Tennis: Sampras to miss Cup

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Pete Sampras has opted out of the United States' defence of the Davis Cup until the final stages, stating that the competition ought to be suspended during an Olympic Games year, writes John Roberts.

"I honestly don't think the Davis Cup should be played in an Olympic year," the Wimbledon champion and world No 1 said yesterday. "It should maybe be played once every two years.''

Sampras, who helped his country triumph against Russia in Moscow last December, missed the opening round match against Mexico in California a month ago and will not play in the quarter-final in the Czech Republic on 5 April. He has told the American captain, Tom Gullikson, that he would be available if the team advances to the semi-finals.

"Last year I paid the price in some ways with the travelling and playing a lot of tennis, and this year I just felt it was too much," Sampras said.

He considers that his quest for the French Open last June was handicapped by his participation in the Davis Cup quarter-final in Italy immediately after the Lipton Championships in Florida in March. "I felt it burnt me out a little bit," he said. "I just wish there was a better schedule to enable us to be more committed to playing the Davis Cup.''