1998 – 1999, Wimbledon

Wimbledon, Great Britain
June 22-July 6, 1998; 128 Draw (16 seeded); Surface: Grass

Arguably that particular tournament featured the best opportunity for Tim Henman to end a 62-year title drought for the British tennis at Wimbledon. The local favorite had already a solid experience obtained in two previous Wimbledons as he reached quarter-finals on both occasions. Four-time champion Pete Sampras was clearly out of form before Wimbledon ’98, admittedly he was the biggest favorite of bookmakers (6:4, second Krajicek 8:1), albeit his sensational defeat on grass (3-6 2-6) at Queens Club to Mark Woodforde a week before Wimbledon, allowed to suspect he might have been ousted by Mark Philippoussis or Henman. However, Sampras proved once again that Wimbledon’s Centre Court belongs to him…
All scorelines
Articles written for sportsillustrated.cnn.com
First round:

Pete Sampras [1] opened play on Centre Court with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Slovakia’s Dominik Hrbaty [46], a performance that belied the poor results that have cast doubt on Sampras’ chances of defending his title. “If you can’t get up for an event like this, you shouldn’t be playing,” said the top-seeded American, seeking his fifth championship in six years. “This place over the years has brought out the best in me. You get more keyed up, more fired up, going out there at 2 o’clock on Monday. Over the years, it’s been treating me pretty well.” Sampras served an ace on the first point, closed the first set with another ace and was never troubled. He finished with 17 aces and eight double faults. The most entertaining moment came after Sampras nailed Hrbaty in the thigh with a service winner in the fourth game of the second set. Waiting to return on the next point, Hrbaty held up his racket in front of his body as mock protection, drawing laughter from Sampras and the spectators. The young voice came from high in the stands on Court One, urging Tim Henman to close out his first-round match Monday at Wimbledon. “C’mon!” the boy shouted. “We want to watch the football!” Henman, trying to become the first Briton to win Wimbledon since 1936, found himself competing Monday against both Jiri Novak and the World Cup. The last part of Henman’s five-set victory over Novak overlapped the start of the English soccer team’s game in France against Romania. The result was a distraction for fans – and Henman. “People shouted out philippoussis_wimbledon98things about the football, and to tell you the truth, it irritated me,” he said. “Things like, `We want to watch football.’ Well, I agree with them, but it’s not what you want to be hearing. It doesn’t help.” Henman finally outlasted Novak 7-6(4), 7-5, 5-7, 4-6, 6-2 in 3 hours 10 minutes, then headed for a television to watch the World Cup match, which Romania won 2-1. Seventh-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov [7], lost on Centre Court to big-serving Australian [28] Mark Philippoussis, 6-7(5), 7-6(1), 6-4, 6-2 despite a 5:3 lead in the 2nd set. Kafelnikov, winner of a Wimbledon warm-up tournament in Germany (Halle), possesses an all-court game that made him one of the top title challengers. British bookmakers had rated him and Richard Krajicek as joint second favorites behind Sampras. Philippoussis, who had considered skipping Wimbledon after a series of early round defeats this year, served 21 aces and had 14 double faults. Conversely, Kafelnikov’s serve doomed him with 22 double faults. “I haven’t had a great year but there is no reason I can’t win this tournament,” Philippoussis said. Kafelnikov said his serving problems were due to the relentless pressure put on by the Australian. Marcelo Rios [2], who held the No. 1 ranking briefly earlier this year but whose game is not ideally suited to grass, was ousted in the first round by Spain’s [36] Francisco Clavet, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3. Rios, who complained about numerous line calls, said, “We’re in England, clavetwhat do you expect? Just kidding.” The Chilean, who lost in the first round of a Wimbledon warm-up tournament in Nottingham, said he was fed up with the game. “I’m not enjoying playing right now,” he said. “I’m not enjoying being on the court. The grass, I never really liked it that much.” Goran Ivanisevic [25], a two-time Wimbledon finalist who had won only one match in his last five Grand Slam tournaments, beat [108] Grant Stafford 6-3, 6-3, 6-2. “I can beat anybody when I play good here, and I can lose to some serious bad guys,” said Ivanisevic, the No. 14 seed. “You never know with me. Not too many people rate me as a favorite or expect me to do good here. But I feel good. Anything is possible.” Greg Rusedski [5], fourth seeded this year and a quarter-finalist last year, pulled out of Wimbledon today  with Mark Draper when his badly sprained left ankle failed to respond to treatment. Rusedski won the first set 6-4, dropped the second 6-2 as he began to limp badly. Draper was up a break at 5:4 in the third when play was called. Rusedski double-faulted 18 times, and was even out-aced (12-17) by 238th ranked opponent who only came to England to watch his brother Scott and then found himself in the main draw after advancing through the qualifiers. The Canadian-born Briton injured the ankle almost two weeks ago in a bad fall during the Queen’s tournament, a traditional grass-court warm-up for Wimbledon. “I thought it would get better,” Rusedski said. “I thought when it got warmed up it would get better. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. But there is always next year“. Tony Pickard, angered by Rusedski’s decision to attempt a match on the ankle, resigned as his coach. “I’m not worried about it,” Rusedski said, obviously upset. “The player always makes it. The coach can help, but it’s the player at the end of the day. I guess that just shows the person’s [Pickard’s] true colors.” It was the only victory in Mark Draper’s career in majors (three appearances). Patrick Rafter [6], a natural grass-court player, beat Ivo Heuberger [146] of Switzerland 6-1, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 to carry on from where he left off last week in the Netherlands where he won the Den Bosch title. “If I can keep the way I’m thinking and the mindset I’m in, and I know I can do that because I feel so good, then there’s no reason why I can’t get into the second week.” Rafter said. His compatriot, Jason Stoltenberg [43] eliminated Gustavo Kuerten [24] on Court No. 2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 10-8 being two points away from defeat at *5:6 (0/30). Stoltenberg, who had also won 10-8 in the 5th set his opening round in Paris a month earlier, won another two five-setters in London (Tarango & Woodforde) before lost in the fourth round to Philippoussis. It took American Jan-Michael Gambill three days – and 11 match points in the deciding set – to get a result at Wimbledon. At least he got a good one. Billed as one of next hopes in the American men’s game, Gambill won his first-round match Wednesday over Sjeng Schalken of the Netherlands. Playing his first Wimbledon, pioline_rosset_wb98Gambill was up 2-1 when darkness ended play Monday. Rain ended it Tuesday at two sets each, with Schalken up 1:0 in the fifth. On Wednesday – under sunny skies – Gambill came back from *2:4, and prevailed 7-6(6), 6-4, 6-7(5), 4-6, 8-6. “This is my first five-set match,” Gambill said. “And I’ve never had a match that’s lasted three days.” The match lasted 3 hours 45 minutes, Gambill converted just 5 out of 30 break points! In other very dramatic, nine minutes longer encounter on court No. 13, Marc Rosset unleashed 38 aces to win, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6(5), 13-11 against Cedric Pioline. The Swiss served to stay in the match  seven times, but never faced a match point. A bizarre 5-set match was won by Thomas Enqvist, who lost first two sets to Daniel Nestor in tie-breaks, and won the last two not dropping a game! Enqvist served 30 aces, 5 more than his opponent. 

