Sampras clinches Davis Cup victory

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The Independent Online
Tennis

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.

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