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Sampras leaves his return on hold [Feb 25, 2003]

PETE SAMPRAS has decided that he cannot yet face the demands of competitive tennis, raising further doubts as to the 31-year-old’s commitment to a return at all. Even his family do not quite know what to make of his reluctance to step back into a world that he once owned.

The 14-time grand-slam champion was scheduled to play in the Franklin Templeton Classic in Scottsdale, Arizona, next week, the event for which his older brother, Gus, is tournament director. Sampras, who has not played since taking the US Open in such glorious style against Andre Agassi in the first week of September, was also scheduled to have played in San Jose two weeks ago but withdrew.

The official reason is that Sampras is “insufficiently prepared” to rejoin the tour. He is now scheduled to return in the opening Tennis Masters Series event of the year, in Indian Wells, California, starting on March 10, but his brother is not sure what will happen.

“I talked to Pete this morning and he’s still trying to figure out whether it makes sense to continue,” Gus Sampras said. “He said he doesn’t want to retire right now and maybe have to come out of retirement again. He’s practising and conditioning, but he doesn’t feel like his game is at the level he wants it to be to compete. He feels like he needs to practise more, but where that’s going to lead, I don’t know.

“It’s a double whammy for me. I’m disappointed because our event lost a great player, but I’m also upset as his brother, because I believe he has the potential to do great things again. But he has to decide that for himself.”

Sampras said on the night he won the US Open that it might be a nice way to wrap up one of the greatest careers. It is ironic that Agassi, the man who lost that remarkable evening, is 12-0 in singles this year and looks as if he could go on for ever.

By Neil Harman, Tennis Correspondent

Source: Times Online UK

Filed under: Archives 2003 to 2011

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