Sampras Says He Could Take Federer.
Sampras Says He Could Take Federer
Jan 31, 2007 — LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Pete Sampras thinks he could have held his own against Roger Federer but conceded on Tuesday that the Swiss master is poised to smash his record of 14 grand slam titles.
Sampras, who retired after winning the 2002 U.S. Open, considered what the result might have been had the two giants of men's tennis met in their prime.
"I don't think one guy would have dominated the other," said the American during a teleconference to announce his return to tournament tennis, playing a limited number of events on a tour for over-30 players.
"I think our games are pretty similar. It would have been a great clash to see us in our prime. Roger is doing what I never did; dominate the way he is. He's lost five matches in two years, that's unheard of.
"But I feel like my game is too big to be dominated by someone. When my game was on, my serve was on, I felt I was tough to beat. I felt unbeatable."
Sampras could soon see how his career stacks up alongside Federer, after the Swiss took another stride toward the record with his third Australian Open crown on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Swiss has won 10 grand slams since his maiden title at Wimbledon in 2003 and will break Jimmy Connors's record of 160 consecutive weeks as world number one next month.
After beating Andre Agassi to lift his 14th grand slam title, Sampras believed his record would stand the test of time.
But almost immediately an unrelenting Federer launched his assault on the mark.
"I thought it would take longer than seven or eight years," said the 35-year-old Sampras. "I don't seen anyone pushing him so I could see him winning 17, 18, 19 majors. He has 10 already and he's in the middle of his career.
"He just came along at the right time and is playing tremendous tennis and I don't see him stopping now."
Sampras also believes Federer is capable of achieving a success that eluded him by winning on the red clay of Roland Garros.
The Swiss world number one needs the French Open to complete his set and become only the third player to hold all four majors at once.
"I think he can because he grew up playing on clay and he's come close the last two years," said Sampras. "I really believe he can win there.
"I'm a fan, of his game, his temperament, how he handles himself on and off the court. I marvel at things he's able to do," he added.
The two players clashed just once in their careers, with the Swiss prevailing. There will be no re-match.
"When we retire we all have thoughts of playing again but my playing days are over on the ATP Tour," admitted the seven-time Wimbledon champion. "It's a lot of work, a whole different lifestyle I'm done with.
"I have been hitting the ball pretty well for the past six months and still feel that I can maybe compete against some of the guys. But to think about coming out of retirement is something far-fetched."
(Writing by Steve Keating in Toronto)