Sampras never triumphed at Roland Garros, but he collected three clay-court titles & got 2.5 points for the United States in the Davis Cup final on a clay-court… The clay in Moscow was exceptionally slow, so it made a huge impact on the first rubber between Sampras (in his prime), and descending, almost 30-year-old Chesnokov . Sampras , who was delivering more or less 2 unreturned serves in a game throughout his career, delivered only 1 such a serve in the 1st set; he was also struggling on return games due to Chesnokov’s loopy ground-strokes intertwined with accelerated backhands down the line. The American lost his serve thrice in the 1st set, but adjusted his game at the beginning of the 2nd set (fired six aces in it!) and his comfortable 4-set victory seemed inevitable. He led 4:1 in the 4th set holding with ease, *4:2 (40/15), but then had the only moment in six service games when the serve deserted him, and Chesnokov managed to break back. In the tie-break the Russian jumped to a 5:1 lead, Sampras leveled, but facing the first set point he committed a double fault and spectators gathered at the Olympics Stadium believed that Chesnokov would produce another extraordinary victory (he stunned Michael Stich two months before in the Davis Cup semifinals, saving nine match points in the decider!). Chesnokov had a break point at 3:2 in the 5th set, then led 4:3 – Sampras won 10 points in a row, and converted his second match point after a dramatic 26-stroke rally. The match lasted 3 hours 38 minutes; as Chesnokov slammed down his racket in defeat, Sampras buckled at the knees and fell on his back. He later said after ice treatment: “My whole body just went into a cramp. I never had that sensation before. I was in no shape to continue. I guess I wouldn’t have continued. I’m going to have a day off tomorrow, get the proper fluids and, hopefully, come 1 o’clock on Sunday, I’ll be ready to go.” The 24-year-old body regenerated faster than Sampras expected, and he was the best during the doubles rubber, replacing Richey Reneberg to team up with Todd Martin.
USA d. RUSSIA 3-2 in Olympic Stadium, Moscow, Russia: Clay (Indoor)
Pete Sampras (USA) d. Andrei Chesnokov (RUS) 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4
Yevgeny Kafelnikov (RUS) d. Jim Courier (USA) 7-6(1), 7-5, 6-3
Todd Martin / Pete Sampras (USA) d. Yevgeny Kafelnikov / Andrei Olhovskiy (RUS) 7-5, 6-4, 6-3
Pete Sampras (USA) d. Yevgeny Kafelnikov (RUS) 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(4)
Andrei Chesnokov (RUS) d. Jim Courier (USA) 6-7(1), 7-5, 6-0
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