paris96enqvist_kafelnikov

Points won by each set: [ 30-15, 28-26, 34-27 ]
Points won directly behind the serve:
43 % Enqvist – 34 of 78
32 % Kafelnikov – 27 of 82

Two 22-year-old players at the time with ~100 events under their belts. In 1996 they were still young, but already experienced, and it looked like they’d join Sampras & Agassi as the best players of the 90s, both after Parisian triumphs – Kafelnikov won Roland Garros, Enqvist captured the Paris-Bercy title. 22 years later I think that they had potential to be a part of something like Big 4 of the decade to come. It didn’t happen though, Enqvist never confirmed his Grand Slam aspirations, admittedly Kafelnikov won another GS title & Olympic gold medal and became No. 1 in the world, but played too much everywhere to establish himself as a regular real threat in the biggest events… In that final, the Swede [12] overwhelmed the one-month older Russian [4] with awesome serves & powerful ground-strokes. Kafelnikov led 3:0* (30-all) in the 3rd set when he dropped ten points quickly. There was 5:4 (deuce) for him when Enqvist got three straight games again, finishing the contest with three consecutive aces. Kafelnikov stated: “He was on top of me from the beginning and never gave me a chance to come to the net. When I made good shots, he made better shots.” “I played probably the best match of my life,” said the 12th seeded Swede, “I was in a zone today. I felt like I couldn’t lose.”

Enqvist’s route to his 9th title:
2 Richey Reneberg 6-4, 7-5
3 Carlos Moya 6-2, 7-6(4)
Q Stefan Edberg 6-4, 7-6(6)
S Magnus Gustafsson 6-3, 6-2
W Yevgeny Kafelnikov 6-2, 6-4, 7-5

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