Saturday, August 14, 1999

World's top 4 in ATP semis


Hasn't happened since 1993 Wimbledon

BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

rafter
Defending champ Patrick Rafter.
(Tony Jones photo)
| ZOOM |
        MASON — It doesn't get any better than this. Actually, it can't.

        The top four seeds, who also happen to be the top four players in the world, are all who remain for today's semifinals of the Great American Insurance ATP Championship.

        It's top-seeded Pete Sampras vs. No. 3 seed Andre Agassi at 2 p.m.

        And No. 2 seed and defending champion Patrick Rafter meets fourth-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov at 8 p.m.

        The winners play at 4 p.m. Sunday for the title.

        “You are talking about a few guys who have managed to separate themselves from the rest through the years,” Agassi said.

        The four players have a combined 20 Grand Slam titles, including the last five. And that's not all:

        • They all have been ranked No. 1 during this year; it's Sampras for now.

        • The last time the top four players were in the semifinals anywhere: Wimbledon 1993 (Sampras, Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker and Jim Courier).

        • The last time the top four seeds were in the semifinals of an ATP Tour event: Toulouse, France, 10 months ago.

        • This is the third time three former champions of the ATP Championship were in the semifinals.

        “Whoever is holding the trophy at the end of the week will certainly deserve it,” Agassi said.

        Not only that, Sampras' points lead is narrow enough that either No. 2 Kafelnikov or No. 3 Agassi would take over the No. 1 ranking by winning here.

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



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