PHILADELPHIA, (Sept. 24, 2011) – Two American tennis legends renewed their rivalry in Philadelphia Saturday night as Pete Sampras hung on to beat Andre Agassi in the championship match of the Champions Shootout 8-7 (5), to win the third event of the 2011 Champions Series at the Wells Fargo Center.
“Andre is the best returner I’ve ever played,” said Sampras. “He’s a friend and rival, and I have a lot of respect for his game, so it was nice to get the win tonight. I’ll be playing several more events in this Series, so I’m looking forward to more great battles with Andre.”
Trailing 7-6 in the eight game pro-set finals, Sampras held his serve to force a tiebreaker, then never trailed during the tiebreaker. He went ahead 5-2 before Agassi battled back to even it at 5-5. Sampras then jumped back ahead, and closed out the match with a cross-court winner off an Agassi serve.
“Pete always seems to put together his best shots at the end of matches,” said Agassi. “That’s the way he’s always been. But I liked the way I played tonight, and we had a great time here in Philadelphia with these sports fans. I really enjoyed coming here.”
For the victory, Sampras earned 400 points and moved back atop the official 2011 Tour rankings with 900 points after three events. It was his second victory in the 2011 Champions Series, having also defeated Jim Courier Thursday night in Ft. Lauderdale. Agassi gained 200 points tonight and sits in fourth place with a total of 300 points. The top 3 finishers will share a one million dollar bonus pool at the end of the 2011 Champions Series.
Agassi reached the final with a 6-3 victory over Jim Courier, who was in action for the third straight evening. The pair also met in Friday night’s semifinals in Washington D.C., with Courier coming out on top in that one.
Sampras advanced with a 6-4 semifinal triumph over Jimmy Connors. The 59-year-old Connors was making his second Champions Series appearance in his return to competitive tennis after a 10-year absence and played sublime tennis to push Sampras to 6-4. Connors had the crowd eating out of his hand during the semifinal but the younger Sampras was too tough in the end.
The Champions Series resumes next Friday night in Minneapolis in the Leeann Chin Challenge at the Target Center, at 7:30 pm. Tickets and unique interactive VIP fan experiences for the 2011 Champions Series are on sale to the general public and start at $35. Tickets are available at venue box offices, all Ticketmaster locations, 202-397-SEAT or online at www.ticketmaster.com.
The 2011 Champions Series is a competitive tennis circuit featuring legendary tennis icons and world-renowned champions Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, Michael Chang and Mats Wilander. The 12-city tour of one-night tournaments is being played in major U.S. arenas from September 22 – October 22. Each tournament features four Champions paired off in one set semifinals and culminates with the winners meeting in an eight-game pro-set championship match.
Semifinal 1: Agassi def. Courier, 6-3
Semifinal 2: Sampras def. Connors, 6-4
Finals: Sampras def. Agassi, 8-7 (5)