Tennis: Courier is sent packing again

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The Independent Online
PETE SAMPRAS, the No 1 seed, won the final of the US Hardcourt championships in Indianapolis yesterday when he beat the world No 1, Jim Courier, 6-4, 6-4.

Sampras, the former United States Open champion, ranked third in the world, had already defeated the third seed, Boris Becker, in the semi-finals to set up the all-American decider. It was his fourth victory of the season following successes in Philadelphia, Kitzbuhel and Cincinnati.

Sampras took almost two and a half hours to subdue a revitalised Becker, 6-7, 6-2, 7-6, in the semi- finals.

Courier was stretched just as far for just as long by Todd Martin, ranked 124 places below him, before joining Sampras in the final, his first since his French Open triumph. He won in straight sets but both went to tie-breaks.

Sampras and Becker battled fiercely in a rematch of last year's final. Becker controlled the first set with an effective serve, but the roles were reversed in the second as the American levelled the match. However, in the third both players produced high quality tennis as games went with serve to 5-5.

After a moderate spell, in which he has dropped to No 9 in the world, this was more like the old familiar Becker, but he looked beaten when he double-faulted to drop the 11th game. However, he broke back to force a tie-break which Sampras took by reeling off three superb points.

Becker was pleased with his performance, if not the result and disputed suggestions by Jimmy Connors, who he beat in the quarter-finals, that he had lost his enthusiasm. 'It's the best match I've played in a while,' he said. 'To come that close, it's proof for me that I'm playing good tennis again.

'The first half of '92, I wasn't so keen on playing, which I think is normal. You just don't like to go to work every day, like anybody. It's just that when I do it, it's written in the paper. But my desire's back as everybody could see. I'm playing good tennis.'

Familiarity was the key to Courier's struggle against Martin. 'We practise a lot together and he's always tough. It's just a few points here and there,' Courier said.

Results, Sport in Short, page 27