John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, jim Courier and Pete Sampras

From John McEnroe’s autobiography’s Serious:

My final Davis Cup tie, in Fort Worth, was a brief, strange respite. I has brought along a support group: my parents, my brothers, all three of my children, a nanny, and my agent, Sergio Palmieri. I needed every one of them. A few days before, I had been staying at Andre Agassi’s house in Las Vegas, telling Andre, “I don’t know if I can do Davis Cup – I just can’t function”.

The news of my separation with Tatum had leaked to the press – a couple of photographs of Tatum out kicking up her heels with new friends had fanned the flames – and it was all the reporters wanted to talk about. I spent the days before my match (I was there to play doubles with Pete Sampras) trying to practice and spend time with my kids as I dodged inappropriate questions.

The strain showed when I finally got on court to play. The atmosphere inside the Tarrant County Convention Center was the kind of chaos I’d once loved in Davis Cup – American fans waving flags and sounding boat horns at lederhosen-wearing Swiss fans chanting and rattling cowbells – but now it felt all too much like the chaos inside me. I double-faulted at set point in the fist set tiebreaker, then dropped my serve again at 5-4 in the second set, which Pete and I went on to lose in another tiebreaker.
I felt furious and humiliated. This was my final Davis Cup; I couldn’t go out on a loss – to the Swiss! (It was the first time they’d ever made it to the final). I began yelling at Pete, trying to psych him up; trash-talking at Jakob Hlasek and Marc Rosset, the Swiss team. Somehow we managed to hang on and take the third set, 7-5, but by the time we went into the locker room for the ten-minute break, I was in some kind of altered state. All my fear and anger and frustration and sorrow had built up to the point where smoke was practically coming out of my ears.

“We’re going to go out and kick some ass!” I screamed, at Pete and Jim Courier and Andre Agassi.

“We’re going to go out and kick some ass!” I repeated. I screamed it over and over, like a war chant, until my voice was hoarse.
And when Pete and I went back out, that was exactly what we did. Every time we won a point, Agassi and Courier would shout, “Answer the question!” a little phrase I occasionally used to shout at umpires. Pete – imagine it; Pete Sampras! – was shouting, pumping his fist. The fans in the stands were going crazy, the boat horns drowing out the cowbells. We won the last two sets 6-1 and 6-2. When it was over, Pete hugged me. “I love you, Mac”, he said.

I rested up my voice that night, then screamed it hoarse again the next day as Jim beat Hlasek in four sets. When it was all over, I took a big American flag from courtside and ran around and around the court, waving it high from both hands, as the crowd went nuts. I was as happy as I’d ever been.

Davis Cup 1992

From Pete Sampras’ autobiography, A champion’s mind:

Shortly after the US Open, we played our Davis Cup semifinal against Sweden on indoor clay at the Target Center in Minneapolis. Because clay was not my best surface, I played only doubles – with McEnroe. We toughed out a real war with one of the best doubles squads of the era, Stefan Edberg and Anders Jarryd.

This was my first Davis Cup experience as a “doubles specialist”, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the assignment. Doubles is an enjoyable sideshow at most tournaments, but it has a starring role in Davis Cup because of the format. As the third and only match on Saturday, doubles is the kingmaker in Cup play. Most Davis Cup teams that enjoyed long-term success were anchored by a great doubles team. When a tie is 1-1, which is often the case after the Friday opening singles matches, getting to that 2-1 lead can be huge. It also didn’t hurt my own enthusiasm level, or results, that my partner on some key occasions was McEnroe. Remember, it was McEnroe’s own longtime partner, Peter Fleming, who famously quipped, when asked to name the best doubles team of all the time “John McEnroe and anyone”.

We went on to meet the Swiss team in the 1992 final, on an indoor hard court in Fort Worth, Texas. Gorman, perhaps still mindful of Lyon, decided to play it safe. He named Courier and Andre, who were both playing very well, to the singles slots, and put me down for doubles, again partnered with Johnny Mac.
That was fine with me – Andre had proven himself a great Davis Cup singles player. He’s an emotional guy who really gets into all the hoopla. Jim was right there with Andre as a Davis Cup warrior. He gave his all, he was gritty and very cool under pressure. We had, arguably, the greatest Davis Cup team of all time – and a pretty subborn bunch. In the opening ceremony, the promote wanted us to wear these ten-gallon hats and it kind of freaked Jim out. He snapped, “I’m not wearing that stupid hat!” So there were no cowboys hats.

