By Dave Fanucchi
LOS ANGELES, CA (Oct. 14, 2011) – Southern California native Pete Sampras, playing in front of a slew of family and friends, held off long time rival Andre Agassi 8-6 to capture the HSBC Tennis Cup presented by CTCA, at the Staples Center Friday night in Los Angeles. It was his fifth victory in six appearances so far this season, and third consecutive, as Sampras took a commanding lead in the Champions Series points standings. He now leads Michael Chang by 1000 points with just four of the 12 events remaining.
The Hollywood crowd was treated to a rematch of a rivalry that started over 30 years ago, and still lasts today. “It’s been really great getting to know Pete even better over the past several weeks here on the Champions Series Tour,” Agassi said, moments after the loss tonight. “It’s been an opportunity to really embrace what we’ve meant to one another’s careers.”
“Andre has always been a class guy, and is so gracious in his losses as well as his victories,” said Sampras. “It was nice tonight to be out here on the court at the Staples Center and to play with so much support behind me.”
Sampras advanced to the final with a hard fought 7-6 (3) semifinal victory over Jim Courier, closing out the match with a thumping forehanded return winner. Agassi opened the evening’s action with a 6-3 semifinal win over fan favorite John McEnroe.
Agassi’s semifinal win coupled with Courier’s loss moved both players into a tie for third place in the standings. Only the top 3 finishers at the end of the 2011 Champions Series will share the one million dollar bonus pool, and with four events remaining, Chang, Courier and Agassi are separated by only 100 points.
The Champions Series moves to Agassi’s hometown and the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas Saturday night for the CTCA Championships.
The 2011 Champions Series is a competitive tennis circuit featuring legendary tennis icons and world-renowned champions. The 12-city tour of one-night tournaments is being played in major U.S. arenas from September 22 – October 22.
Semifinal 1: Agassi def. McEnroe, 6-3
Semifinal 2: Sampras def. Courier, 7-6 (3)
Final: Sampras def. Agassi, 8-6
Champions Series Standings Points (thru 8 events)
1 Sampras 2100
2 Chang 1100
3 Agassi 1000
5 Martin 400
6 Connors 200
8 Lendl 100