Pete Sampras beat the man who supplanted him at the top of the rankings, winning the ATP Tour World Championship on Sunday with a 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 victory over Andre Agassi.
In a final pitting the player of the year against the player of the decade, Sampras captured this season-ending tournament for the fifth time to equal the mark set by Ivan Lendl.
"I wanted to prove that I still have it," Sampras said. "I was very pumped up, ready to go. Today was a big match and I've always believed in myself, that I can rise to the occasion."
In round-robin play earlier in the $3.6 million tournament, which features the world's top eight players, Agassi defeated Sampras 6-2, 6-2.
But Sampras, coming off a three-month layoff because of hip and back injuries, was at his best Sunday.
"It's been a tough week, but I played very well today," Sampras said. "I was able to play on a very high level."
He made a strong start by breaking Agassi in the second game. He broke again for a 5-1 lead, and after trailing early in the second set seized control.
"It was a bad day to be flat," Agassi said. "I was really unhappy with the way I played."
Sampras defeated Agassi four of the five times they played this year, and he leads their lifetime series 17-11. This was the fifth title of the year for Sampras, who missed the U.S. Open.
Pete Sampras got revenge on Andre Agassi.(AP)
"He had an incredible year and deserves to be No. 1," Sampras said.
Sampras had finished No. 1 for a record six years. His run ended this year and he will finish 1999 at No. 3, two spots higher than at the start of this tournament.
Agassi won this championship in 1990 when it was first held in Germany. The event switches to Lisbon, Portugal, next year.
Sampras won $1.4 million for his victory and Agassi earned $685,000.
Sampras hit winners from all over the court, his leaping overhead smashes delighting the crowd of 13,500. He finished with 47 winners to 14 for Agassi.
ampras fell behind 3-0 in the second set. Agassi hit a forehand long to lose serve in the seventh game. Sampras went up 6-5 up when Agassi netted a backhand, and he served out the set the next game.
"I was frustrated with the rhythm of the match," Agassi said. "He was changing pace."
The third set began with another break for Sampras, and he won the match with his 15th ace.
"After the U.S. Open, I kind of accepted the fact that I wasn't going to be No. 1," Sampras said. "I've done it longer than anyone. Beating Andre, who's had a phenomenal year, is what I'm most pleased about."
©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed