2000 – 2001, Wimbledon

Wimbledon, Great Britain
June 26-July 9, 2000; 128 Draw (16 seeds); Surface – Grass

Pete Sampras captured his seventh Wimbledon crown in eight years. It was his toughest triumph at All-England Club (he was struggling with foot injury in the first week, and at some stages of his 2R & 3R matches, his loss seemed possible), and the most emotional one – for the first time his final match on the tour witnessed by his parents because the occasion was special – Sampras broke an unbeaten since 1967 record of Roy Emerson of the most Grand Slam titles. Mark Philippoussis and Sjeng Schalken established a new record for the most games played in the fifth set (38) – it will remain record just three years. Vince Spadea snapped an Open era longest streak of defeats, stunning one of the tournament favorites! 22-year-old Vladimir Voltchkov, actually without any experience at the main-level, became the first qualifier to reach the Wimbly semifinals since John McEnroe in 1977!
All scorelines
First round: Lisa Dilman

Whether it’s more than a fleeting moment, of course, will be determined later this fortnight. Still, the biggest upset so far at Wimbledon came Tuesday from 23-year-old Jan-Michael Gambill, ranked 56th, who took out seventh-seeded Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5, using a blend of power and poise. Hewitt, viewed by local odds-makers as the second favorite behind six-time champion Sampras, was unusually flat. His forehand deserted him the first two sets, and by the third, his backhand was slamming into the middle of the net.  He found some form in the 3rd set, racing to a 5:2* lead and making the American look flat-footed. But Gambill never gave up. He gambill_wb00saved three set points in the 8th game and clawed his way back to level the set at 5-all. “The next step is to make it through to the Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the second week in the slams,” said Hewitt, who has won four titles in 2000, including a Queen’s Club championship recently against Sampras in the final. Said Gambill: “It’s about time I really come out and continue to play well. I need to come out and play a lot more matches like this.” Another promising youngster, 19-year-old Taylor Dent of Newport Beach, pressed second-seeded Andre Agassi for a set and a half before retiring in the 4th set because of an injured right knee. Dent, a qualifier ranked 256th and making his Wimbledon debut, received treatment for the knee when he was trailing, 0:5, in the 3rd set. Agassi was leading, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0, 4-0, when Dent defaulted. Tournament officials said he may have a torn patella tendon. Dent impressed Agassi. “I made him play to hold serve every game,” he said. “He was hitting some good, deep volleys and not even letting me get a good look at a pass. I felt very good about the way I started. I just had to stay with it, keep making him play and eventually he would start breaking down on his volleys.” Carlos Moya is ahead of some of his Spanish comrades – he has actually won three matches at Wimbledon. Win No. 4 will have to wait, as he lost to Rainer Schuttler of Germany, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2. The struggling Moya said he supported Alex Corretja and Albert Costa in their boycott of Wimbledon and then took a shot at Sampras, who called the move “childish.” Said Moya: “Maybe they should do it the same as the French Open. Some of the players who are seeded here, they should play [qualifying] there. Maybe in Santander [at Davis Cup], they can shut their mouth.” French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten moved into the second round of Wimbledon on Tuesday, beating American Chris Woodruff 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5) with a flurry of aces. Kuerten served out the victory with his 29th ace. The fourth-seeded Brazilian reached the quarterfinals on grass last year before losing to Agassi. Kuerten lost the 2nd set but probably should have won it as he showed his is more than just a clay-court kuerten_wb00player. The Brazilian broke to lead 4:2 in the set and was serving at 5:4 but was broken when a ball that appeared to be two or three inches long was called in and made it 5-all. The upset Brazilian went on to lose the set. After falling behind 6:5, he stomped off the court at the changeover, slammed his racket to the ground, and argued furiously with Portuguese umpire Jorge Dias. The victory was Kuerten’s first over Woodruff – they are 1-1 – and gave him an impressive victory over an established grass-court player. The win was Kuerten’s 14th straight, a career-record for the Brazilian who has won 18 of his last 19 matches. He is trying to become the first player since Bjorn Borg to win the French Open and Wimbledon back-to-back. An injury decided another key match, with French Open runner-up Magnus Norman easing into the second round when Australia’s Mark Woodforde quit in the third set. The third-seeded Swede was leading 6-4, 6-2, 2-0 when Woodforde [191] retired with a back injury. The 35-year-old Woodforde never played a singles tournament afterwards, but was successful in doubles to the end of the season. It was Norman’s first match since losing in four sets to Kuerten in the French Open final earlier this month. Despite his high seeding, the Swede has never advanced past the third round at Wimbledon. Fifth-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov, a first-round loser twice in the past four years, advanced by beating Switzerland’s Roger Federer 7-5, 7-5, 7-6(6). The Swiss teenager led 5:4* in every set, he squandered a set point in the 2nd set. Australia’s Patrick Rafter, a semifinalist last year and seeded No. 12, beat Britain’s Jamie Delgado in straight sets, 6-3, 7-6(7), 6-1. Michael Chang, who has lost in the first round here four times, swept to a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 win over Argentina’s Gaston Gaudio. Pete Sampras enjoyed a gentle work-out on Centre Court to start the defense of his Wimbledon title, beating the Czech Republic’s Jiri Vanek 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 on Monday. The six-time champion, bidding to win a record 13th Grand Slam title, broke the 22-year-old Wimbledon debutant’s serve in the 1st game of the1st set and never looked back. “It’s always nice to be back on that court. It’s comfortable surroundings for me – a comfortable court that I obviously over the years have grown to love,” Sampras said. Vince Spadea [61] shook off the label of the biggest loser in tennis on Monday by dumping 14th seed Greg Rusedski [22] out of Wimbledon in the first round. Spadea, who had lost a record 21 consecutive matches on the ATP Tour before Wimbledon, won an epic lasting nearly four hours 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-7(8), 9-7. “We were like gladiators out there,” said Spadea after the match which, with a rain interruption of 1 hour 45 minutes, took up most of the opening day’s business on court one. The 25-year-old American, who last won a match in Lyon in October ’99, said it was a relief to succeed again, especially after wasting four match points: “If I had lost this match I was thinking ‘Holy goodness! I am going to have to stay in Europe until I win a match. But here I am, six months on. It was worth the wait.” Spadea, who has been working on his game with 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, said his heart sank when he saw he was drawn against Briton Rusedski, whose big serve is suited to the fast grass courts at Wimbledon. “My parents left and went home two days ago. I think they saw the draw and thought ‘Vince, man…'” he smiled. But Spadea was determined to do well. “Hey man, you have just got to go out and do it,” he said. “I am not scared of anyone.” Spadea showed great courage on Monday, holding his nerve after Rusedski spadea_wb00had saved two match points in the 4th set to take the match into a decider. Spadea had made a storming start before the rain break – helped by a string of double faults from the Briton – and he broke Rusedski on his fourth breakpoint to go 3:1 up in the 5th. Rusedski, still suffering the effects of a foot injury which put him out of action for the first two months of the year, broke back and saved another match point to hold for 5-all and broke to go 7:6 up. But as the light faded Spadea seized on mistakes by his opponent to break for 7:7 and held to take the lead again. The Canadian-born Rusedski saved the first of two more match points in the 16th game but succumbed on the second and Spadea’s nightmare finally ended. Rusedski was devastated, saying he planned to go “as far away as possible from Wimbledon” for the remainder of the fortnight. But he paid tribute to Spadea. “He is too good a player to have lost as many matches as he lost in a row,” said Rusedski. Spadea, in turn, had words of praise for Cash. “He has been very generous and it has been an amazing experience to work with someone of his playing stature.” Cash had helped him improve his grasscourt game, he said. “I have got a lot of character. Now if I can get my game up there we are going to have a big thing going here.”

