Tennis / Wimbledon '93: A powerful new champion wins over Wimbledon crowd after beating its favourites

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The Independent Online
INDEPENDENCE Day was marked by Pete Sampras, a 21-year-old Californian, yesterday becoming the 21st American to be crowned men's singles champion at Wimbledon, writes John Roberts.

Sampras, the top seed and world No 1, defeated Jim Courier, from Florida, 7-6 7-6 3-6 6-3. Thoughout the tournament he displayed a grass-court style of serving and volleying that could see him return to take the title again and again.

Fred Perry, the last British winner (three times in succession from 1934), predicted that Sampras was a future champion after seeing him gain his first title at Philadelphia in 1990. That year, Sampras won the US Open, his only other Grand Slam championship. Perry was in the Royal Box yesterday to see him fulfil his promise. Perry has likened the youngster to Pancho Gonzales. 'He moves like oil,' he said. 'You don't hear him. You only hear the other guy, who's losing.'

Sampras's idol is Rod Laver, the Australian left-hander who twice accomplished the Grand Slam of four major titles in a calendar year in the Sixties. At 14, Sampras was encouraged to watch videos of Laver while changing his baseliner style. Besides impressing the critics at Wimbledon, Sampras won over the spectators even though he beat their favourites, Boris Becker and Andre Agassi. A week ago the normally quiet American sparked controversy with an outburst on leaving Court 14 after a fourth-round win over Andrew Foster. Yesterday he was the hero.

Photograph: David Ashdown; report, page 32

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