/ten"is/, n.
a game played on a rectangular court by two players or two pairs of players equipped with rackets, in which a ball is driven back and forth over a low net that divides the court in half. Cf. lawn tennis. See illus. under racket2.
[1350-1400; ME tenetz, ten(e)ys < AF: take!, impv. pl. of tenir to hold, take, receive, appar. used as a server's call]

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Game played with rackets and a light, elastic ball by two players or pairs of players on a rectangular court divided by a low net.

Tennis is played indoors and outdoors, on hard-surface, clay, and grass courts. The object is to hit the ball over the net and into the opponent's half of the court in such a way as to defeat the opponent's attempt to reach and return it. Each player serves for an entire game. Points are scored as 15, 30, 40, and game (the term "love" is used for 0). A tied score ("deuce") requires continued play until a two-point margin is achieved. The first player to win six games, with a lead of two games, takes the set. A match consists of the best two out of three (or three out of five) sets. Since the early 1970s, tiebreakers have been employed to eliminate marathon sets. Tennis developed in the 1870s in Britain from earlier racket-and-ball games. The first world lawn-tennis championship was held in 1877 at Wimbledon; clay-and hard-court competitions emerged later. Current international team tournaments include the Davis Cup for men and the Federation Cup (since 1963) for women's teams. The major tournaments for individual players constitute the "Grand Slam" of tennis: the national championships of Britain (Wimbledon), the U.S., Australia, and France.
(as used in expressions)

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▪ 2009

      The 2008 season in tennis was likely to be remembered as one of the sport's most captivating years. Spain's charismatic Rafael Nadal celebrated a spectacular campaign, becoming the first man since Sweden's Björn Borg in 1980 to capture the French Open and All-England (Wimbledon) titles in the same year and then adding an Olympic gold medal to his list of credits. Nadal supplanted Roger Federer as the world's number one ranked player for the season, ending the Swiss champion's four-year run at the top. Serbian Novak Djokovic secured his first major title with a triumph at the Australian Open. Federer—not to be denied—won the last major of the year at the U.S. Open, garnering his 13th Grand Slam championship in the process and closing in on American Pete Sampras's men's record of 14.

      Among the women, four different champions emerged at the majors. Mariya Sharapova of Russia came through at the Australian Open; Serbian Ana Ivanovic ruled at Paris's Roland Garros; and the Williams sisters of the U.S. held their own, with Venus triumphing on the lawns of Wimbledon and Serena claiming the U.S. Open title. Yet after a turbulent year that included the surprising retirement in May of former world number one Justine Henin of Belgium, Jelena Jankovic—the perspicacious Serbian with perhaps the best ball control in the women's game—was rewarded for her consistency with the year-end number one ranking on the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) computer. Jankovic was a quarterfinalist or better in 20 of the 22 tournaments in which she played. Serena Williams was the highest-paid woman on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, with $3,852,173. Nadal earned more than any other man, with $6,773,773.

Australian Open.
      Novak Djokovic arrived in Melbourne primed for the first major of the season. The 20-year-old did not drop a set in six matches on his way to the final, upending top-seeded Roger Federer in straight sets in their semifinal match. In the final, Djokovic came from a set down to defeat the free-wheeling Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France. Tsonga performed brilliantly all through the fortnight, ousting British number nine seed Andy Murray in the opening round and taking apart Nadal 6–2, 6–3, 6–2 in a meticulous semifinal. In the championship match, Djokovic gradually found his bearings from the baseline and wore down the fast-charging Tsonga 4–6, 6–4, 6–3, 7–6 (2).

      Mariya Sharapova swept through the event without losing a set in seven nearly perfect matches, crushing Justine Henin 6–4, 6–0 in the quarterfinals, defeating Jelena Jankovic 6–3, 6–1 in the semifinals, and then besting Ana Ivanovic 7–5, 6–3 in a well-played final. It was Sharapova's third Grand Slam championship title.

French Open.
      For the fourth straight year, Rafael Nadal was unstoppable on the red clay at Roland Garros. In a repeat of the 2006 and 2007 finals, the left-handed Spaniard took on Roger Federer. While those battles both went to four sets before Nadal prevailed, in 2008 Nadal ruthlessly dismantled his subdued rival 6–1, 6–3, 6–0. It was the most decisive defeat Federer had suffered in 36 career appearances at Grand Slam events dating back to 1999. Nadal elevated his match record at the world's premier clay court event to an astounding 28–0, becoming the first man since Björn Borg in 1980 to win the French Open without having lost a set and only the fifth man since “open” tennis commenced in 1968 to win a major tournament without having dropped a set—joining Borg, Australian Ken Rosewall, Ilie Nastase of Romania, and Federer in that elite category.

      Ana Ivanovic, an adventurous shotmaker who seemed more polished and confident after having lost two of the last four major finals, collected her first career Grand Slam championship. In the final at Roland Garros, the number 2 seed stopped number 13 Dinara Safina of Russia (the sister of 2000 U.S. Open and 2005 Australian Open champion Marat Safin) in two sets 6–4, 6–3. Safina—who finished the year ranked number three in the world—upset three Russians to reach her first major final: top-seeded Mariya Sharapova in the fourth round, number seven seed Yelena Dementyeva in the quarterfinals, and number four Svetlana Kuznetsova in the semifinals. Ivanovic rallied gamely from a service breakdown at 3–4 in the final set to beat Jelena Jankovic 6–4, 3–6, 6–4 in a gripping all-Serbian semifinal.

      In arguably the greatest tennis match ever played, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer faced off on Wimbledon's Centre Court in the final. Federer was determined to break Björn Borg's record by winning the game's most prestigious event for a sixth consecutive year. In the end—after five tumultuous sets, two rain delays, and a long afternoon up to the edge of darkness—Federer rallied valiantly from two sets down to come within two points of victory. In the end, however, Nadal earned his 6–4, 6–4, 6–7 (5), 6–7 (8), 9–7 win after 4 hours and 48 minutes of sublime tennis. Nadal, who became the first Spaniard to win Wimbledon since Manuel Santana in 1966, lost his serve only once in the match.

      In a remarkable stretch from the 2001 U.S. Open through Wimbledon in 2003, Venus and Serena Williams played against each other in six of the eight Grand Slam finals, with Serena victorious in all but one. In Wimbledon 2008 the sisters battled in a major championship match for the first time in five years. Many knowledgeable observers expected Serena to beat her older sister, but Venus was unshakable. Fighting back from 2–4 down in the opening set, seventh-seeded Venus handled the windy conditions well and earned a 7–5, 6–4 victory over Serena, the number six seed. Top-seeded Ana Ivanovic lost in the third round to unseeded Jie Zheng of China, who eventually faced Serena in the semifinals. Number three seed Mariya Sharapova—hindered by a sore shoulder that compelled her to take the rest of the year off after August, was beaten in the second round by Russia's Alla Kudryavtseva (ranked number 154 in the world). Number two seed Jelena Jankovic was toppled by unseeded Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand in the fourth round.

U.S. Open.
      Going into the U.S. Open, Roger Federer had won only 2 of the 14 events he had played over the course of a frustrating year, and Rafael Nadal had taken away his number one ranking in August. The Swiss champion survived a harrowing five-set scare against number 23 seed Igor Andreyev of Russia in the fourth round, handled number three seed Novak Djokovic in a four-set semifinal, and then masterfully cut down number six seed Andy Murray 6–2, 7–5, 6–2 for his fifth straight U.S. Open title. Murray, who removed the top-seeded Nadal in the other semifinal to reach his first major final, ended the year ranked number four in the world. It was the first time in the Open era that a British man had concluded a year among the top five.

      In probably the most absorbing match the Williams sisters had ever played against each other, Serena beat Venus 7–6 (6), 7–6 (7) under the lights in the U.S. Open quarterfinals. Serena was magnificent under duress, saving two set points in the opening set and eight more in the second. Buoyed by that triumph, she easily dismissed Dinara Safina in the semifinals and then halted Jelena Jankovic 6–4, 7–5 in the final. In the second set against the tenacious Serbian—appearing in her first Grand Slam final—Williams rescued herself commendably, saving four set points on her way back from a 3–5, 0–40 deficit and sweeping four games in a row to close out the match. It was Serena's third U.S. Open title and ninth major crown.

Other Events.
      At the Beijing Olympic Games, Rafael Nadal beat Fernando González of Chile in the final to earn the men's gold medal, and Yelena Dementyeva took the most important prize of her career with a gold-medal-round victory over Dinara Safina. The Spanish men unexpectedly won the Davis Cup. Facing Argentina in Mar del Plata, Arg., with an injured Nadal absent, Spain prevailed 3–1. A pair of left-handers—Feliciano López and Fernando Verdasco—contributed victories in singles and joined forces in the doubles to lead their country to an exhilarating win. In the Fed Cup final held in Madrid, Russia—led by Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva—routed Spain 4–0.

Steve Flink

▪ 2008

      Off-court controversies sometimes overshadowed what happened on the tennis court in 2007. Russia's Nikolay Davydenko, who finished the year ranked number four in the world, was under investigation by the ATP for allegedly having deliberately lost a match in Poland in August. Subsequently, a number of lower-ranked players came forward to report that they had been approached about possible bribes, unanimously saying that they had turned down the offers. Switzerland's Martina Hingis, the winner of five Grand Slam singles titles, announced her final retirement in November after having tested positive for cocaine at Wimbledon.

 Finishing as the player ranked number one for the fourth year in a row, Roger Federer of Switzerland added three more major singles titles to his collection in 2007, lifting his career total of Grand Slam championships to 12, just short of American Pete Sampras's men's record of 14. His Spanish rival Rafael Nadal (Nadal, Rafael ) issued Federer's only Grand Slam loss of the year, in the French Open. While Federer was nearly unbeatable at the biggest events, however, he captured only 8 of the 16 lesser tournaments in which he competed. His nine losses (including the French Open) during the season constituted the most setbacks he had suffered since 2003, when he was beaten 17 times. As in 2003 and 2006, Belgian Justine Henin was the leading player in women's tennis, taking the 2007 French Open and U.S. Open. The Williams sisters of the U.S. pulled off surprise triumphs at the majors, with Serena the victor at the Australian Open and Venus coming through at Wimbledon. Federer and Henin earned the most prize money, with the Swiss star setting a single-season record of $10,130,620. Henin secured $5,429,586 while capturing 10 of the 14 events in which she played. Remarkably, three Serbian players inched close to the top of the world charts. Novak Djokovic concluded the year ranked number three among the men, while Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic claimed number three and four, respectively, in the women's rankings.

Australian Open.
      Federer played the most flawless Grand Slam championship of his career, sweeping through the field on the hard courts in Melbourne without the loss of a set in seven matches. In capturing the tournament for the third time, Federer dismantled Chile's flamboyant Fernando González 7–6 (2), 6–4, 6–4 in the championship match. González made a spirited run to reach his first major final. Exploiting his blockbuster forehand, González defeated James Blake of the U.S. in the round of 16, Nadal in the quarterfinals, and Tommy Haas of Germany in the semifinals. In the first set of the final, González was serving at 5–4, 40–15, double set point but failed to capitalize on his opportunity.

      With Henin skipping the event while going through a painful divorce, Serena Williams reemerged. Williams had finished 2006 at number 95 in the world and looked overweight in Melbourne, but she survived some tumultuous contests, toppling six seeds in seven matches. Facing Nadya Petrova of Russia in the round of 16, Williams rallied gamely from a deficit of 3–5 in the second set to prevail 1–6, 7–5, 6–3. In the quarterfinals, Israel's Shahar Peer (the number 16 seed) served for the match, but the American struck back for a 3–6, 6–2, 8–6 triumph. In the final, top-seeded Mariya Sharapova of Russia, troubled by an ailing shoulder, was highly vulnerable, and Williams won 6–1, 6–2.

French Open.
      Nadal lifted his phenomenal clay-court winning streak to 81 consecutive matches in the weeks leading up to the French Open, but Federer, breaking out of a springtime slump, defeated the left-handed Spaniard on a clay court for the first time with a surprise final-round triumph in Hamburg, Ger. Nadal's clay-court acumen was too much for the gifted Swiss, however, and he thoroughly deserved his 6–3, 4–6, 6–3, 6–4 victory at Roland Garros. For the third year in a row, Nadal was triumphant over Federer at the only major contested on clay.

      Henin also collected a third straight singles championship, refusing to concede even a single set in seven matches. The top-seeded Belgian took apart Serena Williams 6–4, 6–3 in the quarterfinals, removed Jankovic 6–2, 6–2 in the semifinals, and stopped Ivanovic 6–1, 6–2 in the final. Ivanovic, understandably apprehensive in her first major final, had eclipsed a resurgent Sharapova (the number two seed) 6–2, 6–1 in the semifinals.

      Having already clashed in back-to-back Roland Garros finals, Federer and Nadal replicated that feat on the lawns of Wimbledon. It was the first time since American John McEnroe and Sweden's Bjorn Borg did battle in 1980 and 1981 at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open that the same two men had met in consecutive major finals two years in a row. Nadal—who needed five days to complete a third-round five-set win over Sweden's Robin Söderling because rain constantly intervened—moved agonizingly close to becoming the first man since Borg in 1980 to win the French Open and Wimbledon in the same season. Nadal lost his opening-service game of the final match but did not drop his delivery again until the fifth set. In the end, however, Federer, in his first five-set final at a major, prevailed 7–6 (7), 4–6, 7–6 (3), 2–6, 6–2 and established himself as the first man since Borg (1976–80) to rule at Wimbledon five years in a row.

      Henin, victorious at least once in every other major, seemed ready to make her breakthrough at Wimbledon but played an inexplicably mediocre match in the semifinals, losing to number 18 seed Marion Bartoli of France 1–6, 7–5, 6–1 in a swirling wind. Bartoli, exploiting her two-handed strokes off both sides, also eliminated Jankovic in a three-set quarterfinal. In the final, however, Venus Williams, at number 23 the lowest seed ever to capture the championship, overwhelmed Bartoli 6–4, 6–1. Williams came away with her fourth Wimbledon singles title and sixth Grand Slam tournament win.

U.S. Open.
      Over the fortnight, Djokovic became the chief focus of public attention and gained a legion of new fans as he reached his first major final. Facing Federer in the final, the affable Serbian, who had upset the world number one only a few weeks earlier in Montreal, stumbled. Djokovic served at 6–5, 40–0 in the crucial opening set and failed to convert any of the five set points he had at his disposal. In the second set, with Federer serving at 6–5, Djokovic had two more set points, but once more he was stymied. Federer was typically composed and confident, methodically recording a 7–6 (4), 7–6 (2), 6–4 win for his fourth consecutive U.S. Open crown, a modern-era record.

 Henin was back in form on the hard courts in New York, sweeping through the field without losing a set and winning a pair of exhilarating battles over Serena and Venus Williams. The top-seeded Belgian stopped Serena in their third straight meeting at a major, coming through 7–6 (3), 6–1. In the semifinals, Henin beat Venus 7–6 (2), 6–4 before easily moving past Kuznetsova 6–1, 6–3 to secure her seventh Grand Slam tournament win.

Other Events.
      Federer and Henin underlined their supremacy at the elite season-ending events, designated for the top eight players. In Shanghai at the Tennis Masters Cup, Federer recovered from a round-robin defeat by González and did not lose another set, finishing with a rout of Spain's David Ferrer. At the Sony Ericsson championships in Madrid, Henin topped Sharapova 5–7, 7–5, 6–3 in a stirring final.

      The U.S. won a record 32nd Davis Cup, defeating 2006 champion Russia 4–1 in the final. After Andy Roddick and Blake earned singles victories on opening day over Dmitry Tursunov and Mikhail Youzhny, respectively, the brothers Mike and Bob Bryan clinched the win for the U.S. with a straight-set doubles triumph over Davydenko and Igor Andreyev. In the Fed Cup final in Moscow, Russia beat Italy 4–0 as Kuznetsova and Anna Chakvetadze led the way for their country. It was the third time in four years that the Russian women had been victorious.

Steve Flink

▪ 2007

      Elevating his multifaceted game to almost unimaginable heights, Roger Federer in 2006 celebrated a third consecutive year as the best tennis player in the world. The gifted Swiss shotmaker was victorious in 12 of the 17 tournaments in which he played, winning 92 of 97 matches and securing three of the four Grand Slam tournament titles. He became the first man in the history of the game to record Wimbledon and U.S. Open triumphs three years in a row, reached the final of all but one tournament he entered, and closed the season with a remarkable run of five consecutive tournament victories and 29 straight match wins. Spain's indefatigable Rafael Nadal was magnificent until the middle of the year, toppling Federer four straight times, successfully defending his French Open crown at Roland Garros, and reaching his first final at Wimbledon.

      Three women took the top honours at the majors. Amélie Mauresmo (Mauresmo, Amelie ) of France—long an underachiever on the preeminent stages—was the victor at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. (See Biographies.) The charismatic Mariya Sharapova of Russia came through to capture the U.S. Open title in style. Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne—a worthy winner at the French Open—made it to all four Grand Slam tournament finals and finished the year as women's number one in the world. She also garnered the most prize money of any woman, with $4,204,810, while Federer set an all-time record with an astounding $8,343,885.

Australian Open.
      Federer, still not in peak form following a serious ankle injury suffered the previous autumn, nevertheless got the job done “Down Under,” winning the season's first Grand Slam title for the second time. He capped a difficult fortnight with a hard-fought victory over the exhilarating Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis in the final. Baghdatis outplayed Federer in the opening set, built a 2–0 lead in the crucial second set, and had two break points in the third game before Federer found his range and held on. Baghdatis had toppled number two seed American Andy Roddick, Croatian Ivan Ljubicic (seventh seed), and Argentina's David Nalbandian (fourth seed) to reach the championship match.

      At 26, Mauresmo had never won a major event, despite a brilliantly well-rounded game. In Melbourne on the hard courts, she was fortunate in some ways. Three of Mauresmo's seven opponents were injured or ill and could not complete their contests against her. In the semifinals Mauresmo was leading number two seed Kim Clijsters 5–7, 6–2, 3–2 when the Belgian had to retire with an ankle injury. In the final Henin-Hardenne, bothered by a stomach ailment, walked off the court and conceded defeat with Mauresmo ahead 6–1, 2–0. Many authorities believed that Henin-Hardenne—who had been extended in demanding three-set matches in the previous two rounds by top-seeded Lindsay Davenport and Sharapova, respectively—should have completed the match even in her weakened state.

French Open.
 Federer came exceedingly close to establishing himself as the first man to win four consecutive major tournaments since Rod Laver took his second Grand Slam in 1969. Federer arrived at the French Open with three titles in hand and made it to the final, in which he swiftly took the first set from an apprehensive Nadal. Then the highly charged Spaniard demonstrated his skill as the game's finest clay-court player by dismantling the Swiss stylist 1–6, 6–1, 6–4, 7–6 (4) to extend his winning streak on that surface to a record 60 matches in a row. (By year's end Nadal had advanced the streak to 62 matches.) Thus, Federer suffered his first loss in nine Grand Slam final-round appearances, losing to his primary rival for the second straight year at Roland Garros and for the fifth time in a row overall.

      Henin-Hardenne took the world's premier clay-court crown for the third time in four years, sweeping seven matches without the loss of a set. She finished with a 6–4, 6–4 triumph over 2004 U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia. While Henin-Hardenne was the outstanding competitor in the field, 17-year-old Nicole Vaidisova from the Czech Republic captivated the galleries as she surged into the semifinals. In the penultimate round she was two points away from victory before falling to the more experienced Kuznetsova.

      For Federer no match was more crucial in 2006 than his final-round meeting with Nadal on the All-England Club's fabled Centre Court. A loss there might have shattered much of his self-conviction, but the world number one was sparkling across the board at the outset, and his grass-court acumen was too much for the spirited left-hander in the end. Federer was victorious 6–0, 7–6 (5), 6–7 (2), 6–3, collecting not only a fourth straight Wimbledon singles title but also a modern-record 48th consecutive match victory on grass courts. Baghdatis, meanwhile, upended 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia for a place in the semifinals, where he fell to Nadal.

      Mauresmo was the top-seeded woman, and she more than lived up to that billing. In the final she rallied gamely after an inauspicious start to oust Henin-Hardenne 2–6, 6–3, 6–4 in a well-played contest that featured skilled attacking play from both sides of the net. This time, in striking contrast to her Australian Open win, no one could say that Mauresmo was merely fortunate. Her triumph was the product of her supremacy on the surface. Moreover, Mauresmo held back the tenacious 2004 champion Sharapova 6–3, 3–6, 6–2 in the semifinals and ousted 2004 French Open victor Anastasiya Myskina of Russia in another three-set clash in the quarterfinals.

U.S. Open.
      It had not been an uplifting year for Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion, but during the summer of 2006 he was revitalized. He hired fellow American and eight-time Grand Slam tournament champion Jimmy Connors as his coach, and the partnership flourished. Roddick won his first tournament of the year in Cincinnati, Ohio, and then performed with unmistakable vigour and panache in reaching the U.S. Open final. Although Roddick was beaten 6–2, 4–6, 7–5, 6–1 by Federer, the 24-year-old former world number one player looked like he belonged again in the upper reaches of the game.

      Since winning Wimbledon at 17 two years earlier, Sharapova had repeatedly threatened to claim another major title but lost five times in the semifinals of Grand Slam events. At the U.S. Open she used her potent first serve—arguably the best in women's tennis—and her overwhelming ground game to outclass the field. Her run through a memorable fortnight culminated with an emphatic 6–4, 6–4 win over Henin-Hardenne, who had beaten Sharapova four straight times. The enormously appealing Jelena Jankovic, a 21-year-old from Serbia, also made her presence felt. With her freewheeling play and sound instincts, Jankovic struck down number nine seed Vaidisova, number six Kuznetsova, and number four Yelena Dementyeva of Russia before falling 4–6, 6–4, 6–0 to Henin-Hardenne.

      Two immensely admired modern champions— Andre Agassi and Martina Navratilova—bade farewell to the game during the U.S. Open. After his third-round loss, a tearful Agassi, 36, received a prolonged standing ovation from the New York crowd in a deeply emotional ceremony. He won eight Grand Slam championships in his illustrious 20-year-career. Navratilova, little more than five weeks shy of her 50th birthday, went out on a high note with a victory in the mixed doubles alongside Bob Bryan, taking away a 59th major championship in the process.

Other Events.
      Federer took the season-ending ATP Tennis Masters Cup title—an event reserved for only the top eight men—in Shanghai, toppling the dynamic American James Blake 6–0, 6–3, 6–4 with a virtuoso display in the final. Despite the loss, Blake finished the year at a career-high number four in the world and was the top-ranked American, two places above Roddick. In Madrid, Henin-Hardenne sealed the number one world ranking with an impressive triumph at the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour championships, casting aside Sharapova and Mauresmo, respectively, in the last two rounds.

       Italy defeated Belgium 3–2 at Charleroi, Belg., in September to win the Fed Cup for the first time. Over the first weekend of December, Russia defeated Argentina 3–2 in the Davis Cup final in Moscow. The Russians had won the cup only once before, in 2002.

Steve Flink

▪ 2006

      In 2005 Roger Federer (Federer, Roger ) (see Biographies) dominated men's tennis with grace, panache, and strategic acumen and was the game's top player for the second year in a row. The Swiss stylist captured 11 of the 15 tournaments in which he played, made it to the quarterfinals or beyond in every event he entered, and finished the year with $6,137,018 in winnings. Spain's Rafael Nadal—a left-hander with unflagging competitive spirit and superbly crafted topspin ground strokes—surged to number two in the world, matching Federer's feat of capturing 11 tournament titles.

      Among the women, the four Grand Slam tournaments were controlled by players from only two nations. Sisters Serena and Venus Williams of the U.S. prevailed at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, respectively, while Belgians Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters secured the top honours at the French and U.S. opens, respectively. American Lindsay Davenport was the number one ranked woman for the year for the fourth time in her career, but number two ranked Clijsters made the most prize money of any female player ($3,983,654), won nine events, and was named the International Tennis Federation's women's world champion.

Australian Open.
       Russia's Marat Safin collected his second career Grand Slam singles championship, coming through at a major event for the first time since the 2000 U.S. Open. Safin, the number four seed, ousted number three seed Lleyton Hewitt 1–6, 6–3, 6–4, 6–4 in the first evening final at the event. Hewitt made a valiant attempt to become the first Australian man since Mark Edmondson in 1976 to take the title, but he could not exploit a 4–1 lead in the third set as Safin overwhelmed him in the latter stages of the contest. Safin's mightiest effort was in the semifinals; in a magnificent 4-hour 28-minute epic that ended at 12:35AM on his 25th birthday, Safin saved a match point in the fourth-set tiebreaker and contrived an astonishing 5–7, 6–4, 5–7, 7–6 (7), 9–7 triumph over defending champion Federer.

      Serena Williams—seeded seventh—staged two stirring comeback matches to capture her second Australian and seventh Grand Slam championship. Facing Mariya Sharapova of Russia in the semifinals, Williams was down 3–5 in the final set. Sharapova served for the match at 5–4, but Williams cast aside three match points against her with audacious shot making to win 2–6, 7–5, 8–6. In the final against the top-seeded Davenport, Williams swept the last nine games for a 2–6, 6–3, 6–0 victory.

French Open.
      Federer had lost only one match since his Australian Open setback against Safin, and many knowledgeable observers believed that he was primed to rule at Roland Garros for the first time. Nadal was simply too confident and consistent on the slow clay courts, however, and the charismatic Spaniard took the trophy. In an eagerly awaited semifinal, Nadal's slow-court instincts and impeccable counterattacking methodology were too much for the world's top-ranked player. Nadal, who was playing in his first French Open, bested Federer 6–3, 4–6, 6–4, 6–3 to reach the final. It was his 19th birthday. In the final against Argentina's Mariano Puerta, Nadal was a 6–7 (6), 6–3, 6–1, 7–5 victor after confronting some precarious moments in the fourth set, when Puerta served at 5–4 and had three set points. It was Nadal's 24th straight match win and the culmination of a clay-court run that included four consecutive titles.

      Henin-Hardenne needed to fight ferociously to win her second French Open and fourth Grand Slam. As with Nadal, however, the 10th-seeded Belgian was overflowing with confidence on the clay after winning three tournaments in a row en route to Paris. She lifted her season winning streak to 24 straight matches by easily dispatching a jittery Mary Pierce of France 6–1, 6–1. Pierce, the 2000 French Open winner, was thoroughly outclassed by an unerring adversary who was primed for the occasion. Henin-Hardenne's sternest test came in the fourth round against 2004 U.S. Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia. Serving at 3–5 in the third set, Henin-Hardenne was twice down match point before escaping 7–6 (6), 4–6, 7–5 in a match that lasted 3 hours 14 minutes.

      A revitalized Federer—determined to record his first major triumph of the season—emerged the victor at Wimbledon for the third year straight. He conceded only one set in seven matches, cutting down the big-serving American Andy Roddick in a repeat of the 2004 final and prevailing 6–2, 7–6 (2), 6–4 with one of his finest performances of the season. The second-seeded Roddick built a 3–1 second-set lead and tried every tactic he could in an attempt to break up Federer's smooth rhythm, but it was futile.

 In the women's final Venus Williams overcame Davenport in a classic encounter to win her first Grand Slam championship since the U.S. Open of 2001. In a captivating and bruising battle of American veterans, Williams held back a purposeful and daring Davenport 4–6, 7–6 (4), 9–7 in 2 hours 45 minutes, the longest women's final ever recorded in the tournament. Davenport served for the match at 6–5 in the second set and led 4–2, 40–15 in the third set, but Williams would not surrender. With Williams serving at 4–5, Davenport arrived at championship point. Williams responded emphatically with a clean backhand winner. The 14th-seeded Williams was unshakable under extreme duress, willing her way to a fifth Grand Slam title. In the tournament's biggest surprise, two-time champion Serena Williams was beaten in the third round by American Jill Craybas, the world's 85th-ranked player.

U.S. Open.
      In a sparkling final pitting the defending champion against a two-time former titlist, Federer came from behind to defeat 35-year-old Andre Agassi. Agassi (the oldest man to reach the final round since 39-year-old Australian Ken Rosewall was beaten by Jimmy Connors of the U.S. in 1974) put forth an honourable effort. After losing the opening set, the immensely popular Agassi took the second set and established a 4–2, 40–30 lead in the third. Federer surged back to 4–4 and then swept majestically through a tiebreaker and coasted to a 6–3, 2–6, 7–6 (1), 6–1 victory for his sixth major championship title. The second-seeded Nadal was knocked out in the third round by an inspired James Blake of the U.S., who squandered a two-sets-to-love lead against Agassi in the round of 16.

      Clijsters finally took her place among the elite as a major champion, claiming her first Grand Slam title by subduing Pierce 6–3, 6–1. Clijsters, forced out of action for much of 2004 by a wrist injury, had slipped to number 133 in the world early in the season but had already won six tournaments on the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) tour by the time she arrived in New York City for the season's last Grand Slam event. In their brief skirmish under the lights, the 4th-seeded Clijsters was never unduly threatened by 12th-seeded Pierce, who repeatedly made flagrant unforced errors. Clijsters removed the top-seeded Sharapova in the semifinals; Pierce upset Henin-Hardenne in the fourth round, Amélie Mauresmo of France in the quarterfinals, and Russian Yelena Dementyeva in the semifinals.

Other Events.
      Argentina's David Nalbandian—a former Wimbledon finalist but long an underachiever, celebrated the most significant win of his career when he halted Federer in a fifth-set tiebreaker to garner the Tennis Masters Cup title in Shanghai. Federer had won his previous 24 final-round matches since July 2003, setting a modern record with that run. Pierce fell in three high-quality sets to Mauresmo in the final of the WTA tour's season-ending championships in Los Angeles.

       Croatia—led by Ivan Ljubicic and Mario Ancic—was victorious in the Davis Cup for the first time, toppling Slovakia 3–2 in the final in Bratislava, Slovakia. In the Fed Cup final, Russia, spurred on by Dementyeva and Anastasiya Myskina, defeated France 3–2 at Roland Garros.

Steve Flink

▪ 2005

      A graceful all-court stylist with every essential tool in his trade, Roger Federer was in a class of his own in 2004. The fluid shotmaker from Switzerland raised his game to almost unimaginable levels, winning three of the four major tennis championships and rising incontestably to number one in the world. He was victorious in 74 of 80 matches and won 11 tournaments, the most any year-end number one had secured since Ivan Lendl of Czechoslovakia captured 11 championships in 1985. Federer also became only the fourth man to have collected three Grand Slam championships in a single year since “open” tennis commenced in 1968. Argentina's Gastón Gaudio—the French Open champion—was the only other male player to win a major.

      Never before had a Russian woman prevailed at one of the Grand Slam events, but in 2004 three competitors from that nation won major championships. Anastasiya Myskina ruled on the clay courts at Roland Garros to claim the French Open crown; Mariya Sharapova was a popular winner at Wimbledon; and the formidable Svetlana Kuznetsova came away with the U.S. Open title. Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne (see Biographies (Henin-Hardenne, Justine )) was the only woman not from Russia to triumph at a major, securing the Australian Open title as well as the Olympic gold medal later in the year. Sharapova was the highest-paid woman in tennis, earning $2,506,263, and Federer topped the men with $6,337,660.

Australian Open.
      For the third time in four Grand Slam tournament events, Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters confronted each other in an all-Belgian final. As was the case at Roland Garros and the U.S. Open in 2003, Henin-Hardenne came through when it counted, defeating Clijsters 6–3, 4–6, 6–3 in a hard-fought battle. Henin-Hardenne built a 4–2 second-set lead but lost four straight games. With Clijsters serving at 3–4 and down break point in the final set, the umpire ruled against her on a close baseline call to give Henin-Hardenne that pivotal game. Henin-Hardenne promptly held serve to close out the contest.

      Federer gave one virtuoso performance after another to take the men's title. After upending Lleyton Hewitt of Australia and Argentina's David Nalbandian, he ousted Spain's gritty Juan Carlos Ferrero and then stopped Russian Marat Safin, the 2000 U.S. Open champion, 7–6 (3), 6–4, 6–2 in the final. The resurgent Safin, who was ranked 66th at the end of 2003, was magnificent in posting five-set victories over 2003 U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick and four-time Australian Open winner Andre Agassi, both of the U.S. Safin finished 2004 as the world's number four ranked player.

French Open.
      Many among the cognoscenti expected Argentina's fleet-footed and cunning Guillermo Coria to claim the men's crown at the world's premier clay-court event, but number three seed Coria was beaten in a bruising final by Gaudio, a 25-year-old ranked 44th in the world. Gaudio made a gallant recovery from two sets to love down, stopping Coria 0–6, 3–6, 6–4, 6–1, 8–6. A debilitated Coria was compromised by leg cramps during the long struggle but twice reached match point in a tense fifth set. Gaudio would not surrender, though, and he became the first man since Gottfried von Cramm of Germany in 1934 to win a final at Roland Garros from match point down. The top-seeded Federer bowed in the third round, losing to three-time champion Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil 6–4, 6–4, 6–4.

      Myskina celebrated the fortnight of her life, ousting four-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams of the U.S. in the quarterfinals, 2001 Roland Garros winner American Jennifer Capriati in the penultimate round, and fellow Russian Yelena Dementyeva 6–1, 6–2 in the final. One month shy of her 23rd birthday, number six seed Myskina played unerringly when the stakes were highest. Henin-Hardenne, suffering from a virus that hurt her preparation for Paris, fell in the second round against Italy's Tathiana Garbin, becoming the first top-seeded woman to lose before the third round of the tournament.

      Defending champion Federer took on Roddick in a gripping final on the All-England Club's fabled Centre Court, and at the outset it seemed that the American might exploit his awesome service power and crackling forehand for an uplifting victory. Locked at one set all against the top seed, Roddick moved out in front 4–2 in the third set before rain intruded. When they returned, Federer raised his game decidedly, and his technical and tactical mastery carried him to a 4–6, 7–5, 7–6 (3), 6–4 triumph. Federer conceded only one other set in the entire tournament—to Hewitt in the quarterfinals.

      Sharapova, appearing at Wimbledon for only the second time, played beautiful tennis, peaking propitiously in her last two matches. In the semifinals she was trailing 1999 champion Lindsay Davenport of the U.S. by a set and a service break when rain delayed the contest. Reprieved, Sharapova elevated her game significantly to oust Davenport 2–6, 7–6 (5), 6–1. In the final the number 13 seed produced perhaps the biggest final-round upset in the history of the women's event, stunning two-time defending champion Serena Williams of the U.S. 6–1, 6–4. Sharapova rallied from 2–4 in the second set before winning four games in a row for the championship. Serena's older sister Venus, the champion in 2000 and 2001, lost a bizarre second-round meeting with Croatia's Karolina Sprem 7–6 (5), 7–6 (6). The umpire lost track of the score in the second-set tiebreaker and inadvertently awarded a point to Sprem and failed to correct the error when he had the opportunity. Nevertheless, Venus still wasted three set points before bowing.

U.S. Open.
      In an immaculate exhibition of his versatility and court craft, Federer captured his first U.S. Open crown with a 6–0, 7–6 (3), 6–0 demolition of 2001 champion Hewitt at Flushing Meadows, N.Y. No one in the men's game had taken two love sets in a title match at the U.S. championships since 1884. In the opening set Federer won 24 of 29 points, setting the tone emphatically with superb shot selection. It was Federer's fourth victory without a defeat in a major final. The toughest test for Federer was his quarterfinal clash with a revitalized Agassi, who had overcome Roddick and Hewitt to win the Cincinnati, Ohio, tournament a few weeks earlier. Their duel started at night, but inclement weather forced a postponement, with Federer leading two sets to one. When they returned the following afternoon, a determined Agassi garnered the fourth set. Federer, however, was unflappable and regained the ascendancy to win in five sets.

      Kuznetsova was eager, opportunistic, and poised under pressure in taking her first major. The number nine seed came from behind to oust Davenport 1–6, 6–2, 6–4 in the semifinals, erasing a 3–0 deficit in the final set to win six of the last seven games. Davenport had won 4 tournaments and 22 matches in a row, but the 28-year-old American strained a hip muscle in practice on the morning of her meeting with the Russian. In the final, Kuznetsova knocked out Dementyeva 6–3, 7–5, recouping from 2–4 down in the second set. Dementyeva held off a spirited but streaky Capriati 6–0, 2–6, 7–6 (5) after Capriati served for the match in the final set. Twice before—in 1991 and 2003—Capriati had also served for a place in the final only to lose.

Other Events.
      Federer closed his stellar campaign in style, dispatching Hewitt 6–3, 6–2 in the final of the Tennis Masters Cup in Houston, Texas. With that victory he ended his year on a remarkable run of 17 consecutive matches. Davenport—the top-ranked player in 1998 and 2001—finished the year ranked number one for the third time after winning a tour-leading seven singles titles.

      At the Olympic Games in Athens, Henin-Hardenne and Chile's Nicolas Massu captured gold medals by taking the singles titles. Henin-Hardenne upended Amélie Mauresmo of France in a straight-set final, and Massu's tenacity carried him to a five-set final-round triumph over American Mardy Fish.

      In late November Russia—led by a determined Myskina—captured the Fed Cup for the first time, defeating France 3–2 in the final in Moscow. Spain took the Davis Cup for the second time, eclipsing the U.S. 3–2 on its home clay courts in Sevilla.

Steve Flink

▪ 2004

      A pair of talented, purposeful, and tenacious individuals made immense strides across the 2003 season, moving past all of their chief adversaries to the top of the tennis world. American Andy Roddick—blessed with one of the game's most explosive serves, a maturing match-playing temperament, and a growing awareness of his potential—garnered the number one world ranking among the men, capping a brilliant campaign by securing his first major at the U.S. Open. Belgium's Justine Henin-Hardenne was victorious at the French Open and the U.S. Open, establishing herself unequivocally as the best in the world.

      The rise of Roddick and Henin-Hardenne overshadowed nearly everything and everyone else during a riveting year on the courts. Before she was forced away from the game by knee surgery in August, however, American Serena Williams won the Australian Open and All-England (Wimbledon) championships to lift her total of career Grand Slam tournament triumphs to six. Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero and Switzerland's Roger Federer came through to take their first major singles titles at the French Open and Wimbledon, respectively. At age 32 the evergreen Andre Agassi of the U.S. raised his historical stock by collecting an eighth Grand Slam title with his Australian Open victory. Henin-Hardenne's countrywoman Kim Clijsters was the highest-paid woman with record prize-money earnings of $4,091,594. Leading the way among the men was Federer with $4,000,680. This was the first time the top woman earned more than the highest-paid man.

Australian Open.
      Meeting in their fourth consecutive major final, Serena Williams and her sister Venus went full force after a title neither had ever won. Serena again was the superior player, but not by much. In perhaps their highest-quality confrontation, Serena beat Venus 7–6 (4), 3–6, 6–4 and became only the fifth woman to have won four consecutive major championships. With the temperature soaring to 43.9 °C (111 °F), the all-Williams final was contested indoors under a retractable roof. In the semifinals Clijsters had led Serena 5–1 in the third and final set and twice reached match point before Williams collected six games in a row to close out an arduous battle 4–6, 6–3, 7–5.

