IT'S nearing Wimbledon time again, time for Sampras - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

IT'S nearing Wimbledon time again, time for Sampras

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LONDON (AP) _ It's nearing Wimbledon time again _ and that means it's Pete Sampras time.

Sampras, tennis' all-time leader in Grand-Slam victories with 13, begins his Wimbledon preparations with Monday's opening of the Queen's Club tournament, the traditional grass warm-up for the All England Club's fortnight.

A year ago at Wimbledon, the 29-year-old American won his seventh Wimbledon title _ beating Pat Rafter in four sets _ to claim his record-breaking 13th Grand Slam title.

Sampras hasn't won a Grand Slam since, but if he wins again at Wimbledon the eight victories would top the record of seven he shares with 19th century Wimbledon pioneer William Rental.

As usual, Sampras begins his Wimbledon tune-up having flopped in the French Open, the only one of the four Grand Slams he's never won. He went out in Paris in the second round, victim of a three-set drubbing by Spanish journeyman Galo Blanco.

With Wimbledon starting in two weeks, All England Club officials have a major problem to resolve: how to seed the tournament.

Wimbledon has been the only one of the four Grand Slam tournaments deviating from the ATP rankings to determine its list of 16 seeded players. The All England Club has based its list on a player's grass-court credentials, often relegating clay-courters below their rankings or out of the seedings altogether.

Last year, three clay-court players boycotted because Wimbledon refused to change the system. Two months ago, Wimbledon did away with its seeding committee, the first step toward meeting the demands of clay-court players.

Gustavo Kuerten has already said he won't play Wimbledon because he needs a rest, and French Open semifinalist Juan Carlos Ferrero has said he won't play if Wimbledon again deviates from the ATP rankings.

Club chairman Tim Phillips was expected to announce a compromise on Monday in Paris. Wimbledon may decide to accept the top 16 players but re-seed according to their skill on grass using a computer formula. Another possibility might be seeding 32 instead of 16.

Phillips said two months ago that the ATP had offered seven different proposals.

With Wimbledon opening June 25, the Queen's Club tournament traditionally brings together the game's top grasscourt threats.

Sampras is seeded No. 2 behind Marat Safin of Russia, who beat the American in last year's U.S. Open final. Safin and Sampras both have byes into the second round of the west London tournament.

Australian Lleyton Hewitt is seeded No. 3 with British hope Tim Henman seeded No. 4. Hewitt and Henman also get byes into the second round.

The other seeded players are: Thomas Enqvist of Sweden (5), American Jan-Michael Gambill (6), Wayne Ferreira of South Africa (7), Vladimir Voltchov of Belarus (8), Andreas Vinciguerra of Sweden (9), Harel Levy of Israel (10), Andy Roddick of the United States (11), Greg Rusedski of Britain (12), Cedric Pioline of France (13), Magnus Gustafsson of Sweden (14), Davide Sanguinetti of Italy (15) and Wayne Arthurs of Australia (16).
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