Friday, March 14Five-time U.S. Open champ
hasn't played since 2002 win
NEW YORK -- Pete Sampras is making his retirement official, and he will be honored with a ceremony at the U.S. Open.
Sampras hasn't played a match since winning his record 14th major title at the 2002 U.S. Open, although he never came out and formally said he was retiring.
That will change Monday at a news conference he will hold before a tribute at Arthur Ashe Stadium on the first night of this year's Open, Sampras' representatives said in an e-mailed release.
Sampras has withdrawn from every event this season but remains ranked -- currently 35th -- because he never officially quit.
Pete Sampras may not be the only American tennis icon fading into the sunset.
Andre Agassi, interviewed Thursday by the New York Post, told the paper "Every tournament I play now I have this feeling that this could be the last time I'm here. I don't know if I'll even be here again at the Open."
When asked if Sampras' retirement announcement had affected him, Agassi, whose loss to Sampras in last year's Open Finals marked Sampras' final appearance, said "I came to this party 18 years ago with Pete and I'm sort of leaving the dance with someone else. That's not an easy feeling. There's sadness in many ways but that can be taken away quickly with an Open title."
Steffi Graf, former world women's No. 1 and Agassi's wife, joked "It's not Pete. It's the 18-year-olds."
-- ESPN.com news services
His last match was a 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 victory over old foe Andre Agassi in the U.S. Open final Sept. 8. It gave Sampras his fifth Open title and, at 31, made him the tournament's oldest winner since 1970.
At the postmatch news conference, Sampras alternated between sounding as though he were ready to hang up his racket and ready to get back to work.
"I'm going to have to weigh it up in the next couple months to see where I'm at. To beat a rival like Andre, in a storybook ending, it might be nice to stop," Sampras said at the time.
"But," he added, "I still want to compete, you know? I still love to play."
Part of what made that victory so special to Sampras was that he hadn't won a tournament of any sort in more than two years. He entered that U.S. Open seeded 17th and with a 20-17 match record for the year.
"I wanted to stop on my terms," Sampras said after beating Agassi. "That was one thing I promised myself, even though I was struggling this year and hearing this and that. I deserved to stop on my own terms."
Sampras and his wife, actress Bridgette Wilson, had their first child in November.