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Sampras will try to end title drought Sunday

August 25, 2001

Pete Sampras gets his chance to win his first title since Wimbledon last year when he faces Tommy Haas in the final of the Hamlet Cup on Sunday.

Sampras, the third seed, beat fifth seed Thomas Johansson of Sweden, 7-5, 6-3 Saturday night. Haas, the sixth seed, moved into the final with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) triumph over fourth seed Arnaud Clement of France.

Pete will have a chance to win his first title in 16 tournaments when he opposes Tommy Haas on Sunday in the final.

Pete, playing as a wild card, needed only 74 minutes to beat No. 5 Thomas Johansson 7-5, 6-3 in a semifinal Saturday night. In reaching only his third final this year, Pete served 11 aces -- five more than Johansson. He also won 36 of 41 first-point serves as compared to 19 of 29 for the Swede..

"I'm ready for tomorrow's final, and for the U.S. Open,'' said Sampras, playing the Hamlet for only the second time in preparation for next week's U.S. Open.

He won the Hamlet in 1990 and went on to win the Open as well.

"I needed matches to get ready for next week,'' Sampras said. ``I had to retire from Cincinnati because of blisters on my hand, and then I had to withdraw completely from Washington.''

The first of Sampras' three break points, came at 6-5 of the first set. The pair exchanged break points to open the second set before Sampras went ahead to stay, 3-2 on the final break, as his return tipped the net and dropped in. The match ended with Sampras' final ace.

"My game has gotten better in each match,'' Sampras said. ``Tonight, I tried to use the whole court. Earlier in the week, I was only playing one side and I wanted to make him run.''

Sampras is 4-1 against Haas, with all victories coming on hardcourt, the same surface as the Hamlet. Haas' lone win was on clay in May 2000 in the World Team Cup in Germany.

Johansson fell to 0-2 against Sampras.

"Pete's first serves were extremely tough and I really struggled,'' he said. "It's a completely different game when you're playing him. Everyone knows his running forehand is tough.

"Pete's had ups and downs all year, but when he plays like this, he can win bigger titles than this. He could even win the U.S. Open.''


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