In their only clash on the Tour, Roger Federer took down Pete Sampras in the 2001 Wimbledon fourth round for his second Major quarter-final in a row. The young gun Federer toppled the seven-time champion 7-6(7), 5-7, 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5 in three hours and 41 minutes to make a name for himself and earn all the headlines.
Competing at Wimbledon for the third time, the 1998 junior champion found his A-game to leave the legend and one of his idols behind, staying focused in the decider's closing stages to move over the top and secure one of the most emotional triumphs of his extensive career.
During his 22nd visit to Wimbledon this July, Federer recalled this great clash and the fact that the crowd was behind him, even though he faced an ultimate Wimbledon legend. Federer came to London after reaching the Roland Garros quarter-final, eager to show his best tennis and enduring all the obstacles versus the legendary rival.
Roger Federer spoke about his epic victory over Pete Sampras at Wimbledon 2001.
It was the worst result for the American at his beloved tournament since 1991, winning 31 straight matches in the cathedral of tennis before this loss and suffering the first five-setter defeat as well!
Roger saved nine out of 11 break chances, produced his best tennis when it mattered the most and made a massive step forward after saving a set point in the first set tie break, which he described as one of the encounters' pivotal moments.
They landed a service winner in almost half of the points on the fast grass court, with Federer having the upper hand in those dominant short exchanges. He took ten points more than Sampras in that segment and repelled two break chances at 4-4 in the decider to stay alive.
Pete had to pay the price for those chances he wasted, experiencing a break at 15 in game 12 and allowing Federer to seal the deal with a return winner that propelled him into the quarters against Tim Henman. "Obviously, in the Wimbledon clash against Sampras, I felt like the crowd was cheering for me.
I saw highlights the other day. I was like, 'Wow, the crowd were quite fair,' with Pete having won five titles in a row, going for his seventh or eighth crown in total, I don't even remember. Anyway, that was a big moment to be on that court, share it with Pete and get crowd support there. I would think that probably was the first time I felt the crowd support here," Roger Federer said.