Wimbledon Flashback: Pete Sampras tops Andre Agassi in last all-American final
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 2909
In 1998, Pete Sampras had a hectic fall schedule to maintain the year-end no. 1 position, achieving that for the sixth time in a row and the last. In 1999, Pete struggled with a back injury. He played only 48 matches, the lowest number in ten years, entering 13 ATP tournaments and lifting five titles from as many finals, including Wimbledon, Cincinnati and the ATP Tour World Championship.
Heading to Queen's with 11 ATP wins under his belt, Sampras turned his fortune around and prevailed over excellent grass players to lift the title after beating Lleyton Hewitt and Tim Henman in the deciding tie break. That gave him a lot of confidence ahead of Wimbledon, and Pete went all the way at the All England Club for the sixth time in the previous seven years.
He defeated Andre Agassi on July 4 in the last all-American Wimbledon final! Facing four rivals from outside the top-70, Sampras barely faced any trouble on serve in the first four rounds. He scored convincing triumphs and saved energy for the quarter-final clash against Mark Philippoussis.
The Aussie proved a much more formidable rival, winning the first set before retiring due to a knee injury and propelling Pete into the semi-final. The home hero Tim Henman stood on the other side of the net, just like a year ago in the same round.
In 1998, Sampras went through in four sets and repeated that in 1999 after a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 win with four breaks of serve to book a place in the final against his great rival Andre Agassi on the Independence Day! Agassi came to London after achieving a Career Grand Slam at Roland Garros, hoping to become the third player in the Open era with Roland Garros-Wimbledon double after Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg.
As Sampras, Agassi used a favorable draw to reach the semis and ousted Patrick Rafter in straight sets to set the dream final with Pete. The more accomplished grass-court player and the defending champion delivered one of the best performances in the last couple of years and toppled Agassi 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 in an hour and 55 minutes in what Andre described as a "walk on water!"
Pete Sampras ousted Andre Agassi in the 1999 Wimbledon final.
It was the 12th Major crown for Sampras, who tied Roy Emerson's record, standing strong from start to finish and repelling Agassi's attacks.
Thus, Pete lifted the sixth Wimbledon crown in the previous seven years and extended his dominance at the All England Club. Pete fended off all four break points and stole Andre's serve once in each set to seal the deal in straight sets and move over the top.
He dominated in the shortest rallies with his booming serve and volleys to forge the triumph. Pete won 21 points more than Andre and had a slight edge in the more extended exchanges. The defending champion hit more service winners and fewer unforced errors to earn a much-needed victory that pushed him further up on the record books.
Sampras fired 75 winners and 13 unforced errors, overpowering Agassi in every segment and never stepping a foot wrong. Andre wasted an enormous opportunity in the opener's seventh game after squandering three break points. Losing ground in those moments, he sprayed three errors in the next one to suffer a break at 15 and push Sampras in front.
Pete served well and closed the opener with four winners on his serve for 6-3. Struggling to find the first serve throughout the match, Andre got broken at love at the beginning of the second set to fall behind. It was all about Sampras in the rest of the set, hitting 22 winners and four unforced errors and delivering five good holds to take it 6-4and move a set away from the title.
Agassi gave his best to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard in the third set. He followed Sampras' pace until 5-5, when he played a terrible service game to lose serve after four errors, with Pete serving for the title in game 12.
The defending champion used the opportunity with both hands and landed four service winners to seal the deal and celebrate the sixth Wimbledon title. Thus, Sampras passed Bjorn Borg and became the first player in the Open era with six Wimbledon singles crowns.