      Agassi continued his impressive hard-court mastery “Down Under” and dropped only one set in seven nearly impeccable matches. The number two seed American crushed number 31 seed Rainer Schüttler of Germany 6–2, 6–2, 6–1 in the final to record his fourth triumph at the season's first Grand Slam championship. Schüttler had upset a debilitated Roddick in a four-set semifinal after Roddick had stopped Morocco's captivating Younes El Aynaoui 4–6, 7–6 (5), 4–6, 6–4, 21–19. In this five-hour quarterfinal, Roddick saved a match point in the fifth set, which lasted 2 hours 23 minutes. El Aynaoui had ousted top-seeded Lleyton Hewitt of Australia 6–7 (4), 7–6 (4), 7–6 (5), 6–4 in the fourth round without conceding a single service game.

French Open.
      Ferrero lost in the French semifinal in 2000 and 2001 and was the runner-up in 2002, but in 2003 the time had come for the stylish Spaniard to rule on the red clay courts at Roland Garros. The 23-year-old number three seed took the world's premier clay-court championship emphatically, casting aside the big Dutchman Martin Verkerk 6–1, 6–3, 6–2 in a lopsided final. Verkerk had never won a match in a major before and had appeared in only two Grand Slam events prior to his astonishing showing in Paris.

      Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters collided in an all-Belgian women's final, with a poised Henin-Hardenne rolling comfortably to a 6–0, 6–4 triumph. Clijsters, who had been beaten 1–6, 6–4, 12–10 by American Jennifer Capriati in the 2001 Roland Garros final, could not find her range off the ground, while Henin-Hardenne sparkled in all facets of her game. In a riveting semifinal the number four seed Henin-Hardenne had stopped number one seed Serena Williams 6–2, 4–6, 7–5. Williams had led 4–2, 30–0 in the final set but could not close the account.

      The surging Federer had already secured five tournament victories by the time he arrived at Wimbledon as the number four seed. On the All-England Club's fabled Centre Court, the Swiss all-court stylist was dazzling—serving and volleying majestically on the grass, returning serve adroitly, carrying himself confidently, and sweeping 21 of 22 sets. Federer did not lose his serve in his last two matches and defeated number five seed Roddick 7–6 (6), 6–3, 6–3 in the semifinals and unseeded Australian Mark Philippoussis 7–6 (5), 6–2, 7–6 (3) for the title. Philippoussis had released an astounding 46 aces in a five-set win over number two seed Agassi in the fourth round. For the first time since 1967, the defending men's champion lost in the opening round as an out-of-sorts Hewitt was struck down by Croatian qualifier Ivo Karlovic 1–6, 7–6 (5), 6–3, 6–4.

      The Williams sisters made it to the women's final for the second year in a row. Serena, the top seed, battled back gamely to beat an ailing Venus 4–6, 6–4, 6–2, garnering her sixth career Grand Slam title and preventing Venus from taking her fifth. Neither woman competed again for the rest of the year; Venus never fully recovered from an abdominal stomach strain, and Serena had knee surgery. Serena had overwhelmed Henin-Hardenne 6–3, 6–2 in their semifinal. Venus was hurting badly during her semifinal battle with Clijsters, but in a spectacular turnaround she rallied to win 10 of the last 11 games in a 4–6, 6–3, 6–1 victory.

U.S. Open.
      Roddick became the first player since Pete Sampras in 1996 to capture a major championship from match point down during the course of the event. In his semifinal showdown with Argentina's David Nalbandian at Flushing Meadows, N.Y., the number four seed lost the first two sets and was one point away from elimination in the third set, but he rallied valiantly for a 6–7 (4), 3–6, 7–6 (7), 6–1, 6–3 triumph. Buoyant after that close call, Roddick dismantled number three seed Ferrero 6–3, 7–6 (2), 6–3. The 21-year-old American won 68 of 87 points on his potent delivery, produced 23 aces, and did not lose his serve. Agassi had fallen to Ferrero in a four-set semifinal.

      The top-seeded Clijsters and second seed Henin-Hardenne met in their second major final of the season, and Henin-Hardenne was once more the player with the upper hand. Clijsters served for the first set at 5–4 but lost 9 of the last 10 games as Henin-Hardenne pulled away for a 7–5, 6–1 win. In a stirring semifinal Henin-Hardenne was two points from defeat against Capriati no fewer than 10 times, but she somehow escaped 4–6, 7–5, 7–6 (4) in what was arguably the match of the year for the women.

Other Events.
      Federer routed Agassi 6–3, 6–0, 6–4 in the final of the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Houston, Texas, for his seventh title of the year; he finished the season at number two in the world behind Roddick. Henin-Hardenne ended 2003 ranked at the top, with Clijsters close behind at number two.

      Led by Amélie Mauresmo and Mary Pierce, France defeated the U.S. 4–1 in the Fed Cup final in Moscow in November for that country's second women's team championship. A week later Australia captured its 28th Davis Cup in Melbourne, Australia, with a 3–1 win over Spain. Both Hewitt and Philippoussis produced upset victories over Ferrero on the grass courts.

      Sampras—the men's record holder with 14 Grand Slam titles and the man many considered the greatest player of all time—officially announced his retirement at an emotional ceremony on opening night of the U.S. Open. American Michael Chang also retired during the Open. Former women's number one Martina Hingis of Switzerland left the game—almost certainly for good—in March following leg surgery.

Steve Flink

▪ 2003

      Tennis fans were rewarded on a multitude of levels in 2002. They witnessed the extraordinary ascendancy of Serena Williams, who captured three of the four major championships. They appreciated the style and grace of Venus Williams, who had the misfortune to be beaten by her sister in the finals of the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open. They admired the temerity of Jennifer Capriati, who claimed her second straight Australian Open title.

      While tennis aficionados could almost always anticipate what might happen in the women's game, they were hard pressed to predict the eventual champions in the men's Grand Slam tournaments. The highly charged Australian Lleyton Hewitt (see Biographies (Hewitt, Lleyton )) celebrated his second year in a row as the best player in the world, cementing his status at the top by winning Wimbledon for the first time and securing a second Tennis Masters Cup title. The other three major events all produced surprising outcomes, however.

      Not only were Serena Williams and Hewitt the top-ranked players in the game, but they were also the most highly paid. Hewitt garnered $4,619,386 to set the pace among the men. Williams made $3,935,668 to establish herself as the women's leader.

Australian Open.
      Battling three-time former champion Martina Hingis in the final, Capriati somehow survived on an oppressive afternoon with the courtside temperature at 41 °C (107 °F). The 25-year-old American overcame her Swiss adversary despite dropping the opening set and trailing 4–0 in the second. On her way to a remarkable 4–6, 7–6 (9–7), 6–2 victory, Capriati set a record for a women's Grand Slam final by saving no fewer than four match points. No woman had rescued herself from match point down in a title match at a Grand Slam event since 1962. With this stirring stand Capriati won her third career Grand Slam title. In another milestone match four-time former Australian Open victor Monica Seles toppled number two seed Venus Williams 6–7 (4), 6–2, 6–3 in the quarterfinals, achieving her first win over Williams in seven career meetings.

      Sweden's Thomas Johansson was the number 16 seed but took full advantage of an excellent draw to reach his first major final. Number nine seed Marat Safin—the 2000 U.S. Open winner—was heavily favoured to take apart Johansson in the title match, but the talented yet immature Russian was way out of sorts. Johansson returned serve superbly in surging to a 3–6, 6–4, 6–4, 7–6 (7–4) win. It had been a decade since a Swede (Stefan Edberg at the 1992 U.S. Open) had won a major title.

French Open.
      Not since 1999 had Spain's Albert Costa won a tournament, but his fluid shot making helped carry him to his first major title. The number 20 seed stopped defending champion Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil in the quarterfinals, two-time finalist Alex Corretja of Spain in the semis, and another Spaniard, heavily favoured Juan Carlos Ferrero, in the final. The 26-year-old Costa sparkled at the outset of the final match. Ferrero gradually found his range, but Costa came through for a 6–1, 6–0, 4–6, 6–3 triumph.

      Neither Serena nor Venus Williams had appeared previously in the final at Roland Garros, but the two prodigiously gifted sisters set up a final-round appointment this time around. Number two seed Venus never came close to conceding a set on her way to the championship match, but Serena, the number three seed, found herself in an ominous position during her crackling semifinal encounter with Capriati. The defending champion took the first set from Williams and led 6–5 on serve in the second. At that propitious moment Capriati surrendered her authority, and Williams not atypically elevated her game decidedly, pulling through 3–6, 7–6 (7–2), 6–2.

      In the final Serena defeated Venus 7–5, 6–3. Venus had built a 5–3 first-set lead before her younger sibling's superior court craft ruled the day. Venus was broken in 8 of 11 service games. Serena was sturdier from the backcourt. With her impressive win she garnered the second major title of her career, and her first since the 1999 U.S. Open.

      After one favourite after another had been ushered out of the tournament in a startling stream of upsets, the top-seeded Hewitt restored order in the end. The 21-year-old became the first Australian man to rule at the All-England Club since Pat Cash in 1987. Hewitt ousted number four seed Tim Henman of the U.K. 7–5, 6–1, 7–5 in the semifinals and then crushed number 28 seed David Nalbandian of Argentina 6–1, 6–3, 6–2 in the final.

      On the tumultuous third day of the event, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, and Safin were all eliminated in second-round matches. The seven-time Wimbledon champion Sampras lost to George Bastl of Switzerland in five sets; Agassi fell in straight sets to the rapidly improving Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand; and Safin bowed in four sets against Belgium's Olivier Rochus.

      Serena and Venus Williams marched commandingly into the final, and their clash was the best tennis they would offer in 2002. Serena made good on 67% of her first serves, while Venus succeeded with 70%. Venus, however, could not keep up with Serena in this ferocious battle of big hitters. Serena prevailed in a tiebreaker and then glided through the second set, winning her first singles title on the fabled grass courts 7–6 (7–4), 6–3. Venus's bid to become the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1991–93 to win Wimbledon three years in a row thus fell short.

U.S. Open.
      Heading into the last Grand Slam event of the season, Sampras had not taken a tournament title since winning his record-breaking 13th major title at Wimbledon two years earlier. He arrived at Flushing Meadows, N.Y., as the number 17 seed, with most observers in the media dismissing his chances; he left with perhaps the most gratifying victory of his career. On his way to a final round meeting with Agassi—his oldest and most revered rival—Sampras defeated number three seed Tommy Haas and his U.S. Davis Cup teammate, Andy Roddick.

      Sampras had overcome Agassi in their three previous meetings at the U.S. Open and had won three of their four finals at the majors. Now, 12 years after beating Agassi in the 1990 Open final, Sampras did it again. Serving stupendously, attacking Agassi's second serve with vigour, and volleying with supreme touch and creativity, Sampras mastered Agassi 6–3, 6–4, 5–7, 6–4 to win his fifth U.S. Open. At the age of 31, he was the oldest men's champion since Ken Rosewall in 1970, and he became the first man since Rosewall to win majors in his teens, 20s, and 30s. During the Open, Sampras had lost his booming serve only six times in seven matches. Agassi, meanwhile, had compensated in some ways for his 20th defeat in 34 career duels with Sampras by striking down the top-ranked Hewitt in a four-set semifinal.

      The women's final was once more an All-American, all-Williams family affair between Serena and Venus. When the chips were on the line in this prime-time Saturday-night final, Serena was a level above her sister in every facet of the game. Victorious for the fourth straight time over Venus in 2002, Serena bested Venus in a third consecutive major final, winning convincingly 6–4, 6–3. After missing the Australian Open with an injury, Serena had won every subsequent Grand Slam event, demonstrating her all-surface prowess with triumphs on clay, grass, and hard courts.

      A resurgent Lindsay Davenport—unable to compete in the first three majors of the season following knee surgery—gave Serena a tussle in the semifinals before bowing 6–3, 7–5, while Amélie Mauresmo—a quarterfinal victor over Capriati—pressed Venus even harder, losing their riveting battle 6–3, 5–7, 6–4.

Other Events.
      Hewitt and his girlfriend, Kim Clijsters of Belgium, took the season-ending events in style. Hewitt defeated Ferrero in a five-set final at the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai. Clijsters handed Serena Williams only her fifth defeat of the year when she crafted a 7–5, 6–3 win in the final of the Home Depot Championships in Los Angeles.

      For the first time in history, Russia won the Davis Cup—and became the 11th country to have enjoyed the honour. With former Russian president Boris Yeltsin on hand to offer support from the stands, the Russian players held back defending champion France 3–2 in the Cup final in Paris. Slovakia secured its first Fed Cup title with a 3–1 win over Spain.

      Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario—the winner of four Grand Slam singles titles during her stellar career—retired from the game at the end of the year, one month before she turned 31. The former world number one from Spain had won 29 singles titles altogether and another 67 championships in doubles. Sampras became a father on November 21 when his wife—actress Bridgette Wilson—gave birth to a son, Christian Charles.

Steve Flink

▪ 2002

      Although the men produced four different champions at the illustrious Grand Slam events in 2001, the “man of the year” label was worn deservedly by a pugnacious 20-year-old from Australia named Lleyton Hewitt. He captured the first major title of his career at the U.S. Open; recorded an impressive six tournament triumphs, including the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup at Sydney, Australia, in November; and became the youngest man ever to conclude a year as the number one ranked player in the world. American Andre Agassi continued his late-career exploits by claiming the Australian Open crown for the second year in a row. Brazil's Gustavo Kuerten came through at the French Open for the third time. The enigmatic Croatian Goran Ivanisevic ruled at Wimbledon.

      The women, meanwhile, garnered more than their share of the public's imagination, particularly a trio of prominent Americans. Venus Williams replicated her immense feat of 2000, sweeping to triumphs at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Lindsay Davenport collected seven tournament titles and finished a year ranked number one for the second time. Arguably the year's most inspiring player in the game—man or woman—was Jennifer Capriati, who completed an astounding career comeback at 25 and surged to Australian Open and French Open triumphs in a sterling 2001 campaign. (See Biographies (Capriati, Jennifer ).) Capriati earned a number two status on the official Women's Tennis Association computer, but she was rewarded by an International Tennis Federation panel as “world champion” because no one else could match her consistency in the major championships. Kuerten was the men's leader in prize money for the second straight year with $4,091,004, while Williams earned top prize money for the women at $2,662,610.

Australian Open.
      In an unprecedented personal feat, Switzerland's wily Martina Hingis toppled both Venus and Serena Williams in the same tournament. She upended Serena in a spirited quarterfinal clash 6–2, 3–6, 8–6 after Williams built a 4–1, two service-break lead in the final set. Then Hingis crushed Venus Williams 6–1, 6–1 to set up a final-round appointment with the number 12 seed, Capriati. Capriati had ousted four-time former champion Monica Seles of the U.S. and defending champion Davenport to reach the title match. The cognoscenti sensed that Hingis would win in Melbourne for the fourth time, but they underestimated the resolve and vigour of Capriati, who was peaking at precisely the right moment. Capriati's weight of shot was too much for Hingis as the American overcame her Swiss adversary for the first time, majestically casting aside the favourite 6–4, 6–3.

      Agassi was seeded sixth in his bid to rule “Down Under” for the third time, but three months before he turned 31 the American performed with the panache of a man much younger. In the semifinals he prevailed in a magnificent five-set collision with Australia's Patrick Rafter. Agassi survived that precarious skirmish from being down two sets to one and never looked back. He obliterated the apprehensive Frenchman Arnaud Clement 6–4, 6–2, 6–2 with meticulous ground-stroke execution to win the seventh Grand Slam tournament title of his uneven yet estimable career.

French Open.
      In the middle of his bid for a second consecutive crown on the slow red-clay courts of Roland Garros, Kuerten found himself on the edge of elimination. Facing American qualifier Michael Russell, the 24-year-old Brazilian was match point down before recouping to win 3–6, 4–6, 7–6 (7–5), 6–3, 6–1 in a pivotal fourth-round showdown. Revitalized, Kuerten soared to the title, cutting down Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov and two Spaniards, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Alex Corretja. The resourceful Corretja, who also reached the Roland Garros final in 1998, picked an uneasy Kuerten apart in the first set with a brisk wind blowing. As the weather conditions became calmer, however, Kuerten's slow court artistry took over and carried him to a 6–7 (3–7), 7–5, 6–2, 6–0 victory.

      Capriati was pushed to her physical and emotional limits in a spectacular final against Belgium's rapidly improving Kim Clijsters. After holding back Serena Williams in a three-set quarterfinal and Hingis in a straight-set semifinal, Capriati came into the title-round confrontation with immense confidence. The number four seed from the U.S. was the heavy favourite, but Clijsters, who turned 18 the day before the match, was undaunted in her first major final. Her big-hitting, free-wheeling style of play unsettled the American. In the final set of an uncommonly suspenseful struggle, Capriati was two points away from defeat four times before she prevailed 1–6, 6–4, 12–10.

      At the All-England Club, all eyes were focused on Capriati. She was halfway to winning a Grand Slam, attempting to become the fourth woman to realize that accomplishment and the first since Steffi Graf of Germany in 1988. In the semifinals Capriati took on number eight seed Justine Henin of Belgium. The American was blazing off both sides at the beginning but in the end Henin's exquisite one-handed backhand—arguably the best in tennis—enabled the 19-year-old to move past Capriati 2–6, 6–4, 6–2 and into the final. Henin gave Venus Williams sporadic problems during the final, but the number two seed retained her title with a convincing 6–1, 3–6, 6–0 victory.

      Ivanisevic was greatly relieved when he was given a wildcard into the main draw. The three-time former finalist had suffered from severe shoulder problems the previous year and had lost nearly all of his confidence, falling in the qualifying rounds at the Australian Open in January. The towering left-hander had one of the biggest serves ever, however, and over the Wimbledon fortnight his shoulder pain was minimal. Breaking a record he had set in 1992, Ivanisevic released an amazing 212 aces in his seven-match run past (among others) defending U.S. Open champion Marat Safin of Russia, Briton Tim Henman, and Rafter. American Pete Sampras, the victor for seven of the previous eight years, was beaten in five sets by the gifted Roger Federer of Switzerland in the fourth round. Rafter and Ivanisevic confronted each other in a rare Monday final after rain disrupted the schedule, the first time since 1988 that this had occurred. Two points from defeat at 6–7 in the fifth set, Ivanisevic left his demons behind him and emerged with a 6–3, 3–6, 6–3, 2–6, 9–7 win.

U.S. Open.
      Sampras had struggled all year long to find his customary drive and inspiration, but with the American crowds boosting him vociferously, the 30-year-old put on some dazzling displays in New York City. Sampras knocked out three former champions in a row to reach the final—Rafter, Agassi in a classic 6–7 (7–9), 7–6 (7–2), 7–6 (7–2), 7–6 (7–5) quarterfinal, and Safin in a straight-set semifinal. Sampras lost his chance to become the first man to win at least one major title for nine consecutive years when he fell 7–6 (7–4), 6–1, 6–1 to Hewitt in a disappointing final.

      The women's event did not sparkle as promised. Venus Williams overpowered her younger sister, Serena, 6–2, 6–4 in a battle between the 2000 and 1999 champions, respectively. It was the first time since 1884 that two sisters had clashed in the final of a major championship, and they played in prime time under the lights. In one-sided semifinals Venus had defeated Capriati 6–4, 6–2, and Serena had routed Hingis 6–3, 6–2.

Other Events.
      Hewitt took the Tennis Masters Cup, an event staged solely for the top eight players in the world. In this round-robin tournament, Hewitt did not lose a match, defeating Sebastien Grosjean of France in straight sets in the final. Serena Williams was victorious at the women's season-ending Sanex Championships, which was moved from New York City to Munich, Ger. Davenport suffered a knee injury during her semifinal win over Clijsters and was forced to default the title match to Williams.

      France upset Australia in Melbourne 3–2 to take the Davis Cup for the ninth time. In the fifth and decisive match of the “tie,” left-hander Wayne Arthurs replaced Rafter, who was suffering with an arm injury. Arthurs lost in four sets to Nicolas Escude, who had earlier accounted for Hewitt in five sets on the opening day. Hewitt and Rafter had unexpectedly joined forces in the doubles match, but they were beaten in four sets by Cedric Pioline and Fabrice Santoro.

