1996 – 1997, Wimbledon

 Wimbledon, Great Britain
June 24, 1996; 128 Draw (16 seeded) – $4,736,161; Surface – Grass

It was an amazing and one of the most memorable Wimbledons ever: first major without net-judges, plenty of astonishing upsets of a different caliber, farewell of two-time champion Stefan Edberg, birth of “Henmania”, Cliff Richard’s concert a cappella during a long rain delay, finally a streaker running across the court before the final, in which the only time in the Wimbledon’s history two unseeded players met (!) – both were completely unexpected in that place when the tournament kicked off – Richard Krajicek had lost Wimbledon’s first rounds in two previous editions, MaliVai Washington had never passed beyond the second round in six previous Wimbledon attempts! Krajicek, who eventually became the champion, throughout his career was known as one of the biggest servers with a huge net-coverage and a crisp forehand. The backhand was his big hole… not at Wimbledon ’96, miraculously he obtained the most important points during the fortnight with his weakest shot, also against Pete Sampras in a sensational quarterfinal (three relatively long suspensions due to rain), snapping Sampras’ 25-match winning streak at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. It was a special tournament for myself too, because Krajicek had been my favorite player since Australian Open 1992.
All scorelines
First round: Steve Wilstein

Not even the new wonder boy of tennis could escape the worst carnage of top men at Wimbledon in the Open era. Two weeks after winning his first Grand Slam title at the French Open, Yevgeny Kafelnikov double faulted 10 times Tuesday, saw two match points vanish in a blur of aces and fell to Tim Henman 7-6(6), 6-3, 6-7(2), 4-6, 7-5. Henman, thrown out of Wimbledon a year ago when he angrily smacked a ball that accidentally hit a ball girl in the head, closed out the greatest start by British men in 20 years, becoming the seventh Brit to reach the second round. No Briton has won Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936, and probably none will go much farther this year. But for one day, at least, the Brits ruled on their home turf and a sports euphoria swept the nation on the eve of England’s semifinal soccer match against Germany in the European Championships. Though ranked No. 62, Henman played with the confidence of a man who knew he had an upset within his grasp from the moment the match started. He grew up playing on grass, his mother is a member of the All England Club, and he had a feeling that Kafelnikov might be ripe for a letdown after winning the French. “I think it’s the best time to play someone like that – in the first round,” Henman said. “I knew that he’s a very good player on any surface, but maybe grass wasn’t one of his strongest surfaces, and it’s a surface that I play well on. So I very much had belief that I could win the match.” Henman’s confidence didn’t wane even when he found himself facing three set points after an ace by Kafelnikov made it 6:3 in the opening tiebreaker. Henman calmly captured the next five points, three of them on gifts of unforced errors and a double fault by Kafelnikov. Henman cruised through the second set after an early break but wasted a huge opportunity to put away the match in straight sets when Kafelnikov double faulted to fall behind love-40 at 3:3. “The pressure was on me in a way, because I was getting close to the finishing line, and then when you don’t take those chances, self-doubts creep in,” Henman said. Kafelnikov fought back to hold serve, pushed the set to another tiebreaker, and this time won it easily after taking the first five points. When Kafelnikov took the fourth set (Henman led 4:3, 30/0) and grabbed a 5:3 lead in the 5th, with Henman double faulting to 15/40, the hopes of British fans for one big upset to cap a stellar day seemed all but gone. That’s when Henman shocked everyone, especially Kafelnikov, with a pair of aces to save the match points, and a pair of service winners to make it 5:4. “It was timely to serve two aces from 15:40,” Henman said with typical British understatement. “I didn’t respond well on those match points that I had,” Kafelnikov said. flach_agassi_wb96In a puzzling free fall for months, Andre Agassi wore the vacant, red-eyed look of a man whose career is crashing out of control. What happened to Agassi at Wimbledon in yesterday’s first round was much different from the relatively routine upsets that knocked out Michael Chang and Jim Courier earlier in the day. Agassi’s loss bore all the signs of third-degree burnout, the kind of performance that makes a player question his desire, his direction and his future. The third-seeded Agassi came to Wimbledon as unprepared and unfit as he had gone to the French Open last month. This time, he left a round sooner, flaming out 2-6, 7-6(1), 6-4, 7-6(6) against a journeyman qualifier from the satellite tour, No. 281-ranked Doug Flach, in one of the most stunning upsets of the Open era. Agassi after identical scoreline lost his previous Wimbledon match – semifinal a year before to Boris BeckerPete Sampras, opening his bid for a fourth straight Wimbledon title, dropped the first set against Richey Reneberg, then proceeded to a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 victory (Reneberg led 3:1 in the 2nd set). “I’m trying to kind of get myself at the top of my game again,” Agassi said, somewhat unconvincingly. “You know, when you’ve been there, and then all of a sudden your game is a little off, there’s more frustration to it.” He could offer no explanation for his poor play this year and, despite a touch of flu a few days ago, he made no excuses, except to say the conditions on Court 2, dubbed the “graveyard of champions,” were difficult. “It’s definitely a tough court to play on,” Agassi said of the court where John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Ilie Nastase and other notables had gone down to early defeat. “From one side of the court, you can’t see one line.” Agassi was one of four men’s seeds eliminated, joining No. 6 Chang, No. 8 Courier and No. 15 Arnaud Boetsch. With No. 7 Thomas Muster out with an injury, it is only the second time at Wimbledon during the Open era that just four of the top eight men remain after the first round. Chang lost 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(1), 6-4 to Alberto Costa, a Spanish clay-court expert who had never won a grass-court match. Courier, a Wimbledon runner-up three years ago, was ousted 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 by fellow American Jonathan Stark, a doubles specialist who took the mixed doubles title last year with Martina Navratilova. Stark beat Courier once before, in 1993 in Tokyo, when Courier was ranked No. 1. Courier had won their other two meetings. France’s Boetsch lost to Alexander Radulescu [91] of Germany 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(2), 5-7, 9-7 after 3 hours 8 minutes. It happened on Court No. 13 in the first match of the tournament. Radulescu playing first Grand Slam tournament, rallied from a *1:3 deficit in the final set, and broke back in the 12th game when Boetsch was serving to win the match. Even bigger 5-set upset made Pierre Bouteyre [496], who stunned Carlos Moya [23] 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 6-2, 4-6, 10-8 in 3 hours 50 minutes. It was the second and last match won by Bouteyre at the main level!

Second round: Englewood Sun

Pete Sampras survived a barrage of aces and beat Mark Philippoussis in straight sets today to reach the third round at Wimbledon. Despite 28 aces by the 6-foot-4 Australian, the top-seeded Sampras won 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-4 to avenge a straight-sets loss to Philippoussis [33] at the Australian Open in January. “The way Mark played in Australia was phenomenal, he kind of destroyed me,” Sampras said. “Today playing on grass was very different. I just played the big points a little better than he did.” Philippoussis, making his debut on Centre Court in his first year as a pro at Wimbledon, sensed that Sampras was eager to make a point. “It was much different,” Philippoussis said. “I think Pete was definitely more determined for revenge, to let everyone know that maybe the last time I beat him it was a bit of a fluke or something.” Today, Sampras had 15 aces of his own and was never extended to deuce on serve during the match, while breaking Philippoussis twice. The Centre Court match featured one of the strongest displays of power tennis ever seen at Wimbledon. Philippoussis fired first serves at an average speed of 123 mph, with one delivery timed at 131 mph. His second serves averaged 111 mph, including one at 126 mph. But Sampras, whose first serves averaged 119 mph, held serve more easily throughout the match. And he put Philippoussis under pressure with low returns, forcing him to bend low for volleys. There were no breaks in the first set. In the first nine points of the tiebreaker, only one serve was returned over the net – and it was long. At 5:4, Sampras made the first good return to force a forehand volley error, then took the tiebreaker on the next point with a forehand winner. The first break of the match came in the ninth game of the second set when Sampras ripped a backhand pass down the line to go up 5:4. He served out the set in the next game. In the third set, Sampras broke in the third game with a forehand pass that sent Philippoussis tumbling to the turf. Sampras served out the match in the 10th game at 15, edberg_tillstrom_wimbledon96ending with a cross-court backhand volley. Fourth-seeded Goran Ivanisevic served 21 aces to overpower French qualifier Pierre Bouteyre, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4, and reach the third round. Marc Rosset, the 14th seed, had 24 aces in a 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-4 win over Andrei Olhovskiy, while Richard Krajicek served 20 to beat Derrick Rostagno 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. On Thursday, Stefan Edberg chipped and charged the way he’s done countless times over the years. But his backhand return went into the net, bringing Edberg’s 14-year Wimbledon career to a close with a second-round upset defeat Thursday. “It’s a tough one, but it has to end at some point,” the former two-time champion said after bowing out 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-4 to fellow Swede Mikael Tillstrom. “You have to hold your head up. It’s not the end of the world.” The 30-year-old Edberg, who is retiring at the end of the year, sat slumped in his chair for more than a minute as the Court 1 crowd gave him a standing ovation. He showed little emotion as he waved and walked off for the last time. Edberg was Wimbledon champion in 1988 and 1990, and runner-up in 1989. It was ironic that he lost his last match to a man playing Wimbledon for the first time. Edberg, who was seeded 12th this year, had expected to go further after reaching the fourth round of the French Open and the final of the Wimbledon warm-up tournament at Queen’s. But Edberg was below par Thursday, while the 59th-ranked Tillstrom played the best match of his career on grass. Edberg was trying to win his 100th match on grass (50th at Wimbledon). The wipe-out of men’s seeds resumed at Wimbledon today, with No. 9 Thomas Enqvist ousted in the second round by unseeded MaliVai Washington. Washington, playing some of his best grass-court tennis, beat Enqvist, 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-3, to reach the third round for the first time in seven appearances at Wimbledon. It was the second straight early Grand Slam exit for Enqvist, ranked ninth in the world by the ATP Tour. He lost in the first round of the French Open to Richey Reneberg. “He hits such big shots,” said Washington, who finished the match with an ace. “I was just hoping he wasn’t going to get on a roll and start a big comeback.” But Enqvist undermined his own chances by serving 14 double faults. “On grass, the key is to serve well,” Enqvist said. “I played all right from the baseline but my serve was terrible.” Enqvist’s elimination means only four of top 10 men’s seeds remain. No. 3 Andre Agassi, No. 5 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, No. 6 Michael Chang and No. 8 Jim Courier all lost in the first round. No. 7 Thomas Muster withdrew before the tournament because of an injury. Two other U.S. players joined Washington in the third round today, both at the expense of fellow Americans. Todd Martin, the 13th seed, beat Jim Grabb in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(5). Doug Flach, the 281st-ranked qualifier who stunned Agassi in the first round, continued his run with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 win over Jared Palmer. “After beating Andre, I felt as much pressure to play well today to show that it wasn’t a fluke,” Flach said. “I got off to a slow start, but ended up playing a really good match.” Similar case to the Moya’s loss to Bouteyre: great Spanish player loses to a completely unknown journeyman as Albert Costa [17] is beaten by Italian Mose Navarra [345] 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3, 5-7, 7-9. Costa hadn’t been broken until the 11th game of the 4th set, he was broken again at the crucial stage of the decider. The 22-year-old Navarra hadn’t won a match prior to Wimbledon ’96, afterwards he added just 1 win to his resume. Alex Radulescu won another 5-setter with a prolonged decisive set, defeating Stefano Pescosolido 4-6, 6-7(2), 7-6(4), 6-1, 10-8, withstanding 4 match points on serve in the 3rd set.

Third round: Robin Finn

One awkward swing and a painful pop in the wrist ended Boris Becker‘s run for a fourth Wimbledon title Friday in a jinxed year for him and the tournament. Becker dropped his racket and clutched his right wrist the moment he struck a return serve off the frame on the first point of an opening set tiebreaker against South African Neville Godwin [223]. As Becker paced back and forth along the baseline, squeezing his fist and grimacing with a look of fear, he knew right away he would not be able to go on. His wife, Barbara, watched him from the players’ guest box and tearfully buried her head in her hands. “He hit a pretty hard second serve sliding into my body, and I turned my body away,” Becker said. “I was trying to hit a forehand, and I hit it too late. My wrist gave way, and I heard something pop. From then on, I couldn’t hold the racket anymore. I thought, you know, I had broken my wrist.” Becker called for an injury timeout to receive treatment from ATP Tour trainer Doug Spreen. “From feeling, from testing with his hand, he thinks that a bone could be chipped off from the tendon,” Becker said. “I know it’s serious. I have had many injuries in my career before, and I know when it’s something serious and when something can heal in a few days.Becker’s recovery lasted three months.  British tennis fans, who had to wait 58 years to see two Britons play on Centre Court at Wimbledon, got to see them twice. Tim Henman and Luke Milligan ended their match in two minutes yesterday with Henman winning 6-1, 6-3, 6-4. The match was continued from Friday when it was suspended by rain. ”Obviously, it was one of the shorter days I’ve had on court,” said Henman, Britain’s top-ranked player at No. 62. ”But that’s very nice, thank you.” Milligan, the son of a taxi driver, got into the tournament as a wild card ranked No. 278. ”Playing on Centre Court was the realization of a dream, something I had talked about since I was 12,” Milligan said. Wimbledon ’96 was a lifetime achievement for Milligan, just like for Bouteyre and Navarra. The 20-year-old Brit advanced to the round of 32, eliminating in 5-setters two specialists of deciding sets: Jonas Bjorkman & Nicolas Lapentti! Against the latter, Milligan wasted 7 match points in total in sets 3 & 4 before clinched the victory 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-7(3), 6-1! American Jonathan Stark‘s best-ever singles effort at Wimbledon ended in the third round yesterday. Stark, who upset Jim Courier in the first round, lost to Dutchman Paul Haarhuis 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-1, 6-4. ”Beating Jim is my best win as far as a Grand Slam goes,” Stark said. ‘‘I still feel I’m playing great, so I take away some positives from this week. I’m pretty disappointed, though. That’s why I’m glad I’m going back out to play the doubles, so I can end the day on a positive note.” In this bizarre Wimbledon of damaged wrists, damaged spirits and damaged draws, defending champions Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf continue to prove their championship mettle by rising above it all. Sampras and Graf looked shaky at times Saturday, but both overcame slight hiccups in their games to advance to the fourth round. Sampras beat 107th-ranked Karol Kucera, 6-4, 6-1, 6-7(5), 7-6(3), in a match that saw Sampras just miss a chance to win in straight sets being twice two points away. Sampras sailed a wide-open backhand volley on set point in the third set tiebreaker to force a fourth set. Kucera broke Sampras and took a 4:1* (deuce) lead in the 4th set. But Sampras later turned it around with a running half volley to break Kucera at 4:3. Sampras then held to even the set. “It’s hard not to know what’s going on as far as what the other guys are doing,” Sampras said. “This Wimbledon has been strange with all the upsets and Boris {Becker} hurting his wrist. But there are a lot of great players still playing, and I’m still around. I’m just going to worry about who I’m playing.” If Sampras gets to the fourth consecutive final, he may not have to worry about facing a seeded player. With only five seeds going to the Round of 16 for the first time since 1971, the unassuming Todd Martin suddenly became a player to watch when he beat Renzo Furlan in straight sets. Martin, seeded 13th, is the only remaining seed in the bottom half of the draw. No. 11 Wayne Ferreira, who entered Saturday as the highest seeded player in the bottom half of the draw, fell to Magnus Gustafsson, 7-6(4), 7-5, 1-6, 5-7, 6-1. The loss appears to give Martin a chance to play in his first Grand Slam final since the 1994 Australian Open. How depleted is Martin’s half of the draw? Only Paul Haarhuis has ever advanced beyond the second round of Wimbledon. Alex Radulescu, Neville Godwin and Thomas Johansson are making their first appearance in the Wimbledon main draw. “I think it’s essential for all of us that are left in the bottom half to really play one match at a time and be focused,” Martin said. “These guys who are unseeded and are in the fourth round have beaten the seeds. If you think about that, it’s pretty easy to stay focused.” Michael Stich avoided the upset trend with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Australian Sandon Stolle. Former champion arrived in Wimbledon’s fourth round with tough words about the lopsided draw. Stich is one of only five seeds to get this far, the fewest since Wimbledon began seeding 69 years ago. He’s in the top half of the draw with two other big servers – three-time defending champion Pete Sampras and two-time Wimbledon runner-up Goran Ivanisevic. The bottom half is almost empty of seeds, with American Todd Martin the only one left. “I think the All England Club should look at the draw,” said Stich, the 1991 Wimbledon champion who was seeded 10th behind baseline players Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Michael Chang and Thomas Enqvist. “It’s a little bit surprising that all the big servers show up in the top half and all the so-called clay courters – except Boris Becker – show up in the bottom half.Richard Krajicek came back from a *1:4 deficit in the 3rd set to beat Brett Steven 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2, and it was the only match during the fortnight in which the Dutchman lost a set…

