philadelphia98sampras_enqvist

Points won by each set: [ 34-27, 39-34 ]
Points won directly behind the serve:
40 % Sampras – 28 of 70
32 % Enqvist – 21 of 64

Philadelphia – beside Wimbledon & US Open, Sampras’ third favorite tournament. In 1998 he triumphed there for the fourth and last time (1990, 92, 97-98). Admittedly he finished the 1998 season as the best player in the world for the sixth straight time, but already his February appearance in the largest city of Pennsylvania marked the end of his long dominance, since then he was vulnerable to the end of his career (excluding an awesome Summer of ’99)… Enqvist [29] trailed 3:5* (15/40) in the opener, but levelled, and at 5:6 (0/30) he lost the longest rally of the final – 24 strokes finished with Sampras forehand pass on the run (Enqvist dived). The Swede led 4:2* in the 2nd set and almost 3:0* in the tie-break (if the technology had allowed ‘challenge’ at the time, perhaps he would have been awarded with an ace)… The tournament had an announced attendance of 30,000 through seven sessions. “It’s become a joke,” Sampras said. “How many people saw me play last night? About 400. Six or seven years ago, it was a packed house, but it seems to have lost its luster, and if the people aren’t going to come out and support it, there’s no reason why it should stay here. This could be it, unfortunately.” And indeed, Sampras was right, his forehand winner on match point finished the history of the event (1968-1998).

Sampras’ route to his 53rd title:
1 Xavier Malisse 4-6, 6-3, 7-5
2 Andrea Gaudenzi 7-6(6), 6-3
Q Sjeng Schalken 6-2, 6-2
S Tommy Haas 6-4, 6-4
W Thomas Enqvist 7-5, 7-6(3)

# At *4:5 in the 3rd set of the first round, Sampras was three times two points away from defeat to the 17-year-old Xavier Malisse [851], who was playing the first professional match of his career!

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