It was the third-fastest time in history, and it could have been faster than Greene's world record of 9.79 seconds if the Kansas City, Kan., native had not started feeling tightness in his left leg in the last 10 meters. He grimaced as he crossed the finish line, neglecting to lean even though fellow American Tim Montgomery was closing fast to his left.
But Greene's fragile leg gave him no trouble on his latest flag-wrapped victory lap, and victory laps are fast becoming a tradition for Greene. At age 27, he now has won the last four major 100-meter titles, triumphing at the world championships in 1997 and 1999, winning at the Olympics last year and now winning here.
"This is just as sweet as all of them," he said. "You put yourself under a lot of pressure to reach a goal, and then you accomplish it. The most important thing is I won, and I'm very grateful for that."
"In my condition, my time was great," he added.
Greene took his victory lap alone, but two other Americans were with him on the medal stand. Montgomery finished in 9.85 seconds, the seventh-fastest time in history, and Greene's training partner, Bernard Williams, managed to close the gap on Ato Boldon in the final 10 meters to take the bronze in 9.94 seconds. It was the third American sweep in this event in world championship history and the first since 1991 when Carl Lewis, Leroy Burrell and Dennis Mitchell finished one, two and three.
With his victory, Greene moved closer to matching Lewis' sprinting resume in major championships. The two men have won three world titles in the 100, but Lewis won two Olympic gold medals in the 100, along with seven other Olympic golds.
After failing to qualify for the 1996 Olympics, Greene packed his belongings and drove west to join coach John Smith's training group in Los Angeles. Since then, Greene has not lost a major race.
Greene conceded that this might have been his toughest challenge in the 100. In previous world championships, he arrived in fine health. But he has had tendinitis in his left knee throughout this season, although his problem Sunday in the final 10 meters was in his upper leg.
"I felt something in the quad, and then another step later, I felt something in my ham," he said, referring to his quadriceps and hamstring.
As a result, Greene will not defend his title in the 200 this week (he is also concerned about running the curve with his knee problem) and is uncertain whether he will be able to compete in the 400 relay.
"Maybe, maybe not," he said. "The most important thing is I got this out of the way."
Marion Jones showed why she hasn't lost a 100 final in four years by winning her heats in the first two rounds, then she predicted a sensational time in her final.
Jones, the Olympic gold medalist, blazed to victory in 10.93 in a first-round heat a time that no other woman in the world has bettered this year, and followed that by winning her quarterfinal heat in 10.97.
Jones' fastest this season is 10.84 in Paris last month, and her career best is 10.65.
"Ten-seven, 10.6 might be possible," she said of tonight's final, when she will be seeking her third consecutive world title. "I have a lot left."
The semifinals also are today.
Suzy Favor Hamilton's world championships ended when she was knocked off stride when another runner fell near her with a little more than a lap to go in a 1,500 semifinal.
Favor Hamilton slowed, then stopped. She sat on the track, head bowed.
"There was a big pack and someone fell and I was right there and totally stumbled," the American said. "By then, the others were already two meters ahead of me and I lost my composure. With a lap to go, I said, 'There's no way.'"
The runner who tumbled, Poland's Lidia Chojecka, got up and wound up qualifying for the final by finishing third.