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Posted on: November 15th, 2010

[Oct. 24, 2010] Sampras Falls to Rusedski in Straight Sets in Chengdu Final

- petepage

CHENGDU, China. October 24, 2010 Ė On Saturday October 16th, Greg Rusedski (GBR) received a phone call asking him to replace the injured Michael Stich at the Chengdu Open. On Sunday October 24th, Rusedski hoisted the Chengdu Open trophy over his head after defeating 14-time Grand Slam Champion Pete Sampras (USA) 6-4, 6-2.

Sampras looked sluggish and a step slow in the gray Chengdu drizzle, forced to play from behind for essentially the entire match after getting broken at love in his second service game. Rusedskiís backhand crosscourt passing shot repeatedly streaked past the net-rushing Sampras, who couldnít get his racket on the crisp winners. With a chance to break back at 3-4, 30-40 in the first set, Sampras chipped and charged only to receive the familiar refrain of Rusedskiís backhand passing shot. Rusedski did not give him another look, and closed out the first set with an ace.

Rusedski broke Sampras in the first and third game of the second set to open up a 3-0 lead before play was suspended as the persistent drizzle slicked the courts.

Play resumed more than two hours later with a light mist still falling, as both players were eager to get the match on the books. Rusedski and Sampras were cautious, taking measured, deliberate steps on the glistening court. Rusedskiís already hard-to-read serve skidded off the slippery surface, and though Sampras held his own serve twice following the rain delay, he had no chance at breaking.

"We were both being careful out there," Sampras explained of the post-rain delay play. "It was a tricky situation with the court being so wet, and I didn't want to serve as Greg served: 140 [mph] on the first point. Greg, you beat me fair and square today," he said amid laughter. "We wanted to get the match in for the tournament and for the fans, and Greg certainly made it official by serving 140 in the rain."

"Hey, it was only 130 [mph]. It wasnít 140. I don't hit it that hard anymore," replied Rusedski, in good-spirits after such a great week. "I'm really happy to win against a great champion like Pete Sampras," he said. "I'm very pleased. I had played a lot of tennis coming into the event. I played really well this week. I surprised myself how well I played."

Rusedski now owns a 1-0 record against Sampras on the ATP Champions Tour after a 1-9 head-to-head on the ATP Tour.

Sampras has played two previous events on the ATP Champions Tour, winning his debut on the ATP Champions Tour in Sao Paulo in 2008, and then reaching the semifinals at the Royal Albert Hall in London the same year. Chengdu was his first appearance on the ATP Champions Tour in almost two years.

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