Second round: Bill Glauber, John Parsons

sampras_wb00Five seeded players were beaten, two top seeded Americans (Sampras & Agassi) barely survived! Five qualifiers reached the third round, the most since 1992.
Left ankle wrapped in tape, shoulders slumped in despair, Pete Sampras was struggling to hold on to Wimbledon yesterday. The six-time champion sought to shake off apparent pain and a bad case of the Karol Kucera blues. Everywhere Sampras looked on Centre Court in the gathering darkness, there was Kucera, refusing to go away quietly. Sampras eventually launched one last big serve to survive and win, 7-6(9), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. But at what cost? That was the question that loomed over Wimbledon as Sampras left the grounds for treatment of an inflamed left foot. He underwent an MRI and his condition was to be re-evaluated early today, according to tournament officials. Sampras, whose left foot and ankle were taped by a trainer at 5:2* in the 3rd set, declined to make any comment. It was a troubling finish to a weird day, as Wimbledon descended into the Twilight Zone. Sampras saved a couple of set points in the 1st set tie-break; the wilting American saved also two break points at 2:3 in the 4th set when it seemed he would have lost the match if Kucera had managed to prolong to the decider. Sampras had similarly tough battle against Kucera on the same court four years earlier when the Slovak was relatively unknown.  The top half of the men’s draw was laid to waste, with only two surviving seeds, No. 1 Sampras and No. 9 Thomas Enqvist, who defeated Francisco Clavet, 7-6(2), 7-6(6), 7-5. The normally mild-mannered Wayne Ferreira lost his cool and snapped his racket but kayoed 1996 champion and No. 11 seed Richard Krajicek, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6(3). Serving at a set point down, rochus_wb00Ferreira was flustered in the opening set after chair umpire Kim Craven overruled a line judge and called his serve out. After losing the point – and set – Ferreira tossed his racket, and then broke it in half against a chair. “It kind of scared me a little bit more than anything else because I had no intentions of doing that,” Ferreira said. There were two shocking defeats of seeded players (Magnus Norman & Cedric Pioline), who lost to unknown qualifiers. Norman, the French Open finalist and No. 3 seed, fell to a 5’5 Belgian named Olivier Rochus, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-1. Things got so bad for Norman in the last set, he handed his racket to a ball girl and let her rally with Rochus [179]. “I was playing so poorly, so, I thought, ‘Hey, she’s going to do better than me.’ She actually did,” Norman said. Former Wimbledon finalist, Pioline [6] was beaten by a 1996 Wimbledon junior champion – Vladimir Voltchkov [237]. The Belorussian won 6-3, 6-3, 2-6, 3-6, 6-4.  Russia’s Yevgeny Kafelnikov, the number five seed, was knocked out of Wimbledon on Thursday 6-1, 7-6(0), 6-4 by Sweden’s Thomas Johansson as the massacre of the men’s seeds continued in the second round. Kafelnikov, who called the trainer in the 2nd set to massage his right shoulder, never really got into the match against Johansson, who had lost 10 times in the first round of tournaments this year. The 1st set was a 22-minute nightmare for Kafelnikov, winner of the French and Australian Opens, who was made to look flat-footed and one-paced. He salvaged his serve just once against the rampaging Swede. Johansson raced to a *5:2 lead in the second set of a one-sided contest until Kafelnikov suddenly found his form for the first time to claw back to 5:5. He lost his serve with a string of double faults and called in the trainer for three minutes of treatment. Then, broke back for the third time in the set, but double-faulting twice when it looked painful to raise his shoulder, Kafelnikov lost the tie-break at ‘love’. In the 3rd set, the pair level-pegged all the way to the last game when the damm_wb00lackluster Kafelnikov, who was serving, crumbled in a contest he had never looked like winning. Kafelnikov’s compatriot Marat Safin joined the growing ranks of ousted seeds on Thursday when he lost his second round Wimbledon match to Czech Martin Damm 7-5, 7-6(4), 6-3. The 15th seed looked to be on a winning streak in the opening games, but Damm found his rhythm and spun stunning returns past the tall Russian to break his serve and take the 1st set. The Czech’s powerful serve went off the boil at the start of the 2nd set but Safin seemed reluctant to punish slower balls, instead hitting a series of poor returns which floated out of play. He failed to regain his concentration and quickly lost his temper, incurring a warning for ball abuse and flirting with another after smashing his raquet on the court. After losing to fellow Stanford alum Paul Goldstein, 3-6, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, 12-10, Jeff Tarango refused to shake hands with his rival. Tarango was booed off the court, a rare Wimbledon occurrence. Tarango said he was upset that late in the match he was forced to hold off serving because Goldstein called for a trainer on two occasions. “Of course, he was faking the injury,” Tarango said. “Gamesmanship or not, I just thought it was bush league. I didn’t think it was cool. He played a good match, but he’s got to earn my respect in different ways.” Goldstein, a resident of Rockville, said: “The last thing on my mind is trying to do anything in any way unethical or unsportsmanlike.” He said he was “startled” when Tarango refused to shake his hand. “To have that kind of… anger burns me out a little,” he said. “I certainly would have preferred it if we would have shook hands and said, ‘Gee, that was a battle. Let’s have a beer tonight, it’s on me.'” Todd Martin made no bones about it. It was 1996 all over again as his self-belief agonizingly deserted him while he was holding a winning lead on the Centre Court and he allowed Andre Agassi to remain a prime challenger for the men’s singles title. Four years ago Martin, now 29, stood one game away from a place in the final, leading fellow American MaliVai Washington *5:1 in the final set of their rain-delayed semi-final, and lost 10-8 in the fifth. This time he held a 5:2 double-break advantage in the final set of a second-round clash interrupted overnight by the weather, but he was to be punished for a sudden bout of errors 37 minutes after agassi_martin_wb00missing the first of his two match points. Once again defeat came in the 18th game of the fifth. Agassi, who must have been surprised, as well as relieved, to have survived 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(3), 2-6, 10-8, was being just as honest and frank as his disappointed opponent when he said: “You need a little help from 2:5 and I was very lucky to get back into the match. When I lost my serve a second time [in the final set], I didn’t think there was a lot of help left but I was determined to make him work to serve out for it.” Martin stated:  “I really felt I’d got to the point where I was controlling play. I hit an ace on the first point at 5:2 but he hit a good return to make it 15/15 and before you know it, I’m between a rock and a hard place in that game. Once that happens, once one of those breaks goes, the other guy can’t help but feel a little bit of a boost. Also, it’s tough for the server to come back if he has to serve again and try and play a good game with those vivid memories.” He admitted that the Washington match came flooding back into his mind, saying that he felt he had almost stopped breathing and his feet stopped moving. “It was a little bit like that this time but to a much lesser extent and I don’t think the moment was as big as in ’96,” said the stoical American. “Frankly I was much more confident going into these last few games than in ’96, probably from having been there in ’96. It’s most important in our sport to focus point to point. All the time you’re asking yourself, ‘what’s the best way to win this point’. At 5:2, 30/30, I kept telling myself, ‘let’s be aggressive with it’. I did – but I didn’t make it. Sort of live by the risks, die by the risks.” When Agassi was serving at 3:5 (five ‘deuces’ in that game), Martin had two match points: on the first match point Agassi, who had been hitting a greater percentage of second serves than first deliveries, caught him off guard as the ball skidded through and he netted a backhand; the second came a few points later, amid a gasp of disbelief when Agassi double-faulted to provide the golden opportunity – yet a steadily revitalized Agassi gained the initiative as a rally unfolded and put away a sturdy backhand volley. It is always a good sign for Agassi when he jogs confidently to his chair at changeovers and by now this was happening. When Martin, who had hit 28 aces, double-faulted on the first point when serving at 8:9, one sensed the end was near – and so it proved. There were two other five-setters with squandered match points in fifth sets: Hicham Arazi defeated “lucky loser” Sebastien Lareau 6-3, 3-6, 6-7(6), 6-4, 9-7 saving three match points – the 5’9 Moroccan served 23 aces; in turn 6’7 German (British mother) Alexander Popp [114] playing his seventh main-level tournament, with help of just 8 aces, ousted [24] Michael Chang 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-7(3), 6-3, 8-6 in 3 hours 48 minutes, withstanding one match point.

Third round: Bill Glauber

popp_wb00Fourth seed Gustavo Kuerten‘s hopes of back-to-back French and Wimbledon triumphs ended on Saturday when German Alexander Popp crushed him 7-6(6), 6-2, 6-1 ending Kuerten’s 15-match winning streak. The Brazilian looked out of sorts on court two and was never in the game once he had received treatment to his left thigh and lower back during the 2nd set. “After the second set I thought I had a good chance because he seemed to be a bit injured. I had a good chance after that because it would be difficult for him to come back and win three straight sets,” said Popp (b. 1976), who was inspired to take up the game after watching Boris Becker win Wimbledon in 1985. Kuerten won only one more game after the trainer break at 2:3 in the second set. The 2,01 m Popp, ranked 114 in the world, used his big serve and long reach to down the French Open champion, but he also produced fine running groundstrokes down the lines. It was Popp’s greatest victory in only his second Grand Slam event, after playing mostly on the Challenger circuit. “This is probably the nicest day of my life,” said Popp, who also holds a British passport through his English mother. Wimbledon handed over its Centre Court of dreams to the greatest modern player of them all – Pete Sampras. With his boyhood heroes watching, left shin hurting and place in tennis history beckoning, Sampras beat Justin Gimelstob, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2, yesterday. This wasn’t vintage Sampras, but it was good enough to pull him into the round of 16 and keep alive his hope of winning a seventh Wimbledon and 13th Grand Slam title. He was hurting yet playing, rusty one moment, electrifying the next. He hadn’t practiced since emerging from his second-round win over Kucera with tendinitis that spread from the top of his left foot to his shin. He skipped the parade of past champions brought together by Wimbledon to celebrate the “Millennium Championships.” And for a few moments, it looked like he should have skipped the match. “My racket felt like a foreign object,” Sampras said. His first serves were flying wildly – he served four double faults to lose his first service game and gave away the set with another double fault. Up in the royal box, the likes of Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver looked on. “At one point, I wanted to throw my racket up there – they could play for me,” he said. World number one Andre Agassi hurried to a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Frenchman Jerome Golmard on Saturday to reach the last 16 at Wimbledon. After his two-day, five-set marathon against Martin in the second round, during which he saved two match points, the second-seeded American looked keen to finish enqvist_wb00the job early, dismissing Golmard in 1 hour 42 minutes. Tim Henman, one of only six men’s singles seeds to make the last 16 – a record low – goes into the second week of Wimbledon, convinced that his best has yet to come. While “really, really pleased” with the way he completed Week One, with an increasingly assured and polished 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 defeat of the Moroccan, Hicham Arazi on Saturday night, Henman said: “I still feel I’m working my way into the tournament.” Thomas Enqvist [8] was a dominant figure through one and a half sets against qualifier Christian Vinck [160] of Germany, for whom it was a highlight of career, but the Swede dropped a 5:2* lead in the 2nd set and found himself saving break points at the beginning of the 4th set to avoid a sensational 4-set loss. Ultimately Enqvist trying to play serve-and-volley for the first time in career, prevailed 6-3, 6-7(4), 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 mixing 16 aces with 18 double faults. “I played great match, my returns were very good, I love playing on grass” said Jan-Michael Gambill after dismissing fellow American, Paul Goldstein 7-6(10), 6-2, 6-2. Gambill saved six set points in the 1st set with help of powerful serves (24 aces). Vladimir Voltchkov defeated second Top 20 player within three days as he overcame [16] Younes El Aynaoui 7-6(4), 7-5, 7-6(4) in 2 voltchkov_wb00hours 22 minutes, having just one break point in the entire match! When Mark Philippoussis won the longest fifth set at Wimbledon in the Open era, he somehow summoned the strength to raise both arms in jubilation. An exhausted Philippoussis edged Sjeng Schalken 4-6, 6-3, 6-7(7), 7-6(4), 20-18 on Court No. 2! “I feel I’ve just been punched to death for five hours,” said Philippoussis, whose right elbow was bloodied when he dove for a shot midway through the final set. “A match like that, it’s tough for someone to lose.” It could be exceptionally tough for Schalken, who third straight year lost fifth set at Wimbledon with a two-game difference, each year playing longer (6-8 vs. Gambill, 11-13 vs. Courier, 18-20 vs. Scud). The third-round marathon took 5 hours, 1 minute. That was eleven minutes shy of the Open era record at Wimbledon, set when Pancho Gonzalez beat Charlie Pasarell 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9 in the first round in 1969 over two days. When Scud’s next opponent – Henman – took the court, Philippoussis and Schalken had just started their fifth set. When he finished, they were still playing. “I said to Philippoussis, ‘What took you so long? I played my match to one set of yours,'” Henman joked. The final set between Philippoussis and Schalken lasted 2 hours, 15 minutes. The 83 games they played were the most in a match at Wimbledon since 1970, before the tiebreaker was introduced. Since the Open era began in 1968, the previous longest fifth set came in Paul McNamee‘s 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 1-6, 19-17 victory over Todd Nelson in the opening round in 1987. Philippoussis managed the only break of the final set came in the 37th game. He belted a forehand for a winner to take a 30/0 lead, then slammed another forehand winner at 40/0 to win the game (before it happened, the Australian had had to serve 14 times to stay in the match winning 13 of those games quite easily). A partisan crowd on Court 2 cheered lustily for the 10th-seeded Australian. He then hit four service winners in the next game to close out the victory. Philippoussis finished with 44 aces (Schalken struck 30 – according to the ATP website there were 38 & 26 aces respectively). “I’m a little disappointed,” he joked referring to his ’95 Kuala Lumpur match against Byron Black. “I once hit 44 in three sets. That was my record, so I’m a little disappointed with 44.” Twenty of his aces came in the last set, and lost his serve just twice in the entire match (Schalken had four break points). Schalken was broken only three times, including in the pivotal next-to-last game. “Before I took a shower, I was very mad,” Schalken said. “I’m better now. I did everything I could. I could do no more.” The unseeded scud_schalken_wb00Dutchman was eliminated by Jim Courier in the third round last year, losing 13-11 in the fifth set, then being eight times ahead in the marathon deciding set. “I think Wimbledon doesn’t want to have me in the fourth round,” Schalken said with a weary smile. He had an advantage serving first in the final set, which meant Philippoussis was always behind when serving. Schalken erased a break point at 8:8, passing Philippoussis with a running crosscourt backhand from 10 feet behind the baseline. Philippoussis dove for the ball in vain and scraped his right elbow, and blood trickled down his arm for several games. When the match reached the four-hour mark at 11:11, Schalken took a bathroom break. At 13:14, Philippoussis fell behind 0/30, then got lucky. He mis-hit a half-volley, but the ball barely cleared the net for a winner. “I jumped up just to help it go over,” Philippoussis joked. He then hit a second serve that landed on the sideline for an ace, and went on to win the game. “I’ve always considered myself a fighter,” Philippoussis said. “That was a good match for me just to hang in there. I very much enjoyed that match.” In other long fifth set duel, Marc Rosset dispatched Tommy Haas in 3 hours 22 minutes, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 9-7 serving in “Enqvist style”: 21 aces, 18 double faults. One break decided each set, in the final set it was the 16th and the last game when Rosset managed to get three straight points with brilliant passing-shots (two backhands and forehand on first match point).

