Sparkling Sampras

Pete Sampras celebrated his return to the top of the tennis world with a stylish straight-sets victory over Boris Becker in the Paris Open final yesterday.

Sampras, the top seed, who had already done enough in this tournament to reclaim the No 1 spot he lost to his fellow American, Andre Agassi, last April, stayed cool to counter a determined Becker and win 7-6, 6-4, 6-4.

After a tense first set which ended in a tie-break, the rematch of last July's Wimbledon final, won in four sets by Sampras, turned out to be a spectacular if one-sided battle.

Becker, the third seed who was seeking a fourth win in this event, gave his all but there was little the German could do against the elegant American, at his brilliant best under the floodlights of the high-tech Bercy arena.

Victory earned Sampras 380 ATP Tour points to give him a clear lead in the world rankings ahead of Agassi, who was unable to defend the title because of a muscle strain.

"I'm pleased with the way I played," Sampras said. "I don't think I can play much better than that.

"This win gives me a lot of confidence going on to Frankfurt," he added, referring to the ATP Tour World Championship, featuring the world's top eight players, which starts on 14 November.

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