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Win Assures Sampras Top Spot


Pete Sampras is about to regain the No. 1 spot in the tennis rankings.

The five-time Wimbledon champion was assured of returning to the top after a 7-5, 6-3 victory Thursday over Australian qualifier Wayne Arthurs in the third round of the Queen's grass-court tournament.

Losses this week by No. 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov at Queen's and No. 2 Pat Rafter in the Gerry Weber Open in Germany cleared the way for Sampras, who began the week at No. 3.

The victory Thursday will put Sampras on top for the 268th week when the rankings come out Monday. That will tie him for second place in the all-time rankings with Jimmy Connors. Ivan Lendl holds the all-time record of 270 weeks at No. 1.

"I've got some years left to break that record (Lendl's)," Sampras said. "I'm more pleased about the way I'm playing than the ranking."

Winner of five of the last six Wimbledons and five other Grand Slams, Sampras is one shy of tying Roy Emerson's record of 12 Grand Slams.

"Being No. 1 is great, but it doesn't compare to a Slam," he said.

Sampras slightly injured his right shoulder agaisnt Arthurs, but expected to be ready for Friday's quarterfinal against Goran Ivanisevic, whom he beat in last year's Wimbledon final.

"In the second game I hit a return and felt a little twinge in my (right) shoulder," he said. "Basically it didn't get worse. I'm sure it might stiffen up a little, but I definitely plan on playing."

Third-seeded Tim Henman of Britain advanced to the quarterfinals up by defeating Byron Black of Zimbabwe 6-1, 6-4.

No. 4 seed Mark Philippoussis and No. 5 Todd Martin were beaten. Fellow Australian Lleyton Hewitt beat Philippoussis 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-2, and Cedric Pioline of France upended Martin 1-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Greg Rusedski of Britain reached the quarterfinals by defeating former champion Wayne Ferreira 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

Sixth-seeded Karol Kucera of Slovakia had no problem overcoming Jason Stoltenberg, downing the Australian 6-3, 6-3.

In other third-round matches: Sargis Sargsian of Armenia defeated No. 15-seeded Scott Draper of Australia 6-3, 6-2; No. 8 and last year's Wimbledon runner-up Goran Ivanisevic won over Sebastien Lareau of Canada 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4.

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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