August 8, 2000
MASON, Ohio (AP) -- Pete Sampras won a first-round match at Tennis Masters Series-Cincinnati for the first time in a decade.
Actually, Sampras hasn't had to play a first-round match here since 1990, when the tournament was called the ATP Championship. But with the new Masters Series format expanding the draw from 56 to 64 players, everybody plays in the first round.
Sampras beat Mariano Zabaleta of Argentina 6-4, 6-2 on Tuesday. ``I've never been crazy about a bye because you're playing someone (in the second round) who's used to the court and the balls,'' Sampras said. ``Your first match out playing someone that's played, I never really liked it. You like it if you win the match. Your body's a little bit fresher.'' And Sampras is at the point in his career when he wants to limit his tournaments to stay as fresh as possible.
Sampras won a record 13th Grand Slam at Wimbledon despite tendinitis in his left shin, then withdrew from the Davis Cup. This is his second tournament since then, including a loss in the quarterfinals last week at Toronto. The tournament lost three more seeds Tuesday -- five of 20 in the first round -- including one who withdrew.
Rain delayed the start of the morning matches for two hours, and there was another five-minute rain interruption in the afternoon.
During the first delay and before his match started, 14th-seeded Younes El Aynaoui of Morocco withdrew with inflammation in his left foot. He was replaced by qualifier Andrea Gaudenzi of Italy, who went out and upset Albert Costa of Spain 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.
Sixth-seeded Alex Corretja of Spain, who had an 11-match winning streak, was upset by Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden 6-4, 6-4. Corretja, who is more comfortable on clay courts, found it difficult to adjust to the hard-court surface.
``As a European, I try to play the first tournament that I can on hard court, but I had to stay in Spain and play in the Davis Cup, so I was on clay a little longer,'' said Corretja, who hadn't played on a hard-court surface since March.
He was coming off title victories at Gstaad and Kitzbuhel, both on clay, and said he was unable to adjust his rhythm to the faster surface. ``He was moving better, and his ideas were more clarified,'' Corretja said of Bjorkman. ``He had a better idea of what he wanted to do, while I was staying back and waiting for him to make mistakes.''
Todd Martin upset 11th-seeded Nicolas Kiefer of Germany 6-2, 6-2. In other first-round matches, Mariano Puerta of Argentina beat Vladimir Voltchkov of Belarus 6-3, 6-1; No. 15 Tim Henman of Britain beat Cecil Mamit 6-3, 5-7, 6-2; and Taylor Dent beat U.S. Olympian Jeff Tarango 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
Also, Fernando Vicente of Spain beat Bob Bryan 7-6 (4), 6-3; Max Mirnyi of Belarus beat Andreas Vinciguerra of Sweden 7-6 (1), 6-4; and Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic beat Lionel Roux of France 6-1, 6-0.