Apell Crumble - Sampras let off hook as Jan blows it
June 12, 1994
The world no. 1 survived a matchpoint in the second set before scraping
home 3-6, 7-6, 6-2 against Swedish outsider Jan Apell and then admitted:
"I was lucky to come through.
"I was completely outplayed in the first set and it was in his hands
to win the match.
"He had no nerves, came out swinging and kicked my butt for a while
- he could and should have won."
But Apell, ranked 127 in the world, crumbled when serving at 5-2 in the
second-set tiebreak, having blown his chance at match-point in the 12th
Apell, who knocked out British here Jeremy Bates in the quarter-final, stormed
into a 2-0 lead at the start of the final set before Sampras hit top gear
and knocked off six successive games to take the match.
The left-handed Swede's great run has come to late to earn a place in the
singles draw at Wimbledon and he will shun the qualifying event in favour
of chasing ranking points in Manchester next week.
Sampras added: "If I were him, I would try and qualify for the big
W. Wimbledon is the biggest of them all."
Apell said: "Of course I'm disappointed after being match-point up
against the No. 1 player in the world. It was too much for me in the final
Play was halted for 43 minutes by a bomb scare but then American Todd Martin
swept away South African Christo van Rensburg 6-1, 6-4 in the second semi-final
to set up a repeat of this year's Australian Open final.
Article and photo supplied by Georgia Christoforou
Sampras poetry in motion
June 12, 1994
"It's the echo of the ball, the way it sounds in the stadium,"
Pete Sampras said yesterday. He had just come off court at Queen's Club
after his Stella Artois semi-final, but already he was looking to Wimbledon
and trying to explain what it is that he loves about the place.
There is more to it than just the fact that he won there last year. And
for a moment, it was like listening to Mike Tyson talking about boxing history.
A practitioner of the harsher modern arts reflecting with affection and
sensitivity on the predecessors and the traditions he continues to revere.
"In my mind it's the granddaddy of them all," Sampras observed,
when asked what a year spent as Wimbledon champion had meant to him. "It's
like the Masters in golf."
Well, he is an American, and still quite young. But there was a special
note in his voice when he spoke of watching the 17-year-old Boris Becker
win his first title when he himself was a mere 13. "There's a lot of
history when you just walk into the place," he continued. "The
Lavers and the Rosewalls, in their day they played three of their Grand
Slam tournaments on grass. Wimbledon is the only one left."
For all his youth and his stooped, shambling, bow-legged gait, you do
not have to look very far to see the poetry in Pete Sampras's soul. Anyone
who says it is not there in his tennis ought to go out and buy a pair of
spectacles. Sampras plays tennis like Laver, his idol, did, with the maximum
of application and the minimum of fuss. He may not command the grace-notes
that decorated the repertoire of a McEnroe, but the clean lines and sudden
ferocity of his game express their own kind of beauty.
Against Jan Apell in yesterday's semi-final, the world No 1 started so
badly against the world No 127 that he found himself at 3-6, 5-6 and advantage
Apell, and serving to save the match. An Apell error and two whistling clean
aces kept him alive, but a few minutes later he was looking at the wrong
end of 2-5 in the tie-break. "At that point, I don't like my chances,"
he said later. "I'd been a bit tentative. I came out there today as
not the most intense-looking player in the world, and the bottom line is
that I was very lucky to come through. I was completely outplayed in the
first set, and I got tentative on the volleys in the tie breaker. Basically
it was in his hands to win. So I just told myself to go for it."
Sampras was not surprised by the seriousness of Apell's challenge. "I
knew he'd beaten Goran, who's a great serve-and- volley player, so I was
prepared for him to play well. He came out with no nerves, which is the
right approach for the No 127 when he's playing the world No 1.
"Basically, he was kicking my butt. I hung in there, which is what
you have to do on grass. I was a little sluggish at the beginning of the
match, but in the end I came up with the big shots at the right time."
Apell's finest moment came at 2-2 in the tie-break, when he commanded
the net and volleyed Sampras's drives until he found the angle to put one
away. Two unforced errors by the American on his own service took the underdog
to 5-2, with two service points for the match. "At that point,"
Sampras said, "he probably should have won." But five points in
a row did the job, including a magical disguised forehand across the server's
In the third set, Sampras's run of 13 points out of 14 between the fourth
and seventh games tore the guts out of the Swede, who conceded his final
service game and the match to a running forehand pass that must have put
the Wimbledon champion in a good mood for today's final, and for the bigger
challenge to come.