Articles Comments

Samprasfanz » Archives 2003 to 2011 » Sampras a big fan, friend of Federer

Sampras a big fan, friend of Federer

January 10, 2008
Source: Star Ledger /

If Roger Federer does what he did the last two years and wins three Grand Slam tournaments this year, he will pass Pete Sampras’ all-time record of 14, most likely at the U.S. Open.

And that’s okay with Sampras. In fact, Sampras said he’d be on hand at Arthur Ashe Stadium in September to congratulate him, because he admires Federer and feels he’s a worthy champion to replace him.

“What he’s doing, and how he’s doing it, I respect,” Sampras said. “Every fan, every media person, has a different sort of athlete (they respect) and he’s my sort of guy. He’s not brash, he’s not abrasive. He lets his racket do the talking. I don’t think that’s a negative. To hear someone say he’s boring, I’m tired of hearing that (stuff). It’s nauseating. Just respect what he’s doing.”

But before Federer gets a chance to even tie Sampras, the two will face each other in a unique exhibition match at Madison Square Garden on March 10, a continuation of the three-match series they played in Asia at the end of November.

Federer won the first two matches, and Sampras, who retired in 2002, came back on a lightning-quick surface in Macau to out-serve Federer and win 7-6 (6), 6-4. There were rumors circulating that the two had made an agreement that Pete would win at least one of the matches, but he adamantly refuted that notion.

“It’s not true,” he said. “We played. We didn’t talk about any first set, second set, you do this I’ll do that. But exhibitions are a tricky sort of deal. You want to entertain and have a lighter side, but you also want to play well.”

Federer, who is the favorite to win the upcoming Australian Open beginning Monday, will be in the middle of the spring circuit when the match takes place in March. But Sampras, who is 36, said he plans to tune up against recently retired Livingston native Justin Gimelstob in California, as well as the hard-hitting young American Sam Querry.

Sampras said that even though the fast surface contributed to his victory in Macau, the surface will be slower at the Garden for what is being called the NetJets Showdown.

During their tour of Asia, Sampras and Federer got to know each other on a personal basis, traveling together and socializing at night, which is unusual for current players on the tour. Before the first match in Seoul, Federer called Sampras and asked him to come up to his room to hang out, which kind of surprised Sampras.

“I said, ‘Roger I’ve never done that in 20 years on the road, go hang out with another player,'” Sampras said with a laugh. “I said it sarcastically. But he’s like my new best friend.”


Filed under: Archives 2003 to 2011

Leave a Reply