Dubbed as “The Faceoff”, Pete Sampras and rising tennis star Milos Raonic put on an exhibition match at the Air Canada Centre.
In the presscon prior to the match, Sampras said, ““I just hope I can be competitive. He (Raonic) obviously has a huge serve
“I’m not as agile as I used to be and hopefully Milos remembers that I was his idol.” Sampras joked, “That I could be his father.”
The exhibition matched showed both players holding serve through before Raonic prevailed 7-6 (7-4), 6-1, ending it with an ace.
“He was a big inspiration to me,” said Raonic, “especially seeing how he was able to dictate and impose his own game with that (serve). The fear it puts in opponents’ eyes, knowing you’re able to close out a set with your serve just puts a lot more pressure on them.”
Sampras said, “Playing Milos is a whole different game. He’s got a big serve and a big game. It’s like night and day. Playing Courier and Agassi, we’re older … For me to come up here and compete is not easy.”
“I think he’s got a great game (for today’s tennis). Everyone playing today … pretty much stays back. It’s pretty one-dimensional,” said Sampras. “I want so badly to see some serve-and-volley tennis. It’s heartbreaking to see everyone stay back. To see some variety and see guys come in and impose their will. As a fan of tennis, I miss it. It’s unfortunate the art of serve and volley has gone.”
Raonic, named as the Newcomer of the Year in the 2011 ATP World Tour Awards, has risen in the tennis rankings from 156th to 31st in the world rankings in 2011.
“It’s up to Milos,” said Sampras. “When you have a serve like he has, he’ll be tough to beat. What Milos needs is experience. He’s only 20. Very young. Let’s be patient. It takes time to be a champion. Let’s not get carried away. All the tools are there, but … don’t expect him to win Wimbledon next year. It’s going to take some time. He can do it. He’s got a great future.”
“It’s nice to be back in the sport (but) I’m enjoying it on my terms,” he said. “I don’t need to grind like I used to. It’s Milos’ turn for the sleepless nights and all the stress.”