      Clijsters and Henin led Belgium to victory in the Fed Cup final in Madrid. They knocked out Russia 2–1 in the final as Henin won 6–0, 6–3 over Nadya Petrova and Clijsters beat Yelena Dementyeva 6–0, 6–4. It was the first time Belgium had emerged victorious in the international team competition. Apprehensive about potential terrorism, the defending champion U.S. team chose not to compete in Spain.

      Off the court Sampras and his coach, Paul Annacone, elected to end their six-year professional alliance at the end of the year. Former Davis Cup captain Tom Gullikson (whose late twin brother, Tim, had coached Sampras during 1992–95) took over that role. The story of the year in many ways was that of Agassi and Graf, who were married in Las Vegas, Nev., on October 22, four days before the birth of their son. Between them, Agassi and Graf had secured no fewer than 29 major singles titles.

Steve Flink

▪ 2001

      In 2000, 24-year-old Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten came of age as a competitor of the highest order, becoming the first South American man ever to finish a season as the number one ranked player on the official Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) computer. Kuerten's 2000 campaign featured impressive triumphs at the French Open in June and at the elite Tennis Masters Cup in Lisbon in December. A flamboyant shotmaker and demonstrative performer, he displayed a growing awareness of his immense potential, earning a genuine respect from all of his leading rivals. So, too, did Marat Safin, a dynamic 20-year-old Russian who secured no fewer than seven tournament titles, including a spectacular run at the U.S. Open.

      While Kuerten and Safin brought a new energy and diversity to top-level tennis, a pair of enduring American men stood up ably for the old guard of the game. Andre Agassi took the Australian Open crown in convincing fashion to record a sixth career Grand Slam championship. More significantly, Pete Sampras came through at Wimbledon, sealing a men's record 13th Grand Slam singles title in the process.

      Many other familiar players emerged as victors at the Grand Slam events. Among the women, Lindsay Davenport of the U.S. was the winner of the Australian Open, and Mary Pierce of France took the top honour in the French Open at Roland Garros. Venus Williams burst into brilliance in claiming the Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles as well as the singles gold medal at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Williams and her equally dynamic younger sister, Serena, also captured the Wimbledon and Olympic doubles titles. (See Biographies (Williams, Serena and Venus ).) Although Switzerland's strategically savvy Martina Hingis failed to secure a major title, she surpassed all of her adversaries with nine tournament victories, prize-money earnings of $3,457,049, and her third number one world ranking in four years. Setting the prize-money pace among the men was Kuerten with $4,701,610.

Australian Open.
      Seeking a fourth consecutive singles crown in Melbourne, Hingis could not contain an inspired Davenport, who overwhelmed the top-seeded Hingis 6–1, 7–5 in the final despite squandering four straight games after building a commanding 5–1 second-set lead. In garnering the third major tournament win of her career, the number 2 seed Davenport did not drop a set in seven matches.

      Agassi was competing with unwavering intensity as he moved persuasively through the field in Melbourne. The top seed conceded only one set on his way to a gripping semifinal confrontation with Sampras. Agassi had lost 17 of his previous 28 career meetings with his countryman—including four of their five showdowns in 1999—but he prevailed this time 6–4, 3–6, 6–7 (7–0), 7–6 (5), 6–1, despite 37 aces from Sampras. Boosted by that big win, Agassi cast aside the defending champion, Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia, 3–6, 6–3, 6–2, 6–4 in the final. Remarkably, Agassi did not win another tournament during the rest of 2000.

French Open.
      A much more seasoned and accomplished player than he had been when he captured the world's premier clay-court event three years earlier, Kuerten was well-prepared this time. He had reached the final of the Italian Open and had won the German Open en route to Roland Garros, and his self-conviction was evident all through the fortnight in Paris. In the most compelling major men's final of the year, Kuerten, the number 5 seed, ousted number 3 seed Magnus Norman of Sweden 6–2, 6–3, 2–6, 7–6 (8–6). Recouping boldly from 4–5, 15–40 down in the fourth set, Norman saved 10 match points before bowing as both players tested each other in tense exchanges from the baseline. Kuerten survived strenuous five-set confrontations with Kafelnikov in the quarterfinals and with the sturdy Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero in the semifinals.

      Pierce became the first Frenchwoman since Françoise Durr in 1967 to prevail at Roland Garros. The 25-year-old took apart Spain's Conchita Martínez 6–2, 7–5 in a lacklustre final after lifting her game to loftier levels in the previous two rounds. The number 6 seed battled gamely from behind to beat three-time former titlist Monica Seles of the U.S. 4–6, 6–3, 6–4 in the quarterfinals and then removed the top-seeded Hingis 6–4, 5–7, 6–2 in a suspenseful semifinal.

      The formidable Australian team of Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde captured their first French Open doubles title in 2000. The win made the pair the only doubles players in history to achieve all four Grand Slams, the Olympic gold medal, the world championship, and the Davis Cup.

      In sweeping his seventh singles title in eight years on the lawns of the All-England Club, Sampras played through most of the fortnight in intense pain. Suffering with an inflamed tendon just above his ankle, Sampras could not practice in between matches after his second-round contest with Karol Kucera. Driven by deep pride and a keen sense of history, Sampras overcame his adverse circumstances. For the fifth time in his seven Wimbledon final-round appearances, he did not lose his serve, reviving to defeat two-time U.S. Open champion Patrick Rafter of Australia 6–7 (10–12), 7–6 (7–5), 6–4, 6–2 in a rain-delayed battle ending in near darkness. At long last, the 28-year-old American broke the record he had shared with Australian Roy Emerson for men's major tournament victories. With his parents in the stands watching him win a Grand Slam crown for the first time, Sampras briefly held his head in his hands and cried in a rare display of public emotion. In doubles, Woodbridge and Woodforde captured their 6th Wimbledon and 11th Grand Slam title.

      Venus Williams had been away from tennis from November 1999 until May with tendonitis in both wrists. She was appearing in only her fourth event of 2000 and had not advanced beyond the quarterfinals anywhere else. At age 20, the number 5 seed was ready to make her move on a crucial stage, however, and she did just that. In the final, Williams upended defending champion Davenport 6–3, 7–6 (7–3) to claim her first major crown. Williams was the first African American woman to win at the All-England Club since Althea Gibson in 1958. In a much-heralded semifinal, Venus defeated her sister Serena 6–2, 7–6 (7–3) in only the third singles match ever between sisters at Wimbledon and the first since “open” tennis began in 1968.

U.S. Open.
      After losing 11 of his first 16 matches in 2000, Safin had raised his game markedly thereafter and came into New York seeded sixth. He was considered by most authorities as a prime candidate to take the U.S. title, but no one was quite prepared for the breathtaking display he gave in dismantling four-time winner and number 4 seed Sampras 6–4, 6–3, 6–3. In his first major final, Safin was a maestro on the tennis court, almost impeccable on serve and off the ground, refusing to drop his delivery even once in three sets. No Russian had ever ruled at the U.S. championships before the charismatic Safin prevailed on the hard courts at the National Tennis Center. After surviving back-to-back five-set skirmishes with the Italian 35-year-old left-hander Gianluca Pozzi and the Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean in the second and third rounds, Safin never looked back.

      Venus Williams's breakthrough at Wimbledon lifted her confidence to a new level. On her path to the U.S. Open, she picked up three more tournament wins on the hard-court circuit. That set the stage for her second consecutive major tournament victory. Once more, her victim in the final was the number 2 seed Davenport. Davenport built a 4–1, two service-break lead over Williams in the opening set but did not exploit that opportunity. Williams won five games in a row to take the set, then completed a 6–4, 7–5 triumph in style. The third-seeded Venus was on the edge of elimination in the semifinals when she took on Hingis. The top seed was two points away from ousting Venus at 5–3 in the final set, but Williams struck back convincingly to beat the Swiss star 4–6, 6–3, 7–5.

Other Events.
      Kuerten played the match of his career to crush Agassi 6–4, 6–4, 6–4 in the final of the Tennis Masters Cup (formerly the ATP Tour world championship and the Compaq Grand Slam Cup) in Lisbon. By taking this tournament reserved for only the game's eight best players, Kuerten moved past Safin to claim the number one ranking for the year. Hingis won the season-ending Chase Championships with a hard-fought 6–7 (5–7), 6–4, 6–4 win over Seles in the final at New York City's Madison Square Garden.

      Spain was victorious for the first time ever in the Davis Cup in December. In the final on clay in Barcelona, Ferrero won the decisive match over the enterprising Lleyton Hewitt of Australia in four sets as King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia cheered him on. A month earlier, the Spanish women lost the Fed Cup final to the U.S. Led by veterans Davenport, Seles, and a resurgent Jennifer Capriati, the Americans defeated Martínez, Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario, and company 5–0 in Las Vegas, Nev., in November. At the Olympics, Kafelnikov won the men's singles gold medal, while Sebastien Lareau and Daniel Nestor of Canada bested Woodbridge and Woodforde, the defending gold medalists.

      Jim Courier—the world's top-ranked player in 1992—retired after 13 years as a professional. The 29-year-old American captured four Grand Slam events during his distinguished career. The volatile John McEnroe stepped aside as U.S. Davis Cup captain after only one year, lamenting that he had failed in his goal to inspire Sampras and Agassi to make full commitments to the revered international team competition. McEnroe was succeeded by his younger brother, Patrick, a former player of lesser stature perhaps, but one perhaps better suited to the demands of the job.

Steve Flink

▪ 2000

      In 1999, celebrating one of the most remarkable comebacks in the history of his sport, the enigmatic American Andre Agassi (see Biographies (Agassi, Andre )) finished a year ranked number one in the world by the official Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) computer for the first time. He captured two major titles—a feat he had never realized in any of his previous seasons in professional tennis—and reached the final of a third. Only two years earlier, Agassi had slipped to number 141 in the world, but he had concluded 1998 back among the elite at number 6. Meanwhile, Pete Sampras of the U.S. secured a sixth Wimbledon singles title and upended Agassi in four of their five head-to-head meetings, but back injuries cost the 28-year-old Sampras the opportunity for a seventh consecutive year at the top. Switzerland's stylish Martina Hingis achieved the top ranking in the world of women's tennis for the second time in three years. Hingis was the leading female money winner with $3,291,780; Agassi made $4,269,265 to finish first among the men.

      Continuing a recent trend, seven different players recorded triumphs in the Grand Slam events. Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia took the top honour at the Australian Open before Agassi ruled at the French Open and Sampras succeeded at Wimbledon. Agassi ascended again to take the U.S. Open. The women had another year of extraordinary diversity. Hingis was the victor at the Australian Open, while veteran German player Steffi Graf was the titlist in France. Two Americans won the other championships: Lindsay Davenport at Wimbledon and the surging Serena Williams at the U.S. Open.

      In August the 30-year-old Graf—thought by many to be the greatest woman tennis player of all time—announced that after 17 years as a professional, 22 major championship titles, and 107 overall tournament singles titles, she was retiring. Nevertheless, the women's game was boosted immeasurably by the two Williams sisters from the U.S. Venus Williams, age 19, concluded 1999 ranked number 3 in the world, while Serena, one year younger, stood only one place behind her.

Australian Open.
      Ruling in Melbourne for the third consecutive year, Hingis conceded only one set in seven nearly impeccable matches to take the first of the season's Grand Slam events. In the final, the number 2 seed stopped the gifted Amelie Mauresmo of France 6–2, 6–3. Mauresmo—a dynamic, freewheeling shot maker—had prevailed in the match of the tournament, toppling top seed Davenport 4–6, 7–5, 7–5 after trailing 4–2 in the final set.

      The men's battlefield was wide open as an exhausted Sampras skipped the tournament. Kafelnikov—seeded only 10th—secured the second major crown of his career when he came from behind to oust Sweden's more powerful but less precise Thomas Enqvist 4–6, 6–0, 6–3, 7–6 (1). Enqvist, who finished the year at a career-high number 4 in the world, upended the popular Australians Patrick Rafter (the number 3 seed) and Mark Philippoussis (number 14) in the third and fourth rounds. The fifth-seeded Agassi fell in the fourth round against countryman Vince Spadea.

French Open.
      Graf approached Roland Garros plagued by a long litany of injuries, having won a tournament since November 1998. She proceeded to play some of the most inspired tennis of her career. Seeded sixth, she produced three sterling performances to garner her last Grand Slam title in style. The German defeated number 2 seed Davenport 6–1, 6–7 (5), 6–3 in the quarterfinals, beat number 3 seed Monica Seles of the U.S. 6–7 (2), 6–3, 6–4 in the semifinals, and culminated her startling run with a 4–6, 7–5, 6–2 triumph over the top-seeded Hingis. Hingis served for the match and title at 5–4 in the second set but lost her emotional stability in a frenzied atmosphere as the crowd vociferously rallied behind Graf. Hingis was assessed a point penalty for walking around to her opponent's side of the court to question a line call, and the 18-year-old had to be persuaded by her mother and coach, Melanie Molitor, to return to the court for the post-match presentation ceremony. With her mother's arm around her, Hingis returned to the court sobbing but recovered her composure and spoke graciously about Graf.

      The men's title went unexpectedly to a resurgent Agassi. Troubled by a nagging shoulder injury, Agassi, who was seeded number 13, came close to bypassing the world's premier clay court tournament. He was two points away from a second-round exit against the Frenchman Arnaud Clement, and in the fourth round he was behind by a set and 4–1 before subduing defending champion Carlos Moya of Spain in four sets. Agassi, however, saved his most exhilarating moments for the final. On a windy, disconcerting afternoon, he was obliterated in the first two sets by Andrey Medvedev, but he somehow summoned his willpower and raised his game markedly to register a 1–6, 2–6, 6–4, 6–3, 6–4 victory over his Ukrainian opponent. Agassi became only the fifth man in history (after Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, and Roy Emerson) to capture all four Grand Slam events. Twice beaten at the beginning of the decade in Roland Garros finals, this was the American's finest hour.

      Not until eight days before play commenced on the grass courts of the All-England Club did Sampras win his first tournament of 1999. Yet the American's supreme fast-court skills carried him to a third consecutive championship and a 20th-century record sixth men's Wimbledon title. In one of the most dazzling and comprehensive displays of his illustrious career, Sampras rallied from 0–40 on his serve at 3–3 in the opening set and took complete control of the contest, cutting down Agassi 6–3, 6–4, 7–5. Sampras did not drop a single service game against Agassi, the game's foremost return-of-serve artist. For the 12th time in his career, Sampras had captured a Grand Slam event, lifting himself into a tie with Emerson for the all-time record. For the second straight year, Sampras prevailed in a four-set semifinal against British stylist Tim Henman, while number 4 seed Agassi accounted for number 2 seed Rafter in straight sets.

      A relaxed and surprisingly confident Davenport took the women's title with one of her finest performances, defeating seven-time titlist Graf 6–4, 7–5 in the final. Davenport broke the German's serve once early in the opening set and again at 5–5 in the second and did not lose her serve in the contest. The number 3 seed secured her second major title by overcoming the second-seeded Graf. The top-seeded Hingis bowed in the opening round against Australian qualifier Jelena Dokic by the embarrassing scores of 6–2, 6–0. For the first time in her career, Hingis's mother/coach Molitor was not present at courtside during a major tournament.

U.S. Open.
      The stage seemed set for another Sampras-Agassi battle for supremacy at the U.S. Open, but Sampras suffered a herniated disk in his back in practice the day before the event and had to withdraw. Agassi had been beaten by his formidable rival two more times after Wimbledon—in the final of Los Angeles and semifinal of Cincinnati—and would have been hard-pressed had they clashed at Flushing Meadows. With Sampras absent, however, Agassi went about his business admirably. He was pushed close to his limit by fellow American Todd Martin in a compelling final but recouped with spunk and spontaneity to record a 6–4, 6–7 (5), 6–7 (2), 6–3, 6–2 triumph for his second U.S. Open title and the fifth Grand Slam tournament victory of his career. Agassi overcame an inauspicious start to beat number 3 seed Kafelnikov 1–6, 6–3, 6–3, 6–3 in an impressive semifinal turnaround. In other notable matches, Kafelnikov survived a record 49 aces from the towering Richard Krajicek of The Netherlands to win in a five-set quarterfinal contest. Martin revived gamely from two sets to love down to oust Britain's 1997 U.S. Open finalist Greg Rusedski in another five-set collision played in the fourth round.

Other Events.
      Sampras and Davenport came through to capture season-ending events held in November. In winning the ATP Tour world championship for the fifth time, Sampras replicated his Wimbledon form when he routed Agassi 6–1, 7–5, 6–4 in an event reserved only for the game's top eight competitors. It was his fourth win in five meetings with his compatriot during 1999, and he increased his career lead over Agassi to 17–11. Davenport played perhaps the match of her career to overwhelm Hingis 6–4, 6–2 in the final of the women's Chase championships at New York City's Madison Square Garden.

      Australia won the Davis Cup in December by defeating France 3–2 on clay in Nice, France. With Rafter out of action following surgery for a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder, Philippoussis took over as the team leader and won both of his singles assignments to carry the Australians to triumph. Three months earlier, the U.S. women defeated Russia 4–1 in the Fed Cup final at Stanford University in California. The U.S. contingent—comprising Davenport, Seles, and the Williams sisters—was so strong that U.S. Open singles champion Serena played only doubles and Seles ultimately did not appear.

Steve Flink

▪ 1999

      Adding lustre to an already prodigious record, Pete Sampras of the U.S. reached two more landmarks in an arduous yet rewarding 1998 season. Victorious at Wimbledon for the fifth time in a six-year stretch, he tied Björn Borg's modern men's record for championships won at that shrine of the sport. That triumph was the primary reason why Sampras concluded his sixth consecutive year as the world's top-ranked player on the official Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) computer, breaking a record he had shared with Jimmy Connors (reigned 1974-78). Sampras captured only 4 of 22 tournaments he played in 1998, but his overall consistency separated him from his rivals. Lindsay Davenport established herself as the best woman player in the world for the year, the first native-born American woman to realize that feat since Chris Evert in 1981.

      For only the second time since the inception of "Open Tennis" in 1968, eight different men and women garnered Grand Slam titles in a year of sweeping change. Martina Hingis of Switzerland, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario of Spain, Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic, and Davenport captured the four major women's crowns, while Sampras, Petr Korda of the Czech Republic, Carlos Moya of Spain, and Patrick Rafter of Australia swept the major titles among the men. Sampras was the leading money winner in the men's game with earnings of $3,931,497. At the top of the list for the women was Hingis at $3,175,631.

      In other essential developments, the singularly unpredictable American Andre Agassi made a substantial move from number 122 in the world at the end of 1997 up to number 6 for 1998, an unprecedented rise in the rankings. For the first time since the official rankings were introduced in 1973, two Spanish men were stationed in the world's top five for the year, with Moya fifth and ATP Tour world champion Alex Corretja third. The swift ascendancy of the gifted African-American Venus Williams continued, as she rose to fifth on the women's list. Germany's indefatigable Steffi Graf—eight times the world's best player between 1987 and 1996—recouped from knee surgery in 1997 and a series of injuries in 1998, rising to ninth with a late-season surge. Two other American former champions, Jim Courier and Michael Chang, slipped in the rankings.

Australian Open.
      Returning to Melbourne, where she had become the youngest Grand Slam singles titlist of the century in 1997, Hingis defended her crown admirably, halting Spain's tenacious Conchita Martínez 6-3, 6-3 in the final. Seeded second behind Hingis, Davenport won a stirring, three-set quarterfinal from Williams but was upended by Martínez in a three-set semifinal showdown.

