I look up to Federer now, says Sampras

New Delhi: 08/12/14-- Pete Sampras during the IPTL legends singles match against Goran Ivanisevic of UAE Royals in New Delhi on Monday. Photo:S. Subramanium   | Photo Credit: S_Subramanium -

Having done it all, Pete Sampras works out to stay in shape, does not wish to travel, finds the game too one-dimensional and feels very strongly that Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal would dominate the majors in the coming year.

Having retired in 2002 after winning the US Open, the last of his 14 Grand Slam titles, the 43-year-old American remains a content man.

One of the finest exponents of the serve-and-volley game, Sampras feels the game is played differently these days and in contrast to what was in vogue during his days in the 1990s.

“Lots of my generation (of players) played serve-and-volley. I played Boris (Becker) one day, Andre (Agassi) the next, so every match was a little bit different. But these days, everyone plays the same. (There are) just three or four guys better than the rest. Even at Wimbledon, they stay back and play. No one wants to come in. That’s been the basic change.”

Quicker courts

“I was talking to Roger on the flight and he said the courts have got quicker. So (the game) has been pretty one-dimensional: pretty much everyone staying back, and they are great at it. But it will be nice to see a little bit of contrast,” he said here on Monday.

Sampras, who picked “a good forehand” as “the weapon” to do well, explained the reason behind the art of serve-and-volley vanishing from the game.

“When I was growing up, I watched (John) McEnroe, and I saw (Stefan) Edberg and Boris (Becker) serve and volley. So I became familiar with it,” he said.

“But these young kids you seeing today are all staying at the baseline. To be a good serve-and-volley player, you’ve got to start young. I started when I was 14. To play serve-and-volley, it takes timing, it takes instinct. You just can’t wake up as a 20-year-old and say I am going to serve and volley coming in. It doesn’t work that way. It takes time. I just think with all the young kids looking at Rafa, Novak or even Roger, staying back is what they want to do.”

It was natural to ask Sampras how it felt to be Federer’s idol. “Well, Roger is being very nice. We are good friends, and I think at some stage in his life, as a junior growing up or when he turned pro, he looked up to me. But I am at a stage when I am looking up to him. He has done great things. He is a great role model and ambassador of the sport. If there was someone who I saw breaking my records, it was Roger, because he is a good friend and a good man.”

Dominating trio

Looking ahead to 2015, Sampras sees the trio of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal dominating. “Novak is the obvious choice. Roger is very motivated to get to No. 1. Rafa is uncertain with his health but once he is healthy, he’ll be in the mix,” he said.

“I see guys threatening them but I see these guys in the second week of the Majors, in the semifinals and finals. (Stan)Wawrinka can have an interesting Australian (Open), defending his title. (Marin) Cilic is up and coming. It is going to be an interesting year but I still think, Roger, Novak and Rafa are the cream of the crop. They have the experience and when are playing well, they will be tough to beat.”

On his future plans, Sampras said: “I don’t see myself travelling on the Tour or coaching. And the captaincy (of US Davis Cup team) is not something that I am interested in either. This is not for me at the moment. I am not going to rule it out for the future. But not for the time being and for the next couple of years.

“I am happy just playing exhibition matches here and there and staying home.”

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 9:50:33 PM |

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