Sampras Breaks Agassi At Benz
Pete Sampras dominated Andre Agassi when it counted the most Sunday.
In a rematch of their Wimbledon final four weeks earlier, Sampras needed two tiebreakers to beat Agassi 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-1) for the championship of the Mercedes-Benz Cup at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.
The match was as tight as could be, except for the tiebreakers, where Sampras won 14 of the 18 points contested.
Otherwise, Agassi won 74 points to 68 for Sampras.
"Two tiebreakers," Sampras said when asked the difference in the one-hour, 35-minute match. "Andre is so tough for me to play. He returns so well."
But not in the tiebreakers, where Sampras' service was invincible. He served five winners in the first-set tiebreaker, with one ace and three serves. Meanwhile, Agassi was 3-2 on his serve.
Agassi opened the second-set tiebreaker with a double-fault -- his only one of the match. Sampras followed with an ace, and it was all downhill from there. Agassi won a point on his serve to make it 3-1 before Sampras won four straight points to close out the match.
Sampras was 4-0 while serving in the second-set tiebreaker with his 11th and final ace along with unreturnable serves.
|Pete Sampras consoles Andre Agassi after Sampras' straight-set victory Sunday.(AP)|
Agassi had 10 aces in the match, and won 52 of 70 service points. But it wasn't enough. Sampras won 64 of 90 service points.
The top seed and defending champion, Agassi lost for just the second time in 19 matches, while Sampras, the No. 2 seed despite a 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 victory over Agassi at Wimbledon on July 4, has won 17 straight matches.
Sampras, 15-10 lifetime against Agassi, earned $46,000 by winning his third title this year and the 59th of his career, while Agassi collected $27,000.
Sampras, who turns 28 on Aug. 12, entered this tournament ranked second in the world behind Patrick Rafter, but moved up to No. 1 by winning his semifinal match Saturday.
Sampras, winner of 12 Grand Slam titles -- tied with Roy Emerson for the most ever -- will thus be ranked as the world's best player for a record 271st week. Sampras shared the mark of 270 weeks with Ivan Lendl.
Agassi, 29, will continue to be ranked third in the world.
There were only two service breaks in the match -- both in the first set. Sampras broke in the second game and went on to take a 4-1 lead before Agassi broke in the sixth game.
There was nothing close to a break in the second set until Agassi took a 40-30 lead in he 12th game. However, Sampras won the next three points to hold serve and set up the tiebreaker, and the match was over a couple minutes later.
"Against Pete, if you don't capitalize on those opportunities, it turns quick," Agassi said when asked about getting to set point before losing 10 of the next 11 points to end the match. "You think it was a good match here? I have a hunch if we tee it up in New York, it will be rocking."
Agassi was referring to the U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 30. Should Sampras win, he would stand alone in Grand Slam tournament men's singles titles.
"It would be great for the game, great for us, too," Sampras said of a possible rematch with Agassi in the U.S. Open. "It would be a fitting way to break the record."
However, Sampras added, "There's a lot of tennis yet to be played" before that might take place.
Sampras, who grew up in nearby Palos Verdes, won this tournament for only the second time. The first time was in 1991, when he beat Agassi's coach, Brad Gilbert, in a three-set final.
Agassi beat Tim Henman of Great Britain in the final last year. Henman was upset by Guillaume Raoux of France in the first round this year.
©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
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