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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sampras Returns to Form in Worlds




HANNOVER, Germany -- Pete Sampras crushed longtime rival Andre Agassi 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 Sunday to win the ATP Tour world championship title and end a decade he has dominated in superb style.


Sampras was back at his brilliant best after a year dogged by injury, outplaying the man who replaced him as No. 1 in the last singles final of the year.


The Wimbledon champion equaled Ivan Lendl's record of five triumphs in the season-ending event and will now climb two places to third in the final 1999 rankings Monday - he finished 1998 as No. 1 for a record sixth successive year.


Sampras had played only one competitive match in the three months before this lucrative tournament and had been crushed 6-2, 6-2 by fellow American Agassi in a group match Wednesday.


But he delighted the 13,000 fans in the Hannover hall with a fluent display of attacking tennis reminiscent of his demolition of Agassi in the Wimbledon final, to earn a huge $1.38 million in prize money.


Agassi, who had already made sure of ending the year in top spot for the first time after victory in the French and U.S. Opens, had to be content with $800,000.


"Andre has had a great week," Sampras said. "I was able to play my best tennis today. I think the match was of a very high level.


"I'd like to congratulate Andre for an unbelievable year. He deserves to be the No. 1."


Sampras showed he meant business from the start. A blistering return forced Agassi to net a backhand in the second game of the match and fall 2-0 down.


Another lethal return by Sampras caused a similar unforced error from the Las Vegan for a second break in the sixth game.


Leading 5-1, Sampras served for the set, wrapping it up after just 27 minutes with a crisp backhand volley.


Agassi briefly gave the impression he could fight his way back into the match when he opened up a 3-0 lead in the second set.


But Sampras broke back before taking the set with Agassi hitting a forehand long on set point.


The end neared for Agassi, chasing his second victory here after winning in 1990, when he dropped serve in the opening game of the third set.


Sampras maintained the pressure, sealing an impressive performance with an ace on his first match point after one hour and 46 minutes of a one-sided battle.


Agassi and Sampras, whose rivalry has provided many of the highlights of men's tennis during the 1990s, were meeting for the 28th time in their career. Sampras now leads the series 17-11.


After 10 years in Germany and four in Hannover, the ATP Tour world championship will move to Lisbon in 2000 and Sao Paulo in 2001.