Larsson  was the toughest possible 4th round opponent for the defending champion, because the Swede had recently beaten Sampras  at Grand Slam Cup in Munich. He’d done it serving tremendously well, in Melbourne for almost two hours it seemed like another possible upset, that time thanks to Larsson’s other big (actually bigger) weapon – the forehand. Sampras – one of the best forehead players at the time – was pretty hopeless during baseline exchanges. The tall Swede after *3:4 (0/15) in the opener & being two points from losing the 2nd set (*4:5, deuce) found himself within two points from a 3-set victory as he led 5:4* (30/15) in the 3rd set – Sampras struck a service winner, followed by a BH volley winner. It was a crucial moment of the encounter, in another game the American broke for the first time since the early stages of the match, and as the time progressed, Larsson began to feel the Australian heat which limited his movement, allowing Sampras to doing more good things from the back of the court. The favorite collected the vital breaks at 3-all in 4th & 1-all in 5th set… Among many Sampras’ dramatic successful five-setters, it’s the only case in which he almost succumbed in straight sets. What Larsson couldn’t had done in the 3rd set, one year later after similar match on the same court, did Mark Philippoussis stunning Sampras 6-4, 7-6, 7-6.
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