In Roger Federer's words: 'I knew I can beat Pete Sampras, I had better season..'


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In Roger Federer's words: 'I knew I can beat Pete Sampras, I had better season..'

Back in 2001, the fourth round at Wimbledon saw the clash between the current and future All England Club kings, with the young gun Roger Federer toppling the seven-time winner Pete Sampras 7-6(7), 5-7, 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5 in three hours and 41 minutes.

Competing at Wimbledon for the third time, the junior champion from 1998 found his A-game to leave the legend and one of his idols behind, staying focused in the closing stages of the decider to move over the top and secure one of the most emotional triumphs of his extensive career.

Federer came to London after reaching the quarter-final at Roland Garros, gathering momentum and staying focused from start to finish to dethrone Pete who would play at Wimbledon only once again in 2002. 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 points, producing his best tennis when it mattered the most and making a massive step forward after saving a set point in the first set tie break, something he described as one of the pivotal moments of the entire clash.

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, taking ten points more than Sampras and repelling two break chances at 4-4 in the decider to stay in touch.

Pete had to pay the price for that chances he wasted, suffering 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. "I had the feeling that that first set was essential, that I came back from set point down in the tie break to bring it home.

That gave me a lot of confidence for the rest because I had the feeling I can beat him. That's probably why I won today. I had played a bad game there in the second to lose the set, having problems with my leg. That probably relaxed me mentally a bit.

I had trouble running to a couple balls but I was totally relaxed. That's why I was not tired in the fifth, feeling good in all five sets. Pete's serve was massive in the beginning, giving me no chance. Normally, I'm pretty good in reading serves but that wasn't the case against him, with his second serve flying faster than my first.

Still, I had the feeling I was in a good position on his second serve, even though he was serving 120 miles per hour. Suddenly when I was 40-0 or 40-15 up on the return, I knew I would always get a chance at some point. I was holding serves pretty easy at that time.

A lot of friends and players told me, "This year, I think you can really beat him." I've played a great year so far - better than he did."