BOSTON — The world's No. 1 tennis player Pete Sampras has conquered every Grand Slam venue except for the clay courts of Roland Garros stadium, where the French open will be played from May 25 to June 7. He's taking another swing at the title this year. If he succeeds, he'll become the only player since Rod Laver in the 1960s to win all four Grand Slam events. (Others are the Australian Open, Wimbledon, the US Open.)
It's a tough task set in one of the most exciting times in tennis. A new generation of players is giving the sport a major facelift: Martina Hingis, Venus Williams, Anna Kournikova, and Irina Spirlea among the women; and Marcelo Rios, Petr Korda, Patrick Rafter, and Gustavo Kuerten among the men.
Many expect third seed Marcelo Rios of Chile to win the Open. He has a game suited for clay and is in great form. In the women's draw, the emerging rivalry among Hingis, Williams, and Kournikova creates excitement. Williams and Kournikova have beaten Hingis this year and could thwart the top seed's bid to become the youngest to win all four Grand Slam events.
The women's rivalry and Sampras's staking his claim to be the greatest tennis player ever make this French Open a must-see event. (Coverage will be on the USA Network and NBC. Check listings.)