Fourth round: (CNN)

Byron Black [52] reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal since 1995 by beating 35-year-old Gianluca Pozzi 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-4. Pozzi [64], the 35-year old Italian who was virtually blown off court by Rusedski at Nottingham little more than a year ago, playing 14th year on tour, reached the last 16 of a major event just for the second time in career (after US Open ’94) with a 4-set pozzi_wb00dismissal of Olivier Rochus – a meeting between the oldest and the youngest (Rochus 19 y.o. at the time) players in the tournament. The Italian said: “I sometimes play with Byron when we have time. We play sometimes between the tournaments.” Age doesn’t bother Pozzi and he added: “I think 28, 30 is your best time. But there are a lot of other athletes in different sports older than 30. Michael Johnson is one year younger than me. I don’t feel the age. At the moment I’m as fit as I’ve ever been. I’m serving better. I think I’m improving every year.” Pozzi thanks to the fourth round at Wimbledon reached his highest position in the ATP ranking  – 46th. Six months later he improved hi career-best by advancing six places higher. Pete Sampras sent an ominous message to Wimbledon pretenders Monday that sore foot or not, he intends to secure a seventh title in eight years. The 28-year-old top seed blasted his way into the quarterfinals, beating Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 and showing no sign of the injury that threatened his title defense last week. “I felt better about the way I played today,” Sampras said. “My energy was a lot better… it was nice to go out with a good attitude today.” Dark-horses Vladimir Voltchkov of Belarus and Alexander Popp of Germany advanced. Voltchkov, a qualifier ranked No. 237, beat Wayne Ferreira 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(0) – the South African broke two racquets. In a match-up of two 6-foot-7 players, Popp defeated Marc Rosset 6-1, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1. In this exceptionally short 5-setter (2 hours 25 minutes), the German served just 8 aces, but the last two came in the last two points of the match. After the tournament he advanced to his career-high 74th place. [ He remains to this day some kind of mystery as a grass-court specialist deprived of powerful serve (which someone would assume taking into account his height): two-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist (second time in 2003), finalist in Newport ’04 and lack of other valuable ATP results ]… Popp will next play No. 12 Patrick Rafter, who beat Thomas Johansson 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-1. Rafter, out for five months after shoulder surgery late last year, looked by far the more competent player against Johansson, who stormed up and down the baseline muttering to himself every time he hit a ball out of court. The pony-tailed Australian lost his rhythm slightly in the 1st set after a rain delay, allowing Johansson to claw his way up from *0:5 but then rained down aces to take the set 6-3. Both men played stunning tennis in the 2nd set, wrong-footing each other and chasing down every single ball. But Rafter proved his athletic prowess, out-hitting the Swede and rushing towards a quick win. Johansson rallied in the 3rd set, defending six break points and taking the tie break with a stinging backhand return. But the Swede’s luck ran out there as Rafter powered his way through the final set, serving one unreturnable serve after another and dominating rallies from the baseline and at the net. Tim Henman, who had courageously and often brilliantly survived a breathtaking first set onslaught by Mark Philippoussis well enough to inspire the belief that his Wimbledon crusade would continue, philippoussis_wb00then had his hopes blown away by the Australian’s awesome serving power on the Centre Court last night. After the last of Philippoussis’ 34 aces had screamed past him – a second serve at that – Henman slammed his racket on the sole of his left foot and it crumpled, just like his aspirations. Tenth seed Philippoussis, who had survived a five-set, five-hour marathon against Schalken in the last round, took 3 hours 12 minutes to defeat the eighth seed 6-1, 5-7, 6-7(9), 6-3, 6-4. “On his day he is capable of beating anyone,” said Henman. Any British hopes that Philippoussis had been drained by Saturday’s marathon were shattered. “You have got to give him credit for his guts and determination,” Henman said. “I gave it everything I’ve got. I have played a lot worse and won.” Philippoussis, who had to withdrew with a knee injury when leading top seed Sampras in last year’s quarterfinals, slaughtered Henman in a one-sided first set. The disconsolate Brit got just five points in the first five games – and two of those were Philippoussis double faults. Henman, lifted by a patriotic crowd on Centre Court, broke for a 3:1 lead in the 2nd set. But Philippoussis, who had beaten Henman in their last three encounters, broke right back. Henman broke again in the crucial 12th game, winning a standing ovation from the flag-waving crowd. In the 3rd set Henman needed seven set points to finally win it 11/9 in the tie-break. The 4th and 5th sets were slugfests where powerful first serves won the day. Henman could not compete against the towering Australian. A break of serve in each set was enough to give the Australian victory (decisive break in 7th game of the final set) and Philippoussis, closed out the match in majestic style with four aces in his last service game – 215, 228, 205 & 193 respectively in kph (the last one on second serve)! Henman left the tournament he loves on a determinedly upbeat note: “I’ll be back for many more years and I will do everything in my power to make it happen.” Andre Agassi breezed into the Wimbledon quarterfinals on Monday, taking just 1 hour 44 minutes to overcome German agassi_wb00qualifier David Prinosil 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. The former champion and second seed looked relaxed in the early evening sun on court one as he out-gunned Prinosil with a swinging serve and ferocious ground-strokes. An increasingly frustrated Prinosil put all he had into his serves to try to neutralize Agassi’s famous returns, but succeeded only in producing double faults on key points. Jan-Michael Gambill was too numb from his victory today to let the reality of playing Sampras in the quarterfinals on Wednesday crash his feel-good moment. For years, Gambill has played under the burden to be the next great American player. Early this evening, he levitated above the Wimbledon grass after serving 33 aces and upsetting ninth-seeded Thomas Enqvist, 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. “I’d say I’m one of the luckiest people on earth,” said the 56th-ranked Gambill, 23, who makes his home in Colbert, ”I get to go out there in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon and play on Center Court, play Sampras, the king of Wimbledon, the best player to ever play the game. ‘I’m just going to go out there and have a lot of fun. I’m going to play great tennis. It’s something to look forward to.”

Quarterfinals: Bill Barclay

Pete Sampras moved to within two wins of a record 13th Grand Slam title when he defeated fellow American Jan-Michael Gambill 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4 in the Wimbledon quarterfinals on Wednesday. A single break in each of the three sets he won, secured Sampras victory and the 28-year-old showed no sign of the tendinitis in his shin that hindered him last week. In fact it was Gambill who struggled with injury, first needing a thigh support and then a plaster for a bleeding nipple. The younger American started tentatively, failing to follow up his serve, and at 4:5 he double-faulted disastrously to gift Sampras the set. Both players saved break points in the 2nd (Gambill also a set point at *4:5 in the 2nd set) before a wristy backhand pass secured Gambill the vital mini-break in the tie-break, which he took with two service winners in the end. Sampras looked sluggish under the heavy skies on Centre Court and seemed content to do the bare minimum required to progress. Twice Sampras had saved break points at 2:3 in the 3rd set before Gambill again cracked under pressure, carelessly putting a forehand out when serving at 4-all to concede the vital break in the third set. It was a similar story in the 4th set. But this time Sampras visibly stepped voltchkov_wb00_up a gear at 4:4, producing an exquisite stop volley and then a forehand pass to break the otherwise impressive Gambill serve. Typically the defending champion produced an ace on his first match point – his 26th ace of the match (Gambill hit 23) – to end Gambill’s brave effort after 2 hours 46 minutes. Vladimir Voltchkov is following in John McEnroe‘s footsteps. The 22-year-old from Belarus beat Zimbabwe’s unseeded Byron Black 7-6(2), 7-6(2), 6-4 on Wednesday to become the first qualifier since McEnroe in 1977 to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon. Ranked only 237th, Voltchkov had no chance of joining most of the other players as they warmed up for Wimbledon by playing tournaments in Halle or Queens Club. Instead, he got there by preparing on synthetic grass. That’s all there is back home in Belarus, where he learned to play on a court set up for workers at a car factory. “We’re practicing on synthetic grass there,” said Voltchkov, who was taken to the factory and introduced to tennis by his father, Nicolai. “It is different, but there’s nothing to choose from. We have those courts, and that’s where I get ready for the natural grass.” McEnroe is not the only legend that Voltchkov is trying to copy. No former Wimbledon junior champion – Voltchkov won in 1996 – has progressed as far since Stefan Edberg in 1987. Despite a modest career, Voltchkov hasn’t been overwhelmed by the storied All England Club. He has never been in the semifinals of any ATP Tour event. In fact, he’s only played 11 ATP tournaments, spending most of his time on the Challenger circuit. Until Wimbledon this year, Voltchkov had played just 36 matches in his career, more than half of those in Davis Cup. 13 of his 16 career singles victories entering Wimbledon came in Davis Cup competition. Voltchkov was almost eliminated in the second qualifying round when he beat seeded No. 1 Antony Dupuis  6-1, 6-7(2), 8-6… Second seed Andre Agassi powered past Mark Philippoussis 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-4 to reach the Wimbledon semifinals on Wednesday, and said his game has come right at just the right time: “I was somewhat against the wall coming into this event just because I hadn’t had the matches I wanted. But I said all along if I can get through the first week I can start bringing out different parts of my game on this court.” Agassi will play Australian 12th seed Pat Rafter for a place in rafter_wb00Sunday’s final after Rafter beat German Alexander Popp 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(1) on Court One. In the opening two sets Popp was visibly abashed playing for the first time in life in front of a large audience. After winning the first two sets in 56 minutes and serving for the match in the 3rd leading 5:4, Rafter was broken. The 23-year-old Popp, one of 25 men to make their Wimbledon debut this season, played his first Grand Slam last month at Roland Garros, losing in the first round to eventual semifinalist Franco Squillari 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-0. Agassi beat Rafter in last year’s semifinals before losing the final to Sampras. Agassi absorbed everything huge-serving Philippoussis threw at him and the 1992 champion snatched the 1st set on a tie-break after 50 minutes with his first ace. He secured the first break of the match in the 8th game of the 2nd set when Philippoussis, whose last two matches had gone to five sets, double-faulted. He broke again for 2:1 in the 3rd as the Australian was forced into going for more and more power on his serve in the face of excellent returning. That break was all Agassi needed as he closed out the match on his own serve after 1 hour 58 minutes. “Obviously just one or two points cost me that opening set and it would have been nice to get that set because Andre is such a great front-runner,” Philippoussis said afterwards. “I was feeling good… can’t have any complaints. Against a player like Andre you’ve got to take your chances. I can hold my head up high – I’ve nothing to be ashamed of.” Indeed, Philippoussis was serving as good as in the previous matches (22 aces this time), but couldn’t convert of his five break point chances. Agassi said: “He has a great serve game… one of the best in the sport. I think Mark will have his day – he’s a powerful figure out there who can have great tournaments against the best of us.” Three years later, Philippoussis defeated Agassi in the Wimbledon fourth round when they faced each other for the last time (H2H – Agassi 6:2).

