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Sampras agrees to play two senior events in ’08

April 15, 2008

LONDON (AP) — Pete Sampras has agreed to play two tournaments on the international seniors tennis tour this year.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion, who beat Andre Agassi in the 2002 U.S. Open final in his last match, will play on the BlackRock Tour of Champions in London and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“It’s still fun for me to compete. It’s still a challenge and I still want to hold that trophy up at the end,” Sampras said in a statement released Tuesday. “Today, or 10 years from now, if I’m on the tennis court, I’ll still want to play well and win.”

The first of the two tournaments will be the Grand Champions Brasil in Sao Paulo from May 24-27, the first time Sampras has played in South America. He’ll also play at the Dec. 2-7 BlackRock Tennis Masters at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

“I hear a lot of good things about the event in London and the stadium and the exposure it brings,” Sampras said.

Sampras has not been to London since 2002, when he made his last appearance at Wimbledon — a tournament he won seven times — and lost to George Bastl in the second round.

“The tour gives tennis fans a wonderful opportunity to see some of the world’s greatest tennis legends in action again,” said Nuala Walsh, the head of international marketing at BlackRock.

Among others who play on the BlackRock Tour are former Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and Pat Cash.

The 36-year-old Sampras said he’s been playing golf and having fun since he retired from tennis, but started to get restless after a few years.

“There’s no book on retirement, especially at 31 years old,” Sampras said. “Initially you love it but after a while you need something to do.”

Sampras started playing World Team Tennis after barely picking up a racket for three years, and eventually took part in the Outback Champions Series, a circuit formed by former rival Jim Courier. He’s also played a series of exhibitions against top-ranked Roger Federer.

“When I was 26, I never thought I would want to play Champions tennis,” Sampras said. “But, as time goes on, when you’re playing golf, taking some trips here and there and maybe putting on a little bit of weight, you just kind of feel a little bit unfulfilled as a man. That’s how I felt.”

Sampras is looking forward to his first trip to South America.

“It’s a different culture and I was just thinking the other day that I used to go somewhere and not even care about the city or its history, but now I’ll go there and maybe have a few days off to see some sights, something I wouldn’t have done back then,” he said.

The BlackRock tour also has events in Barcelona, Spain

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