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Men's final: power vs. more power


WIMBLEDON, England -- The Wimbledon men's final today is going to take some getting used to.

On one side of the net, Pete Sampras, the defending champion and No. 1 player in the world. On the other, Goran Ivanisevic, who will become the No. 2 player after Wimbledon no matter what happens.

They are the two biggest servers in the game.

They promise state-of-the-art efficiency. They promise not to waste your time with unnecessary rallies.

They promise to keep you on the edge of your seat guessing which one will blink first.

It isn't that they don't play brilliant tennis. They do. It is just that fans want action. They want drama.

Sampras delivers a massive blow to his opponent's heart, killing rallies as well as hope with one blow.

Ivanisevic, who used to inspire emotion on the sidelines with his antics on the court, has become the model citizen during this Wimbledon and hasn't lost his cool.

"Whenever I have a moment of anger," he said after his victory over Boris Becker in the semifinals on Friday, "I think of the two bets I have with Bernie Ecclestone [chief of the Federation Of Constructors Association, which sanctions Formula One racing] and Ion Tiriac. They bet me I will throw a racket before the tournament ends. I bet not."

Instead, today's match is likely to be a serving marathon.

"The one who serves 40 aces first wins," Becker said. "That's how it seems. But I would pay to see these two play tennis, because they can play more than just serving. They have an all-around game. They can volley, they can play from the baseline."

But they usually don't.

Ivanisevic has served a tournament high 140 aces; Sampras, 100.

"I think it will be Sampras in the fifth, 40 [games] to 38," NBC TV commentator Bud Collins said.

Ivanisevic leads the competition between the men, 5-3, and has a victory in their only other Grand Slam meeting, the 1992 Wimbledon semifinals.

"It comes down to my returns because Goran is such a big server," said Sampras, who spent part of yesterday practicing his own serve. "It's going to come down to a couple of points, and I hope I get them. It might just depend on who wakes up and feels better. But this is it. The biggest match of the year. It's going to be tough. It's going to be a lot of big serving marathon."

Sampras has said throughout this tournament if he plays his best, he's pretty sure he'll win.

Ivanisevic believes he has nothing to lose by going for it.

"I am surprising myself here a little bit," Ivanisevic said. "I am playing much better. I'm volleying much better and mentally, I'm much better, too. I can keep the level of the match high, all the sets."

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