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Sampras Takes Show on Road : Tennis: U.S. Open champion teams with Agassi on the exhibition circuit to form new version of the odd couple.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Pete Sampras flew into town in style Friday afternoon, a guest on Air Andre, the private jet of Andre Agassi.

Sampras and Agassi played an exhibition Thursday night in Phoenix and another one Friday night at the Forum, which means they have had plenty of time to spend together, on and off the court. Agassi said Sampras is learning something from him.

“He is learning that he wants an airplane,” Agassi said.

Sampras said he actually may copy Agassi in another way: “I might dye my hair blond.”

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It has been mostly fun and games for Sampras since he won the U.S. Open six days ago, a victory that earned him not only $535,000, but also his third Grand Slam event title in three years. Once again the No. 1-ranked player in the world, the reigning Wimbledon titlist and now a two-time U.S. Open champion, Sampras probably could have flown here without the aid of Agassi’s jet.

Sampras has tried hard to keep his feet on the ground since Sunday. He didn’t pick up a racket until Thursday and even stayed off the golf course, relaxing at home in Tampa, reading congratulatory messages from numerous well-wishers, including a telegram from his boyhood hero, Rod Laver.

The last man to accomplish the Grand Slam--winning the Australian, French and U.S. Opens and Wimbledon the same year--Laver has long been a role model for Sampras. And at 22, Sampras said he would like to match Laver’s feat, although there isn’t any timetable.

“You know, to have a year like this is really huge,” said Sampras. “With the clay-court game I have, (winning the French Open) is going to be the biggest challenge of my career. To win a Grand Slam these days, the way tennis is with all the great players, it’s pretty tough to do.

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“I’ve got the next 10 years to hopefully do it, but I’m not going to put any extra pressure on myself.”

Sampras lost to Agassi in Phoenix then beat him 6-2, 6-4, at the Forum on Friday night.


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