1992 Swiss Davis Cup team

The Swiss had a very tough two-man team consisting of Jakob Hlasek and Marc Rosset. Both guys were very good on fast courts, which is unusual because most Europeans prefer the slower clay. So much for our home-court/fast-court advantage. Hlasek was in the midst of his career year in singles, and Rosset was a guy with a game as tricky as it was big. He could play serve and volley, even though his career moment of glory occured on slow clay a few months earlier, when he won the singles gold medal at the Barcelona Olympic Games.
Andre won the opening rubber, but then Rosset showed his mettle with an upset of Jim. McEnroe and I would be playing Hlasek and Rosset in what suddenly looked like a critical doubles match. And when we lost the first two sets, both in tiebreakers, it looked like tiny Switzerland might pull one of the most shocking of Davis Cup upsets – and on US soil, no less.

John was in one of his McEnroe moods. Throughout the match, he trash-talked Hlasek, a very quite but cool guy who minded his own business and got along with everyone. John was suffering, and coming dangerously close of losing control. But then he was unlike anyone else in that he often played better after going nuts. Some of the line calls in the first two sets seemed dodgy, and in the third set John finally lost it over another apparent bad call. He started in on the umpire, and he just kept going on. He yelled at the official, and he yelled at our own captain, Gorman (for not making more of a fuss and “standing up for us”). He was just going ballistic in general, in any direction he wanted, long after the point in question was over.
Finally, I just lost it myself. I turned on John and snapped,

“John, it’s over. Done with. Let’s not harp on what happened three games ago, it’s time to move on, man.”

For some reason, my own little outburst had two welcome results. It calmed John down (emotionally, if not verbally) and it fired me up. We won the third set and adjourned for what was then still the required ten-minute break before the start ofthe fourth set. John and I came off the break with wild eyes and fire in our bellies. It was one of those rare occasions when I got into the emotion of it all. I was pumping my fist and yelling. McEnroe must have said, “Come on, let’s kick ass” a thousand times. We clawed and fist-pumped and yelled our way to a not very pretty but extremely relieving win, 6-2 in the fifth.

John McEnroe and Pete Sampras, 1992 Davis Cup final

Although I became very emotional in that match, in general John and I were like a Jekyll and Hyde pairing; I tended to be cool and forward-looking, he was hot-tempered and all wrapped up in the moment, always ready for an altercation. He thrived on that, and I understood it. We were good for each other. He pumped me up with his emotional outbursts, even if I didn’t show it, and I calmed him down with my self-control, even if he was, externally, still the same contentious, fiery player.

The next day, after Jim beat Hlasek to clich the tie, I became a Davis Cup champ. It mattered not at all that I had played only doubles in the final; I had done my share all year and felt as proud and entitled as if I had played every singles match for the United States in our drive to win the Cup.

Photo credit: Paul Zimmer

Tsonga and Gasquet

The countdown to the Davis Cup final has begun, follow our Davis Cup final coverage on Tennis Buzz!

Le compte à rebours a commencé, suivez toute l’actualité de la finale de Coupe Davis sur Tennis Buzz!

Wednesday 19 November

The Davis Cup was exposed in the Tennis Village in Lille today. Here are a few pics.

Quelques photos du Village Tennis inauguré ce midi par Martine Aubry et Jean Gachassin place de la République à Lille: des courts de mini-tennis, un court de padel, quelques stands et …. la Coupe Davis:

Davis Cup

Tuesday 18 November

Wawrinka and Federer arrived in Lille yesterday: by Eurostar for Stan, by private jet for Roger.
Really disapointing behaviour by both players who avoided their fans who waited for several hours in front of the Hermitage Gantois and entered their hotel through the kitchen door!

Wawrinka et Federer sont arrivés à Lille hier après midi, Stan par l’Eurostar et Roger en jet privé. Tous deux ont évité leurs fans qui les attendaient depuis plusieurs devant l’Hermitage Gantois et sont entrés dans l’hôtel par la porte des cuisines! Lamentable…

French and Swiss players practiced for the first time today on the clay court of Stade Pierre Mauroy, see video below.

Français et Suisses se sont entraînés pour la 1ère fois sur la terre battue du Stade Pierre Mauroy.