Second round:

Angry at the officiating and hurt by double faults, Andre Agassi [19] is gone from Wimbledon. Agassi, the 1992 champion and No. 13 seed, became the eighth men’s seed eliminated Thursday when he lost in four sets today to Germany’s Tommy Haas [44]. Agassi trailed two sets to one when the second-round match was suspended because of darkness Wednesday. Haas won the fourth set Thursday to win 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-4. Haas, 20, has been billed as Germany’s successor to Boris Becker. He is a product of the Nick Bollettieri academy in Florida, where Agassi also got his start. “I used to see him practice there,” Haas said. “I used to sit on the sideline when he was playing. This is a very special win for me. I can say I beat Andre Agassi, a former No. 1 who won a couple of Grand Slams.” Earlier, No. 5 seed Carlos Moya, the French Open champion, was ousted in four sets by Morocco’s Hicham Arazi. In a Centre Court match between two players more accomplished on clay than grass, Arazi [59] rallied to win 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4. Agassi broke in the first game of the fourth set and held for a 2:0 lead. But he double faulted on break point in the sixth game to let Haas even the set at 3:3. The two remained on serve until the 10th game when another double fault by Agassi gave Haas a match point. Agassi saved that one, but Haas converted his second match point with a forehand return. In the final game, leading 40/30, Agassi was upset when at least one ground-stroke by Haas appeared long but drew no call. He approached chair umpire John Frame, who refused to overrule. Agassi had been furious with Frame over another line call Wednesday that helped Haas win the third set. A forehand by Haas was ruled good, even though replays showed it was clearly out. “It was nearly six inches [out],” Agassi protested. “It was out both ways. It was wide and it was long.” Frame shook his head and the call stood, giving Haas a 6:3 lead in the tiebreaker. Agassi saved one set point, but succumbed on the next. Play was then suspended, and Agassi resumed his protest. “In 12 years, I’ve never seen it miss that much,” he said to Frame. The Centre Court crowd jeered the umpire and linesmen as they left the court. Today, Haas acknowledged the ball had been out. Pete Sampras, the No. 1 seed and defending champion, hustled onto the grounds in mid-afternoon with a sandwich hanging from his mouth, successfully managing to remain unnoticed in the Wimbledon crowd. He sampras_wb98_then took to Court 1 and easily beat Sweden’s Mikael Tillstrom, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(5), in a second-round match. “I didn’t really want to be stopped so I kept my head down,” Sampras said of his anonymous journey to the players’ locker room. “Actually, I felt a little bit rushed going out there.” It was third Grand Slam match between Sampras and Tillstron, second year running at Wimbledon. At this year’s Wimbledon, Goran Ivanisevic is trying to make up for lost time. Yesterday, he completed his second-round match against Andrei Medvedev, swept the final set and won, 6-3, 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-0. The No. 14 seed said he was feeling good and back on a roll. “If I play like this, then anything is possible,” Ivanisevic said. “This is a very high quality of tennis that I played.” Ivanisevic has just survived the toughest patch of his career, plummeting in the rankings after six miserable months. “I said, ‘OK, the first half of the year is gone, you cannot play worse than the first half of the year,'” he said. “Now, it’s the second part of the year. I’m happier to play. I have more fun on the court and more fun practicing.” Francisco Clavet [36] won second five-setter in a row as he came back from a *1:4 deficit in the 3rd set to beat [95] Guillermo Canas 6-7(2), 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-1, 6-4. Both players won 172 points each. Tim Henman will be Britain’s standard bearer in the men’s singles at Wimbledon following Greg Rusedski’s withdrawal from the tournament.  Henman said playing David Nainkin [234] was “definitely not an easy match”. Henman, Britain’s No. 2, beat Nainkin 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 in his second round match (Nainkin led 4:2 in the 3rd set)

Third round:

It was yet another frustrating day at Wimbledon, as most of the matches were delayed by a series of brief showers. No. 6 seed Patrick Rafter was the first man to complete his third-round match by defeating Magnus Gustafsson, 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-2, 6-1. Rafter is prepared to face Henman, the home crowd favorite. “You have to block out the noise,” Rafter said. “It’s going to be a bit difficult, but sometimes that can work against him as well. It is all about me blocking that out, if I do happen to play him.”  Defending champion Pete Sampras charged into the fourth round at Wimbledon on Monday. In a faultless display (29 aces; saved 3 set points in the 3rd set) on Center Court, Sampras brushed aside 17th-ranked Swede Thomas Enqvist 6-3, 7-6(4), 7-6(3) in a match carried over from Friday. Enqvist lost five tie-breaks in three matches. Sampras now meets Sebastien Grosjean [117] of France, who upset Spanish 16th seed Felix Mantilla in straight sets. Mantilla failed to recover from an awful start during which he lost the opening nine games to Grosjean. The Spaniard raised his arms in triumph after winning his first game when trailing 6-0, 3:0. He rallied to 6:6 in the second set, but lost the tie-break to 8, before folding again to surrender the deciding set 6-2. Goran Ivanisevic, who served a record 46 aces last year at Wimbledon and lost, served 44 on Monday and won in four sets over Daniel Vacek [77] to reach the fourth round. The quotable Croatian also double faulted 15 times. “My matches are like horror thrillers and you cannot expect anything,” said Ivanisevic, twice a Wimbledon runner-up. “It’s like a movie. I make the movie, but I don’t know the end. That’s it.” Todd Martin [32], the only American man left in the draw other than Sampras, completed a rain-delayed third round match against last year’s semifinalist [29] Todd Woodbridge, winning 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(1) 6-4. Play was halted at Wimbledon’s Court 18 on Saturday afternoon after fire swept through a tower block overlooking the All England Club. Spectators of the match were shepherded away along with fans picnicking in Aorangi Park as a precaution. A Wimbledon spokesman said the court evacuation was a “security measure because of smoke.” A fiercely partisan Wimbledon crowd cheered local hero Tim Henman [18] as he marched to within one step of his third consecutive quarter final at Wimbledon on Saturday. Zimbabwe’s Byron Black [34] was the lonely loser on the Centre Court as the British crowd helped the 12th seeded Henman to a 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 victory, earned over two days at rain-soaked Wimbledon. On Friday night Henman competed with the England soccer side for British pride when he raced to a 3:2 lead in the 2nd set over a player he had not beaten in two previous attempts. In the 4th set Black led 5:3*. No. 9 Richard Krajicek had 25 aces and outlasted Nicolas Kiefer, 6-4, 7-6(2), 7-6(4), to gain a round-of-16 match with Wayne Ferreira. With Krajicek on the bottom of the draw and Sampras on the top, expectations are beginning to build toward their possible meeting in the final. “I know if I stay sharp with my serve like this, then I think I have a good chance of doing something very nice here,” Krajicek said. “But I don’t want to think too much about the final.” Kiefer squandered a double set point leading 6:5* (40/15) in the 2nd set. Jason Stoltenberg won third consecutive five-setter, this time overcoming fellow Australian, Mark Woodforde 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. It was too much tennis for Stoltenberg, who won 1st set of his next match against another Aussie (Mark Philippoussis) but couldn’t do anything in the three following sets.

Fourth round:

Davide Sanguinetti, who had never played a grass-court tournament before Wimbledon, is one victory from a spot in the semifinals. The 25-year-old Italian, who has played 10 of his 16 tournaments this year on clay, defeated Francisco Clavet of Spain Tuesday 7-6(3), 6-1, 6-4 and will next face Krajicek, the 1996 champion. “I’m surprised because I didn’t know how I would respond to grass,” Sanguinetti said. “But as soon as I came here and started to practice I felt really good.” Sanguinetti is moving up in the rankings, and his place in the Wimbledon quarterfinals will carry him higher than at any time in his career. Beginning the year at No. 92, a march to the final of the tournament in Coral Springs, Florida, in May helped boost him to a current high of No. 65. “I have flat shots, and the grass is like soap,” said Sanguinetti, who attended UCLA for two years. “It’s slippery and they have a lot of trouble putting their shots on the other side [of the net], especially my serve.” Clavet despite winning 8 titles and almost 400 main-level matches in the end of his career, only three times played round 16 at Slams (Roland Garros 1991 & 96, Wimbledon ’98). Pete Sampras, who hasn’t dropped a set so far, served his 13th and 14th aces to finish off French qualifier Sebastien Grosjean, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. “To start a match and complete a match in one day was nice,” said Sampras, whose previous match spanned four days. Sampras wore a brace on his left knee for the first time to relieve soreness in the back of the knee. Richard Krajicek, who beat Wayne Ferreira 6-3, 6-3, 7-5, hyper-extended a knee when he slipped at the end of the second set. “I slipped, and then my knee bent the other way,” Krajicek said. “I overstretched it, and I just felt a sharp pain in my knee, basically on my scar from my operation. It’s not the tendon. It’s something inside the knee, and sometimes I’ve got an unbelievably sharp pain. It’s not comfortable, and I’ve no idea what it is.” Krajicek rolled through the first two sets, then struggled in the third set after the injury. “I was basically serving with one leg,” he said. “That’s why I lost my aim and hit more double faults. And it was also a little bit of a mental thing. I just didn’t really want to go for the volleys any more.” Krajicek knows his strengths and weaknesses and, unlike other players, he doesn’t mind discussing his failings. “My return is never my weapon,’‘ he said, and though he returned better against Ferreira than he did in krajicek_wb98beating Nicolas Kiefer in the third round, Ferreira did a great job of surrendering. He provided Krajicek with breaks in each of the first two sets, both on double faults. Then, he doubled-faulted at 5:4, 40/30 in the final set. Briton Tim Henman rode a wave of nationalistic fervor on Monday to beat sixth seed Pat Rafter and book his third consecutive quarterfinal berth at Wimbledon. Spurred on by enthusiastic hometown support Henman, the 12th seed, raised his fists in triumph and the crowd rose as one, as much with relief as pleasure, when Rafter pushed a volley wide to hand the Briton the match 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-2. “To walk out there on court when it was as full as that gives you a buzz,” said Henman. “I think I’ve shown again that I do respond to that.” Next up for Henman is a test against No. 3 Petr Korda, who overcame a severely sprained left ankle late in the third set to outlast John van Lottum, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4). Goran Ivanisevic continues his march towards a third Wimbledon final by beating old rival Todd Martin in the fourth round 7-6(5), 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(2) – the Croat beat him in the Wimbledon fourth round for the second time, previously in 1995, also with a help of two winning tie-breaks. The 26-year-old reached a milestone with his 500th match victory but then went on to compare his 1998 season to a horror movie. “My matches are like horror.” said Ivanisevic, “It would be nice if I can win it. This year is a good chance for me. I’m playing maybe the best tennis ever I play here, and so now it’s three more matches to go.” The American out-aced the Croat 24-16, and won three points more altogether.

