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2002 REVIEW: Serena and Sampras [Dec 23, 2002]

Associated Press
Dec 23, 2002 9:50 p.m.

Tennis 2002 was mainly about Serena and Sampras.
For all the out-of-nowhere champions, fantastic comebacks and high-profile spats, the sport’s most significant scenes came courtesy of the younger Williams and Pistol Pete.

Emerging as the best player in her home and the world, Williams swept the last three Grand Slam titles for what she called a “Serena Slam” — beating sister Venus each time.

If hers was the most impressive overall performance, Sampras’ exclamation point of a U.S. Open had to be the most personally satisfying moment.

“This one may take the cake,” Sampras said after beating Andre Agassi for a fifth U.S. Open title and record 14th in a Grand Slam event. “The way I’ve been going this year, to come through a very tough time and play like this – it was awesome.”

He had been hounded for more than a year by questions about retirement. Sampras entered the Open with a 20-16 match record for the year, no titles since July 2000, and he even was written off by Greg Rusedski as “a step and a half slow” AFTER their match at Flushing Meadows.

The final against Agassi was a marquee matchup straight out of the early 1990s. Sampras is his generation’s greatest server, Agassi its top returner, and each played the assigned role to perfection. Sampras boomed 33 aces at up to 132 mph, and won the point on 69 of 105 net trips. Agassi conjured up 19 groundstroke winners to Sampras’ 16.

Even Agassi acknowledged: “It was special.”

And maybe their sons will meet at the 2022 U.S. Open: Sampras’ wife, actress Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, gave birth in November

Filed under: Archives 2003 to 2011

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