I have tickets for Friday and Saturday’s matches, and that the view I will have:

J’ai des tickets pour vendredi et samedi et je verrai… ça:

Monday 17 November

Lots of talk about Federer’s withdrawal and alleged dispute with Wawrinka in the press today.

Le forfait de Federer à Londres et son altercation avec Wawrinka font la une ce matin:

Le mystère Federer, l'Equipe

Sunday 16 November

They’re coming! The French Davis Cup team is coming to Lille this evening, they will stay at the Hôtel Couvent des Minimes. The Swiss come tomorrow evening, they stay at l’Hermitage Gantois, a former 15th Century hospice that had been coverted into a 5-star hotel.

Ils arrivent! L’équipe de France de Coupe Davis arrive ce soir à Lille, ils logeront à l’hôtel Hôtel Couvent des Minimes, quai du Vault. Les Suisses arriveront lundi soir et logeront à l’Hermitage Gantois, un ancien hospice du XVIè siècle reconverti en hôtel 5 étoiles:

Hospice Gantois, Lille

Photo credit: Velvet

Meanwhile in London, Roger Federer pulls out of his final against Novak Djokovic.

Pendant ce temps-là, à Londres, Roger Federer, blessé au dos, déclare forfait pour la finale des Masters face à Novak Djokovic.

Saturday 15 November

Today we have a look back at the 1992 Davis Cup lost by Switzerland and at the mythic 1991 final won by Henri Leconte and Guy Forget over the american dream team of Agassi, Sampras and Flach-Seguso.

Séquence souvenir: la finale 92 perdue par les Suisses contre les Américains, et la mythique finale 91 remportée par Henri Leconte et Guy Forget face à la dream team américaine d’Agassi, Sampras et Flach-Seguso:

Friday 14 November

Seen in the tramway today, a poster urging people to use public transport to attend the matches.

Vu aujourd’hui dans le tramway, un poster incitant les spectateurs à utiliser les transports en commun pour se rendre au Stade (désolée de la mauvaise qualité):

Tramway Davis Cup poster

Thursday 13 November

While the French Davis Cup team is training in Bordeaux and Federer and Wawrinka are battling in the London ATP finals, the team of Roland Garros head groundsman Bruno Slastan is preparing clay courts at Stade Pierre Mauroy.

Pendant que les Français sont en stage à Bordeaux et que Federer et Wawrinka bataillent au Masters de Londres, l’équipe de Bruno Slastan, responsable des courts à Roland Garros, commence la préparation des courts en terre battue au Stade Pierre Mauroy.


Wednesday 12 November

Autograph session with kids for the French Davis Cup team in Bordeaux.

Séance d’autographes pour les Bleus à Bordeaux:

No autograph session in sight for Les Bleus in Lille, but a few events are planned. The Tennis Village, Place de la République, aims to recreate the Davis Cup atmosphere in the center of Lille, to allow as many people as possible to participate in the event: mini-tennis, competitions, quizzes.. The matches will also be broadcast on a giant screen.

Pas de séance d’autographes prévue à Lille, mais des animations seront organisées Place de la République, pour essayer de recréer l’ambiance Coupe Davis dans le centre de Lille: mini-tennis, concours, quizz… Et bien sûr, les matches seront retransmis sur écran géant.

Tuesday 11 November

Captain Arnaud Clément picks Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau to play the final next week.

Head to head / Face à face
Tsonga – Federer: 5 – 11
Tsonga – Wawrinka: 3 – 2
Monfils – Federer: 2 – 8
Monfils – Wawrinka: 2 – 2
Gasquet – Federer : 2 – 12
Gasquet – Wawrinka: 1 – 1

Head to head on clay / Face à face sur terre battue
Tsonga – Federer: 1 – 2
Tsonga – Wawrinka: 2 – 2
Monfils – Federer: 0 – 4
Monfils – Wawrinka: 0 – 0
Gasquet – Federer: 2 – 2
Gasquet – Wawrinka: 0 – 1

SWI or FRA who will win the Davis Cup final?

  • Switzerland (73%, 45 Votes)
  • France (27%, 17 Votes)

Total Voters: 62

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Monday 10 November

First training day in Bordeaux for Richard Gasquet, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon.
Début du stage d’entraînement à Bordeaux pour Richard Gasquet, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon.

Tuesday 4 November

Sans surprise, le capitaine suisse Severin Lüthi a sélectionné les mêmes joueurs que pour la demi-finale contre l’Italie: Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Marco Chiudinelli et Michael Lammer.

