Pete Sampras' Flawless Performance: A 'Walk on Water' against Andre Agassi

Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi battled in the 1999 Wimbledon final

by Jovica Ilic
Pete Sampras' Flawless Performance: A 'Walk on Water' against Andre Agassi

On July 4, 1999, two Americans battled in the Wimbledon final for the last time, with Pete Sampras ousting Andre Agassi. In 1998, Sampras embraced a hectic fall schedule to maintain the year-end no. 1 position, achieving that for the sixth time in a row and never repeating the feat.

A year later, Pete struggled with a back injury and played only 48 matches on the Tour, the lowest number in ten years. He entered 13 ATP tournaments and lifted five titles from as many finals, including Wimbledon, Cincinnati and the ATP Tour World Championship.

Heading to Queen's with a mediocre 11 ATP wins under his belt, Sampras turned his fortune around. He prevailed over excellent grass players to clinch the title after beating Lleyton Hewitt and Tim Henman in the deciding set tie break.

That gave him confidence ahead of Wimbledon, and Pete went all the way at The All England Club for the sixth time in the previous seven years. Facing rivals from outside the top-70, Sampras barely experienced any trouble on serve in the first four rounds, scoring convincing triumphs and saving energy for the quarter-final clash against Mark Philippoussis.

The Aussie proved to be a much tougher rival, winning the first set before retiring due to a knee injury, propelling Pete into the semi-final. Tim Henman stood on the other side of the net like a year ago. In 1998, Sampras went through in four sets and repeated that a year later.

The American notched a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 triumph with four breaks to book a place in the final against the great rival Andre Agassi on 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, decades before him.

Like Sampras, Andre used a favorable draw to advance into the semi-final, where he ousted Patrick Rafter.

Pete Sampras defeated Andre Agassi in the 1999 Wimbledon final.

The more accomplished grass-court player and the defending champion delivered one of the best performances in the last couple of years to topple Agassi 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 in an hour and 55 minutes, in what Andre described as a "walk on water!" It was the 12th Major crown for Sampras, who tied Roy Emerson's record.

He stood strong from start to finish and repelled Agassi's attacks to lift the sixth Wimbledon crown in the past seven years and extend his dominance at The All England Club. Pete fended off all four break chances and broke Andre once in each set to seal the deal, dominating the shortest rallies to forge the victory.

Pete won 21 points more than Andre. He had a slight edge in the more extended exchanges and hit more service winners and fewer unforced errors to earn a much-needed win 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 from start to finish.

Andre wasted an enormous opportunity in the opener's seventh game when he squandered three break chances. Agassi sprayed three errors to suffer a break at 15 in the next one, and Sampras closed the opener with four winners on serve for 6-3.

Struggling to find the first serve, Andre got broken at love at the beginning of the second set. It was all about Pete in the rest of the set, firing 22 winners and four unforced errors to deliver five good holds and take it 6-4.

Agassi did his best to stay positive in the third set, following Sampras' pace until 5-5. Andre played a terrible service game to suffer a break after four mistakes, allowing Pete to open a 6-5 lead and serve for the title.

Four service winners in that 12th game sealed the deal for the defending champion, who celebrated his 12th Major title.

Pete Sampras Andre Agassi Wimbledon