KEY BISCAYNE, FLA., MARCH 20 -- Top-ranked Pete Sampras benefited from timely aces and Andre Agassi's good sportsmanship to win today's final at the Lipton Championships, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.
The start was delayed an hour because Sampras had a stomach ailment. Agassi agreed to the delay, even though the rules permitted a walkover when Sampras was unable to play on schedule.
"If I can't beat the best player in the world, I don't deserve the trophy," Agassi told the sellout crowd after the match. "And I certainly don't deserve it if I can't beat him when he's sick."
Sampras said, "He showed me a lot of class and it's something I'll never forget." He woke feeling sick and blamed Saturday's dinner. He received intravenous fluids for 90 minutes and played on an empty stomach.
He looked listless in the first set, but capitalized on repeated errors by Agassi and led, 5-2.
"In the beginning I had a hard time getting intense," Agassi said. "You go out there an hour after you're primed to play, and the guy you're playing is feeling sick. At 5-2 I realized that whether he's sick or not, I was getting a butt-kicking out there."
Agassi broke serve three consecutive times to win the set. But just when it looked as if Sampras would fold, he broke in Game 1 of the second set and the momentum switched.
Sampras fired three aces for a 5-2 third-set lead, then four aces in the final game. He had 14 aces in the match, 59 in the tournament.
Sampras got $242,000 -- $114,00 more than Agassi -- for his fourth title this year, and became the first to win two consecutive men's singles Lipton titles. He went to 23-2 this year and extended the largest lead for a No. 1 player in the history of ATP rankings.
Agassi -- who beat No. 14 Boris Becker, No. 12 Cedric Pioline and No. 3 Stefan Edberg -- will climb from 31st to 19th in this week's rankings. "It's been an incredible tournament for me," he said. "I couldn't have hoped for more."