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Pete Sampras speaks to Sue Barker after his epic win
"It's my home away from home"
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Sunday, 9 July, 2000, 22:40 GMT 23:40 UK
Sampras' magnificent seven
Pete Sampras
Sampras snuffed out the threat of Rafter
(1) P Sampras (US) bt (12) P Rafter (Aus) 6-7 (10-12) 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-2

A tearful Pete Sampras became the most successful player in men's tennis by claiming the Wimbledon singles crown for a seventh time.

The all-conquering American eclipsed Roy Emerson's record of 12 Grand Slams by snuffing out the threat of Pat Rafter in a rain-affected match.

There to see Sampras' triumph on Centre Court were his ecstatic parents, who were quick to embrace their son minutes after he had clinched victory.

It was an emotional moment - and one which lit up the All England Club in the gathering gloom.

Emotions

Sampras certainly found it hard to stop the tears from rolling down his cheeks.

"It means so much to me," he said as he pondered his achievement.

The match eventually finished just shy of 2100 BST but was worth the wait.


Pete Sampras
Sampras reached out for victory
Until Sampras took control of the match midway through the fourth set, it was by no means certain just who would prevail.

Both players were in top form, Sampras showing no signs of the tendinitis injury which had dogged him for most of the championships.

But it was Rafter who started slightly the better.

Deep

The Australian won the first set after a lengthy tie-break - but needed to dig deep into his reserves to do so.

Resuming at 4-4 and deuce after a two-and-a-half hour break, he was in danger of handing Sampras a crucial break when he served a double fault.


Pat Rafter
Rafter gave it his all
But, with the atmosphere beginning to build, the 12th seed held his nerve as the set went down to the wire.

Sampras' serve, normally so reliable, let him down in a big way in the tie-break.

Both players had chances but the American cracked first, his fifth double fault giving Rafter the opening set.

It was a totally different story in the second set.

Gasket

That also went to a tie-break - but this time it was Rafter who blew a gasket when seemingly in control.

At 4-1 up, he was on course to increase his lead as Sampras threw in another double fault and then over-hit a regulation forehand.

But the defending champion hit back in stunning fashion, celebrating his fifth straight point with a rare show of emotion.


The final was interrupted twice by rain
The final was interrupted twice by rain
That gave him a firm grip of the tie-break - and he did not let go as he squared the match up a one set apiece.

Sampras seemed to step up a gear as a result, putting Rafter's serve under even more pressure with a string of fiercely-hit returns.

They eventually took their toll in the fifth game of the third set.

Convert

Sampras had failed to convert any of the nine break points which had previously come his way.

But he made the 10th count as he went 3-2 in front.

That breakthrough proved vital, Rafter battling hard to level but failing to stop Sampras from claiming the set 6-4.


Pat Rafter
Rafter was broken twice in the fourth set
The fifth game was also the important one in the fourth set.

Sampras broke for only the second time in the match to take another giant step towards victory.

With the light fading, there were concerns that the match would have to be suspended until Monday.

But Sampras ensured there was no need to make a special trip back to Centre Court by breaking again in the seventh game.

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See also:

08 Jul 00 |  Photo Galleries
Men's semi-finals in pictures
07 Jul 00 |  Wimbledon2000
Sampras cruises into final
07 Jul 00 |  Wimbledon2000
Rafter knocks out Agassi in epic semi
07 Jul 00 |  Wimbledon2000
Carter tips Rafter for men's final
09 Jul 00 |  Photo Galleries
Men's singles final: In pictures
09 Jul 00 |  Wimbledon2000
Sampras shows champion spirit
09 Jul 00 |  Wimbledon2000
The green, green grass of home
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