Muster hits back at Agassi criticism

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The Independent Online

Thomas Muster retained his Spanish Open title in Barcelona yesterday, outlasting the Chilean sixth-seed Marcelo Rios. The Austrian then took a verbal swipe at Andre Agassi in their ongoing debate about American domination of the sport.

Muster criticised US control of the circuit on Friday, saying it meant clay-court tennis was dying because tournaments played on the surface were squeezed into just eight weeks.

Agassi responded on Saturday by suggesting the Austrian "would not be so paranoid if there weren't so many people following him everywhere."

"His comments probably come from eating too many hamburgers with English meat," said Muster after his 30th consecutive victory on clay with a 6- 3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over Rios. Agassi, who pulled out of the Spanish Open, has been in Barcelona to film a television commercial.

Pete Sampras, who regained the world No 1 ranking from Muster last week, won the Japan Open yesterday and announced that he is to take time off to prepare for the French Open. After a hard-fought 6-4, 7-5 victory over his fellow American Richey Reneberg, Sampras said he would take the next three weeks off.

The women's final in Tokyo was also tight, with the top seed Kimiko Date of Japan winning 7-5, 6-4 over the third-seeded American Amy Frazier.