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Rafter v Sampras, 1998 final - Cincinnati Masters Classics (video)

Steven Webb in ATP Tour 26 Mar 2015

In 1997, Australia’s Pat Rafter admitted that he and Pete Sampras were not the best of friends, after exchanging some terse words following Rafter’s US Open victory that year. 

With the tension palpable, the pair met in the final of the Cincinnati Masters in 1998, and each man was determined to get the upper hand. Sampras came charging out of the blocks, serving and volleying to perfection on his way to a 6-1 shutout. But Rafter began to find his range in the second set, rushing the net with equal gusto to sneak it on a tie-break. 

There was little to separate the rivals in the decider, but in the ninth game the Aussie managed to break. Serving for the championship, Rafter hit what appeared to be an ace on match point, but Sampras wasn’t convinced, even after the match was called for his opponent. 

The American legend refused to shake the umpire’s hand, and said later that Rafter should have asked for the point to be replayed. While a great victory for Rafter, this contest also showed that the usually gracious Pete Sampras had a temper. When asked subsequently about the difference between him and Rafter, he replied, “About ten Grands Slams.”

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Rafter v Sampras, 1998 final - Cincinnati Masters Classics (video)

There was no love lost between Patrick Rafter and Pete Sampras in this frosty but thrilling 1998 Cincinnati Masters final.

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