Federer Lets Sampras Win, Looks Ahead to Rematch
by Sean Randall | November 24th, 2007, 11:55 am

Well, if Roger Federer was trying to fan the flames on the mind-numbing Greatest of All Time debate this off season, consider it mission accomplished. The World No. 1 lost last night to Pete Sampras 7-6(8), 6-4 in the final match of their three city Asian exhibition series. ADHEREL

Federer had won the first two meetings in Seoul and Kuala Lumpur, but the 36-year-old Sampras won the finale in Macau.

Surprising result?

“Sort of surprised,” Federer joked afterward.

Surprised, stunned, shocked at the result. Use whatever superlative you want, but honestly, who cares.

Sure, the series was interesting to watch, fun to speculate the “what ifs”, but as I’ve said before, the only thing this it proves (or proved) is that both Federer and Sampras like the cash. If you want to argue Pete’s serve could get him into the Top 20, fine I’ll listen to that, that’s about it.

While Sampras clearly can still bring the heat on his serves, Federer appeared content hitting second serves to keep things interesting and competitive.

And while Sampras labored with his movement, especially laterally, Federer appeared to be a full step if not two steps slower than he was just a week earlier in Shanghai.

I could go on, but I won’t. Said Sampras, “Let’s not get carried away.” I agree.

Remember folks these matches are just for entertainment. A choreographed, made for TV event. Hollywood, yes. Reality, no. I can’t even put them into an exo level like Kooyang, which is essentially a tournament comprised of televised practice sets.

Unfortunately, though, many misguided people will take the latest result as gospel and run with it.

In saying that, Federer has to be some sort of glutton for punishment. He really does. By losing last night he’s now opened himself up to even more vomit-inducing press questions in the coming months on the Great Debate.

I can just hear them now…

“Roger, in your last match of 2007 you lost to an out-of-shape 36-year-old Pete Sampras, how will that affect your confidence as you try to defend your Australian Open?”

“Roger, you said after the second exo match that Pete was a Top 5 player. Now that you‘ve lost to him where would he rank?”

“Roger, is Pete tougher to play than Rafael Nadal, or David Nalbandian?”

“Roger, you beat Pete in five sets at Wimbledon. He beat you in straight sets in China. Is he better now? Can you explain?”

“Roger, did you give Pete any advice on his hair style?”

And those would be the tip of the iceberg. If you are Fed, you are getting as far away as humanaly possible from journalists the next month.

So just what was the motivation behind Federer deciding to lose the finale, and lose in straight sets? Simple. It’s good for business.

By letting Pete win the finale the stage has been set for a sequel, a rematch series next fall. Had Roger blown out Pete, no rematch would be needed. But with Pete winning their last meeting in “convincing” fashion, and with the prospect of Roger being even or ahead of Pete in the Slam tally, a Part Two would be even more of a draw.

And that’s not lost on Roger nor on IMG, which manages Federer and Sampras.

“I hope we can do it again in the future,” Fed said. “I’d like to get him back.” And get some more cash.

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215 Comments for Federer Lets Sampras Win, Looks Ahead to Rematch

Dave Says:

Of course it was orchestrated. It just annoys me, as the author suggested, that the media pundits are going to go hog wild with this “loss”.

joanne Says:

Perfect,loved your description.My thoughts exactly.
Roger(on the hair);
‘Well my suggestion to Pete was that he try hair extensions.He could even harvest the hair from his nose,ears,and other body parts to create that natural look;but really without a good razor theres not much he can do fashion-wise.He may be able to serve but he sure is butt ugly.
Yeah Roger is a glutton for punishment!!! Wouldnt you love to know the thinking behind this.Bet you when he gets Pete to Madison Square garden he is going to bagel him good.Just like when he lost to Roddick at Kooyong and came back and butchered him at the Aussie open.I think he loves winding the press up.Must be so much fun.
He’ll figure Pete’s serve out just like Karlovic and Isner and Lopez and Roddick.
Watch the Wimbledon match to see how he got winners in abundance off Pete’s serve.
Im just drooling waiting.How about you?

FoT Says:

Sean, for once, I totally agree with you 100%. Like you said, if Roger had won all 3 of these then there would be no expectations for their rematch in New York next year. It would be “so what? Who cares?”… but now that Pete has actually WON one of these – ticket sales will go through the roof! IMG, Pete, and Roger all knew what they were doing…and it worked. lol!

d Says:

Has this little series put Federer’s price up?

From ‘The Peninsular’ – Qatar English paper re the Qatar Open

The QTF president was addressing a press conference at the Federation premises here yesterday.

On world number one Roger Federer’s chances of playing in the tournament he said: “We tried to get in touch with Federer but his demands for appearance in the tournament exceeded our budget.”

spiromilhous Says:

What kind of a person loses a match on purpose? And for money of all things? The greatest player of all times?

Stupid Idiot Says:

Very smart. When there is a debate on whether Federer or Sampras is superior in the history of tennis, Federer decided to loose in straight set to open the debate so that he can cash extra few million $ from a potential rematch.
Given Federer makes around US$10m a year just from the tour (plus much more from sponsors), it makes soooooo much sense for him to loose, so that he can make extra few million dollars from the rematch. Definetly it sounds like a very intelligent choice for Federer. Good job guys!!

angel Says:

spiromilhous you need to take a pil
it’s an exibition not a real game it’s all business.

I was at the match Says:

I was at the match and Federer was serving well with 14 aces (he usually makes less than 10 aces if you actually watches his games).

Given Sean Randall was not even at the match himself and claims that Federer was serving 2nd serve it really amazes me. This shows how suck Sampras was letting Federer hit 14 aces with 2nd serve!!!

Actually maybe Andy Roddick want to make money from a potential rematch too. Roddick actually lost in straight set to Sampras this year (or last year) in a exhibition match if you are even aware of it.

Professional tennis is awesome these days how top players are willing to earn a million buck or two to be embarrased by a 36 years old who hasn’t played professional tennis for 5 years in straight sets!

Jan Says:

I asked myself before I saw the result of this match “what would be the point of the 4th exo in March if Roger wins these Asian exos 3-0? Seems the article author thinks along the same lines. And, judging by the fact that Doha can’t afford Roger anymore, then yes, in the end, money is all.

Lexi Says:

I thought to myself, should I grace this blog with my post? I have already responded to this drivel you call a match report on a credible tennis website.

Then I thought, why not? Might as well let the horse hear it himself.

