Weird opening 40 minutes of the match: two good servers, fast surface, yet 6 breaks in the first 10 games & almost another break in game No. 11. The sets 2 & 3 had the same pattern: Johansson broke back to lead 4:3* and Martin took the last three games. “It was a very strange match,” Martin said. “I started off very well and Thomas started off very poorly. He was nervous. And the fact that he was a little nervous made me a little nervous. That’s why there were five breaks in the first set. That’s not the type of tennis you’d expect us to play, especially on this (fast) court. But there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last couple of years. You don’t have to play great to win.”
In 1998, the first grey hair appeared on he head of the 28-year-old American, nonetheless he caught the best form of his life in Autumn ’98. After reaching the semifinals at Paris-Bercy, he won Stockholm & Sydney at the beginning of the following year to become the main favourite to the title at the Australian Open ’99 due to withdrawal of Sampras & Rios. He was deconstructed in the quarters by Kafelnikov though in Melbourne, and it ended his 14-match winning streak (career-best).
Martin’s route to his 7th title:
1 Ivo Heuberger 6-1, 6-2
2 Wayne Arthurs 6-4, 6-3
Q Takao Suzuki 6-3, 6-4
S Tim Henman 4-6, 6-1, 6-2
W Thomas Johansson 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
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