Friday, August 13, 1999

Nemesis Krajicek next for Sampras


Dutchman has No. 1's number

BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — Pete Sampras practiced with 23-year-old Rainer Schuttler earlier in the week. It gave the top-ranked player a chance to scout his third-round opponent.

        “I kind of knew what to expect,” Sampras said after his 7-5, 7-6 (7-2) victory Thursday that put him into the quarterfinals of the Great American Insurance ATP Championship for the eighth straight year in which he has played. “He's got a great game. ... He's beaten good players to get to this point.”

THE SKINNY
  • Sampras vs. Krajicek, 1 p.m.
  • Series: Krajicek leads 6-2.
  • Last meeting: Krajicek won 6-2, 7-6 in Key Biscayne, Fla., in March.
  • Fun fact: Since 1994, Sampras has won just one of 10 sets against Krajicek.
        Sampras celebrated his 28th birthday with his 19 consecutive victory — matching the third-best streak of his career — and 12th victory in a row against German players dating to a 1996 loss to Boris Becker.

        Schuttler, ranked No.49, was facing Sampras for the first time and found some success early. He broke Sampras' serve twice in the first set.

        Then Sampras won 12 of the next 15 points, breaking Schuttler back twice. In the second set, Sampras dominated the tiebreaker from the start.

        “I kind of raised my level when I had to in the first set,” Sampras said. “I felt like I was putting the pressure on him. I was doing a lot of chipping and charging. Even though I was not that successful, I think he was feeling the pressure a little bit.”

        Schuttler had his chances but was pleased at how well he competed against the tournament's No.1 seed.

        After Schuttler broke Sampras' serve to go ahead 3-2 in the second set, Sampras broke him right back to tie it. They each held serve until the tiebreaker, in which Sampras jumped ahead 5-1.

        “I was not nervous,” Schuttler said. “It was a great experience for me. I tried to give the best. ... You learn from every match. You can see that it's possible to play against everybody and have a good chance.”

        Sampras will face seventh-seeded Richard Krajicek today (1p.m., Center Court). Krajicek got past 22-year-old American Justin Gimelstob 6-4, 6-2 Thursday night.

        Krajicek holds a 6-2 series lead and has defeated Sampras four straight times.

        “No question, he has my number,” Sampras said. “These past three or four times, he's beaten me pretty convincingly. The court here is playing pretty quick. Richard, with his serve — he's going to be very, very tough to break. When he gets hot, he's one of the more dangerous players out there.”

        Said Krajicek: “I know before we step on the court he has respect for me. ... That's a good feeling. His game suits me, and my game doesn't suit him. I attack him a lot, and he likes to be the aggressor. (But) every match is a new match. We have to start at 0-0 tomorrow.”

        Krajicek came into this event just 5-7 in Cincinnati, and this is his first quarterfinal appearance here. His first set with Gimelstob started out 3-3, then Krajicek took over.

        “I was very happy with the way I played,” he said. “It'll be a good test for tomorrow.”

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