Quarterfinals:

In men’s play, defending champion Pete Sampras, closing in on his fifth title in six years, swept Mark Philippoussis 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-4. Sampras, who hasn’t dropped a set in five matches, was out-aced 14-10 in a contest between two of the fastest servers in the game. But he never lost serve, saving three break points against him while breaking the Australian twice. There was a lot of talk before this tournament that the Sampras era was near its close. Now, he’s on a roll. “I have no complaints the way I’m playing,” Sampras said. He will next face Tim Henman, who beat [3] Petr Korda 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to become the first British player to reach the men’s semis since Roger Taylor in 1973. Korda, who strained his left Achilles’ tendon two days ago, was limping and received treatment during the first set. Henman got a standing ovation from the Centre Court crowd, his victory providing a lift for Britain following England’s World Cup defeat to Argentina on Tuesday night. Henman started brilliantly, winning his first ten points on serve and breaking the 30-year-old henman_wb98Czech on his first service game. Once again the 12th seed was in devastating form on his serve. And he never relinquished control, dominating at the net and frequently winning the longer rallies. Henman wrapped it up in 1 hour 44 minutes and saluted reaching his first grand slam semi-final with arms raised to the heavens. Indeed, it was a mini Grand Slam of his own because he has now beaten the reigning French Open (Kafelnikov), Wimbledon (Krajicek), US Open (Rafter) and Australian Open (Korda) champions at the All England Club over the last three years. Korda felt he couldn’t play his best tennis because of his ankle: “You could see it was bad, but I did not want to give up. I will stand and fight to the last point. That is me and I will have to break my leg to retire.”  The following year Korda was ordered to forfeit all prize money since July 1998 – $661,831 – for testing positive for the steroid Nandrolone at Wimbledon ’98.  Sampras said Henman, bidding to become the first British men’s champion since 1936, will have enormous crowd support Friday. “It’s going to be tough,” he said. “But you still have to play well. It’s still one-on-one. I think the toughest crowd I’ve ever played in front of was probably against Boris Becker in Germany.Richard Krajicek and Goran Ivanisevic advanced to the other semifinal with straight-set wins. Krajicek, the 1996 champion, cruised to a 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 win over 65th-ranked Davide Sanguinetti of Italy. Ivanisevic, a former two-time finalist, beat Jan Siemerink [23] in three tiebreakers (12/10, 7/5 & 8/6). The Croat fought off set points in each set: 4 in the 1st tie-break, 1 set point at *2:5 (30/40) in the 2nd set (an ace) and 4:5* (30/40) + 5:6 in the tie-break of the 3rd set! He was also better in aces, 29-14. Krajicek’s right knee, which was surgically repaired in December 1996, has been hurting. But he just keeps winning. “I don’t think I’m a Marine or a Navy Seal, but I think I can cope with the pain OK,” he said. But Krajicek still has to get past Ivanisevic. If Henman can’t win Wimbledon, many here would like to see Ivanisevic finally grab the title. The Croat is on a comeback, serving hard and winning easily. What would happen if Croatia won the World Cup and Ivanisevic won Wimbledon? “I think the whole country will be drunk for the rest of the year, including me and the rest of the team,” Ivanisevic said. “We celebrate. I put the rackets in the closet and just come next year.”

Semifinals:

Pete Sampras punched holes in a British fantasy with the fastest serves at Wimbledon, and Goran Ivanisevic curbed his stormy temper to win a “horror thriller” Friday and set up a second clash for the title. Sampras, seeking to tie Bjorn Borg‘s Open-era men’s mark of five Wimbledon championships, crushed aces from 136 mph in the first set to 134 mph (218, 215 kph respectively) on match point to take out England’s Tim Henman, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3. Ivanisevic, a two-time finalist who lost to Sampras in the 1994 title match, outlasted 1996 champion Richard Krajicek in a thunderous, 70-ace serving duel, 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-7(5), 15-13 in 3 hours 22 minutes. “You know he’s going to hit his aces, he’s going to hit his double faults,” Sampras said of the prospect of playing Ivanisevic on Sunday. “You’re going to have to ride the wave with Goran.” Ivanisevic is weary of hearing himself called the greatest player who’s never won a major title. He has joked about his wild matches – he served 37 aces in the 1992 Wimbledon final he lost to Andre Agassi – but he desperately wants to win this time. “I’m really keeping my mind well and believing I can do it this year,” said Ivanisevic, who flung his racket cross-court and 12 rows up in the stands to celebrate his victory. Sampras’ game is built around his serve, and in the 1st set he came close to perfection as he held three times at love and delivered a 136-mph ace that was faster than Ivanisevic’s previous best of the tournament, 133 mph. But it was not all power. Sampras, who practices often with Henman and occasionally plays doubles with him, returned well and finessed his way to breaks in the 7th and 9th games of the set as he strung together four straight winning games. Henman finally found ways to pressure Sampras with angled returns and passes as he broke him twice for a *4:1 lead in the 2nd set and went on to tie the match at a set apiece. “I dug my heels in a little bit, created some opportunities, hit some good returns at 1:1, and got ahead,” Henman said. “That obviously gave me a lot of confidence, and I built on that. A set all, going with serve in the third, it’s anyone’s match. But at 5:6, he was the one who came up with the goods.” The three best shots were hit by Sampras in the 12th game of the 3rd set. It was advantage, Henman, when the Briton, serving to try to force a tiebreaker, cracked a big serve straight up the middle. It hit the center line. Sampras, who later said that he had been playing a hunch, leaned into the ball and smashed a forehand return for winner to put the score at deuce. Sampras won the next point with a running, lunging crosscourt backhand volley to give himself both a set point. On that set point, he smacked a magnificent crosscourt backhand return that Henman could only volley weakly into the net. “When I won the third set, I knew I had him,” Sampras said. The fans kept hoping for a miracle, but Henman was at Sampras’ mercy. As well as the 23-year-old from Oxford played, Sampras played better. Serving to close out the match, Sampras showed he wasn’t the least bit weary as he whacked a 133 mph ace for 40/0 and, two points later, a 134 mph ace, his 16th, for the match. Ivanisevic will have his third shot at the title, and second with Sampras on the other side. That prospect is somewhat surprising in view of Ivanisevic’s recent history: he won only one match in his previous five Grand Slam events. “A lot of people say, ‘He’s gone, he’s never going to be back,’ and, you know, you have two ears and you have to listen all the time,” the Croatian said. “But I knew that I had a bad six months, and Wimbledon came at the right time. I was practicing hard for the last one month, trying to not feel sorry for myself and keep working. I think this is the time it’s going to pay off for me.” Ivanisevic squandered two match points in the 4th set, then outlasted Krajicek, who finished with 42 aces, 20 in the final set (Ivanisevic hit 28 overall). The Croat held match points at 5:4 (40/15) on serve – he ivanisevic_krajicek_wb98thought he won the match after an ace, but it was a let-cord, the serve was replayed – Krajicek fought off the match point with a volley, then Ivanisevic committed a double fault; two great passing-shots of Krajicek and all of a sudden there were 5-games all! The final set lasted 1 hour, 19 minutes. Krajicek broke in the 5th game and when his astonishing win seemed like a formality, Ivanisevic broke back to ‘love’ in the following game. Then they held rather without troubles 21 games until the fading Krajicek made a couple of errors and lost his serve to 15.The fifth set was a just a horror thriller,” Goran said. “I never saw somebody serving like that in my life. They were just bombs. I couldn’t even react. I said, ‘Just keep your serve. He has to miss a couple of first serves.’ And that happened at 13:14.” The most surprising aspect of Ivanisevic’s victory was how he didn’t lose his temper or his composure after missing the two match points in the fourth set and going down a break in the fifth. “I don’t think anybody bet on me when I lost the fourth set,” he said. “I was just mentally very strong today. Never like this in my life. I just believed I was going to win it.” “The only predictable thing about Goran is that he’s unpredictable,” said Krajicek, who won Wimbledon in 1996 and who is the only player to beat Sampras in the tournament in the last six years. “When he’s down, it doesn’t mean anything.” Stats of the Ivanisevic-Krajicek match

Final:

Closing in on one of the mightiest records in tennis, Pete Sampras is the king of Wimbledon again. He won the tournament for the fifth time in six years Sunday with a 6-7(2), 7-6(9), 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 triumph over Goran Ivanisevic. “It’s just really sweet,” Sampras said. “I can’t believe I’ve won five of these.” When Ivanisevic sailed a backhand long on the first match point, Sampras raised his arms and flashed a big smile. The victory tied Sampras with Bjorn Borg for the most Wimbledon singles titles of the open era. Borg won five straight from 1976-80. Sampras, who received sampras_wb98$722,000 for the win, also moved into a second-place tie with Borg and Rod Laver on the list of Grand Slam victories, just one behind the record 12 of Roy Emerson. Ivanisevic took home $361,000. “It’s a little overwhelming to think of myself in those terms,” Sampras said. “I’ve tried to stay humble through all of my accomplishments. I’ve got some years left in me where hopefully I can do this again.” By reasserting his grass-court superiority, and extending his Wimbledon record to 44-2 since 1992, Sampras ended a yearlong slump in which he failed to get past the quarterfinals of the last three Grand Slam events. For Ivanisevic, it marked his third defeat in a Wimbledon final. He lost to Andre Agassi in 1992 and Sampras in 1994. “I had a chance,” he said. “This was my best chance ever here.” :) Ivanisevic had 32 aces and Sampras had 12. But the key was Ivanisevic’s 20 double faults. The match was settled in the 6th game of the 5th set when Sampras broke for 4:2, ripping a backhand return at Ivanisevic’s feet. After Sampras held for 5:2, Ivanisevic buried his head in his towel and muttered to himself during the changeover. Sampras then broke him at love in the next game to end the 2-hour, 52-minute match. Ivanisevic said he was so drained he had little on hiivanisevic_sampras_wb98s serve in the last game – “no pace, nothing there.” Ivanisevic won the 1st set with a roller-coaster serving show that included 13 aces (Sampras none!) and nine double faults. Ivanisevic saved six break points, including four double faults in one game, while Sampras saved three. The tiebreaker went Ivanisevic’s way when he hit a backhand passing shot for a mini-break and 2:0 lead and increased the lead to 5:2 with a forehand winner. He then followed with an ace and a service winner. Pete Sampras celebrates winning the third set The first service break of the match came in the second game of the second set when Sampras, head to head with Ivanisevic across the net, stabbed a reflex backhand volley to go up 2:0. But Ivanisevic broke right back in the next game. It took four break points before he converted by driving a forehand pass down the line. Sampras didn’t serve his first ace until the fifth game of the second set, when he hit three in a row. Only five points went against serve over the next nine games as the two headed into another tiebreaker. Sampras saved two set points, while serving at 5:6 and sampras_1998_champion7:8, both times Ivanisevic failing to take advantage of second serves and hitting high backhand returns into the net. “The two set points going to my backhand I missed the balls, which is ridiculous,” Ivanisevic said. The turning point came on the 19th point when an Ivanisevic shot was ruled in but was then changed to out by the lines-woman. Sampras, initially thinking he had lost the point, shouted, “Oh, my God,” and held his head in his hands in disbelief. But the point was replayed, and Ivanisevic sailed a sloppy forehand volley way long to give Sampras a third set point, this time on his own serve. He promptly hit a service winner to take the set and even the match. “I felt the match slipping away in the breaker,” Sampras said. “I thought this could be Goran’s year. Once I won the second set I thought, ‘Now he’s down and I’m up a little bit.'” It was Sampras’ 55th title (11th major). That tournament actually ended Sampras’ dominance in men’s tennis that lasted over six years. Stats of the final

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

Wimbledon, Great Britain
June 21-July 4, 1999; 128 Draw (16 seeds); Surface – Grass

The farewell Wimbledon of a former 3-time champion Boris Becker – his last tournament at all. First Wimbledon in turn, for the future champions: Lleyton Hewitt & Roger Federer. Pete Sampras triumphed at the All England & Croquet Club for the sixth time in seven years playing arguably the best tennis of his career in the final against arch-rival Andre Agassi.
All scorelines
First round: Russell Thomas

maclagan_becker_wb98The chants of ‘Boris – Boris – Boris’ reverberated around the grounds of the All England Club in the late afternoon Tuesday. No matter where you were, the sound only grew louder. It was as if the standing-room only crowd on Court 2 was sounding out a warning signal that Boris Becker [77], one of the most beloved champions in Wimbledon history, needed help. And boy, did he ever. He had dropped the first two sets to Miles Maclagan [289, future coach of Andy Murray], won the third and was desperately behind in the 4th. Already down a break (4:1) at 5:4, Becker staved off three match points, rallied to win the set and eventually subdued his challenger with some sublime tennis in the fifth set. The final tally was 5-7, 6-7(7), 6-4, 7-5, 6-2. Whether it was the fans who willed the 31-year-old German past one of their own or his 14 years of grass-court experience is irrelevant. Becker’s self-proclaimed last Wimbledon continues. “I’m still around somehow,” the three-time champion said. “Today was as close as it gets.” From the moment he stepped onto the court until the last of his 30 aces on match point 3 hours, 53 minutes later, Becker received an outpouring of love unknown to young players today. Making it all the more special was the fact that the fans rooted for a German and against Maclagan, a fellow Brit. “I know that it’s a very uncommon thing for a German guy to be supported so much here at Wimbledon,” Becker said. “The thing I can give back is trying, even though I’m down two sets to love. I was trying my best and trying to put on a good show, and I think that’s why the atmosphere is like it is.” Fourth-seeded Andre Agassi posted an impressive 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 victory against Romania’s Andrei Pavel, the runner-up to Patrick Rafter last week in a grass-court tuneup in the Netherlands. The 29-year-old Agassi, whose French Open victory three weeks ago made him only the fifth man to win all four Grand Slam events, pronounced himself ready for his next challenge. “I don’t know what it’s like to be a two-time champion anywhere now, so I’d like to win more, finish the year No. 1,” the Las Vegas resident said of his escalated ambitions. There were two matches consisted of two tie-breaks and concluded in 18-game fifth sets: Todd Woodbridge defeated Orlin Stanoytchev 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-7(5), 10-8 in 4 hours 20 minutes while Alberto Martin overcame Slava Dosedel 7-6(8), 6-4, 2-6, 6-7(3), 10-8 in 3 hours 33 martin_alb_wb99minutes, saving match point at 5:6. Pete Sampras opened Wimbledon with a badly mis-hit service which landed long, and sprayed his next six first deliveries inaccurately. He then produced an ace – and the top seed was on his way, sailing serenely past Scott Draper to victory despite the chill breezes buffeting Centre Court. It was scarcely a heart-warming performance but it was a highly efficient 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory in the classic mould of the American pursuing his sixth Wimbledon title. There was some embroidery, drawing admiring gasps from the audience, notably when he broke his Australian opponent as early as the second game with a net-clipping forehand on the run and, especially, when he closed out the match with a beautiful caress which he later described as “just a backhand drop volley; it’s not that complicated.” Wimbledon fans booed and jeered as fading light stopped a thrilling first-round match between former world No. 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Swede Magnus Larsson at 5:5 in the 5th set on Monday. Third seed Kafelnikov had looked in danger of becoming the first seed to go out of the championships when he was trailing Larsson 3:5* (30-all) in the 5th set. Kafelnikov, the Australian Open champion who has lost twice to Larsson in three previous meetings on grass, fought back also in the 2nd set in which he was *2:5. Kafelnikov, who was warned twice for bad-tempered behaviour, readily agreed when All England Club officials came out on court to suggest a suspension until Tuesday after almost three & a half hours of play. After the kafelnikov_wb99resumption the Russian quickly won two games and the match 6-7(4), 7-5, 7-6(6), 4-6, 7-5. Also advancing was Mark Philippoussis, a quarter-finalist last year, who slammed 28 aces and beat 19-year-old Xavier Malisse 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3, 6-4. Philippoussis, seeded seventh, started slowly and missed an easy overhead that cost him the first set. But after receiving a code violation for throwing his racket in the second set, Philippoussis regrouped and won in 2 hours, 22 minutes. 18-year-old Roger Federer wasted all his eight break point in the 5th set and lost to Jiri Novak 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6. Federer’s peer Lleyton Hewitt destroyed clay-court specialist Marcelo Filippini   6-2, 6-2, 6-1. For Malisse, Federer & Hewitt it was first Wimbledon. Fourth most promising teenager at the time – Marat Safin – didn’t play at Wimbledon ’99. For the first time since famous Wimbledon semifinal ’91 between Michael Stich and Stefan Edberg, two different 4-setters in terms of styles were concluded when the winner won three tie-break sets: Felix Mantilla rather unexpectedly beat Vincent Spadea 7-6(2), 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(7) in a baseline encounter after 3 hours 8 minutes (11 breaks of serve), while qualifier Wayne Arthurs survived a non-break-of-serve S&V duel with Vincenzo Santopadre 7-6(7), 6-7(5), 7-6(10), 7-6(4) in exactly 3 hours, serving 24 aces. In a match featuring two long tie-breaks, Andrew Ilie stunned Wayne Ferreira 7-6(13), 7-5, 6-7(10), 6-1.  19-year-old Arvind Parmar [455], who made it to Wimbledon by winning three qualifying matches, looked to be heading out of the tournament after losing the first set 0-6 to Spain’s Albert Costa [25]. He fared little better in the 2nd set – losing the first three games – but Parmar, 20, playing the biggest match and highest-ranked opponent of his anonymous career hit back, winning the second set (7/5) and taking the next two 6-3, 6-3. Parmar’s next opponent will be his better known British rival Rusedski. “I feel like a giant killer,” said Parmar after his win. “I am just going to enjoy the match against Greg. I have a lot of respect for him and the crowd will be behind him but I’m going to play the best I can.” Parmar, whose parents originate from India, is one of the first British-Asian professionals on the circuit. 