Semifinals: (CNN)

Patrick Rafter overcame the blistering returns and passing shots of Andre Agassi to win in five sets Friday and become the first Australian to reach the men’s final at Wimbledon in 13 years. Rafter played a masterful grass-court match, mixing his acrobatic serve-and-volley game with off-speed rafter_wb00_shots to dismantle Agassi 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in 3 hours, 18 minutes. Rafter is the first Aussie in the Wimbledon final since Pat Cash, who won the title in 1987. In Sunday’s championship match, he’ll meet six-time champion Pete Sampras, who defeated qualifier Vladimir Voltchkov 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-4 in 1 hour, 39 minutes. Rafter’s victory marked a dramatic return from the shoulder surgery in October which kept him out of the game for five months. Earlier this year, he suggested he was considering retirement. Friday’s match was a repeat of last year’s semifinal, won by Agassi in straight sets. The high-quality match provided a classic contrast between Agassi, the consummate returner and counter-puncher, and Rafter, the serve-and-volley specialist. Rafter chipped and charged on Agassi’s second serves. In baseline rallies, he relied on a soft, slice backhand to rob Agassi of the pace on which he thrives. In the end, it was Agassi’s serve which let him down. He served eight double faults, several at crucial moments. Agassi’s final double came in the 6th game of the 5th set, with Rafter converting the decisive break on the next point to go up 4:2. From that game, a deflated Agassi lost the last 15 points of the match. The 12th-seeded Rafter served 18 aces and had 7 double faults. He roamed all over the court, knocking off 35 volley winners. The second-seeded Agassi, who won Wimbledon in 1992 by staying at the baseline, played the same way against Rafter. He cracked 18 passing shot winners and moved in on returns to keep pressure on Rafter’s serve. But Rafter’s superior serve and more varied game proved the difference. “I thought I was going to struggle out there today,” Rafter said. “I came out and I played some really good stuff on Andre’s serve and put him under pressure. I started serving well in the fifth. Everything started coming together when I needed it to.” Agassi offered no excuses. “I was always behind,” he said. “He stepped it up and played enough quality shots at the right time. He played a great fifth set… I didn’t serve as well as I wanted to do today and made some careless errors. To his credit he played well at the right time.” Hypothetically Rafter could win in straight sets, but squandered a double mini-set point leading 4:3* (40/15) in the 2nd set. The Australian was 13-3 (!) in five-setters after that semifinal. Sampras extended sampras_wb00_his Wimbledon winning streak to 27 matches and ran his record to 52-1 over seven years. He can equal William Renshaw‘s record of seven Wimbledon singles titles and surpass Roy Emerson for sole possession of the career mark of Grand Slam wins with 13. “My legacy is really the last thing on my mind on Sunday,” Sampras said. “When you’re going through the battle, you can’t think of your place in history. It’s the match at hand.” “I tried to fight, but he was just too good,” Voltchkov said. “I mean, I didn’t have one chance on his serve.” Voltchkov was still close, down 5:4 in the tie-break, when he missed a simple forehand volley. Stunned and puzzled by what he had just done, Voltchkov dropped his racket, crouched at the net and ran a hand through his hair. “In practice, you probably hit a hundred out of a hundred like that,” he said. “You miss one there. I guess it’s the nerves.” Sampras won the tie-break on the next point, and the match was essentially over. A trainer came out at 5:2* in the 2nd set to spray a numbing agent on Sampras’ ankle. While he appeared to favor the ankle on some points, on others Sampras ran full speed to smack winners.

Final: (CNN)

Nothing was going to stop Pete Sampras from history on this fortnight, not the weather, the darkness, or the injury that had hampered him for nearly two weeks. Sampras overcame Patrick Rafter in four sets Sunday to win his seventh Wimbledon title and record-breaking 13th Grand sampras_wb00triumphSlam championship. Sampras served 27 aces and whipped 13 passing shot winners to beat Rafter 6-7(10), 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-2 (2 hours, 58 minutes) in a rain-delayed match that ended at dusk. After Sampras hit a service winner on match point, he threw both arms in the air, then bent over, put his hands to his eyes, bit his lower lip and began to cry. Sampras climbed into the stands and hugged his tearful father, Sam, and mother, Gloria, who came to Wimbledon for the first time to watch him go for the record. Even tournament referee Alan Mills’ eyes brimmed with tears. The victory confirmed Sampras’ place as among the greatest players of all time – if not the greatest. The 28-year-old American matched the record of seven Wimbledon titles, set by William Renshaw in the 1880s, and surpassed the men’s record of 12 Grand Slam tournament victories he had shared with Australia’s Roy Emerson. Sampras has won 28 straight matches at Wimbledon, extending his mark there to 53-1 over the past eight years. “It meant so much to me,” he said. “My parents are here today. It’s so important to me they could share it with me. I love Wimbledon. This is the best court in the world. It’s my home away from home.” Sampras also is only the sixth player in history to win Wimbledon four straight years. The last to do it was Bjorn Borg, who won five straight from 1976-80. Sampras accomplished the feat despite tendinitis at the front of his left shin, which hobbled him most of the fortnight. In the end, he did it the way he always has – by out-serving his opponent. Firing first serves at an average speed of 123 mph, with a top delivery of 133 mph, Sampras was never broken Sunday, saving the only two break points against him. He sampras_with_father_wb00broke Rafter three times. In seven Wimbledon finals, Sampras has lost his serve only four times in 131 service games (twice to Courier ’93, twice to Ivanisevic ’98). But mixed in with all his aces and service winners Sunday, Sampras also had 12 double-faults, including several at crucial junctures that nearly cost him the match. Sampras hit two double-faults in the 1st-set tiebreaker, including one at 10:11 that gave Rafter the set (the Australian saved four break points at 4-all and two set points in the tie-break at 5:6 & 7:8). Sampras opened the 2nd tiebreaker with another double, his ninth of the match, and Rafter capitalized to go up 4:1. Then, suddenly, the match turned in Sampras’ favor as Rafter let him off the hook. A double-fault from Rafter brought Sampras back to 4-all as he ran off five straight points, punctuated by a searing inside-out forehand pass which he celebrated with an uppercut fist pump. Sampras ended the tiebreaker by wrong-footing Rafter with a forehand volley, clenching his fist again as he turned to his entourage in the stands. The first break of serve came after 2 hours, 11 minutes of play, when Rafter, who had saved nine break points until then, slapped an easy forehand volley into the net in the 5th game of the 3rd set. Rafter bounced his racket on the turf in anger. Sampras slammed his 24th ace to serve it out at love in the 10th game of the set to go up two sets to one. By then, it was nearly 8:30 p.m., but play continued into the 4th set. Sampras got a bit of luck when he broke again for a 3:2 lead, a mis-hit backhand flying over Rafter and landing on the baseline. In the next game, Sampras double-faulted again to give Rafter a break point and chance to stay in the match. Showing the grit that has dug him out of trouble so many times in his career, Sampras saved the break point with a sampras_wb00champion118 mph second-serve winner. Sampras held after  four ‘deuces’ for 4:2 with his 27th ace. Rafter had nothing left, losing serve at 15 in the next game and watching almost helplessly in the final game as Sampras served out the match at love (three service winners). “This game is a matter of nerves,” Sampras said. “We were both feeling it. I felt it in the first tiebreaker. He felt in the second. The whole match just changed in a matter of minutes.” There were only a handful of baseline rallies in the whole match. The longest point came in the third game of the fourth set and had 13 shots, ending with Rafter hitting a forehand lob volley over Sampras’ shoulder. The match began an hour late because of rain and play was interrupted twice in the first set. There was a 2 1/2-hour interruption at 4:4, with Rafter serving at deuce. “The way the past week and a half has gone it’s the been the most difficult” of the seven titles to win, Sampras said, referring to his leg injury. “Obviously it’s a very emotional time for me. I want this event so bad.” Sampras received $720,000, Rafter $360,000. Sampras’ 63rd and next to last title. Stats of the final

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

Wimbledon, Great Britain
June 25-July 8, 2001; 128 Draw (32 seeds); Surface – Grass

It was an extraordinary tournament with the most dramatic last three matches as far as the Open era is concerned. The winners of all those three matches were two points away from defeat which made Goran Ivanisevic the only Grand Slam champion of the Open era to be so close of being beaten in two different matches! The unpredictable Croat [125] became not only the first “wild card” major champion, he’s also been the second lowest ranked major champion behind Mark Edmondson, No. 212 during the Australian Open 1976 triumph. The 2001 event featured 32 seeds for the first time and Pete Sampras’ end of a 31-match winning streak at All-England Club. The American, undoubtedly the best player of the 90s, lost to the best player of 00s – Roger Federer – in their only encounter, after an epic five-setter.
All scorelines
First round: Bill Glauber

