Sampras is focused on retaining top ranking

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 October, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 October, 1996, 12:00am

US Open champion Pete Sampras arrived in Hong Kong last night for this week's Marlboro Championships with his sights set firmly on the end of the year - when he hopes to be sitting on top of the world rankings.

Sampras, the three-time Wimbledon champion, took a two-week break after his inspiring triumph at the US Open and victory in Basle and will be hoping to quickly regain his winning form at Victoria Park this week.

The 25-year-old American is vying to end the season as world number one for the fourth year in a row.

'I'm feeling pretty good and my form is all right and I'm looking forward to the tournament,' said Sampras, exhausted after a long flight from Los Angeles.

'I enjoy Hong Kong and the atmosphere at Victoria Park. The quality of the tournament seems to have gone up and even though it's not an ATP event, I want to win. There is a lot of pride in it.

'After Hong Kong, I've got tournaments in Stuttgart and Paris and the ATP finals. My goal is to be ranked number one in the world at the end of the year for the fourth straight year.' Sampras takes on Zimbabwe's Byron Black and Canada's Grant Connell in the Silver Group of the $5.65 million tournament, which also includes Austria's former world number one Thomas Muster and French Open champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

Also competing in the event are American Richey Reneberg, the fourth seed, Australian Patrick Rafter, Swede Jonas Bjorkman, American Vince Spadea, Dane Kenneth Carlsen, American Michael Joyce and South Africa's Neville Godwin.

Second-seeded Muster heads the Gold Group, which also features Bjorkman and Godwin, while third-seeded Kafelnikov takes on Rafter and Joyce in the Red Group.

Reneberg faces Carlsen and Spadea in the Blue Group.

Sampras last played in Hong Kong in April when he won the Salem Open, beating Michael Chang in the final.