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Sampras Opens Grand Slam Cup With a Victory : Tennis: The American beats Cherkasov, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 in the opening round. Ivanisevic defeats Curren in another match.

From Associated Press

Pete Sampras and Goran Ivanisevic scored opening-round victories today in the $6-million Grand Slam Cup, the richest tournament in tennis history.

Sampras, the U.S. Open champion from Rancho Palos Verdes who is seeded fourth in the tournament, overcame a sloppy start to beat Andrei Cherkasov of the Soviet Union, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5.

Ivanisevic, the fifth seed from Yugoslavia, beat Kevin Curren of the United States, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (9-7).

The 16-man field was determined on the basis of results in this year’s four Grand Slam tournaments--the Australian, French and U.S. Opens and Wimbledon. The winner will get $2 million.

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Sampras lost the first set when he committed two double-faults. On the first, he fell behind 15-40. The 19-year-old American then served an ace but followed with another double-fault to give Cherkasov the set.

Sampras quickly took control in the second set, breaking Cherkasov in the third game when the Soviet double-faulted.

Sampras struggled to hold serve in the next game, going to eight deuces before winning the game.

“I wasn’t hitting my ground strokes very well,” Sampras said. He said shin splints that he suffered in November were still bothering him occasionally and that he used ice packs during the match.

An overhead smash gave Sampras another break in the next game and a 4-1 lead.

Serving for the set, Sampras fell behind 15-40 when he hit the net with a forehand. But he served three aces in the next four points to win the set.

A string of errors by Cherkasov allowed Sampras to gain a break and take a 5-4 lead in the decisive set.

The American failed to put the match away in the next game. Facing three break points, he saved one with an ace and another with a service winner, but then sent a forehand long to allow Cherkasov to stay in the match.

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But the Soviet was unable to take advantage. A spectacular passing shot down the line gave Sampras two break points and when Cherkasov netted a backhand, the American regained the lead.

He served out the match without problems, winning in two hours, 19 minutes and evened his career record against Cherkasov at 1-1.

Ivanisevic, who complained about several line calls, dropped his serve in the third game of the second set, beaten by a passing shot from Curren. He then smashed the ball into the stands and received a warning.

“I deserved the warning but it was good for me because it calmed me down and I played better tennis after that,” Ivanisevic said.

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He evened the score by breaking Curren in the eighth game and the American saved three match points to send the decisive set into a tiebreaker.

Curren saved two more match points before surrendering to the Yugoslav’s powerful serve.


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