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Sampras to Face Rios in Dream Final

The BlackRock Tour of Champions will stage the first ever meeting in a final between Pete Sampras and Marcelo Rios when they clash in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Sunday.

Rios battled past Peru’s Jaime Yzaga 6-0, 7-5 on Saturday, while Sampras dismissed Thomas Muster 6-3, 6-2. It means the pair completed the round-robin stages of the event unbeaten, and something will have to give in the final of the Nossa Caixa Grand Champions Brazil.

As well as the perfect conclusion to the event itself, it will also help to answer a few questions about what would have happened if they had met more often during their careers.

When Rios reached the summit of tennis in 1998, the prospect of a thrilling rivalry with Sampras had beckoned.

Rios, the most uniquely talented left-hander since John McEnroe, had reached No.1 in the rankings during the first half of that year, winning titles in Indian Wells, Miami and Rome. Sampras dug deep to win his fifth of seven Wimbledon titles and ultimately finish the year as the World No.1 for a record sixth successive year. Throughout those compelling 12 months, they did not meet once. In fact, despite their careers overlapping for eight years, they played each other only twice, with Sampras winning on both occasions – on clay at Roland Garros in 1994 (Rios’ debut year on the circuit) and indoors in Stuttgart in 2001.

At 32 and 36 respectively, Rios and Sampras are still in excellent physical shape, and both have beaten current ATP players in exhibition matches this year.

“It should be a good final,” confirmed Sampras.

“Rios is young, talented and in very good shape. He is serving well too. He could probably still be playing on the (ATP) tour.”

Rios was equally excited by the prospect of Sunday’s clash.

“To play Sampras in the final here will be incredible. We are happy he decided to play some events on the BlackRock Tour of Champions,” he said.

Elsewhere, Jaime Oncins defeated Andrei Cherkasov 6-7(2), 6-4, 10-7 (Champions’ Tie-break) in one hour and 50 minutes to book a spot in Sunday’s 3rd/4th place match against Fernando Meligeni. Meligeni enjoyed a 7-6(10), 4-6, 10-7 (Champions’ tie-break) victory over Marc-Kevin Goellner.

Source: BlackRock Tour of Champions

Filed under: Archives 2003 to 2011

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