Tennis: Injury slows Sampras' resumption

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Pete Sampras, the World No 1, has been forced to delay his return to training after injuring a calf muscle in the Davis Cup final. However, he still expects to defend his Australian Open title next month.

The American sustained the injury during his opening singles match in last month's 5-0 defeat by Sweden in Stockholm which ruled him out of the rest of the final. He had expected to be on the practice court by now, but it will be another couple of days before he picks up a racket.

However, he is confident that postponing his return will not hinder his prospects in the first Grand Slam tournament of 1998 at Flinders Park, Melbourne, starting on 19 January. "It's taking a bit longer than I'd like," Sampras said. "I'd been hoping by this time to do some training and be hitting some balls, and I really hope to hit balls by the weekend. If that's not the case, I'll be a little worried. But there's no question I'll be ready for the Australian Open."

The 26-year-old has completed this year's circuit ranked world No 1 for the fifth consecutive time. He also won a fourth Wimbledon title as well as the Australian Open, in which he beat Carlos Moya to win the event for the second time.

Sampras is among the eight-man line-up, which also includes Greg Rusedski, the British No 1, for the Kooyong Classic, the traditional curtain-raiser to the Australian Open in the preceding week.