The British No 2 broke down in tears during the presentation ceremony after taking the first set, 6-3, against the world No 1. Sampras came back in the second set with two service breaks - the first breaks against Rusedski's serve in 93 games - and led 5-0 when Rusedski shook his head, approached the net and held out his hand to Sampras.
"I was sorry what happened to him. He was very close to winning this event," Sampras said.
It was a very unlucky end to a week in which Rusedski beat Michael Chang in the quarter-finals and Andre Agassi in the semis, despite his sore wrist. Rusedski, who has strained ligaments, saw a specialist yesterday and is expected to pull out of the St Jude International in Memphis later this week.
Rusedski criticised the ATP Tour for causing his injury by not standardising ball weights. "I think the problem is caused because of the change of balls all the time. Every week we are playing with a different brand," he said. "We have hard balls and then we have soft balls, there's no consistency. They have got to do something about this because it's causing players arm and wrist problems. They've got to... standardise one single ball."
However, Sampras disagreed, blaming Rusedski's injury on his phenomenal serve. "I think the tournaments do a good job with the balls," Sampras said. "I haven't had any arm problems in two years. I think Greg's problem is that serving at 139mph can't be good for your arm. He serves so hard with so much wrist it's not surprising he had a problem."
The week's successes only sent Rusedski up from 39 to 36 in the rankings, but he has risen 20 places in three weeks after two successive finals. In the previous week's Croatian Open final he lost to Goran Ivanisevic.
The British No 1, Tim Henman, dropped two places, from 17 to 19, after his first-round defeat in the Dubai Open two weeks ago.
Boris Becker has recovered from his wrist injury, which forced him out of the Dubai Open and will compete in this week's European Community Championship in Antwerp.Reuse content