Sampras wants to play Nadal [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

Sampras wants to play Nadal

gillian
09-12-2006, 09:46 PM
I'm kidding...kinda. Thought this was a fun article, and I don't even like Pete.

Read on.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,5205-2350458,00.html

Dreaming of SW19
ANDREW LONGMORE IN BEVERLY HILLS

Pete Sampras admits that in retirement he finds the green grass of Wimbledon calling him




::nobreak::The last great match of Pete Sampras’s career is being played out inside his head. Each summer, he watches Wimbledon, hears a voice and then goes in search of his racket. The other 50 weeks of the year, he is merely another former champion, playing some golf, enjoying his weekly game of poker and taking his eldest son out to lunch. The problem is that the soothing voice, the voice that he wants to hear, the voice that says he could still play one last Wimbledon, is getting louder. The bigger problem is that the other, quieter voice knows the truth.

An interview with Sampras now is more conversation than question and answer. The period of isolation, the re-entry into real life, is over and the 14-time Grand Slam and seven-time Wimbledon champion — world No 1 for 286 weeks — is rediscovering exactly what it is about the game he once dominated that he now misses so much. Most of the time he can cope with the gnawing feeling of loss, but during Wimbledon the ache becomes persistent.

He sees player after player staying at the back of the court, he sees Jonas Bjorkman reach a semi-final and Rafael Nadal, a clay-courter, in the final and wonders aloud what damage he, Sampras, could still do.

The danger of embarrassment if he came back seems irrelevant. What could be more embarrassing than his last match, losing to George Bastl, a qualifier, in 2002 on Court Two, the so-called Graveyard of Champions. He would still be younger than Andre Agassi, who played his final Wimbledon this summer at the age of 36.

So the phrase just slips out. “I mean, great a player as Nadal is,” Sampras says, “you put a really good serve-and-volleyer against him and you have got to feel pretty good about it.” So you would fancy your chances against him on grass? “Oh yeah, even today. If I worked at it and I . . . I’ve had those moments, they come and go, like playing Wimbledon again — I haven’t ruled it out. I’m not saying I’m going to come back, but I’ve had moments of wanting to play there more now than I ever have.”

Haven’t ruled it out? “Well, I have. But seeing how everyone’s playing, staying back on grass like it’s Paris, and just the fact that I miss Wimbledon and the fact that I ended it on such a poor note on Court Two against someone I shouldn’t have lost to. That still left a bad taste in my mouth. So you think, ‘Wow, one more time’, and if I wanted to do it, I could do it. But there would be so much more work to do. In reality, it’s not going to happen.’”

That seems to be the end of the rally, the backhand down the line, the forehand volley. But there will be more points. Last summer, Sampras began playing competitive tennis again. He ordered his new Federer rackets, bigger and more powerful than the Wilson Pro-Staff he used in his prime, and, three years after he last struck a tennis ball, went to hit with some kids from the University of Southern California. He had forgotten how sweet it was to hear the gentle thud of ball on racket, to feel the satisfaction of returning to the office.

“Frankly, I was pretty bored, pretty restless,” he says. “I was playing a lot of golf, a lot of poker, recreational things, and I had a talk with my wife about it at Christmas. I was a little bit down and she could see it and I promised myself that if I had some tennis opportunities I would consider playing again.

“So I opened myself up this year and some people called from Houston asking me to play an exhibition. I had about a month and a half to hit some balls and when I got off the phone I was excited.

“I played that exhibition and then a friend of Billie-Jean King’s, who’d been wanting me to play Team Tennis since I was about 20, asked me again and I decided to play. The preparation was just what I was looking for, I wanted the structure in my life. I felt an element of life in me.”

Sampras gave a press conference in a furniture store in Sacramento, made his debut for the Newport Beach Breakers in a 2,500-seater arena on a golf course in northern Connecticut and sold out the Dwight Davis Memorial Tennis Center in Forest Park, St Louis. He played in Boise, Idaho, and Atlanta.

He also lost 5-0 — four-point games, first to five — to a guy called John Paul Fruttero in Carson, California. But in the Home Depot Centre in Orange County, Sampras beat Jim Courier, a good friend and an old foe, 6-1 6-4 in 64 minutes and felt like a proper player again. His first point was an ace timed at 125mph. “He was serving right, he was returning right and when you put those two together, he’s, well, he’s Pete,” said Courier.

“The first step was the toughest, not swallowing your pride so much as being prepared to lose,” says Sampras. “When I played Jim here in Los Angeles, because he’s a rival, I played really good. I’m not going to be as good as I once was, I don’t move as well, I’m not as sharp, I’m not holding on as tight as I used to; when I lose to some of those guys, I shrug it off.

“But I’m still a competitive person inside. I’ll play a few more matches at the end of the year (including a charity match to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina) and that’s where I’m at.”



AFTER Agassi retired in New York, Sampras called and left a message. A few days later, Agassi returned the call. It was a significant moment for both men. Agassi’s tearful farewell at Flushing Meadows had marked the end of a golden era of American tennis, begun by 17-year-old Michael Chang’s astonishing victory in the French Open in 1989 and continued by Courier, Sampras and Agassi through 17 years and 26 more Grand Slam victories. Sampras found the scenes as moving as the rest of America and rang to say so.

But there was more to the call than congratulation and support. “I wanted to say how much I had enjoyed the matches we’d had (34 in total, 20-14 to Sampras). When we were one and two in the world it was difficult to be close, but we always liked and respected each other. We’re very different, but we still have a lot in common. He’s got two kids, I’ve got two kids, I go to Las Vegas, he comes to LA. It would be good to catch up in a way, to remove ourselves from what we used to be, so we agreed to stay in touch. It was just like two guys talking.”

What will Agassi be feeling this week? “Relief. It’s over. He was banged up pretty bad. His back was hurting, his thigh muscle had gone, everything was breaking down. He doesn’t have to deal with all that any more, he doesn’t have to worry about tennis, about eating, sleeping, working out — all that stress. He’ll get excited about doing some things with his foundation and with his kids and he’ll go through the whole emotional cycle when you don’t miss it and then you slowly miss it.”

While Agassi’s body finally gave out, it was Sampras’s mind that folded first. “My heart,” he corrects. After winning his 14th Grand Slam at the US Open in 2002, two months after his ignominious exit from Wimbledon, Sampras put down his racket and never quite picked it up again. The rewards no longer justified the sacrifices. He had nothing left to prove. For three days that spring, he practised in anticipation of his return to Wimbledon, the one tournament sure to stir his emotions. Midway through the third day, he told Paul Annacone, his old coach: “This is for real, I’m done.”

His retirement was neither expected nor scheduled.

Agassi always compared his career in tennis to a journey through life. Sampras was never as philosophically minded or as chameleon-like in his temperament or image. Sampras appeared as a fully fledged champion to win the US Open at the age of 19 and didn’t change his approach much thereafter. He was, he admits, a creature of habit, keeping to the same routine, staying at the same hotel, eating at the same restaurant at the same tournaments year after year. “Same shit, different city” was the unofficial motto of the Tour. But no less than Agassi, Sampras developed as a character through his tennis.

Initially shy, sometimes dour, he was criticised for being dull, just as Courier was accused of being an untalented blue-collar grinder and Agassi a flamboyant fake. “What do you want?” Ivan Lendl once asked the press in New York. “In Pete, you have a kid who behaves well, plays great tennis and wears white.”

Lendl was right, but it took several Wimbledon championships for people to acknowledge that a proper heart beat beneath the unchanging half-smile. Having said in the aftermath of his retirement that he didn’t want to talk, watch or read tennis, that he just wanted to “decompress”, Sampras’s passion for the game has remained undimmed.

Over an hour and a half’s conversation, he talks of how much he could help today’s players with their mental approach, of how much Goran Ivanisevic scared him as a player — “I knew he could serve me off the court” — and how his real reward for winning Wimbledon came not with the trophy but on the plane home when he read all the descriptions of his victory in the British newspapers.

“Some of you guys said things that got me, got the sport; it wasn’t a bunch of quotes, it was like you were writing about theatre,” he says. “Then when I got home to Florida I’d go to a place called Checkers, a greasy hamburger joint, and have a celebration meal.”

Equally apparent is his concern for the future of tennis in an age of big Babolat rackets and punishing groundstrokes. The serve-and-volleyer, he believes, is now officially extinct or will be with the passing of Tim Henman. After the last Wimbledon, he rang Annacone to ask what was going on. “He said the balls were a little bit slower, but I don’t buy it,” says Sampras. “It’s still grass. I’m amazed at everyone staying back. Serve and volley is an art, it’s something that you learn as a kid, not when you’re 20. But that’s hard because you’re going to get passed a lot, it’s much easier to stay back.

“Roger (Federer) is a legend in the making, he’s such a great mover and can go from defence to attack in an instant. Regardless of whether he stopped tomorrow, he’s dominated his generation more than anyone has. Nadal is a great player, but the rest I look at are really good players.

“But even Roger’s staying back at Wimbledon. When I played him, he came in on every ball. I have always felt the best tennis was a contrast, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe, me and Andre, someone stays back, someone comes in. Now it’s just guys banging from the back courts.

“When I watch Roger freewheeling, so confident, it’s such a great feeling, but if I was playing him now, I would still try and take his time away, come to the net first and second serve, attack his second serve, same as with Andre. Nobody takes his time away. I’d just come at him and keep coming.”

For all the praise for his Wimbledon heir, Sampras was genuinely appreciative when, during one of the many breaks for rain at this year’s US Open, they replayed his last final against Agassi four years before. “McEnroe said some nice things — ‘It was just four years ago and we forget just how great Sampras was’. You hear so much talk of Roger, it felt pretty good to hear,” he says.

Federer and Wimbledon, though, will have to wait on his return. Sampras says that he wants his sons, Christian, four, and one-year-old Ryan to be old enough to appreciate the significance of the surroundings before they make the pilgrimage.

“I miss it badly and I want to come back,” Sampras says. “I just want to wait a little bit longer.” But, deep down, he knows that there’s another reason for the delay. Sampras cannot come back until the conversation in his head has been silenced for ever.

R.Federer
09-12-2006, 09:57 PM
Wow, that's funny!!! I can't tell if he's truly being serious about it.
Maybe he wants to beat Rafa to show Roger that he can do something Roger has great difficulty with.

wally1
09-12-2006, 10:35 PM
Very interesting read. I certainly don't think it's out of the question he could have some success at Wimbledon if he played it again. And he couldn't really do any worse than his last match there...

Tennis Fool
09-12-2006, 11:21 PM
Nadal is a great player, but the rest I look at are really good players.
He is really dissing Rafa in this article. He also says he could challenge Fed with a S&V game? He couldn't even do that in 2001.

I think he really misses the spotlight--he even says so, what the papers said about him after each of his wins.

It seems a lot of champions have the urge to come back, Borg and Austin; both Martinas came back. Thomas Muster & Anna K. were considering coming back. Monica said she had the urge to come back after seeing "Anastasia Myskina like players winning the French Open." :lol:

Pete's dilemma shows why it's good to have a college degree to fall back on. He's bored 4 years out--what about the next 4-5 decades?

hankan88
09-12-2006, 11:43 PM
I always have a question mark in my mind, Who is better? Roger or Pete? Do any one know the answer?

Tennis Fool
09-12-2006, 11:48 PM
I always have a question mark in my mind, Who is better? Roger or Pete? Do any one know the answer?
Nooooo. Let's not start that argument. There are 193092309230 threads on this site about Pete v Federer. I suggest you do a search.

bluefork
09-12-2006, 11:55 PM
I always have a question mark in my mind, Who is better? Roger or Pete? Do any one know the answer?

It's not really possible to compare players from different generations like this. Even in the last ten years, the game has evolved quite a bit, both in terms of technology and playing styles (and possibly court speeds, too). If you took Pete from 1996 and had him play Roger from 2006, I think Roger would win on a regular basis. But if they had grown up and played at the same time, the results might be more even.

lordmanji
09-13-2006, 12:13 AM
i think pete could get pretty far, actually, if he were to practice only for wimbledon. he'd have a legitimate shot at the quarters or even semis since grass is easy on the body and he can end points quickly and look for that one break. but time is slipping...he's got about two years left before his body will have slowed and degenerated too much.

kronus12
09-13-2006, 12:17 AM
i wasn't a big fan of sampras but i respected what he did in the game.
It would be great if he try to come back at wimbledon everyone who love tennis would be interested in that.

shrudy
09-13-2006, 12:19 AM
Pete's dilemma shows why it's good to have a college degree to fall back on. He's bored 4 years out--what about the next 4-5 decades?

LOL that's absurd. So if he had just pursued that engineering degree, he could go work 9-5 at ibm and be free of these nagging tennis thoughts.

I agree with the idea that athletes should obtain degrees, but only because it provides a fall back option should they not succeed in their sport.

robinhood
09-13-2006, 12:39 AM
The title of the thread is misleading.
Not once does Sampras mention that he "wants" to play Nadal.
He just thinks he can beat him on grass with his s+v.

Anyways, for me, it's heartwarming to read about how much Pete wants to play Wimbledon again.
I sure hope it happens for real.

robinhood
09-13-2006, 12:40 AM
Oh, you were kidding, gillian.
MY BAD!

CmonAussie
09-13-2006, 01:22 AM
He is really dissing Rafa in this article. He also says he could challenge Fed with a S&V game? He couldn't even do that in 2001.

I think he really misses the spotlight--he even says so, what the papers said about him after each of his wins.

It seems a lot of champions have the urge to come back, Borg and Austin; both Martinas came back. Thomas Muster & Anna K. were considering coming back. Monica said she had the urge to come back after seeing "Anastasia Myskina like players winning the French Open." :lol:

Pete's dilemma shows why it's good to have a college degree to fall back on. He's bored 4 years out--what about the next 4-5 decades?
:wavey:
Yeah I always thought Pete was a bit of a simpleton :eek: ...#He really is missing the limelight & he`s got his trophy wife, some golf to play & hang out with other celebs~ it`s pretty sad for him now :sad: .

Andre`s post tennis career will be much more interesting I imagine~ as I believe he`s interested in being involved with the ATP`s administration, since he`s genuinely interested in the long-term future popularity of tennis :worship: Also Andre`s work with charities is much more genuine than Pistol Pete`s lamearse attempts :rolleyes: .

Federer`s :angel: post tennis career will be fruitful as well I`m sure~ that guys so smart he`s not going to piss-fart around like Sampras does.

ps. There`s nothing to stop Pete getting a degree as a mature age student ;) .If he really wanted to improve himself then there`s still time on his side. However I suspect he`s got too much pride to swallow~ that going to college would entail :p

nobama
09-13-2006, 02:08 AM
Perhaps he's trying to give Roger pointers on what to do against Nadal. :devil:

pigbrain
09-13-2006, 02:15 AM
This is why Pete didn't played the senior events?

PamV
09-13-2006, 02:18 AM
It would be interesting if Pete could get in the best shape possible and give it a try with S/V at Wimbledon. Maybe with a newer racquet his serve would be bigger than before. In any case, it would make a very intersting contrast of styles.

gillian
09-13-2006, 06:41 PM
I found the article interesting - and endearing. I'm actually curious to see how he would do at Wimbledon, say next year.

cmurray
09-13-2006, 06:45 PM
Pete'll be back. Guaranteed. Whether or not he could give Fed a run for it remains to be seen. It WOULD be interesting though.

Action Jackson
09-13-2006, 06:46 PM
Sampras, what a funny guy.

bokehlicious
09-13-2006, 06:58 PM
Whether or not he could give Fed a run for it remains to be seen.

If that's a goal of his, he better has to start training like a mad dog asap :o

BlueSwan
09-13-2006, 07:05 PM
Even if his movement obviously won't be what it used to be, with a lot of practice he should be able to get his serve back to what it was, and his serve could get him a long way at Wimbledon, almost on its own.

What has he got to lose? He's obviously bored out of his mind, so why not give it a go? He could train exclusively on grass from now on until Wimbledon.

propi
09-13-2006, 07:47 PM
Sure he could play Wimby again, with a bit of luck he could face Corretja in first round and get his ass kicked again :devil:

psiho
09-13-2006, 07:59 PM
Even if his movement obviously won't be what it used to be, with a lot of practice he should be able to get his serve back to what it was, and his serve could get him a long way at Wimbledon, almost on its own.

What has he got to lose? He's obviously bored out of his mind, so why not give it a go? He could train exclusively on grass from now on until Wimbledon.

you can forgett times when serve was the most important aspect on grass.....that was time of 90's....today is a little bit slower, because of the balls.so serve is not the most important on grass anymore

stebs
09-13-2006, 08:22 PM
If Pete really did come back more than likely he would lose first round in straight sets.

angiel
09-13-2006, 09:07 PM
If Pete really did come back more than likely he would lose first round in straight sets.


