BETWEEN THE LINES

What's eating Pete? Now that Pete Sampras has pulled out of a string of events, including Scottsdale, Arizona, and Tennis Masters Series tournaments in Indian Wells, California, and Key Biscayne, Florida., many are wondering if he'll ever return. Even the 14-time Grand Slam champion isn't sure. Sampras's brother, Gus, tournament director in Scottsdale, told Reuters that Pete's "still training the way he always has, but he's not ready to make a decision. He's taking it one week at a time. He doesn't want to pull a Michael Jordan — retire and come back again." Butch Buchholz, tournament chairman of the Nasdaq-100 in Key Biscayne, said that Sampras told him that he's interested in playing the big events — Roland Garros. Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open — and that he wasn't delaying his comeback because of the birth of his first child, Christian. "(Sampras) feels he's not at a top-level yet and he doesn't want to go through another (title) drought." Buchholz said.

PUCKER UP: Nicolas Kiefer lost in the first round at the ATP stop in Delray Beach, Florida, but he still had the most impressive win of the week. At a nearby wildlife park, he wrestled an alligator (with the help of a professional handler) and then planted a big wet one on his vanquished opponent.

MARRIED TO THE LOB: Remember the rumour a couple of years ago that Anna Kournikova and Detroit Red Wings centre Sergei Fedorov got hitched? It turns out it was true, at least according to Fedorov. The 33-year-old disclosed that he and Kournikova, 21, were briefly married in 2001 in Moscow but are now divorced, and that they aren't on speaking terms. The two had a highly public relationship from the time Kournikova hit the pro tour. "I think the reason the media made such a big deal was because of the age difference," Fedorov told The Hockey News. "People didn't realise we have parents. She had parents. I have parents. Everything was normal as far as I'm concerned." Kournikova declined to comment.

GAME ON: Michael Chang celebrated after winning a point against Lleyton Hewitt when the two battled with the new Xbox video game Top Spin (due out this September) in Indian Wells, California. But, alas, victory was not to be for Chang: He lost 3-1 in games despite the fact that he'd spent a few days practising his virtual moves with his cousin James Wan.

SHORT SETS: Serena Williams is the new face of Close-Up toothpaste. She'll flash her winning smile on three collectible boxes, each with a different picture... . Andre Agassi has signed a five-year multimillion-dollar deal to become the spokesman for a new Aramis fragrance to be released worldwide in September... . NBC has extended its deal with the All England Club to cover Wimbledon; the network will broadcast the tournament for at least four more years... In March, the ATP gave Bohdan Ulihrach a two-year suspension for testing positive for the banned steroid nandrolone. Ulihrach, who failed the drug test in October in Moscow, says he'll appeal the decision. He's the second Czech player to test positive for the drug (Petr Korda was given a one-year ban in 1998)... . Jelena Dokic has stopped working with her father, Damir, and hired Steffi Graf's former coach Heinz Gunthardt... . In March, Greg Rusedski had surgery for torn cartilage in his left knee, an injury sustained during practice. He's expected back before Roland Garros.