      Sampras seemed primed to secure a third championship "down under," moving into the quarterfinals without the loss of a set. The favourite fell in four sets against one of the game's great counterattackers, however, losing to Slovakia's stylish Karol Kucera. Kucera could not sustain the lofty standards he set against Sampras, bowing in four sets to Korda in the semifinal. Appearing in only his second major final, Korda secured his first Grand Slam championship with a powerful performance against an apprehensive Marcelo Rios, the enigmatic Chilean, and concluded the year ranked second behind Sampras. In this battle of left-handers, Korda prevailed 6-2, 6-2, 6-2, but the calibre of his tennis declined dramatically the rest of the year.

French Open.
      After a startling run to the Australian Open final the previous year, Moya had performed sporadically in subsequent tournaments. At Roland Garros, however, he put all of the pieces of his game together persuasively and was rewarded with his first major title. In an emotional final Moya's larger stroke arsenal was too much for master strategist Corretja as he marched confidently to a 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 victory. When it was over Corretja climbed over the net and embraced his exhilarated countryman. Top-seeded Sampras had departed in the second round against Paraguay's Ramón Delgado in straight sets.

      Another Spanish stalwart competitor captured the women's crown. Taking the title for the third time in a 10-year period, Sánchez Vicario demonstrated her exemplary prowess as a match player. In the final she ousted sentimental favourite Monica Seles of the U.S. 7-6, 0-6, 6-2. A three-time winner who had stopped Sánchez Vicario in the 1991 final, Seles had contemplated skipping the event in 1998 when her father died less than two weeks before the tournament. She cut down the top-seeded Hingis 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals before falling short in the hard-fought final. Sánchez Vicario had barely escaped defeat in the fourth round when she took on Serena Williams, the younger sister of Venus Williams, who was appearing in her first French Open. Williams took a 6-4, 5-2 lead but could not sustain her advantage, losing 11 of the last 14 games.

      Approaching the world's most prestigious tournament, Sampras was surrounded by skeptics. He had won only 2 of 10 tournaments during the year, struggling to reach the top of his game. Perhaps sensing he had arrived at a crucial moment, Sampras responded by stamping his authority on the grass courts of the All-England Club for the fifth time in six years and recorded his 11th victory in 13 career Grand Slam finals. Succeeding in his first-ever five-set final in a major event, Sampras overcame a despondent Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. Ivanisevic twice was one point away from a two sets-to-love lead, but he did not exploit those opportunities, and from 2-2 in the final set, Sampras took 16 of the last 19 points.

      British hopes were raised by the stirring showing of 23-year-old Tim Henman, a quarterfinalist the previous two years. This time Henman eliminated Rafter and Korda to set up a semifinal meeting with Sampras. Henman stretched the champion to four sets but was outclassed 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3. Ivanisevic survived a strenuous skirmish with 1996 Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek of The Netherlands but came through 15-13 in the fifth set after squandering two match points in the fourth.

      The 29-year-old Novotna, who had twice before failed in the Wimbledon final, won her first Grand Slam title. She reversed the result of the 1997 final by taking apart her doubles partner, Hingis, 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals. Having overcome that hurdle, the third-seeded Novotna defeated Nathalie Tauziat of France 6-4, 7-6 in the final. Tauziat had upset second-seeded Davenport 6-3, 6-3 in the quarterfinals, while Natasha Zvereva of Belarus surprised Seles 7-6, 6-2 in the same round.

U.S. Open.
      Following his stirring triumph at the 1997 Open, Rafter had not competed on the same level for a long time, but in the weeks leading up to the defense of his U.S. title, he had played the best brand of tennis in his entire career. Over the summer on hard courts, he won three of his last four tournaments leading up to Flushing Meadows, and his self-assurance carried him convincingly to a second straight U.S. championship. In the final he collected the last 10 games in a row, committed a mere five unforced errors in the match, and cut down countryman Mark Philippoussis 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 6-0.

      In the semifinal round Rafter was in a precarious position against four-time titlist Sampras, who was in search of a record-tying 12th Grand Slam singles championship. Sampras built a lead of two sets to one over the agile Australian, but at the end of the third set the American strained his left quadruples muscle near the hip. His mobility hindered, Sampras battled on gamely, but Rafter won 6-7, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. In the opening round Rafter had seemed on his way out of the tournament when he trailed two sets to love against the free-wheeling, smooth-stroking Hicham Arazi, a two-time French Open quarterfinalist from Morocco playing with unrestrained inspiration. Arazi soon lost all of his composure, however, disputing every close line call and releasing his anxiety on the umpire. Rafter rebounded commandingly to win 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.

      The two best women players in the world clashed in the final, and Davenport emerged a slightly surprising 6-3, 7-5 winner over Hingis, taking her first major title in her first Grand Slam final appearance. Hingis, the defending champion, was not the same player who had swept three of the four major titles in 1997. She had a monumental opportunity to take control of the match when she served for the second set at 5-4, but when she did not convert the chance, Davenport's more penetrating groundstrokes enabled her to regain the upper hand and close out the contest.

Other Events.
      Spain stopped Switzerland 3-2 to take the Fed Cup final for women at Geneva in September. Although the redoubtable Hingis captured both points for her nation with singles wins over Sánchez-Vicario (who had altered the spelling of her name less than two weeks earlier) and Martínez, she could not carry Switzerland to victory in the final of the international team competition. Three months later Sweden confronted Italy in the men's Davis Cup final. As the curtain closed on the 1998 season, the Swedes retained their status as the champion nation with a 4-1 win over the Italians, who had surprised the U.S. in the penultimate round.


▪ 1998

      Becoming only the second man in the modern era of "open tennis" to finish five consecutive years as the world's top-ranked player, Pete Sampras garnered two more Grand Slam titles in a stellar 1997 campaign. Sampras dominated the men's Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), winning his second consecutive and fourth career ATP Tour world championship. He also finished the year as the ATP's top money winner, with $6,498,311, more than twice that of the runner-up, Yevgeny Kafelnikov. Switzerland's Martina Hingis BIOGRAPHIES) (Hingis, Martina ) established herself as the best in the women's game, sweeping three of the four major championships before turning 17 and ending the season as the top women's money winner, with $3,400,196. Capturing men's Grand Slam crowns for the first time were Australia's Patrick Rafter and Brazil's Gustavo Kuerten. Meanwhile, Iva Majoli of Croatia won her first major title.

      Three of Germany's great players came to different crossroads, as did the enigmatic American Andre Agassi. Steffi Graf—world champion for 8 of the previous 10 years—had knee surgery in June and was forced off the courts for the rest of 1997. Michael Stich, 1991 Wimbledon champion, retired at age 28, and Boris Becker moved into semiretirement as he approached the age of 30. Agassi married actress Brooke Shields in April and wandered indifferently through most of the year, sinking to number 122 on the end-of-season computer ranking list.

Australian Open.
      When Hingis moved relentlessly through the field at Melbourne to stake her claim as the youngest Grand Slam singles titlist of the century, she did not concede a set in the entire event and obliterated Mary Pierce 6-2, 6-2 in the final. Graf was ousted 6-2, 7-5 in the fourth round by the surging South African Amanda Coetzer, who concluded the season as the number four player in the world.

      Sampras started his season in high style, recording a second championship run in Melbourne. The resolute American handled the oppressive weather conditions admirably, surviving two five-set contests and then halting Spain's surprising Carlos Moya 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 in a meticulous final-round display. Moya toppled defending champion Becker in a five-set opening-round skirmish and upended second-seeded Michael Chang 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinal round. Austria's indefatigable Thomas Muster achieved a major breakthrough on the hard courts, reaching the semifinals with unexpected wins over two-time former titlist Jim Courier and the explosive Goran Ivanisevic. Muster then lost in straight sets to Sampras.

French Open.
      Ranked 66th in the world coming into the world's preeminent clay court event, Kuerten proceeded to defeat three former champions on his way to a startling success at Roland Garros. The 20-year-old knocked out 1995 winner Muster in a five-set third-round showdown, came through again in five arduous sets against defending champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov, and then was thoroughly uninhibited in a straight-set conquest of 1993-94 victor Sergi Bruguera. Kuerten was the first man from Brazil to win the French tournament. The top-seeded Sampras, slowed by a stomach virus, lost in the third round to Sweden's Magnus Norman.

      Hingis had been away from tennis for seven weeks prior to the French Open, but even so she seemed certain to finish on top. After having won six consecutive tournaments and 37 matches in a row during the year, she was soundly taken apart 6-4, 6-2 by an authoritative Majoli. Searching for a third-straight title and a sixth overall, Graf contested her last match of the year and injured herself seriously with 64 unforced errors in a 6-1, 6-4 quarterfinal loss to Coetzer. The South African was narrowly eliminated by Majoli in a hard-fought three-set semifinal confrontation. Hingis defeated 1990-92 champion Monica Seles in another suspenseful three-set semifinal. No match was more compelling than Majoli's 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 fourth-round escape against Lindsay Davenport of the U.S. Davenport won the first set 7-5 and was leading in the second 4-0, 40-15, but she collapsed thereafter. Majoli retaliated audaciously and never looked back.

      Taking the most coveted title in tennis for the fourth time in five years, Sampras was first-rate. He lost his serve only twice in seven matches, winning an astonishing 116 of 118 service games. In the final he routed Cédric Pioline of France 6-4, 6-2, 6-4, repeating the straight-set victory he had achieved against the same opponent four years earlier in the U.S. Open final. Sealing his 10th Grand Slam singles title at the All-England Club, Sampras placed himself within striking distance of Roy Emerson, who collected a record 12 major championships in the 1960s.

      Until Sampras restored order in the end, it was a tournament of upsets as rain disrupted the first week of play. The second week was so crowded with extra matches that Sampras was on court all but one afternoon. The favourite, however, was surrounded by three unseeded players in the semifinal round. Pioline subdued Stich in a spirited five-set struggle that ended minutes before darkness. Earlier, Sampras was a confident straight-set victor over Australia's Todd Woodbridge. After beating Becker in a four-set quarterfinal, Sampras listened incredulously at the net as the German told him, "This was my last match at Wimbledon, and I just want you to know that it has been a pleasure playing against you."

      Also bowing out in the quarterfinals were Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski, the two top British competitors. Not since 1936, when Fred Perry collected his third title in a row, had a British man been triumphant in the singles at Wimbledon, but both Henman and Rusedski had seemed capable of claiming the crown this time around. Much to the chagrin of many seasoned British observers, Rusedski suffered a four-set quarterfinal loss to Pioline on the same day that Henman faltered in a straight-set loss to Stich.

      Hingis was eager to make amends for her Paris disappointment, and she did precisely that. In the final the top seed confronted third-seeded Jana Novotna, whose all-court virtuosity was at first too much for the teenager, but Hingis's agile mind and superior strategic acumen ultimately enabled her to recover for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 triumph in her first Wimbledon final. Hingis was the youngest player to capture the All-England championship since Lottie Dodd in 1887. In the semifinals Hingis was a straight-set winner over the glamorous Russian 16-year-old Anna Kournikova, and Novotna easily dismissed 1995-96 finalist Arantxa Sánchez Vicario. Second-seeded Seles could not convert a match point against Sandrine Testud of France and lost tamely in the third round.

U.S. Open.
      With his movie star appearance and muscular physique, Rafter was an immensely popular figure in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., as the players assembled for the last Grand Slam event of the season. At 24 the Australian demonstrated irrefutably that he had come of age. He had lost five finals without winning a tournament leading up to the U.S. contest, but he raised the level of his game markedly and performed more powerfully than ever before. In the final he eliminated Rusedski 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5. Not since Pat Cash triumphed at Wimbledon 10 years earlier had an Australian won a major championship.

      Rafter toppled two highly regarded Americans en route to his groundbreaking triumph. In the fourth round he was dazzling under the lights in a four-set victory over 1994 champion Agassi, and in the semifinals he played what was perhaps the match of his career as he comprehensively cut down 1996 finalist Chang 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. Chang had seldom, if ever, been more demoralized by a defeat, having believed that he was perfectly positioned to claim his first major title since the French Open in 1989. Meanwhile, Sampras could not contain one of the game's greatest and purest shotmakers and fell in the fourth round against Petr Korda of the Czech Republic. Sampras led 3-0 in the fifth set, but the inspired Korda would not submit and eventually prevailed 6-7, 7-5, 7-6, 3-6, 7-6. In the quarterfinals Korda surrendered down two sets to love against Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman, excusing himself with a head cold and making a disconcerting departure.

      In many ways the women upstaged the men at tournament. Venus Williams became the first African-American female to appear in the final since Althea Gibson won the crown in 1958. Unseeded and largely an unrealized talent until her remarkable performance, Williams advertised her astonishing athleticism and her strong will to win throughout the competition. In the final she was simply beaten by a decidedly better match player, her weaknesses thoroughly exposed by Hingis in a 6-0, 6-4 loss. Hingis consequently became only the sixth woman ever to capture at least three Grand Slam titles in a single year. It was apparent, however, that Williams stirred more emotions than any other player in the field. She upended 8th-seeded Anke Huber in the third round and toppled number 11 Irina Spirlea in an excruciatingly tight semifinal meeting, saving two match points to win 7-6, 4-6, 7-6.

      That match was marred by an incident at a changeover in which the two competitors seemed to deliberately bump into each other. Richard Williams—the father of Venus—accused the Romanian player of racism after the match but later apologized to Spirlea and retracted his accusation.

Other Events.
      After an agonizing loss in the 1996 Davis Cup final, in which they were three times within a point of defeating France, Sweden came back unwaveringly in 1997 to become the champion nation for the sixth time. The Swedish men beat the United States 5-0 in the late November final at Göteborg, Swed. Sampras, who suffered a muscle tear in his calf, was forced to retire after having split sets with Magnus Larsson. Bjorkman—who ascended from number 69 to number 4 in 1997—was the chief architect of the triumph. In the Fed Cup final for the women, France was triumphant for the first time, overcoming The Netherlands 4-1 at Den Bosch, Neth. Pierce and Testud ably joined forces to lead France to the triumph.


▪ 1997

      Celebrating a season of intrigue and fluctuating fortunes, Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf were the sport's preeminent players in 1996, each for the fourth consecutive year. Sampras sealed his bid for continued supremacy with a triumph at the United States Open, while Graf replicated her astounding 1995 feat of sweeping the French, Wimbledon, and U.S. Open singles titles. Two men won their first Grand Slam tournaments; Richard Krajicek of The Netherlands and Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia finished first at Wimbledon and the French Open, respectively. Monica Seles, meanwhile, garnered her first major crown in three years when she opened her campaign by capturing the Australian Open, and the men's victor at Melbourne alongside Seles was Boris Becker, with his first Grand Slam triumph in five years.

Australian Open.
      Most knowledgeable observers had concluded that Becker's days of winning the biggest tournaments were well behind him, but he emphatically demonstrated his enduring talent and unwavering confidence by convincingly taking the first Grand Slam event of 1996. In January at Melbourne the 28-year-old German—fresh from an encouraging run in 1995 that included a final-round appearance at Wimbledon and an unexpected triumph at the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) Tour world championship in Frankfurt, Ger.—decisively defeated Michael Chang of the U.S. in the final 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.

      The defending champion, Andre Agassi, approaching the event in questionable condition after having missed most of the previous four months with a chest muscle injury, was ousted in a straight-set semifinal by Chang. The 1994 champion Sampras, seeking a third consecutive Grand Slam singles title, was ushered out of the tournament in startling fashion by Mark Philippoussis of Australia 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 in the third round.

      Seles confronted a number of nagging injuries during the tournament, most significantly a tear in her left shoulder, but still managed to take the women's title as an injured Graf skipped the event. In the final Seles held back eighth-seeded Anke Huber of Germany 6-4, 6-1. Seles had not appeared in Melbourne since she won her third straight Australian Open in 1993.

French Open.
      Nearly everyone expected Thomas Muster to defend successfully the title he had so deservedly won on the clay courts in Paris the previous year, but the 28-year-old Austrian suffered a stunning fourth-round loss to Germany's Michael Stich. To place this defeat in perspective, Muster had been beaten only five times in 116 clay court matches in 1995-96. In addition, he had won five championships on that surface on his way to the French Open in 1996, including his second consecutive Italian Open title.

      Muster's departure turned the tournament upside down and gave much greater hope to many of the leading contenders. In the end, Kafelnikov took the top honour, his first major title. He toppled Stich in the final, winning 7-6, 7-5, 7-6, coming from 2-5 down in the second set and 2-4 in the third. Kafelnikov also captured the doubles alongside Daniel Vacek of the Czech Republic and thus became the first man since Ken Rosewall in 1968 to score triumphs in the singles and doubles on the red clay of Roland Garros in the same year.

      The women produced one of their most compelling finals in this tournament. Ultimately, Graf rescued herself from the brink of defeat and subdued two-time former titlist Arantxa Sánchez Vicario 6-3, 6-7, 10-8 to collect a fifth French crown. In an even more suspenseful duel than the stirring Wimbledon final of 1995—won by Graf 4-6, 6-1, 7-5—the two gritty competitors pushed each other to their absolute limits. Sánchez Vicario served for the match twice in the third set, but Graf reached back with all of her remarkable resources and found a way to prevail.

      Meanwhile, the tournament was a triumph on another level for Sampras. His coach and close friend Tim Gullikson had died of brain cancer three weeks before the event began, and so the 24-year-old American was still mourning and was poorly prepared. But driving himself to his physical and emotional limits, Sampras made it through to the semifinal round, in which he was halted by Kafelnikov in straight sets. The fact remained, though, that Sampras had claimed a semifinal slot for the first time at the world's most prestigious clay court tournament.

      After three years in a row of nearly perfect weather, the players and spectators were forced to endure countless rain delays at the Wimbledon tournament in London as inclement conditions persisted throughout the second week of the tournament. In the end, however, Krajicek did not allow anything to dampen his spirits or break his stride.

      The 24-year-old, ranked number 13 in the world at the time but overlooked originally by the seeding committee because he had lost in the first round the previous two years at the All-England Club, defeated 1991 champion Stich in the round of 16 to set up a quarterfinal match with the top-seeded Sampras, who was in pursuit of a fourth consecutive championship on Centre Court. Krajicek was devastatingly potent in a 7-5, 7-6, 6-4 dismantling of Sampras, rising to the occasion with 28 aces, connecting with better backhand returns of serve and passing shots than his struggling opponent.

      Krajicek had too much firepower in his game for the 27-year-old unseeded American MaliVai Washington in the final. The first African-American man to reach the title match since Arthur Ashe in 1975, Washington was taken apart 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 by a bigger and decidedly bolder player.

      Graf won her seventh Wimbledon singles title with relative ease, defeating Sánchez Vicario 6-3, 7-5 in the final. Although the 24-year-old Spaniard rallied from 0-4 to 5-5 in the second set, she could not contain Graf from the backcourt.

      All in all, Wimbledon was a bizarre event for many of the favourites. The 1992 champion, Agassi, his confidence already shaken by a second-round loss at the French Open, was knocked out in the opening round by Doug Flach of the U.S., who was ranked number 281 in the world. Becker, seeded second and seeking a fourth title, was engaged in a first-set tiebreaker with qualifier Neville Godwin in the third round when he injured his wrist while making an awkward forehand return of serve. He had to concede the match and was out of tournament tennis altogether for 10 weeks, missing the U.S. Open. Seles was expected to meet Graf in the final, but she bowed out in the second round against Katarina Studenikova of Slovakia, who was ranked number 59 in the world.

U.S. Open.
      Having garnered two Grand Slam singles titles a year for the previous three seasons (1993-95)—a feat last realized by Björn Borg from 1978 to 1980 in the men's game—Sampras was single-minded in his determination to win the championship of his country for the fourth time and thus salvage his last chance for a major title in 1996. After surviving the most memorable struggle of the decade at Flushing Meadows, a four-hour nine-minute marathon against Spain's Alex Corretja in the quarterfinals, Sampras made good on his mission and confirmed his status as the best player in the world.

