Sampras kept off the top

Tennis

Paul Haarhuis gave Thomas Muster at least one more week as the top-ranked men's player in the world by upsetting the defending champion, Pete Sampras, at the Champions Cup yesterday.

The 68th-ranked Dutchman advanced to the semi-finals in Indian Wells by beating Sampras 7-5, 6-7, 6-1, ensuring that the American would not be able to regain the world No 1 ranking from the Austrian this week.

"Every time you beat Pete Sampras on his favourite surface, it's always a good win," said Haarhuis, who has beaten the Wimbledon champion in three of their four career meetings.

Haarhuis, who also denied Sampras a shot at a third consecutive title here, next faces the sixth seed, Goran Ivanisevic, who reached the semi- finals with a 6-4 6-4 victory over the unseeded Spaniard Carlos Costa.

Haarhuis never dropped serve in the match and while both players produced 12 aces, it was the Dutchman who delivered them on bigger points. He played Sampras's game, serving and volleying to end points quickly, while the top seed played erratically, missing easy groundstrokes, especially on the backhand side.

Haarhuis took the first set 7-5, after breaking Sampras in the game before. Sampras failed to convert three break chances in the sixth game of the second set, he eventually took the tie-break 7-5.

He quickly fell behind 0-3 in the third, making frequent unforced errors, and never recovered.

"I don't know what happened." Sampras said. "My shots, especially from the back court, were just flying on me. Throughout the whole match I didn't feel comfortable. I really struggled and had a bad day."

n Britain's Tim Henman reached the semi-finals of an ATP tournament for the second consecutive month when he beat Germany's Martin Sinner 7-5, 6-1 in Copenhagen.

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