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Pete Sampras wins in ancestral homeland

Source: Ap

May 17, 2007 – Pete Sampras traded forehands with Jim Courier at the foot of the Athens Acropolis in a tuneup for his first match in the Athens Champions Cup. Making his first trip to his ancestral homeland of Greece, Sampras hit balls with Courier on the makeshift cement court, then edged South Africa’s Wayne Ferreira 6-3, 7-6 at the Olympic Tennis Center to improve to 5-0 in senior competition.

Sampras, who retired after winning the 2002 U.S. Open, broke Ferreira twice to take the first set 6-3 despite some good passing shots by his opponent.

In a closely fought second set, Sampras displayed more of the vintage serve-and-volley game that brought him seven Wimbledon titles and 14 total majors.

After Sampras, coming off a tournament victory two weeks ago in his senior debut, hit two aces to even the set at 4, Ferreira held to go up 5-4, then had a set point on Sampras’ serve that he couldn’t convert, sending the score to 5-5. Serving strongly, Ferreira again held for 6-5, and had two more set points in a 12th game that he failed to convert before Sampras won it with a service winner.

In the second set tiebreaker, Sampras asserted his authority, going up 4-1 on a crosscourt return winner before taking the last three points and the match.

“I had a tough time with Wayne,” Sampras said. “It could have gone either way in the second set. … You’d like to see a few more people but … the atmosphere was quite nice.”

The Champions Cup, a brainchild of Courier, is organized by his InsideOut Sports and Entertainment group. This is its first event outside the United States in this, its second season.

Of the makeshift exhibition below the 2,500-year-old Parthenon, Sampras said: “I for one will cherish this picture in my mind for the rest of my days. You can only imagine how I am feeling.”

Courier said: “I feel very lucky, I would even say blessed.”

Also Thursday, American Todd Martin beat Richard Krajicek from the Netherlands 6-2, 6-3, in a battle of big right-hand servers.

In the opening matches in the four-day tournament, Swede Magnus Larsson beat compatriot Anders Jarryd, at 45 the oldest player in the field of eight, 7-6, 6-4. Courier then outdueled Pat Cash, 6-4, 5-7, 10-7.

Filed under: Archives 2003 to 2011

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