If Sampras had won just one set and got blown away in the 3rd….you and your ilk would have said, Federer allowed him to win the set. If he won the 1st match, you would have said, Federer was tired from Shanghai and allowed him to win the 1st. If he had won the 2nd, you would have said Federer wants to keep it interesting. I am sure some of your likes out there, have said, Federer let it get to the tiebreak and then finished him off in the 2nd match.
If Pete had won the 3rd, which he duly did, it was clear your likes were always going to say, Federer let him win it because he’d wrapped up the first two matches.

It was a no win situation for Sampras and it shows the humility of the man that he took the challenge up and accepted the invite..and Randall needs to check his facts….Federer could have invited anyone…so it wasn’t an IMG sponsored tour with only IMG players eligible. Sampras has shown what a classy man he is on court and off court because I am sure he knew there would be people like you waiting to say crap.

Anyone who watched all 3 matches can never say what you or this other chap have said. Anyone who understands tennis wouldn’t say what you have said. This is what happens when people best suited to gossip columns like Perezhilton stray into serious talk about sports like Tennis. They lose the plot.

I am not sure the whole of Asia is waiting, holding their breath till November 2008 to see if Federer will get what will then be a 37 year old Sampras back. I mean, that comment is the height of ridiculous…and yet you poke fun at questions Roger might get asked because of this loss? You, Mr Randall, are the one who needs serious tennis lessons, practical and theoritical before you parade yourself on a blog as some kind of tennis pundit.

There is already a match in MSG. Federer could have taken all 3 in Asia and let Pete win that one on his home soil. Afterall, that’s already a done deal… but that story doesn’t suit your ridiculous thoughts does it?!

Who do you think cares who wins these exhos as far as the viewing public are concerned? Do you think the public bought the tickets because they thought a 36 year old, 5 yrs retired Sampras would beat Federer? They bought it to see greatness on court. Tennis purists knew Federer couldn’t blow Sampras away. Sampras is too good a tennis player for that to happen.

It was an exho. Nobody was going to kill themselves on court over it but Federer and Sampras played real matches and none wanted to lose. I don’t think a player who gloats about beating a man in his backyard is going to want to lose a match, not even a set, on a global televised show to that same man, because we know Roger is paranoid…he himself knows what some will say…

Nobody is reading anything into it…only Mr Randall and Federer fans who are pre-empting what some might say this does to the image of the current crop.

The simple truth is that if you are a true tennis follower, you wouldn’t have needed a 36 year old Sampras to take out Federer in straight sets on a quick indoor court to tell you about the state of Federers competitors. All you had to do was follow tennis all through the year…and Bobs your uncle.

I have said my piece. I wont make this site a habit though it looks like you need all the hits you can get.

FoT Says:

The only way Sampras had a chance in this match was for them to play it on the fastest indoor surface available…and they did.

Let Pete try to come back and play on the regular ATP tour today and he won’t find any tournament where the surface is as fast as they played in these exhibition matches. Reality would set back in.

The surface in the last exhibition was used in many tournaments when Pete played and actually it was killing tennis with the booming serve, no return, no rallies.. That is why they slowed the game down. Unfortunately, today, I think it is too slow so they need to find a compromise to speed the courts up just a little more – but not like they were in Pete’s day.

As Pete himself said after the match today “Let’s not get carried away”.

FoT Says:

P.S. Lexi – you said it was a no-win situation for Sampras? I disagree. It was a win-win situation for Sampras. No one expected him to win so if he lost – big deal; but if he won – wow!

It was a no-win for Federer. Everyone expected him to win so if he won – big deal. If he lost – wow!

FoT is awesome Says:

‘Sean, for once, I totally agree with you 100%. Like you said, if Roger had won all 3 of these then there would be no expectations for their rematch in New York next year. It would be “so what? Who cares?”… but now that Pete has actually WON one of these – ticket sales will go through the roof! IMG, Pete, and Roger all knew what they were doing…and it worked. lol!’ quoted FoT

OK SO ‘IF FEDERER LOST – WOW’… i dont get it, i thought you said Federer deliberately lost to earn a few million dollars in a rematch… so its a no-win situation for Federer in which he has to win, but at the same time he wanted to loose so that people will debate if he is crap for a few million bucks… wow i think i am so stupid, i really dont get this

Steve Says:

I don’t think Roger Federer would ever let any player win regardless of money. He does not need the money and cannot stand to lose. He has been like this since he was 12. He is very similar to Michael Jordan and TIger Woods in this fashion. The fact of the matter is that a faster surface can let an older player with a serve and volley game play at a very high level if they are in shape. Pete finished the last 5 years of his career with a serve and volley mentality. The opponent strategy was to keep him on the court, figure out how to get the serve back, and keep each point at 4 + shots. The only surface Pete could possibly compete on today would be Wimbledon. Could he do a full tournament? Not sure but I think with the shape he is in now, he probably could and if this was his only tournament each year. I have watched him play locally in the Los Angeles area with top 10 players on tour and he looks pretty dominant. He also trained a year for these matches so its not like he is in bad shape. He probably is in better shape then his last year on tour. Other players who rely on the baseline game could not succeed after retirement. Agassi is a good example. Pete however will remain competitive probably for another 3-4 years. When the serve goes, then no doubt it would not be a realistic expectation to ever beat a current top 10. It makes me laugh to those who think Roger would ever let up to make money. Michael Jordan would not even let his kids or wife beat him at ping pong. Competitors would rather win any day than making $ to add to their pot of gold. Pete beat him today on a fast service. Roger said he would beat the top 5 on fast surfaces.

kamret Says:

That’s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard any tennis journalist/writer say – that Federer let Sampras win the last exibition match just for the cash. (By the way, what cash? Do you really think Federer cares for that cash? Do you know in how many other ways he is making millions of dollars a year apart from his match wins?) You people don’t realize how much pride Federer has. He would never lose on purpose to Sampras as he doesn’t want people to have any doubt that he is the greatest of all time. (He is smart enough to know that people will start wondering if he is really the greatest of all time in case he loses to Sampras.) That Swiss guy is full of pride but some of you still don’t get it. Too bad!

rafafan Says:

ya i think if they gave him a wildcard to the us open and wimby next year it wud be good fun just as long as they didnt put him in rogers quarter it wud be entertaining

zola Says:

You Fed fans can’t just take a defeat even if it is in an exhibition. The Almighty has to “let” the other one win. I think the title is just too fuuny.