Saturday 1 November

Just a few weeks to go to the much awaited final between France and Switzerland!

Plus que quelques semaines avant la finale tant attendue entre la France et la Suisse!

Richard Gasquet, le coq sportif

Saturday 11 October

Behind the scenes of the Stade Pierre Mauroy that will host the final, read my report here.

Visite guidée du Stade Pierre Mauroy qui va accueillir la finale de Coupe Davis, lisez mon reportage ici.

Stade Pierre Mauroy

Saturday 4 October

Bienvenue à Lille for the Davis Cup final! All you need to know if you plan to attend the final: how to get to Lille, buy some tickets and more.

A lire si vous envisagez d’assister à la finale de Coupe Davis: Bienvenue à Lille for the Davis Cup final!

Grand Place

Monday 22 September

The French Tennis Federation announced today the Davis Cup final between France and Switzerland will be staged on clay. Do you really know what clay is made of?

Les Français ont choisi la surface sur laquelle sera jouée la finale de Coupe Davis entre la France et la Suisse, ce sera la terre battue (indoor bien sûr). Découvrez ici ce qu’est réellement la terre battue (article en anglais).

Friday 19 September

It is now official, the Davis Cup final France vs Switzerland will be played in Lille, my hometown! So stay tuned for news, photos and exclusive coverage on Tennis Buzz!

C’est officiel: Lille (la ville où j’habite) accueillera la finale de Coupe Davis entre la France et la Suisse! Suivez toute l’actualité de la finale sur Tennis Buzz!

Also read/à lire aussi:

2014 US Open coverage

Novak Djokovic

10 tips for your day at the US Open
US Open trivia

Fashion and gear:

A trip down memory lane:

Top 5 strange events at the US Open
US Open biggest upsets
1970 US Open: Margaret Court completes the Grand Slam
1971 US Open: Chris Evert becomes the “It Girl”
1972 US Open: Ilie Nastase defeats Arthur Ashe
1973 US Open: Margaret Court defeats Evonne Goolagong
1978 US Open: 4th consecutive US Open title for Chris Evert
1978 US Open: Jimmy Connors defeats Bjorn Borg
79 US Open 2nd round: McEnroe vs Nastase, chaos on court
1979 US Open: John McEnroe defeats Vitas Gerulaitis
1980 US Open: John McEnroe defeats Bjorn Borg
1981 US Open: Tracy Austin defeats Martina Navratilova
1981 US Open: John McEnroe defeats Bjorn Borg: Borg’s last Grand Slam match
1983 US Open: Career Grand Slam for Martina Navratilova
1984 US Open: John McEnroe last Grand Slam title
1990 US Open: Linda Ferrando upsets Monica Seles
1990 US Open: Alexander Volkov upsets Stefan Edberg
1991 US Open: Connors, 39 qualifies for the semifinals
1991 US Open: Seles and Capriati introduce power in womens tennis
1991 US Open: playing to perfection, Edberg grabs first Open
1991 US Open: Edberg’s final dominance doesn’t diminish Courier
1992: Stefan Edberg defeats Pete Sampras
1992 US Open: Edberg takes Sampras, US Open, No.1 ranking
1993 US Open: Pete Sampras defeats Cédric Pioline
1994 US Open 4th round: Jaime Yzaga defeats Pete Sampras
1994: first US Open title for Andre Agassi
1996 US Open: Class act Edberg making one last run at US Open
2001 US Open: Venus defeats sister Serena
2001 US Open QF: Andre Agassi – Pete Sampras
2001 US Open: Lleyton Hewitt defeats Pete Sampras
2002 US Open: last Grand Slam title for Pete Sampras
2004 US Open: First time to NYC for a French fan of Agassi
Andre Agassi gives the Open crowd one more thrill ride, August 31st, 2006

Reports:

Polls:

Who will win the 2014 US Open?

  • Roger Federer (41%, 59 Votes)
  • Novak Djokovic (28%, 40 Votes)
  • Rafael Nadal (12%, 17 Votes)
  • Grigor Dimitrov (4%, 6 Votes)
  • Other (4%, 6 Votes)
  • Milos Raonic (3%, 5 Votes)
  • Andy Murray (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Kei Nishikori (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Tomas Berdych (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Stanislas Wawrinka (1%, 2 Votes)
  • David Ferrer (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 143

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Who will win the 2014 US Open?

