Tennis: Sampras hits back to reach the semi-finals
Saturday 23 November 1996
In today's semi-finals, Sampras will face Croatia's Goran Ivanisevic, the world No 4, in a repeat of the 1994 Wimbledon final. Becker, who was 29 yesterday, meets theWimbledon champion, Richard Krajicek. The Dutchman had to work hard for his 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 victory over the Austrian Thomas Muster in the final match of the round-robin stage. Becker's last match proved academic and he lost it to Sweden's Thomas Enqvist 6-3, 7-6.
Sampras is now fourth among active players in the table of number of matches won. Becker has 664, Mats Wilander 571 and Muster 539. Stefan Edberg is the leader on 806, but he is retiring at the end of the year.
"The loss yesterday was obviously disappointing. But today was a new day and I thought I played very well," Sampras said.
Sampras, like Becker seeking a record third title in the season-ending championship that brings together the top eight players in the world, broke Kafelnikov in the very first game to set the tone.
The early break allowed the American to cruise through the first set, although he survived three break points in the sixth game.
The second followed a similar pattern, with Sampras gaining a break for a 2-1 lead. But Kafelnikov finally rose to the occasion when he hit a superb backhand winner to break back and even at 4-4.
The Russian's rally did not last long, however. He saved four break points in the next game, but hit a backhand long to drop his serve.
Serving for the match, Sampras double-faulted to face two break points. A service winner and an ace got him out of trouble, a smash gave him match point and the American converted it with a soft, slice volley.
"I wanted to end it. I definitely wanted to win in straight sets, '' Sampras said. "It's not easy to play after losing such a tough match like yesterday. It was mentally draining. But I got up, put Boris behind me and I got off to a great start in today's match."
"I feel I played a great match but he is the No 1 and he proved it at crucial moments," Kafelnikov said.
Latest in Sport
Manchester United vs Chelsea: Louis van Gaal - I could have axed Ryan Giggs and I could have sacked Jose Mourinho, too!
Manchester United vs Chelsea: Radamel Falcao a doubt for key Premier League clash
Real Madrid vs Barcelona player ratings: Luis Suarez rated on his debut
Gus Poyet future: Sunderland manager on brink after Arsenal pile misery on top of 8-0 defeat
Manchester United vs Chelsea analysis: Simplest errors at the back are leaving United very vulnerable, writes Danny Higginbotham
- 1 Stem cells that can kill cancer have been engineered by scientists
- 2 Ricky Gervais and Dame Judi Dench back campaign to stop Thailand dog meat trade
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 5 Queen's first tweet: Reply telling Her Majesty to 'f*** off' broadcast on BBC News
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Tony Blair 'says Ed Miliband will lose 2015 general election'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Putin: The US is to blame for almost all the world's major conflicts
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...