Tennis: Sampras turns to personal trainer

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The Independent Online


Pete Sampras, whose reign as the world No 1 has been beset by physical problems, has acquired a personal trainer. Todd Snyder will start taking care of the Wimbledon champion's welfare next week, when he defends the Indian Wells title in California.

Snyder, who has been a trainer on the men's tour for the past 13 years, hardly needs to glance through Sampras's medical file, having treated him at the courtside on numerous occasions.

Sampras has been afflicted by a variety of ailments since winning the United States Open title and the Grand Slam Cup in 1990. The 23-year-old Californian has suffered from shin splints after competing on the rubberised concrete courts of America and Australia; a shoulder injury nearly cost him his first Wimbledon title in 1993; he was overtaken by exhaustion in the fifth set of a fourth-round match against Jaime Yzaga, of Peru, when losing his US Open title last September; blistered feet troubled him during the Australian Open in January; food poisoning restricted his challenge to Stefan Edberg in the 1992 US Open final and almost caused him to withdraw from the Lipton final he won against Andre Agassi last March.

Agassi, who defeated Sampras in the Australian Open final, is within striking distance of supplanting his compatriot as No 1.

In addition to his own injuries and illnesses, Sampras has been worried about the health of his coach, Tim Gullikson. After several spells in hospital, Gullikson was discovered to have a brain tumor. He is currently resting.

Snyder, who has worked at more than 300 tournaments since 1982, ended his association with the ATP Tour after last week's event in Philadelphia. "I had a good run and learned a lot about tennis," he said. "I started in the latter stages of the `moonball' era and have made it to the excitement of the power tennis that's around now.''