Second round: Steve Wilstein

Two years after Boris Becker whispered in Pete Sampras‘ ear that he was done with Wimbledon, the old lion roared once more on Centre Court. Becker’s red mane and beard glistened, his brawny legs churned with a nearly forgotten quickness, and his narrowed eyes betrayed a voracity that belied any thought that he had returned merely for a taste of nostalgia. The 31-year-old, three-becker_wb99time champion calls this his “last hurrah,” and on Thursday he showed every sign of making it a serious run for the title – 14 years after he won it the first time. Unbowed and far from weary two days after a five-setter against a lowly British wild card, Becker skewered 15th-seeded Nicolas Kiefer with 17 aces in a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 feast that put him through to the third round. It was the highlight of a warm, sunny day that drew 40,312 fans to the expanded grounds of Wimbledon, the largest crowd in the tournament’s 113-year history. Bad blood has been bubbling between Becker and the 21-year-old Kiefer for the past couple of years. It came to a full boil last month when Kiefer pulled out of the World Team Cup and alleged Becker had faked an injury. “Kiefer’s horizon is not going to be any farther than his shoes,” Becker said at the time. He then wrote a newspaper column saying the chemistry of the team was poisoned and, in a veiled reference to Kiefer, that younger players were surrounded by their parents and agents. Becker came out this time against Kiefer determined to show him who’s king of the hill in Germany, and when he had done exactly that they shook hands in the most perfunctory manner. Not a word passed between them. Afterward, though, Becker played down the enmity between them. “Probably in a couple of weeks down the road, we are going to drink a beer together,” he said with a smile, “and I’m retired and he is top 10 in the world. What’s the problem?” Becker used to call Centre Court home, but he knows he won’t be able to claim it again unless he somehow can conjure up his old magic for another five matches. “I can’t say that this is my place anymore,” he said. “I used to own it, but Sampras has taken over the keys. So we have new ownership on that court. But I still feel very much at home on it… and it was just a great two hours for me.” Andre Agassi, seeded No. 4, had a great couple of hours, too, but in the Court 1 stadium and against a much less threatening opponent, Argentina’s No. 71-ranked Guillermo Canas. Agassi did pretty much anything he wanted, grooving his strokes from inside the baseline, putting away occasional volleys at the net, and walking away with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 victory. “Our generation is at the tail end,” Agassi said. “We’re old enough now to realize that there are a lot of great memories that we’ve given each other – me, Jim, Pete, Michael, Todd, all the guys, on and off the court. To show the support is something I think now we wish we would have done more of.” No. 2 Patrick Rafter also advanced to the third round, beating doubles partner Jonas Bjorkman 6-2, 7-6(3), 6-7(7), 6-2 squandering two match points in the 3rd set. No. 5 Richard Krajicek, the 1996 champion, swept past Todd Woodbridge 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 with brilliant service performance (served 106 times, obtaining 18 points thanks to aces, and 42 thanks to service winners), and No. 6 Tim Henman scored a 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(4) victory over Chris Woodruff in courier_moya_wb99a two-day meeting (3:2 Woodruff in 2nd set when play suspended). Jim Courier is back from tennis’ version of the land of the living dead, bludgeoning balls with all his old fury and inspiring even longtime rival Agassi to cheer him from the wings. Snarling, pumping his fists, leaping as he slugged winners, Courier outlasted No. 12 Carlos Moya 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(1), 3-6, 6-2 (3:01 hrs) Wednesday in his best performance at Wimbledon since he reached the final six years ago. “I kind of had to, the way he was volleying,” Courier said. “I don’t know if I can return much better than I returned in that match, and he just kept coming up with great volleys all the time. I was thinking that he’s not a natural serve and volleyer, and eventually he’s going to break down. He never did.” Courier hadn’t played on Centre Court since he lost a tough four-set final to Sampras in 1993. “I love it,” he said of the most storied court in tennis. “I wish I could play every match there. But when you lose the first round three years in a row, you’re not going to see the Centre Court a whole lot.” The youngest American man at Wimbledon, the 22-year-old Paul Goldstein, couldn’t quite believe he’d beaten Felix Mantilla, 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2 to reach the third round. “Last year, on June 14th graduation from Stanford, if you told me that I’d be in the third round of Wimbledon, I’d have said there’s no way. I just wouldn’t have believed it,” Goldstein said. “It’s definitely much more than I expected.” Pete Sampras certainly wasn’t surprised that Goldstein philippoussis_wb99won. “I played Paul and he took me to four sets,” said Sampras, who beat Sebastien Lareau 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. “It’s good for American tennis. I practiced with him quite a bit down in Tampa. He’s a good, solid player.” Tommy Haas withing two days won second consecutive five-setter: after beating Peter Wessels 6-4 in 5th set  (the match was suspended because of darkness after four sets),  he eliminated Richard Fromberg 6-7(4), 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.  Australian Mark Philippoussis, seeded seventh, slammed 38 aces and edged countryman Mark Woodforde 6-7(4), 7-6(6), 7-6(5), 6-4. There were no service breaks until the final set. French Open runner-up Andrei Medvedev was eliminated in the second round by Daniel Nestor, 6-1, 7-5, 6-3. Unknown 20-year-old Thai, Paradorn Srichaphan [254, major debut] shockingly led with a set and a break against [3] Yevgeny Kafelnikov,  but lost 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-7(4), 4-6.

