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Sampras Still Thriving

Posted September. 05, 2001 08:43,   


Although he only made it to just the quarterfinals, Sampras showed the dramatic scene as if he had won the title. He kissed his fist, and leaped for joy on the court.

25,000 spectators sent up a rousing cheer to the showmanship rather than the reticence for which he has been known.

`The Emperor of Tennis`, 13 major champions, Pete Sampras (30, USA) had been pitifully incompetent. Since the victory in the Wimbledon last year, he participated in 17 tournaments for 14 months only to fail to earn a title. His pride began to shrivel, and felt deeply the pathos of life as his hair thins out.

However, Sampras is showing his excellence with the firing combatant spirit in the US Open, the last grand slam tournament of this year.

In the fourth round at USTA National Tennis Center, Flushing Meadows, New York, No. 10 seed Sampras defeated 3-1 (6-3, 6-2, 6-7. 6-4) Wimbledon finalist and No. 6 seed Patrick Rafter (Australia) to advance to the quarterfinals.

Sampras recorded 20 aces with formidable services, and overpowered the opponent with daring net approaches. And he earned 60 winners, and made just 14 unforced errors. It was a nearly perfect contest for him.

Looking for his fifth title in this event, Sampras will meet Andre Agassi (USA), who is a year older. Sampras and Agassi have played 31 times including the US Open finals in 1990 and 1995. Although Sampras has held 17-14 edge, Agassi has won their last three contests. Sampras said, ``this is about as tough as it`s going to get. I`ve got a good shot at it. I`m going to have to play very well to beat him.``

Agassi also said, ``I first played with Sampras at a12-and-under league about 20 years ago. At that time, I was taller than him. It will be a thrilling match. Although the fans want for both to win the game, I`ll never give up for the title.``

Meanwhile, in the women`s singles, looking for her third major title following the Australian Open and the French Open this year, Jennifer Capriati (USA) safely arrived the quarterfinals, defeating Barbara Schett (Austria) 2-0 (6-3, 6-3). No. 4 seed and defending champion Venus Williams (USA) easily overcame Sandrine Testud just for 54 minutes, and faces No. 5 Kim Clijsters (Belgium) in the quarterfinals.

Kim Jong-Seok kjs0123@donga.com