Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Aces Are Wild in Men's Final at Wimbledon

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Aces Are Wild in Men's Final at Wimbledon

Article excerpt

For almost two weeks, Pete Sampras and Goran Ivanisevic blasted through Wimbledon, blitzing opponents with powerful, pinpoint serves. They each lost just one set.

They are headed for a slam-bam Sunday final to the 108th men's championship.

"It's going to be a lot of serving, not a lot of rallies," Sampras said. "We'll give it a shot."

Make that a blast.

In Friday's semifinal, Ivanisevic blew past Boris Becker 6-2, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4. He hit 22 aces, just about his average.

He won the point every time he hit a good first serve in the opening set. In the second set tie-breaker, when Becker had a set point, Ivanisevic hit a supersonic ace.

"It was the best exhibition of serving against me ever," Becker said. "With Goran and Pete, it will be the first one to serve 40 aces."

This is Ivanisevic's second trip to the final. He lost to Andre Agassi in 1992. That was the year he defeated Sampras in the semifinals.

"This year is different," said Ivanisevic, a Croatian. "Two years ago, I let Agassi beat me. I beat myself. I think I am playing much better mentally than two years ago. Mentally, I'm much cooler."

Sampras had 13 aces and said he served well only on big points. He yielded his first set of the tournament but stopped Todd Martin 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

He will bid to become the first repeat champion since Becker in 1986. He lost his chance to become the first since Bjorn Borg in 1976 to win the title without losing a set.

"I'm not satisfied," Sampras said. "I want to keep on going and try to defend. You get so close, you want to be holding up that trophy."

It's hard to imagine Ivanisevic's serve being better. He made just two double-faults against those 22 aces. His ratio now stands 26-140.

He and Becker gave the Centre Court crowd some dramatic and animated tennis, a stark contrast to the businesslike manner of the first match. Fans, polite but passive in the opener, roared with appreciation for the second match.

Becker admitted he played some of his best tennis. Ivanisevic said he is playing so well, he will be difficult to beat.

History contributes to Ivanisevic's confidence. He holds a 5-3 lead over Sampras, but his last victory was indoors last November in Paris. …

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