Pete Sampras to play Queens
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March 31st, 2007
Sampras to play at the 2007 Artois Championships
Ian Wight the Tournament Director of the Artois Championships today announced that Pete Sampras, the holder of a record 14 Grand Slam men's singles titles and one of the greatest tennis players of all time, will join the field of players at the 2007 Artois Championships. The Queens Club in West Kensington will host the event from Monday 11th – Sunday 17th June 2007. "I'm thrilled that Pete has committed to play at the Queens Club, which was a tremendous event last year with sold-out crowds and a fantastic atmosphere. It surely will be an event that should not be missed" said Ian Wight.
Sampras, 35, established himself as arguably the greatest tennis player of all time, winning a men's record 14 Grand Slam singles titles - seven Wimbledon titles (1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000), five US Open titles (1990, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2002) and two Australian Open titles (1994, 1999). He won 64 career ATP singles titles and was ranked No. 1 in the world for a record 286 weeks, including a record six-year stretch as year-end No. 1 from 1993 to 1998. In addition, Sampras helped the United States to Davis Cup titles in 1992 and in 1995.
Jim Courier, a Davis Cup team-mate of Sampras, convinced Pete to come out of retirement after his strong performances in the Outback Champions Seniors Series. "I am looking forward to watching Pete play again. I hope he does well and takes the next step of completing a dream return to Wimbledon."
The event will be the first tournament appearance for Sampras since he won the 2002 US Open, which eventually became his swan song event as a professional. Sampras speaking on ESPN last night said having his children watch him play now that they are old enough was one of his motivations for coming back. Sampras was also buoyed from a recent friendly match at his home in Los Angeles against Federer. It was rumoured Sampras took the current number 1 in the world Roger Federer to two tie breaker sets. A rematch won't happen at this tournament as Federer plays his Wimbledon warm up in the Halle ATP tournament in Germany. The question remains will Sampras step up a gear while playing on the grass courts of the Queens club and foreseeably request a wildcard from the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club?
The Queen's Club grass-court event will now be known as The Artois Championships and has expanded its centre court stadium with more than 400 seats to increase seating capacity to 6,858. The rebranding is a result of the growing Artois family of beers 'La Famille Artois,' which includes the addition of two other beers, Peeterman Artois and Artois Bock. For the first time at an ATP event in the UK, the electronic line-calling system Hawk-Eye will be used at the Artois Championships. Giant Screens will be installed at opposite ends of the centre court showing replays of line-calls challenged by players.
Apart from Pete Sampras, reigning champion Lleyton Hewitt, who beat James Blake, 6-4, 6-4, last June to claim his fourth career Queen's Club title, headlines a field that features three-time champion Andy Roddick, second-ranked Rafael Nadal, Australian Open finalist Fernando Gonzalez, Andy Murray, Tim Henman, Novak Djokovic and Gael Monfils.
With its global audience, the Artois Championships are recognised as one of the top 10 tennis events in the world. Held in the run up to Wimbledon, the Championships are consistently supported by the cream of men's singles and doubles players. Since its inception in 1979, 25 of the last 27 Wimbledon champions have played at the Championships. Connors, Lendl, Edberg and Sampras are amongst the legends of the game who have proudly held the massive silver Artois Championships trophy aloft.