Barry Cowan (tennis)

Barry Cowan (born 25 August 1974)[1] is a British former tennis player, best known for taking Pete Sampras to five sets at Wimbledon in 2001.

Barry Cowan
Country (sports)United Kingdom Great Britain
ResidenceLathom, England
Born (1974-08-25) 25 August 1974 (age 45)
Southport, England
Height6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Turned pro1991
PlaysLeft-handed (one-handed backhand)
CoachDavid Sammel
Prize money$315,856
Career record5–21 (at ATP Tour and Grand Slam-level, and in Davis Cup)
Career titles0
1 Challenger, 0 Futures
Highest rankingNo. 162 (11 September 2000)
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian OpenQ2 (1999, 2000)
French OpenQ1 (1994, 2000, 2001, 2002)
Wimbledon2R (2001, 2002)
US Open1R (2000)
Career record11-26 (at ATP Tour and Grand Slam-level, and in Davis Cup)
Career titles0
Highest rankingNo. 136 (9 August 1999)
Grand Slam Doubles results
Wimbledon3R (1999)
US OpenQ2 (1999)
Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results
Wimbledon1R (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002)

Early yearsEdit

Born in Southport, Merseyside, Cowan attended the LTA Rover School at Bisham Abbey. He was also a member of Aughton Tennis Club.[2]

A left-hander, Cowan was a versatile sportsman in his junior years; aside from tennis, Barry represented the North of England at under-15 level hockey and is also a member of Ormskirk Golf Club. After success in junior tournaments, Cowan first competed at the All England Club in 1994 as a wild card, losing in the first round to that year's French Open champion Sergi Bruguera in four sets.


Cowan was only to appear regularly in Grand Slams as a Wimbledon wild card. However he was successful in qualifying for the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows in 2000, though he lost in straight sets to Jens Knippschild. Cowan later represented Britain at the Sydney Olympics taking the first set but eventually losing to Daniel Nestor in round one.

Match with Pete Sampras, Wimbledon 2001Edit

In 2001, Cowan once again gained a wild card entry into Wimbledon, and won his first ever SW19 singles match in a battle of Britain against Mark Hilton in straight sets, setting up a dream second round match against Sampras, undefeated at Wimbledon since 1996, the match was the epitome of a David & Goliath, with there being 264 places between the two in the World Rankings.

As expected Sampras dominated the first two sets on Court 1, leading 6–3, 6–2 before Cowan came back against all expectations, taking an epic third set tie break. During breaks in play, Cowan would listen to music, notably You'll Never Walk Alone, which can be heard at Anfield home of his team Liverpool FC. Before the match he had sought advice from a top sports psychologist to help prepare himself for the daunting task of facing the world number one.[1]

The help seemed to pay off and with the partisan British crowd cheering Cowan on, Cowan upset the form book to break the Sampras serve to win the fourth set 6–4 and take it into a final set.

However, all dreams of an upset evaporated as Sampras broke back in the final set to win 6–3, 6–2, 6–7, 4–6, 6–3. [2]

Davis CupEdit

In September 2001, Cowan played in his only Davis Cup singles match representing Britain in a World Group Qualifier against Ecuador, he lost in straight sets to Luis Adrijan Moreon 6–1, 6–4, although the result did not affect Britain's performance, as they beat Ecuador 4–1 overall.

2002 and retirementEdit

Cowan would once again reach the second round at Wimbledon a year later, bowing out in four sets to Ecuador's Nicolás Lapentti. After that defeat, Cowan announced his retirement from professional tennis.

After retirementEdit

Since retiring from the game, Cowan has taken up a commentating role with Sky Sports for their tennis coverage. Outside the game, Cowan is a keen supporter of Liverpool Football Club.


  1. ^ "Barry Cowan". Association of Tennis Professionals. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  2. ^ "Barry's gunning for 'Pistol' Pete", Paddy Shennan, Liverpool Echo, 26 June 2001.

External linksEdit