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TENNIS GRAND SLAM CUP : Gilbert Fights Way Into Final Against Sampras

From Associated Press

Brad Gilbert and David Wheaton nearly came to blows before Gilbert won a five-set battle Saturday to reach the final of the Grand Slam Cup, where he will meet Pete Sampras.

Sampras, hitting winners from all over the court, beat Michael Chang, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, in the other semifinal of the $6-million tournament.

Gilbert won, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (9-7), 2-6, 6-4.

The winner of today’s final will receive $2 million and the loser $1 million.

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The incident between Gilbert and Wheaton occurred after the tiebreaker in the third set, following a dispute over a call that went against Gilbert, but was overruled by the chair empire.

At 6-6 in the tiebreaker, a shot by Gilbert was called out. Gilbert screamed in protest, smashing his racket on the net, and did not hear chair umpire Stephen Winyard overrule the call.

Wheaton then protested heatedly, going to supervisor Ken Farrar, but the call stood. Wheaton served an ace to level, but then had a double fault and Gilbert clinched the tiebreaker.

At the end of the changeover, the two players exchanged angry words, pushed each other and had to be separated by Farrar and other officials. Both were given warnings for unsportsmanlike conduct.

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“It was a million-dollar mistake,” Wheaton said of the overrule. “There was no way he could be sure.”

Gilbert broke Wheaton’s serve in the first game of the decisive set. He fought off two break points in the next, two more in the sixth and went on to win in 3 hours 53 minutes.

In the match between the 1990 U.S. Open champion and the 1989 French Open champion, the fourth-seeded Sampras dominated from the start.

He kept Chang racing from corner to corner with his powerful, deep ground strokes, then rushed to the net and scored with volleys. He also served 15 aces.

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“It’s about the best I’ve played since the U.S. Open,” Sampras said. “My serve was going very well. I controlled the game and dictated the play.”

“Some of the shots he hit today were incredible,” Chang said. “I’ve never seen anyone do them before. It’s the best I’ve seen him play.”


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