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Sunday, 9 July, 2000, 21:01 GMT 22:01 UK
The green, green grass of home
Pete Sampras
Pete Sampras celebrates his seventh Wimbledon singles title
Pete Sampras described Wimbledon's centre court as his "home away from home" after he eclipsed Pat Rafter in the rapidly-fading light to claim a seventh men's singles title.

The victory also saw him surpass Roy Emerson's record of 12 grand slam titles and Sampras was close to tears as he accepted the trophy yet again from the Duchess of Kent.

"It means so much to me. I have grown to love playing Wimbledon and I will always come back, even when I am done playing," he said.

"This is the best court in the world and it has become my home away from home.

Pete Sampras celebrates
Sampras sees off Rafter's challenge

"My parents were here to see me and it was so important to have them here. This is the first title they have seen me win - they saw me lose to Stefan Edberg in 92 at the US Open and I thought I was on my way to losing again."

Sampras overcame a shin injury to claim his latest title but insisted he was always prepared to play through the pain.

"The last week and a half has been difficult, but this is the best event in the world and you have to do whatever it takes to play here.

"It is always special to win at Wimbledon. These are the moments why I play and especially playing a gentleman like Pat. He's a class guy on and off the court."

Rafter displayed much of that on-court class to move to within three points of a 2-0 sets lead, but he was eventually overpowered as Sampras moved up a gear in the fading Centre Court light.

Pat Rafter
Pat Rafter rued missed opportunities in the second set

"I had my opportunity early but when you play great champion like Pete you have to take them," he said.

"I just got a little too nervous, but I knew what was on the line and that's the way it goes."

Rafter has also battled back from a serious injury after undergoing shoulder surgery last year and he surprised even himself by reaching the final.

"I wasn't expecting anything this year and anything that did come around was a bonus.

"This is a very big bonus. It would have been good to have won but second place isn't too bad," he said.

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See also:

09 Jul 00 |  Wimbledon2000
Sampras in seventh heaven
09 Jul 00 |  Photo Galleries
Men's singles final: In pictures
09 Jul 00 |  Wimbledon2000
Sampras v Rafter: Clockwatch
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