These matches don’t count for anything. Sampras and Fed get paid for their Christmas holidays and say bye and go their separate ways. Neither Fed’s wins over Sampras, nor Sampras’s win over Fed are no big deal if the fans don’t make it one. The press is different. They have to make money.

zola Says:

I have to add that I don’t agree that Fed was supposed to win twice and “let” Sampras win once. I think they get paid to come and play but they are more relaxed because it is not an official match.

Fed wins millions a year. How many monies do you need to convince him to lose a match?

grendel Says:

Well, at least Fed fans don’t go whimpering on endlessly about injury, real or imagined, when their darling Rafa hits the dust.

grendel Says:

oopsy. Should have said: as Nadal fans do, etc

NK Says:

So the trolls on Sampras’ side are working overtime to let the world know the mighty Federer lost to Sampras in an exhibition match that they claim both players took very seriously.

Trolls on Federer’s side are also working overtime to do damage control.


Isn’t it enough for use to be grateful that two of the greatest players in tennis strutted their stuff in a friendly match. Does Federer have to win every match they play just bacause he is at his peak and Sampras isn’t?

Get over it guys. Sampras’ fans would like to claim now that Federer would not have won his 12 grand slams had Sampras been around.

Maybe not. But, by the same token, would Sampras’ have won his 14 slams if Federer had been around during his time? Think about it. The only time they met professionally was at Wimbledon, Sampras’ best surface. He was the defending champion for three years running. Federer was practically unknown. Sampras was arguably just past his peak. Federer was nowhere close to his peak. Sampras was playing on Centercourt for the hundredth time. For federer, it was his first appearance on the hallowed court. Sampras had the “fear” factor working in his favor. How can anybody walk on to the centercourt thinking he had any chance against Sampras?

And yet, Federer won, beating Sampras at his own “serve-and-volley” type of game, just in case you forgot that Federer served and volleyed the whole match.

So who cares if either of the two greats wins or loses in an exhibition match. Get over it. No matter what kind of spin you want to put on it, it’s not the real thing.

st4r5 Says:

It’so true, Fed let Sampras win, so the next time, he invites him to play in an exhibition, he would say yes to it. Just imagine, if Fed won everything, there would never be the next time, Sampras would not be interested at playing. It’s so simple. By the way, Fed wore his wacth while playing, and he lowered the pace of his serve by a margin during the game in macau (he let Sampras read his serve).

sensationalsafin Says:

Wow. Really? Are you all serious? Has anyone here ever even stepped on a tennis court? I mean cmon!!! Sean, you’re wrong, Federer didn’t lose for money, he would never do that. And he didn’t lose on purpose, he would never do that either. BUT!! Sampras a top 5 player? Federer’s competition being weak? Are you people serious? Oh no!! Sampras is 36! He’s so old how can he even walk? Agassi was 36 when he retired and he was still competing with the best of them!! Has everyone forgotten that Baghdatis match? Sampras is one of the greatest players of all time!! 5 years off the tour and he’s gonna forget how to play? He’s been practicing for the last 2 years. This year he’s only been playing against some of the best players to ever step on the court on the senior tour. But just because Federer is the dominant number 1 he’s leagues above Sampras? His forehand will go in more or something? This is an exhibition. That means that it’s basically a practice match that’s televised, like Kooyong. And for any person, not just a great champion, whether they’re practicing or playing in the final of Wimbledon, they’re gonna wanna win. But in the end it is practice. Losing doesn’t make either of them any less of players. So Sampras played a little better than Federer in practice today, so what? 16, 17, and 18 year old players sometimes find that the best hitting partners are 45 year old guys who kick the junior’s asses 6-1 6-1. No one cries about that. So Sampras edges Federer out and suddenly Federer and his era suck? Or suddenly Federer let Sampras win for MONEY of all things? No one ever lets anyone win, ever. And just because Federer lost a practice match doesn’t mean his era sucks. Maybe if someone hear actually played tennis they’d understand. And Sean stop making stuff up.

zola Says:

I understand your misery. no need to take it out on Nadal. It was just an exhibition match. you can relax!

allcourt Says:

Even if Fed did not LET Pete win (and I doubt that Fed would LET anybody beat him), this loss to Sampras is no more significant — in the grand scheme of things — than any of the other 9 (?) losses Fed had this year. It really isn’t.

Jason Alfrey Says:

Looking at the big picture tennis needs more publicity. Roger and Pete aren’t doing this to stuff their stockings for the holidays. Maybe, they saw an opportunity to grow the game. For those who watched the matches the crowd was there and they loved it. In times where tennis finds the Russian Mafia involved in match fixing, Hingis doing coke, and Haas being poisoned wouldn’t it be nice to think that Roger and Pete were doing some good. Regadless of who wins, doesn’t the game of tennis win?

sensationalsafin Says:

Well said Jason Alfrey, very well said. In the end, if only we could avoid all this petty arguing about who’s better and who let who win, it’s really a win for tennis. And this is an unbelievably insignificant loss because there really were no stakes. No title, no points, no ranking or anything. But if you count this, then Federer has lost 12 times this year (Kooyong and the Battle of the Surfaces). But really I think it should be clarified that 11 of these losses were insignificant. The loss to Nadal at the French is huge no matter what. Any loss for Federer at any of the slams would be and will be huge, especially at the French.

nozzzzzzs Says:

All I can say that all this tournament did for me was lose a little bit of respect for Federer. If he were doing this for some charity, it would have been OK. But this is all about money. His integrity has diminished in my eyes.

joanne Says:

I guess we have to wait for the book to come out to find out how and whether it was rigged;Rene Stauffer’s tell all follow up “Quest for Perfection 2”.That’ll be a secret worth telling.

grendel Says:

No, Zola, no misery – sorry. I actually predicted Sampras had a good chance. And expressed disbelief that Fed “let” Sampras win. And it’s not Nadal I was referring to. It was you, dear Zola, you and your chums – you’re the ones who always have a ready excuse when poor old Rafa troops disconsolately off the court. If it’s not injury, it’s tiredness, or perhaps the inexplicable hand of God, who doesn’t even exist anyway …. know what I mean?

b.t.w., several of Fed’s losses were certainly significant, not just RG. The loss to Nadal at Monte Carlo was a wake up call. As, more significantly, was the loss to Djokovic – also significant as a portent for the future, you can be sure Fed is now very aware indeed of a (fit and rested) Djokovic. And the losses to Nalbandian, given the sheer quality of play and the threat that Nalbandian represents, were of course significant. Everyone is waiting to see how Nalbandian does at AO. And, such is the mercurial nature of this strange fellow – tennis experts are just as much in the dark as the rest of us.

