Rivalry good for game
WAYNE Ferreira, who has been in, out and around the top 10 since first breaking into it in 1992, gave his endorsement yesterday to the media circus surrounding the world's top two ranked players, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.
Agassi, who was a late withdrawal from this week's Salem Open with back problems, and Sampras, who was the 1993 champion here, are being touted as the John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors of the 90s.
Tennis scribes and authorities have been building up the duo's rivalry in a bid to inject some much-needed interest into what was seen as a flagging men's game.
But South African Ferreira, seeded second here and ranked 11th in the world, has no complaints about that, saying he sees a clear division between the world's top two and the rest.
'I think the Agassi-Sampras rivalry is great for the game. It helps fans get more involved. And I think they both deserve the attention because they are a lot better than the rest of us,' said Ferreira after his 7-5, 6-4, first-round win over Britain's Jeremy Bates.
'I mean, I've hardly seen them lose to anyone they shouldn't have lost to lately, apart from Sampras last week.
'But there are a lot of good guys coming up. [Yevgeny] Kafelnikov has risen quickly to world number four.
'[Thomas] Enqvist and [Magnus] Larsson are doing well and could be great threats.
'I'd include myself, too, although I haven't come up recently like they have. I just have to improve a few small thing in my game.
'If I do that I could be a threat, too.
'I think I'm playing well enough now to be in the top 10 for the whole year.' But this week, with Agassi's withdrawal, Ferreira sees his biggest challenge coming not from first seed Michael Chang but the revitalised Jim Courier.