  • Serena Williams (38%, 22 Votes)
  • Eugenie Bouchard (17%, 10 Votes)
  • Maria Sharapova (16%, 9 Votes)
  • Other (12%, 7 Votes)
  • Petra Kvitova (7%, 4 Votes)
  • Simona Halep (5%, 3 Votes)
  • Li Na (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Jelena Jankovic (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Victoria Azarenka (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Agnieszka Radwanska (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Angelique Kerber (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 58

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Will Roger Federer win another Grand Slam title before the end of his career?

View Results

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Excerpt of Pete Sampras‘ autobiography A champion’s mind:

“After Wimbledon, I lost four straight tournaments on my surface of choice, outdoor hard courts. But I went deep in three of those events (Los Angeles, Cincinnati and Indianapolis). I made two semis and a quarterfinal, and I lost to a Grand Slam champion (or future Grand Slam champion) each of those times (Richard Krajicek, Stefan Edberg and Patrick Rafter, respectively).

I felt fine going into the US Open, and it was one of those years when the draw simply opens up like the vault of a bank, leaving the gold there for the taking. The toughest guy I faced during the Open was Michael Chang in the quarters, and by then I had too much game for my childhood rival. I simply overpowered him, playing out the most basic storyline in men’s tennis.

I faced a surprise finalist at Flushing Meadows, the Frenchman Cédric Pioline. This was a guy with a tricky game; he was a good mover, and he had a stroking repertoire that he used to good effect to keep opponents guessing. But it was also his first Grand Slam final, and that’s a pretty daunting assignment for a guy well along in his career, unaccustomed to the thin air at the peak of the game.

One of the curveballs thrown at guys who get one or two chances at the golden ring of a Grand Slam title is the conditions that greet you on the big day. Nobody daydreams about playing a Grand Slam final under diificult conditions that make it tough to play your best or most attractive tennis. In the finals of your dreams, the sun is shining, the air is still, the crowd is poised and hanging on every forehand and backhand with oohs and aahs.

But it rarely works out that way. It was windy on the day of the Open final – it seems like it was always windy in Louis Armstrong Stadium – and that probably bothered Pioline. I went into the match thinking How do I win this match with the least amount of drama and trouble? I played within myself, and he seemed nervous and not entirely comfortable on the big stage.

I won 6-4 6-4 6-3, and the match marked the beginning of the period when I dominated the game.”

Stefan Edberg, 1992 US Open champion

By Alison Muscatine, Washington Post, September 14, 1992

It was a long time coming, but Stefan Edberg repeats U.S. Open title. In a match of second, third seeds and last two champions, Stefan Edberg punches out a 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 victory over Pete Sampras.

Stefan Edberg mustered just enough energy to win the U.S. Open today. The battle-weary defending champion outlasted an exhausted Pete Sampras to win the final in Louis Armstrong Stadium, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 Edberg’s victory capped one of the most arduous fortnights in recent memory. Coming into the match, the 26-year-old Swede had played more sets than any finalist since 1951, including three straight five-setters. But today his perseverance was rewarded as he claimed his first Grand Slam title of the year and regained the No.1 ranking he relinquished to Jim Courier five months ago. When Sampras thumped a backhand service return into the net to end the 2-hour 52-minute match, Edberg leaped over the net, shook Sampras’s hand, and ran to the friends’ box to give his wife, Annette, a long embrace.

“I really earned it this year, I think,” the mild-mannered Edberg said as he ogled his sixth Grand Slam trophy. “I really worked hard.”

Instead of a riveting dogfight, the final was more like a battle of the walking wounded. The third-seeded Sampras was plagued by acute stomach cramps at the end of his semifinal victory Saturday night over top-seeded Courier, and afterward was given fluids intravenously to combat dehydration. Overnight and early this morning he suffered from diarrhea and intestinal cramps, but took some medicine to settle his stomach and insisted that he felt fine when the match began at 4 p.m.

By the fourth set, however, the 21-year-old American visibly faded. His body slumped, his shins were sore and his feet seemed glued to the court. For both players, it was almost a relief when the match ended.

“I just ran out of gas,” Sampras said. “I was just very tired, very exhausted.”

