tom Gullikson said, “and Tim took it at as hard as anyone would. Tim said, though, that he had two fundamental choices. He could wait to die or he could fight the brain tumors for all it was worth.”

Once Tim Gullikson knew what he was facing he developed a game plan to fight the disease that is the No. 2 cause of cancer deaths in children and young adults, and the No. 3 cause of cancer deaths in middle-aged adults. Then he turned his attention to others who fought the disease. If he, who had a loving and supportive family and the best medical attention available found it challenging to find information about how to live with this disease on a daily basis, how would other patients and caregivers cope?
“Tim said if someone had to face something as serious as brain tumors, it was good that it was him because he had so much support from family and friends,” Tom Gullikson said. “He reverted to a coach’s role. Tim believed in incorporating the principles of team-building, mental attitude development and coaching on how to best treat and live with the illness to create a source where patients and families could go for information and fill a gap in doctor’s offices.”

Tim Gullikson, with Tom, wife Rosemary and other family members founded the Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation.

“Tim continued to coach Pete over the phone,” Tom Gullikson said. “Paul Annacone was brought in to coach Pete on-site on an interim basis. Tim fully expected to return to Pete’s side as his coach.

“Tim handled everything with amazing fight, hope and a positive attitude. He never had a bad day.”

Although Tim Gullikson died on May 3, 1996, his legacy lives on. Ten years and more than $3 million dollars later, the Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation awards scholarships to college-bound students whose lives have been affected by brain tumors, supports research regarding quality of life issues that confront brain tumor patients, provides camp scholarships to children who are brain tumor survivors to attend Ronald McDonald Good Time Camps, funds social workers on the East and West coasts and in the Midwest who have developed social service programs for, and provide support via a toll-free telephone line and the Internet, to brain tumor patients ,caregivers and brain tumor networking groups.

The Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation played an instrumental role in developing the Brain Tumor Family Support Center at Duke University Medical Center, a model support program for large teaching hospitals.

In 2005, the Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation celebrates its 10th anniversary. In launching a yearlong celebration, benefits will be held throughout the United States beginning in March with Desert Smash in California and Tennis for Tim in Southeastern Wisconsin.

“The Foundation has done such a wonderful job at keeping Tim’s vision firmly intact, and I have no doubt that it will continue to do so,” Sampras said.

According to Tim’s wife, Rosemary Gullikson, Tim was always a coach who cared about other people and their needs. As the Foundation that bears his and his brother’s names recognizes its 10th anniversary, she believes that the Foundation’s programs pay tribute to that legacy.

The Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation was founded in 1995 by former tennis professionals Tim and Tom Gullikson and their families after Tim was diagnosed with brain tumors. The mission of the Foundation is to assist brain tumor patients and their families manage the physical, emotional and social challenges presented by the illness. It funds care and support programs of organizations with similar missions, and through college and camp scholarships. The Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation. It may be reached at 1-888-GULLIKSON and