Points won directly behind the serve:
17 % Moya – 12 of 68
30 % Kuerten – 22 of 72
Actually at the end of 1998 no-one expected that Moya would become No. 1 in the world three months later, it seemed unlikely even in February ’99! The Mallorcan finished the ’98 season as No. 5 with a 756-point deficit to the leader Pete Sampras. The American & second in the ranking Marcelo Rios lost many points in January due to withdrawal from the Australian Open (in 1998 Sampras reached the quarter-finals, Rios finished as a runner-up). Two months later Rios lost another points withdrawing from Indian Wells as the defending champion while the still not being fully fit Sampras, was upset by Felix Mantilla in the second round. In the same round were eliminated players mentioned earlier by pundits as potential successors of Sampras: Pat Rafter, Alex Corretja & Yevgeny Kafelnikov, and suddenly Moya, who a few weeks before lost to an inexperienced youngster ranked 243 (Roger Federer), faced a life-time opportunity – he must have reached the final to dethrone the American… and he succeeded quite easily – won three consecutive matches in straight sets to enter the semifinal, being aware that only one win separates him from the tennis immortality. The task wasn’t the easiest because Moya had lost all four previous meetings to Kuerten… This time everything went smooth for the Spaniard, who didn’t lose energy in the first two sets, and quickly established a comfortable 5:0 lead in the decider. He converted his first match point when Kuerten netted his return. Moya became the first Spaniard to reach the No. 1 & the 15th player, who did it in the history of the ATP ranking.
Moya’s route to the No. 1 in the world at Indian Wells:
2 Jim Courier 7-6(6), 6-4
3 Xavier Malisse 6-4, 6-3
Q Karol Kucera 6-4, 6-4
S Guga Kuerten 6-3, 1-6, 6-1
In the final Moya lost to Mark Philippoussis 7-5, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 2-6
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