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Four tennis icons revive old rivalries while competing in the 2011 Championship Series
While their days of playing on the ATP are over, competition is still alive for tennis legends Pete Sampras, Jimmy Connors, Michael Chang, and Jim Courier, who played in the HSBC Cup in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday night.
The HSBC Cup, at the Bank Atlantic Center, is the first series of an event called the 2011 Championship Series, a 12-city tour of one-night tournaments played around the U.S. The athletes will vie for a prize of $1 million to be split between the top three finishers at the end of the series.
While the athletes are all retired from the ATP, the players made it clear that competition will not be lacking.
"There's no taking it easy on Jimmy [Connors]," Jim Courier said. "He's gonna be out for blood tonight. The knife's not in your back when you play Jimmy, it's in your chest."
Connors agreed, saying he would be looking for revenge against Courier, who knocked him out of the 1991 U.S. Open.
Sampras, anticipating his match against Chang, spoke of rivalries that inspired him while growing up.
"When I grew up playing as a kid it was Connors and [Ivan] Lendl playing in the U.S. Open Finals," Sampras said.
Michael Chang added his take on the rivalry and competition amongst the four.
"We all still have big ego's, we all still love to compete," Chang said.
"I think when you've got this many champions out on the court, everyone will agree in saying none of us like to lose, and we always want to be king of the hill."
Thursday's event kicked off featuring Pete Sampras battling Michael Chang and Jimmy Connors facing off against Jim Courier. Other tennis icons to be featured throughout the 2011 Championship Series are John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, and Mats Wilander.