Published: Tue, March 04, 2014
(Reuters) – Andre Agassi came on top against old rival Pete Sampras in an exhibition match on Monday (Tuesday, March 4, in the Philippines) to celebrate World Tennis Day.
An enthusiastic crowd packed Earls Court, in central London, to see another challenge between two players who faced each other 34 times during their professional careers.
Agassi, 43, seemed in pretty good shape against his United States compatriot and opponent Sampras who is one year younger.
The format of the match was two sets plus a tiebreak-set decider which was not needed because Agassi won, 6-3, 7-6(1).
The player from Las Vegas raced to a 3-0 lead in the first set as Sampras paid for too many unforced errors, leading Agassi to comment midway through the game: "I am so excited, I am winning... 15 years late but never mind," as Sampras smiled.
There was no way back despite Sampras trailing 5-3 before another unforced error gave Agassi the first set advantage.
Sampras, who won 20 and lost 14 of his matches in a rivalry that was famous in the 90's, improved his performance in the second set but always found a determined Agassi on the other side of the court.
There was no break of serve and Agassi wrapped up the match, winning the second set tiebreak 7-1.
"If he catches the rhythm, maybe something falls for him but I trade this one (victory) for a few others I think," joked Agassi, who is married with German veteran player Steffi Graf.
A subdued Sampras could only acknowledge he lost to a better player on the night.
"But yeah, I wonder he was too good for me. He played great and congratulations," he said.
Both Agassi and Sampras were introduced to the Tennis Hall of Fame during the festive occasion.
Before Agassi beat Sampras, Australian Pat Cash defeated Czech-born Ivan Lendl in a one-set-only match.
Cash, 48, was in much better physical shape than the overweight Lendl, who is currently coaching Briton Andy Murray in the professional circuit.
There was quite a lot of pantomine as Cash used the end of a point to grab a bottle and made a gesture like he was drinking from it before giving it back to the spectator.
Lendl complained against the umpire but raised his game as both players kept their serve until Cash broke his opponent's serve at 7-6 before winning the match 8-6.
Cash was never number one in the world, but his most famous moment came when he won the Wimbledon title in 1987.
"You remember the days," Cash said about watching Lendl at his prime in the 80's. "We played each other a few times on the seniors tour, we always had close matches but you go back and you see Ivan Lendl going out for the backhand and my heart just jump, hohoho!,” the Australian added.
Lendl, who won all Grand Slams but became also famous for never winning Wimbledon, said it was hard for him to keep playing tennis nowadays.
"No I don't play much, I have been very busy with Andy (Murray) and don't play that much," said the veteran who became a United States citizen and is also a keen golfer.
"So, you know, when it gets little closer you lack the match experience or the match or match toughness, then you miss a forehand here and there and it is a problem," Lendl added.
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