Sampras is king at Queen's
Pete Sampras tuned up for an assault on a possible sixth Wimbeldon title in the best possible way yesterday, when he fought to a 6-7 (1-7), 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) win over Tim Henman to claim his first 1999 title, at the Queen's Club.
The American, who wasted two set points in the opening set, had not lifted a title since last October in Vienna and played his last final in November at Paris Bercy, where he lost to Brit Greg Rusedski.
Today's victory in two hours, 30 minutes runs the Sampras record over British No. 1 and third seed Henman to 5-0.
''This year has not been that great for me,'' said the winner, who turned his year around in 1998 with a Wimbledon triumph. ''I had to get through a third-set tiebreaker today just like in my semi-final (against australian Lleyton Hewitt).
''It's nice to be back on the grass. This week has been a struggle,'' he said.
Sampras had to tough out a third-set tie-breaker to secure the tight contest. He moved into position with a reflex, off-balance lob which landed good and then earned two match-points from a Henman error.
The 27-year-old American, an 11-time Grand Slam winner, scooped a forehand into the empty court to take victory and a prize of 85,000 dollars.
''My serve has ben working well,'' said Sampras, the 1995 champion at the west London Venus. ''I was fortunate today, Tim was close to beating me.''
Sampras levelled the match at a set apiece, but faced multiple break points in the deciding third.