Fourth round: Michael Katz

The top-seeded Pete Sampras served 17 aces – including two in the final game – to reach the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 win over 16th-seeded Cedric Pioline of France. “This is probably my best match so far of the fortnight,” said Sampras, who is bidding for his fourth straight title. “I returned about as well as I could. I didn’t serve that great but it was really a solid performance.” Sampras’ biggest scare came in the first game of the third set when he hurdled his chair after running full speed for a sharply-angled shot by Pioline. “I had only one place to go and that was up,” Sampras said. He landed with both feet on top of a three-foot-high ball container. As his racket flew out of his hands, Sampras somehow managed to keep his balance and drop safely to the ground. “I tweaked my back a little bit,” he said. “It’s not too bad. It was a little bit of a scary situation there.” Sampras’ next opponent will be unseeded Richard Krajicek, who upset No. 10 Michael Stich, the 1991 champion, 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-4. Krajicek, a 6-foot-5 Dutchman with a huge serve, said he played one of the best grass-court matches of his life to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal. Stich said he was bothered by a sore shoulder and was serving below par. “I didn’t play my best tennis,” Stich said. “Every time I had a break point he served very, very big and he played the important points very well, and that’s why he won in the end.” Also reaching the men’s quarterfinals were Americans Todd Martin and MaliVai Washington and Romanian-born Alexander Radulescu of Germany. Despite a back strain that required on-court treatment, the unseeded Washington downed Paul Haarhuis 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in less than two hours to advance to the first Grand Slam quarterfinal of his career. “I’m playing the best tennis I’ve played at Wimbledon, maybe the best tennis I’ve played on grass,” said Washington, who had never progressed beyond the second round in six previous Wimbledon appearances. Washington will next face the 91st-ranked Radulescu, who beat South African qualifier Neville Godwin 6-3, 6-0, 6-4. Radulescu served 10 aces to bring his tournament-leading total to 100 (respectively 27, 36, 27 – three five-setters, 10). “I think I’m dreaming,” said Radulescu, playing his first Grand Slam. “I hope nobody wakes me up.” Martin, the only remaining seed in the bottom half of the draw at No. 13, completed a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 win over Sweden’s Thomas Johansson. The match had been suspended by darkness Monday after the third set. For the first time in 23 years, there’s an Englishman in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals. Tim Henman, ignoring the weight of empire on his back, beat Magnus Gustafsson of Sweden on Centre Court, 7-6(2), 6-4, 7-6(4), in a match interrupted only twice by the elements. He was congratulated by Roger Taylor, the last homeboy to make it to the quarterfinals here, and complimented by Gustafsson, who said Henman could make it to the final of the depleted tournament. “I don’t think he can beat someone like Pete Sampras or Goran Ivanisevic,” said the computer-ranked No. 37 in the world, “but to get there, why not?” In the men’s quarterfinals tomorrow, Henman is likely to face the only seeded player left in the bottom half of the draw, Todd Martin. The 6’6 American was leading Johansson, a Swede ranked No. 106 in the world, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, when darkness suspended play at 9:10 p.m. The showers were so local that at one point, tarpaulins were being rushed to cover the Centre and No. 1 Courts, while nets were being put up again on the outside courts in anticipation of the resumption of play.
The fourth-seeded Goran Ivanisevic defeated Patrick Rafter of Australia, 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-1, and the big-serving Croatian was on line to meet Sampras in the semis. First he must face Jason Stoltenberg of Australia, who yesterday defeated Jakob Hlasek of Switzerland in three sets, one a tie-breaker. Rafter had a set point on serve leading 6:5 in the 3rd set tie-break.

