Washington: Pete Sampras will play tournament tennis for the first time since 2002, competing on a tour for players over 30, The Associated Press has learned. Sampras' Outback Champions Series debut, which will come May 2-6 at Boston University's Agganis Arena, is to be announced formally on Tuesday. The 35-year-old Sampras will appear in at least one other event on the tour in 2007. "This is kind of my first dive into the waters, so to speak, to see how I feel and play a match I really want to win," Sampras, owner of a record 14 Grand Slam singles titles, said in a telephone interview with the AP. "I still love the sport - I practice two, three times a week - but I don't miss the grind. This is a time to catch up with old competitors, old friends, and see if I still have a few things left in the bag," he said. It's the latest step in a gradual return to a sport Sampras dominated for the better part of a decade, then pretty much disappeared from after winning his last match, against Andre Agassi in the US Open final in September 2002. Stakes high He didn't announce his retirement until a year later, then never really re-emerged until playing exhibitions and World Team Tennis in 2006. But those didn't get his competitive juices flowing the way he expects the senior events will. "The stakes are a little bit higher playing in a tournament and against some former greats," Sampras said. "There's a sense of satisfaction in that. Not like it used to be, but you want to win and play well." John McEnroe and series co-founder Jim Courier also will be in the eight-man field in Boston, where there will be $142,000 in prize money. Michael Chang, Goran Ivanisevic and Mats Wilander are other major champions who have participated in the Outback Champions Series, which is entering its second full season. To qualify, a player must have reached a Grand Slam singles final, been ranked in the top five, or played singles on a Davis Cup championship team.
Topics : Tennis