Sampras back at the top again

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The Independent Online

Pete Sampras regained his position as the world No 1 when he beat his American rival Andre Agassi 6-2, 6-3 in the final of the Sybase Open in San Jose, California, on Sunday.

Sampras took over the No 1 position from the Austrian Thomas Muster, who was beaten in the first round of the Dubai tournament last week, while Agassi remains at No 3.

''The number one is just icing on the cake," Sampras said. "I played as well as I could today. There's some matches where you go through ups and downs, but tonight everything just clicked."

Agassi, who received a penalty point in the second set for swearing at chair umpire Richard Kaufman, was full of praise for his opponent. "I got outplayed and didn't raise my level at the right moments," Agassi said. "But nothing Pete does surprises me. He not only played 100 per cent of his level, but he played 100 per cent of the right points."

Sampras set the tone of the match early with devastating running forehands and deep crosscourt backhands. Agassi had a break point in the seventh game, but put a backhand return into the net. Sampras broke Agassi again to take the set 6-2.

After one point on the Sampras serve, Agassi swore loudly at Kaufman. He did not hear him, but a linesperon, who was standing behind Agassi, did. She told Kaufman, who gave Agassi the penalty point. Agassi had earlier been warned for "verbal abuse".

A fired-up Agassi had his best chance to break in the third game, but just missed a backhand crosscourt return. He then fought off three match points on his own serve at 2-5, but Sampras turned up the heat on his service game and won the match when Agassi over hit a service return.

LEADING ATP MEN'S RANKINGS: 1 P Sampras (US) 4,555pts; 2 T Muster (Aut) 4,474; 3 A Agassi (US) 4,452; 4 B Becker (Ger) 3,970; 5 M Chang (US) 3,537; 6 T Enqvist (Swe) 2,529; 7 Y Kafelnikov (Rus) 2,393; 8 J Courier (US) 2,369; 9 G Ivanisevic (Croa) 2,339; 10 W Ferreira (SA) 1,968. 45 G Rusedski (GB); 78 Henman.