Sampras Knocked Out of Gerry Weber
Jun. 13, 2002
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HALLE, Germany (AP) _ Pete Sampras' hopes of another Wimbledon crown took a big blow Thursday when Germany's Nicolas Kiefer scored a straight-set victory over the former No. 1 at the Gerry Weber Open.
Kiefer needed just over an hour to win 6-3, 6-4 against Sampras, mired in the deepest slump of his career.
``I needed to do well here, this is a big week _ it was very important I reach the final or win here,'' a discouraged Sampras said.
Still, the 30-year-old Sampras said his career isn't nearing an end despite the latest setback 10 days before Wimbledon, where he has won seven times.
``I don't enjoy losing, and that's been happening a lot this year,'' Sampras said. ``It's a very very big test for me, but I know I can get through it.''
Sampras lost for the fourth time in his last five matches and now hasn't won a tournament for two years since the 2000 Wimbledon.
Roger Federer of Switzerland, one of the favorites for Wimbledon, also advanced into the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-4 rout of Germany's David Prinosil.
Kiefer, a former Top 10 player facing his own slump, needed four chances to break Sampras' serve to start the second set, then finally gained it with a double fault by the seven-time Wimbledon winner.
After that, Kiefer _ who won the event in 1997 _ rolled to a 4-0 lead, before Sampras staged his comeback, fighting off two match points at 2-5 before losing.
Kiefer has also lost in the first round four of his last tournaments, although the German has posted some good results on grass. He reached Wimbledon's fourth round last year and the quarterfinals in 1997.
Federer closed out his match when Prinosil's backhand return flew into the net in an impressive performance 10 days before Wimbledon
``I'm not here to warm up for Wimbledon _ I want to win the title here,'' said Federer, who is chasing his third tournament victory this season.
Federer may have ended the Sampras era at Wimbledon, when he beat the American last year in a dramatic five-set match in the fourth round. That ended Sampras 31-match winning streak at the All-England Club.
The Gerry Weber Open also has Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Australian Open champion in the field as the 10-year-old tournament has become a growing rival to Queens as the key Wimbledon tuneup.
One of the attractions has been the roof over a center court built to resemble Wimbledon's. It has been closed the whole week as downpours have raked the stadium grounds.