US Open Memories: Rafter vs. Sampras 1998

This was a great match and maybe one of the last great clashes between two guys making their way toward the net with great frequency.  Before tennis conditions began to slow down and strings began to make passing shots easier to hit, some attacking players were serve and then volley if necessary players.  Sampras and Rafter could back up their serves with good net play. Sampras had a better all-court game, but Rafter’s net reflexes were preternatural.  Both men were among the best athletes on tour at that time.  This led to a highly entertaining match.

Rafter had won the 1997 US Open as well as 3 tune-up events including Super 9 titles in Cincinnati and Canada.  The Aussie was ranked 3rd in the world.  Sampras was #1 in the world.  Pete had won the US Open 4 times including the 1995 and 1996 titles.  These men would own the US Open over a 4 year period.

Sampras pulled up lame at some point in the third set, but managed to sneak out the set.  Rafter was pretty annoyed about losing the 3rd set if I recall, but he calmed himself and took the 4th and 5th sets.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Mike Swanquis says:

    It might sound silly coming off his performance in Canada, but I think Tsonga could benefit from adopting a more Rafter-esque style to his game. There’s no way his massive body can hold up over a long season unless he shortens the points, and while I wouldn’t put his net game anywhere in the league of Rafter’s, with a little work I think he could hone the tools he already has to at least become a Rafter Lite.

    1. Dan Martin says:

      He would pressure people in a big way playing that way. Rafter and Edberg could also take some pressure off of themselves as their tactics and strategy was worked out they did not need to think what do I do on a break point second serve – they were taking it up the line and moving forward. If a player knows what he’s going to do, he may be predictable, but indecision is not an issue.

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