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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sampras Off to Winning Start




MELBOURNE, Australia -- Pete Sampras, trying to regain the top ranking, started the 2000 season with a satisfying achievement Wednesday - beating a man who had won four of their last five matches.


Sampras was unable to cash in on his first four match points, but finally overcame Richard Krajicek 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5) in nearly two hours in the Colonial Classic, a warm-up for the Australian Open.


He now has a 4-6 record against the Dutch player, who plays a similar style of serve and volley game.


"Playing Richard is not easy because he serves so big. It was a good match to get through," said Sampras, who skipped the Australian last year because of fatigue. He managed to gain some rest late last year, and this is "as fresh as I've felt in many years coming down here."


Andre Agassi, who took over the No. 1 ranking last year after Sampras had held it at year-end for six consecutive years, breezed through his first match of the year, needing less than an hour to beat Wayne Ferreira 6-2, 6-4.


"It was a good start. These were tough conditions - not only hot, but it plays really quick on a day like today and the ball was jumping around pretty good. I felt like I was pretty much controlling the ball," said Agassi, the French and U.S. Open champion.


Defending Australian Open champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov fell 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (8-10), 6-1 to Mark Philippoussis, who slammed in 25 aces.


But in his preparations for the Jan. 17-30 Australian Open he still will have two more matches in the losers' bracket of this event, an eight-man invitational that includes the top four men - Agassi, Kafelnikov, Sampras and Thomas Enqvist - plus No. 6 Nicolas Kiefer, No. 10 Krajicek, No. 19 Philippoussis, and No. 53 Ferreira.


"I felt like I was hitting the ball well," Kafelnikov said, and "to get any type of matches against those guys is definitely a huge advantage," Kafelnikov said.


Enqvist, last year's Australian Open runner-up, beat Kiefer 6-3, 6-4 in 68 minutes, advancing to a semifinal against Agassi on Thursday. Kafelnikov will meet Krajicek and Ferreira will play Kiefer in the losers' bracket. Sampras meets Philippoussis in the other semifinal Friday.