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Federer to play Sampras in three Asian exhibition matches

The Associated Press
Wednesday, May 23, 2007

HONG KONG: Former world No. 1 Pete Sampras will take on top-ranked Roger Federer for three exhibition matches throughout Asia in November.

Fourteen-time Grand Slam winner Sampras, who retired in 2002, will play Federer in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on Nov. 22, at the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau on Nov. 24 and at a third location to be determined on Nov. 20, organizers said Wednesday. (Update: The 3rd venue is Seoul.)

Nick Freyer, senior vice president of sports management company IMG Tennis Asia, said in a statement that the tour originated from hitting sessions between the two players.

Sampras and Federer practiced together earlier this year in March at Sampras’ home in Los Angeles as part of Federer’s preparations for the Indian Wells tournament.

“Obviously he’s a great player, but I felt like I didn’t embarrass myself out there. I feel like I can hold my own,” Sampras was quoted as saying in the statement.

Sampras, 35, said his strategy for beating Federer, who is 10 years his junior, was to stay aggressive.

“Roger’s game doesn’t have many cracks … It’s one of those sorts of matchups where either I just need to overwhelm him with some power and try to come in and hopefully serve well,” he said.

The two players, considered among the best to have ever played the game, will play best of three tiebreak sets in Macau and Kuala Lumpur. The format for the third stop wasn’t immediately clear.

The match in Kuala Lumpur has been billed as part of Malaysia’s 50th anniversary of independence celebrations.

“I am so excited to play Pete and I am really looking forward to visiting Malaysia for the first time,” said Federer. “There is no doubt that we will play some great tennis.”

Federer and Sampras will play on indoor carpet in Macau at The Venetian Macau resort. The surfaces for the two other matches wasn’t immediately known.

Sampras, who will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in July, didn’t touch a racket for nearly three years before picking up the sport again last summer to get in better shape.

He first played in exhibition matches and in the World Team Tennis league before deciding to pick up his training following an exhibition with four-time Grand Slam champion Jim Courier. Sampras recently made his debut in the senior tennis tour.

Sampras won a record 14 major titles, including a record seven Wimbledon wins and was ranked No. 1 for a record 286 weeks.

Federer has won 10 Grand Slam titles, including three consecutive Wimbledon and U.S. Open wins.

In their only ATP matchup, Federer beat Sampras 7-6 (7), 5-7, 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5 in the round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2001 .

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