One year earlier, Sampras had beaten his archrival Agassi in final, and equalled Emerson’s record of 12 Grand Slam singles titles. He was expected to break the record in front of the US crowd, but had to withdraw just a few days before the 99 Us Open due to a back injury. Beaten in the semifinals of the 00′ Oz Open and in the first round of Roland Garros, Sampras entered Wimbledon injured (shin inflammation).

Had this been any other tournament, Sampras said following the final, he would have pulled out. But Wimbledon is not just another tournament and instead he decided to skip practice sessions. And it proved to be a good decision as he benefited from an easy draw. Before the final, the highest-ranked player Sampras faced was No. 56, Jan-Michael Gambill. His opponents were in succession Jiri Novak, Karol Kucera, Justin Gimelstob, Jonas Bjorkman, Jan Michael Gambill, Vladimir Voltchkov and the popular Aussie Pat Rafter in the final.

Pete Sampras
Pete Sampras

Pat won the first set 12-10 in the tiebreak, then lead 4-1 in the second set tiebreak and had two set points. But Rafter blinked, Sampras escaped to level the match, and there was nothing left to do: Sampras was in the zone and nobody could have stopped him. Sampras captured his 7th and final Wimbledon title and broke Emerson’s record, defeating Rafter in four sets 6–7(10) 7–6(5) 6–4 6–2.

Nice to see a very emotional Sampras (for once):

Pete Sampras

Sampras parents Sammy and Georgia:

Sampras' parents

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A repeat of a match played 12 months earlier at the same stage, this encounter between Pat Rafter and Andre Agassi is one of the most memorable Wimbledon semifinal ever. Ok, I’m totally biased because Rafter is my second all time favorite
player (after you know who). But this match is really entertaining and with high quality tennis: definitely a classic.

Andre Agassi

Pat Rafter

Two very contrasting styles: Agassi’s returns and passing shots vs Rafter’s serve and volley.

Pat Rafter

Andre Agassi

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