DETROIT, Mich. – Pete Sampras rebounded nicely from a tough loss in Chicago and used his powerful service game to capture the Champions Challenge at the Palace of Auburn Hills Thursday night, with an 8-4 triumph over Ivan Lendl in the championship match.
It was Sampras’ first victory of the season in his second appearance, following his hard-fought loss to John McEnroe in the final of the PowerShares QQQ Challenge in Chicago Wednesday night, as he began defense of his title and top ranking from the 2011 Champions Series.
The 14-time Grand Slam champ earned 400 points for the victory, and now sits in a second place tie with Jim Courier in the 2012 PowerShares Series rankings.
"Ivan was my hero growing up, so I really enjoyed playing him tonight," said Sampras, who hadn’t made an appearance in the Motor City since his days playing as a teenager on the amateur circuit. "He still hits the ball well and was very tough out there. Playing in these events is a lot of fun for me, but it’s not going to be easy to repeat my title."
In the evening’s first semifinal, Lendl rebounded from Wednesday’s loss to McEnroe in Chicago by staging his own late rally. With McEnroe holding a 6-5 lead, Lendl forced him to a tiebreaker. Then, facing match point on McEnroe’s serve, Lendl reeled off consecutive mini-breaks before finally closing out the match with a forehand volley winner.
In the evening's second semifinal, Sampras fought back from a 4-3 deficit to take the final three games from Jim Courier, to defeat him for the second straight night, this time by a 6-4 score. McEnroe and Courier each earned 100 points in the rankings, and McEnroe remains on top with 700 points.
The 2012 PowerShares Series continues Friday night, October 19 in Boston, Massachusetts when the foursome of McEnroe, Courier, Sampras and Lendl square off once more in the Staples Champions Cup, with the action starting at 7:30 pm at the TD Garden.
For news and stories regarding the entire 2012 PowerShares Series and ticket information for future events, log on to www.powersharesseries.com
Semifinal 1: Lendl def. McEnroe, 7-6 (6)
Semifinal 2: Sampras def. Courier, 6-4
Final: Sampras def. Lendl, 8-4
UPDATED 2012 POWERSHARES SERIES RANKINGS
1. McEnroe 700
2. Courier 600
4. Lendl 300