Roddick Beats Sampras to Defend Title

Monday, April 29th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

HOUSTON (AP) _ Pete Sampras found some comfort in another defeat.

``I just played someone who is going to win a lot of Grand Slam tournaments,'' Sampras said. ``I think the future of American tennis is bright.''

Andy Roddick defeated Sampras 7-6 (9), 6-3 Sunday to win the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship. It was 19-year-old Roddick's fifth career title and third on American clay.

``He'll be a threat in the French,'' Sampras said. ``It's just a matter of time before he puts himself in contention in the second week (of a Grand Slam event).''

Roddick, the first to retain the Men's Clay Court title since Jose-Luis Clerc in 1981, feels he's getting closer to the top.

``I think Pete is playing well and Andre (Agassi) and there are a couple of other young guys so I'm in that group,'' Roddick said. ``I definitely wish the best for those guys.''

Roddick survived a tight first set and an impromptu entrance by former President George Bush to extend Sampras' winless streak to 25 straight tournaments. Sampras hasn't won since taking his seventh Wimbledon title in 2000.

The pair battled through to the first-set tiebreaker where Sampras fought off four set points to reach 9-9. Then Bush entered the sold-out stadium.

Sampras threw his racket in mock anger at the brief delay.

``When I saw President Bush, I knew I was in trouble,'' Sampras joked. ``No, Andy really played a great first set. I had a couple of chances to squeak it out but Andy was great.''

Sampras missed a volley charging in behind his serve, giving the tiebreaker to Roddick, 11-9.

``I wasn't getting down in the first set because I was hitting my shots,'' Roddick said.

Sampras, who beat Agassi in the semifinals, slowed in the second set and Roddick broke Sampras in the eighth game.

Roddick, who lost only one set in five matches in the tournament, improved to 2-0 against Sampras, and a tour-high 27-6 record this year.

Roddick teamed with Mardy Fish to beat Jan-Michael Gambill and Graydon Oliver 6-4, 6-4 for the doubles title. Roddick became the only player on the ATP Tour this year to win both singles and doubles titles in the same tournament.

Three weeks ago, Roddick led the U.S. Davis Cup team to a quarterfinals victory over Spain on the grass courts of the Westside Tennis Club.

``As long as it's Westside, I think I'm all right,'' Roddick said.