Saturday, August 07, 1999

No. 1 Sampras faces tough road to ATP finals




BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — If top-seeded Pete Sampras and No.3 seed Andre Agassi are to renew their rivalry in Cincinnati, it will be in the semifinals of the Great American Insurance ATP Championship.

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        The two American stars were placed in the same half of the bracket during Friday's draw for the tournament, which begins Monday.

        Second seed Patrick Rafter, the defending champion, has a lot of big-name players in his portion of the bracket but is heavily favored to get to the semis. No.4 seed Yevgeny Kafelnikov, the Australian Open winner, went into Friday night 14-12 since starting the year 14-2.

        The only top seed to win on the ATP Tour this year: Sampras at Wimbledon.

TODAY'S PRACTICES
  Subject to change
• Pete Sampras and Justin Gimelstob, (5 p.m., Center Court)
  • Carlos Moya (Noon, 5 p.m., Court 5)
  • Tim Henman (10 a.m., Court 10)
  • Michael Chang (10:30 a.m., Court 7; 2 p.m., Court 10)
  • Todd Martin (Noon, Court 6); Mal Washington (10 a.m., Court 5).
        A look at the pairings:

        • Best draw: Tim Henman. The No.5 seed's biggest obstacles to the semifinals are 12th-seeded Nicolas Kiefer and Kafelnikov.

        • Toughest draw: Sampras might have to beat Swede Magnus Larsson, who has won three of his last four matches against Sampras, then seventh seed Richard Krajicek, who is 6-2 against Sampras, including four consecutive victories.

        • Best first-round matches: Surging American Jim Courier vs. unpredictable Croatian Goran Ivanisevic; Michael Chang vs. rising Russian star Marat Safin; No.24 Cedric Pioline vs. No.12 Carlos Moya.

        • Withdrew: Greg Rusedski (toe), Mark Philippoussis (knee), Marcelo Rios (hip), Karol Kucera (wrist), Felix Mantilla (illness), Jerome Golmard (knee), Marc Rosset (back) and Leyton Hewitt (ankle).

        • Wild cards: Xavier Malisse, Malivai Washington, Pan Am Games gold medalist Paul Goldstein, Richey Reneberg, Cecil Mamiit.

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ATP qualifier: Today's matches
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