Tennis: Sampras regains No 1 spot in style

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The Independent Online
IF YOU blinked, you will have missed Patrick Rafter's sojourn at the top of the world rankings. Pete Sampras's 6-0 6-2 win over Australian qualifier James Sekulov in the semi-finals of the Mercedes-Benz Cup in Los Angeles sent him back to No 1 for his 271st week breaking a tie with Ivan Lendl for the all-time record.

Andre Agassi out-hit the unseeded and unheralded Andre Ilie, of Australia, 6-4, 6-2 in a baseline battle in the second semi-final on Saturday night, and the two Americans were due to meet in the final late last night.

Sampras said, "I cherish every year being No 1. It's different than winning a Grand Slam, more like a career achievement. It's being able to deal with the pressures of the game, not just a month at a time but years. Week in and week out, you're the man to beat."

In the women's Bank of the West Classic in Palo Alto, also in California, Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport were due to contest the final late last night. Williams beat the South African Amanda Coetzer 6-1, 6-4 in her semi, while Davenport, the world No 1, cruised to a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Amy Frazier.

Yesterday, Albert Costa retained the Generali Open title in Kitzbuhel, Austria, by beating his fellow Spaniard Fernando Vicente, 7-5, 6-2, 6-7, 7-6.