Quarterfinals: AP

Saved for a day or sentenced to a night of torture, Pete Sampras departed Wimbledon in the evening gloom Wednesday with his three-year reign as champion seemingly all but over. Sampras, top-seeded and unbeaten in 25 consecutive matches at Wimbledon, trailed unseeded Richard Krajicek 7-5, 7-6(3), 1:1 when rain and the knockout of a groundsman on Centre Court conspired to suspend the match until today. Half an hour later, darkness halted another big upset in the making on Court 1 where No. 4 Goran Ivanisevic, a two-time finalist, was losing 6-3, 7-6(3), 6-7(3) to unseeded Jason Stoltenberg. The weird and wet day, lightened only by an impromptu sing-along concert led by Britain’s beloved Sir Cliff Richard from the Royal Box and accompanied by dancing women players, ended without even the appearance of the other men’s quarter-finalists. The matches between No. 13 Todd Martin and Britain’s Tim Henman on Centre Court, and MaliVai Washington [20] and Germany’s Alexander Radulescu on Court 1 were postponed until today, when the two women’s semifinals also are scheduled. There has never been a Wimbledon men’s final without a seeded player since seeding began in 1927. But that possibility loomed large with Sampras and Ivanisevic perilously close to defeat, and Martin going up against a hot young player and a partisan crowd. This has been a tournament in which strange and unprecedented things have happened almost every day, from big names bounding out in early upsets to Boris Becker popping his wrist on the return of a serve. But perhaps nothing topped a match stopped by a KO to a court coverer. That’s what led to the postponement of the Sampras-Krajicek duel. Krajicek was steaming along at the time, dealing out 23 aces against a slow-footed and increasingly despondent Sampras. The match had already been delayed 30 minutes at the start, and interrupted for 3 hours, 40 minutes early in the first set (before it happened, Krajicek saved altogether six break points in first two service games) and 99 minutes in the second set, before rain fell again at 7:28 p.m. As Sampras and Krajicek packed up and retreated, the 19 men on the tarpaulin crew rushed out to cover the court. In the process, one of them, 27-year-old Mark Hillaby, slipped on the grass and took a whack on the head from the tarp’s heavy metal frame. He went down with a thud. Sampras said he “tweaked” his back when he leaped over a chair and Quarterfinals:onto a tall ball bin chasing a shot Monday, and perhaps that bothered him against Krajicek. But Krajicek was in a zone of his own in this match. The 6-foot-5 Dutchman dealt out four aces at up to 131 mph in one game in the first set, and capped his next service game with his 12th ace to take a 6:5 lead. Sampras had been holding serve easily, despite looking somewhat stiff after the long rain delay at 2:2, and seemed about to put the set into a tiebreaker. But Krajicek then came up with four spectacular shots, the last a lunging forehand return down the line that whizzed past a startled Sampras to break him at love and close out the set 7-5. Krajicek kept up his overpowering play at the start of the second set as he completed a run of 10 straight points and came up with two more aces. Sampras, struggling with his timing and accuracy, found himself in big trouble in the next game when he double faulted, hit a lazy shot at the net that Krajicek hustled to put away, and netted a volley to fall behind 15/40. Sampras knew that a break there, while already down a set, might be too much to overcome on a bleak day when he clearly was not at his best. It was time for him to step up his game, and he did just that, saving the two break points and holding with two solid volleys. Krajicek responded with his 15th ace – 13 more than Sampras – and went on to hold for a 2:1 lead just as the rain came again and suspended play. This time, the interruption lasted more than an hour and a half. When they returned, Krajicek kept up his ace barrage and Sampras briefly looked as if he might be finding his rhythm. But Krajicek jumped to a 5:0 lead in the tiebreaker, winning the first and fifth points on aces and getting help from a double fault by Sampras. A couple of service winners and a passing shot by Sampras put off the inevitable for a few moments. Another unforced error by Sampras gave Krajicek a 6:3 lead, and he closed the set with a backhand return down the line that Sampras didn’t bother trying to reach. At 1:1 in the third set, the rain came once more, and it seemed then that would be the only thing that could prevent Krajicek from deposing Sampras – at least until Thursday. Ivanisevic’s near-upset at the same time on the adjacent court was almost as stunning, and certainly more volatile. Ivanisevic saved a match point at *4:5 in the third set but his grumpy temperament and sloppy play almost sent him packing. Yet that same temperament got him fired up after he was called for a foot fault on game point at 5:6. He immediately slammed a fierce second-service ace to force a tiebreaker, which he won in 10 angry points that included an ace and three other serves that Stoltenberg couldn’t handle. At that point, Ivanisevic had 19 aces and 10 double faults. Stoltenberg had 11 aces and 8 double faults. Ivanisevic then asked the umpire to suspend play because of darkness at 8:30 p.m., after only 14 minutes of play following the last rain delay. Officials conferred with Stoltenberg, and everyone agreed to call it quits for the night. After the resumption Krajicek broke Sampras at 3:3 in the 3rd set and held next two service games comfortably to finish the match with a booming serve (Sampras just touched the ball with the frame to prevent Krajicek’s 30th ace). There were no breaks of serve in the 4th set on the other court, Stoltenberg won a tie-break, what meant he defeated Ivanisevic in four sets.I just felt like it was slipping away, that maybe my time had come,” said Sampras , whose eight aces were offset by eight double faults. “It’s so hard to accept sometimes. Some of the line calls and the bounces, things don’t happen for you every time you walk out there, and it definitely didn’t happen for me.” Krajicek was elated to move on to the semifinal, though he tried to contain himself. “I’m not unbelievably excited yet because I’m still in the tournament,” he said. “But it is maybe a proud feeling that I’m the first one in four years to beat him at Wimbledon, also on Centre Court where he had his great successes.”
I think everybody’s mental attitude, in the way they deal with the weather, will definitely have a part in the tennis,” said Martin, who endured numerous rain delays during his 7-6(5), 7-6(2), 6-4 victory over Englishman Tim Henman. “But I think that everybody who deserves to be in the semis, will be in the semis. It’s going to come down to who plays the best tennis.” “The guys like Pete and Andre and Michael and Jim … they’re always in the limelight, and deservedly so,” Washington said. “Heck, you get two other guys aside from those four in the semifinals of a slam and I think that says huge things about American tennis.” Washington, who has advanced farther at Wimbledon than any black man since Arthur Ashe won the title in 1975, was stretched to five sets and had to dodge two match points before he broke German Alexander Radulescu the only time in the last game of the match (!) to seal a 6-7(5), 7-6(1), 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-4 victory. The finish of this quarterfinal was extraordinary. Radulescu led 40/15 in the last game, having won all service games in the last two sets without any troubles serving like a machine (30 aces in total). Then he caught the ball which would have visibly landed ‘out’ and missed the volley, served a double fault – ‘deuce’, missed an easy overhead and committed a double fault again – four straight points lost and the dream was over… The match lasted 3 hours 21 minutes (7:35 with rain delays).

Semifinals: Stephen Wilson

MaliVai Washington overcame a 1:5 deficit in the fifth set, a controversial line call and yet another rain delay today to beat fellow American Todd Martin and reach the Wimbledon final. The unseeded Washington served out the rain-suspended match in the 18th game of the fifth set to win 5-7, 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3, 10-8. Washington, 27, became the first black to reach the Wimbledon men’s final since Arthur Ashe won the title in 1975. Washington, in a Grand Slam final for the first time in his career, will face Richard Krajicek of the Netherlands for the title Sunday. Krajicek overwhelmed Australians Jason Stoltenberg 7-5, 6-2, 6-1 to also advance to his first Grand Slam championship match. Washington’s victory over Martin, the 13th seed, meant that Wimbledon will have its first unseeded champion since Boris Becker in 1985. The Washington-Martin match, which was suspended by rain for the fourth time at two sets apiece Friday, ended 25 hours after it began following 3:49 of actual playing time. After Washington hit a high backhand volley for a cross-court winner on his first match point, he dropped to both knees, clenched both fists and looked towards his friends and family in the players’ box. Martin, who played tentatively on many big points, said he never felt tighter during a tennis match. “I froze up a little bit and Mal played well when he needed to,” he said. “It’s a game I’ve practiced a lot of times but I’ve never felt a feeling like today.” While there was little suspense during Friday’s four sets, today’s 5th set was full of drama. Martin raced out to a 5:1 lead but couldn’t convert. Twice he served for the match and both times Washington broke him and eventually evened the set at 6:6. With no tiebreaker in the fifth set, controversy arose with Martin serving in the 13th game. Martin saved two break points before serving what appeared to be his 11th double fault that would given Washington a third chance to break. The electronic monitor – called “cyclops” – didn’t beep on the second serve, which seemed on television replays to land slightly long. The line judge signaled the ball out. Washington believed he won the point and Martin thought he had. Martin marched over to French chair umpire Bruno Rebeuh and said, “The cyclops. C’mon.” The line judge got out of his seat and went over to Rebeuh, explaining that he overruled the cyclops. Washington came over, and the discussion centered on whether the ball landed beyond the range of the cyclops. Rebeuh ruled in favor of Martin that since the cyclops didn’t bleep it wasn’t a double fault. Rebeuh is one of the most experienced umpires, but also among the most controversial. He was embroiled in a flap last year that led to Jeff Tarango‘s default. “You can’t do that,” Washington argued. “If you’re going to overrule and say the ball is out, OK we play two. But you’re not even doing that. You didn’t overrule. Are we just playing on for the hell of it? He saw it out, but you’re not overruling him?” Just at that moment, the first rain since the match had resumed began to fall lightly. Martin then served an ace, his 23rd, down the middle which Washington barely moved for. On the next point, a still-rattled Washington clubbed a backhand wide to fall behind again 7:6. As the players sat down on the changeover, Washington, usually one of the most mild-mannered players on the tour, responded to a comment from Rebeuh, saying, “You didn’t overrule it. Don’t talk that crap to me. That’s b.s.” The rain picked up, sending the players off the court while it was covered. After a 35-minute interruption, a more composed Washington came out and held serve at love, capping the game with an overhead smash, to level the set at 7:7. After both players held easily in the next two games, Washington got the decisive break in the 17th game. Martin saved three break points before serving his 11th double fault to give Washington a fourth chance. This time, Martin netted a forehand to give Washington a 9:8 lead. Serving for the match, Washington fell behind 0/30 before winning four straight points to finish the contest. When Martin & Washington finished their match on Centre Court, Krajicek & Stoltenberg were playing on Court No. 1. The turning point for Krajicek against Stoltenberg came in the 11th game of the first set. With the set at 5-all, Krajicek was serving and down love-15. But he won the next 12 points. He went up 3:0* in the second set, breaking Stoltenberg in a game that included two of the Australian’s 12 double faults. The match was then halted by a 34-minute rain delay, but the Dutchman’s momentum was unaffected. He returned from the break to win nine of the last 12 games, serving the last of his 15 aces in the final game.

