Tuesday, August 17, 1999

Highlight of ATP? Sampras vs. Agassi


The low point? Woodruff sending ball into crowd

BY MICHAEL PERRY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Highs and lows of the 1999 Great American Insurance ATP Championship:

        BEST DRAMA: Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, first-set tiebreaker Saturday. Sampras wins it 9-7, then goes on to win the match easily. The first set was great tennis between two top players in top form. This edges the Sampras-Patrick Rafter first-set tiebreaker in Sunday's final because their points were so quick.

        BIGGEST UPSET: No.105-ranked Justin Gimelstob knocked out No.7 Todd Martin in the second round. The two are good friends and had never faced each other before. Gimelstob won 6-4, 6-4. Both later said it was “awkward.” Nobody ranked higher won a match all week.

        BEST TIEBREAKER: It was the last singles match Thursday night, and Nicolas Kiefer and wild-card entry Paul Goldstein, the Pan Am Games gold medalist, played to a third-set tiebreaker loaded with big shots and visible frustration. Kiefer ended up winning 12-10 to advance to the quarterfinals.

        Close runner-up: Agassi came back from a 4-1 deficit and beat Gustavo Kuerten in a 12-10 tiebreaker that allowed him to advance to the semifinals.

        MOST DISAPPOINTING: Carlos Moya, the No. 10 seed, lost his first match for the second straight year, this time to Cedric Pioline. Moya is not only 0-2 in Cincinnati, but the former No. 1-ranked player has lost in one hour (1998) and 58 minutes (1999).

        Runner-up: Jim Courier retiring with cramps in his legs in the third set of his second-round match against Pioline. Courier won a first-set tiebreaker 7-5 and lost a second-set tiebreaker 7-4. It was shap ing up to be the best match of the week when he called it quits.

        BEST MATCH: Michael Chang won the first set against No. 8 seed Alex Corretja, then lost the second set on a 7-5 tiebreaker. It takes a lot to recover mentally from something like that, but Chang did. He went on to win the third set 6-2 to get to the quarterfinals.

        BEST STORY: Chang's run to the quarters. Ranked No. 58 last week, the two-time ATP Championship winner defeated three players ranked ahead of him (Marat Safin No.34, Corretja No.8, Pioline No.26) before losing to No.4 Rafter. Cincinnati continues to be one of the best places for Chang, who appeared in four straight championship matches here from 1993-96. His ranking improved to 48th Monday.

        WORST DAY: Nicolas Lapentti, the 15th seed in the singles draw, lost Thursday afternoon to No. 2 seed Rafter, then lost with doubles partner Kuerten that night against Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde. Lapentti didn't win a set in either match. His birthday was the next day.

        WORST MOMENT: During a Monday night doubles match, American Chris Woodruff got frustrated and rocketed a ball into the seats. Fortunately, he didn't hit any fans. He received a warning and did go over to apologize, but had he hit someone it would have soured the whole evening.

        BEST LINE: When asked on the court after a match for his favorite baseball team, Agassi replied without too much thought: The Cincinnati Reds. Good choice. Greg Vaughn, Sean Casey, Brett Tomko, Eddie Taubensee and Denny Neagle were in attendance that night.

        BEST PLAYFUL MOMENT: Rafter twice participated in postmatch remote control car races around the court against fans. He finished 2-0, seemed like he had fun doing it and was gracious to the crowd and competitors. He also looked like he knew what he was doing.

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Sports Stories
- Highlight of ATP? Sampras vs. Agassi
More players, slower courts next year