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Wednesday, 26 June, 2002, 20:06 GMT 21:06 UK
Decision time for golden duo
Pete Samnpras waves to the crowd after his shock five-set defeat to George Bastl
Will this be Sampras' final farewell?

It was a day of shocks at Wimbledon, as one big name after the other was upstaged by lesser known opponents.

But the way that Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras crashed out of Wimbledon one after the other on Wednesday begs a simple question.

Do they still have what it takes to compete at the top?

Tennis is a young man's game - some are saying that Tim Henman must win Wimbledon this year, and he is only 27.


This is not the way I'm going to end it here
Pete Sampras

For Sampras and Agassi, it's no longer just the pair's bald patches which betray their age.

Sampras has been slowly slipping down the rankings since 1998, and has not won a tournament since his last Wimbledon triumph in 2000.

His schedule is getting lighter as his home life with wife Bridgette takes precedence.

Few now share his belief that he can win another Grand Slam.

Sampras has not won a tournament since 2000
Sampras has not won a tournament since 2000

"I plan on coming back next year and the years after as long as I feel like I can do it.

"This is not the way I'm going to end it here. I want to end it on a high note."

While Sampras' defeat here last year at the hands of Roger Federer was a surprise, you could at least argue that the Swiss has the potential to be a great player on grass.

George Bastl does not. He is a journeyman pro whose ranking has hovered around 100 for the last three years.

He was only in the tournament as a lucky loser, and his win in the first round was his first ever at Wimbledon.

Added to this was Sampras' defeat to clay-courter Alex Corretja in the Davis Cup also on grass.

Agassi's defeat to Paradorn Srichaphan was just as surprising.


Every year is a new year, and every year gets tougher
Andre Agassi

Although he is a year older than Sampras at 32, he has maintained his form and is still number four in the world.

But he also has distractions in his home life.

He and Steffi Graf have recently had their first child, Jaden Gil, but he denies rumours that they are expecting a second.

And while Agassi's fitness does not appear to be a problem, the question is how long he, and Sampras, can keep putting themselves through the punishment of the tour.

"Every year is a new year, and every year gets tougher," says Agassi.

"It's always been tough grinding through matches and it does get tougher, but I've been doing it and I'll keep on doing it."

Andre Agassi walks off centre court after being knocked out of Wimbledon
Agassi has admitted that every year is tougher

Boris Becker, commentating for BBC televison sees no happy return for these elder statesmen of the game.

"There are no happy endings - or very few times," he says.

But John McEnroe is adamant that Sampras, at least, will return for one last shot.

Agassi and Sampras will both now have a couple of unplanned weeks to spare in which doubts are sure to be raised.

But what is certain is that when these two great champions do decide to call it a day, the game of tennis will be all the poorer for it.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Pete Sampras
"I was not happy on court two"
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