Final: Julie Cart

The latent talent of Richard Krajicek revealed itself, fully formed, here in the Wimbledon men’s singles final. The man about whom there has been so much speculation – for both his physical and mental fortitude – has matured in the crucible of Wimbledon and won his first Grand Slam title. Krajicek defeated MaliVai Washington, who played bravely Sunday in the face of devastating serving by Krajicek, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3, in a match that three times was suspended by rain. Krajicek, 25, is only the second unseeded player to win Wimbledon, after Boris Becker in 1985, and the first Dutch player to win a Grand Slam title. Washington, 27, who grew up in Glen Cove, N.Y., starred at Michigan in the late 1980s and now lives in Ponte Verde, Fla., was also unseeded. Sunday’s match between two such lightly regarded players underscored the strangeness of this year’s tournament, which in the first week was wrecked by the loss of several star players and in the second week by rain. Krajicek’s lack of seeding here was viewed by some as unfair. Ranked No. 13, it was surprising that he was not included in the top 16 seeded players. As he beat two former champions – first Michael Stich and then Pete Sampras – it became clear that many questions had been answered about his ability on grass. Krajicek will move into the top 10 this week. Physically, Krajicek has endured serial injuries. He defaulted out of the semifinal of the 1992 Australian Open with a shoulder injury. That provoked the comment from Andre Agassi that all Krajicek had to do was look at a tennis court and he’d get injured. He missed much of 1994 with tendinitis in both knees. Krajicek is healthy now, and that, plus the confidence gained here, will likely change the complexion of his career. Sunday’s match did much to bolster the reputation of both players. Krajicek showed his full talent and Washington showed his capacity to fight and his great poise. As is so often the case on grass, it came down to serving. Krajicek held the advantage: He came into the match with a total of 133 aces, to Washington’s 76. At 6-foot-5, Krajicek ‘s fulcrum and the force he can apply to the ball is considerable. He had 14 aces Sunday and won 88 percent of his first-serve points. “That was the difference in the match,” Washington said. “His serves were really coming in. When a guy is doing that, it’s tough to break.” Krajicek’s maturation has been hard learned. He became instantly unpopular on the women’s tour when he called female tennis players “fat, lazy pigs.” He’s far more circumspect now. Smiling but looking shell-shocked after the match, Krajicek was nearly at a loss for words. “I feel happy but I don’t think I’ve realized it,” he said. “So many people have come up and talked to me that I haven’t had a moment for myself. I don’t feel bad, so I think it’s a good sign.” The tension, and formality, of a Wimbledon final was broken by the appearance of a streaker on Centre Court. The players were at the net having their pictures taken when a woman, clad only in a white apron, raced across the court. It was the first streaker ever here, although, of course, there were odds laid for such an occasion: first 5-1, then 4-1. Krajicek laughed then flushed and Washington playfully pulled his shirt up to the crowd. Moments later, as the balls were rolled out for the warm-up, the clouds rolled in and the rain came. When the match did start, Krajicek unveiled another weapon, rather than his serve. He defeated Sampras with sizzling backhand service returns down the line, but it was his forehand that did his bidding Sunday. Krajicek broke Washington in his first service game of the match. Washington held his next serve, barely. He faced two break points and each time warded off danger with a service winner. Each player served well and as a consequence the points were relatively short. At one point late in the first set someone in the crowd yelled, ‘Boor-ing’, and the scattered applause seemed to speak for the consensus. There was a certain dull sameness to the points. From time to time a rally erupted, although each player had to work around a weak stroke: An unreliable backhand for Krajicek and a dodgy forehand for Washington. The second set was delayed twice by rain. Krajicek broke Washington in the ninth game, although again Washington showed his mettle by dealing with the first two break points with service winners. He fell to the third break point and Krajicek took a 5:4 lead and held his serve for the set. Washington held to open the third set, then play was again halted. Krajicek dominated play when the match resumed. It was while down 1:5 in the third set that Washington fashioned his comeback against Todd Martin in the semifinal. It happened a game earlier on Sunday. Krajicek, who had not even been down 0/30 on his serve, was facing three break points. Washington converted and got his first break. He still had one to make up and he was unable. Krajicek won by forcing Washington deep into a corner where he was unable to get to the ball. Krajicek sank to his knees, a la Bjorn Borg, and raised his arms in victory. Just to show there’s still a little maturation left, Krajicek admitted that for a moment he wasn’t sure he had won. “I wondered if I had made a fool of myself,” he said. Washington had never before gotten beyond the second round at Wimbledon and his ranking of No. 20 will rise. “It’s great when you can come into a tournament with everyone in the world there, the best players, at a Grand Slam, and you’re still standing on the last day, you’re one of the two,” Washington said. “I look at that and say, for the fortnight, I’m the second best player in the world.” It was Krajicek’s 10th title. Stats of the final

*********************************

Wimbledon, Great Britain
June 23, 1997; 128 Draw – $5,134,709; Surface – Grass

After a ’96 hiccup, Pete Sampras returned to his Wimbledon throne for the next four years with impressive performance, featuring 97 service holds in a row between 1R & SF. The 1991 champion Michael Stich played last tournament of his career, his compatriot Boris Becker had announced it’d have been his last Wimbledon, but he returned two years later to play his farewell tournament. It’s the only major in history that three Germans advanced to the quarterfinals, beside Stich & Becker also 20-year-old Nicolas Kiefer managed to do that.
All scorelines
First round: (Daily News)

Men’s singles champion Richard Krajicek dodged the rain showers to begin the defense of his Wimbledon title with a straight-sets win over German Marcello Craca. Krajicek had only just set krajicek_wb97foot on court when rain, which teased the organizers throughout the first day of the championships, sent him back to the locker room. Another downpour interrupted his Centre Court match for 75 minutes in the 3rd set but the fourth-seeded Dutchman shrugged off the delays, winning 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-4. “These are the kind of matches that you just have to win and you don’t look for beauty,” he said. “I felt pretty pressured as defending champion and I felt a little bit nervous but it was a great feeling to get through this match.” Krajicek on the previous day won a tournament in s’Hertogenbosch but according to the tradition he was supposed to play on Monday as a defending champion. Caraca, playing his first pro match on grass, led 5:4 on serve in the tie-break.  Second seed Goran Ivanisevic sped through his first match so fast on Court Two that he had no need to worry about the weather. Ivanisevic beat Romanian Dinu Pescariu, ranked 106th in the world, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 in just 64 minutes. Tim Henman, who last year inflamed British hopes of the first home winner in the men’s singles since 1936 when he reached the quarterfinals, ignited another spark when he defeated Canadian Daniel Nestor 7-6(11) 6-1, 6-4 in his opening match. Nestor blew three set points in the tie-break (7:6, 9;8 & 11:10 – two of them Henman fought off with aces). “Yes, I think I’ve been struggling a little bit,” Michael Chang said with typical understatement after Todd Woodbridge, the Aussie doubles specialist who lives in Orlando, bounced him 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-2, 3-6, 8-6 in 3 hours 53 minutes, after almost blowing the match. Playing with a brace on his right leg to support a hyper-extended knee, Chang, the No. 5 seed, had woodbridge_wb97rallied from 1:5 down in the fifth set, but failed at the finish, despite leading 6:5 (Woodbridge was serving then). World No. 1 Pete Sampras  flew to victory on a cloudy but wonderful, rainless day. Sampras, a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 winner over Sweden’s Mikael Tillstrom, was joined in the second round by No. 3 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, No. 8 Boris Becker, No. 9 Marcelo Rios, No. 12 Patrick Rafter, No. 13 Andrei Medvedev, No. 15 Wayne Ferreira and No. 16 Petr Korda. Sampras, was broken only once, in the 4th game, and was always in command. He served out the match at love, finishing with his ninth ace. “After what happened on the grass and the whole clay-court season, which wasn’t great, I felt this is my place, this is where I’m supposed to win,” Sampras said. ”And I expect myself to win.” Ferreira overcame  Scott Draper 6-7(5), 3-6, 6-4, 6-0, 7-5 trailing 0:4* in the 5th set, and saving a match point at *4:5. There were other upsets, and young Justin Gimelstob of Key Biscayne was right at the top of them. Capitalizing on his big serve in the fifth set and his unrelenting pressure at the net, he knocked off French Open champion Guga Kuerten, the No. 11 seed, 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 1-6, 6-4 for the biggest win of his career. Greg Rusedski of Britain, the big-serving former Canadian, needed only eight minutes to finish off No. 7 Mark Philippoussis after their match had been suspended Monday night. The score was 7-6(6), 7-6(6), 6-3. Rusedski won the final three games after the restart. On the previous day Rusedski withstood a quadruple set point at 2:6 in the tie-break! He out-aced the Australian 27-14. No. 17 Jonas Bjorkman, who was seeded after No. 6 Thomas Muster pulled out with injury before the tournament began, was surprised by Britain’s Chris Wilkinson 7-6(5), 0-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4. Jim Courier, in a worse slump than Chang, was beaten by Michael Stich 7-6(0), 7-5, 7-6(2). It was a charpentier_wb97particularly ignominious loss for Courier – the second time in a row he has gone out in the first round of a Grand Slam. Magnus Larsson whipped him in five at the French Open three weeks ago. Jeff Tarango, who had been banished from Wimbledon last year for calling chair umpire Bruno Rebeuh “corrupt” in a match in 1995, lost to qualifier Rodophe Gilbert 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(0), 6-4. Byron Black ousted qualifier Pat Cash 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-4, 6-4. For Cash, who won this tournament 10 years before, it was the last match in Grand Slam events, afterwards he played just two main-level tournaments (Gstaad, Stuttgart). Who says tennis players aren’t colorful? Marcelo Charpentier [115] wore pristine white – according to Wimbledon tradition – for his match on Court 7 with Cedric Pioline, but his crewcut hair was purple, and his left ear sported a dangling earring. The Wimbledon rulebook apparently doesn’t forbid purple hair. Charpentier lost, 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 6-2. The Argentine notched three Grand Slam events in his career, beside Wimbledon ’97 also Roland Garros ’97 & ’00 when he won his only major match.

