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Woodruff Shocks Sampras

February 21, 2001

Local hero Chris Woodruff sent top seed Pete Sampras crashing out of the Kroger St. Jude in Memphis.

The 28-year-old from Knoxville, Tennessee came through with an emphatic 7-6(4), 6-2 victory to record his first victory against the Wimbledon champion in four meetings.

"It's got to be right up there as one of the biggest wins of my career," said Woodruff. "You like to win as many matches as you can, but to beat someone like Pete Sampras is something special."

Despite going a break down in the first set, Woodruff hit back with some blistering returns to break the mighty Sampras serve as he attempted to close out the first set. As it went into the tie-break, Woodruff took control with some inspired tennis and took it on his second set point.

The fight-back stunned Sampras, who was playing in only his second tournament of the year following his run to the fourth round of the Australian Open, and the prospect of an upset looked more likely as Woodruff opened up a 2-0 lead in the second set.

The quality of Woodruff's returns began to take its toll on Sampras, who looked in disbelief time and again. As the crowd attempted to lift Sampras, who was playing in Memphis for the first time since winning the title in 1996, it was Woodruff who had them gasping in awe with his passing shots. After breaking for the second time to lead 5-2, Woodruff held his nerve to seal the a special victory in 1 hour, 14 minutes.

"I've always respected Pete and what he has done for tennis," said Woodruff. "When I play him, it's like playing one-on-one at basketball with Michael Jordan. But I've always enjoyed playing here in Memphis, and I'm looking forward to the next match."

For Sampras, it was back to the drawing board before playing in Scottsdale. "He played great," said Sampras. "I've got to give him all the credit. I felt pretty good out there, I was up a break in the first set and I was feeling pretty sharp. If I'd have won that set, it could have been different, but he got on my serve, returned extremely well and he deserved to win today."

Woodruff now meets Goran Ivanisevic for a place in the quarterfinals.


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