Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sampras Serves Third Helping Becker Cedes Wimbledon Deed

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sampras Serves Third Helping Becker Cedes Wimbledon Deed

Article excerpt

Boris Becker owns Wimbledon's heart. Pete Sampras owns something much more significant: Wimbledon's fabled Centre Court.

Maybe someday fans here will embrace Sampras as they did Becker during the men's championship match on Sunday. But for now they at least must accept him. They have no choice. He is now part of the All England Club's history.

Etching his name alongside the greatest champions in the 109 years of Wimbledon, Sampras deployed laser-guided serves to dispatch Becker, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 6-4, 6-2, and capture his third consecutive title.

Sampras served so efficiently he never faced a break point. At one stretch he won 24 of 26 service points, including his first 20 of the third set.

Sampras, 23, becomes the first American to win three in a row here, and he joins Bjorn Borg of Sweden (who won five) as the only players to win three in a row since British hero Fred Perry finished off his run in 1936.

"Right now it's kind of a blur, to tell you the truth," said Sampras, who owns six Grand Slam titles. "I haven't really thought about it. I'll go back home and take some time off and really reflect on what I just did. Right now it's going so fast that it's hard to appreciate it."

Becker, 27, had no problem putting Sampras' achievement in perspective. He owns three Wimbledon himself, the first coming 10 years ago. He also has been runner-up four times.

"A very amazing feat that he's done that," Becker said. "Unfortunately, he owns the Centre Court now. I used to own it a few years back, but it belongs to him."

Added Becker's coach, Nick Bollettieri, "When a guy plays like he did today, nobody can beat him. He's still the best player in the world."

Becker went home with more than a second-place plate, though. The fans, who were overwhelmingly in his favor during the match, cajoled him into taking a lap around Centre Court afterward. It was a rare show of affection for a runner-up.

"It was one of the nicer feelings I've ever had," Becker said. "It made me feel a part of Wimbledon."

Sampras seems too stoic to secure a following. He never rants and rarely jokes. His slam-bam serve-and-volley game is suited to grass courts but not drama.

Becker said Sampras will be appreciated "when he gets a little older and new players come along. …

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