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Sampras in exhibition

[August 23, 2003 / NEW YORK ] In what might be the most-watched exhibition since Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs, promoters in Las Vegas are planning to pit Sampras and Andre Agassi against Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe in a made-for-TV doubles match that is almost certainly going to draw a wide audience.

The date is set at Dec. 27 but the site is not and there are money issues to iron out. But, said a source close to the negotiations, everything is on schedule.

All four players have agreed to play and to the special concept in which the “young” guys (Sampras and Agassi) will get only one serve instead of two, unless they lose a set. The match would be best-of-three.

How attractive would this exhibition be? It would put four tennis icons on the court at the same time and bring Sampras back to play for the first time since he won the 2002 U.S. Open a year ago. It would also bring together as a first-time doubles team, Connors and McEnroe — two of the most volatile personalities in the history of the game.

Although Connors, 51, no longer plays on the senior tour, McEnroe, 44, is a frequent participant, and he still has the temper and blue language that he exhibited when he was a regular tour player.

In spite of their concurrent careers, Agassi and Sampras never played doubles together, either.

The match would be played indoors and, though there are numerous potential sites in Las Vegas, the MGM Grand would appear to be the most favorable. The 12,000-seat facility there has been used extensively for championship boxing matches.

By: Charles Bricker
Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Filed under: Archives 2003 to 2011

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