Second round: Andrew Baker

Goran Ivanisevic must be wishing that the rain had never stopped. After a lazy few days waiting to play his second-round match (no point played in men’s competition over two days – something like this occurred for the first time since 1909!), the second seed was given the rudest of wake-up calls, being ejected from the Championships by the unheralded Swede Magnus Norman. The rakish Croat was unwilling to go, twice coming from behind to force a 5th set that achieved epic proportions before the Swede powered a forehand service return home to close out the match 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(4), 4-6, 14-12. Most of the neutrals on a norman_wb97packed Court Three had been cheering Ivanisevic, a perennial favourite of the Wimbledon crowds, but Norman’s determination and skill earned him a standing ovation. Ivanisevic’s serve was crucial, as it so often is. He served 46 aces (Norman 25), breaking John Feaver‘s long-standing record, but it was a double fault that gave Norman his third, decisive match point. The Swede is no slouch in the serving department either, but his survival and ultimate victory depended as much on a delicate touch at the net as on power. Norman caused concern among the crowd and panic among watching Swedes when, at six games all in the final set, he pulled up clutching his chest. He took a two-minute medical break and received treatment in his chair for what Swedish reporters described as a recurring but not dangerous heart complaint. When he resumed, he seemed none the worse for wear, and today it will be Ivanisevic suffering heartache. Ivanisevic saved two match points at 10:11 and had 4 break points in the next game! In the last game he made 2 double faults in a row. Heroic Brit Greg Rusedski battled through pain to keep the Union Jack flying high at Wimbledon yesterday. Rusedski beat American Jonathan Stark 4-6, 6-7(9), 6-4, 6-3, 11-9 to set up a third-round encounter with British Davis Cup pal Andrew Richardson. But he had to wear a corset and take pain-killing tablets in order to pull off what he calls “the best performance of my career.” It seemed at times Rusedski had been taking lessons in behaviour from Wimbledon bad boy John McEnroe sitting alongside his coach in the stand. Twice rusedski_wb97he stared into the dark features of oblivion after losing the first two sets and facing up to Stark leading 4:2 in the 5th. His nerve seemed ready to snap at one critical point in the final set. He screamed at umpire Ulrich: “What’s going on? You are making it doubly difficult for me to win. “Why do you do this to me in the fifth set? It’s terrible. How can you miss three easy calls like that?” Rusedski chuntered about various amounts of seconds Stark used up while preparing to receive his serve. He asked Ulrich: “How long is he supposed to get?” Back came the reply: “Ten seconds, I think he’s being reasonable.Rusedski struck 35 aces, but committed 23 double faults; Stark 34 & 15 respectively, the American won 16 points more in total. Also Richard Krajicek was forced to play a 5-setter against Andrei Pavel. The Dutchman survived in 2 hours 30 minutes, serving 31 aces, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3. Another big-server, Pete Sampras (18 aces) had unexpectedly though battle against Hendrik Dreekman. The three-time champion won 7-6(2), 7-5, 7-5, taking advantage of errors of the German player in 11th games of last two sets.

Third round: Steve Wilstein

The flag-waving, foot-stomping rabble took over Centre Court from the blue-blazered swells on People’s Sunday 2 at Wimbledon and turned the joint into a soccer-style circus for beloved Brit Tim Henman. The fans’ roars and chants carried Henman from the brink of defeat to a rousing henman_wb97four-hour, 6-7(7), 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 14-12 triumph over Paul Haarhuis that will go down as one of the most dramatic in Wimbledon history. The rain that wrecked the opening-week schedule gave way to a weekend of chilly but dry weather that allowed the tournament to catch up on most of the postponed matches with play on the middle Sunday for only the second time. Like People’s Sunday in 1991, Centre Court was filled with thousands of fans who queued up through the night to get seats that usually go only to the privileged. ”From the word go, /emspan style=”color: #33cccc;”it was something I’d never experienced before,” Henman said of the wildly screaming fans. ‘‘The noise was just a totally different level. I always have great support here, but in the situation of a middle Sunday that crowd played a huge part in the match. It gives you an amazing sort of buzz.” Haarhuis held a match point on serve at 5:4 but double-faulted twice, each time the crowd parting with protocol and cheering those mistakes, then missed an easy volley. Haarhuis refused to criticize the crowd, however, saying he’d faced more of a ”chilling experience” against Jimmy Connors in the 1991 U.S. Open quarterfinals. Next up for Henmastrong/spann, though, is defending champion Richard Krajicek, who defeated David Rikl(no point played in men’s competition over two days – something like this occurred for the first time since 1909!), 6-4, 6-3, 7-5. Krajicek said he’ll be ready for the noise. “I think 50-50 the crowd will be for me, maybe 51-49,” Krajicek said, trying to get a laugh from the British media. “Yes, it will be interesting. Against Henman, you play on the show court and you have the crowd against you.” The way Haarhuis sees it, Henman’s run is about to end. “If Henman gets by Richard [Krajicek], that’s a big obstacle,” Haarhuis said. “I played Richard last week. I played Tim now. I think Richard is in better shape.” With the defeat of two of the biggest, hard-serving threats – Ivanisevic and Philippoussis – in the first week, the prospect of Pete Sampras claiming a fourth title brightened. He loves boring matches like his 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 romp Monday against Byron Black. Nothing fancy, nothing controversial, just going about his business. Boris Becker is a three-time Wimbledon champion and is similarly happy to keep a low profile. He easily moved along toward a possible quarterfinal match against Sampras by trouncing Mark Petchey 6-3, 6-3, 6-2. “I came here not to be so much in the newspaper in the morning but to play tennis well,” said Becker, who next faces ninth-seeded Marcelo Rios. Rios complained again that grass “is for cows,” but he reached the round of 16 by beating second Dutchman in a row in four sampras_wb97sets, John van Lottum 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4. “It’s not a surface on which to play tennis,” he said. Sampras hardly took notice of the yspan style=”color: #008000;”Patrick Rafterspan style=”cospan style=”color: #008000;”span style=”color: #008000;”lor: #008000;”Patrick Rafterspan style=”color: #008000;”Patrick Rafterawning Centre Court crowd and enjoyed slipping through to the fourth round almost unnoticed. As he pursues his fourth Wimbledon title and 10th Grand Slam triumph, Sampras so far has avoided the perils that have caught the likes of two other big servers. Sampras next faces 16th-seeded Petr Korda, who has worked his way back up the rankings after overcoming a variety of injuries. “He’s very dangerous,” Sampras said. In other men’s matches, No. 3 Yevgeny Kafelnikov beat Jason Stoltenberg 6-3, 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3; No. 12 Patrick Rafter advanced with a 7-5, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 triumph over Christophe van Garsse; No. 13 Andrei Medvedev loss to 19-year-old German Nicolas Kiefer 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(2), 6-4; and unseeded Todd Woodbridge beat the 1996 Wimbledon revelation Alex Radulescu of Germany 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Fourth round: Robin Finn