Dave Says:

For those of you who doubt that Federer would lose on purpose, just remember his Kooyoung match before the Aussie where he played a different style against Roddick so that Roddick wouldn’t get a look at his ‘A’ game. Federer makes plenty of money, but not nearly enough for his status as the #1 player. He has turned down Davis cup matches in order to play Dubai, just for the big payday. I watched the match. I am a 5.0 player, and I am very familiar with Federer’s game. He was not playing anywhere near his best. If this is because he tanked it intentionally, or he just wasn’t willing to push himself and risk injury, I don’t know. I am not one of those who will make excuses for every Fed loss, but losing to a guy 10 years past his prime? Come on. This is marketing, pure and simple.

One more thought. Before every match, both Fed and Sampras made very prescient comments. They seemed to predict the outcome of the next match with great accuracy. I don’t think it’s coincidence.

sensationalsafin Says:

Haha. I’m not saying you’re wrong but I didn’t see the second 2 matches. How is Federer playing differently? I mean what is it that he’s doing that isn’t his usual style? Again I’m not saying I’m disagreeing with you I just wanna know what it is out of sheer curiosity. I don’t believe for a second that Federer is in tennis for the money. I’m not trying to uphold some perfect image of him or anything, it’s just that from what I’ve read, seen, and heard, Federer plays tennis because he loves the game. His top priority is playing, then winning, then making money. Obviously money is important, he wouldn’t be a pro if there wasn’t any money in it. He said he doesn’t play Davis Cup because he wants to focus on being number 1, but that arguement doesn’t work for Dubai because Dubai isn’t that big of an event to effect his ranking. In this case I do believe Federer is being selfish. I don’t think he goes to Dubai for the money I think he’s just overly obsessed with it and would rather spend his time there than some random third world country trying to get or keep his team in the world group. I think Davis Cup is beyond important despite it’s current shameful status and I wish Federer would step up to the plate and atleast show some passion for it, even if he doesn’t win it.

Franz Says:

umm, sure there is cash involved but i highly doubt its exactly “choreographed” that’d be nearly impossible with tennis. and sure there is money involved but i also think both want to do this for the fun of it i mean, I’d pay to play a point with either one -_-‘ and they are/were number one so its natural they’d like to play each other and for the public to want to see.

Bob Smith Says:

Don’t they have serve speed stats for the match? That would quantify how much of a chance Federer was giving Sampras with his serves.

It was pretty clear that on Fed’s service games he was being pretty generous. Sampras was serving well, and I think Federer legitimately didn’t have too many chances on Sampras’s service games.

Still, it was an entertaining set of matches and I’m glad they did it. I definitely enjoyed all three. (They got better and better.)

Barry Says:

The hype and sarcasm that I read in the posts aside, the facts are that Sampras serves and volleys better than anyone, and his spin and slice and makes Federer “hit up” which he is not used to, add to that his still great serve, and you have a person who is difficult to beat in a one match venue – of course he is to old and slow now to play a whole tourney – but he beat Federer because of the above and if you can’t seal with it – too bad

Dave Says:

Dubai pays Fed a million just to show up. I don’t think he plays just for money either, but lets not kid ourselves. Anyone who does anything at that level is conscious of money. Remember, these players have a limited life span. Even if he remains healthy, Fed, as well as all players, don’t have long to save up money to maintain a certain lifestyle for the rest of their lives.He will certainly never again make as much money as he does now. So money HAS to be a factor. It should not diminish anyone’s standing. It’s just a reality of life.

As far as how he played different, he was moving slower, he was not hitting as deep, or at the extreme angles that he normally does. I don’t think it was the surface, as Shanghai is also very fast. He just seemed not to be hitting the low percentage shots he normally does. Again, whether this was because he was consciously trying to give Pete a win, or just not willing to put himself at risk by going all out for an exhibition, I don’t know.

Dan Martin Says:

I do not know if the match was orchestrated or not. I have only seen highlights from the first match and it did seem far less intense than a regular match, but there were good shots hit by both guys. As for the money issue, both guys have a chance to promote the sport in a part of the world where tennis is booming – that is a good thing. Both guys are likely funneling money into their charitable activities – that is a good thing. Tennis getting attention in the world wide mainstream media – that is a good thing. Beyond that any complaints?

chris Says:

None of the players, including king Roger, is used to serve and volly tennis. Very interesting to watch.

Joe Says:

What makes Roger so incredible beyond the fact that he is such a phenomenal tennis player is how incredible well-rounded he is. I recall hearing him talk one morning on CNBC regarding his endorsement deals, charity work, and marking strategy generally. Beyond that, he is always doing photo shoots, interviews, mingling with the high Fashion and Hollywood, and promoting the game in every imaginable way. Not to mention the fact that his unparalleled dominance (among all sports) has been the source of renewed interest in tennis by otherwise non-tennis fans.

In my opinion, this is the other glaring hole in Pete’s resume. Prely from the perspective of a tennis player, I personally can’t fault Pete for his total focus on just playing the game. His serve and volley game was beautiful in its shear power. However, from the perspective of a general sports fan, Pete did nothing for the popularity of the sport. McEnroe, Nastase, Gueralitis, Connors, etc. have all succeeded in this regard.

After how Federer tactfully played out each of the three exos it is clear that he is not only one of the greatest players ever, but the one of the greatest ambassadors the sport has ever had.

sensationalsafin Says:

See, that’s why I’m saying this is just practice. They’re just hitting! That’s all it is! If you’re playing for score someone’s gotta win eventually. But still the goal is to practice not to show someone that you can hit this crazy shot and that crazy shot. Not only was it practice, but it was also for fun. It was for the good of the sport. There really shouldn’t be any complaints. Unfortunately you have people who are gonna come out and say Federer sucks and others who are gonna say Federer’s giving matches away. When will this end??

Regarding his significant losses: Grendel you’re right, Djokovic and Nalbandian clearly established themselves as threats in the future. Djokovic is likely, Nalbandian… not so much (I mean there’s really no way to know what’s gonna happen with him). But I mean for Federer in the long run it wasn’t a big deal to lose those matches. People won’t look back on those and say “Well if only Roger had beaten Djokovic in that Montreal final he would’ve been forever known as the GOAT”, same for the Nalbandian losses. People haven’t stopped saying that since his loss to Nadal LAST year at the french!!

I’m so damn excited for next year. We’ve pretty much seen a glimpse of all the great stuff we can expect next year. Federer still has the ultimate gear that Sean had been dismissing only a few months eariler. Nalbandian seems to have finally hit his peak and is now a contender for any title. Djokovic is f*cking closing in on NADAL. More of the same from Nadal, I expect. Great first half, mediocre second half. Then there’s Gasquet. Will he get motivated and atleast try to establish himself as a legitamate future top 1? I doubt it but I would love to see it happen. But what I’m most excited for is Murray. When he wasn’t injured for 4 months he was playing great tennis. If he plays a whole year next year? Top 5 without a doubt. Breakthrough slam for him? Could be any of them but I think he’s gonna run into Federer in the final. I don’t see anyone toppling Federer in a slam final next year (except Nadal at the French). So unfortunately none of the first time slam finalists will be able to go 7-0 in their first 7 slam finals like TMF did. But 2009 I definetly see Murray and Djokovic grabbing the first of several slams. And who can forget? 2008 OLYMPICS!!! GO SAFIN!!!

Jason Alfrey Says:

Again, these matches were for entertaiment and successful at that. There will be the debate of who is the greatest of all time in the future. Even when Pete broke the records he was not in many eyes the best ever, so leave it as it is. I have to say if it weren’t for the Conners, McEnroe, Borg and Lendl I would not be involved in the game of tennis. Imagine if Pete didn’t play to inspire such players like Federer? Without any of these idols(I include everyone) would any of us care to even play the sport? Even Sean needs to take a look in the mirror and find the reason why he’s in the line of work that he does. I want to thank all the greats for their years of dedication and entertainment because of them,I am who I am.

Anon Coward Says:

Well, the two are reported to be friends and in this venture are business partners. Sampras winning the third match certainly sets things up nicely for March 10, when the two are supposed to play again at Madison Square Garden.

Keeping things close is good for ticket sales, no?

alex Says:

Sean, love your article.

I also agree with Dave. Good comments and makes the most sense.

Yes money is the final reality. Nonetheless they are all human, GOATs are human too.

hoho Says:

Folks, I was in Macau and watched the match in person. It was NOT a serious match–nowhere near that. Both players were laughing from time to time and playing hijinks throughout the match. When they hit a shot wide, it was always out by like three feet. There was almost never an on-the-line shot. You never see that in a real professional match. They were both making faces at the audience from time to time with mock gestures of frustration or excitement. Pete hit several shots from between his legs just to draw laughs. Once when Roger was getting ready to serve, Pete handed his racket to a ball boy to return Roger’s serve. It was pure fun, and not a serious match on either player’s part. Anyone who thought there was a real match is just woefully misguided.

Colin Says:

As a Brit, I can’t resist reminding people of this: After Fed beat Sampras at Wimbledon, who beat Fed in the next round? Dear old Tim Henman!

Christopher Says:

I agree. This 3 or now 4 match exhibition is all about the money and to keep tennis in then lime light. It was never anything more than that. Exhibition tennis is nothing more than a glorified practice session for CASH!

Larry Says:

Sampras is regularly humbled in WTT matches, by Rick de Voest and Sam Warburg, challenger tour players. He can’t even put their serves in play. He is taken to a 10-8 supertiebreaker by Todd Martin on the senior tour. These holiday IMG events would have been less obvious to all but the most simple of minds if Pete had been kept retired until these matches. I’ve seen him in person, de Voest and Warburg have no trouble with his serve, and you think a guy who can return Roddick’s isn’t at their level?

Christopher Says:


Let us remind you of this, dear old Tim Henman never won Wimbledon. Pete Sampras won it 7 times and Roger Federer won it 5 times. Enough said.

Pete Says:

Reading these comments I’d say the marketing gurus at IMG did a great job in an improtant market for the sport. As for the players being paid–why shouldn’t they be paid? Nobody complains when they are paid to advertise razor blades, watches and other consumer products. Why in the world shouldn’t they be paid to advertise tennis?

Colin Says:

Of course I wasn’t trying to suggest Henman was in the class of the other two, but it does make the point that he was pretty useful at his best, which he never seemed able to sustain over several days.
Oddly, he beat Fed a number of times, until Roger, so to speak, became Roger. Nadal’s early successes make some people a bit too critical of others who take longer to mature. After all, it took Federer a while to get to the very top.

sensationalsafin Says:

Well Henman used to legitametly own Federer. I’d say it pretty much proves that the serve and volley technique is a very good tactic against Federer, like Sampras says. But Federer did turn that record around and Henman retired with a 6-7 record against Roger. The thing I kinda don’t get though is that a lot of the times Henman beat Federer the matches were extremely close, especially that Wimbledon match. It may have been a 4 setter but Henman only won 2 more points. Maybe it shows that Federer was fragile during crunch time. And the turn around I think proves that Federer is just a genius when it comes to figuring out his opponents. He has so many shots and back in the day he didn’t know what to do but now he knows exactly what shot to hit. Plus the surfaces are slower so maybe that’s it too.

penise Says:

the real issue is pete’s gnarley beard . . . he looks like bluto. get that man a sailor’s cap

SG Says:

Well, first off, you can never have enough money. Just ask John Roth of Nortel or Kenneth Lay of Enron. They had more money than you could ever want but they still wanted more. Most millionaires don’t give up on making money because other people think they should be financially comfortable. That’s just not how greed works. And athletes and their agents are greedy. Make no mistake about it.

I’m not really sure what to take out of this result. I didn’t see the match. But, Roger did say that Sampras’ serve was tough to read. A sentiment of many players who’ve played Pete in the past. And on a very fast court, with the velocity and control Sampras has on his serve, you could see this match not being one full of service breaks. And it’s one thing for Fed to puff his serve in. It’s another thing for him to get consistently get back a very potent serve. He has less control of that. And this year, Fed has struggled more with big serving guys like Isner, Karlovic, Roddick, Djokovic and yes…even Sampras.

I suspect Sampras won this match they way he did many matches in his career. Hold serve, get one break here and there and seal the deal in sets that are close in score. Personally, I’ve always thought that Pete Sampras & Boris Becker were two of the very best “fast carpet” players in the history of the sport. Their weapons were/are so well suited to this type of gunslinger, on the edge type of match where there aren’t any long rallies.

