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Sampras defeats Courier to win 2011 Champions Series Opener

September 23, 2011 09:59 AM
Pete Sampras
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Pete Sampras defeated Jim Courier 8-6 in the finals Thursday night of the HSBC Tennis Cup to win the opening event of the 2011 Champions Series at the Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. The victory gives Sampras the early lead in pursuit of the #1 ranking on the Champions Series, with $1 million dollars of bonus pool money on the line for the top three finishers on the circuit at the end of the season.
"It was really good to get back out there in a relaxed environment and play some of my old friends and competitors, and it seemed like we still have it," said Sampras, the 14-time major champion. "As long as I didn’t get hurt and the fans had a good time, the winning was a bonus."
The eight-game pro set final match was tied at five before Sampras broke Courier’s serve, then held his own to get ahead 7-5, and earn the two-game cushion he needed. The two stars then traded the next two games, as Sampras closed out the victory on his own serve.
Courier reached the finals with a 7-5 win over Jimmy Connors, who returned to competitive tennis for the first time in 11 years. Connors – who is just ten weeks removed from left knee surgery – led the game 4-2, before Courier rallied to win five of the last six games to take the set.
"I’m very happy with the way I played, the tennis was there," said Connors. "The crowd was terrific and I feel pretty good. I really enjoyed feeling those competitive juices again."
Sampras won his semifinal match 6-4 over Michael Chang.
For the victory, Sampras earned 400 points in the official 2011 Tour rankings, while Courier gained 200. Chang and Connors each earned 100.
The Champions Series continues Friday night in Washington D.C. at the Verizon Center, as Courier will take on Andre Agassi – who will be making his 2011 Series debut. Sampras will again face Chang in the other semifinal. The Washington stop on the circuit will be co-produced by Mark Ein Events/Washington Kastles, the city’s extremely popular World TeamTennis franchise.
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.


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