Sampras Eliminated by Krajicek
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) _ Pete Sampras’ three-year reign as Wimbledon champion ended today.
Sampras could not overcome a two-set deficit against Richard Krajicek of the Netherlands, losing 7-5, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 in a Centre Court quarterfinal match that was suspended Wednesday night at 1-1 in the third set.
``I’ve won a lot of close matches on that court _ and it’s tough to swallow,″ said Sampras, who had won 25 straight matches at Wimbledon over the past four years.
In women’s play, fourth-seeded Arantxa Sanchez Vicario reached her second consecutive Wimbledon final by beating unseeded American Meredith McGrath 6-2, 6-1 in one hour.
McGrath was hobbled by an injury to her heavily-strapped right leg, and twice received treatment from a trainer during the second set.
Sanchez Vicario will meet the winner of the other women’s semifinal between defending champion Steffi Graf and Kimiko Date of Japan.
Krajicek, who was never broken, served six aces today to bring his total to 29 for the match. He lost only two points in his four service games today.
Sampras struggled throughout on his serve, with eight aces offset by eight double faults.
Krajicek broke in the seventh game of the third set. He reached break point with a mis-hit forehand that clipped the netcord, keeping it from sailing out. The ball landed just inside the line for a winner. That gave him the only break point of the day, which he quickly converted with a backhand pass down the line.
Krajicek served out the match at love, hitting an ace to go up 40-0, following with a 122 mph service winner that Sampras barely touched with the frame of his racket.
Krajicek will next face another unseeded player, Jason Stoltenberg, who beat No. 4 Goran Ivanisevic 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (7-3), 7-6 (7-3) in the completion of a match that had been suspended after three sets Wednesday.
Stoltenberg, the first Australian semifinalist since Pat Cash in 1987, got a lucky break in the fourth-set tiebreaker when he hit a reflex backhand volley that dropped over the net for a winner. That gave him a 2-0 lead and he moved out to 6-0. Ivanisevic saved three match points before Stoltenberg closed it out with a winning serve.
Todd Martin and MaliVai Washington overcame numerous rain delays to set up an all-American semifinal.
Martin, the 13th seed, won two tiebreakers and capitalized on the only service break of the match in the third set to beat Britain’s Tim Henman 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-2), 6-4.
Including four rain delays, the match lasted 6 hours, 35 minutes. The actual playing time was 2:19.
Washington, who endured five rain interruptions and saved two match points at 5-6 in the fourth set, overcame Alexander Radulescu 6-7 (7-5), 7-6 (7-1), 5-7, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4. It’s the first time Washington has advanced to a Grand Slam semifinal.
Sampras was trying to close in on Bjorn Borg’s Open era record of five consecutive Wimbledon titles. His defeat ensures there will be a first-time Wimbledon champion this year, and that for the first time in the Open era only one seeded man will be in the semis.
``My dream always was to win here once,″ Sampras said. ``I never expected to win here three years in a row. It just happened. I can’t be ashamed today. I just have to get over it and bounce back.″
Sampras said he failed to convert at key moments the way he has in the past.
``I just didn’t win the big points today or yesterday,″ he said. ``He returned and passed a lot better than I thought he would ... I ran into a player who was very hot. I didn’t play great, but he was a better man the past few days.″
Krajicek said, ``I knew the pressure was on him. I knew I could beat him today. It’s a proud feeling. I’m the first person in four years to beat him at Wimbledon on Centre Court.
Martin’s big-match experience paid off as he won the key points against the 21-year-old Henman, who was bidding to become the first British player to make the semifinals since Roger Taylor in 1973.
Martin, a classic serve-and-volleyer who also reached the semis here in 1994, maintained his rhythm and concentration through all the rain interruptions.
``It’s a difficult situation to be in,″ Martin said. ``I don’t ever remember being in a similar one. I felt like the timing of the rain delays didn’t affect the flow of the match. The last one was the toughest to deal with and the most critical.″
Martin was up 5-3 in the third set when play was stopped for a fourth time. After a break of 1:43, Henman held serve to make it 5-4 but Martin served out the match at love in the next game.
After a virtually dry first week, this has turned into the wettest Wimbledon since 1991. That was one of the rainiest championships ever, forcing officials to break with tradition and schedule matches on the middle Sunday.
In 1992, rain during the second week forced the tournament to be extended to Monday, which also occurred in 1988 and 1989.
Referee Alan Mills conceded today the tournament may not finish on Sunday, with the forecast calling for more rain over the next four days.
``At the start of play we were 125 matches behind compared with this time last year, and with the weather forecast bad it could prove difficult,″ he said.