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In End, Sampras Makes Sure Enqvist Bows Out Gracefully

TIMES STAFF WRITER

His match had been scheduled for Friday, interrupted three times Saturday then finally completed Monday, but top-seeded and defending Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras was a man at ease and in control.

Sampras fought off three set points in the third set and managed to get past the ever-dangerous Thomas Enqvist of Sweden, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-3), in a third-round match.

He served 29 aces, then called the shots after the match, too. As Sampras and Enqvist came off Centre Court, Sampras nudged Enqvist’s equipment bag, signaling the Swede to bow to the royal box.

In fact, he had his only moment of discomfort in the post-match news conference. Sampras was asked about former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek of the Netherlands, who’d said Sampras was playing like the 10th-ranked player in the world, based solely upon 1998 results.

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Sampras took a long, thoughtful drink of water.

“That stuff really doesn’t faze me,” Sampras said. “I know my capabilities. I know how I’m playing this week. That’s my main concern. This year has been a little bit up and down, but at this point last year, my year was pretty similar, except I won Australia.”

There has been something of a groundswell concerning Krajicek’s chances here. Andre Agassi picked him to win the tournament.

And the ninth-seeded Krajicek, who beat Nicolas Kiefer of Germany, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-4), in another third-round match, wasn’t through analyzing Sampras. Krajicek took note of the point standings that lead to the season-ending ATP championships scheduled for Hanover, Germany.

“If you look at the road to Hanover, he is the No. 10 player,” Krajicek said. “It’s not like I think he is No. 10. He knows it himself, that he has not done so well.

“He has to start working, wake up to what everyone said. He has to start winning some tournaments because the other ones [he won] are smaller tournaments and in the Slams he hasn’t done too much.”

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For once, Tim Henman caught a break and did not have to play opposite a World Cup game featuring England. The 12th-seeded Henman faltered only briefly in his 6-3, 6-7 (7-3), 6-3, 6-2 fourth-round victory over sixth-seeded Patrick Rafter of Australia.

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“I’ve said his style of play was going to suit my game and I think I served much more consistently,” Henman said. “To walk out on a court when it was as full as that--I think very few empty seats--it gives you a buzz.”

Rafter was treated for a lower-back injury late in the match but managed to finish. Third-seeded Petr Korda of the Czech Republic slipped on the grass at 5-5 in the third set, needed treatment for an injured left leg, and it turned out he stretched his left Achilles’ tendon. Nevertheless, Korda hung on and beat John van Lottum of the Netherlands, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).

“I always was fighting, all my life, and I never give up,” Korda said. “I knew it was very dark [outside] and I knew if I lost the set, we would be suspended until the next day. I raised my emotions on the court and won the tiebreaker.”

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And finally, a word from 14th-seeded Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia, who had 44 aces in his third-round victory over Daniel Vacek of the Czech Republic, winning, 6-7 (8-6), 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 6-4.

“My matches are like horror thrillers,” he said. “You cannot expect anything. Even me, I do not know the end of the movie. I made the movie, but I do not know the end.”


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