Another Sampras First
September 13, 2000
The first Tennis Masters Cup will be held on 28th November in Lisbon, Portugal and, fittingly, Pete Sampras is the first player to qualify for it. Sampras is the only player to have qualified for all ten year-end Championships of the last decade, and he won half of those. He leads the ATP Champions’ Race 2000 for the first time this year, due mainly to his record-breaking triumph at Wimbledon and his run to the Final of the US Open. Sampras seems to have put his unexpected loss there behind him.
“While I am obviously disappointed I lost to Marat [Safin] in the [US] Open”, Sampras said, “I am pleased my play there enabled me to solidify my position among the Race leaders and earn the first spot in the Masters’ Cup. It should make for an exciting fall season. I’d love to end on a high note with a chance to finish at No.1.”
This is the first season that the ATP Tour has used the calendar-year points race. All players started the 2000 season with zero points and the player who accumulates the most points from 18 events at the end of the calendar-year will earn the title of World No.1. The qualifying events include the four Grand Slams and the 9 Masters Series tournaments. The new system has already earned the approval of Sampras, who said:
“I like the Champions’ Race. I think it is a more accurate measure of player performance during the course of the year, and it emphasises the importance of finishing the year at No. 1.”
As Sampras holds the record for finishing No. 1 for six straight years, his attitude towards this aspect of the Race is understandable.
The Race for World No. 1 is currently a four-way fight between Sampras, Gustavo Kuerten, Magnus Norman and Marat Safin. In view of his record, Sampras could be said to be the favourite.