Sampras flies in ready to defend top ranking
AMERICAN Pete Sampras last night arrived in the territory fresh from a tournament victory in Tokyo and hoping to strengthen his newly-acquired world number one status at this week's Salem Hongkong Open.
Sampras, who took over the top ranking from compatriot Jim Courier last week, will play France's 68-ranked Stephane Simian in the first round tomorrow.
The 21-year-old former US Open champion defeated Brad Gilbert 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 in the Tokyo final yesterday and soon afterwards boarded a Hongkong-bound plane.
He checked into the Marriott Hotel and can look forward to a whole day's rest.
Courier is still top seed for the event as the official rankings will not be published until today. He faces Japan's Shuzo Matsuoka in the first round.
Hongkong favourite Michael Chang, the tournament's third seed, meets Australian Jonathan Stark in his first-round match.
Chang will be looking for his first title in Hongkong and his third in Asia, having won in Indonesia last year and Osaka two weeks ago.
Chang was beaten in last year's final by Courier.
His fans get their first chance to see him this afternoon when he and brother Carl play doubles.