Tennis: Martin just too strong for Sampras: World No 1 puts the blame for modern-day power game on improved physical attributes after losing without dropping his serve

ONLY five players have defeated Pete Sampras this year, and Todd Martin became the latest yesterday without breaking the world No 1's serve in the final of the Stella Artois Championships. Rumour has it that there was a seven-stroke rally, but it has yet to be confirmed.

Big men with big serves equals small points on fast surfaces. Martin and Sampras were too proficient for the Centre Court lawn at Queen's, and past experience suggests that Wimbledon is unlikely to take much pace out of the power game a week hence.

Martin, ranked eight places lower but standing five inches higher at 6ft 6in, served and returned the better over the 93 minutes to win 7-6, 7-6 and deny Sampras his 50th victory of the year. The 23-year-old from Michigan joins an assorted elite of Sampras stoppers: a Moroccan, Karim Alami (in Qatar); a Dutchman, Jacco Eltingh (in Philadelphia); a German, Michael Stich (in Dusseldorf); and a fellow American, Jim Courier (at the French Open).

The Wimbledon, United States and Australian Open champion had done well to last until Sunday, having survived a match point against Sweden's Jan Apell, ranked No 127, in the semi-finals.

Sun blessed the final, as it did last year, when Stich's straight-sets win against South Africa's Wayne Ferreira failed to inspire the 6,000 spectators. On that occasion, the German simply served too well for his opponent. For the most part yesterday, that applied on both sides of the net. Martin hit 15 aces to Sampras's 14 and served two double faults to four from his rival.

There were only three break points. Two were against Sampras in the second game of the match. He double-faulted to offer a chance at 30-30, only for Martin to direct a return over the baseline. Sampras then hit a backhand wide, but saved himself with a backhand volley.

In the following game, Martin delivered an ace for 40-0 and then saw the points eaten away by Sampras's returns. One of them, a forehand down the line, gave Sampras the chance to break, but Martin produced a winning serve.

Sampras, who had recovered from 2-5 in a second set tie-break against Apell, was allowed no escape on this occasion. He double- faulted for 2-4, and Martin held firm to take first shoot-out, 7-4.

In the second tie-break, Martin attacked Sampras's serve to lead 3- 2 and closed the contest, 7-4, again with a smash on his third match point.

But what about the poor spectators? 'Maybe it's a bit like watching cricket,' Sampras said before taking the point seriously. 'As big as we're serving, our offensive game is almost too good for this surface. It's almost impossible to break serve. In the last five years the speed of the game has pushed up. It's not the most exciting tennis to watch, but that's the surface we're playing on.'

He did not agree that racket technology is responsible. 'I've been using the same racket for six or seven years,' he said. 'I just think the guys are getting stronger and quicker and are serving a lot bigger.' He suggested that ball changes on grass and indoor courts be made after nine and 11 games instead of seven and nine. 'That might slow it up a bit.'

It was Martin's first contest with Sampras on grass, and his first win against him at the fourth attempt. Their last meeting was in the Australian Open final in January. Having added the Queen's title to those he has won in Coral Springs and Memphis, he was in no mood to fret about public stimulation.

'The amount of shots hit may not be as much, but if people understand the ebb and flow of a match then I think they should enjoy it,' he said. 'It was a close match, and the fact that one type of play dominated should not matter as much as the fact that we both played well, and they should appreciate that.'

(Photograph omitted)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions