Sampras has a struggle

Pete Sampras, the top seed from the United States, fought off an aggressive challenge from Australia's Patrick Rafter to reach the quarter- finals of the Hong Kong Open yesterday.

The defending champion, Michael Chang, seeded to meet Sampras in the final, also had a few anxious moments before reaching the last eight with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Hendrik Dreekmann of Germany.

Sampras had difficulty coping with Rafter's big-kicking service but was solid on his own serve as he came through with a 6-3, 7-6 victory. Rafter, who has been out of action since the Australian Open in January because of a wrist injury, matched Sampras for long periods but the world No 89 could not live with the American in the vital second set tie-break.