Tennis: Sampras pulls out of Australian Open

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The Independent Online
Sampras pulls out of Australian Open

World No 1 Pete Sampras has withdrawn from this month's Australian Open, pleading fatigue after an exhausting end-of- season campaign to retain his top ranking. The American altered his usual schedule to play seven tournaments in seven weeks in Europe at the end of 1998 to ensure he finished the year top of the rankings for a record sixth consecutive time. "It's obviously a tough decision for Pete," said the tournament director, Paul McNamee, during the Hopman Cup team competition. "It's the first Grand Slam he'll miss in over five years." The decision means Sampras could lose the coveted world No 1 spot after the tournament, with Spain's Carlos Moya and Australia's Pat Rafter the leading contenders to take over the crown. The last Grand Slam Sampras missed was the Australian Open in 1992. Sampras has won the Australian title twice, in 1994 and 1997, and won one Grand Slam event last year, at Wimbledon.