Pete Sampras took his first slippery steps toward a record eighth Wimbledon title Monday, even winning a set as he skidded to the grass that has been so good to him Sampras won his 29th straight match at the tournament, beating Francisco Clavet of Spain, who prefers the slower clay surface, 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-4. Sampras had 19 aces and never faced break point – and won the final point of the second-set tiebreaker after falling. He scrambled to his feet just as Clavet returned a deep forehand into the net. Clavet protested in vain that Sampras’ shot was long. “There were some obvious (line calls) that were very questionable,” top-seeded Sampras said. His victory was the 54th in his past 55 Wimbledon matches. But, at 29, his game is down from its peak. He hasn’t won a tournament since last year’s Wimbledon. If he wins the title again this year, he’ll tie Bjorn Borg‘s modern-day record of five consecutive titles. He’s now tied for overall men’s titles with Willie Renshaw, who won seven in the 1880s, when the defending champion drew a bye to the final. “He parmar_wb00had it easier back then because he just had to win one match,” Sampras stated the obvious. In the longest match (4 hours 12 minutes) of Wimbledon 2001, Briton Arvind Parmar [211] struggled past ‘lucky loser’ [115] Andre Sa of Brazil 7-6(3), 6-7(5), 6-4, 4-6, 8-6. The Brazilian lost second five-setter within a few days because he lost 4-6 in 5th set to Scott Draper in his last qualifying match. When Sa was leading 6:5* in the 5th set, Parmar suffered cramps but managed to save a match point with an ace and make a decisive break in the following game! They also met in the first round of Wimbledon ’00 with Parmer as a five-set victor too, 6-7(2), 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 under three hours. Finally good luck for Sjeng Schalken at Wimbledon. The Dutchman in the past three editions was eliminated in London every time losing a dramatic fifth set, this time prevailed 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5 against Stefan Koubek in 3 hours 6 minutes winning just one point more. Andy Roddick, touted as the next American star, won his Wimbledon debut at age 18 against Ivo Heuberger of Switzerland 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(0). In other matches, U.S. Open champion Marat Safin of Russia, seeded fourth, beat Julian Knowle 6-2, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3; British hope Tim Henman, seeded sixth, disposed of qualifier Artem Derepasko of Russia 6-1, 6-1, 6-1; and Spain’s Juan Carlos Ferrero won his first career match on grass by defeating British qualifier Luke Milligan 6-0, 6-2, 6-2. Beyond the looks, the legs and the ever-changing rafter_wb01hairstyles, Patrick Rafter has always set himself apart in men’s tennis by his simple humanity. He’s the champ who admits to nerves, the star hobbled by injuries, the veteran publicly pondering retirement. So there was a bit of anticipation yesterday when Rafter showed up at Centre Court on a warm, humid day, modeling a buzz cut and bandanna that made him look like an extra from a Rambo flick while embarking on what may be his last chance for a first Wimbledon title. Unveiling his vintage serve-and-volley style, No. 3-seeded Rafter defeated Daniel Vacek, 6-2, 7-6(7), 6-3. If the match lacked spark, it didn’t really matter, because this was Rafter making peace with Centre Court. In last year’s men’s final, Rafter pushed a nervous shot in a tiebreaker against  Sampras, and then watched as twilight fell on Centre Court and Sampras won. Like almost everyone else in the bandbox of an arena, Rafter was a spectator at the end, as Sampras won a 13th Grand Slam title, making history and finishing off a drama. “Gee, I’d just be really happy to get there,” Rafter said. “I enjoy playing Andre. I think we match up pretty well. I’d really love to say that we had a rivalry going.” Andre Agassi, who defeated Peter Wessels, 7-6 (1), 6-4, 6-4, looks upon Rafter as a rival who “forces you to really be at your best.” “I always feel that sort of intensity when I play him,” Agassi said. But as open as Rafter can be, Agassi can be somewhat tight-lipped. A British tabloid reporter, noting that carlsen_wb01Agassi’s girlfriend, Steffi Graf, was wearing a gold band on her ring finger, wanted to know if Agassi had any plans to marry. “Why don’t you think of a question that is your business?” Agassi said. Wild card Goran Ivanisevic defeated qualifier Fredrik Jonsson 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 and said: “I should be on the operating table instead of playing here.” Dane Kenneth Carlsen [1013], who stunned Stefan Edberg on Centre Court in 1994, returned to the tour at Queens Club ’01 after missing action for 20 months due to left shoulder injury. At Wimbledon he defeated Spanish serve-and-volleyer [62] Juan Balcells 7-5, 7-6(4), 7-6(8).

Second round: (BBC)

Pete Sampras won his David and Goliath match with Barry Cowan 6-3, 6-2, 6-7(5), 4-6, 6-3, but was made to work for every point in a five-set battle. Cowan [265], who described the encounter as “undoubtedly the match of my life”, pushed the defending champion to the limit over 2 hours and 52 minutes on court number one. In the opening two sets Sampras looked to be picking his opponent off at will and cruising to a straight sets victory. However in the 3rd set the number one seed failed to convert any of seven break points before Cowan took the tie-break 7/5. “You have to cowan_sampras_wb01give him a lot of credit,” Sampras said of Cowan. “There was no reason to panic out there and although there are some tense moments those are where you have to draw on some experience, remember who you are and where you’re playing.” It was the first time since his 1998 final win over Goran Ivanisevic (dispatched Carlos Moya in four sets in round two) that the seven-times champion had been taken the distance at Wimbledon. And the American duly responded like a champion in front of a packed and partisan crowd by breaking his opponent’s serve twice to take a *4:0 lead in the deciding set. “It’s a shame that when I had a sniff of a chance at 4:2 in the fifth with two break points he had two aces,” Cowan said. “I had him on the ropes. On another day he might have missed and who knows, but he closed out like a true champion – he’s a credit to the game.” Andy Roddick thrilled the Centre Court crowd at Wimbledon by beating Sweden’s Thomas Johansson in four sets. In the next round he will meet Wimbledon veteran Ivanisevic who like Roddick also beat a seeded player in the second round. But elsewhere on the third day of the tournament the seeds prevailed, although many experienced rough rides. Roddick required two tie-breaks but was always in control against the 11th seeded Swede. Johansson came into Wimbledon as the first man since Sampras in 1998 to win back-to-back grass court tournaments. But Roddick and the Championships proved a step up from Halle and Nottingham as then Swede lost his 11 game unbeaten run and the match 7-6(1), 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(3). Tim Henman‘s 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 win over compatriot Martin Lee was perfunctory, but the British number one was not the home hero of the day. Another seed who was expected to struggle, Juan Carlos Ferrero, came through a tight five-setter with former Wimbledon semi-finalist Jason Stoltenberg. The Spaniard [4], seeded eight, took the first set in a tie-break but was always pegged back by the Australian before he won the decider to go through 7EPSON scanner Image-6(4), 4-6, 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-3 finishing with an ace. Stoltenberg [116] played the last match in his career, he was 3:5 in the 4th set. In a battle of two talented youngsters, Roger Federer, the number 15 seed also needed five sets to see off Belgium’s Xavier Malisse 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3. Federer was a break down in the 5th; he won three games more, yet fewer points (142 to 152). Cedric Pioline [72], the 1997 runner-up, suffered second straight year an upsetting five-set loss to an unknown player. The 32-year-old Frenchman, who lost to Vladimir Voltchkov in 2000 (Voltchkov – sensational semifinalist ’00 was already beaten in the first round one year later), this time was stunned by Andrei Stoliarov [92] of Russia. Because of darkness, their match was suspended at 5-all in the 5th set. After the resumption, the 24-year-old Stoliarov took the first game and had match point in another one, but a few games later Pioline was serving at 8:7 (40/15) – blew the double match point and Stoliarov won 3-6, 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-3, 12-10 in 3 hours 52 minutes! Stoliarov’s only five-set win (played two) and only advancement to the third round at majors. Second seed Andre Agassi disposed of Britain’s Jamie Delgado 6-2 6-4 6-3 and said about his potential final with Sampras: “I would consider it an incredible opportunity to meet him in the final. I would be one match away from winning Wimbledon and to be playing Pete, that’s something I would choose to spend my time thinking about and reading about the day after.” A sluggish Pat Rafter was made to work hard for his place in the third round at Wimbledon on Thursday, before beating Czech Slava Dosedel 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1. It took the third seed, 2 and a half hours to dispatch Dosedel, ranked 102nd in the world, in a nervous first match on Court 1. Rafter, bumped up the seedings from a ranking of 10 because of his grasscourt pedigree, lost his serve in the 1st game of the tie. “Slava is a very unpredictable player. I wasn’t quite sure how he was going to play. Sort of tightened me up a little bit because I didn’t know what to do,” Rafter said. Lleyton Hewitt [5] was made to fight all the way in a five-set thriller before eventually defeating American Taylor Dent 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-3 in 3 hours 6 minutes. The match provided a thrilling end to a day in which all of the other big names had little trouble progressing. The biggest shock of the men’s competition awaited the Centre Court crowd as the unfancied Dent [143] raced into a 5:0* lead in the 1st set and eventually claimed the opener in 18 minutes having beaten Sergi Bruguera in  the first round 6-0, 6-1, 6-4! Things only got worse for Hewitt when he was broken in his first service game of the 2nd set, but he broke back immediately before a rain delay (66 minutes). Hewitt, who had never before won on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, then found his form and took the second and third sets. He had two match points when he served for the match at 6:5 in the 4th set, but Dent broke back and went on to take the set on a tie-break. So the match was set for a grandstand finish. But Hewitt dent_hewitt_wb01demonstrated his steely nerve as he broke Dent early in the decider to build a 3:0* lead and went on to take the set for a superb win in front of a packed Centre Court. Dent finished the match with 21 aces  (including one rocket which at 144 mph broke the Wimbledon speed record) and 18 double faults“The way I bounced back – it is as good as I have ever done,” said Hewitt. “But I have only equalled my best effort here, I am a long way from winning it.” Dent was kicking himself for failing to keep up his intensity after the rain break: “I maybe relaxed a little bit and lost the urgency.” “You know my career is fading away from me, I’m 27 years old and it’s about time for me to make a big, big statement in this tournament,” Yevgeny Kafelnikov said after recovering from an erratic start to outclass Britain’s Arvind Parmar 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. The day got better and better for Kafelnikov. As he waited to see whether he would face the Argentine, Guillermo Canas, or the Dane, Kenneth Carlsen, in the third round, he said: “Obviously I want to avoid Carlsen because lefties always bring troubles, especially on this surface.” Canas obliged, winning a marathon after two rain breaks, 7-5, 4-6, 6-7(1), 7-6(4), 6-4. During the 4-hour 8-minute match, Carlsen had just five break points converting one. Canas was within a few games of losing also his opening match as he defeated fellow Argentine Gaston Gaudio 7-5 in the 5th set. He will repeat such a feat during the Australian 2004.

