Sampras 'slighted' by seeding system

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The Independent Online

Everything was in place on the opening day of the United States Open except the weather. The first rain delay came after 45 minutes, interrupting Jamie Delgado's debut in the tournament against Germany's Tommy Haas and keeping Tim Henman waiting to open his campaign against Fernando Vicente, of Spain.

Everything was in place on the opening day of the United States Open except the weather. The first rain delay came after 45 minutes, interrupting Jamie Delgado's debut in the tournament against Germany's Tommy Haas and keeping Tim Henman waiting to open his campaign against Fernando Vicente, of Spain.

The similarity to typical Wimbledon weather conditions may have prompted Brad Gilbert, Andre Agassi's coach, to question why the United States Tennis Association do not follow the All England Club's example with regard to seedings.

Wimbledon's tradition of seeding players according to their record on grass courts, rather than following the tour computer rankings, resulted in two Spaniards, Alex Corretja and Albert Costa, boycotting the championships this year.

Gilbert complained that the USTA, by seeding Pete Sampras No 4, even though he left Wimbledon six weeks ago with a record 13th Grand Slam title, had denied the US Open the possibility of an Agassi-Sampras final. Agassi, the defending champion and top seed, is projected to meet Sampras in the semi-finals.

"The tournament is narrow-minded, scared and short-sighted by not changing the seeds," Gilbert said. "To say Magnus Norman should be seeded ahead of Pete is a slight on Pete's greatness. I don't care what the rankings are, Norman's never made it past the round of 16 here and Pete's a four-time winner. And not seeding Pat Rafter is a joke. There are three guys in the tournament who've won it and Rafter's won it twice."

* The British qualifier Jamie Delgado lost in the first round yesterday to the German Tommy Haas. The 23-year-old Briton's first appearance in the main draw at Flushing Meadow lasted one hour and 11 minutes as he was swept aside 6-3, 6-1, 6-1.

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