The next best came right after, when Sampras raised his hands and the stadium shook with a girder-trembling roar. It was a defining victory for Sampras. Minutes after the match, John McEnroe found Sampras's girlfriend, Delaina Mulcahy, and blurted out, "I don't have that much guts."
Until the final moment Sampras had maintained his composure. He had even begun to believe that he could get past Gullikson's death without winning a Slam title. But that wasn't likely. From late 1991 until the '95 Australian Open, Sampras never made a move at the Slams without Tim. He won four titles with him as coach, and now, when he arrives in Melbourne, Paris, London or New York City, "it reminds me," Sampras said. "I'm in the locker room, and all the boys are around, and Tom's there, and it reminds me of Tim. It kind of rekindles the hurt."
The match with Corretja reminded him that it was Gullikson who taught him to compete this way. Afterward, as Sampras slumped in a cramped holding room with his agent, coach and trainer, Mulcahy rushed in. She saw Sampras's face and he saw hers, and all the hurt came back. As Sampras began to cry, the others hustled out, leaving him and Mulcahy. "This is for Tim," Sampras sobbed as they hugged. "This is for Tim."
Her father sits in a jail cell in Mannheim, Germany, on trial for tax evasion. Her mother, Heidi, sits across the table from her in the Open clubhouse. It is Sunday night, after the finals, and there is a glass of champagne in front of her. "You go through different emotions when you win," Graf says. "Sometimes you feel like crying. Sometimes you feel like screaming. Today I was definitely in the screaming mode. I was so happy to play good tennis. I didn't think it was possible."
Who did? Graf almost didn't enter the Open. She came into the tournament ailing from a calf injury and knowing that the pressure would mount once Peter's trial began during the second week of play. Steffi's concentration was so frayed that her coach, Heinz Gunthardt, half expected she would lose early; always, her impending return to Germany hovered. "It's going to be a not-too-pleasant time," Graf said. "That's why I treasure what I've had the last few days. It won't last so long."
But her win here should, she says, give her strength. Graf held off challenges from what Swiss sensation Martina Hingis calls "the new generation" of women's tennis, sampling and discarding both Hingis and the other teenager of the moment, Anna Kournikova of Russia. Then, before anyone could get excited about her first meeting with Monica Seles since last year's classic final, Graf had steamed past Seles 7-5, 6-4, to finish the year as the undisputed queen of the game.
"I tried to change it," Hingis said of this year's rerun of the 1995 final, "but it didn't work." She came close. Apple-cheeked and hot-tempered, she became the first 15-year-old to make the Open semis since Jennifer Capriati in '91. Hingis tested Graf throughout their first set, reaching set point five times before running out of gas. Her precocious all-court game and seeming normalcy make her the tour's hot young thing. "Martina is able to live with being that good," says her mother and coach, Melanie Zogg. "She's always been Number 1. Anything else would be funny."
In fact Hingis was able to pressure Graf more consistently than Seles was. "It was a weird ending," said Seles.
It was, indeed, one of the strangest ever in a Grand Slam final. Not only did a storm resembling the Apocalypse come churning over the lip of the stadium with Graf serving for the match, but at one point Seles had to stop Graf from serving because Seles was overcome by the giggles. The sound of a man singing Happy Birthday—badly—was drifting from the grandstand. There, Tom Gullikson was receiving his $9,500 check for winning, with Dick Stockton, the 45-and-over doubles title. Tom and Tim turned 45 Sunday.
Sampras didn't wake up Sunday thinking about Tim Gullikson. He woke up thinking about Chang. He also thought about how much he loves the emptiness of the locker room on the final day of a Grand Slam event. "The first week is hectic," he said. "You can't get a shower, there's no room. But each day, it's clearing out, clearing out, and the last weekend, when you walk in the locker room, no one bothers you. I love it."