• Federer could end up with taking it to 17 or 18 majors
  • Sampras feels he could have held his own against Federer in his prime
  • Federer could end up with taking it to 17 or 18 majors
  • Sampras feels he could have held his own against Federer in his prime

    NEW YORK: Pete Sampras never expected his record of 14 Grand Slam singles crowns would be eclipsed so fast, but said on Tuesday he expects 10-time Slam winner Roger Federer to break his mark by 2009.

    "Looks like it's going to happen," Sampras said. "I see him passing me in the next couple of years and even taking it to 17 or 18 majors. I don't see two or three guys really threatening him. I think he's just going to get better."

    `Pistol Pete' won seven Wimbledon titles, two Australian Open crowns and five U.S. Open titles, including the 2002 championship in the final match of his career to establish a mark he thought would stand for a while.

    "I thought it would take longer than seven or eight years," Sampras said. "I did think 14 would be a tough number to surpass but he just kind of came in at the right time. He's playing tremendous tennis. I don't see him stopping now."

    Extra gear

    "Guys are going to have their moments against him but I just think he has got that extra gear that guys don't have," Sampras said. "Even when he is not playing that well he just seems to find a way to win. "It's just amazing what he has been able to do and how consistent he has been able to keep it up."

    Federer's game impresses Sampras even more since he is not watching from across a net.

    "Now that I'm sitting on my couch watching, I just kind of marvel at the things he has been able to do," Sampras said.

    "Great mover, does things great off both sides of the court, can come in when he has to and has a pretty big first serve. He has the whole package. There is really nothing he can't do. He just makes it look easy.

    Sampras, however, thought he could have held his own against Federer in his prime.

    "I don't think one guy would have dominated the other," said the American. "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.

    Sampras also believes Federer is capable of achieving a success that eluded him by winning on the red clay of Roland Garros. The two players clashed just once in their careers, with the Swiss prevailing. There will be no re-match. Agencies

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