America's former world number one Pete Sampras advanced to his second successive final on Saturday defeating Italian Davide Sanguinetti 7-5, 6-3 at the $800,000 Queen's Club tournament.
Sampras needed eight match points to dispatch the never-say-die Italian, who was a surprise Wimbledon quarter-finalist in 1998, but after a first-round loss at the French Open is shaping up nicely to defend his Wimbledon crown.
Sampras, the holder and two-time champion, will on Sunday play either sixth-seeded Australian Lleyton Hewitt or another Italian surprise packet, 35-year-old Gianluca Pozzi.
Pozzi celebrated his birthday on Saturday with hopes of an upset against a teenager 16 years his junior.
Finishing the job against 28-year-old tournament debutant Sanguinetti was harder than expected for the six-time Wimbledon winner.
Sanguinetti forced the American back time and again, salvaging one winning chance in the eighth game of the second set and saving six more a game later as Sampras served.
The second seed from California finally put the contest away with a volley into the open court on his eighth match point after one hour 24 minutes.
After winning only one title this year, the Masters Series in Miami, Sampras is counting on salvaging his season on grass, one surface where he is more than comfortable.
"I struggled a little bit in the last game," admitted the winner.
"But I had a good rhythm on my serve. I finally put my brain together and said I'd go to the body. I finally won the match." the 29-year-old added.
Sampras blamed a shaky serve for causing his problems.
‘I didn't serve quite as well as compared to the last couple of days. It was a bit of a struggle with my form. But it was a good match to get through not playing quite as well," he said -- (AFP)
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