Pete Sampras's coach, Tim Gullikson, 43, has a brain tumor, though his physician says the condition is treatable and should not prevent him from continuing to work with the Wimbledon champion.
"Tim is at home, is doing well and is expected to return to coaching tennis in the near future," said Dr James Ausman, professor and head of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Centre.
"This type of small tumor, known as oligodendroglioma, responds very well to treatment," Dr Ausman added.
Several cases of oligodendroglioma occur in the United States each year, according to the American Medical Association Encyclopedia. The tumors usually affect young or middle-aged adults. Treatment includes brain surgery to remove the tumor whenever possible. Radiation therapy and anti-cancer drugs may also be prescribed.
About one third of patients survive for five years or more, the reference book states.
The timing of Gullikson's return to the courtside will be of less concern to Sampras than the relief of being told of the expected recovery. The coach's welfare has been an abiding worry for the world No 1. "I've been speaking to Tim just about every day," Sampras said while preparing to play in a tournament in Memphis. "He's in good spirits. We've all been thinking about him. I would like to thank all the players for their support.''
Gullikson has guided Sampras to four Grand Slam titles and the status of No 1 since they began working together in January, 1992.
In October last year, during the Stockholm Open, Gullikson fainted in a hotel room, injuring his face. In December, he was taken ill in Munich while preparing Sampras for the Grand Slam Cup. He was diagnosed to have suffered two minor strokes and was found to have a heart condition.
Less than a month ago, Gullikson was taken to hospital in Melbourne while Sampras was defending the Australian Open title.
Sampras went on to retrieve a two-set deficit in consecutive matches. In the second instance, he sobbed uncontrollably during the fifth set of an epic quarter-final against Jim Courier after a spectator called out, "Do it for your coach!" At the time, Gullikson was on his way back to Chicago.
In the final, Sampras was defeated in four sets by Andre Agassi, who is in eager pursuit of the No 1 position. The rivalry is scheduled to continue in Philadelphia next week.
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