WASHINGTON -- Pete Sampras, the world's top-ranked player, announced last night that he is pulling out of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic because of tendinitis in his left ankle.
"I'm going home and I wanted to explain myself," Sampras said during a news conference at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center. "Top players just don't go home when they're not feeling up to playing. This is a real injury."
Sampras felt pain in his ankle while winning his second consecutive Wimbledon title but decided to have a magnetic resonance imaging after his Davis Cup loss Sunday to Richard Krajicek, he said.
Tournament physician Dr. Stephen Haas diagnosed Sampras with tendinitis in the back of his ankle and prescribed rest, anti-inflammatory treatment and rehabilitation.
Sampras blames the injury on his hectic schedule, which has included Davis Cup matches on weeks that he usually takes off.
"I played a lot this year, and I think the number of matches I've played and not really resting has probably taken its toll," said Sampras, who plans to play only 20 tournaments next year.
Sampras does not know whether he will be able to play next week in Toronto, but he hopes to play in three weeks in Cincinnati.
His ultimate goal, however, is to be ready for the U.S. Open on Aug. 29. "I have to look at the long term," Sampras said.
Tournament officials said the absence of Sampras, whose appearance they had advertised all week, will not affect the event's quality.
"It's definitely disappointing, but we still have a strong field," tournament director Kari Mutcheller said.
Seventh-ranked Stefan Edberg, 18th-ranked Wayne Ferreira, Andre Agassi, Ivan Lendl and Aaron Krickstein are scheduled to play.
NOTES: Defending champion Amos Mansdorf of Israel gritted out a first-round victory yesterday over South Africa's David Nainkin, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, on the grandstand court. . . . Mats Wilander, who was the No. 1-ranked player in the world in 1988, defeated Vince Spadea, 7-5, 7-5. Wilander, who is ranked 151st in the world, got into the tournament as a wild card.
NOT ON THE MONEY
WASHINGTON -- The Legg Mason Tennis Classic meant little to Pete Sampras' career, but if 19-year-old Christian Hill of Columbia had won the tournament he would have won more than $1 million.
"If I would have won the $1,087,500, I would have had to quit school," said Hill, who has finished his first year at Pepperdine. He shouldn't start spending the money. Hill, playing in his first professional tournament, lost to 108th-ranked Maurice Ruah of Venezuela, 6-0, 6-1, in 34 minutes.
Hill, who is originally from St. Louis, qualified by winning the Channel 4 Million Dollar Challenge on June 26, which promised its qualifier $1 million if he won the main draw.