INDIAN WELLS, California, AFP
Roger Federer never got the opportunity to face Pete Sampras in a Wimbledon final but they will forever be linked for their Grand Slam achievements.
They are the benchmark for greatness in men’s professional tennis and sadly they played in different eras and so they only faced each other once in the early rounds of the 2001 Wimbledon.
But Federer revealled Friday that he recently visited Sampras at his home in Los Angeles and practised with the seven-time Wimbledon champion for two days.
“He was very good, surprisingly,” Federer said. “Very good you know, but not good enough to beat me.”
Federer and Sampras met just once in their pro careers in the round of 16 at the 2001 Wimbledon with Federer winning in five sets 7-6 (9/7), 5-7, 6-4, 6-7 (2/7), 7-5.
“Beating him in his backyard in Wimbledon was so special to me, so I wanted to try to beat him in his house,” Federer joked Friday as he prepared to play his opening match in the 5.3 million dollar ATP/WTA Pacific Life Open.
Sampras said in January that he expects Federer will break his record of 14 Grand Slam singles crowns one day. Federer picked up his 47th career singles and 10th Grand Slam title by winning the Australian Open in January.
Sampras turned pro in 1988 and Federer ten years later. Besides the seven Wimbledons, ‘Pistol Pete’ won two Australian Open crowns and five US Open titles, including the 2002 championship in the final match of his career.
“I knew I was coming to L.A. so I rang up Pete,” Federer said.
“I’m totally excited. I had the idea of seeing how good he plays, you know, because he was one of my favourite players when I was growing up.”
Federer doesn’t rule out seeing if he can arrange an exhibition match in public against Sampras.
“It would be kind of cool to maybe play an exhibition against him. We’ll see. But he was playing very well.”
They played several sets and tiebreaks but when asked to reveal the score Federer replied, “I can’t tell you. But it was good fun.”