Sampras Wins Exhibition Match

Blondie band members from left to right, Clem Burke, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, backstage after being inducted at the tweny-first annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame dinner in New York, Monday, March 13, 2006. AP


Pete Sampras beat Vincent Spadea 6-3, 6-1 Saturday in an exhibition match after withdrawals wiped out the Colonial Classic's championship and third-place matches.

Two days before the start of the Australian Open, Mark Philippoussis woke up with a stiff neck and pulled out of his scheduled final with top-ranked Andre Agassi. Thomas Enqvist already had withdrawn from the third-place match against Sampras to rest a sore serving shoulder.

Sampras agreed to play Agassi to provide a final-day marquee match for the 5,500 spectators at Kooyong Stadium, but "unfortunately it didn't happen."

Instead, organizers proceeded with a match between Sampras and the 20th-ranked Spadea, who had been enlisted to replace Enqvist before Philippoussis' withdrawal hours before the scheduled final.

"Andre expected to play Mark Philippoussis today and I felt it was inappropriate for me to ask him to do something other than that, so I released him from his commitment to the final," tournament director Colin Stubs said.

The withdrawal causes "a lot of aggravation with sponsors, with television, with public, box holders it's just a nightmare," Stubs said.

Sampras said that playing Agassi would not necessarily have been better preparation for the Australian Open.

"The main concern is just to play matches. Andre is one of the best players out there and so it would have been a good test, but I'm playing in a couple of days at the Open and that's obviously the main concern."

Against Spadea, "it was nice to play some baseline points and play someone that stays back," Sampras said.

Sampras' two earlier matches in this tournament were against players with big serve-and-volley games. He beat Richard Krajicek, but then lost 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-5) to Philippoussis in a semifinal Friday.

"I was nice to get a little more of a hit up, and I played pretty well and I liked my form," said Sampras, who was set back by a back injury last year and fell to No. 3 after finishing at No. 1 for six consecutive years.

Sampras still had a 4-1 record last year against Agassi, the man who replaced him as No. 1. One of those victories was in the Wimbledon final.

Agassi won the French and U.S. Opens on his way to the top from a ranking as low as 141 in 1997.

Stubs said Philippoussis' coach, Gavin Hopper, called him Saturday morning to say that Philippoussis had awakened with a stiff neck, gone to a ciropractor for an hour or so of treatment, and been advised "that he should not play today, bearing in mind what he has got in front of him next week."

Sampras has rated Philippoussis a leading contender to win the Open, which has not had an Australian winner since Mark Edmondson in 1976.

"With his serving capability, he's going to be very tough to break" on the faster courts for this year's tournament, Sampras said.

Against Sampras on Friday, Philippoussis served 15 aces and gave up only six points on his serve.

Philippoussis is scheduled to play a qualifier in the first round. He is in the same section of the draw as Agassi, and could meet him in the fourth round.

For a final match on the Colonial Classic program, Stubs enlisted Fromberg and Morocco's Karim Alami , but rain halted play with Fromberg leading 6-5 on serve in the first set. After more than an hour's delay, the match was called off.

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