Pistol Pete hoists yet another ho-hum trophy, but congrats to him for winning his third Outback Champions title this year.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Pete Sampras defeated Todd Martin 6-3, 6-4 Sunday to win the Championships at The Palisades and claim his third tournament title for the year on the Outback Champions Series, a collection of tennis events around the world featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. Sampras, in fact, is undefeated in 12 matches on the circuit since he ended his five-year hiatus from competitive tournament tennis in Boston last May in his debut event on the Outback Champions Series.
In addition to the $50,000 first prize paycheck for defeating Martin and going 3-0 in round-robin play, Sampras earned 800 Stanford Champions Ranking points that determines the year-end champion on the Outback Champions Series. Martin earned $32,000 and 600 Stanford Champions Ranking points for his runner-up showing. After five events on the 2007 Outback Champions Series, Martin remains in the No. 1 position with 2600 total points, followed by Sampras with 2400 points.
“I’d rather not play enough than play too much,” said Sampras of his return to tennis after an ATP career that included a record 14 Grand Slam men’s singles titles. “These events are competitive, fun and it’s real tennis. There is prize money on the line and pride… It’s nice to win. I’ve won the big things and it’s still nice to go out and perform well.”
Sampras, 36, defeated Martin in the finals of his two previous Outback Champions Series events in Boston and Athens, Greece, but his win over Martin in Charlotte was his only win over Martin of the three in straight sets. Despite the relatively routine match score, Sampras said he found Martin difficult to play on the slippery but fast clay court.
“Todd, on this court, was very tough to play,” said Sampras. “Todd’s got a game I still don’t feel totally comfortable with. His serve bounces so high.”
Said Martin, “The court was very fast and there was a thin layer (of clay), which definitely speeds things up. I actually think I match up better with Pete on a fast court.”
In addition to his runner-up finishes to Sampras in Boston and Athens, the 37-year-old Martin won the title at the Gibson Guitar Champions Cup in Newport, R.I., in August to move ahead of Sampras in the Stanford Champions Rankings. Martin was a runner-up in Charlotte for a second straight year after losing to Jim Courier in the 2006 final in a Champions Tie-Break. Martin, however, avenged his loss to Courier in Saturday night’s final round-robin match, defeating the defending champion 6-4, 6-7 (4), 10-5 (Champions Tie-Break).
Courier, the co-founder of the Outback Champions Series, finished play Sunday, losing to Wayne Ferreira of South Africa 3-6, 7-6 (2), 10-5 (Champions Tie-Break) in the third-place play-off.
“Today was a high level of tennis,” said Courier. “Wayne served really well and I didn’t serve too well today. Overall, this tournament was a big success in Charlotte. We had terrific crowds. Everyone enjoyed themselves.”
Said Ferreira, “”It’s been great here all week. I was here last year and really had a good time and I enjoyed myself here again this year.”
The final two events on the 2007 Outback Champions Series will be held in Dallas, Texas at The Stanford Championships Oct. 18-21 and in Dubai, U.A.E. at The Legends Rock Dubai, November 20-24.
(photo by Outback Champions Series)