Points won by each set: [ 48-40, 43-39, 44-45, 36-31 ]
Points won directly on serve:
33 % Rafter – 52 of 154
19 % Tarango – 33 of 172

What was expected as Rafter’s [2] comfortable opening campaign in chasing his second straight major title, almost turned into a disaster – ultimately into one of the tightest AusOpen four-setters in history. Night session on Rod Laver Arena, the excited crowd to welcome the local hero, and an unruly veteran Jeff Tarango [58] on the other side… Rafter was perhaps too tense dealing with so many expectations, he squandered multiple game points in the first game of the match and soon found himself at 0:3 with a double break deficit. In the 2nd set the situation was reversal – Rafter led with two breaks (*4:1, 15/0), but couldn’t capitalize. The 3rd set went with serve, Rafter had two break points at 2:1 when he lost the longest (four deuces) game of the match. All three tie-breaks concluded with 7/4. In the 4th set Rafter began to struggle with the back pain, his movement was limited, but he overcame the obstacle & when his shocking five-set defeat hung in the air, he physically improved – firmly held at 4:5 and displayed amazing skills in defence at 5-all to finish the 3-hour 27-minute encounter with his 26th ace. Despite four tight sets, the winner of each of them was never closer than three points to lose them (Rafter 4, 3, 3; Tarango 3). Rafter paid the price for 3:27h in the opener & 3:26h in the second round (five-set win over Todd Martin) – in the third round he had not enough energy for another dramatic win and lost to Alberto Berasategui after 2 hours 51 minutes; he played three tie-breaks again. I’d say in retrospect it was Rafter’s biggest chance to triumph in Australia – if he had defeated Berasategui (and out-of-form Agassi in 4R) he could have faced Rios in the quarters – a year before he beat the Chilean easily out there. The semifinal against qualifier Escude it was a formality for Rios, in the final waited Korda…

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