Saturday, August 14, 1999

ATP NOTEBOOK


Top ranking up for grabs this weekend

BY NEIL SCHMIDT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — The world's top ranking is up for grabs this weekend.

        Pete Sampras' points lead is narrow enough that either No.2 Yevgeny Kafelnikov or No.3 Andre Agassi could surpass him.

        If any of those three players wins the Great American Insurance ATP Championship, they also win the No.1 ranking.

        If Patrick Rafter wins the tournament, then the winner of today's Sampras-Agassi semifinal will become No.1.

        Fourth-ranked Rafter has no chance at No.1. He couldn't gain any points, since he's defending his points for last year's ATP title.

        The rankings are determined on a 52-week rollover basis, with each players' best 14 results factoring in. Five different players — Agassi, Rafter, Sampras, Carlos Moya and Kafelnikov — have held the top spot this year, with the lead changing hands seven times.

        GRAF REACTIONS: The quarterfinalists all spoke glowingly of Steffi Graf, who announced her retirement Friday.

        “I think we all kind of knew it was coming,” Sampras said. “She has had an unbelievable career and I'm sure it was time.”

        Graf, 30, had won 22 Grand Slam titles.

        “It is certainly a loss for tennis because in my opinion she is the best lady that has ever played,” Agassi said.

        “On the other side of it is a sense of happiness for the next chapter in her life, which I'm sure she is looking forward to.”

        Said Gustavo Kuerten: “Twenty-two Grand Slams. We know how hard it is to do all these things.”

        Several players said Graf had influenced their careers.

        “I have always looked up to her, the way she approached her career,” Sampras said. “She was one of the best ever, and she did it with a lot of class.”

        NOW SEE THIS: For the sec ond consecutive day, ESPN expanded coverage from two to three hours in order to televise the Agassi-Gustavo Kuerten match.

        If the match had gone past 4 p.m., ESPN officials planned to switch the telecast to ESPN2 in order to show the conclusion.

        Agassi won 6-2, 7-6 in the best match of the day.

        ATTENDANCE: A crowd of 10,022 witnessed Friday afternoon's session, bringing the total for the tournament to 128,503, nearly 4,500 ahead of 1998.

        THIS WAY: The volunteers, directing traffic in the parking lot from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. are members of the St. Anne Episcopal Church in West Chester.

        “This is our eighth year,” church member Jeff Paul said.

        Some 135 members will have worked the past 10 days and put in 1,257 hours. They'll earn about $5,600 for the church.

        Ten percent of the money is committed to Navajoland (Arizona and Utah), with the remaining going to the building fund.

        “We've heard all type of excuses to get a good parking spot,” Paul said.

        “One lady claimed her pass flew out the window and another said she can't park on a slant because it hurts her knee when getting out of the car.”

        The St. Anne crew expects to return next year.

        SMASHING: Pat Shiels and Jamie Shaffer have taken over as the male and female leaders in the fastest serve contest at the RADO Smash Corner.

        Both residents of Cincinnati, Shiels unleashed a serve of 140 miles per hour.

        Shaffer's best was 104 mph. If the speeds hold up, both will be awarded a Rado Watch on Sunday at the conclusion of the tournament.

        Annually, the Smash Corner raises more than $10,000 for charity. Contestants pay $2 for three attempts.

        Dave Schutte contributed to this report.

       



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World's top 4 in ATP semis
Sampras-Agassi: love-love
Rafter, Kafelnikov playing their best
Sampras breaks Krajicek's hold over him
Chang a winner despite loss
Kuerten: 'It wasn't my day'
- Top ranking up for grabs this weekend
ATP sees return of the Woodies
Friday's ATP results
Today's ATP schedule