masters98corretja_moya

Points won by each set: [ 24-35, 27-38, 43-39, 32-25, 39-31 ]
Points won directly behind the serve:
19 % Corretja – 37 of 189
28 % Moya – 41 of 144

There were four editions of the season-ending tournament in the capital of Lower Saxony, and two of four finals closed the event in 4-hour five-setters; just like two years before, the champion won fewer points than the runner-up. Nothing indicated that Corretja would claim the title after dropping the first two sets because he had lost all three encounters vs Moya in 1998 in straight sets, including French Open final. Nevertheless the crucial moment – in my opinion – came in the 2nd set when Corretja [6] withstood four break points to get the longest game of the final holding for 2:4 – he felt the atmosphere then, showed some emotions, and began playing better tennis… Moya [5] lost four matches leading 2-0 in his career, but that one is the most punishing not only because of the stake, it’s the only time he was relatively close to finish the contest in two different sets (5 & 6 points respectively): in the 3rd set he came back from a break down to have two mini-match points at 5-all (impatiently made two forehand errors during short rallies), in the decider he led *3:1 (40/30), saved a match point at 4:5 to lead (30/15) at 5-all – Corretja won 7 out of the last 9 points though… There was 3-all (deuce) in the 4th set when the older Spaniard grabbed three consecutive games.

Corretja’s route to his 9th title:
rr. Andre Agassi 5-7, 6-3, 2-1 ret.
rr. Tim Henman 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 2-6
rr. Albert Costa 6-2, 6-4
S Pete Sampras 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) – 3 m.p.
W Carlos Moya 3-6, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-5

Corretja became one of the most unexpected champions in the tournament history. He had guaranteed his “Masters” berth actually after the US Open ’98. If someone had asked me then about chances of “Masters” participants to get the title, I would have probably answered that Corretja’s chances were the slimmest. At the time he had a miserable 1-12 record indoors! Quite shockingly he triumphed in Lyon (carpet) on a faster surface than the one on which was held the event in Hanover, nonetheless he couldn’t be expected as a potential semifinalist in a group consisted of Rios, Agassi & Henman – all guys with much better indoor records. Strange things happened though, both Agassi & Rios paid the price for a demanding season and withdrew after opening matches (not being broken, Agassi led vs Corretja 7-5, *3:3 [40/30], having the match under full control when a sudden twist occurred with his retirement ~20 minutes later, caused by a back pain); Rios was replaced by Albert Costa, an even worse indoor player than Corretja, who had no business in his last round robin match, and the 24-year-old Barcelona native after “exhibition encounter” unexpectedly found himself in the semifinals. All pundits could expect Sampras’ straight set victory, yet Corretja survived the test withstanding match points, then in the final he almost lost in straight sets to his friend Moya… The miracle title, really.

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