The only meeting between the two best players of two consecutive decades (the former seven-time Wimbledon champion vs. the future seven-time Wimbledon champion), and what a match it was! Lasted 3 hours 41 minutes, and the 19-year-old Federer, who made his first appearance on Centre Court then, snapped Sampras’ 31-match winning streak at Wimbledon. Every set could have gone either way:
# in the 1st set Federer fought off a set point at 5:6 in the tie-break with a service winner to win it 9/7
# in the 2nd set the Swiss had two good occasions to break: 2-all (40/15) & 3-all (40/0)
# in the 3rd set Sampras led on serve 40/15 at 4-all, so he was 5 points away from winning that set
# Federer was 5 points from winning the match in 4 sets, but it happened at almost insurmountable 2:5* deficit in the tie-break, which he lost 2/7
# in the decider, the youngster saved two mini-match points at 4-all: the first with a BH-volley winner, on the second one he forced Sampras’ FH error
Federer actually played the entire match attacking the net behind his serves, sometimes on second serve with his forehand as an approach shot… Sampras, known as one of the most impressive over-headers in the history of tennis, missed two smashes – one of them on a vital moment as he tried to save a break point at 4-all in the mid-set.
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