Third round: Charles Bricker

Jim Courier [60] won another five-set thriller Friday at Wimbledon, overcoming two match points to beat Sjeng Schalken 7-6(2), 3-6, 3-6, 7-5, 13-11 in 4 hours 25 minutes, serving eight times to stay in the match (once in the 4th set). Courier, who outlasted Carlos Moya in five sets in his previous match, advanced to the fourth round at the All courier_wb99England Club for the first time since 1993. Courier, battling a cold, was still playing an hour after he overcame a match point at *4:5 in the 4th set. He hit a perfect inside-out forehand passing shot to stay in the match. Courier erased another match point at *5:6 in the final set, when a blazing backhand passing shot took him off the hook. “He hit two incredible shots at the right time,” Schalken said. He looked tired in the latter stages of the match. The 6-foot-3 Dutchman double-faulted twice in his final service game, then hit a backhand long on break point to give Courier a 12:11 lead. The overflow crowd on Court 3 roared as Courier closed the victory at love, then punctuated it by gleefully punching the air. Courier’s match took a toll. Wimbledon officials said he was taken to a hospital suffering from dehydration after one of the longest matches in Wimbledon history. “We have been told by the referee’s office he was taken to the hospital and would be released shortly,” said Wimbledon spokesman Billy Clegg. In a match pitting No. 1 against No. 595, Pete Sampras beat qualifier Danny Sapsford 6-3, 6-4, 7-5. Sapsford, a 30-year-old Englishman, said beforehand he would retire after the tournament. He hadn’t won a match this year before Wimbledon but concluded his career by playing on Centre Court for the first time against the world’s top-ranked player. “The only time I felt slight nerves was the second I stepped foot on the court,” Sapsford said. “There was a big roar, and the stadium seemed to spin a little bit.” In the 3rd set, Sampras playing as he wanted to extend Sapsford’s career as long as possible was two points away from losing the set at *4:5. “That’s Jim’s strongest quality – his heart,” Sampras said on Courier’s heroic win. “He’s going to lay it on the line and fight as hard as he can. Today was the perfect example. It’s good to see him playing well again.” Next up for Courier is a rematch with local hero Tim Henman, seeded sixth. He advanced by beating Sebastien Grosjean 6-1, 6-7(8), 6-3, 6-2 – Henman couldn’t serve the 2nd set out at 5:4 and squandered two set points in the tie-break. Also reaching the round of 16 were seventh-seeded Mark Philippoussis and No. 13 Karol Kucera. Philippoussis beat Francisco Clavet 7-5, 6-4, 6-4, and Kucera eliminated Daniel Vacek 6-1, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(4). Daniel Nestor [87] in his 18th Grand Slam tournament advanced to the fourth round for the first time outlasting Steve Goldstein 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-0, 6-7(4), 6-4 in 3 hours 6 minutes serving 18 aces (22 double faults). First, there was Wayne Arthurs, maybe the least known 10-year veteran in men’s tennis, who had been to hell and back. Then came manta_wb99Lorenzo Manta, whose circulation in his fingers was so bad two years ago he couldn’t hold a racket, and that was just one injury. He also had to fight off a bad shoulder and a throbbing elbow. Within an hour and half of each other Saturday, these two obscurities on the ATP Tour, both ranked deep in the 100s, combined to pull off what might be the biggest one-day massacre in Wimbledon history. Manta, a powerfully-built Swiss playing only his second Wimbledon, shocked fifth-seeded Richard Krajicek, favored by many to win this Grand Slam, by 6-3, 7-6(5), 4-6, 4-6, 6-4. Then, Arthurs, a reed-thin Aussie left-hander, won three tie-break sets to knock out No. 14 Tommy Haas 7-6(6), 7-6(3), 7-6(2). Even the best-versed of British tennis historians could not recall a day with a double bludgeoning as pronounced as this at the All England Club. The closest you could come is the 1990 French Open, where No. 1 Stefan Edberg and No. 2 Boris Becker were eliminated in the first round on the same day, and that doesn’t equate because neither of them was ever a great clay court player. Manta, 24, of Switzerland, came here ranked No. 196. Arthurs checked in at No. 163. Hardly anyone knew anything about them and both had to win three qualifying matches to get into the main draw. “I feel everything is working well. That’s the key, that you feel well with your team around you, and that’s the case at the moment,” said the ebullient Manta. “I felt it was all coming together and it’s happening at Wimbledon. It’s great.” Arthurs, 28, looked as if he had just inherited 15 million shares of Microsoft. “That’s right,” he beamed when a reporter informed him he had not been broken in six matches. “I refuse to be broken. It’s my goal.” How do you explain two major upsets on the men’s side? That’s Wimbledon. That’s grass court tennis. If you’re serving well, anything is possible. Two years ago, Arthurs finished the year ranked 1,102, which is so far down the list you’d have trouble getting into a challenger in Outer Mongolia in the dead of winter. “I think that was probably the biggest moment in my life out there,” he said. “I’ve got unbelievable emotion, which I don’t usually show. My parents, who are here, are up in the air. They’re going nuts.” Haas, the latest in a long line of Bollettieri Academy prodigies, was perhaps looking ahead to a fourth-round meeting with Agassi, whom he put out here last year. He played well enough, but he couldn’t crack Arthurs’ serve. And neither has anyone else. The Aussie has faced only six break points in his three matches and defended them all – he fought off two set points against Haas in the 1st set, at 4:5 and another one at 5:6 in the tie-break on Haas’ serve. Arthurs and No. 9 Greg Rusedski are the only players not to lose a service game. In addition, Arthurs has now played 12 tie-break sets, including qualifying. He has won 11. Krajicek was a major shock. arthurs_wb99Everything was lined up for him. His bad knees were fixed. He was serving great… until now. But he got off to a horrendous start, missing his first serve too often in the opening two sets. Still, he equalized and seemed on his way in the 5th. But at the crucial points, Krajicek played much too conservatively. “The last couple of games he returned unbelievable,” said Krajicek. Many thought the less experienced Manta would get tight as the fifth set reached the critical stage. “I was a bit nervous, that’s for sure. But I tried to play point for point, not to think about the match. And it worked well.” Boris Becker, eager to delay his goodbye to Wimbledon as long as possible, notched another Centre Court victory by beating Lleyton Hewitt 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(5) – Hewitt led 4:1* in the 3rd set, then had a double set point in the 12th game. Andre Agassi, who defeated Alberto Martin 6-2, 6-0, 2-6, 6-3, moved one step closer to becoming the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year. “It would be awesome to win this tournament, but a lot of guys feel that way,” said Agassi, seeded fourth. “There’s a lot of tennis left.” No. 8 Todd Martin beat Jens Knippschild 6-7(5), 6-1, 7-6(6), 7-5. No. 10 Goran Ivanisevic, a three-time Wimbledon runner-up, beat Paul Haarhuis 7-6(2), 6-4, 7-6(3) serving 21 aces. Every year I come here, I have a chance,” said Ivanisevic. “I’m playing very good tennis at the moment. I’m concentrating, not losing my mind and now I’m past the first week, which is always the toughest, the second week is a different tournament.”

