Tennis: Sampras' defeat puts Korda in pole position

PETE SAMPRAS' world No 1 status is in doubt after he lost 7-5, 6-3 to the unseeded Austrian Thomas Muster in the ATP Champions' Cup in California.

The victory for Muster, a former world No 1 himself, now ranked 20th, means the Australian Open champion, Petr Korda, can take top place with a win at Indian Wells. Korda, the second seed, beat the German teenager Tommy Haas 7-6, 6-2 to reach the quarter- finals on Thursday.

Sampras was not the only big name to fall in the third round. Andre Agassi, who has worked his way up to 40th in the world from 141st last November, beat the third-seeded Australian Pat Rafter, the reigning US Open champion, 6-3 3-6 6-2. Agassi will face the lowest-ranked player left in the draw, the 126th-ranked wild card, Jan-Michael Gambill.

But Sampras' defeat, by a player who had won just one of his three matches all year, eclipsed that upset. "I was awful," admitted Sampras. "I really struggled throughout the whole match. I had some chances in the first, had a set point. Had some love-30 points."

Sampras, the Champions' Cup winner in 1994 and 1995 but a beaten quarter- finalist in 1996 and in the second round last year, said he still had not mastered the desert conditions. "I don't know what it is about the conditions here," he said. "The ball seems to fly on me. I can't play the way I want to play, can't swing the way I want to swing, and have control of the ball."

Muster, who disputed the world No 1 place with Sampras in 1996, and grabbed the top spot for six weeks that year, said he could tell Sampras was struggling. He said: "You always play like your opponent allows you to play. But he wasn't serving as accurate as he used to. He made a lot of unforced errors. For whatever reason I don't know."

In the quarter-finals, Muster will face the Ukrainian Andrei Medvedev, who beat Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador 6-1, 6-4. Korda will play the seventh- seeded Chilean Marcelo Rios in a repeat of the Australian Open final. Rios defeated German Nicolas Kiefer 6-4, 6-3.

The sixth-seeded Briton, Greg Rusedski, advanced with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Spain's Carlos Moya, setting up a clash with unseeded Swede Thomas Enqvist, a 6-2, 7-6 winner over Bohdan Ulihrach.

"I was very pleased with the way I played," said Rusedski, who had a first-round bye before struggling to a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Vince Spadea. I serv ed a lot better, played a more solid overall game and fixed up a few areas I wasn't pleased with."

Rusedski, who has beaten the 25th-ranked Enqvist in three of their four previous encounters, served 12 aces and Moya never had a chance to break his opponent's serve.

A strained left hamstring ruined Steffi Graf's latest comeback from injury when she retired in the third set of her Evert Cup semi-final match with Lindsay Davenport. Graf, who has had a long list of ailments during her career, was trailing 6-4, 4-6, 4-2 to Davenport, the defending champion. Graf, 28, was playing in only her second tournament after taking nine months off after knee surgery.

"It's like, what else?" said Graf, who has numbered a bad back, bone spurs in her feet and the broken cartilage and torn tendon in her left knee that forced the surgery last June among her injuries.

A hamstring strain was a new experience. "This one I haven't had before," said Graf, who felt a pain after a sudden movement in the fifth game of the third set. She winced and clutched her thigh, but finished the game. After having her thigh strapped during the change-over, she tried to play, earning a break point against Davenport in the sixth game even though she was hobbled by the pain.

"The minute it happened I knew," said Graf. "I always try. I almost made the game. I almost had a chance. But just standing there I was scared to make it worse."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 1 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is a small friendly village prim...

Recruitment Genius: Student Support Assistants - Part Time & Full Time

£14600 - £17600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are passionate about sup...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore