'It has been a pretty bizarre tournament.'- Tennis player Pete Sampras, on this year's Australian Open

Sampras still in the game

Pete Sampras is something of a rarity among those players who remain in contention at the Australian Open.

Ordinarily, making the third round of a Grand Slam is no big deal for the former world No. 1. But with nine of the top 15 men, including the top five seeds, already ousted, Sampras took Thursday's win over Juan Ignacio Chela with some relief.

"Knock on wood, I'm still healthy," said Sampras, who owns a record 13 Grand Slam titles and is gaining as favorite for a 14th.

The 30-year-old American is the only player left in the field who reached the final in one of last year's four major tournaments. He lost the US Open final to Lleyton Hewitt last September.

Wimbledon 2000 was Sampras's last Grand Slam title. The only other Grand Slam champion to make the third round is 2000 US Open titlist Marat Safin. Sampras will meet Nicolas Escude in the next round. "Pete isn't invincible," the Frenchman said. "He's no longer No. 1. Last year, he didn't win any Grand Slams. So there's room to squeak through."

Big-name coaching changes

Steve Spurrier made his mark on the NFL even before coaching his first game. He became the highest-paid coach in league history Monday, hired by the Washington Redskins a day after they fired Marty Schottenheimer.

The national-championship-winning coach at Florida signed a five-year deal worth $25 million. He abruptly left Florida Jan. 4 after 12 years.

Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers say Bill Parcells is the man they need to satisfy their Super Bowl aspirations.

The owners of the team acknowledged for the first time this week that the former New York Giants, New England Patriots, and New York Jets coach is their top choice to replace Tony Dungy.

Dungy, the only winning coach in the franchise's history, was fired Monday night, and the Bucs are believed to be close to an agreement with Parcells.

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