Speaking to the press at the Rogers Cup in Toronto during a special exhibition Saturday night, Pete Sampras joined fellow tennis greats John McEnroe and Jim Courier on the podium to take questions.
Sampras was asked about reigning Wimbledon and US Open champion Andy Murray’s progress and here’s what he said:
“I think Murray is on his way to doing great things. I think he’s got a great shot at the US Open. He’s progressed into this great talent that mentally is very strong, has a great coach in Ivan who has helped him a lot. I think he’s up there with Roger and Rafa. I mean, I think he’s well on his way to winning many majors. It would be interesting to see how he sort of defends here. It’s a little bit different for him this year, so I think he’s on his way. He’s going to be right there.”
Courier then added, “He’s kind of scratching his head, isn’t he, that he’s done what he’s done in the majors and he’s still kind of far away from No. 1 in the rankings? I mean, I think he’s scratching his head a little bit at how the rankings system works. But consistency clearly matters. Taking a loss here with a thousand points on the line, those are the kinds of matches that make it harder to get over the line. Novak is not going to give it up without a fight, but no question he has the game. No doubt about that. Consistency is what it takes.”
Questions then shifted to Nadal, who was playing in the semifinals during the interview.
Said McEnroe about the Spaniard, “I’m thrilled that he’s back. There was definitely concern to see what happened at Wimbledon. I mean, we can all lose, but just the way it seemed that he wasn’t sort of feeling right. So that is great news. Hopefully he can last for a couple of more years at this level, because that would be a great test for Andy. And clearly it would be a difficult one, because his career record with all the top guys is quite good.”
Courier followed up suggesting Novak’s clay court game helps the Serb. “One thing that is a huge advantage for Novak is he can dominate the clay court season absent Rafa. He’s the second‑best clay courter out there. Murray is not quite there. So there is a point gap in that area of the season that’s going to be tough for Andy to overcome unless he picks his game up on clay, which is doable, but there is a clear advantage. If you look at the all‑surface category, Novak has a big advantage there.”
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