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TENNIS : Sampras Will Defend Title Against Agassi

March 19, 1994|From Associated Press

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Pete Sampras mixed aces, baseline winners, cross-court volleys and overheads. Jim Courier hit one forehand after another.

Sampras outlasted his childhood friend and longtime rival in an 18-minute tiebreaker Friday to win, 6-4, 7-6 (12-10), in the semifinals of the Lipton Championships.

The top-ranked defending champion, Sampras overcame three set points in the tiebreaker and beat Courier for the fourth consecutive time.

"I didn't think either of us played that great," Sampras said. "I got lucky. That's the bottom line."

But Sampras also showed a complete arsenal of shots. Less lethal with his serve than usual, he was forced to win points from the baseline, where Courier prefers to play.

Sampras will seek his fourth tournament title this year in Sunday's final against Andre Agassi, who advanced by beating Australian Patrick Rafter 6-2, 6-4.

Sampras is attempting to become the first player to win consecutive men's singles titles at Lipton. He has split eight previous matches against Agassi.

"We've had some pretty entertaining matches in the past," Agassi said. "It's explosive tennis when we play.'

In the women's final today, top-ranked Steffi Graf, winner of 31 consecutive matches, meets Natalia Zvereva, who is 0-13 lifetime against Graf.

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