Finally, an article that says what I've seen saying for a while: Roger has the personality that Pete never had.
Because of personality, Federer ranks as a better champ than Sampras
BY CHARLES BRICKER
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - (KRT) - I loved Pete Sampras' guts and pure confidence on the court and am still not convinced that Roger Federer could beat him if both were at the top of their games at Wimbledon.
In fact, there wasn't much I didn't like about Pete, though there was one thing: He was an interview recluse, a man who was talkative enough in his post-match press conferences but who wasn't available to reporters in a one-on-one situation unless you carried credentials from ESPN or Sports Illustrated.
Even if you knew more about tennis and could talk tennis more intelligently than anyone who worked for those two high-profile media giants, there was no entree to Sampras. He was, as his agent liked to tell reporters, unavailable.
But now Federer . . . vive la difference. He's not going to cut short a beachfront vacation to take your call, but he is so natural, so genuine and so down to earth that it is impossible not to admire him in ways you couldn't admire Sampras.
A few days before the Wimbledon final, I ventured into the players cafeteria, where Federer was at the salad bar, picking at strands of lettuce and plucking tomatoes into his bowl.
There ensued a short conversation about grazing. ``I love salad. Any kind of salads,'' he said. I explained to him that in the United States, when we have salads, it's called grazing, as cows do in pastures. ``Grazing,'' he repeated, amused. ``OK.'' He filed that away in his list of American idioms, which might come in handy in the coming weeks, when he arrives in the United States to work up to the U.S. Open.
And then, the day after he won his third straight Wimbledon, Federer invited reporters to his rented home in Wimbledon for breakfast, and to sit and chat, about anything, much the same as he did the day after he won the 2004 U.S. Open. That never happened with Sampras. In fact, the idea of Sampras asking reporters to his rented home would have been laughable.
You come away from one of these tete-a-tetes with Federer not really thinking so much about his tennis, which we all know is fabulous, but the way he fits in so easily with ordinary people.
That's why he's a greater champion than Pete.
ROGER AND OUT
Chances are Federer won't reappear on court until the Canadian Open in Montreal, Aug. 8-14. That's where he won his eighth title of 2004. He won his eighth title this year at Wimbledon.
From there, he'll play Cincinnati, which also is a Masters Series event, take the week off before the U.S. Open, then arrive in New York to defend his crown.
He'll go through the Open without coach Tony Roche, who at 60 doesn't like traveling the world.
That's fine. Federer won without a coach last year. He'll be favored to repeat for his sixth Grand Slam title.
The most underplayed story at Wimbledon was the announcement of the new ATP doubles rules, which goes into effect right after the Open: No-ad scoring, no time delays on changeover (just grab a drink and get back out there) and tiebreaks at 4-4.
There is going to be a growing controversy over these rules throughout the U.S. Open Series, which began Monday in Indianapolis, though the top players don't really care.
The idea behind the new rules is to get top players on the doubles court, and save the game from extinction, but even Mark Miles, the CEO of the men's tour, is skeptical that Federer or Andy Roddick or Marat Safin or Lleyton Hewitt are going to start playing doubles.
The theory is that if you can guarantee the top players they won't have to be on court for more than an hour and a half, and usually no more than an hour or an hour and 10 minutes, they'll play and expand the crowds.
I'm skeptical, but we'll see.
Top doubles player Jonas Bjorkman reiterated a complaint I've heard many times. ``They're doing a lousy job of promoting doubles. That's the problem,'' Bjorkman said of the ATP.
But you don't see doubles players banding together and presenting their own plan for promoting doubles. As far as I know, they don't have a program.They have no unity at a time when they need it badly. They should have a delegation that includes Bjorkman and the Bryan twins sitting across a desk from new ATP chairman of the board Etienne deVilliers.
No surprise that Lindsay Davenport is hurt again, this time with the back injury that cropped up in the Wimbledon final vs. Venus Williams. No word yet on how this will set back her preparation for the U.S. Open. . . .
The Bryan twins have reached the final of all three Grand Slam doubles this year and lost each time. That's not a good sign going into the September Davis Cup tie vs. Belgium, which will be on clay.