Agassi is next in line for Sampras

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Battle will be rejoined in Stuttgart today when Pete Sampras, the world No 1, takes on his old rival, Andre Agassi, in the Eurocard Open.

Such is the strength of the field - 29 of the world's top 30 are competing - that the first meeting of the two Americans since February is at the quarter-final stage of the tournament.

Sampras, who leads Agassi 10-8 in career meetings, was in particularly impressive form yesterday, emphatically dismissing Felix Mantilla of Spain in just 48 minutes, sealing his 6-1, 6-4 victory with four successive aces.

The Schleyerhalle was all but taken over by the purveyors of power with both Boris Becker, who beat Thomas Enqvist, and Goran Ivanisevic, who stormed past Todd Martin, joining Sampras in the last eight.

Becker, who won the Australian Open in January, has been struggling for much of the season with a wrist injury he sustained at Wimbledon. However, serving impeccably, he confirmed that he is on the mend, quickly imposing his serve and volley game on the Swedish baseliner, winning 6-4, 6-2.

Richard Krajicek found himself the fourth top 10 player to bite the dust when he was defeated 6-4, 6-1 by Marcelo Rios, of Chile. Agassi's victory was a more relaxed affair as he cruised past Richey Reneberg, winning 6-4, 6-2 in just 59 minutes.

Gabriela Sabatini officially announced her retirement in New York yesterday. The 26-year-old Argentinian, who has seen her world ranking slip from a high of No 3 to 29, has been suffering for much of this year with a stomach injury that forced her to miss Wimbledon. Her last match was a first-round defeat by Jennifer Capriati in Zurich last week.

"I don't want this to be a sad moment," said Sabatini, who won her only Grand Slam singles title at the US Open in 1990. "This is what I want from life. This is what makes me happy."