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Sunday 17 December 2017

Awkward moment: tennis duo lose cool in 'hit for haiti' game

A verbal showdown between Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras in California last week has been described by world No1 Roger Federer as an "awkward moment" and "a bit unfortunate".

The episode occurred during the 'Hit for Haiti' charity doubles match at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden when Sampras took exception to Agassi's suggestion he was a poor tipper. Each of the players competing wore a microphone so the crowd and television viewers could hear the banter, and Agassi repeated the allegation he made about his fellow American in his autobiography, Open, last year.

"There was definitely an awkward moment, a bit of a heated moment," said Federer. "It's a bit unfortunate, but that stuff kind of happens. It's a pity if that's what grabs the limelight and not the event (raising money for earthquake-hit Haiti) itself."

Federer and Sampras overcame Agassi and Rafael Nadal 8-6 in the match to raise money for victims of January's quake on the Caribbean island. Although most of the banter between the players was light-hearted and entertaining for the 16,100 capacity crowd, Sampras and Agassi appeared to get heated late in the match.

After Sampras and Federer had taken the lead, the American celebrated with a fist bump, prompting Agassi to reply: "You always have to get serious, huh Pete?"

Sampras countered: "OK Andre, I'll joke a little bit. I'm going to imitate you." He then mimicked Agassi's bow-legged shuffle.

In response, Agassi turned his pockets out and said: "I don't have any money. No, wait, I've got a dollar."

The back-and-forth continued, Sampras at one point saying: "If that's the way you want to play it," and Agassi responding: "It's better than being a valet driver and you pulling up."

Record Grand Slam holder Federer felt it had perhaps been a bad idea to have the four players connected up to microphones.

"I don't think it was that crazy, but it was a bit awkward. Was it just fun, was it not fun? What was it? I thought maybe we have to give both guys a time out or something," Federer added with a smile. "We didn't have to go that far. They weren't that bad."

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