2001 US Open: Lleyton Hewitt defeats Pete Sampras

One year after his defeat against Marat Safin, Pete Sampras was once again in final of the US Open, against an other young gun: Lleyton Hewitt.

Lleyton Hewitt - Pete Sampras

Pete Sampras ran out of steam against the 20 year Australian. In a match that recalled the 2000 final, he was thoroughly outclassed by Hewitt 7-6 (4), 6-1, 6-1.

From Sampras‘ autobiography ” A champion’s mind”:

“It had been a draining second week for me. After beating Rafter and winning that epic four-setter over Andre, I handled Marat Safin with relative ease.
I had to play Hewitt in the final barely twenty- four hours after finishing my semi, and by that point my brain was already slightly fried and my legs were feeling a little heavy. For a veteran, that twenty-four-hour turnaround at the Open is one of the toughest assignments in tennis, mentally as well as physically.”

“Hewitt was just twenty, and he still had peach fuzz on his face. With his long hair and clear blue eyes, he looked like a teenage surfing or skateboarding champ, and he played with a healthy disdain for etiquette, forever punctuating his better shots with gut-wrenching screams of “Come awwwwwwwn”. A year earlier, I had barely managed to containHewitt in the US Open semis, winning two of my three sets in tie-breakers.”

He was now a year older, a year wiser, a year hungrier – and a year stronger.

Lleyton Hewitt - Pete Sampras

Lleyton Hewitt
Lleyton Hewitt - Pete Sampras

“Lleyton took full advantage of the conditions and played a good first set, taking the tiebreaker 7-4. I was beat, out of gas, emotionally as well as physically. It quickly turned into a rout in which I won just two more games the rest of the way. It was my worst loss by far in a major final.”

“I didn’t looked tired because I was old, or losing focus, or banged up. I looked tired because it had been an ultra demanding week filled with very tough opponents and a back-to-back semi and final.
I didn’t exactly feel slow out there during the Hewitt match, but I felt like I was having to work awfully hard for the points that i won. I struggled and heaved and tried to dig into my reserves, but there was to little left to call upon.”

Pete Sampras
Pete Sampras
Lleyton Hewitt - Pete Sampras

“In Lleyton, I saw a feisty young gun who was zeroed in on the target on my back and determined to take his shot at greatness. I saw a pugnacious and gifted Aussie battler aware that he was facing his window, determined to make the most of it. Hewitt seized the moment; I was the last person who could begrudge him that or rationalize away the fact he just plain ran me into the ground.”

Lleyton Hewitt - Pete Sampras
Pete Sampras
Kim Clijsters
Lleyton Hewitt - Pete Sampras

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