Sampras isoverwhelmedby his feat
Pete Sampras has a piece of tennis history, one more milestone to strengthen the case that he just might be the game's finest player ever.
On Thursday, he became the first player to hold the No. 1 ranking for a record sixth consecutive year.
Sampras was having pasta in his hotel in Hanover, Germany, when he heard that Marcelo Rios pulled out of the ATP Tour World Championship because of a back injury. That assured Sampras the top ranking for 1998.
"It's an ultimate achievement," he said. "It will probably never be broken. I'm trying to stay humble through all this, but the record speaks for itself. It's a little overwhelming."
Sampras had been tied with Jimmy Connors, who was No. 1 for five straight years from 1974 to 1978.
"It feels great," Sampras said. "I put a lot of work into the game. It's tough to stay on top so long. It's very satisfying, it was well worth the sacrifice."
Rios, ranked No. 2, was the only man who could have threatened Sampras for the top ranking. Sampras entered the season-ending championship with a 33-point lead over the Chilean in the computer standings.
Having won his first two round-robin matches, Sampras was already guaranteed a semifinal berth before he played Karol Kucera on Thursday.
A relaxed Sampras then demonstrated why he is No. 1, crushing Kucera 6-2, 6-1 in 45 minutes.
GOLF: Hsieh Chin-sheng of Taiwan fired a 7-under-par 64 Thursday to take the lead in the opening round of the Hong Kong Open.
John Daly eagled the par-5 12th hole and shot a 66.
"Everything is going right for me," said Daly. "It was one of those days when you know that everything is going to fall in place."
Hong Kong's Brad Schadewitz and Taiwan's Wang Ter-chang also shot 66s. American Mark Brooks opened with a 68, and defending champion Frank Nobilo of New Zealand had a 70.
Tjart van der Walt of South Africa shot a 6-under-66 on Thursday to take the opening-round lead in the Zimbabwe Open in Harare.
South African's also held the next three spots. Ryan Dreyer was second with Alan McLean with a 67 and Andre van Staden tied for third at 68.
Local favorite Nick Price and South African Warren Abery were tied at 69.
Defending champion Isao Aoki and Graham Marsh of Australia shared the first-round lead in the Japan PGA Senior Open in Sadohara after shooting 7-under-par 65s on Thursday.
Aoki, an eight-time winner on the Senior PGA Tour, had an eagle and five birdies on the Ube Country Club course. Marsh, a five-time champion on the U.S. tour, had seven birdies -- including three straight starting on the 10th.
BASEBALL: The Toronto Blue Jays agreed Thursday to a new 10-year lease with SkyDome -- subject to court approval.
Blue Jays chairman Sam Pollock said the initial agreement covers the 1999 season, with details on the following years "to be finalized around principles that have been agreed to by all SkyDome shareholders."
Earlier this month, the Blue Jays demanded new terms with SkyDome following the expiration of the previous lease and threatened to return to Exhibition Stadium, their home from 1977 to June 1989.
FOOTBALL: Lamar McHan, a Heisman Trophy finalist as a quarterback at the University of Arkansas in the 1950s who later spent a decade on the New Orleans Saints coaching staff, has died. He was 65.
McHan died Monday of a heart attack at Doctors Hospital of Jefferson in New Orleans.
A native of Lake Village, Ark., McHan was a highly recruited quarterback and set a series of school records as an All-American at Arkansas. As a senior, he was a runner-up for the Heisman Trophy, given to the top college football player in the country.
The Chicago Cardinals chose McHan in the first round of the NFL draft in 1954. During a 10-year career, he also played for the Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Colts and San Francisco 49ers.
BASKETBALL: Indiana's newest assistant coach is no stranger to the Hoosiers basketball program. In fact, no one knows coach Bob Knight better than his son, Pat.
"I think we've got a great relationship," the 28-year-old Knight said. "We became really close when I played here, all the ups and downs we had, and it's nice to be able to see him every day at work. I think it's been good for both of us."
Pat Knight played four years at Indiana for his father. After leaving Indiana in 1995, he was an administrative assistant and scout with the NBA Phoenix Suns, an assistant coach with the CBA Connecticut Pride and last year he was head coach of the Wisconsin Blast and Columbus Cagerz of the International Basketball Association.