Classic US Open

This entry was posted on Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Pete Sampras vs Marat Safin.

The 2011 US Open starts on Monday (wind-assisted this year) but its final is unlikely to be as breath-taking as this classic from 2000.

Marat Safin’s finest hour came on the hard courts of Flushing Meadows eleven years ago. Not many gave him a chance against the man with 13 Grand Slams to his name, but he destroyed Pete Sampras in straight sets.

Andre Agassi was the number one seed and defending champion, but he got dumped out early by Arnaud Clement. 4x champion Sampras meanwhile had strolled to the final, losing just one set in the process, and started as hot favourite.

Safin was frightening that night, in the words of one journalist, “thumping everything as if he was just standing waiting for a bus. Safin read everything like it was one of those books for old folks. Large print, and with a magnifying glass.”

Take a look at some of the mesmerising shots the Russian served up here, and then sob for a long time that he didn’t do it more often.

Safin never quite lived up to his potential, lifting only one other major (against Lleyton Hewitt in Australia 2005) whilst Sampras was to come again, notching up number 14 at the same venue two years later.

In many ways however, this was a symbolic moment – the end of the serve & volley dominance in the men’s game that was to eventually usher in Novak, Roger and Rafa.

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