Tennis: Sampras too hot for ailing Agassi
Thursday 21 November 1996
"It was one of those days you wish you had every day," the top-ranked Sampras said after breezing through in 51 minutes against an ailing Agassi, his fourth straight victory over his rival. "My tennis was the best I've played in a long time."
Agassi said he fell ill two days before coming here with a combination of an upset stomach and influenza. "I am still feeling weak, I wasn't fit to play. It wasn't enjoyable to go and play out there," he said.
Agassi later decided to withdraw from the tournament, bringing in Sweden's Thomas Enqvist, who was the first alternate in the event for the top eight players in the world.
Sampras conceded that Agassi may have had an off day, but said his own tennis had something to do with Agassi's poor performance. "I was in a zone, I couldn't play any better. It was one of those days when everything clicks," he said.
Sampras dominated the match and the crowd of 15,000 whistled and booed Agassi. "I thought they were pretty hard on Andre. I felt he was still competing out there," Sampras said.
Sampras's victory was similar to his win over Agassi in Stuttgart last month. This time, though, Sampras was even more devastating, winning all of his 19 first-serve points. "This maybe outdoes it. I dropped my serve a couple of times in Stuttgart, I didn't today."
Agassi needed six deuces to hold serve in the fourth game. Over the next nine games, he won six points. Sampras was all over him, serving aces, hitting fearsome returns and firing winners from all over the court. "I've had spurts of tennis like this, but not for an entire match," he said.
Agassi, a former world No 1 who has now dropped to No 7, has not beaten Sampras since July 1995 in Montreal.
Earlier, Thomas Muster stayed alive in the tournament by beating Michael Chang 6-4, 6-3, leaving the American world No 2 and last year's runner- up without a victory in two matches.
Chang has little chance of advancing from his round-robin group, while Muster is now 1-1, following his opening defeat to Ivanisevic.
Muster came into the tournament with only two indoor wins this year, but he dominated Chang from the beginning, breaking the American's serve for a 2-1 lead.
Muster had won only one of his seven matches in previous appearances at the ATP season-ending event. But the former French Open champion was on top of his game.
"It was nice to be able to play tennis, to get a chance to run and fight for the balls. Yesterday, it was a completely different situation," said Muster, who was beaten easily by Ivanisevic.
"Michael wasn't as aggressive today as usual and he made some unforced errors. I served well in important moments, I put him under pressure, especially at the end," Muster said.
Ivanisevic later became the first player to reach the last four after a 6-4, 6-7, 7-6 victory over the Wimbledon champion, Richard Krajicek, his second win in the White Group.
Results, Digest, page 31
Latest in Sport
Arsenal transfer news and rumours: Gabriel Paulista sent to Paris to speed up move; Luis Suarez bid planned; Gunners eye Daniele Rugani
Gabriel Paulista: Talented Brazilian could grow into world-class defender at Arsenal
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: Pair finally meet at NBA game and shake hands, will the fight be announced during Super Bowl?
Andy Murray vs Tomas Berydch: Murray cool over reunion with coach Dani Vallverdu at the Australian Open
Manchester United transfer news and rumours: David De Gea new deal; Gareth Bale on speculation; Wilfried Zaha exit
- 2 Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent answer to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...
£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...