Tennis: Sampras making lucrative progress

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The Independent Online
PETE SAMPRAS remains on course for a showdown with Michael Stich in the final of the Compaq Grand Slam Cup, and the possibility of a world-record prize of dollars 2.125m ( pounds 1.4m), writes John Roberts from Munich.

The Wimbledon champion and world No 1 advanced to today's semi-finals with a 7-6, 6-3 win against his American compatriot, Michael Chang. Sampras now plays Petr Korda, of the Czech Republic, who fought back splendidly to defeat Sergi Bruguera, the French Open champion, 4-6, 6-0, 6-4.

Including a dollars 500,000 bonus as the Wimbledon and United States Open champion, Sampras's week's earnings amount to dollars 931,000 after two matches. He was also the first player to receive dollars 2m as the inaugural champion in 1990. Chang leaves with dollars 262,500, his poorest return from the dollars 6m event.

Sampras and Chang have been rivals since junior days, and Chang won their first five matches on the tour, including a resounding 6-1,

6-1, 6-1 en route to the French Open title in 1989. Sampras broke through the following year, in every sense. First he won the United States Open title. Then he came to the first Grand Slam Cup and scored his first senior success against Chang in the semi-finals.

They last met in the quarter-finals of the US Open in September, splitting tie-breaks before Sampras opened up and produced the most scintillating tennis of the tournament.

It again took a tie-break to separate the players in yesterday's contest, Chang continuing to display the beefed-up serve and willingness to volley that marked his win over Jim Courier at the recent ATP Tour Championship in Frankfurt.

Sampras had to produce a service winner to save a set point at 6-7, eventually luring his opponent to hit a forehand into the net to take the shoot-out, 9-7. Though Chang broke in the opening game of the second set, Sampras's response was immediate, a forehand drive whizzing past Chang to level at 1-1 on his third break-point. Sampras made the decisive break for 5-3, serving out the match with his 14th ace after 93 minutes.

GRAND SLAM CUP (Munich) Quarter-finals: P Sampras (US) bt M Chang (US) 7-6 6-3; P Korda (Cz Rep) bt S Bruguera (Sp) 4-6, 6-0, 6-4.

Monica Seles, who has not played since she was stabbed by a spectator in Hamburg last April, may return to competitive tennis in the Australian Open, which she has won for the past three years and which begins on 17 January.

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