I’m not sure what value there is in Federer letting Sampras win. Money aside, he is a competitor. I don’t think he would let Sampras win. That should run contrary to a champion’s nature. Then again, who knows. All I know is this…if I were Sampras playing Fed at MSG, I’d want the surface playing as fast as a sheet of ice. And with the MSG being the home of the Rangers, this may just be a possibility.

tom rackman Says:

Wow, this writer has wrapped things up nicely for himself so that his world makes sense. It may cause the writer an identity crisis to actually think outside of their childish patterns

rafafan Says:

lool thats the next surface for tennis gentlemen…tennis on ice!!!! wow that wud be sumtin they cud play in those boots with little picks at the bottom and it wud be fantastic however i foresee a lot of injury.

Christopher Says:


Well why not,

Nadal and Federer already played a lame match on half red clay half grass in Spain. Anything is possible.

Another thing, holding this Sampras/Federer exhibition match in Madison Square Gardens may rekindle some old tennis memories there. I believe in time, the ATP may switch the master’s final back there if London proves to be a failure. Maybe this match is sending out feelers to see how the U.S. fans will embrace tennis back in New York outside of the U.S Open again.


I knew what you meant. I was just playing with you.


Dr. Death Says:

Well this blog certainly generated some heat! I guess IMG et al accomplished their mission.

There was a notice at my HK club that a Saturday workout for juniors was canceled because so many members were going to see “two of the greatest players ever” in Macau. I think that notice says it all and for most people, they go their money’s worth.

On to ’08 and the heat.

Roy Says:

Sean: YOur column is not worthy of comment. It belittles Federer – simply to maintain your image of him.

Pete Says:

I enjoy this stuff! Mr. Federer madse it clear that once upon a time he found exhibition matches pointless, even unsavory. Now? He sees them for what they are, a way to promote the sport, to give something back. Pete’s motives, I suspect, are similar, although somewhat tainted by a desire to reclaim past glory. However, the silly analysis of fans talking about serves, volleys etc., etc. is risable (as is the article that set it all off). I think I’ll play both of them next time out. At 62 I’ve got three backhands, three forehands (including a mean slice approach) and a serve that dumfounds me by its total unpredictability (ie. hard to read). Sleep tight tennis fans until the start of the real season.

SamTheTennisMan Says:

This whole thing is a marketing ploy. Fed is alot bigger liar and poser than people think. Remember how for the last ten years he has always referred to Edberg and Becker as his idols but never Pete? Now suddenly he’s always referring to Pete as his idol.. “playing agaimst my idol”.. blah… blah..blah, What a phoney. Mirka probably told him to lose. Fed doesn’t care about money? Wasn’t one of the reasons for his break up with Roche about money? How much cash could that have been? Fed took a bullet for Mirka and team IMG. I hope he doesn’t play Rod Laver next.

Christopher Says:


Playing Rod Laver. That would be a site!

Sean Randall Says:

Honestly folks, if some of you really believe deep down that both Federer and Sampras were giving their all to win these matches, then I would strongly suggest changing the dosage on your meds or checking into a medical clinic ASAP. Seriously. You must be the same people that believe pro wrestling is real.

And the argument that Fed has too much pride to lose on such an occasion is a total bunch of garbage. Hell, as stated earlier the guy lost to Roddick a year ago in Kooyang on the eve of the Australian Open, remember? Where was Fed’s pride then? Nor do I recall Fed being distressed over that loss either.

As for him not needing the money, as some of you point out, that’s also complete bunk. Just because you make a lot of money doesn’t mean you don’t want to make even more.

Imagine if your boss tapped you on the shoulder at work and offered you an additional 15% lump sum of your yearly salary just by trading in one week of your allotted vacation time for an extra week of work, and a chance to make even more the following year. At 15%, regardless of you pay rate, I’m sure many of you would take that deal. I know I would.

Fed made $10 million in prize money this year. If promoters offered Rog $1.5 million (maybe more!) for an extra week of tennis, all expenses paid, to play three matches against Pete, I can see where he might want to sign on the dotted line.

And as mentioned earlier, the event did get people talking and did give tennis some positive publicity, allowing us all a much needed breather from the Dayvdenko/Hingis/Gambling headlines of late.

So in the end I really don’t have any problem with the exos or the outcome. If Fed had won all three I wouldn’t care. If Sampras had won all three I still wouldn’t care. It is what it is, a freaking exhibition that made some lucky people a good chuck of cash.

As Pete said, let’s not get carried away.

yellowballspanker Says:

Sean, you really missed the mark on this post. I just watched the match again, I don’t think Fed threw the match. Maybe he was playing a little loose, enjoying himself, letting his mind wander a bit to take in the event, but that’s a long way from consciously deciding to tank. Suggesting it, especially in the current betting scandal climate is amateurish blogging. I usually enjoy your writings, even when I don’t agree. But this is time you are crossing the line into slanderous territory. And it makes your tennis knowledge suspect… I fear you don’t know what the hell you are talking about. And that makes me sad for ever following you in the past.

Goodbye, Sean, forever.

sensationalsafin Says:

Way too dramatic yellowballspanker. Did they really get 1.5 mil?? That’s insane. But I still don’t think Federer threw the match intentionally. It’s like I said before, they were practicing. Even Federer is allowed to lose in practice.

grendel Says:

It has been intriguing to see how many different points of view there are, and the queer mix within the mix. Thus both Fed fans and anti Fed chaps (and boy, are some of them anti! you can almost see the bile) push the financial motive to explain Fed’s loss to Sampras. Though of course they are doing it from opposing perspectives. Then again, people from both camps insist money has nothing to do with it. Either Fed was beaten fair and square, or else Fed wasn’t taking it seriously, so it hardly really even counts as a loss.

Some make the more subtle point that whilst Fed didn’t give it away – the competitor in him wouldn’t allow that – nevertheless, he wasn’t zoned in in the way he would be in a proper tourney. That makes sense to me. Whilst not knowing how these things work, I assume geering yourself up psychically for a match/tourney is no simple matter, and can only be done a limited number of times in a season. Look at Djokovic – he was clearly emotionally drained at Shanghai, although physically he was in tiptop shape.

All that said, I would like to suggest that the final match, on March 10, is different. Sampras was thoroughly up for this series (I deduce – couldn’t see the matches), and will certainly be in prime condition for New York. And although Fed obviously has other commitments, I reckon he will be ready for this one too.

Just think: it will not have escaped his notice that certain people in the Sampras camp (not all by any means) are already having a good gloat, with plenty of “I told you so’s” concerning the “weakness of Fed’s competition. Some neutrals are scratching their heads a bit, and even some Fed fans are looking a bit worried, and proclaiming just a little bit too loudly that it’s all nonsense and just a bit of fun. If Federer loses this one, it’s going to affect his reputation, however much his supporters try to down play it. And Fed will be completely aware of this.

People get too hung up on the word “exhibition”. It is, after all, only a word, and language does not define reality. That’s the wrong way round, you know. This final match is a one off, and of course financial considerations are not irrelevant (when are they ever?), but my own personal opinion, for what it is worth (but I’m guessing quite a few people will share my view), is that, almost by accident, this match is going to be real. And something, I don’t know what, will hang on it. Even if the motive behind the whole thing was initially benevolent (charity, advert for the sport in Asia) or malevolent (designed to enrich even further people who are already far too rich), events on the ground have somehow changed the meaning of it, in a way which was perhaps not entirely forseeable.

Those who (like me) believe in the cock up theory of history will know what I mean.

grendel Says:

Sean, whether or not you are right in principle, it is a mistake to compare the Roddick exho with the Sampras one. Everyone knows Fed has Roddick’s number, so he can certainly be relaxed about losing there. Just not the case w.r.t.Sampras. That’s unknown (and very sensitive) territory.

SamTheTennisMan Says:

What does it cost to book MSG in March and give the players a nice gaurantee? If Fed sweeps Sampras in Asia then there’s ho-hum interest and the promoter(IMG?)loses a big chunk of change So, surpise, suprise Sampras wins one. To quote one of my favorite SNL characters “How CONVEEENIENT!”

sensationalsafin Says:

I don’t understand why Federer’s competition is always attacked. Sampras even admitted that there is so much more depth in the top 100 than there was 10 years ago. The criticisms are regarding those in the top 10. I don’t think the current top 10 is bad or anything, but if you look at a lot of them and how mentally weak and inconsistent they are, it’s no wonder Sampras says such things. But Federer losing to Sampras in this match doesn’t mean that Federer’s competition sucks and he would never dominate if it was better. Most of the top 10 is weak BECAUSE of Federer. When Federer’s playing his best we’ve all seen that there’s just no safe zone to go with him. You can’t hit it to his backhand or forehand or volleys and hope he misses. His serve becomes ridiculously unpredictable and difficult to return. So when Gasquet, Roddick, Davydenko, Gonzalez, Blake, Djokovic, Nadal, Ferrer, and Nalbandian face this undeniable God of Tennis, how can they not collapse? How can they not be afraid? Roddick and Davydenko are strong against other players. So is Nadal, Djokovic, and Ferrer. Even Gonzalez believes in himself against other players and we know Nalbandian is full of confidence. Even Baghdatis is a strong player until he plays Federer.

If Becker, Edberg and Sampras played in this time, I have no doubt they’d be great players. When you’re that talented there’s no reason you can’t use your talents at any time. But think about how they would end up after 5 years of meeting Federer in slam finals and semis. They’d probably give up their serve and volley games, too, because they’d get sick of seeing impossible shots fly past them every other point.

And if Federer played in Sampras’s time, would he not be great? He’s clearly a great baseliner but he most certainly would’ve been a great serve and volleyer, too. The most significant thing about Federer’s win over Sampras was the fact that it was a pure serve and volley match. Even if Federer had lost that it still was mad close. Obviously Federer isn’t facing multiple slam champions. If Federer wasn’t around there would be a few multiple slam winners. Nadal would have 5 slams, Roddick would have 4, Hewitt would have 4, Safin would have 3, Baghdatis, Gonzalez, and Djokovic would each have 1. Hell even Agassi would have had a 9th. And I’m not even gonna bother thinking “what if they lost to someone else in the final” because each and every one of those players was on fire coming into that final but Federer was a giant bucket of water that put out that fire.

Yet so many people say how bad Federer’s competition is and blah blah blah. If his competition was SO bad they would never have been able to create the most complete player in history. You don’t need competition to show that Federer has every shot in the book and then some.

ross Says:

here’s a very interesting article…..

Federer: The Rivalries
by Ruggers: 2007 PG Champion 24 November 2007

Let us look at Federer’s major rivalries; From his clashes with the great Agassi in his latter years, to the tussles against fellow Grand Slam champions, to the battles against the young ones.

What is Federer’s greatest rivalry? What is the most intriguing?

There may be some who will belittle such rivals, but let us recall McEnroe’s words: “I just think that there is more depth in the game today than there was in Sampras’s era”

Roger Federer, Selected H2Hs (age 26)

1. Past Generation
– Leads H2H against Andre Agassi 8-3(age 37)
Sampras retired but Agassi played on and aged between 28 to 35 played Federer 11 times. The Swiss met the tennis legend three times at the US Open losing the first encounter in 2001, winning the next in a five-set tussle in 2004 and beating him in the final in 2005.

2. “New Generation”
– Leads H2H against Andy Roddick 15-1 (age 25)
– Leads H2H against Juan Carlos Ferrero 9-3 (age 27)
– Leads H2H against Lleyton Hewitt 13-7 (age 26)
– Leads H2H against Marat Safin 8-2 (age 27)
The big-server, the huge forehand, the counter-puncher, the power-player. Here are all former World No. 1s, all Grand Slam winners, all tipped for greater success. Yet Federer would rise above them and dominate the H2H series against them.

– Level H2H against David Nalbandian 8-8 (age 25)
A very interesting rivalry, given new spark lately with the Argentine’s latest resurgence. Nalbandian is certainly talented and capable of playing attractive all-court tennis and indeed they have had some great battles, including 2005 Masters Cup Final.

3. Next Generation
– Trails H2H against Rafael Nadal 6-8 (age 21)
Federer’s most epic rivalry is of course against Rafael Nadal, one of the great rivalries in the sport’s history. Nadal has denied Federer the complete Grand Slam through his complete domination of Roland Garros. They have had numeral titanic battles, from this year’s Wimbledon five-set battle to another five-setter in the 2006 Rome Masters.

– Leads H2H against Novak Djokovic 5-1 (age 20)
– Leads H2H against Richard Gasquet 6-1 (age 21)
– Leads H2H against Marcos Baghdatis 5-0 (age 22)
All very talented and with much potential. Djokovic and Baghdatis have both reached Grand Slam finals at the US Open and the Australian Open respectively, yet both would be denied by Federer in the final. Indeed Federer has kept them all at bay for now.

4. History
– Leads H2H against Pete Sampras 1-0 (age 36)
– Level H2H against Rod Laver 0-0 (age 69)
Of course there is another rivalry Federer has, against history itself! Interest in this has manifested itself in the “Clash of Times” exhibition series. The two major GOAT contenders are Pete Sampras and Rod Laver. By completing ‘The Grand Slam’ Fed will replicates Laver’s Grand Slam triumph. He already seems inline to break Sampras two major records, most Year-End at No. 1 and Most Grand Slams.