Are you so sure about that???you may be in for a surprise my friend. :wavey: :wavey:

Tennis Fool
09-14-2006, 02:46 AM
If Pete really did come back more than likely he would lose first round in straight sets.
Again to George Bastl :devil:

Sheek
09-14-2006, 03:04 AM
Its good to hear about Pete, he really was a true champion. He'll never lose his love for the game, and neither will I :)

Rafa = Fed Killa
09-14-2006, 03:53 AM
Sampras should play Rafa.

He can learn what it feels like to be Fed and get owned. :D

oz_boz
09-14-2006, 09:14 AM
Pete'll be back. Guaranteed. Whether or not he could give Fed a run for it remains to be seen. It WOULD be interesting though.

:lol:

In 2001, Pete on his way down but still ranked 6 and above Roger, lost. How much better is Fed and how much worse is Sampras now? Bastl would probably beat him easier than in 2002.

Pete had the best possible ending of his career, and it would be utterly stupid of him to ruin that.

wimbledonfan
09-14-2006, 01:32 PM
Rafa would get pwned by Pete .

It's simply a bad match up for Nadal to be playing Sampras .

Remember at Wimbledon , when Nadal played against that unknown american serve and volley player and went to 5 sets ?

Now imagine he played Pete in his prime .

gillian
09-14-2006, 01:46 PM
Rafa would get pwned by Pete .

It's simply a bad match up for Nadal to be playing Sampras .

Remember at Wimbledon , when Nadal played against that unknown american serve and volley player and went to 5 sets ?

That's what I was thinking. If Pete's serve is what it used to be - and, after 4 years away, I think that'd be a big if - Nadal would have problems with him.

Now imagine he played Pete in his prime .

Should Pete come back to Wimbledon, he wouldn't be in his prime. Nadal is extremely fit and motivated, so I think that'd be a factor if they played.

Not sure who would win, but I wouldn't mind seeing the match up.

Corey Feldman
09-14-2006, 05:48 PM
come back Pistol Pete !!
he'd munch Rafa on grass as well :p

he retired too young anyway, cmon champ.... lets have you back for at least one year.

angiel
09-14-2006, 11:52 PM
come back Pistol Pete !!
he'd munch Rafa on grass as well :p

he retired too young anyway, cmon champ.... lets have you back for at least one year.


I second that, love to see him play again. :worship: :worship: :worship: :angel:

princediablo
09-15-2006, 04:24 AM
Nadal should have lost to Kendrick, but he choked. Current Pete>Kendrick.

connectolove
09-15-2006, 10:50 AM
I think that he can beat Rafel on grass, on hard surfaces...

scoobs
09-15-2006, 10:54 AM
Sampras would like to play just about everyone, apparently.

Sounds to me like someone not quite happy in his retirement box.

hitchhiker
09-15-2006, 02:41 PM
so people think a guy who hasnt played a pro match for 4 years can beat the current wimbledon finalist?

either people are dellusional or this era is more clownish then suspected

stebs
09-15-2006, 03:01 PM
Are you so sure about that???you may be in for a surprise my friend. :wavey: :wavey:
I'm not certain no. Pete was an incredible player, one of the best of all time. He was brilliant on grass. It is not a question of class. It is a question of fitness, rust and 5 set matches. He wouldn't be able to hack it. He would only get to the second round if he got a very fortuitous draw.

vahep
09-15-2006, 03:24 PM
I'm not certain no. Pete was an incredible player, one of the best of all time. He was brilliant on grass. It is not a question of class. It is a question of fitness, rust and 5 set matches. He wouldn't be able to hack it. He would only get to the second round if he got a very fortuitous draw.


They have a name for that now, it is called "The Nadal Draw" ;)

sawan66278
09-15-2006, 03:45 PM
Pete when he played...no question he would defeat Nadal...

Pete now...no way would he defeat Nadal...

On any surfaces...Did you see him play against Ginepri...case closed..

angiel
09-15-2006, 11:25 PM
Pete when he played...no question he would defeat Nadal...

Pete now...no way would he defeat Nadal...

On any surfaces...Did you see him play against Ginepri...case closed..


Not so fast my friend. :wavey: :rolleyes: