Three best servers of 1996: Philippoussis, Krajicek & Ivanisevic… Sampras  lost major matches to the first two of them (right-handers) that year at the Australian Open & Wimbledon, not breaking them even once, but he dealt better with a big left-handed serve of the Croat  to break him thrice. Ivanisevic helped a lot in his opening service game when he acted like he didn’t want to play rallies at all: struck three aces, also two double faults to be broken at deuce, and the set was virtually ended as quick as it began. In the most dramatic 3rd set, Sampras led *6:3 in the tie-break – Ivanisevic passed him with the backhand, then Sampras committed a double fault, and on the third match point there was the longest rally of the match (28 strokes, Sampras made an error). The Croat saved the fourth match point at *7:8 with a volley to win the tie-break 11/9. The only break of the 4th set came as Sampras led 4:3 – Ivanisevic saved a triple break point with huge serves, then he made two casual errors and Sampras finished the 2-hour 21-minute contest in the following game with a FH-volley… The big difference in unreturned serves might be a bit misleading given the quality of serves – Ivanisevic missed many Sampras’ second serves that weren’t supposed to give direct points for the American. So it was a very poor return-wise performance from Ivanisevic overall.
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