Tennis: Sampras powers to title

PETE SAMPRAS, the world No 1, won the Japan Open for the second successive year when he beat his American compatriot, Michael Chang, 6-4, 6-2 in the final.

'I played as well as I could today,' Sampras said. 'Once I got on top of Michael, I never really let him come back into the match.' Sampras, who unleashed his powerful all-round game to defeat the second seed, has now won six titles this year, including last week's Salem Open, and his winning run is extended to 21 matches. It was also the 22-year-old's 26th career title and earned him a winner's cheque of dollars 156,000 ( pounds 104,000).

'Once my serve was on, I could take more chances on his serve. I could play pretty aggressively from the back of the court.' Sampras said.

Chang, who had easily overcome the powerful serve-and-volleying of Boris Becker in Saturday's semi-final, found the going tougher against Sampras.

'Pete served very well and didn't give me a whole lot of opportunities on his serve,' Chang said.

'I could have changed a few things to give me more opportunities to attack, but those'll have to wait until the next time.'

In the women's final the crowd got what they wanted as Kimiko Date, the top seed from Japan, won her third consecutive Japan Open title. Date recovered from 4-0 in the first set to beat Amy, of the United States, Frazier 7-5, 6-0.

Frazier, the fourth seed, appeared to lose concentration after losing the fifth game of the first set.

'I am not in good shape this week but I tried my best and was able to win the title,' Date said.