cincinnati98rafter_sampras

cincinnati98rafter_sampras

Points won by each set: [ 16-28, 51-47, 35-30 ]
Points won directly behind the serve:
36 % Rafter – 36 of 100
42 % Sampras – 45 of 107

Almost a copy of the 1991 Cincy final; arguably the biggest ‘best of three’ win in Rafter’s [3] career, against the double champion of the event & the best player in the world for the fifth year in a row. Up to that moment, Sampras [2] had been Rafter’s toughest opponent, beating the Australian 8 consecutive times with many one-sided sets. This mental edge was confirmed in the opener when Sampras notched his seventh ‘6-1’ set in their rivalry (!), breaking for the second time at ‘love’ with four straight ground-stroke winners. The crucial moment of the contest came at 4-all in the 2nd set when Rafter saved a mini-match point with a second serve ace. Sampras could play his backhand, but hesitated, left the ball and who knows what could have indicated a challenge if it had been available at the time. In the 3rd set Sampras squandered another break points at 1:0 & 3:2 (Rafter’s good serves). At 4-all Rafter broke his opponent for the only time on that day with a brilliant forehand passing-shot, in Lendl’s style. In the last game, on the first match point, a reminiscence of the mini-match point off the 2nd set – Rafter’s kick-serve wide turned into an ace, denied by Sampras. The American needed some time before decided to shake hands with Rafter. # Similarly to their first meeting five years earlier, Rafter defeated Sampras winning fewer points & saving mini-match point at 4-all, however, in Indianapolis he did it in the 3rd set. Cincy ’99 they face each other again in the final & Sampras takes a revenge.

Rafter’s route to his 6th title:
2 Guillaume Raoux 6-3, 6-1
3 Todd Martin 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
Q Petr Korda 6-4, 7-6(8)
S Yevgeny Kafelnikov 7-5, 6-0
W Pete Sampras 1-6, 7-6(2), 6-4

# Comparison of their two tight matches won by Rafter after saving mini-match points:
Indianapolis 1993 (QF): Rafter d. Sampras 7-6, 6-7, 7-6… 2 hours 58 minutes… Total points: 131-141… Aces: 11-12… 3 points away
Cincinnati 1998 (F): Rafter d. Sampras 1-6, 7-6, 6-4… 2 hours 22 minutes… Total points: 102-105… Aces: 9-20… 5 points away

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