Cincinnati Flashback: Pete Sampras wins second title over Thomas Muster

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Cincinnati Flashback: Pete Sampras wins second title over Thomas Muster

After winning eight ATP titles in 1996, world no. 1 Pete Sampras was on a mission again in 1997. The American kicked off the season with crowns at the Australian Open, San Jose and Philadelphia. Outside the Miami semi-final, the results were not that good in the next three and a half months, as the American struggled to find the form on clay.

Pete showed his skills in the cathedral of tennis at Wimbledon after facing rivals from outside the top-35 in the semi-final and final. Sampras toppled Todd Woodbridge and Cedric Pioline to regain the crown he lost in 1996 and took a deserved month off before entering the Cincinnati Masters 1000 event.

The American lost in the quarter-final in Ohio in the previous two years, returning with high hopes that summer and chasing the first trophy since 1992. Carried by the Wimbledon success, Pete was a player to beat in Ohio. He lost serve three times in five encounters and toppled four top-20 opponents to lift the ninth Masters 1000 trophy, the first since Indian Wells two and a half years ago!

Justin Gimelstob was his first and lowest-ranked opponent. Sampras scored a 6-2, 6-4 victory to set the second-round clash against Patrick Rafter, beating the Aussie 7-6, 6-4 to reach the quarters. World no. 6 Yevgeny Kafelnikov stood no chance, winning only 14 points on the return and suffering two breaks in each set to propel Pete into the semi-final.

The American toppled Albert Costa 6-3, 6-4 in 64 minutes for a place in his 63rd ATP final. Sampras ousted Thomas Muster 6-3, 6-4 in 70 minutes for his 49th ATP title, playing well on serve and return and crossing the finish line in style to extend the winning streak.

Pete Sampras won the second Cincinnati crown in 1997.

Muster battled through a favorable draw to set Sampras clash. He defeated four rivals in three sets and moved into the 54th and penultimate ATP final, the tenth at the Masters 1000 level.

It was the ninth meeting between Pete and Thomas on the Tour and the eighth victory for the American, who hit over 30 winners and left the Austrian on around ten, with a similar number of forced and unforced errors. Sampras had the advantage in the shortest and mid-range exchanges, losing the upper hand in the opener before seizing it again and never looking back in set number two.

The home favorite kicked off the match with a service winner and broke Muster after the Austrian's backhand error in game two. Pete blasted an ace in game three to cement the lead before Muster pulled the break back at 2-4 after a backhand crosscourt winner.

The Austrian delivered only the fifth break of Pete Sampras' serve since the beginning of Wimbledon! The American kept his focus and stole the rival's serve at love with a volley winner for a 5-3 advantage. Pete sealed the opener with two winners at 30-30 in game nine for 6-3 in just over half an hour.

The Austrian fended off a break chance in the second set's third game and stayed in touch until 3-3. Pete broke him at 15 following his opponent's backhand error, gaining the crucial lead and placing one hand on the trophy.

Sampras confirmed the break with three service winners that sent him 5-3 up and moved over the top with four winners in game ten for the second Cincinnati crown.

Pete Sampras Thomas Muster