Sampras def. Courier: 6-7, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.
The Plot: This is the famous match where Sampras starts crying at the beginning of the 5th set. Sampras coach, Tim Gullikson, had flown back to the U.S. after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. Courier knew all about this, being a close friend of Sampras and having had dinner with Sampras and his team the night before. Sampras had struggled in previous matches, and Courier must have liked his chances to turn around his losing streak against Sampras.
The Match: Courier makes an all-out attack on the shaky Sampras backhand from the start of the match, and Sampras, who seems a little despondent at times, is only hanging in there because of his serve. There are no breaks in the first two sets, which are rich on fierce backhand-to-backhand exchanges, and Courier wins sets 1 and 2 in tie-breakers. Then in the 3rd set, Sampras starts to play a lot better and breaks Courier twice to take the set.
In the 4th set, Courier breaks in the 5th game, and seems well on his way to victory as he consolidates the break to go up 4-2. But Sampras once again seems to raise the level of his game and breaks back. Eventually, he wins the set as Courier misses an easy overhead on set-point.
At the beginning of the 5th set, a fan yells out "Do it for your coach, Pete", which causes tears to well up into Sampras eyes. Serving at 1-1, he can barely keep his composure and Courier, famously, yells over the net "We can do this tomorrow, you know." Sampras, feeling that Courier is mocking him, then serves aces to get out of the game. Courier's level seems to drop from then on in the 5th set and he loses serve a few games later, and Sampras serves out the match.
The bottom line: This is one of the most dramatic tennis matches I have ever seen. The level of tennis is very high throughout, and the ball is being struck as hard as you would ever see. The baseline rallies are exciting stuff, and Sampras adds some variation by serving and volleying on the 1st serve most of the time. There are many great points, winners and "gets". I feel perhaps that Sampras performance is a fraction below his best in sets 1 and 2, and Courier is not playing his best in set 5. Other than that, this is an almost perfect match, both for its drama and its high quality tennis. It is highly recommended