Sampras sends a message to forlorn Agassi

In the last important singles final of the century, Andre Agassi, the player of the year, was defeated by Pete Sampras, the player of the decade, 6-1, 7-5, 6-4, at the ATP Tour Championship here.

In the last important singles final of the century, Andre Agassi, the player of the year, was defeated by Pete Sampras, the player of the decade, 6-1, 7-5, 6-4, at the ATP Tour Championship here.

There were no bows and kisses from Agassi yesterday. The world No 1 was so disappointed with his performance that he could not even bring himself to address the 13,500 spectators, who had paid hearty respect to both Americans as the event bade farewell to Hanover.

"I was really unhappy with the way I played," Agassi said. "There was not a whole lot for me to say." Thank you would have sufficed; or auf Wiedersehen, which was how Sampras rounded off his neat little speech.

Agassi also cut a forlorn figure in the interview room. "It's a bad day to be flat," he said, adding: "It had a lot to do with Pete, too. He did play well."

The match lasted one hour and 46 minutes, although as a contest it was virtually decided after Sampras retrieved a 1-4 deficit in the second set.

Sampras thereafter fulfilled a prophecy Agassi made last Wednesday, having beaten Sampras, 6-2, 6-2, in the round-robin segment of the tournament.

"The guy can improve like nobody," Agassi said at the time. "He was like Lazarus at Wimbledon, just out of no-where. Completely when you thought that he wasn't really the same Pete, he plays tennis that he's never played before. So I have no doubt what he's capable of."

It is not recorded whether Lazarus picked up a racket along with his bed.

Sampras, however, may push Lazarus close in the recovery stakes. Before arriving in Hanover, the Wimbledon champion had played only one match in three months. That was 27 days ago, at the Paris Indoor Championships, when he defeated the Spaniard Francisco Clavet after saving three match points.

Sampras then withdrew from his next match, against Germany's Tommy Haas, because of a back injury.

Before that, Sampras had retired against Vince Spadea at the start of the third set of their quarter-final in Indianapolis on 20 August because of a strained hip muscle. Sampras missed the United States Open after herniating a disc while practising on the day before the championships.

Sampras has only been able to finish eight tournaments this year, winning five of them, whereas Agassi has won two Grand Slam singles titles, at the French Open and the United States Open, en route to securing the year-end No 1 position. In the circumstances, Sampras's performance in Hanover over the past week has been amazing, even though his victory does not compare in his own mind with last year's campaign here.

Then, stressed out after spending eight solid weeks chasing ranking points, he failed to win the event but gained enough ground to complete his goal of finishing the year as No 1 for a record sixth consecutive time.

"My goal this week was to see how I was physically, and if I could win here, that's a bonus," Sampras said. The straight-sets drubbing by Agassi in the round-robin, when Sampras was almost embarrassingly court-rusty, gave him the incentive to raise his game. "I was pretty much humiliated by him four days ago," Sampras said. "I definitely wanted to prove something ­ that I still have it."

There was little doubt about that in the opening set yesterday, when Sampras treated us to the entire range of his skills, from the solid serve and elegant volley to the impressive variety of groundstrokes and the spectacular "slam-dunk" smashes.

Agassi, well aware, after losing 16 of their 27 previous matches, of the risk of allowing Sampras to make a confident start, was unable to make inroads. Agassi's serve was broken for 0-2 and 1-5 as the set flashed by in 29 minutes. Sampras conceded only six points on serve, three of them double-faults.

"I was frustrated with the rhythm of the match," Agassi lamented. "He was changing the pace a lot, and there were a lot of short points. I really didn't even have a big sweat going an hour into the match."

By then, it was too late. Agassi's opportunity to play his way into the match had come and gone. Sampras, who hit 15 aces, also double-faulted 10 times. Two of those unforced errors gave Agassi a 2-0 lead in the second set. Sampras then saved two break points that would have put him 0-4 adrift.

But once Sampras had broken back for 3-4, Agassi began to lose what remained of his jaunty stride. "At 5-5, I played a really bad game," Agassi said, acknowledging that a double-fault to love-40 provided his opponent with an irresistible opportunity. "I just got angry with myself and never quite felt good about the way I was hitting the ball or where I was focusing."

Sampras has won the year-end finale five times in his 10 visits to Germany, earning $7.96m (£4.97m) from the event.

ATP TOUR TOP 10 Year-end rankings

1 Andre Agassi (US)2 Yevgeny Kafelnikov (Rus)3 Pete Sampras (US)4 Thomas Enqvist (Swe)5 Gustavo Kuerten (Bra)6 Nicolas Kiefer (Ger)7 Todd Martin (US)8 Nicolas Lapentti (Ecu)9 Marcelo Rios (Chile)10 Richard Krajicek (Neth)Leading British rankings: 12 Tim Henman; 14 Greg Rusedski.

Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
VIDEO
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes looks on during his side's defeat to Everton
footballBaines and Mirallas score against United as Everton keep alive hopes of a top-four finish
News
YouTube clocks up more than a billion users a month
mediaEuropean rival Dailymotion certainly thinks so
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents The ad shows Prince Charles attired for his coronation in a crown and fur mantle with his mouth covered by a criss-cross of white duct tape
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
Sport
Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Norwich
Football Vine shows Suarez writhing in pain before launching counter attack
News
People White House officials refuse to make comment on 275,000 signatures that want Justin Bieber's US visa revoked
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLE
Sport
Lukas Podolski celebrates one of his two goals in Arsenal's win over Hull
football
Arts & Entertainment
Quentin Tarantino, director
film
News
The speeding train nearly hit this US politican during a lecture on rail safety
news As the saying goes, you have to practice what you preach
Sport
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (front) drives ahead of Red Bull Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia during the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at the Shanghai International circuit
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit