Fans at the Bank of the West Classic WTA tournament have been treated to more than watching some of the best women’s tennis players this year. Three exhibition matches have been lined up featuring tennis legends Pete Sampras, Michael Change and Jim Courier with the first taking place on Wednesday.
Pete Sampras vs. Michael Chang was the first match, and although the tone was generally light-hearted throughout the exhibition event with Chang even questioning line calls of Sampras’ serves, the gathered crowds were still given some of that Sampras magic.
Sampras took an early lead during the first set, eventually winning 7-6. He seemed in trouble during the opening rounds of the second set as Chang took control, but the 14-time Grand Slam champion quickly found his game again and gained a 5-4 lead. Chang managed to even out the score in the second set to five games each after a failed mid-court backhand led Sampras to clutch his left calf as if in pain. Exhibition matches like this generally go into a tiebreak, but after Chang drew level Sampras shook hands with the Hall of Famer and retired from the match.
Although fans were naturally disappointed at the outcome, they were still respectful of his decision to pull out following the injury and cheered the record-setting star as he left the court. Speaking about his decision to quit the match and leave Chang the victor, Sampras said “I haven’t been playing a lot, and sometimes when you push it, your body is not quite ready for …I felt it go… And I knew I should get off the court.”
Sampras is scheduled to play again on Thursday against 4-time Grand Slam champion Jim Courier, however he is due to undergo an MRI scan first and although hopeful is not entirely certain that he will be ruled fit enough to play.