Sunday, August 24, 2003

Sampras 'doesn't want to unretire'



By Howard Fendrich
AP Tennis Writer

NEW YORK - Don't look for Pete Sampras to pull a Michael Jordan. Sampras' coach, Paul Annacone, is pretty sure the 14-time Grand Slam champion is done for good with playing competitive tennis.

Sampras, who's 32, formally will announce his retirement Monday and be honored on opening night at the U.S. Open, the site of his last match one year ago.

"He waited to give himself the best chance to be sure. Pete doesn't want to unretire five times, like some athletes have done, whether it's Jordan or a professional boxer. He's pretty secure in that," Annacone said in an interview.

"Maybe in six months, he'll say, 'Gosh, I really miss it.' But I don't see him doing that."

Sampras beat Andre Agassi in the 2002 U.S. Open final and pulled out of every tournament since - although Sampras never actually said he was quitting.

"He's been thinking about it all year. He decided sometime after Wimbledon that he had had enough," Annacone said. "Part of the key was wondering how he was going to feel not being at Wimbledon, and how he would inevitably feel not being here at the U.S. Open. He had to come to terms with it being the end of his career."

Sampras practiced every day with Annacone early in the year, and he came close to returning to the pro tour in February or March.

"But he felt there wasn't any passion there," Annacone said.

"He feels likes he's climbed all the mountains that he's challenged himself with, and he's ready to move on now."

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CHANG'S GOODBYE

Michael Chang is also bidding adieu to tennis at this U.S. Open. He'll be doing it with a racket in hand, though.

Chang, 31, was given a wild-card entry into the tournament, which will be the last of a career that includes the 1989 French Open title and a top ranking of No. 2.

He was drawn to play 15th-seeded Fernando Gonzalez in the Open's first round.

The U.S. Tennis Association and Chang's representatives at Octagon have talked about some sort of ceremony during the tournament to recognize his career.

This will be his 17th U.S. Open - he's never missed one since making his debut in 1987, when he reached the second round.

Chang's top showing at Flushing Meadows was making the 1996 final, where he lost to Sampras. Had Chang won that match, he would have reached No. 1 in the rankings.

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ACES

The Delaware Smash beat the Sacramento Capitals 21-14 Saturday on Court 11 at the National Tennis Center to win the World Team Tennis championship. ... Ticket sales were about 50 percent higher than the same day in 2002 (4,730 vs. 3,123) on Friday, when 2000-01 U.S. Open champion Venus Williams withdrew because of a stomach muscle injury. Overall, 560,735 tickets have been sold, about 5,000 more than a year ago to date. ... Security arrangements will be the same as those adopted last year, with more police - including undercover officers - than in 2001. Fans can't bring radios, cans, flags on sticks or coolers; one bag is allowed per spectator, and it can't be bigger than 12-by-12-by-16 inches. ... Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Anna Kournikova and Chanda Rubin raised money for charities of their choosing Saturday in a skills competition during the eighth annual Arthur Ashe Kids' Day. Agassi earned $35,000 for the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, Roddick raised $30,000 for the Margaux Grossman Miracle Fund, Kournikova earned $25,000 for the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and Rubin made $25,000 for the Chanda Rubin Tennis and Scholarship Fund. More than 20,000 attended, and a portion of ticket sales raised money for the Arthur Ashe Foundation and the USA Tennis National Junior Tennis League, a program founded by Ashe and others in 1969 to provide economically disadvantaged youngsters access to tennis.




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