Tennis: Cool hand Pete

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The Independent Online
Pete Sampras is the king of cool at this year's French Open.

The world No 1, aiming to win the only grand slam title to elude him, has attracted attention by keeping his rackets in the ice box.

"If I keep them out in the heat, the strings lose their tension," he said after crushing Francisco Clavet of Spain in straight sets yesterday to reach the third round. "That's why I put them in the refrigerator."

His rackets might not like hot weather, but the man certainly does as the sun makes the clay courts fast, allowing him to play his trade-mark attacking game.

"I don't mind what kind of surface I'm playing on," said Sampras, who has won grand slams on anything but clay. "I know what my capabilities are and I know that if I play well I'll be hard to beat."

Sampras could become the first man to win all four grand slams since Australia's Rod Laver, the player he admires most. His best result in Paris came last year when he lost in the semi-finals to the eventual winner, Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov.