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Struggling...but through. Pete wins at L.A.

July 27, 2001

Struggled with his first serves, Pete was broken once in the second set but pulled through with a 7-5, 7-6 victory over Magnus Norman in the quarter-final of the Mercedes-Benz Cup. He was hitting just 49 percent first serves in, with only seven aces and eight double faults.

``It's not the way I want to have to hold my service game, hitting a lot of second serves,'' he said. ``I didn't have the rhythm. There's definitely room to improve.''

Pete saved two break points on his serve in the first and fifth games of the second set to take a 3-2 lead. But Norman held serve to tie the set, prompting a frustrated Sampras to toss his racket at his chair. Sampras frequently stretched out between points, but didn't specify what was affecting his movement. ``I had a few tight spots,'' he said. ``It's something I've dealt with before and I've got to play through it.''

Norman broke in the seventh game for a 4-3 lead and had a set point in the 10th game. The Swede led 40-30 before he mis-hit a forehand for deuce. Sampras hit a crosscourt forehand on the line and then Norman sent a forehand long to let Sampras tie the set 5-5.

Norman saved three match points on his serve in the 12th game to force the tiebreaker. Sampras never trailed in the breaker, but needed two more match points to close out the 1:49 match. ``It wasn't pretty,'' Sampras said. ``I got a little bit fortunate to get back in the second set.''

Sampras advanced to the other semifinal against Xavier Malisse of Belgium, who beat 20-year-old Taylor Dent of Newport Beach, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. ``I know I have to play a lot better than tonight,'' Sampras said. ``I feel like I'm hitting the ball pretty well. I feel it's a matter of time before I find my rhythm.''


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