Pistol Pete Sampras in 5-set shoot out!!!
January 21, 2000
MELBOURNE - An unconvincing 5 set win by Pete Sampras over Wayne Black a qualifier from Zimbabwe, advances to the 4th Round of the Australian Open, by a score-line that reads - 6-7 (9-11) 3-6 6-3 7-5 6-3.
Sampras seeded 3rd struggled past the lowly 151st ranked Black, and at times it looked as if the Zimbabwean would give an unusually sluggish looking Sampras his earliest defeat at the Australian Open since the first round loss he suffered in 1989!
Black consistently hit cross-court winners, he continually unsettled Sampras's rhythm by slowing the pace of the game and by using a high kicking serve easily won his own service games. Sampras found himself staring down the barrel of defeat at 2-sets down, having lost them 6-7, 3-6.
Somehow you never can rule out Sampras even in circumstances when he finds himself a set or two down, and like the true champion he is he started to find his rhythm and used his formidable serve to fight his way back into the match, but did not show his best until the 5th and final set of the match.
Sampras converted a break point on Black's serve in the 7th game of that set and again in the 9th and final game of the match.
Sampras had earlier been shocked by Black forcing the 1st set into a tiebreaker, which Black took 11-9. This 26-year-old right-handed player proceeded to snatch an early break on Sampras's service game in the 2nd set.
The CRUCIAL TURNING POINT in Sampras's favour came when Sampras broke Black's serve in the 11th game of the fourth set. This was achieved by an effort from Sampras, rushing to the net and executing a delicate drop shot thus firmly regaining the upper hand and control of the match. He then won the set 7-5 by winning his service game and forcing the match into a deciding 5th set.
INTERESTING STATISTIC: SAMPRAS FIVE SET MATCHES AT THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN ARE 8 WINS 0 LOSSES!
During this match Sampras fired down no more than 36 Aces, something he admitted after the match was the most he had ever served in one match in his whole career. He also admitted ominously that he had yet to find his serving range! He also acknowledged that the combination of a new court surface and high-pressurised balls contributed in creating the quickest of conditions he had ever experienced before.
Regarding the brave performance of Wayne Black, he was quick to insist that he had no regrets at not being able to capitalise on 2-set lead and seal what would have been the biggest scalp of his career so far. After all he had just played against a living legend, and given this legend a run for his money!
Based on: Sampras Digs Deep to Survive (Ian Cockerill) & Sampras Survives 5-Setter (Reuters) & Slingshot Sampras (Ray Masters)