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Knighted as an "Honorary Texan" by Governor Rick Perry earlier in the day, Sampras tried to appeal to a crowd that paid up to $100, but he's no more natural showman than Wade Phillips is GQ model. He tossed his racket to a ball boy, swatted balls in the stands and traded quips with fans. But mostly, he served notice by serving.
On par with Nolan Ryan's fastball or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's sky hook, Sampras' serve is one of the most singularly successful weapons in the history of sports. Against Ginepri, a '05 U.S. Open semifinalist who wasn't exactly auditioning for the Washington Generals, Sampras produced 130 mph aces with all the bother of a senior citizen massaging soft-serve ice cream at Luby's. At 6-5, 30-all in the first set, Sampras defused the night's only hint of tension with consecutive aces.
Said Ginepri, "I think we're all glad he retired when he did."
Rarely villain or hero but routinely champion, the one label stout enough to jolt Sampras out of retirement: underdog.
"Roger's the Pete of his era, and I'm not as sharp as I used to be," Sampras told Deja Blue Arena. "I just hope I can hold my own."
Congratulations Dallas, you experienced an icon in the twilight of his career. Or was it the dawn of a comeback?
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