Third round:

canas_wb01Yevgeny Kafelnikov became the latest seed to be dumped out of Wimbledon on the infamous number two court. The number seven seed was beaten by Argentina’s Guillermo Canas 3-6, 6-1, 6-3, 7-6(2) in the third round in the biggest upset of the men’s tournament so far. In a rain-interrupted match on the court dubbed the ‘graveyard of the champions’ for the number of high-profile players to lose there, the Russian struggled for much of the clash. Canas [49], who had not gone beyond the second round at Wimbledon before. Kafelnikov took the first set but his serve then let him down badly. He was thrice broken in the mid-sets by Canas – most crucially in the 3rd set after double-faults handed the initiative to the Argentine. The 4th set was an intriguing battle but after taking a 5:3 lead, Kafelnikov crumbled to be swept away in the tie-break. The 23-year-old from Buenos Aires is the first Argentine man to reach the last 16 of Wimbledon in almost a quarter of a century. Jose-Luis Clerc was the last 22 years ago. “It’s not normal, you know,” Canas conceded. “I feel great to be here. One South American in the second week of Wimbledon. I try to enjoy. I try to do the best. I can’t explain. I am very emotional.” Pete Sampras tied Rod Laver for Wimbledon’s second-longest winning streak and returned to form Friday in his bid for a record eighth title at the tournament. Sampras, who struggled past Cowan in five sets two days earlier, got his 31st straight victory by beating Sargis Sargsian of Armenia 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 to reach the fourth round. “It’s not really a big focus of mine whereas last year the record certainly was a big focus,” Sampras said. “But seven out of eight – I’ll take that.” His next opponent, in the round of 16 on Monday, will be 15th-seeded Roger Federer. The 19-year-old Swiss player beat No. 33 Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden 7-6 (4), 6-3, 7-6(2). Needing one point for victory, Goran Ivanisevic found himself confronted by demons from a decade of disappointment at Wimbledon. He was beating Andy Roddick but losing his cool and suddenly unable to move. “I just wanted to win so badly that I just freeze for two seconds,” said Ivanisevic, acknowledging his fragile psyche in fractured English. “I stand on the baseline, ‘Gee, what am I doing here?'” Ivanisevic lost the point but the crisis passed, and four points later ivan_roddick_wb01he closed out the victory he so desperately sought. With an eye-popping 41 aces and marvelous net play Friday, the colorful Croat took the biggest step yet in his career comeback by ending Roddick’s Wimbledon debut, 7-6(5), 7-5, 3-6, 6-3. It was Ivanisevic’s 56th Wimbledon match and Roddick’s third. Afterward, they conversed briefly at the net. Ivanisevic, surely the funniest player never to win Wimbledon, if not the best, blamed his jitters in the final game on a split personality – multiple Gorans. “One was rushing, the other one was rushing even more,” he said. “Then the third one came and said, ‘Guys, relax. It’s a lovely court. Relax. Just calm down.'” The first break of the match came in the 11th game of the 2nd set, Ivanisevic was impossible to break losing four points in set one, and only one (!) in set two. The first sign of a mental meltdown came with Ivanisevic holding two match points at 5:3, 40/15 in the final game. He double faulted, sent a tentative backhand wide and dumped a forehand into the net. That left Roddick needing just one more point to get back on serve. But Ivanisevic collected himself and slammed three consecutive aces – Nos. 39, 40 and 41 – for the victory. After the match, John McEnroe said Ivanisevic would win Wimbledon ’01. Third seed Pat Rafter clawed his way past Moroccan Hicham Arazi 7-6(3), 6-4, 7-5He took the first set tie-break with the help of a stunning cross-court passing shot and achieved a crucial break of serve in the 5th game of the 2nd set by exposing Arazi at the net once more. Although Arazi saved three break points to hang on early in the 3rd set, Rafter eventually broke to lead 6:5 and he sealed his opponent’s fate with an ace on his first match point. Fifth seed Lleyton Hewitt overcame another tough opponent to reach the fourth round of the men’s singles. The 20-year-old Australian, who beat Dent in five sets in the previous round, defeated world number 82 Younes El Aynaoui 7-5, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(4). A brief rain delay failed to disrupt the pattern of the match, as both players held their serves with a combination of powerful serving and excellent baseline shots in the 4th. safin_wb01Hewitt managed to get two break points on the El Aynaoui serve in the 11th game but was unable to convert as the set went to a tie-break. Hewitt finally produced something like his best with some blistering ground strokes giving him a 7/4 win in the tie-break. No. 4 Marat Safin, the reigning U.S. Open champion, continued to move stealthily through the draw by defeating David Prinosil, 7-6(1), 6-3, 5-7, 1-6, 6-3 and then claimed that grass is “not my surface.” Safin wasted a break advantage in the 3rd set, and seemed very frustrated but regained his composure in the 5th set. Patches on Centre Court and Court 1 at Wimbledon are growing smooth and bald. That suits Andre Agassi just fine. A 6-3, 6-1, 6-1 victory over Chile’s Nicolas Massu on Saturday put Agassi in the final 16 at Wimbledon for the eighth time. “You know, the grass is playing a lot differently” this year, said Agassi, who termed Wimbledon’s second week, which starts Monday, “a different tournament.”

Fourth round: (CNN)

Defeated and dethroned, a somber Pete Sampras lingered at his changeover chair, engulfed by cheers that weren’t for him. With no trophy to collect, Sampras instead picked up three sweaty towels, stuffed them into his tennis bag and slung it over his shoulder. Then, head down, he slowly followed Roger Federer toward the exit, reluctantly departing Wimbledon. Federer showed his former idol the door with a sensational performance Monday, winning 7-6(7), 5-7, 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5. federer_sampras_wb01The fourth-round thriller ended Sampras’ remarkable reign – at least for the moment. “You know something so great isn’t going to last forever,” the seven-time champion said. “Today I just came up a little bit short.” Sampras had won 31 consecutive Wimbledon matches and 56 of his past 57. The defeat, his first at the All England Club since a quarterfinal loss to Richard Krajicek in 1996, ended his bid for a record-tying fifth consecutive title. The result also marked a breakthrough for Federer, 19, in his Centre Court debut. The Swiss youngster has been considered a potential Grand Slam champion since winning the Wimbledon juniors title three years ago. “I lost to a really, really good player,” Sampras said. “He played great. He came up with some really good stuff at huge times.” Sampras held a set point in the opening tiebreaker (6:5), but Federer erased it with a service winner. Sampras lost the set four points later when he dumped an easy backhand into the net, and the battle was on. Wearing a bandanna and ponytail, Federer looks nothing like Sampras but plays with the same stylish ease and seems comfortable at the net, which is unusual for a teenager. Much of the time the Swiss youngster had the better serve, and he confidently closed out the 3rd set with three consecutive service winners and an ace that kicked up chalk. Sampras played his best tennis in the final two sets, cranking serves at up to 136 mph and looking like the champion of old at the net. “I’ve won a lot of close matches out there,” he said. “I very much felt like I was going to win.” At 4:4 in the final set he held a double-mini match point, but Federer erased one with a volley and the other with a sizzling forehand. That was Sampras’ last chance to pull out a victory. Serving in the final game, he misplayed two volleys and fell behind 15/40. Federer then cracked a return winner – something he had done repeatedly over the previous 3 1/2 hours – and fell to his knees with glee before keeling over onto the turf. Soon he had tears in his eyes. “This match will give me as much confidence as I can get,” Federer said. “This is the biggest win of my life.” Goran Ivanisevic brutally exposed Britain’s Greg Rusedski with a straight sets victory 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-4 improving their H2H to 9-0 (11-1 in tie-breaks!). Ivanisevic about his overwhelming H2H said: “I’m a better player, better serving,  better returning. He doesn’t like to see me on the other side of the net. When he sees me he starts to make silly errors.” The rejuvenated Croat never looked back after winning the 1st set and broke Rusedski once in each of the following sets for a comfortable victory. The British number two looked utterly dejected as he revealed his disappointment: “All I kept seeing were his first serves going by – when you are not even touching them the pressure starts to mount. All along I’ve been saying I’d take things one match at a time but deep down this year I thought I had a chance of winning the championships.” While Ivanisevic served a predictable 22 aces, Rusedski’s serving never reached such consistency, with 15 aces and fewer than 50% of his first serves going in. British tennis star Tim Henman delighted the home crowd with a thrilling 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Todd Martin to set up a Wimbledon quarter-final against Federer. Henman’s interrupted fourth round match resumed, after failing light had prompted play to be suspended the previous evening. Henman escaped from a two-love deficit on Monday saving a double set point at *5:6 (15/40), he was also 5:4 down in the tie-break. The Briton emerged onto Centre Court  on Tuesday to a boisterous henman_wb01reception, with thousands more cheering on outside. And Henman quickly secured a vital break in the 4th set, to take a 4:2 advantage and held his nerve to take the set. While experts had pointed out that the Englishman had been slightly too respectful of the American’s serve during the first three sets, there was no such problem on resumption. During that set, Henman adopted a chip-and-charge approach which paid off with the break but also by putting more pressure on the Martin serve. With his opponent clearly wilting under the pressure of a partisan crowd as well as some injuries he had carried into the match, Henman seized control in the 5th set. He showed great composure to claim the deciding set, with two more breaks of serve, and make the last eight in 3 hours 37 minutes. Perhaps the key to the set was when Henman served at 15/40 down at 1:2 in the decider. Courageous serving and a slice of luck got him back to ‘deuce’ and after holding on, he then broke Martin in the next game. After breaking Martin again to get to 5:2, it became clear that Henman was closing in on a brave victory. An amazing diving volley showed Henman’s confidence to get him to 30/15 in the final game and the final netted backhand from Martin encapsulated the game. Henman had broken Martin’s resistance, using every bit of guile, strength and skill available to him. Henman said: “Yesterday was a weird day for a number of reasons, hanging around a long time waiting to go on, I think I injured my back in the warm-up and then it stiffened up.” Martin, who outaced Henman 21-19, lost for the third time a dramatic two-day 5-setter on Centre Court at Wimbledon (previously to his countrymen: Washington ’96 & Agassi ’00). The result was a feast for the spectators on Court No. 2 and a wonderful learning experience for 19-year old Mikhail Youzhny, apart from the fact that it piloted Patrick Rafter to the quarterfinals with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 victory. Youzhny [85], who should soon take his place in the elite category of youngsters, among such prominent names as Hewitt, Federer & Roddick, threatened to blow the handsome Australian away at the start before Rafter regrouped to play some truly authoritative serve-and-volley tennis to which the young man had no answer. “He came out on fire. I thought I was going home,” said Rafter. “It’s a very different court and I took time getting used to it. And it was hot and muggy out there.” After fighting off 11 of 14 breakpoints on his serve in the match, the pressure finally got to Youzhny who double faulted when Rafter set up the 15th in the 11th game of the 4th set. The Aussie said thank you and wrapped up the match. “After I broke him in the second set, I knew I had a chance and my game-plan worked out,” said Rafter. “I am really doing well to figure out matches. If you can’t do that you are in trouble. I feel my game is pretty close to its best. I’d give myself a 50-50 chance against anybody.” Rafter will play Thomas Enqvist of Sweden, seeded 10, in the quarterfinals. Enqvist had an easy day in the office as he raced past Guillermo Canas of Argentina 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. With similar ease his match won Marat Safin – a 6-0, 6-3, 6-3 victor over Arnaud Clement; both Enqvist & Safin were rather unexpected in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. France’s Nicolas Escude ended the Wimbledon hopes of fifth seed Lleyton Hewitt in a thrilling five-setter on Monday, beating the Australian 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Hewitt, unbeaten on grass this season, arrived at Wimbledon as one of the favorites for the men’s title and he extended his win-loss record on the slick surface to 15-0 as he ploughed through the early rounds at the All England Club. Hewitt failed to heed the warning and as the unfancied Escude, seeded 24th, kept his cool on Court 2, Hewitt raged against everything around him to fall to defeat in 3 hours, 27 minutes. As Escude broke for the second time in the deciding set, Hewitt appeared to shout at his opponent across the net. It was a typical Hewitt tactic in an attempt to psyche himself up for one last effort and, at one point, it worked. He trailed *1:5, love-30 in the decider but hit back to take escude_wb01the next three games to pressurize Escude. But despite the supporters roaring Hewitt towards an unlikely comeback, the Frenchman refused to buckle. He served with confidence to carve out three match points, and when Hewitt netted a forehand with Escude bearing down on the net on the first, it was all over. It had started promisingly for Hewitt as Escude double-faulted with the score at 4-all in the 1st set (the Frenchman led 3:0*), allowing Hewitt to seize the initiative. But Hewitt always struggled to find his rhythm and it was no surprise when he was broken once in each of the next two sets to gift his opponent a way back. Hewitt rescued himself by breaking Escude’s serve at 5:4 in the 4th set with the help of a stunning crosscourt return. But further unforced errors from his racket undermined his best efforts. Escude after similar scoreline (4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4) will beat Hewitt on grass once more in 2001 – in the Davis Cup final. Second seed Andre Agassi used his killer return to down Germany’s Nicolas Kiefer 6-3, 7-5, 7-5 on Monday and reach the quarterfinals. Agassi, champion in 1992, broke the 19th-seeded German’s serve eight times in the match. When Kiefer ventured to the net Agassi passed the German mercilessly.

Quarterfinals: Stephen Bierley, BBC

Goran Ivanisevic’s Wimbledon fairytale continued with a 7-6, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 win over Marat Safin. The scoreline was almost a copy of Ivanisevic’s win over other talented youngster (7-6, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 vs. Roddick) in round 3, and the post-match-point reaction was the same – Ivanisevic pulled his T-shirt off in ecstasy dancing around the court  as he became the first ever ‘wild card’ to make it to the semi-finals. The young Russian had no answer to the Croatian’s trademark power-serving and despite taking the third set never looked like winning the tie. Ivanisevic, ranked a lowly 125th in the world, had only won eight matches all year and had given no indication whatsoever that he was capable of challenging for a Grand Slam title. The 1st set went to script with service dominating ivan_safin_wb01until Ivanisevic took it on a tie-break, demonstrating his greater serving power. US Open champion Safin had survived two set points in his final service game but Ivanisevic blew him 7/2 away moments later. The 21-year-old’s uncertainty continued in the 2nd set. He failed to put the former three-time finalist under any pressure, seldom using his powerful groundstrokes to any effect. Ivanisevic was happy to sit back and wait for his one chance – which duly came in the 11th game. Safin slumped to 0/40 and smashed an overhead backhand volley way out to fall two sets behind. Ivanisevic handed his opponent a lifeline in the 6th game of the 3rd set, double faulting twice and Safin was able to convert his third break point. The Russian then had to save two break points in the next game to capitalize on his advantage before serving out to win the set. Both players were visibly nervous in the 4th set, but Ivanisevic was able to apply more pressure. He pushed Safin hard in the 12th game but was unable to force a break. The Croatian’s frustration showed in the tie-break when he was given a code violation for an audible obscenity. But his emotions could not have been more different when he finally booked his place in the semi-finals winning the tie-break 7/3. “Other times when I got to the final it was expected. This time nobody expected me to reach the semis,” he said. Tim Henman beat Roger Federer 7-5, 7-6(6), 2-6, 7-6(6) and tomorrow he plays Ivanisevic, a player to whom he has never lost, in his third semi-final in four years. In public he remains cautious: “If I were to beat Goran I would still say the winner of the Rafter-Agassi match goes into the final as favourite.” Henman broke wonderfully in the 3rd game of the opening set, returning Federer’s serve superbly. But Henman would not be ‘Henman’ if the path federer_henman_wb01ahead had not been strewn with stones and pitfalls. No sooner had he edged ahead than he was pegged back, when Federer’s backhand return down the line leveled the score at 4-all. Henman made the crucial third break in the 11th game, and he took the set with a love service game. In the 2nd set, Henman inched ahead 3:1 in the tie-break only to fall behind when Federer hit a backhand of such extraordinary velocity and accuracy that the Centre Court buzzed for a full half-minute. An ace by Federer, followed by a volley of total certitude, put him 6:3* ahead, and it seemed the second set was about to slide out of Henman’s grasp. To his huge credit he hung in, saved three set points and was suddenly, magically, two sets up. Federer immediately left for what in polite circles is called a “bathroom break” and on his return donned a fresh headband. Perhaps the Wimbledon authorities should inspect it, for in a twinkling he was back in his pomp, and he rushed through the 3rd set breaking Henman twice. The strain was etched on Henman’s face as he struggled to stop the rot, to quieten the nerves in his stomach and refocus his shifting concentration. He gained a 4:1* (40/15) lead in the 4th set,  but four times failed to establish what would have been an invincible 5:1 lead. Federer took a three-minute time-out for a massage on his left thigh and then the rollercoaster ride began in earnest, Henman’s fans clinging on, white-knuckled, for dear life. From 5:2 down, Federer leveled, breaking Henman when he served for the match at 5:3. A peach of a forehand returns had Henman reeling at 0/30, and a fifth set beckoned. But Henman forced a second tie-break and was not to be denied, finally clinching victory on the second match point coming back from a *2:5 deficit. Patrick Rafter reached his third successive Wimbledon semifinal on Wednesday with a comprehensive 6-1, 6-3, 7-6(5) victory over Sweden’s Thomas Enqvist. The popular Australian third seed got his accomplished serve-and-volley game into full swing early on, reeling off the first three games before Enqvist, who had great problems with his serve, had time to settle. Rafter, who enjoys the distinction of never having lost a quarterfinal match at a Grand Slam tournament in seven appearances there, allowed the 10th seed one game before spinning through the next three for the 2st set. “I didn’t expect a 6-1 set, that’s for sure,” Rafter said. Enqvist found his service rhythm in the 3rd set as he saved a break point at 0:1. The Swede led 4:2*, but Rafter broke back and took the tie-break convincingly on fourth match point already leading 5:1* & 6:2. Andre Agassi continued his serene progress at Wimbledon, wearing down hard-hitting Nicolas Escude, 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to move into the third straight Wimbledon semifinal against Rafter. Agassi was determined to hold on to his record of not conceding a set at this year’s Championships. He initially led 3:1, then saved two set points in the 10th game. The entertainment continued and it was the Frenchman who stunned the enthralled number one court audience with a convincing agassi_wb01tie-break win. “He’s a very dangerous player who hits the ball early and he has an under-rated serve which he’s quick to get in behind,” Agassi said of Escude. “I started by returning well but I didn’t find a rhythm on my serve and I let him into the set and he played a great tie-breaker.”  At the beginning of the 2nd set Escude received extensive treatment to a left thigh problem that he picked up in his five set win over Hewitt. Agassi credited his “experience” in coping with the long delay before Escude resumed seemingly untroubled as both players exchanged more heavy blows for much of the set. Agassi eventually ground down his opponent, breaking him in the 8th game of the set to take a 5:3 lead and completed the comeback one game later with a stunning forehand winner. The 3rd set went much the same way, as the 24th seed, who had never made it past the second round before, always troubled Agassi with his persistent serve-and-volley game. But again Agassi chipped away at his younger challenger breaking him once to close it out 6-4. He even had the audacity to get in on the act of serve and volleying to complete the set – incredibly, it was his only volley winner of the whole match. Whether it was his thigh problem, or the aggression and effort needed to keep up with his opponent, but Escude visibly tired in the 4th losing his serve twice. It was their second quarterfinal meeting at majors, at the US Open ’99 Agassi won in straight sets, but the scoreline of sets was identical to their first three sets at Wimbledon.

Semifinals: (CNN)

