Sampras Edges Rafter for Seniors Los Cabos Title

Posted on March 23, 2009

Pete Sampras saved two set points and defeated Patrick Rafter 7-6(6), 6-4 Sunday to win the singles title at the $150,000 Del Mar Development Champions Cup, the third event on the 2009 Outback Champions Series champions tennis circuit.

Sampras earned 800 ranking points to overtake John McEnroe as the No. 1 ranked player on the Outback Champions Series with 1600 total ranking points.

"It's nice to win," said Sampras. "I'd rather win than lose. It's still competitive and the people here want see you play tennis."

Playing on a hardcourt surface at the Palmilla Tennis Club, Sampras fought off two set points on his serve at 4-5, 30-40 and at 5-6 in the first-set tiebreaker before pulling out the tiebreaker 8-6. Sampras needed only one service break in the second set to close out the match for his second tournament victory on the Outback Champions Series this season.

"It was definitely a tough match," said Rafter, the 1997 and 1998 US Open champion playing his debut event on the Outback Champions Series. "Your body isn't used to playing like this. We are still playing hard, but we don't move as fast. Pete didn't serve as well as he could have."

Sampras said it was an adjustment playing against Rafter and his serve-and-volley game -- a style of play that is increasingly become more uncommon in the modern game.

"Pat is a tough competitor -- he always has been," said Sampras. "He plays serve and volley tennis and I haven't seen that very much lately."

The Sampras-Rafter final marked the first meeting between the two former US Open champions since the 2001 US Open. Sampras, a five-time U.S. Open champion and owner of a men's record 14 major singles titles, won 12 of 16 matches with Rafter during their ATP careers.

Quipped Rafter of his reunion with Sampras, "I haven't seen Pete in eight years. He hasn't changed much. We're just a bit slower and losing a bit more hair."

In Sunday's third-place match, Jim Courier defeated Mats Wilander 6-4, 6-4.