Pete Sampras put tennis history on hold Thursday night and he did it the old-fashioned way: serve and volley.
The official statistics don't show it, but the champion of the past, Sampras, 31, rushed the net 76 times in 127 points against the hope of the future for American tennis, Andy Roddick, 20.
The result was a decisive, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 victory for Sampras.
"I wanted to mix it up against Andy," said Sampras, "wanted to come in off his second [serve], you know, win or lose the points, just to put a little pressure on him."
It paid off.
Sampras broke Roddick's serve the first time out, rushing the net for three of his four winners, which included two backhand volleys.
By the time the set was over, Sampras had raced forward into his "killing zone" 24 times in 40 points. Sometimes it was only two steps forward, sometimes four steps. By the time it was over, he had walked all over Roddick.
In defeat, Roddick acknowledged the pressure.
"Once he got in there, even if I did hit a good passing shot, he was quick and putting away volleys pretty quick."
But even after the disastrous result had begun to sink in, Roddick would not concede that Sampras' tactic had rattled him: "I definitely felt the pressure a little bit when he was coming in on it."
Hardly Over the Hill
Even Sampras engaged in double talk to avoid sounding pushed. At match's end, a television reporter asked if comments by British player Greg Rusedski that Sampras was over the hill had made him mad.
"Absolutely, it fired me up," said Sampras, wiping the sweat of victory from his brow and showing rare emotion.
But 30 minutes later in an interview room, the victor changed his mind: "That doesn't get me going [comments by Rusedski and others]. I mean, it really doesn't. I mean, things that Greg says, it doesn't faze me."
What Sampras' overwhelming victory proved is that he still has a little something left to show the younger players.