Fourth round: Stephen Wilson

The match had the same partisan, flag-waving flavor of the Davis Cup encounter in Britain two months ago. This time, the result was different. Tim Henman gained a measure of revenge for himself and his country against Jim Courier, who led the United States to a dramatic Davis Cup win over Britain at Birmingham in April. In a five-setter that stretched over three days and lasted a henman_wb99total of 4 hours 30 minutes, Henman thrilled the Centre Court crowd Wednesday by saving three match points and outlasting Courier 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-7(5), 9-7. ”The atmosphere out there is phenomenal,’‘ Henman said. ”When I came out to serve for the match at 8:7, it was reminiscent of Birmingham.’‘ Courier said the quality of tennis might not have matched that of the Davis Cup, ”but for sheer drama, I think it was right there.” Henman’s win over Courier put him into the quarterfinals for the fourth straight year, setting off a new wave of ”Henmania” in a country that hasn’t produced a men’s champion since 1936. The other British hopeful, Greg Rusedski, was ousted in four sets Wednesday by Mark Philippoussis  2-6, 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-1, who also won the battle of aces 25-10. Rusedski had held more than 60 games in a row, but when he was broken in the 3rd set at 3-all, he could only hold once more in the following four service games.  The Henman match was the third straight five-setter for Courier, who was hospitalized for dehydration last Friday after a third-round win over Sjeng Schalken. ”Too much time spent on court to get to the fourth round,” Courier said. ”I must work on shortening the matches… I wish I were being paid by the hour out there.” Henman was up 4:3 in the 4th set when the match resumed, but Courier fought back saving a mini-match point in the 8th game to win a tiebreaker and force a decisive 5th set: Henman led 4:2*, afterward Courier had a double match point three times with Henman serving at 5:6 (15/40), but the American couldn’t convert. Henman saved the first match point with a service winner. On the second, he hit a gutsy second serve followed by a backhand volley that landed near the baseline and forced Courier into an error. On the third ad-match point, Henman slammed a 130 mph ace down the middle. Henman held for 6:6 and made the decisive breakthrough in the 15th game, breaking Courier with a forehand volley from mid-court. On the previous point, Henman hit a volley that landed near the baseline. Courier argued that the ball was long, getting a warning for verbal abuse. On the changeover, Courier continued to complain, tossing a cup over his shoulder in disgust. Henman, unruffled, served out the match at love in the next game. During the final set, Henman benefited from a series of net-cord winners. ”Net cord rafter_wb99and I need to have a little chat,” Courier said. ”I need to get one of those British nets and bring it into my bed and sleep with it and cuddle with at night a little bit.” Boris Becker‘s illustrious Wimbledon career came to an end with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 loss to Patrick Rafter. Becker, who won Wimbledon as a 17-year-old unknown in 1985, added two more titles in 1986 and 1989 and was runner-up four times. The German announced two years ago after a defeat to  Sampras that he wouldn’t be back. But he changed his mind and returned this year for one last ‘hurrah’. After leaving the court Wednesday to a rousing standing ovation, Becker confirmed his Wimbledon career was definitely over. ”The last time I said 99 percent,” he said. ”This time, I say 100 percent.” Describing his 15-year relationship with Wimbledon, Becker said: ”It was a great love affair – like nowhere else in the world.” Two factors made an impact on shocking scoreline: Becker’s awful service performance (12 double faults) and Rafter’s amazing day in terms of passing shots – 30 winners! While Cedric Pioline doggedly outlasted Karol Kucera, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3 in almost 4 hours despite serving 21 double faults and winning 27 points fewer (!)Pete Sampras was in vintage Wimbledon form – it doesn’t get much better, in any era – as he thrashed Canadian Daniel Nestor, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. You remember Todd Martin; fine grass-court player, twice a Wimbledon semifinalist. His career suddenly revived, Martin is through to the quarters after a surprisingly easy 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-4 win over Goran Ivanisevic, the three-time Wimbledon finalist (the Croat edged 25-24 in aces).  Andre Agassi flailed feebly at returns for two sets and did little more than a pigeon-toed shuffle on the baseline as Wayne Arthurs ran his amazing streak of unbroken service games to 111 (73 not counting qualifying rounds; Arthurs was broken in his last service game vs. Sampras at Queens Club, came to Wimbledon and held 111 times in 19 consecutive sets of which 14 were concluded in tie-breaks: 12-2 record). Agassi looked as helpless as everyone else the skinny left-hander had faced in his surge from anonymity at Wimbledon. He kept pace with the Australian, but only by holding serve. They split two tiebreakers, and might have gone to a few more in their fourth-round match Monday, if not for one particular volley that Arthurs blew and never got over in a 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 6-1, 6-4 defeat. It was a sitter waiting to be pummeled into an open court at 1:1 in the 3rd set, but Arthurs whacked it into the net only a few feet away. Agassi seized on that gift as if he knew he might not get another, pounding a backhand return that kissed the sideline on the next point. That gave Agassi the break Arthurs had not yielded in six matches going back to the qualifying tournament, and it launched Agassi’s surge into the quarterfinals.  “When you can hit four corners with a range of 30-mph difference, that’s a big serve,” Agassi said of the No. 163-ranked Arthurs, a 28-year-old doubles specialist he had never played and had barely heard of.  “He can hit it flat or bomb out wide in the deuce court. He can hit 129 mph. He can also hit a nasty kick 98 mph. He can blast up the middle or hit a bender up the middle. He can serve into your body and swing you wide, with pace or without pace.” The catch, Agassi said, is that Arthurs is a one-trick pony who “doesn’t present much of a presence on the return game. So kuerten_wb99you feel like it’s just a matter of time before you get a window or two.”  When that window opened, Agassi jumped through for the first of three straight breaks that turned the match around. Arthurs went into the match with a streak of 98 straight service games without a break. He served 25 aces against Agassi, considered the best returner in tennis. Agassi, who won his first French Open last month, is seeking to reclaim the Wimbledon title he won in 1992. If he succeeds, he will be the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win both majors back to back.  Agassi will next face Brazil’s Gustavo Kuerten, the former French Open champ, who beat Swiss qualifier Lorenzo Manta 7-5, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 saving two set points in the 1st set.  Kuerten hadn’t won a grass-court match until last week, but he is increasingly confident on the surface. He lost only his first set of the tournament against Manta, who stunned 1996 champ Richard Krajicek in the third round.

Quarterfinals: (CNNN Sports Illustrated)

Due to rain threat, all quarterfinals were played on Friday simultaneously: Sampras got Centre Court, Henman No. 1, Agassi No. 2 & Rafter No. 13. Pete Sampras advanced to the Wimbledon semifinals Friday when Mark Philippoussis retired with a knee injury while holding a one-set lead over the five-time champion. Andre Agassi, meanwhile, needed no favors as he overpowered Brazil’s Gustavo Kuerten 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, in just 1 hour, 35 minutes to cruise into the semis and edge closer to a rare French Open-Wimbledon double. With one more victory apiece, Sampras and Agassi would meet in an all-American final on the Fourth of July. Sampras, chasing his sixth title in seven years, will next face Britain’s Tim Henman, who ousted an injured Cedric Pioline 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the semifinals for the second straight year. Philippoussis won the first set 6-4 against Sampras and was down 2:1 on serve in the 2nd when ‘Scud’ decided he could not continue. In the last game, after Sampras had saved a break point, the Australian clutched his left knee after hitting a forehand service return at deuce. After Sampras won the next point to hold serve, Philippoussis called for the trainer during the changeover. “I heard it click,” the Australian said. The trainer flexed Philippoussis’ knee, first as he sat in the chair, and then as he lay on his back on a towel. “That hurts,” Philippoussis said as ATP Tour trainer Doug Spreen bent his knee outward. After the three-minute injury timeout expired, Philippoussis shook his head to show the umpire he couldn’t continue. He then went over to shake hands with Sampras, who had been waiting in the shade at the back of the court. There were scattered boos from the Centre Court fans when the umpire announced the match was done. Philippoussis’ injury came while Sampras was in serious trouble against the big-serving Aussie. “There’s no question he was outplaying me, especially in the first set,” Sampras said. “There was still a lot of tennis to be played, but the way he was playing, he was really tough to beat today. I feel like I’m pretty fortunate to be alive in this tournament. It was a strange, strange day today. One minute you’re kind of holding on, the next minute he can’t go on any more.” Sampras double faulted three times in the opening game to lose serve. rafter_wb99_Philippoussis saved four break points in the 6th game and served out the set in the 10th at love, finishing with an 136 mph ace. Sampras had to save a break point in the 3rd game of the 2nd set before Philippoussis quit. “I was extremely worried,” the Aussie said. “It just got stiffer and stiffer. I knew I had no chance.” Philippoussis will have an MRI exam to determine the extent of the injury. In the only balanced quarterfinal, Patrick Rafter struggled past Todd Martin 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 7-6(3) in 3 hours 32 minutes. Martin was leading 3:0* in the 3rd set tie-break & *5:3 in the 4th set when he tumbled and appeared to injure his right knee. From then on, he limped and grimaced. But Martin earned a triple set point at 5:4 against Rafter’s serve but couldn’t convert – Rafter responded with 3 service winners & two aces! Martin then went up *3:1 in the tie-break, but Rafter won six straight points to win the match. Martin later described the injury as minor and refused to blame it for his defeat. “I just twisted it a little bit,” he said. Pioline injured his right knee as his legs buckled while hitting a backhand volley in the 6th game of the 2nd set when he was trailing *2:3. The Frenchman received treatment during changeovers throughout the final two sets. With his movement restricted, he tried to end points quickly. Despite barely being able to run, he won the third set against a clearly frustrated Henman. But Henman took control in the 4th set, breaking in the 4th game, and serving out the match at love, finishing with his 19th ace. Henman is bidding to become the first Briton to win the men’s title since Fred Perry in 1936. He lost to Sampras in last year’s semifinals. Agassi was simply too good in all aspects of the game for Kuerten, a clay-court expert who hadn’t won a match on grass until last week. Agassi was never broken, repeatedly blasting return winners against Kuerten’s inconsistent serve. Despite loud support from chanting Brazilian fans, Kuerten never posed a threat and made numerous unforced errors from the baseline.