As Patrick Rafter began to celebrate his dramatic victory Friday in the Wimbledon semifinals, an angry Andre Agassi fired one last shot. Walking toward the net, Agassi pulled a ball from his pocket and belted it at the lineswoman who had infuriated him in the next-to-last game. She dodged out of the way and the ball slammed against the backstop. The incident tainted a marvelous match worthy of tennis’ best rivalry, with Rafter rallying from a 3:5 deficit in the final set to beat Agassi 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 8-6. “I think he pretty well snapped,” Rafter said. The 28-year-old Australian, contemplating retirement after this year, will try for his first Wimbledon title in his second consecutive final. Rafter and Agassi, meeting in the Wimbledonsemifinals for the third year in a row, staged another seesaw struggle enhanced by their contrasting styles. Rafter smacked 30 aces and relentlessly rushed the net, while Agassi slugged return winners and scurried from corner to corner, his huffing and puffing audible in the stands. But for all his effort in the three-hour thriller, Agassi’s annoyance with two linespeople may have swung the outcome. He became angry in the 4th set, when two calls by the same linesman in the same game went against him. He subsequently lost his serve to fall behind 2:4, then hit a wild 122-mph serve that just missed the linesman. After Agassi let his lead in the 5th set slip away and the score reached 6-all, he received a code violation for an obscenity. A lineswoman behind the baseline heard the profanity and immediately trotted across the court to inform chair umpire Mike Morrissey, who issued the warning. “That’s quite upsetting and a little classless for Centre Court, to go running up there,” Agassi said. “I got upset at a shot I missed, and I didn’t think anybody could hear it. But apparently the lady sitting closest to me can.” Agassi didn’t complain at the time, but his game came unhinged. He lost the next point to fall behind 6:7, then served poorly and committed three unforced errors to lose the next game – and the match. Before shaking Rafter’s hand, Agassi fired a forehand toward the lineswoman at the other end of the court. “I meant to hit that in the net,” Agassi said with a glare that suggested otherwise. “I’m sure he’s very upset,” Rafter said. “I thought it was a little bit unfair of that lady to report him. I guess she took the rules a little bit seriously.” Tournament referee Alan Mills said Agassi would be fined $2,000 for the obscenity but would not be punished for the shot that nearly struck the lineswoman. “I think he just lost it,” Mills said. “He hit a ball near a certain lady, but he didn’t hit her. She was athletic.” What really got away from him was the 5th set. He broke in the first game, then had six more break points the rest of the way but lost them all as Rafter kept battling back from the brink of defeat. Serving at 0:2, 15/40, Rafter intercepted back-to-back bullets from Agassi, blocking the second one with a reflex volley to win the point. “I guessed the right way,” the Aussie said. “I knew if I lost that game, the match was over.” Agassi served for the match at 5:4 (30/15) but missed four first serves, allowing Rafter to charge the net four times. On match point Rafter pulled a looping backhand crosscourt, and it landed just inside the sideline for a winner and the victory. He grinned and pumped his fists, well aware that four games earlier he had been two points from defeat. “Maybe one in 200 matches that you play, something like that happens where it turns around for you,” he said. Rafter also beat Agassi in a five-set semifinal last year. This loss, Agassi said, was harder to take. “I’m just disappointed that I let an opportunity go by,” Agassi said. “Nothing comes to mind right now except kicking myself.”ravisevic_happinesGoran Ivanisevic has crushed Tim Henman‘s dream of a place in the Wimbledon final by battling back from two sets to one down to win 7-5, 6-7(6), 0-6, 7-6(5), 6-3 a three-day marathon. Henman had appeared on the brink of the final on Friday when he came from a set down to lead with some dazzling tennis. Ivanisevic adjusted similar tactics to his wins over Roddick & Safin, wanting to get the two opening tight sets, but Henman fought back from a mini-break twice in the 2nd set tie-break, and Ivanisevic lost totally his focus. It looked like a reminiscence of his 7-5, 6-7, 0-6, 6-7 loss to Boris Becker in the 1990 semifinal when he lost 3rd set to Henman in just 18 minutes, barely trying. But the rain delays which caused the semi-final to be played over the course of three days broke Henman’s rhythm and worked to Ivanisevic’s advantage. The match was suspended on Friday with Henman leading 2:1* (15/30) in the 4th set, and at 3:2* for Ivanisevic in the 5th set on Saturday. After his win, Ivanisevic said: “This is destiny. God wanted me to win this game – he sent the rains.” Henman was naturally disappointed but was able to put the defeat in perspective. “Unfortunately my best was not good enough this year but I certainly know I’ll be back for many more tries,” said Henman. “I’ve said for many years I believe I’ll win this tournament and it certainly isn’t any different this year,” he added. The pair resumed on Sunday with Ivanisevic leading after five games on serve in the 5th set. Both players held their first service games, although Ivanisevic had to come from 0/30 down to do so. With Henman 4:3 down, a volley into ivanisevic_henman_wb01the net and two return winners from Ivanisevic gave the Croat two break points. Henman saved both with two big serves, but a double fault gave Ivanisevic a third chance to break. The Croat found another winner and was left to serve for the match. He double-faulted on his first match point, but set up a second with a second-serve ace. Henman had seemed so close to victory on Friday when he battled back from a set down to lead with some inspirational tennis and on Saturday too, when he was two points away from the final at 5-all in the tie-break. The Croat took the set when he fired an ace and service return at the Briton’s toes with the score at 6:5. Just five games into the deciding set, the rains came again leaving the pair another agonizing overnight wait. And it was Ivanisevic’s patience which was rewarded as he secured a fairytale fourth Wimbledon final appearance. “I don’t want to lose again – that would kill me,” said Ivanisevic. “Tomorrow’s the biggest day of my life, I don’t want to get that plate for a fourth time.” Asked about his opponent in the final, the Croat said: “He’s a great friend and a great player – it’s going to be tough. But tomorrow we are not going to be friends.”

Final: (CNN)

During the final game, Goran Ivanisevic began to cry, his fragile psyche frayed by three hours of tense tennis and a decade of heart-wrenching frustration at Wimbledon. He kissed the ball. He crossed himself. He violently shook his left arm as he tried to relax. But twice, he double-faulted iva_volley_wb01one point from victory, too nervous to put his serve in play. As Ivanisevic’s duel with Pat Rafter reached its climax, each point brought yet another deafening roar from the most boisterous crowd to attend a Wimbledon final. Finally, on the fourth championship point, Ivanisevic slapped a service winner and the title was his. The popular Croat fell in a heap in disbelief and rolled over, his face buried in the Centre Court lawn that bedeviled him for so long. In a match likely to rank with the most memorable in Grand Slam history, three-time runner-up Ivanisevic finally won Wimbledon on Monday, outlasting Rafter 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 2-6, 9-7. “I think I’m dreaming,” said Ivanisevic, 29. “Somebody is going to wake me up and tell me, ‘Man, you didn’t win.'” With seven-time champion Pete Sampras sidelined by a fourth-round upset, Ivanisevic emerged as an improbable successor. The tournament was his 48th major event, the most ever for a first-time Grand Slam champion, and he became the first wild card to win a major men’s title. “This is what I was waiting all my life,” he said. Ivanisevic speaks in amusingly mangled English, his head-spinning self-analysis and rich baritone enhancing the comedic effect. But there was nothing funny about his defeats in the 1992, 1994 and 1998 finals. Hampered by a sore shoulder that will require surgery at the end of the year, he came to this year’s tournament with his career in an 18-month freefall. He needed a wild-card invitation because his ranking had tumbled to 125th. But his big serve blossoms on grass, his favorite surface. He won Wimbledon on his 14th try, and he did it before a crowd of 13,370 that rocked the cathedral of tennis. Because rain washed out most of Saturday’s schedule, the men’s final began on a Monday for the first time since 1922. Finals are typically sold out in advance, but 10,000 tickets went on sale 2 1/2 hours before the match. As the result, the stands were filled with a younger, noisier crowd than usual, with many fans likely attending Wimbledon for the first time. They sang, chanted, cheered double-faults and turned Centre Court into a kaleidoscope of flags, inflated kangaroos, face paint and clown hats. For once, the only suits were in the royal box. “I don’t know if Wimbledon has seen anything like it,” Rafter said. “I don’t know if they will again. It was electric.” “So many Australian fans and Croatians, like a [soccer] match,” Ivanisevic said. “The crowd was just too good.” The atmosphere was similar when rain forced Wimbledon to play on the middle Sunday in 1991 and 1997, but the staid tournament had never staged a final like this. Support for the two players was even, just like the match. They played the longest fifth set of any final, dating back to 1877. “It was the greatest final I’ve ever been a part of,” said NBC commentator John McEnroe, whose five-set loss to Bjorn Borg in 1980 is considered by many the best final of the modern era. “It was a very tight match,” agreed Rafter, who lost to Sampras in last year’s final. “This time hurts a little bit more than last time, that’s for sure.” The 28-year-old Australian plans a six-month break at the end of this year and may retire.  ivan_wb01triumphWhen Rafter broke for a 2:0 lead in the 2nd set, the stands became a sea of red, white and blue Aussie flags. Every point found at least one player at the net. There were no baseline exchanges and few rallies of more than four shots. But the stakes, atmosphere and swings in momentum made each point exciting nonetheless. Cheers at times drowned out the chair umpire’s requests for “Quiet, please.” Ivanisevic briefly came unhinged in the 4th set. Facing a break point, he hit an apparent service winner, but a lineswoman cited him for a foot fault, the only one of the match. “Nooooooo!” he screamed. He thought his next serve was an ace and skipped in glee before realizing it had been called wide – a double fault that gave the game to Rafter. Ivanisevic threw his racket and kicked the net, then argued in vain with the chair umpire. “I got a little crazy,” he admitted. In the past, such situations have unraveled his game and cost him matches. This time he quickly calmed down. “I just kept my mind,” he said. “I had to. You can’t afford to be crazy in a Wimbledon final.” The big left-hander, who was two points from defeat in the semifinals, found himself serving from behind during most of the last set. He kept coming through under pressure, easily pulling even at 5-all and again at 6-all (both games won to 15). An ace made it 7-all (in that game once again was two points away from defeat at 0/30 when made a volley winner behind a second serve). Ivanisevic finished the tournament with 213 aces, breaking his 1992 Wimbledon record. “He’s just serving really well,” Rafter said. “It’s not much fun down at the other end trying to get it back.” The only service break of the set came in the 15th game. Rafter missed four first serves and Ivanisevic took advantage, smacking three excellent returns. The third one, for a forehand winner at 15/40 (from Rafter’s perspective), gave him an 8:7 lead and a chance to serve for the championship (it was Ivanisevic’s first break point since 6th game of the 3rd set). Because he’s never-boring Goran, he blew an easy volley, then double-faulted to fall behind 15/30. Two last aces (27 in total, Rafter – 13; service winners: 47-43 for Ivanisevic), took him to match point. Tears welled in his eyes, and he hit a double fault five feet long. A service winner set up ivanisevic_wb01championanother match point, which produced his 16th and final double fault. “I knew I was going to be one, two double faults,” Ivanisevic said. “My arm was so heavy.” When Rafter hit a backhand wide, Ivanisevic looked to the sky in gratitude. Then he hit a shaky volley and lost the next point (Rafter’s brilliant backhand lob), returning the score to deuce. The most feared serve in tennis finally bailed him out. He smacked a service winner to reach match point again, then swung another serve wide on second serve, and Rafter dumped the ball into the net. “Thank God he missed it. Otherwise, we’d still be playing,” Ivanisevic said. He collapsed as the crowd roared, then rose in a daze. At the net Rafter gave him a hug, a pat on the back and a rub on the head. Ivanisevic then crossed the court and ran up a stadium aisle to the VIP box for a group hug with his father, coach and friends. When he climbed onto a broadcasting booth with a grin as wide as his outstretched arms, the crowd renewed its chant of “Go-ran! Go-ran!” “I don’t care now if I ever win a match in my life again,” he said. “Whatever I do in my life, wherever I go, I’m always going to be Wimbledon champion.” He won some matches afterwards, but never appeared even in a final again. The Wimbledon title was his 22nd in career. Stats of the final

2 Responses to 2000 – 2001, Wimbledon

  1. Voo de Mar says:
    Number of Ivanisevic‘s aces in consecutive matches during tournaments he played in the Wimbledon finals:
    206 aces in 1992 (17, 34, 22, 27, 33, 36, 37)
    167 aces in 1994 (12, 18, 25, 36, 29, 22, 25)
    184 aces in 1998 (17, 25, 42, 16, 24, 28, 32)
    212 aces in 2001 (22, 34, 42, 22, 30, 35, 27)
    In those 28 matches Ivanisevic was out-aced twice, in 1998 by T.Martin & Krajicek.

    Other comparable achievement – Mark Philippoussis, who served 178 aces at Wimbledon in 2003 (21, 19, 33, 46, 34, 11 & 14)

    Beside Ivanisevic & Philippoussis, John Isner is the third man to serve at least 30 aces in three matches in succession (Washington 2007)

Leave a Reply