With history on the line, Pete Sampras and Patrick Rafter battled for the 2000 Wimbledon title.
At the 1999 Wimbledon tournament, Pete Sampras—one of the greatest champions to ever step foot on Centre Court—made history with his win over Andre Agassi in the final as he tied Roy Emerson with 12 major singles titles, the most among men.
His efforts to claim that record for his own were thwarted at the next three majors, with a first-round loss at the 2000 French Open his latest showing at a major. Sampras bounced back from that to reach the final in Queen’s Club on grass, before the young Australian Lleyton Hewitt stopped him.
With his best tournament next, the top seed and six-time Wimbledon champion advanced to the final without having to face a seeded player. In his fourth title match in a row at the All England Club, Sampras would go against two-time US Open champion Patrick Rafter, the 12th seed who reached his first Wimbledon final by beating, among others, the second-seeded Agassi in a five-set semifinal battle.
It had been nearly a year since the two players faced each other, when Sampras snapped a three-match losing streak against Rafter in the final in Cincinnati. Before the Australian’s run, though, Sampras had dominated their prior encounters, winning eight of their nine matches. The two would have to wait a while to really settle into this contest, with rain causing extensive delays through the first set. Making their way to a tiebreaker to determine the outcome of the opener, Rafter capitalized on two double faults from Sampras and won it 12-10.
In the second set, the two found themselves in another tiebreaker and Rafter got off to a 4-1 lead, helped by another Sampras double fault. But where nerves crept in during the late stages of the first set for the American, this time, it was the Australian who felt the pressure, with a double fault and a missed passing shot. Sampras would rally and go on to take the tiebreaker to level the match.
Having stayed on serve through the first two sets, it was the six-time Wimbledon champion who got the first break in the fifth game of the third set. From there, he settled into a groove to close out the frame 6-4 to take a commanding lead. With the finish line in sight, Sampras raced through the fourth set 6-2 to claim the championship and become the winningest man at the majors with 13 Grand Slam singles titles.
Sampras became the first man in the Open Era to win at least one singles major for seven straight years.
Rafter was trying to become the fourth Australian man in the Open Era to win three or more Grand Slam singles titles after Rod Laver, John Newcombe and Ken Rosewall.
Sampras won his eighth straight Grand Slam final, with his last loss coming in the 1995 Australian Open championship match against Andre Agassi.