Semifinals: Stephen Wilstein

From strip-lings in the juniors to finalists at Wimbledon in the twilight of their careers, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi have stalked each other with fear and respect. No one neutralizes Sampras’ serve like Agassi. No one demoralizes Agassi and breaks down his ground game like Sampras. They meet again Sunday on Centre Court for the 24th time as pros, both seeking one more piece of history, one more piece of each other. “He has made me a better player,” Sampras said Saturday after a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 semifinal victory over Britain’s Tim Henman. “We’ve caused a lot of grief for each other,” said Agassi, who shredded the serve-and-volley game of two-time U.S. Open champion Patrick Rafter 7-5, 7-6(5), 6-2. Sampras was No. 1 for six years. Agassi will take over the No. 1 ranking on Monday, win or lose in their all-American final on the Fourth of sampras_wb99July. Sampras is the defending Wimbledon champion and five-time winner. If he wins again, for the sixth time in seven years, he will tie Roy Emerson’s record of 12 Grand Slam titles and pass Bjorn Borg to own more Wimbledon titles than any man in the Open Era. If Agassi wins, he will become the first man since Borg in 1980 to capture the French Open and Wimbledon back to back. At the French last month, Agassi became only the fifth man in history to complete a career Grand Slam, which included the 1992 Wimbledon title. “We are obviously different in a lot of ways,” Sampras said, “but we are similar. We are both hungry, competitive, want to win Slams. But as people, our lifestyles are as different as night and day. That doesn’t mean we can’t get along. When I see him in the locker room, it’s not like he’s the enemy. He is a competitor I have respected over the years.” When Agassi started beating him more frequently a few years ago, Sampras said, “I had to add things to my game. He was controlling my service games, and I had to develop a backhand and chip and charge a little more.  He is very tough to beat from the back. He can take my serve away, and not too many guys can do that consistently over the years.” Sampras has a 13-10 record against Agassi. But they haven’t met in a Grand Slam final since the 1995 U.S. Open, where Sampras won in four sets. In their only previous match at Wimbledon, Sampras won in five sets in the 1993 quarterfinals. “You get to see contrasts in play, contrasts in personality, two guys who have basically grown up together, and who somehow have managed to bring out the best in each other’s game,” Agassi said. “The stage is set. It’s time to go out there and not miss our cue.” They set that stage doing what they’ve always done best, Sampras punching volleys against Henman, Agassi counter-punching returns and ground-strokes against Rafter. Sampras struggled at the start, failing to hold serve until his third service game, for 2:4 despite 0/30 in that game. But after getting treatment for a sore groin muscle on two changeovers early in the 2nd set, Sampras took control. Sampras, normally so stoic, even did a little dance when Henman double-faulted to concede the 2nd set. He then won eight of the next nine points and cruised to the end. “The second set went away from me very quickly,” said Henman, who had hoped to be the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936. “And in the third, he agassi_wb99went up a gear.” Henman expects the final to be a “classic confrontation” between perhaps the best serve-and-volleyer in history and the best returner and baseline player. On grass, Sampras ought to have the edge, Henman said. But not necessarily against Agassi. “Agassi on any court is going to be very, very difficult to beat,” he said. “And the court is bouncing much, much higher than usual. I think that suits him.” Rafter looked shell-shocked after seeing so many of Agassi’s returns speed past him or land right at his feet. And Agassi served so well, Rafter couldn’t break him even once. But he was close to do it in the most important moments: led 5:4 (40/15) in 1st & 5:4 (30/0) in 2nd set. Rafter’s spirit was sapped in the 2nd-set tiebreaker, a set in which he always struggled to hold serve. Rafter had to fight mightily in the 9th game of that set to hold off nine break points as the game went to ‘deuce’ eight times. Seeing Rafter so deflated after that tiebreaker, Agassi pounced on him, breaking him twice in the 3rd set – the last time in the final game when Rafter whacked an overhead wide to end the match. “Everything was on for him today,” Rafter said. “He was very powerful with everything he did. It’s the best I’ve seen him serve. He never really gave me a chance to try to control the points.” Agassi’s run to the final continued his remarkable resurgence. In November 1997, he dropped to No. 141 and played in low-tier Challenger events to work his way back into shape. Agassi stunned even himself by winning the French Open last month. “Andre is the hottest player on tour right now, and for him to win the French and come here and be in contention is a heck of an effort,” Sampras said. “He’s going to be very tough to beat.”

Final: (CNNN Sports Illustrated)

Throw out what happened in the earlier part of the year. It’s history. After a slow start this season, due mainly to injuries and taking it easy, Pete Sampras was at his best Sunday. In an all-American final on the Fourth of July, Sampras simply overwhelmed Andre Agassi 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 for his sixth sampras_wb99triumphWimbledon title in seven years. The victory gave Sampras his 12th Grand Slam championship (58 titles overall), equaling Roy Emerson‘s record. He has also won the U.S. Open four times and the Australian Open twice. “That’s probably the best I’ve played in many years,” Sampras said. “I couldn’t have played any better, plain and simple.” Said Agassi: “He walked on water.” Sampras became the first player in the Open era to win Wimbledon six times. He’s one short of the mark held by W.C. Renshaw, who won seven titles in the 1880s. At 27, Sampras should have plenty of opportunities to break the Wimbledon and Grand Slam records, especially if he plays as he did Sunday. “I’m still spinning a little bit,” he said. “It’s a little overwhelming to have won what I’ve won. I don’t know how I do it to be honest with you.” Agassi considers the Sampras the best ever. “He’s accomplished more than anybody else in my opinion,'” he said. “He has dominated on grass. He finished the year No. 1 six years in a row. His achievements speak for themselves.” Sampras finished the match with two straight aces, his 16th and 17th, the final one on a second serve. After the last ball whizzed past Agassi, Sampras held both arms in the air and threw back his head. “It was a big occasion, on the Fourth of July,” he said. “To win in straight sets, I didn’t think it was going to happen. Andre brings out the best in me. There’s no question he elevates my game to a level that is phenomenal.” As Sampras walked around Centre Court clutching the winner’s trophy, Agassi jokingly threatened to hit Sampras with his runner-up plate. The match shaped up as a classic contrast: the best serve-and-volleyer [Sampras] vs. the best returner [Agassi]. But Sampras dominated in all phases. “He played some impeccable tennis at the most important times,” Agassi said. “I didn’t come up with better stuff than he did.” Agassi, coming off a compelling victory at the French Open, never got untracked. The brilliant returns that carried him to the final barely made a mark against Sampras, who repeatedly came up with aces and service winners when he needed them. Agassi had only four return winners, the same as Sampras. Sampras was never broken in the match, while breaking Agassi once in each set. Sampras faced only three break points, all in the same game. Down 0/40 in the 7th game of the 1st set, Sampras erased them all with help of five big serves. “That was a huge game,” he said.  agassi_sampras99 “He breaks me there and wins the first set, it’s a completely different match. That’s grass-court tennis, when momentum can switch in a couple of minutes, and I got it today.” Sampras won five straight games to go up 2:0 in the 2nd and take control. He could do nothing wrong, slamming aces, blasting winners from the baseline, knocking off volleys and overheads. “I was on fire,” he said. “I was playing in ‘the zone.’ It was well as I could play, plain and simple.” The only damage Agassi caused was in the 4th game of the 2nd set when he sent Sampras sprawling to hit a spectacular diving backhand volley winner. Sampras scraped his right elbow, but responded with two aces to win the game. “He played very big at the right times and he’s won for a very good reason,” Agassi said. “You have got to play the big points well. I could have served a little better to put him under pressure. When his nose is out in front he’s really difficult.” Sampras extended his career record against Agassi to 14-10, including 3-1 in Grand Slam finals. “He has a knack for doing things like that,” Agassi said. “He’s a champion. He has proven that.” Agassi had won 13 straight matches and taken over the No. 1 ranking from Sampras. But that was little consolation for Sunday’s lopsided defeat. “I feel mentally and emotionally a little beat up,” he said. “I didn’t feel like I was No. 1 today.” Sampras collected $724,133 while Agassi received $362,066. Stats of the final

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