Pete Sampras talking about Roger
Sampras: "Federer can match my dominance"
Seven-times Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras believes Roger Federer could match his long stint as the world's dominant player. Federer's haul of three majors wins this year - taking his overall tally to four - has prompted suggestions that he could eventually surpass the American's record haul of 14.
"I think so, yes," Sampras, 33, who retired two years ago after beating Andre Agassi to win the U.S. Open, told French sports daily l'Equipe on Wednesday.
"Of course, he can have an off day in a big tournament and be surprised but over the whole season, he is head and shoulders above the others."
"He is the best athlete, the one who moves best on court. What's impressive is that he can play at the highest level without using too much energy while his main rivals use a considerable amount," added Sampras, of the 23-year-old Swiss.
Sampras said the two had much in common. "There are plenty of similarities. We have the same temperament, the same way of making it look easy.
"He can do just about anything he wants with a racket and he dominates everybody as I did several years before."
Federer, like Sampras, has yet to win the French Open, though, and it may prove just as difficult a mountain to climb.
"There are really so many clay-court specialists who are capable of hitting it heavy from the back of the court that it will be the biggest challenge of his career."
Sampras thinks his fortunes at Roland Garros could have improved if he had tried a racket with a bigger head, which would have given him more power off the slow surface.
"I was really used to mine and I never dared (change). I was too stubborn. I was scared of losing control, that it would take me too long to master it."
Sampras said he had barely picked up a tennis racket of any kind since his epic victory over Agassi at Flushing Meadows crowned his dazzling career.
"There was a little clinic organised by Paul Annacone (his former coach) near here about six months ago. I hit for about 10 minutes."
Sampras, who finished year-end world number one a record six times from 1993 to 1998, said he has no yearning to return to the game on a more regular basis.
"Not at all. I'm offered quite a few opportunities on the seniors tour or exhibitions but it is too early for me, much too early."
He added: "I'm not sick of a sport which made my fortune and my fame. But I am tired of tennis, it was all-consuming. All those years spent winning and keeping my place as number one; it was an enormous stress.
"During my career I never had a really good night's sleep. That all finished at once (after retiring). I started to go to sleep without the least worry in my head, without telling myself that the next day I would have to catch a plane or play a very hard match."
Sampras said he now devoted his time to his wife Bridget and son Christian. He has also found a new sporting passion - poker.
"It's a game that I really like and play quite regularly. When I come to Las Vegas, I can play for six hours in a row. Especially if I'm winning."
Pete on Tim and Wimbledon
Sampras: Henman needs luck at Wimbledon
Pete Sampras believes Tim Henman is still capable of winning Wimbledon. But the seven-times SW19 champion reckons the 30-year-old Briton needs a bit of luck. "He needs the right players to lose; his matches to be scheduled at the right time and needs to shut out the voice he doesn't need to hear."
Sampras, who won 14 major championship titles, told The Times of London on Saturday, "You need a strong belief, sure."
"Is Tim the best player in the world" No. Is he a truly great player? No. But he is an extremely talented player and if things fall into place it can happen.
"He needs the right players to lose, he needs to be scheduled at the right time, he needs to shut out the voices he doesn't need to hear. I had the single-minded focus that he is still trying to find."
SAMPRAS AND CENTRE COURT'S ROOF
Having retired in 2003 at a special U.S. Open ceremony, the 33-year-old is saddened to hear about Wimbledon's plans to build a roof over Centre Court for the 2008 championships.
"I don't like it," he said.
"I can see how it makes sense business-wise, for the fans, for television. It is difficult playing Wimbledon.
"I remember once starting on Monday and not playing until Friday and it made you apprehensive in a special way. But there's no other place like it.
"It had a profound effect on me, which made it bigger than tennis in my mind. I really miss Wimbledon. I miss everything about it. As a shy, introverted person, it was the one place I could really show off."
Considering Roger is always compared to Pete, it's nice to hear what Pete himself thinks. I think Pete is right about Tim. Tim does need a couple of other players to lose. The way people like John McEnroe talk when on the BBC during Wimbledon, they always sugar coat it to suit the audience at home, so its no wonder a lot of expectation ends up on Tim's shoulders. In reality, Tim does need 2 or 3 players taken out to clear the path.
Pete sounds like he really liked Wimbledon (no wonder, really!). All the great champions who win there (Pete, Roger, Navratilova, Graf, Boris etc.) often seem to regard it as 'bigger than tennis'. I am sure a few Spaniards wouldn't agree though