      The defending champion and top seed in the tournament defeated Chang 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 in a dazzling final-round display, outclassing the number 2 seed with his shot-making virtuosity in general and his prodigious serving under pressure in particular. Sampras charged to a 5-0 first-set lead and coasted through the set from there. He swept three games in a row from 3-4 down to take the second set and saved a set point at 5-6 in the third, dominating the tiebreaker 7-3.

      Graf was invincible again, defeating Seles in their first meeting since the 1995 U.S. Open final and completing another stellar performance only moments before heavy rains swept through the stadium. Losing her serve only once, delivering no fewer than 10 aces, and covering the court with alacrity, Graf prevailed 7-5, 6-4 over a spirited but overwhelmed Seles. The triumph was Graf's 21st in a Grand Slam event and moved her to within three of the all-time singles leader, Margaret Court of Australia.

      Nevertheless, while Graf at 27 was still going strong, an heir apparent was making substantial strides. At the U.S. Open 15-year-old Martina Hingis of Switzerland cut down seventh-seeded Jana Novotna in a stirring quarterfinal. Then she gave Graf some anxious moments in a 7-5, 6-3 semifinal loss. Earlier in the year, Hingis had ousted Graf at the Italian Open; at the end of the year, she pushed Graf to five sets in the final of a tournament in New York's Madison Square Garden.

Other Events.
      In a dramatic Davis Cup final in December, France defeated Sweden 3-2 at Malmö, Swed. In the decisive fifth match, Frenchman Arnaud Boetsch came from triple match point down to stop Nicklas Kulti 7-6, 2-6, 4-6, 7-6, 10-8. In late September, with Seles leading the way, the U.S. beat Spain in Atlantic City, N.J., 5-0 to win the Fed Cup (formerly the Federation Cup). And in August in Atlanta, Ga., Americans Agassi and Lindsay Davenport won gold medals by taking the singles titles. The U.S. partnership of Mary Joe Fernandez and Gigi Fernandez won a gold medal in the women's doubles, and Australians Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge won the gold in the men's doubles. (STEVE FLINK)

▪ 1996

      During a fascinating year on the courts, Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf were reaffirmed as the outstanding singles competitors at the major tennis championships. Sampras won the Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles, and Graf celebrated victories at the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open. In addition, Mary Pierce, in Australia, and Thomas Muster (see BIOGRAPHIES (Muster, Thomas )), in France, added their names to the roll of Grand Slam singles champions. During the summer Monica Seles made a splendid return to the sport, demonstrating that she had lost none of the verve that had defined her performances as the world's top woman player before her career was interrupted when she was stabbed during a break in play in a match in April 1993.

Australian Open.
      The burgeoning rivalry between Sampras and his U.S. compatriot Andre Agassi at the top level of the men's game was a source of eager anticipation at the Australian Open in Melbourne in January. There was little reason to suppose, however, that the women's tournament would generate as much interest as it did. Graf, who had experienced mixed fortunes since losing a keenly contested Australian final to Seles in 1993, was unable to compete after straining a calf muscle while practicing, the penalty of overcompensating for a chronic back injury. In her absence Arantxa Sánchez Vicario of Spain was expected to justify her number one seeding.

      Although Sánchez Vicario reached the final in six matches without losing a set, Pierce, the fourth seed, made similar progress, defeating Conchita Martínez, the 1994 Wimbledon champion, in the semifinals. Nonetheless, most judges considered that Sánchez Vicario had more to fear from the Yarra River, which had flooded the rubberized asphalt Centre Court during a freak storm the day before the women's final, than she did from Pierce.

      In the final, however, Pierce, whose hit-or-miss style afforded little margin for error, enjoyed one of those days when the majority of the balls she struck landed within, or on, the lines, and there were only so many that the scurrying Sánchez Vicario was able to retrieve. Thus, Pierce, a Canadian-born resident of France, won 6-3, 6-2. It was of some consolation to Sánchez Vicario that shortly afterward she succeeded Graf temporarily as the world's top-ranked woman player.

      Agassi was paying his first visit to the Australian Open, having previously been either indifferent or indisposed. This time he proved to be a cut above the rest, defeating a weary Sampras in the final 4-6, 6-1, 7-6, 6-4. Three months later Agassi would supplant Sampras as the top-ranked men's player.

      The abiding memory of the tournament, however, was of Sampras' emotional quarterfinal win against Jim Courier. After losing the opening two sets in tiebreakers, Sampras won the next two. At that point he was reminded of his coach, Tim Gullikson, who had collapsed during the tournament and was later discovered to be suffering from a brain tumour. "Do it for your coach, Pete," a spectator called out. Sampras broke down and wept on the court, but even so he won the final set 6-3, conceding only two points on his serve.

French Open.
      Agassi was seeded number one ahead of Sampras for the French Open as the two Americans endeavoured to win the only Grand Slam singles title missing from their collection. It was not to be. Sampras barely had set foot on the slow clay courts of Paris when he was eliminated by Gilbert Schaller of Austria, who won their first-round match in five sets. Agassi advanced to the quarterfinals, to be defeated by a combination of a hip injury and the potent ground strokes of his Russian opponent, Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

      Paris belonged to Muster, who verified his credentials as a master of the clay-court game by adding the premier championship played on that surface to a long list of accomplishments. Michael Chang of the U.S., the sixth seed, had ended the two-year reign of Spain's Sergi Bruguera in the semifinals but was overwhelmed in two hours by Muster's power and tenacity 7-5, 6-2, 6-4. It was the left-hander's 35th consecutive clay-court win since October 1994, elevating him to number three in the world and making him the first Austrian to win a Grand Slam singles title.

      Graf's fourth French Open singles title came as a surprise to her. She did not believe that she had the form and physical conditioning to reach the final after her pretournament training had been disrupted when she came down with a virus. She was able to wear down Sánchez Vicario 7-5, 4-6, 6-0, however, allowing her opponent only six points in the final set and relieving her of both the title and the world number one ranking.

      A month later Graf and Sánchez Vicario produced a classic final at Wimbledon, the players a blur of activity as they drove or coaxed the balls to the corners of the court, barely clearing the net. One game, with the score at one set all and 5-5, lasted for 20 minutes and featured 32 points, 13 deuces, and 8 game points for Sánchez Vicario before Graf hit a winning cross-court forehand drive on her sixth break point. The German served out the match for a 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 victory, which gave her the title for a sixth time and made amends for her embarrassing performance in 1994, when she became the first defending women's champion not to advance beyond the opening round of the competition.

      The first week of Wimbledon would be remembered for a series of unusual disqualifications. A Briton, Tim Henman, had the dubious distinction of becoming the first player to be defaulted at Wimbledon since the championships began in 1877. He hit a ball in anger during a doubles match, and a ball girl was accidentally struck in the head.

      Jeff Tarango, an American, then walked out of his match against Germany's Alexander Mronz after calling the French umpire, Bruno Rebeuh, "the most corrupt official in the game." Tarango's French wife, Benedicte, assaulted Rebeuh as he made his way to the referee's office, and Tarango, during his media conference, accused the umpire of showing favouritism to certain players in exchange for their friendship. Tarango was fined the equivalent of his prize money and banned from the 1996 Wimbledon championships and another Grand Slam tournament. These penalties were under appeal at the year's end.

      Murphy Jensen, another American, was disqualified for failing to turn up for a mixed doubles match in which he was supposed to partner Brenda Schultz-McCarthy. Jensen had overslept.

      The tournament gathered momentum at the quarterfinal stage, thanks to a stirring contest between Boris Becker and Cédric Pioline of France, with the German winning 9-7 in the fifth set. This guaranteed that for the first time since seedings began 68 years earlier, the top four men and women would advance to the semifinals.

      Becker eliminated Agassi, the top seed, 2-6, 7-6, 6-4, 7-6 but was unable to keep pace with Sampras once the American recovered from losing a first set tiebreaker. In winning 6-7, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2, Sampras did not offer his opponent so much as a break point. He became the first man since Sweden's Björn Borg to win three consecutive Wimbledon singles titles.

U.S. Open.
      On July 29 Seles returned to competition after an absence of 27 months. She eased her way back with a straight-sets win in an exhibition match against the semiretired Martina Navratilova in Atlantic City, N.J., before resuming her career two weeks later at the Canadian Open in Toronto. There she swept to victory without losing a set and conceded only 14 games in 5 matches, one of those to Gabriela Sabatini in the semifinals. In her first defeat of the year, Graf lost her opening match against Amanda Coetzer of South Africa. After a week's rest Seles challenged for the U.S. Open, which she had won in 1991 and 1992. She advanced to the final without dropping a set. Graf was waiting. She, too, was a victim of personal anguish, the worries about her back now secondary to concern about the welfare of her father-manager, Peter, who was in prison in Germany accused of evading taxes on her earnings. The strain was evident as she struggled through another first-round match against Coetzer, but in later rounds she regained her dominance.

      When Günther Parche, an unemployed lathe operator, was charged with wounding Seles in 1993, he said he did it so that Graf would regain her top ranking in the world. Now, at last, the two women were able to renew their rivalry, Graf winning a magnificent, oscillating contest 7-6, 0-6, 6-3. It was the German's 18th Grand Slam singles title, and she became the first player to win each of the major championships at least four times.

      The men's singles also produced a final to savour between the top seeds, Sampras, the number two, defeating number one Agassi 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, with Sampras serving 24 aces, 142 for the tournament. The opening set was decided after a dazzling 22-shot rally on set point. The 24-year-old Sampras' third U.S. Open title raised his Grand Slam total to seven.

Davis Cup.
      Sampras also led the U.S. team to its 3-2 victory over Russia in Davis Cup final round play in Moscow, first defeating Andrey Chesnokov 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (7-5), 6-4 and later Yevgeny Kafelnikov 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).

      In December, Stefan Edberg, ranked number one in 1990, announced his retirement from play effective November 1996. (JOHN ROBERTS)

▪ 1995

      The major prizes in tennis were distributed more liberally in 1994 than had been anticipated. The most unexpected triumph was that of the unseeded Andre Agassi in the United States Open in September. While continuing to be one of the sport's leading attractions with his designer-tramp appearance, confident gait, and potent ground strokes, Agassi had won only one Grand Slam title previously, his counterpunching style having succeeded on Wimbledon's grass in 1992.

      At the outset it appeared that 1994 would be dominated by the excellence of the two players at the head of the respective world rankings, the men's events by Pete Sampras of the U.S. and the women's by Steffi Graf of Germany. This view was strengthened by the performances of the two players in winning the singles titles at the Australian Open in January, prompting discussion of their prospects of accomplishing a Grand Slam (a sweep of the Australian, French, Wimbledon, and U.S. singles championships within a calendar year).

      Surprisingly, however, Graf did not add to her Grand Slam titles during the remainder of the year, and the women's game suddenly belonged to Spain. Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, emphatically beaten by Graf in the Australian final, went on to capture both the French and U.S. championships, and Conchita Martínez triumphed at Wimbledon; Martínez thus became the first Spanish woman to receive the singles trophy at the All-England Championships, winning a magnificent final against Martina Navratilova, who was marking her farewell to the grass courts. Sánchez Vicario and Martínez also made major contributions to Spain's successful defense of the Federation Cup, the women's premier international team competition, in Frankfurt, Germany, in July.

      Spain also featured prominently in the men's game. Sergi Bruguera won the singles title at the French Open for the second consecutive year, on this occasion defeating a compatriot, Alberto Berasategui, in the final.

      Sampras' prospects of adding a fourth consecutive Grand Slam title to his 1993 victories at Wimbledon and the United States Open and his successful opening in 1994 in Australia were ended in Paris. He was defeated in the quarterfinals of the French Open by Jim Courier of the U.S., the champion in 1991 and 1992. Sampras recovered his confidence, making a successful defense of the Wimbledon championship little more than a month later. But physical problems beset him during the U.S. Open, the title slipping away from him when he lost to Jaime Yzaga of Peru in the fourth round.

      What Yzaga achieved by maneuvering a debilitated Sampras around the Stadium Court at Flushing Meadow, N.Y., an assertive young Russian had come close to accomplishing by driving impressive shots beyond Sampras in the second round of the Australian Open. Yevgeny Kafelnikov from the Black Sea resort of Sochi came within two points of eliminating Sampras before the American recovered to win 9-7 in the fifth set.

Australian Open.
      Sampras, so thoroughly shaken by Kafelnikov that he dropped a set 6-1 to the unseeded Frenchman Stephane Simian, required two tiebreakers before defeating Ivan Lendl (who retired later in the year) in straight sets and two more tiebreakers to discourage Magnus Gustafsson, the 10th seed from Sweden, in four sets. In the semifinals, however, Sampras was in such irresistible form that he was able to dispatch Courier, the champion for the previous two years, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

      In the final Sampras played another fellow American, Todd Martin, the ninth seed, who had recovered from losing the first set of his semifinal against Stefan Edberg, the fourth seed, and defeated the Swede in three tiebreakers. Martin's prospects of causing an upset in his first Grand Slam final diminished after the opening set. Unable to convert any of six break points, he lost a tiebreaker in the first set 7-4, and Sampras took the title 7-6, 6-4, 6-4.

      The most interesting feature of the women's singles as Graf and Sánchez Vicario advanced to meet as seeded in the final was the progress of Kimiko Date, the 10th seed. By defeating the third-seeded Martínez, Date became only the second Japanese woman to reach a Grand Slam semi-final. Her misfortune was to meet an overpowering Graf, who swept through Date's deep, flat shots, winning 6-3, 6- 3. Sánchez Vicario's retrieving style was also treated with disdain in the final, and Graf won 6-0, 6-2 in 57 minutes.

French Open.
      At the French Open the chief issue was whether Sampras could successfully translate a smooth, attacking style, ideally suited to faster courts, to the slow clay of Paris, which favoured the ground stroke rallying of baseline players. The crux came in the quarterfinal match between Sampras and Courier. It was their first meeting on clay, and Courier's potent backcourt style flourished, bringing him victory in four sets.

      Bruguera, who had beaten Courier in five sets in the 1993 final, required only four to defeat him in the 1994 semifinals. From the lower half of the draw, which after three rounds was bereft of all seeded players except Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia, Berasategui emerged to challenge Bruguera while their monarch, King Juan Carlos, waited to present the trophy. It went to Bruguera, who won the first-ever all-Spanish Grand Slam final 6-3, 7-5, 2-6, 6-1.

      Sánchez Vicario had commanded the Centre Court less than four hours earlier, defeating Mary Pierce representing France 6- 4, 6-4 to win the women's title. The match had begun under storm clouds the night before, and only 17 minutes of play were possible before rain intervened. Pierce, who had caused a sensation in the semifinals by bewildering Graf with the pace and accuracy of her strokes in winning 6-2, 6-2 in 77 minutes, was unable to reproduce her form against the scurrying Spaniard.

      Graf was under pressure at Wimbledon the moment the draw put her in an opening-round match against Lori McNeil, an experienced American with an attacking style suited to grass. Never before had a defending Wimbledon champion been eliminated in the first round of the women's singles, but the unseeded McNeil was the worthy winner 7-5, 7-6 of a contest that took an hour and 43 minutes spread over nearly five hours because of rain.

      The defeat of the top player immediately caused an upturn in the expectations of the other contenders, notably Martínez and Navratilova, the third and fourth seeds, respectively. Navratilova sought a memorable finale to her long and glorious association with the All-England Championships, especially after losing in the first round of the French Open. Martínez and Navratilova advanced to the final and produced a showpiece, neither player allowing her game to be overwhelmed by the emotion of the occasion. The contrast in styles enhanced the match, Martínez brilliantly anticipating Navratilova's volleys and smashes and frequently bewildering the nine-time champion with the pace and variety of her passing shots. There was not the slightest indication that this was Martínez's first experience in a Grand Slam singles final as she dominated the final set to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 and become the first Spanish woman to gain the trophy.

      Sampras performed at Wimbledon as if the Courier match in Paris had never happened. The defending champion conceded only one set in his seven matches and was two sets ahead when that occurred, against Martin in the semifinals. The final matched Sampras and Ivanisivec, two of the world's finest servers, and so it was inevitable that power would dominate at the expense of rallying. Sampras prevailed 7-6, 7-6, 6-0, with the concluding set requiring only 20 minutes.

U.S. Open.
      Doubts concerning the fitness of Sampras and Graf preceded the U.S. Open. Sampras was able to advance apparently stress-free to the third round, at which stage not a single seeded player remained in his quarter of the draw. He lost one set in the third round and then seemed to be on the verge of a physical collapse when taxed by Yzaga's ground strokes over five sets in the fourth round.

      With Sampras gone, Michael Stich, the number four seed, took charge of the top half of the draw, but the German was unable to resist Agassi's inspired form in the final with any more conviction than had four other seeded players, Wayne Ferreira, Michael Chang, Thomas Muster, and Martin. Agassi defeated Stich 6-1, 7-6, 7-5 to become the first unseeded champion since Fred Stolle of Australia in 1966.

      In an exciting women's final, Sánchez Vicario gave a characteristically spirited performance to defeat Graf 1-6, 7- 6, 6-4. Graf began to experience problems with her lower back in the eighth game of the second set but did not offer the injury as an excuse.

Davis Cup.
      Kafelnikov, aided by compatriot Aleksandr Volkov, led Russia into and through the Davis Cup final for the first time, defeating Australia, the Czech Republic, and then defending champion Germany in the semifinals. Sweden traveled to Moscow in December to play the closely contested final. Volkov lost to Stefan Edberg and Kafelnikov to Magnus Larsson in the singles, both in five-set matches. Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman and Jan Apell beat Kafelnikov and Andrey Olkhovsky in the doubles, also in five sets. Kafelnikov's reverse singles victory over Edberg provided the Russians' only win. (JOHN ROBERTS)

▪ 1994

      A number of anniversaries were celebrated in 1993, including the 100th women's championships at Wimbledon. But the year was overshadowed by the stabbing of Monica Seles of Yugoslavia on the last day of April while she was competing in the Citizen Cup tournament in Hamburg, Germany. Seles, the world's number one female player at the time, was wounded in the back during a break in play in a match against Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria. A male spectator was arrested after the incident. He told police that he wanted to see Steffi Graf of Germany restored to the number one position. Many tennis professionals and fans were outraged when the assailant received only a two-year suspended sentence in October.

      Seles, who had defeated Graf in the final of the Australian Open, missed the three other Grand Slam championships while recovering from her injury at a clinic in Colorado. Graf replaced her as the French Open champion and consequently as the world's top-ranked woman player. Graf also successfully defended her Wimbledon singles title in July and went on to win the United States Open in September.

      The Australian Open final, between Seles and Graf on the rubberized concrete of Flinders Park, Melbourne, in January, ended with Seles winning a stirring contest 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. Thus, Seles, at the age of 19, equaled Graf's feat of winning the Australian championship three years in a row and also scored her eighth success in nine Grand Slam finals. The Australian Open was the 100th Grand Slam tournament of the open era, which began in 1968.

      It was hoped that Andre Agassi a winner at Wimbledon the previous July, would make his first appearance in Melbourne, but an attack of bronchitis caused the American to withdraw. Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia, the runner-up to Agassi at Wimbledon, bowed out on the eve of the tournament after tests revealed a stress fracture to his right foot. Then Boris Becker of Germany, the 1991 champion, was eliminated in his opening match, losing in five sets to Anders Jarryd of Sweden, a qualifier ranked number 151 in the world.

      Stefan Edberg of Sweden, who had been halted by a torn stomach muscle in the fourth set of his Australian Open final against Ivan Lendl of the U.S. in 1990, continued to experience physical difficulties at Flinders Park. A spasm in the lower back during his third-round match caused concern, and Edberg, seeded second in the tournament, wore a body belt as a precaution while advancing to the final to meet Jim Courier of the U.S., the defending champion and top-ranked player in the world. Straight-set victories against Arnaud Boetsch of France, Christian Bergstrom of Sweden, and Pete Sampras (see BIOGRAPHIES (Sampras, Pete )) of the U.S., the third seed, confirmed Edberg's fitness, though neither he nor Courier bargained for being barbecued on the day of the final.

      With the temperature on centre court touching 67° C (152° F), there was a suggestion that the stadium's retractable roof be closed to protect the players. Courier and Edberg declined. Courier, who repeated the previous year's win against Edberg, celebrated a 6-2, 6-1, 2-6, 7-5 victory by taking the customary dive into the Yarra River.

      Neither Courier nor fellow Americans Sampras, Agassi, and John McEnroe were inclined to return to Melbourne two months later to defend the Davis Cup, and the U.S., for whom David Wheaton and Brad Gilbert were selected for the singles matches, lost 4-1. The Davis Cup finals were won by Germany and dominated by Michael Stich, whose decisive 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Australia's Richard Fromberg clinched the cup for Germany. Stich also beat Jason Stoltenberg, then teamed up with Patrick Kühnen to win the doubles. Stoltenberg was also bested by Marc Göllner, who had lost to Fromberg earlier, however, for Germany's only loss. With a 6-1, 6-4 win over Magnus Gustafsson of Sweden in the European Community championships in Antwerp, Belgium, Sampras sewed up his world number one slot even though a week later he lost the final match of the ATP Tour championship in Frankfurt, Germany, to Stich.

      Sergi Bruguera of Spain provided the surprise of the French Open. The 22-year-old, seeded 10th, defeated Sampras in four sets in the quarterfinals and mesmerized his friend Andrey Medvedev in the semifinals, defeating the 18-year-old Ukrainian 6-0, 6-4, 6-2. He then ended Courier's string of 20 consecutive wins at Roland Garros stadium by defeating the Floridian in a four-hour final 6-4, 2-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. Bruguera, trailing 0-2 in the final set and showing signs of fatigue, made a courageous recovery and capitalized on his opponent's unusually error-prone forehand.

      The women's singles competition in the French Open was marked by an extraordinary comeback. Mary Joe Fernandez of the U.S. was down 1-6, 1-5, and 30-40 in the seventh game, with Gabriela Sabatini serving for a place in the semifinals. The Argentinian double-faulted, and Fernandez saved an additional four match points and went on to win the match 1-6, 7-6, 10-8. In the third and deciding set of the final, against Graf, Fernandez broke Graf's serve to take a 4-3 lead. However, the weight of 10 previous defeats by Graf then seemed to diminish Fernandez' confidence, and the German won 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.

      At Wimbledon in June and July, Sampras ended Agassi's defense of the championship in four sets in the quarterfinals, using a serve that was truncated to compensate for a wrist injury. Sampras then secured his place in the final by defeating Becker in straight sets, while Courier dismantled Edberg's second serve to win in four sets. It was the first time since 1927, when seeding was first introduced, that the top four seeds had all qualified for the semifinals.

      The pace and accuracy of Sampras' second serve was decisive in a power-dominated final. Neither player broke his opponent's serve until the ninth game of the second set. After winning the first two sets on the breaks, Sampras overcame the loss of the third set and stood firm against increasing weariness to defeat Courier 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3.

      Jana Novotna's first appearance in the final was unforgettable. Having defeated Martina Navratilova of the U.S., the nine-time champion, in the semifinals, Novotna led Graf 4-1 and 40-30 in the final set. Then the Czech's nerve deserted her, and she was unable to recover after double-faulting. Graf thus won her fifth Wimbledon title 7-6, 1-6, 6-4.

      Sampras and Graf maintained their form and added the U.S. Open singles titles to their Wimbledon championships. Five seeds in the men's singles lost in the opening round. The casualties were Agassi, number 16, who lost in five sets to Thomas Enqvist of Sweden; Bruguera, number 5, who was defeated by a Spanish compatriot, Javier Sánchez; Michael Stich of Germany, number 6, who lost to Henrik Holm of Sweden; Petr Korda of the Czech Republic, number 9, who was defeated by Wayne Ferreira of South Africa; and the injured Lendl, number 13.

      Edberg, seeded third for his attempt to win the title for a third consecutive year, fell in the second round to Karel Novacek of the Czech Republic, and Ivanisevic, seeded 11th, was also eliminated at this stage, by Carlos Costa of Spain. Mats Wilander interrupted two years of retirement and advanced to the third round. The Swedish former world number one was then defeated by Cedric Pioline, the 15th seed from France, who provided the surprise of the championships by eliminating Courier, the number one seed, in the fourth round. Becker, the fourth seed, disappeared along with Courier, losing to Magnus Larsson of Sweden.

      Pioline, a 24-year-old who did not have a professional singles title to his name, advanced to the final only to be outclassed by Sampras, the number two seed, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3. On reaching the final, Sampras was guaranteed a return to number one in the rankings, replacing Courier. It was Sampras' second triumph in the U.S. Open. In 1990 he had become the youngest winner of the tournament 28 days after his 19th birthday.

      The women's singles also saw some surprises as Jennifer Capriati of the U.S., the seventh seed, lost to the unseeded Leila Meskhi of the Republic of Georgia in the opening round. Navratilova, the third seed, was defeated by Helena Sukova of the Czech Republic in the fourth round, the point at which Novotna, the eighth seed, also departed, losing to the unseeded Kimiko Date of Japan. Sukova, the 12th seed, overcame the second seed, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario of Spain in the semifinals but was unable to unsettle Graf in the final. The German, who responded fiercely when challenged by Sabatini in the quarterfinals and Manuela Maleeva-Fragnière in the semifinals, capitalized on Sukova's missed opportunities in the opening games of the final, winning 6-3, 6-3. Three weeks later, after winning a tour event in Leipzig, Germany, Graf decided to have surgery to eradicate a problem caused by a bone spur in her right foot.

      There was consolation for Sukova in the doubles events at the U.S. Open. She partnered Sánchez Vicario to win the women's tournament, ending the Grand Slam prospects of Gigi Fernandez of the U.S. and Natalia Zvereva of Belarus in the semifinals. Sukova also won the mixed doubles title, with Todd Woodbridge of Australia. The Australian's men's doubles triumph at Wimbledon, where Woodbridge was partnered with Mark Woodforde, brought Woodbridge's success rate in men's doubles finals to 20, breaking the record set by John McEnroe in 1980.

      Sánchez Vicario was unbeaten in five singles matches in the Federation Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, in July as Spain won the trophy for the second time in three years. She lost again to Graf (1-6, 4-6, 6-3, 1-6) in the final of the Virginia Slims championships in November, however. Graf ended the year in the number one slot for the first time since 1990. (JOHN ROBERTS)

* * *

original name  lawn tennis 
 game in which two opposing players (singles) or pairs of players (doubles) use tautly strung rackets to hit a ball of specified size, weight, and bounce over a net on a rectangular court. Points are awarded to a player or team whenever the opponent fails to correctly return the ball within the prescribed dimensions of the court. Organized tennis is played according to rules sanctioned by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the world governing body of the sport.

      Tennis originally was known as lawn tennis, and formally still is in Britain (United Kingdom), because it was played on grass courts by Victorian gentlemen and ladies. It is now played on a variety of surfaces. The origins of the game can be traced to a 12th–13th-century French handball game called jeu de paume (real tennis) (“game of the palm”), from which was derived a complex indoor racket-and-ball game: real tennis. This ancient game is still played to a limited degree and is usually called real tennis in Britain, court tennis in the United States, and royal tennis in Australia.

      The modern game of tennis is played by millions in clubs and on public courts. Its period of most rapid growth as both a participant and a spectator sport began in the late 1960s, when the major championships were opened to professionals as well as amateurs, and continued in the 1970s, when television broadcasts of the expanding professional tournament circuits and the rise of some notable players and rivalries broadened the appeal of the game. A number of major innovations in fashion and equipment fueled and fed the boom. The addition of colour and style to tennis wear (once restricted to white) created an entirely new subdivision of leisure clothing. Tennis balls, which historically had been white, now came in several hues, with yellow the colour of choice. Racket frames, which had been of a standard size and shape and constructed primarily of laminated wood, were suddenly manufactured in a wide choice of sizes, shapes, and materials, the most significant milestones being the introduction of metal frames beginning in 1967 and the oversized head in 1976.

      While tennis can be enjoyed by players of practically any level of skill, top competition is a demanding test of both shot making and stamina, rich in stylistic and strategic variety. From its origins as a garden-party game for ladies in whalebone corsets and starched petticoats and men in long white flannels, it has evolved into a physical chess match in which players attack and defend, exploiting angles and technical weaknesses with strokes of widely diverse pace and spin. Tournaments offer tens of millions of dollars in prize money annually.


Origin and early years
      There has been much dispute over the invention of modern tennis, but the officially recognized centennial of the game in 1973 commemorated its introduction by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield in 1873. He published the first book of rules that year and took out a patent on his game in 1874, although historians have concluded that similar games were played earlier and that the first tennis club was established by the Englishman Harry Gem and several associates in Leamington in 1872. Wingfield's court was of the hourglass shape and may have developed from badminton. The hourglass shape, stipulated by Wingfield in his booklet “Sphairistiké, or Lawn Tennis,” may have been adopted for patent reasons since it distinguished the court from ordinary rectangular courts. At the time, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) was the governing body of real tennis, whose rules it had recently revised. After J.M. Heathcote, a distinguished real tennis player, developed a better tennis ball of rubber covered with white flannel, the MCC in 1875 established a new, standardized set of rules for tennis.

      Meanwhile, the game had spread to the United States in the 1870s. Mary Outerbridge of New York has been credited with bringing a set of rackets and balls to her brother, a director of the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club. But research has shown that William Appleton of Nahant, Massachusetts, may have owned the first lawn tennis set and that his friends James Dwight and Fred R. Sears popularized the game.

      An important milestone in the history of tennis was the decision of the All England Croquet Club to set aside one of its lawns at Wimbledon (Wimbledon Championships) for tennis, which soon proved so popular that the club changed its name to the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club. In 1877 the club decided to hold a tennis championship, and a championship subcommittee of three was appointed. It decided on a rectangular court 78 feet (23.8 metres) long by 27 feet (8.2 metres) wide. They adapted the real tennis method of scoring—15, 30, 40, game—and allowed the server one fault (i.e., two chances to deliver a proper service on each point). These major decisions remain part of the modern rules. Twenty-two entries were received, and the first winner of the Wimbledon Championships was Spencer Gore. In 1878 the Scottish Championships were held, followed in 1879 by the Irish Championships.

      There were several alterations in some of the other rules (e.g., governing the height of the net) until 1880, when the All England Club and the MCC published revised rules that approximate very closely those still in use. The All England Club was the dominant authority then, the British Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) not being formed until 1888. In 1880 the first U.S. championship (United States Open Tennis Championships) was held at the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club. The victor was an Englishman, O.E. Woodhouse. The popularity of the game in the United States and frequent doubts about the rules led to the foundation in 1881 of the U.S. National Lawn Tennis Association, later renamed the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association and, in 1975, the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA). Under its auspices, the first official U.S. national championship (United States Open Tennis Championships), played under English rules, was held in 1881 at the Newport Casino, Newport, Rhode Island. The winner, Richard Sears (Sears, Richard Dudley), was U.S. champion for seven consecutive years.

      Tennis had taken firm root in Australia by 1880, and the first Australian Championships (Australian Open) were played in 1905. The first national championships in New Zealand were held in 1886. In 1904 the Lawn Tennis Association of Australasia (later of Australia) was founded.

      The first French Championships (French Open) were held at the Stade Français in 1891, but it was an interclub tournament that did not become truly international until 1925; the French (France) Federation of Lawn Tennis was established in 1920. Other national championships were inaugurated in Canada (1890), South Africa (1891), Spain (1910), Denmark (1921), Egypt (1925), Italy (1930), and Sweden (1936). In 1884 a women's championship was introduced at Wimbledon, and women's national championships were held in the United States starting in 1887.

Outstanding players
      Tennis in the 1880s was dominated by the remarkable twin brothers William and Ernest Renshaw (Renshaw brothers). William won the Wimbledon singles championship seven times, on three occasions defeating his brother in the final. Ernest was victorious once, and in partnership they won the doubles championship, first played at Oxford in 1879, seven times.

      In the 1890s public interest began to wane. The Wimbledon Championships showed a financial loss in 1894 and 1895; the All England Club committee turned back to croquet to revive its flagging fortunes. The popularity of Wimbledon and tennis were reestablished by two more brothers: Reginald and Laurie Doherty. Reginald won the Wimbledon singles from 1897 to 1900. Laurie won from 1902 to 1906, took the U.S. championship in 1903, and won a gold medal in the Olympic Games in 1900.

The early 20th century
 The first international team competition was the Davis Cup, officially called the International Lawn Tennis Challenge Trophy, which was donated by U.S. doubles champion Dwight Davis (Davis, Dwight F.) in 1900. Only Great Britain challenged the first year; it was defeated by the United States, Davis himself playing on the victorious team. There was no challenge in 1901, but in 1902 a strong British team that included the Doherty brothers went to America. The United States retained the trophy, but the following year the Doherty brothers helped Britain win the cup, which it retained the next three years.

      The Doherty reign ended in 1906, but tennis was by then firmly established. The new star was Norman Brookes, the first in a long line of Australian champions and the first left-hander to reach the top. He won at Wimbledon in 1907 and again on his next visit, in 1914. He and his doubles partner, Tony Wilding of New Zealand, wrested the Davis Cup from Great Britain in 1907 and held it until 1911, arousing enduring public interest in Australia and New Zealand.

 Of the women champions of the early 1900s, Dorothea Douglass (Chambers, Dorothea Lambert) (later Mrs. Lambert Chambers) won at Wimbledon seven times, beginning in 1903. In 1905, however, Douglass met her match in the first U.S. women's champion to win at Wimbledon, May Sutton, who again defeated her at Wimbledon in 1907. The outbreak of World War I in 1914 interrupted tennis activities in Britain and Europe, but, with the exception of 1917, when a Patriotic Tournament was held, U.S. championships continued to be played.

 The dominant champions of the early postwar years were Bill Tilden (Tilden, Bill) of the United States and Suzanne Lenglen (Lenglen, Suzanne) of France. Tilden, the U.S. champion from 1920 through 1925 and again in 1929, won the Wimbledon title in 1920, 1921, and 1930. In the same period he also won 15 Davis Cup singles. Suzanne Lenglen reigned supreme over the ladies' game from 1919 to 1925; were it not for the war, she might have started her international career earlier. She won the Wimbledon championship at her first attempt in 1919, from 1920 to 1923, and in 1925, not competing in 1924 because of illness. She developed a powerful as well as accurate game by practicing with men, and she needed far more freedom of movement than restrictive ladies' fashion of that time allowed. Her first appearance at Wimbledon in a calf-length white dress with short sleeves and without petticoat or suspender (garter) belt caused a sensation.

 France also made its mark on men's tennis with the fabulous “Four Musketeers”—Jean Borotra (Borotra, Jean), Henri Cochet (Cochet, Henri), René Lacoste (Lacoste, René), and Jacques Brugnon (Brugnon, Jacques). Among them, they monopolized the Wimbledon singles title from 1924 through 1929, won 10 French and 3 U.S. singles championships, and won 5 Wimbledon and 10 French doubles championships. They captured the Davis Cup from the United States in 1927 and held it until 1933.

 A new female American star, Helen Wills (Wills, Helen) (later Mrs. Moody and then Mrs. Roark), won the first of her seven U.S. singles titles in 1923; she went on to win at Wimbledon eight times between 1927 and 1938 and won the French singles four times between 1928 and 1932. (Wills wrote the article on lawn tennis for the 14th edition [1929] of Encyclopædia Britannica.) Only once, early in her career, did she play against Lenglen, at Cannes on the French Riviera, where she lost in two straight sets. That historic meeting between the poker-faced Wills, in her trademark white eyeshade, and the flamboyant Lenglen, in her daring dress and silk bandeau, was chronicled in sports and society pages on both sides of the Atlantic. Wills's great rival, however, was another American, Helen Jacobs (Jacobs, Helen Hull), Wimbledon champion in Wills's absence in 1936 and U.S. champion from 1932 to 1935.

      The Englishman Fred Perry won the Wimbledon singles for three consecutive years (1934–36), the U.S. championship in 1933, 1934, and 1936, the Australian in 1934, and the French in 1935. From the United States came champions that included Sidney Wood, Ellsworth Vines, and Don Budge (Budge, Don), who in 1938 became the first man to win all four major titles—the Australian, French, Wimbledon, and U.S.—in one season, a feat that came to be known as the grand slam. Alice Marble (Marble, Alice), the most aggressive net rusher the women's game had seen to that time, won the U.S. singles in 1936 and from 1938 to 1940, and in 1939 she won the singles, doubles, and mixed doubles at Wimbledon, a “triple” previously accomplished only by Lenglen and Budge.

The postwar period
  The development of the game was interrupted by World War II, but international tennis resumed in 1946 with American players again dominant, led by Jack Kramer (Kramer, Jack), the U.S. champion of 1946–47 and Wimbledon champion of 1947 before he turned professional. He was succeeded by Pancho Gonzales (Gonzales, Pancho), Bob Falkenburg, Frederick (Ted) Schroeder, J. Edward (“Budge”) Patty, and Dick Savitt. American women won every Wimbledon and U.S. singles title from 1946 through 1958, the string of champions including Pauline Betz, Louise Brough, Margaret Osborne DuPont, Doris Hart, Maureen Connolly (Connolly, Maureen Catherine), Shirley Fry, and Althea Gibson (Gibson, Althea), the first black champion. Connolly, nicknamed “Little Mo,” won the three Wimbledon and three U.S. championships that she played between 1951 and 1954 and in 1953 became the first woman to achieve the grand slam.

 Australia ruled men's tennis in the 1950s and '60s, winning the Davis Cup in 15 of 18 years. Among the Wimbledon and U.S. singles champions who played for Harry Hopman, the outstanding nonplaying Australian captain, were Frank Sedgman, Lew Hoad (Hoad, Lew), Ken Rosewall (Rosewall, Ken), Mal Anderson, Ashley Cooper, Neale Fraser, Rod Laver (Laver, Rod), Fred Stolle, Roy Emerson, and John Newcombe.

 The broadening international horizons of the game were reflected in the Wimbledon triumphs of players such as Jaroslav Drobny, an expatriate Czech, in 1954 and Alex Olmedo, from Peru, in 1959 and in the victories of Mexican Rafael Osuna in the U.S. championship in 1963, Manuel Santana of Spain in the U.S. championship in 1965 and Wimbledon in 1966, and Brazilian Maria Bueno (Bueno, Maria Ester Audion), the U.S. champion four times and Wimbledon champion three times between 1959 and 1966.

 Australian Margaret Smith Court (Court, Margaret) was the second woman to win the grand slam, in 1970, and she set the all-time record for singles, doubles, and mixed doubles titles in the four major championships: 65 between 1960 and 1975, including 3 Wimbledon, 6 U.S., 5 French, and 11 Australian singles. Billie Jean Moffitt King (King, Billie Jean) set a record for career Wimbledon titles, winning 6 singles, 10 doubles, and 4 mixed between 1961 and 1979.

Professional and open tennis
      As tennis began to establish its popularity, there was a need for professionals to coach and to organize, but, unlike real tennis, there were no competitions in which professionals could play. This changed in 1926 when Charles C. (“Cash and Carry”) Pyle, a successful sports promoter in the United States, offered Suzanne Lenglen $50,000 to go on a professional tour of America playing Mary K. Browne, who had been U.S. singles champion from 1912 to 1914. He also signed four male players. The tour, played in major arenas, drew large crowds and was a financial success. For the next 40 years, pro tennis consisted primarily of barnstorming tours that featured the reigning champion playing a recently signed amateur champion.

      Starting in the 1930s, many of the amateur champions became barnstorming professionals. After World War II, Jack Kramer became the pro champion and in the early 1950s took over promotion of the pro tour. He kept raiding the amateur ranks, signing such stars as Frank Sedgman, Tony Trabert, Lew Hoad, and Ken Rosewall. They made money with the one-night stands, but their matches were virtually unreported. Although the traditional tournament circuit was avowedly amateur, leading players were paid substantial guarantees “under the table” in addition to expenses. For more than four decades there was discussion of having “open” competition between amateurs and pros to end the hypocrisy of “shamateurism,” but proposals were always defeated by conservative elements within the International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF—later the ITF). In 1967, however, two new professional groups were formed: the National Tennis League, organized by former U.S. Davis Cup captain George MacCall, and World Championship Tennis (WCT), founded by New Orleans promoter Dave Dixon and funded by Dallas oil and football tycoon Lamar Hunt. Between them they signed a significant number of the world's top players, professional and amateur.

      In 1967 a British proposal for a limited schedule of open tournaments was voted down by the international federation, but the British LTA refused to accept the verdict. In December 1967, despite the threat of expulsion from the ILTF, the LTA voted to abolish the distinction between amateurs and pros in their tournaments. This revolutionary step forced an emergency meeting of the ILTF in March 1968 in which 12 open tournaments were approved. The era of open professionalism in tennis dawned in 1968.

The open era
 The first open tournament was the British Hard Courts at Bournemouth in April 1968, where the champions were Ken Rosewall and Virginia Wade. The first open Wimbledon was a joyous occasion, as many past champions who had been stripped of membership in the All England Club when they turned professional were welcomed back. The total prize money was £26,150 ($62,760), of which £2,000 went to men's singles champion Rod Laver (Laver, Rod) and £750 went to women's singles winner Billie Jean King. The singles titles at the first U.S. Open, with a total purse of $100,000, were won by Arthur Ashe (Ashe, Arthur), the sport's first black male champion, and Wade. Within two decades the major championships had multimillion-dollar purses, and top players could expect to earn in excess of $1,000,000 a year on the court alone. Laver became the first player to sweep the major titles a second time and the first to do so as a professional.

      The transition years from quasi-amateurism to full-fledged professional tennis were rife with political disputes and lawsuits for control of what had become a big-money sport. Both male and female players formed guilds—the men's Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), which in 1986 became the Women's International Tennis Association (WITA). Previous player unions had been ineffective, but the ATP showed itself a potent political force when the majority of its members boycotted Wimbledon in 1973 in a dispute over the eligibility of the Yugoslav pro Nikki Pilic. The women's union proved similarly unified. The women have had a separate pro tour, except at the major championships, since 1971.

      The first few seasons of open tennis were ruled by players who were products of the old system and reflected its behavioral standards and norms. These included the compact, classical Rosewall (Rosewall, Ken), the Australian John Newcombe, and the Americans Arthur Ashe and Stan Smith.

      As television, in America and later worldwide, became an increasingly significant force in tennis, a new breed of flamboyant and often flippant, cocky, and quick-tempered player developed. Among them was Ilie Nastase (Nastase, Ilie)—a dark, handsome, mercurial Romanian noted for his rapid mood swings. While winning the 1972 U.S. Open, the 1973 French Open, and four Masters titles, he created chaos and controversy on the court with colourful, and occasionally off-colour, tantrums and tirades. He was perhaps an influence on Jimmy Connors (Connors, Jimmy), a brash American whose aggressive, blood-and-guts, all-court style and feisty temperament captivated audiences whether they loved or loathed him. In 1974 Connors won Wimbledon, the Australian Open, and the U.S. Open. In an intensely competitive era that produced short careers, Connors enjoyed extraordinary longevity at the top. He won Wimbledon again in 1982, the U.S. Open four more times, and the WCT Championship in 1977 and 1980.

 Following the fiery Connors as the dominant player was the relatively cool Björn Borg (Borg, Björn), who led Sweden to its first triumph in the Davis Cup in 1975. Practically unbeatable on slow clay, he won the French Open six times between 1974 and 1981 and remarkably adapted his game to fast grass, adding a sledgehammer serve and underspin approach shot, to win Wimbledon five years running, 1976–80. No player had done that since the champion had to play through the draw, starting in 1922. The American John McEnroe (McEnroe, John) ended Borg's Wimbledon reign in 1981 and beat him in the 1980–81 U.S. Open finals. Between 1979 and 1984 McEnroe, a torrid-tempered left-hander of exquisite athleticism and racket control, won Wimbledon three times, the U.S. Open four times, the Masters three times, and the WCT Championship four times.

 The balance of power in men's tennis shifted back to Europe in the 1980s. Borg inspired a new wave of players in Sweden. A sophisticated junior-development system created a group of Swedish players—led by 1982, 1985, and 1988 French Open champion Mats Wilander. Another European country with a long tennis tradition that reached new heights in the 1980s was Czechoslovakia. One of the foremost players and coaches in Europe in the 1920s and '30s was the Czech Karel Kozeluh. Czechoslovakia produced men's Wimbledon champions Jaroslav Drobny in 1954 and Jan Kodeš in 1973. Among the players to come out of Czechoslovakia's player-development system and become dominant in the 1970s and '80s were Martina Navratilova (Navratilova, Martina), who became a U.S. citizen; Hana Mandlikova, who became an Australian citizen in 1987; and Ivan Lendl, who took up residence in the United States. The European tennis boom of the 1980s also swept through West Germany, which produced Boris Becker (Becker, Boris), who won the Wimbledon singles in 1985 at age 17 (the youngest man and first unseeded player to do so), and Steffi Graf (Graf, Steffi), who in 1987 ended Navratilova's five-year reign as the top-ranked woman in tennis and in 1988 won the grand slam, becoming the first woman to do so since Margaret Court in 1970.

 Graf's emergence also ended an extraordinary streak by the American Chris Evert (Evert, Chris), who had won at least one of the grand slam singles titles for 13 consecutive years, 1974–86, an unprecedented feat. A paragon of backcourt consistency and controlled temperament, Evert was the perfect contrast in both style and personality to several net-rushing rivals: the Australian Evonne Goolagong, who won her first Wimbledon in 1971 at age 19, Billie Jean King, and Navratilova, whom Evert played in 13 grand slam finals in one of the game's greatest rivalries. Evert, probably more than anyone, popularized the two-handed backhand, and she made a steady baseline game the prevalent style of a whole generation of women players.

      During the 1990s Steffi Graf collected 14 of her 21 career grand slam singles titles. Tall and athletic, Graf used powerful ground strokes and excellent court coverage to dispatch opponents. Her primary rival during this period was Yugoslavia's Monica Seles, who collected seven grand slam titles between 1990 and 1992. Though Graf retired in 1999, the women's tour still boasted exceptional competition and talented players, such as Martina Hingis of Switzerland (winner of five major titles before the age of 20) and American Lindsay Davenport, who won titles at the U.S. Open (1998), Wimbledon (1999), and the Australian Open (2000). At the turn of the century, sisters Venus (Williams, Venus) and Serena Williams (Williams, Serena) of the United States emerged as a new force on the women's tour. Serena won the U.S. Open in 1999 and 2002, the French Open in 2002, Wimbledon in 2002 and 2003, and the Australian Open in 2003, 2005, and 2007. Venus won Wimbledon five times (2000–01, 2005, 2007–08), the U.S. Open twice (2000–01), and an Olympic gold medal in tennis (2000). The sisters were credited with popularizing the sport among African Americans.

 The men's game increasingly emphasized athleticism and power in the 1990s. Pete Sampras (Sampras, Pete) of the United States best epitomized this style of play, using devastating serves and ground strokes, along with exceptional agility, to claim a record-setting 14 grand slam titles. Players such as Patrick Rafter of Australia, Sweden's Stefan Edberg, and Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov also claimed their share of major titles during the decade, but Andre Agassi surfaced as Sampras's primary rival. Agassi won singles titles at the Australian Open (1995, 2000, 2001, 2003), the French Open (1999), Wimbledon (1992), and the U.S. Open (1994, 1999) and finished the 1999 season as the top-ranked player on the tour.

Organization and tournaments
      The ITF and the national associations that constitute it govern tennis worldwide; they oversee international competitions such as the Davis Cup and Federation Cup and tennis in the Olympic Games, which was restored to medal-sport status for the 1988 Games—the first time since 1924. The professional circuits were governed from the late 1970s by the Men's and Women's International Professional Tennis councils. These groups, made up of representatives of the ITF, players, and tournaments, oversee the international calendar, the implementation of rules and codes of conduct, and the training and supervision of tour officials. The councils work closely with the ATP and WITA, which supply a number of services and benefits to players and tournaments and maintain rankings that provide the basis for entry into tournaments and seedings.

 Until 1974, when South Africa won by default over India, only four nations had won the Davis Cup: Australia, Great Britain, France, and the United States. The championships of those four countries are the traditional “major” tournaments that make up the grand slam. Wimbledon (Wimbledon Championships) in Britain is the oldest, having been played on the lawns of the All England Club since 1877. The French championships (French Open), played at Stade Roland-Garros in Auteuil, on the outskirts of Paris, are recognized as the world's premier clay-court tournaments. The U.S. championships (United States Open Tennis Championships) were played on grass from their inception in 1881 through 1974; the next three years they were played on a synthetic clay surface at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, New York, and in 1978 the tournament moved to the rubberized asphalt courts of the USTA National Tennis Center in nearby Flushing Meadow Park. The Australian Championships (Australian Open) were played on grass in several cities until 1968, when they moved to Melbourne; in 1988 they moved within that city to the synthetic courts of the new Australian National Tennis Centre.

      The principal team events are the Davis Cup, Federation Cup, and Wightman Cup (U.S. versus British women). The Davis Cup series consists of five matches played over three days: two singles, one doubles, then two “reverse” singles. The Davis Cup draw was played in two zones from 1923 through 1965 and in four zones from 1966 through 1980. Starting in 1981, the top 16 teams competed in a World Group and all other participating nations in four zones. The Federation Cup (Fed Cup), inaugurated in 1963, is contested at one site over a one-week period, each series consisting of three matches: two singles and a doubles. The Wightman Cup alternates between U.S. and British sites and consists of best-of-seven matches: five singles and two doubles.

Play of the game

Court and equipment
 The dimensions of the tennis court are 78 by 27 feet (23.8 by 8.2 metres) for singles and 78 by 36 feet (23.8 by 11.0 metres) for doubles. The height of the net at the centre is 3 feet (0.91 metre), and it is supported at each side of the court by posts 3.5 feet (1.1 metre) high placed 3 feet outside the court. Tennis was originally called lawn tennis, and grass courts are still in use, but the most common court materials today are clay (called “hard courts” in most places, although in the United States that term refers to any hard surface), cement, and a number of cushioned asphalt derivatives and synthetic surfaces. The latter may be hard surface or artificial grass, materials that have become popular for indoor courts along with the traditional wood.

      A tennis ball consists of a pressurized rubber core covered with high-quality cloth, usually wool mixed with up to 35 percent nylon. Balls gradually go soft with use, and in tournament play they are changed at regular intervals agreed upon by officials and depending upon such factors as the court surface. Balls must have a uniform outer surface, and, if there are any seams, they must be stitchless. The ITF specifies that the ball must be yellow or white, between 2.5 and 2.8 inches (6.35 and 7.14 cm) in diameter, and between 1.975 and 2.095 ounces (56 and 59.4 grams) in weight. The ball must have a bounce between 53 and 58 inches (135 and 147 cm) when dropped 100 inches (254 cm) upon a concrete base.

      Nothing in the rules defined the racket until 1981. After an ITF committee had made studies of the so-called “double-strung,” or “spaghetti,” racket, introduced in 1977, which had two layers of strings that imparted topspin on the ball, it was banned by the following rule:

A racket shall consist of a frame, which may be of any material, weight, size or shape and stringing. The stringing must be uniform and smooth and may be of any material. The strings must be alternately interlaced or bonded where they cross. The distance between the main and/or cross strings shall not be less than one quarter of an inch nor more than one-half inch. If there are attachments they must be used only to prevent wear and tear and must not alter the flight of the ball.

      In 1979 the ITF limited racket length for professional play to 29 inches (73.7 cm). This maximum was applied to nonprofessional play in 2000. Maximum racket width is 12.5 inches (31.75 cm).

Principles of play
      Opponents spin a racket or toss a coin to decide on side and service. The winner may decide to serve or receive service first (in which case the opponent chooses the side) or may decide on a choice of side (in which case the opponent may choose to serve or receive service first). The players serve alternate games and change sides after every odd number of games.

      Beginning each game from behind his or her right-hand court, the server has both feet behind the baseline and strikes the ball diagonally across the net and into the opponent's right-hand service court. Should the ball on service strike the top of the net before falling in the correct service court, it is a “let” and is replayed. The server is allowed one miss, or “fault,” either into the net or outside the opponent's service court. Failure to deliver a correct service on two attempts constitutes loss of the point.

      To return service, the receiver strikes the ball back (before it hits the ground a second time) over the net and within the boundaries of the opponent's court. After the service has been correctly returned, the players may volley the ball (i.e., hit it before it bounces) or hit it after its first bounce, and the point continues until one player fails to make a correct return. This may occur if a player fails to hit the ball over the net, hits it outside the opponent's boundaries, or fails to hit it before it strikes the ground a second time on his or her side of the net.

      To win a game, a player must win four points and by a margin of two. The scoring goes 15, 30, 40, game; this system, derived from real tennis, is medieval in origin. It never has been satisfactorily explained why three points equal 40 rather than 45. Zero is generally referred to as “love,” which is thought to be derived from l'oeuf, the French word for “egg.” The server's score is called first; thus, 30–15 means that the server has two points to one, whereas 15–30 means that the receiver has two points to one. If both players reach 40, the score is said to be “deuce,” and the game continues until a player achieves first “advantage” and then the two-point margin for “game.” There is no limit to the number of times a game can go to deuce before it is decided, but in some competitions a so-called “no-ad” system is used, which means that no two-point margin is required and the first player to win four points wins the game. As points make up a game, games make up a set, and sets make up a match. The first player to win six games traditionally wins the set, although a two-game margin is again required; thus, a set in which each player has won five games cannot be won before 7–5.

      Since the early 1970s virtually all competitions have come to employ tiebreakers to eliminate marathon sets. Usually played at six games all, the tiebreaker can consist of an odd number of points with no two-point margin required (“sudden death”) or an even number of points with a two-point margin required. For example, in a 12-point tiebreaker the first player to reach 7 points with a margin of 2 wins the tiebreaker game and the set, 7–6. Virtually all tournaments now play tiebreakers at six games all. In major tournaments and the Davis Cup, men generally play best-of-five-set matches and women best-of-three. In most other tournaments, men now also play best-of-three sets; women occasionally play best-of-five for finals. In Olympic (Olympic Games) competition, all matches are best-of-three sets, except for the men's finals, which are best-of-five.

 The same basic principles of play and scoring apply to doubles. Service alternates between the two opposing teams, but each team must decide at the start of each set which partner shall serve first. Equally, the receiving team must decide at the start of each set which of them shall receive service first, and they then receive service on alternate points for that game and set. Thus, the server will alternate sides of the court on successive points in each game, but the receiver will always receive on the same side of the court during that game (and the set).

Strategy and technique
  Although successful strokes and strategy can vary widely on different court surfaces, on all but the slowest courts there has always been a premium on a punishing serve and effective play at the net. The server usually has a considerable advantage for two reasons. With a combination of power and clever angle and spin, he can win points outright with the serve, called an “ace” if the opponent cannot get his racket on the ball and a “service winner” if the opponent reaches it but cannot play it, or the server can force such a weak return that his second shot is an easy “kill.” Especially on faster surfaces, the server may also follow his delivery to the net and establish his position. At the net a player is always vulnerable to a passing shot—one angled cross-court or played down-the-line, beyond reach—but if the serve or approach shot puts the opponent under enough pressure, the server, now at the net, has the upper hand, since a volley is generally easier to put away (play for a point) than a ground stroke (one played on a bounce). An effective first serve is a considerable asset on any surface. The best servers not only deliver the ball hard but vary their patterns so that a receiver cannot anticipate where the serve is coming. Equally important is the ability to deliver an effective second service (one made after an initial fault), usually with less power but more spin or “kick.”

  For good volleyers, the key to winning is to get to the net, behind either the serve or approach shot. For players whose strength is their ground stroke, the priority is to maneuver the opponent into a vulnerable position for a winning passing shot, placement, or drive that forces an error. All shots after the serve—volley or ground stroke—can be played on either the forehand (where, if the racket were viewed as an extension of the hand, the palm would be striking the ball) or the backhand (where the back of the hand would be striking the ball).

      Styles of play at the top level have varied widely with changing court surfaces. When most major tournaments were played on grass, for instance, there was a distinct advantage to a powerful serve-and-volley game and short, controlled, underspin ground strokes that kept the ball low. When slow clay became the predominant surface of the professional game in the mid-1970s, there was more emphasis on solid ground strokes and topspin, which allowed players to loop the ball well over the net and have it bounce high, pinning opponents to the backcourt. Hard-surface courts of medium speed and true bounce favour an all-court game and enable both net rushers and baseliners to play their preferred styles.

      Other strokes, besides the serve, volley, and drive, include the lob, overhead smash, half volley, and drop shot. The lob, a soft high-arched loop, can be played either defensively, to try to recover from an awkward, vulnerable position where an attacking stroke is impossible, or offensively, to get the ball over the reach of an opponent at the net and put him on the defensive. The player who makes an offensive lob often follows it to the net, but if a lob is not high enough to get over the opponent, it can be returned with an overhead smash, the most forceful of strokes. The player making the smash often leaps to hit the ball with a stroke similar to the serve from a position approximating the service toss. The half volley is a shot played on a very short bounce, usually a defensive stroke effected when one cannot quite reach an opponent's shot in the air and volley it. The drop shot, which is often hit from the same motion as a drive, attempts to get the ball just over the net with underspin so that it barely bounces, either catching an opponent flat-footed in the backcourt where he cannot reach the ball or forcing him to run in and lunge at the ball, leaving him off balance.

Morys George Lyndhurst Bruce, 4th Baron Aberdare Barry Steven Lorge Ed.

Winners of select tennis championships

Australian Open singles champions
       Australian Open Tennis Championships-singles Australian Open Tennis Championships-singlesA list of Australian Open singles champions is provided in the table.

Australian Open doubles champions
       Australian Open Tennis Championshipsdoubles Australian Open Tennis ChampionshipsdoublesA list of Australian Open doubles champions is provided in the table.

French Open singles champions
       French Open Tennis Championships-singles French Open Tennis Championships-singlesA list of French Open singles champions is provided in the table.

French Open doubles champions
       French Open Tennis Championshipsdoubles French Open Tennis ChampionshipsdoublesA list of French Open doubles champions is provided in the table.

Wimbledon singles champions
       All-England (Wimbledon) Tennis Championships-singles All-England (Wimbledon) Tennis Championships-singlesA list of Wimbledon singles champions is provided in the table.

Wimbledon doubles champions
       All-England (Wimbledon) Tennis Championshipsdoubles All-England (Wimbledon) Tennis ChampionshipsdoublesA list of Wimbledon doubles champions is provided in the table.

U.S. Open singles champions
       United States Open Tennis Championships-singles United States Open Tennis Championships-singlesA list of U.S. Open singles champions is provided in the table.

U.S. Open doubles champions
       United States Open Tennis Championshipsdoubles United States Open Tennis ChampionshipsdoublesA list of U.S. Open doubles champions is provided in the table.

Davis Cup champions
       Davis Cup Davis CupA list of Davis Cup champions is provided in the table.

Fed Cup champions
       Fed Cup Fed CupA list of Fed Cup champions is provided in the table.

Additional Reading
For an extensive history of tennis, see Heiner Gillmeister, Tennis: A Cultural History (1997). For current information, see the International Tennis Federation, World of Tennis (annual).

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

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