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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sampras, Graf Win in 5-Set Thrillers

HANNOVER, Germany -- Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf both won thrilling five set victories to reaffirm their No. 1 rankings.


After four hours Sampras finally overcame Boris Becker, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (11-13), 6-4 to give him his third ATP Tour World Championship title.


Becker, No. 6 in the world, was unable to retain the title although he pounded 32 aces and matched the American shot for shot. But Becker didn't feel like a loser.


"To be part of such a match is a highlight of my career. It was so incredibly close, we ran our guts out. At the end he was one shot better," Becker said. "At the end, I didn't really care who won.


"I tried my best, but it was not to be. I didn't lose it, you won it Pete," said the 29-year-old German, who actually won 12 more points.


"This is one the best matches I have ever been a part of," Sampras said.


"This is what the game is all about. It's not the money. It's not all that. It's the great matches."


The money wasn't bad, though. Sampras collected $1.34 million and Becker settled for $640,000.


Sampras, 25, was playing his fourth final in seven appearances at the championship, which he won in 1991 and 1994.


He will finish the season as No. 1 for the fourth consecutive year, a feat last accomplished by John McEnroe, ending in 1984.


In New York, Graf capped a stellar year by beating rising star Martina Hingis in the season-ending Chase Championships on Sunday.


The world's No. 1 player was pushed to the five-set limit by the sensational Swiss 16-year-old, but Graf answered the challenge to hold on to her title, winning 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, 4-6, 6-0.


"Wherever she plays, she wins the tournament," Hingis, who was hampered by a cramp in her thigh in the last two sets, said of Graf.


Graf, 27, will finish this year atop the world rankings for a fourth year in a row.


Hingis, the seventh seed, played with the poise and grit of a seasoned veteran, refusing to quit when two sets to one down. She kept running and hitting winners, and finally broke serve in a marathon 18-point 10th game to take the fourth set when Graf netted a backhand.


"It's just not very good for any tennis player if you don't fight until the last point," said Hingis, who took a three-minute injury timeout and left the court at 5-4 in the fourth set.


But after that Hingis had very little fight left, and Graf pounced on her wounded foe in the last set. Graf showed no mercy, mixing in drop shots along with her usual barrage of groundstroke winners and powerful serves to wrap up the victory in just 23 minutes in the last set. (AP, Reuters)