Pete Sampras is on the verge of winning the Queen's tournament in London. If the past is any indication, pre-Wimbledon success may not necessarily be a good sign.
Sampras held off 18-year-old Australian Lleyton Hewitt for a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) victory in yesterday's semifinals of the grass-court tournament.
"I've done well at Wimbledon having lost the first round here -- and having won here," Sampras said.
"I've lost early the last two years and won Wimbledon and so you can't read too much into my results here. But it does help the confidence and that's what I need at the moment."
Sampras will play for the title against the winner of the other semifinal between Britain's Tim Henman and Sargis Sargsian of Armenia, which was stopped by rain with Henman leading, 6-1, 3-2. The match will be completed today before the final.
In the third set, begun after a rain delay, Sampras was broken in the first game but broke back in the sixth. Hewitt had a break point in the 11th game but did not convert. He was up 3-1 in the tiebreaker before losing six of the last seven points.
* WEBER OPEN: In Halle, Germany, Nicklas Kulti of Sweden upset second-seeded Carlos Moya of Spain, 6-3, 6-4, and will play Nicolas Kiefer of Germany in the tournament's final. Kiefer, the seventh seed, beat Daniel Vacek of the Czech Republic, 6-4, 6-3.
Kulti took advantage of a break of serve in each set to beat Moya, at No. 11 the highest ranked player left in the grass-court tournament that serves as a warmup for Wimbledon.
* PRESIDENT'S CUP: Top-seeded Anna Smashnova of Israel reached her first WTA final by defeating Germany's Angelica Bachmann, 6-1, 6-3, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
In the other semifinal, third-seeded Laurence Courtois of Belgium topped Slovakia's Tina Pisnik, 6-0, 6-4.
* DFS CLASSIC: Top-seeded Nathalie Tauziat moved one victory away from defending her title in Birmingham, England, with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over No. 6 Magui Serna of Spain. The 31-year-old Frenchwoman hasn't lost in the grass-court tournament since 1996.
In a late semifinal, No. 5 Julie Halard-Decugis of France led No. 8 Cara Black of Zimbabwe, 6-4, 1-0, when play was suspended. The match will be completed today before the final.
* MERANO OPEN: In Merano, Italy, third-seeded Hicham Arazi of Morocco upset top-seeded Dominik Hrbaty, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), to reach the final against Spain's Fernando Vicente, who defeated unseeded Andrea Gaudenzi of Italy, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.
CAPTION: Spain's Carlos Moya, seeded second, is unable to figure out a way to get past unseeded Nicklas Kulti of Sweden during a semifinal loss in Germany.