Sampras clinches Davis Cup victory

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Pete Sampras demolished Yevgeny Kafelnikov yesterday for his third victory of the weekend, one which carried the United States to the Davis Cup title for the 31st time after a 3-2 victory over Russia.

Sampras, 24, the world No 1, mastered the clay court that was supposed to give the Russians an advantage, as well as overcoming a fiercely patriotic crowd and a thigh injury. He subdued the world No 6 Kafelnikov 6-2, 6- 4, 7-6, his 16th ace of the day giving the Americans an unassailable 3- 1 lead which became 3-2 when Andrei Chesnokov beat Jim Courier 6-7 7-5 6-0 in the final match.

After Sampras had joined captain Tom Gullikson in a victory hug, and accepted the congratulations of his team-mates, the pair paid tribute to Gullikson's twin brother Tim, Sampras' coach, who is recuperating after a heart attack last year.

Sampras said: "It is a great win for the team and I am happy for Tom. It has been a very emotional year for us both and it couldn't happen to a nicer guy. I thought about Tim during the match, and Tom. It has been a tough year for both of us dealing with Tim's situation."

Sampras allowed Kafelnikov few chances in the first two sets before taking a 3-1 lead in the decider. Kafelnikov broke back to lead 4-3, with the pair exchanging service breaks at 5-5 before Sampras dropped his to love to force the tie-break.

Sampras won three successive points to lead it 5-2, finally clinching the title with an ace down the middle.

DAVIS CUP Final (Moscow): US beat Russia 3-2 (US names first): P Sampras bt A Chesnokov 3-6 6-4 6-3 6-7 6-4; J Courier lost to Y Kafelnikov 6-7 5-7 3-6; Sampras and T Martin bt Kafelnikov and A Olkhovsky 7-5 6-4 6- 3; Sampras bt Kafelnikov 6-2 6-4 7-6; Courier lost to Chesnokov 7-6 4- 6 0-6.