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Agassi, Sampras get to relive good old days again

Oct 25, 2009

The game that made them famous does not run in the family, insisted Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, who will resume their illustrious rivalry today at The Venetian Macau Tennis Showdown.

Any hopes that the Sampras versus Agassi rivalry would continue into the second generation were dashed yesterday with the two legends revealing that their respective sons did not play the sport, which made the two Americans household names in the 1990s.

“The Sampras v Agassi rivalry is over unless Pete’s son plays baseball,” smiled Agassi. “My son, Jaden, is very much into baseball, not tennis.”

Sampras added: “Christian [his son] doesn’t play tennis. I don’t think our rivalry will continue with our children. That is not going to happen.”

Yet fans will get the rare opportunity of seeing one of the greatest sporting rivalries at the Cotai Arena today (2pm). The last time they met on court was in 2002 in the final of the US Open, when Sampras prevailed over his long-time friend and fellow-American.

“Playing Agassi is a treat for me. He is a good friend and a rival and I have not seen him in a long time,” Sampras said. “Of course it is not the US Open or Wimbledon, but we will still be competitive. We will also have some fun out there.”

It promises to be a treat with organisers also lining up the entire 75-member cast of Cirque du Soleil’s Zaia production to add to the entertainment at the 15,000-seater indoor arena.

Not that the showdown will need outside help, with Las Vegas showman Agassi in fine fettle during yesterday’s media outing, which included a hit-out with Sampras and rising stars Ryan Harrison of the United States and India’s world number one junior Yuki Bhambri on a temporary court built on the miniature golf course on the seventh floor of the resort hotel.

“I don’t think [today’s] match-up is going to be a whole lot different to any we have played in the past,” Agassi said. “I don’t have to be good, but just better than one person.”

Sampras was equal to the banter. What did he talk about after meeting Agassi for the first time in nearly five years? “Everyone talks about his wife,” Sampras, who has a 20-14 career record against Agassi, joked. “But really, it was just about our kids, our retirement, and nothing about what happened [in the past]. We don’t talk tennis or what happened at Wimbledon in 2000.”

A lifetime devoted to the game seems to have leached out any inclination to dwell on the sport. Now happily retired – Sampras seven years ago and Agassi four years – the pair looked trim and in good shape.

“It is great to be back to Macau. I was here two years ago when I played Roger Federer. That was a treat. But to play Andre is special,” Sampras said.

Filed under: Archives 2003 to 2011

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