Boris Becker, who considers himself the grand old man of Wimbledon’s damp lawns and is playing the role of Father Time to the hilt, and his protege, Nicolas Kiefer, who graduated from high school only two weeks ago, arrived at the same place Tuesday. Both Germans reached the quarterfinals of this rain-plagued Grand Slam event. The 29-year-old Becker, a three-time Wimbledon champion who was just 17 when he boomed his way to prominence in 1985, got there by pummeling Chile’s ninth-seeded Marcelo Rios, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(5), on the Centre Court Becker loves best in the world. “I guess I had too much power on that surface,” said Becker, who contributed 17 aces toward Rios’ kiefer_wb97misery. Kiefer has already proven himself a quick study at 19 and, when it comes to performing upsets on a scale suggestive of championship promise, has shown himself to be a chip off the block. The difference is one of style not substance: Kiefer prefers playing from the baseline to the serve-and-volley tactics that made Becker a Wimbledon natural 12 years ago. Tuesday, the 98th-ranked Kiefer followed up his dismissal of 13th-seeded Andrei Medvedev by ambushing third-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov, 6-2, 7-5, 2-6, 6-1. “It’s funny to have a pupil in the quarterfinal, too; I talk to him before the matches and he goes out and beats the whole world,” said Becker. Now, Becker could be in a position of having to fend off his own student if both reach the semifinals. Kiefer indicated he would covet a chance to square off against his teacher. “He’s the boss of the junior team, but to play against him and maybe win against him, I want to win against him here,” Kiefer said. Michael Stich defeated Mark Woodforde 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-5 and for the first time in the Open era three Germans advanced to the major quarterfinals. Kiefer faces 37th-ranked Todd Woodbridge in the quarterfinals. Woodbridge, a doubles specialist, upset another Australian, 12th-seeded Patrick Rafter, 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-6(7), 6-3. Britain’s other hope, Greg Rusedski and his 138 mph serve, turned the lights out on 31-year-old Richey Reneberg‘s snappy return, in a methodical, 7-6(2), 6-4, 7-6(4) victory. Rusedski, who finished the job with his 32nd ace, reached his first Wimbledon quarterfinal and reduced the American contingent left in the men’s and women’s singles to one, the three-time champion Sampras. In the quarterfinals, Rusedski takes on 44th-ranked Cedric Pioline of France, who defeated New Zealand’s 104th-ranked Brett Steven, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5. Wimbledon lost its defending champion Wednesday, but nobody except Richard Krajicek seemed sorry to see Richard Krajicek flounder in the Round of 16. That is because the David who sent this particular Goliath packing was Tim Henman, the cowlick kid whose quest to become Britain’s first male champion since 1936 has an entire nation galvanized. The 14th-seeded Henman’s popular 7-6(7), 6-7(7), 7-6(5), 6-4 upset of the fourth-seeded Krajicek took two days to play. Krajicek, who captured his first and only Grand Slam title here last year was desperate to prove that coup wasn’t a fluke. Krajicek saved a set point in the second tie-break and led 3:1 in the 3rd set. The match was suspended due to darkness after the 3rd set tie-break. Krajicek wanted to halt earlier and was booed by the partisan crowd. The men’s field retained a three-time champion, Pete Sampras, after the top-seeded and solitary American scrambled out of sampras_korda_wb97a bizarre five-setter against 16th-seeded Petr Korda. Sampras’ ordeal began with the loss of a two-set lead, and was ultimately resolved, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7(8), 6-7(1), 6-4, in Sampras’ favor. That match, played on court No. 1 was suspended with Sampras leading by a break in the 2nd set.  Astonishing things happened in the 3rd set tie-break: Sampras led 4:0* and had a match point at 6:5* – Korda saved it with a forehand winner after a 9-stroke rally – Sampras slipped and fell down. At 8:7* Sampras had another match point – Korda saved it again with a forehand winner when Sampras slipped again! The American broke in the opening game of the 5th set and held all service games to the end (he wasn’t broken over five sets, faced just three break points). Sampras improved his 5-set record to 24-6. In the quarterfinals on Thursday on Centre Court, Sampras faces eighth-seeded Becker, the only other active player who owns three Wimbledon championships. Whereas Sampras reigned from 1993-95, the 29-year-old Becker earned his Wimbledon triad in 1985, 1986 and 1989. “This is what it’s all about for us, for Boris and I, the Wimbledons and the Grand Slams,” said Sampras, who holds nine Grand Slam singles crowns and is just three Grand Slam titles short of tying Roy Emerson‘s record of 12. “I feel Boris, for the rest of his career, should be seeded in the top four no matter what he’s ranked because he got to the finals here seven times and he’s won three times,” Sampras said. “For us to play in the quarters is tough for both of us.”

Quarterfinals:

becker_wb97Boris Becker was moving slowly, heading for the stage exit one last time as gray clouds rolled in and cheers poured down. This was his farewell to Wimbledon, his long last look at Centre Court. He was bowing, saluting the place and the crowd before waving goodbye, leaving the scarred grass stage forever. Yesterday, Becker announced his retirement from Wimbledon after losing to Pete Sampras in the quarterfinals, 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4 (Becker returned to play at Wimbledon once again in 1999). Sampras was unbroken again facing break points in two games. It was like something out of a movie, the great athlete making a great exit. He whispered the news to Sampras at the net, stunning his rival when he said, “This is my last match at Wimbledon.” Before then, only Becker’s wife, Barbara, knew of his plans. “I just don’t feel I have it anymore, what it takes to win a Grand Slam,” Becker said later. He wasn’t quitting tennis – just Wimbledon, the place where he grew up, won three titles and appeared in seven finals. “I was able to play on Centre Court and it was a very good moment for me,” he said. “I feel like I don’t want to come back being No. 60 in the world and praying to God I get a good draw to win a couple of rounds. That’s not my style. I’m the type of guy who goes into a tournament and who likes to have a chance to win it, and I feel like that’s not possible for me anymore in Grand Slams.” At 29, these are among Becker’s final tennis days. He’ll stich_wb97play in some summer tournaments. He may play the U.S. Open. He’ll lead Germany in the Davis Cup in the fall. But after that, no more Grand Slams because his body can’t handle the stress of a two-week event. “I feel relieved,” Becker said. “I feel like I’ve come to the end of the road, with my head held up high.” Canadian-born Briton Greg Rusedski fell Thursday to Cedric Pioline, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. A few hours later – also on Court 1 – Britain’s top player, 14th-seeded Tim Henman, was ousted by 1991 champion Michael Stich, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. Britain, a tennis also-ran, was shooting for its first Wimbledon semifinalist since 1973. It hasn’t had two semifinalists since 1922. Had Henman and Rusedski both advanced, they would have met in the semifinals and guaranteed Britain its first finalist since 1938. The last British winner was Fred Perry in 1936. Henman called it his ”Worst experience on a tennis court. I served particularly poorly today, and I think that rubs off on other parts of your game,” he said. On Court No. 2 Todd Woodbridge reached highlight of his career as a singles player rather unexpectedly eliminating Nicolas Kiefer 7-6(7), 2-6, 6-0, 6-4. “He’s one of the few players still on tour that I feel has a presence,” Woodbridge said asked about becker’s decision, “You kind of get a little nervous when you’re on the court with him, thinking he’s able to control the whole show.”

Semifinals: Robin Finn

Here at Wimbledon, like every place else he goes, Pete Sampras strives and almost succeeds in keeping a low profile despite being a three-time champion on the brink of his 10th career Grand Slam title. Sampras, who reached his fourth Wimbledon final this afternoon, said he preferred to let his racquet do the talking. Or, as the case may be, he lets it do the shouting. Today, it deafened his overmatched challenger, 37th-ranked Todd Woodbridge, in straight sets in a semifinal that was more a one-man show than a competition. In Sunday’s final, Sampras had suspected his opponent would be Wimbledon’s 1991 champion, the retirement-bound Michael Stich. Instead, the role of the listener will be played by a stylish spoiler, 44th-ranked Cedric Pioline. The 28-year-old Frenchman, whose runner-up finish against Sampras at the 1993 United States Open was his only prior close encounter with Grand Slam glory, hung on for a 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 marathon victory over Stich. After the top-seeded Sampras overpowered Woodbridge, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6(2), Woodbridge suggested that the American and his racquet have begun to form a superhuman team on these lawns. Sampras is now 37-5 at this Grand Slam event. Woodbridge confessed that, in order to have made this playing field a little more level for their match, he should have been allowed a helper, preferably his doubles partner, Mark Woodforde. ”Maybe I could have used him pioline_stich_wb97to help cover some ground, because there were winners flying around all over the place,” Woodbridge said. Sampras was just 17 when Woodbridge beat him in the first round in 1988. According to both players, that was a lifetime ago. ”But there was no weakness there today,” Woodbridge said. ”He’s peaked for the right occasion.” In fact, the Australian’s only claim to fame in their 1-hour-45-minute semifinal came in the 4th game of the 3rd set, when he broke Sampras’s skein of 97 consecutive service games won at this year’s tournament (since first round against Mikael Tillstrom). Sampras lost his streak in a game in which he led 30/0 before dropping four straight points (two errors, two Woodbridge’s winners) ”I think it was a pleasure to be out there playing against him today,” Woodbridge added, ”because not many people get to appreciate how good a player he is, because they’re not on the court with him and I at least got to see that side of it.” ”You can’t really be in the zone on grass, it’s too tough of a surface to play great tennis,” Sampras said. ”But I’m playing very solid and I couldn’t play any better. I lost my serve there at 2-1, which I wasn’t too happy about, but I’ve got no complaints. I’d rather be in the final of Wimbledon than anything.” So would Pioline, who had no reservations about ending Stich’s Wimbledon career in order to get there. The Frenchman broke Stich in the 1st game of the 5th set and never allowed him back into the set (however, Stich had break points trailing 2:3 & 3:4). When Stich pushed a forehand pass wide and gave Pioline his first match point, the Frenchman converted it with a service winner. ”I’ve never seen Cedric play that well; he was hitting volleys I didn’t know where they came from,” said Stich, whose aching shoulder produced 11 double faults. ‘‘He brought out the best in me. I really had to win every point three times before I won the point, but unfortunately it didn’t last until the end.” Unlike Becker, who admitted he came into his 14th and final Wimbledon knowing it would take a miracle for him to survive it, Stich had wanted to make a strong statement at his last Wimbledon. ”I didn’t come here to retire,” he said. ”I came here to win the tournament. Obviously, I would have loved to have won this match and gone on the finals, but those matches are rare.” Stich at the beginning of the season announced it would be his last, he was supposed to play in Stuttgart and a Davis Cup tie (vs. Mexico) in September, but never played a professional match in singles after Wimbledon ’97.

Final: Bill Glauber

sampras_triumph_wb97Now, Pete Sampras is in the land of the tennis legends. He’s up there with Bill Tilden, within striking distance of Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg and bearing down hard on Roy Emerson. Yesterday, Sampras won Wimbledon and made history. He beat a Frenchman named Cedric Pioline, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4, in a final that was stripped of drama but crammed with brilliance. He became the first American man to win four Wimbledon singles titles. And he notched a 10th Grand Slam championship, tying him with Tilden, right behind Laver (11), Borg (11) and Emerson (12). “To have won 10 by the age of 25, I never really thought it would happen,” Sampras said. “This is what’s going to keep me in the game, I hope for a lot of years.” Sampras owns Centre Court at Wimbledon – and owns men’s tennis. The game is now Sampras against fill-in-the-blank. He chased Boris Becker into retirement at this Wimbledon. His other big opponent, Andre Agassi, seems to be on an extended honeymoon. “There are so many great players coming through the rankings that it’s hard to have a rivalry today, compared to 10 or 15 years ago,” Sampras said. “I don’t like thinking of myself in terms of history,” he said. “I feel that I’m doing quite well for how old I am. I feel like I’m in the middle of my career, and it’s not over yet. Now, I’m battling against all these guys – not history. It’s all those guys who are out to beat you. To be able to stay on top for as many years as I have is something that is the most important thing to me. To have the longevity pioline_wb97to stay on top is not easy to do.” By 25, Borg was done and John McEnroe was finished winning major titles. But Sampras may still be peaking. “I feel like I can get better, that I can improve,” Sampras said. He is so good, so elegant, he makes the game look positively easy. And he snuffs out drama, deflating his rivals – and the crowd. Pioline played with heart and style to get to this final. The crowd was pulling for him on every shot. But all he did was get ground into the Wimbledon dust by Sampras. Here was the point of the match: 3rd set, 4th game. Sampras at the net, standing there, daring Pioline to pass. And the Frenchman kept unloading these forehand haymakers, until finally, on the third volley, Sampras put away the point. Pioline hobbled away in disgust. “He does not give you air,” Pioline said. “You cannot breathe against him.” At Wimbledon, Sampras held serve in 116 of 118 games. sampras_wb_cup97He clubbed 119 aces. “This is the best I think I’ve ever served in my career,” Sampras said. “It was the shot that won me the tournament.” But Sampras isn’t a one-shot player. He has the kind of game the old pros love, compact and daring with just a touch of artistry at the net. “He’s not a god,” Pioline said. “He’s a good player.” But clearly there is something special about Sampras. “I really have no fear in the game,” Sampras said. “I feel like if I’m playing well, I’m tough to beat. You know, I feel like I’ve got some options out there. I can stay back or come in. And to serve as well as I have these past couple of weeks, I’m going to be tough to beat. When I’m confident and playing well, that’s for me.” Is he the best ever? It’s difficult to judge. Sampras has never won the French Open, played on clay. But then, the last men’s player to win all the Grand Slam titles was Laver. Sampras’ 48th title (fourth Wimbledon).  Stats of the final

One Response to 1996 – 1997, Wimbledon

  1. Voo de Mar says:
    Films on YT:

    1996
    Italian:
    Sampras vs. Philippoussis – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-pUnZdAoks
    English:
    Sampras vs. Kucera – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dF2DYQJjIUM
    Sampras vs. Pioline – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNd6Jh6IYLY
    Krajicek vs. Sampras (also fragments of the Stoltenberg-Ivanisevic match)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiemoz2Ysy8
    Washington vs. Martin – last few games of the final set
    Krajicek vs. Washington

    Cliff Richard’s entertainment
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeITDIvm3y8&

    1997
    Sampras vs. Tillstrom – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmdxFPLKE4g
    Sampras vs. Dreekmann – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LV5o7lZxRkg
    Becker vs. Rios – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kG5ZkJZZLM
    Sampras vs. Korda – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIIbKwxTkcI (from 3rd set TB)
    Sampras vs. Becker – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fb1TcI7tA_w
    Sampras vs. Woodbridge – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQjshNSaW9g
    Pioline vs. Stich – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqICs3SVPW4 (first 4 games)
    Sampras vs. Pioline – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMH27xZrIpU

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