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Last Updated: Friday, 22 August, 2003, 07:54 GMT 08:54 UK
Tributes served up for Sampras
Pete Sampras
Sampras is the current US Open champion
German legend Boris Becker has hailed Pete Sampras as "the best tennis player of all time".

Sampras will officially announce his retirement at the US Open - exactly a year after he won the last of his 14 Grand Slam titles.

And Becker led the tributes to the American who will bow out at a ceremony on Monday at Flushing Meadows.

"I have great respect for his decision," Becker said. "But what can be nicer than ending your career with a Grand Slam victory?"

Sampras had a number of duels with Becker, and the German remembers one of them as a highlight of his own illustrious career.

"For me the match against Pete in the 1996 Hannover Masters was unforgettable," said Becker.

"Even though I lost the final it was perhaps the best match of my life."

Sampras triumphed 3-6 7-6 7-6 6-7 6-4 in a five-set classic in Germany.

Sampras thrilled millions of fans with his prowess on the court and grace off it
ATP chief executive Mark Miles
Andre Agassi admitted he was sorry to see the end of one of the greatest rivalries the sport has known.

The pair first met in Rome in 1989 and Sampras went on to win 20 of their 34 career meetings, including his final match in last year's US Open final.

"It is sad in many ways," said Agassi, "but he has the right to leave on his own terms and I wish him the world of good."

Agassi's former coach Brad Gilbert, who himself played Sampras nine times, winning four, paid tribute to Sampras' quiet approach.

"He had an unbelievable run," said Gilbert. "I am sure in hindsight he wishes he did it a year ago. He came in quietly, he leaves quietly.

"He played with a lot of dignity - a great player."

ATP Champions Race leader Andy Roddick was also glowing in his praise for his compatriot.

"He was just one of the most graceful players of all-time, one of the most quietly competitive people of all-time," said Roddick.

"When I think of him, I think of him as one of the best pressure players of all-time. It seemed like the bigger the match was, the better that he played."

ATP chief executive Mark Miles said Sampras would never be forgotten by the world of tennis.

"While collecting these honours, he's thrilled millions of fans across the globe with his prowess on the court and grace off of it," said Miles.

"His passion for excellence and dedication to success make him a model athlete that will be celebrated for generations to come.

"Sampras may be retiring from professional tennis, but his legacy will carry on."

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