Pete Sampras avenged last year's loss to Patrick Rafter in the $2.45 million ATP Championship, beating the Australian, 7-6 (9-7), 6-3, yesterday in Mason, Ohio, for his 60th career tournament title.
Sampras has won 22 consecutive matches and four straight tournaments, including the Queen's Cup, Wimbledon and Los Angeles, in the second-longest streak of his career. He won 29 in a row in 1994.
"Pete never let me play well, it's as simple as that," Rafter said. "He just served too big and too hard."
Sampras served 12 aces, landing 67 percent of his first serves, in improving to 9-4 career against Rafter. However, Rafter had beaten Sampras three straight times, including here and at the U.S. Open in 1998. Last year's event ended in controversy when Rafter won with an ace that Sampras felt should have been called out.
"From the first couple of games, I felt like my rhythm was there," Sampras said. "I felt I was hitting big, and I was hitting close to the line. And you combine those two, I think he felt it was going to be tough to break me."
Only five players in the open era have more tournament titles than Sampras -- Jimmy Connors (109), Ivan Lendl (94), John McEnroe (77) and Bjorn Borg and Guillermo Vilas (62).
The victory ensured that Sampras will remain No. 1 for a record 273rd week when the rankings are released today.
ACURA CLASSIC: Serena Williams used power and accuracy to overcome Julie Halard-Decugis, 6-1, 6-4, in the final in Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Williams will move up to No. 9 in the WTA Tour rankings today, her second time in the world's top 10 this year. Playing her first singles tournament in two months and only her ninth of the year, the sixth-seeded Williams upset top-ranked Martina Hingis in the semifinals.
SAN MARINO: Galo Blanco rallied to defeat fellow Spaniard Albert Portas, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, on clay in the final of the $300,000 event.