Seldom had two finalists arrived on court having been so physically and mentally strained. The second-seeded Edberg had survived a record-setting 5-hour 26-minute semifinal against Michael Chang on Saturday and had played 24 sets in his first six matches. He hadn’t had a day off since Wednesday.
Sampras, meanwhile, had played two five-set matches back-to-back earlier in the week and obviously was fatigued by the time he encountered Courier in the semifinals.
Despite their respective conditions, both appeared remarkably fresh when the match began on a cool, dry afternoon. Edberg had warmed up for 90 minutes to overcome lingering stiffness and said he felt mentally stronger than at any point during the tournament. And Sampras, at least at the outset, was strong enough to rifle some big serves and claim the first set.

It was a rare match-up of serve-and-volleyers and of two of the most elegant players. They had played four times, with Sampras easily winning the last two.
Inevitably, today’s match was a duel for control of the net. Edberg routinely chipped and charged on Sampras’ second serve or approached off the first short ball. Sampras followed his big serve in and hoped to take advantage of Edberg’s weaker ground strokes. But that only worked well at the beginning. In the second set Sampras’s serve began to falter — he missed 56 percent of his first serves — and Edberg stepped up the pressure with skidding returns to the corners that he followed with volleys.

“I think my serve really let me down today,” Sampras said. “Maybe it was the occasion. I was a little more tight than I would normally be. I think that affected my serve.”

Edberg‘s plan was to try to stay with Sampras as long as his body would hold up. Fortuitously, he found his groove on serve and held easily in the second set. He also was determined to take advantage of any mental lapse on the part of his opponent. Although Sampras staved off three break points at 2-3, he gave Edberg another chance serving at 4-5. A double fault at 40-30 brought the score to deuce. A backhand long gave Edberg break point. And a trademark backhand volley down the line by Edberg ended the set.
The tenor of the match shifted markedly at the end of the third set. Sampras broke Edberg at 4-4 and served for the set at 5-4. But, again troubled on his serve, Sampras double-faulted on break point to even the score at 5. He was equally lax when they went into a tiebreaker. He double-faulted at 4-5 in the tiebreaker to set up two set points. Then he launched a backhand passing shot wide, resulting in a 2-sets-to-1 lead for Edberg.

“Once I got the third set he lost momentum,” Edberg said. “I put a lot of pressure on him.”

While Edberg became increasingly authoritative on his volleys and more confident overall, Sampras’s energy and conviction seemed to wane. He lost the first game of the fourth set with another double fault on break point. Serving at 0-2, he watched flat-footed as Edberg rifled a forehand passing shot cross-court and then a forehand service return down the line to get another break.

“I could see him drop a little bit,” Edberg said. “I noticed that he got a lot slower and didn’t move that well.”
Sampras tried to remain confident but his body was too sore to allow it. “It was more mental than anything,” he said. “I was just telling myself that my body couldn’t do it and as a result it didn’t.”

Edberg, by contrast, served better and better, a welcome relief after a disastrous day on Saturday when he fired 18 double faults. He hit only five double faults in this match.
Most important, Edberg’s serving prowess enabled him to take full advantage of his volleys. By the fourth set he was unerring, often winning points on the first shot, and taking total control of the net. In all, Edberg approached 133 times, compared with 65 for Sampras.

“The longer the match went on the better I felt physically,” Edberg said. “I was a bit surprised, actually.”

For Sampras, the loss was a painful finale to his best Grand Slam year ever. He had advanced to the quarterfinals on clay in Paris, to the semifinals on grass at Wimbledon, and had hoped to build toward a title here. His prospects looked good. He had won 10 matches in a row and claimed back-to-back titles in warm-up tournaments in Cincinnati and Indianapolis.
He also had a new appreciation of what another Open title would mean. After becoming the youngest champion here in 1990, at 19, he struggled with his newfound fame for most of the next year. But in the last eight months his improving tennis had been accompanied by a new maturity and a new outlook.

“I said coming into this tournament that if I could win, it would mean more to me than in 1990,” he said. “In 1990 it all happened so fast, probably too fast. I didn’t realize the importance and the history of the tournament. Coming in today I definitely knew of the importance. It was a huge match.”

But a summer of tennis that stretched from Wimbledon to the Olympics to the U.S. hard-court season clearly had taken a toll on his body. Despite his hard work and his dreams, Sampras had little left to give by match time today.

“I came close but it wasn’t enough,” he said. “I had my chances. I couldn’t finish it off. It was just a pretty tough day at the office.”