Tejuz Says:

I dont think Fed played to lose the match. He just dint play to win it at all cost… and Sampras did play well and wanted to win at all cost. For Sampras, this is like the real deal at the moment to defeat Fed.. whereas Fed was just having a workout and with 2 matches already won he wouldnt mind Sampras beating him once. That doesnt mean he just gave it away, but he dint try very hard for sure. The service game that he lost, was because he hit 3 consecutive unforced errors, something he usually makes with his eyes closed. He was just treating it like a practice match. he wasnt going for his passing shots the way he does against Henman or Roddick.

Fed always said, Youzhny is one of the best players on practice courts.. and he has beaten Fed many times during practice…. but not even once on the tour. So we compare relate practice matches to tour matches.

In one of the Fed’s service games… He hit 4 aces, 2 of which were 2nd serve aces.. and he held his hand high to say he gave Sampras a taste of his own medicine … and Sampras not able to do much with the serves, just handed the racquet to a ball boy let him face the last serve. It was fun.. nevertheless it was great game from both of them.

Tejuz Says:

There was an instance where Fed hit a winner down the line on the run .. and raised his racquet… and again.. Sampras started claiming(jokingly) that it was his(sampras’) invention.

Tejuz Says:

I have never seen Sampras so relaxed and involved with the crowd before. A very different Sampras for sure

Tejuz Says:

Nice post Ross…

Well.. Sampras does mention that he faced more GREAT players during his time, than Fed right now.. Probabaly what he means is that, when he was at his peak, he consistently faced players who knew how to win big tournaments and have been past grandslam champions. Thats less nowadays.. firstly because Sampras, Rafter, Kafelnikov retired prematurely, Kurten got injured and later Agassi retired. Well, thats true. But that doesnt at all mean that Fed’s competition is weak.

Von Says:

I made a mental note not to participate in blogging on the tennis sites because I felt uneasy with some of the responses to my comments. However, I made an exception after reading “SamTheTennisMan” comments. I was aghast at Federer’s statement about Pete being his idol. It was always Edberg and Becker, mostly Edberg. Now suddenly, it’s Pete.

Federer is a liar and I have always felt a very skillful one at that. He makes statements that sound good to people’s ears and probably his own. He changes his words to suit the occasion. I liken him to the ebb and flow of tide. He plays his matches the same way, because he feels he has the skill to do that. The match in 2006 US Open, when he invited Tiger Woods to sit in his box, he went all out to get Roddick to show Tiger how great he is. This exhibition thing is all about money. I saw Pete on the Tennis Chanel in an interview and he said that Fed was making a ton of money from the exho and he (Pete) was making good money also but not as much as Fed. Fed does care about money! He has money on his mind, period. The exho match was just a few minutes over and in his interview on the court he was talking about playing Pete in a rematch to get revenge. He threw out the money line quite subtly. He broke up with Tony Roche because he said that he was paying Tony fat checks but got nothing in return. Also, when he lost in Cincy 2006, he stated “there goes my bonus million dollars.” I don’t think that those are the words of someone who does not care about money. I felt those comments were in poor taste and show how avaricious he is. I get so steamed up about this man and his phony behavior and lies. E.g., he hated hawkeye, but statistics show that he uses it more often than the other players.

I read some blogs about Pete’s clothes, hair and appearance, “butt ugly.” I don’t think Pete is ugly, Fed is, with that nose, which he is always pulling and cleaning and fixing the hair. I thought the women fixed their hair not the men. His routine is to the nose then the hair. I think Pete has always dressed well. Not the Vogue stuff but proper tennis attire. Until Fed hooked up with the Vogue people, he dressed poorly. He even said so in an interview that he did not know how to dress until he got help.

Thank you, SamTheTennisMan, for your courageous comments, which have given me the courage to write this.

lulu Says:

whats wrong with u people
we watch usuall boring one dimensional matches all year long on the ATP tour
no one complains
but when 2 of the best ever take play for fun
all hell breaks lose
all the aTP player make millions of adv and sponsors
many others play exhibition for whatever reason
everything is relative
I am a fan of Pete always will be
why does everything have to derogatory?
And i take insult to that lame article title
Federer lets sampras win? where is your professional conduct.
I know of fans who were there at the match,even federer fans, who say that pete won on his merit and that federer made himself a step slower
what the big deal if they are planning for another exhibition, at least the fans can see some now near extinct serve and volley, for that alone its worth it

TITI Says:

Well, I was there in Macau and I know Pete did not win on his merit. It is simply impossible at this time for Sampras to beat Federer on his merit. Anyone in their right mind should just recognize that.

Pete was a great, great player. So is Federer. Remember we are not comparing these two in their respective primes. At the present time, with Sampras being 10 years older and out of practice, Federer can beat him at anytime and on any surface. That, however, does not detracts anything from Pete’s greatness. It just means that they belong in two generations.

Lenny Says:

The only thing “fixed” in these matches was the surface to give Pete a chance. Was Fed’s intensity level not as high as it usually is? Of course not. That doesn’t mean it was intentional. It was an exhibition. It was the end of a long, tiring season. It was coming off a high at Shaghai. A toning down is perfectly NATURAL in these circumstances. It boggles my mind that ANYone who knows and loves sports, and understands the mind of a sports champion (which these two are without any debate) would suggest that there was a deliberate tank!

But I guess that spew has got Sean exactly what he wanted. Lots of attention.

Von Says:


I am glad you find the usual tennis matches boring, I mentioned that on another pro-Fed site and I was slammed. I am a fan of Pete’s – I think he was the best. He said very little and was not into the money making things. I am sad to see how he was used and all the unkind statements about him. I don’t think he realizes the craftiness of Fed, but whatever it is, Pete is a gentleman, something the present No. 1 is not. The matches Fed played, when Tony Roche was his coach, Tony always fell asleep, that reinforces my opinion about how boring and one-dimensional tennis is at the present time. I am sorry Fed fans but I do find him boring. I guess I’ll be slammed again.

RJ Says:

All events that take place on a world scale involve big money. Money is incidental when any big names/celebrities are involved. However, the motivation for guys like Sampras and Federer are well past the point where they need to worry about finances. They play to promote the sport, respect for the game, etc. You may think its an extremely naive way of looking at the situation but I think its far more credible.

Federer has always had great respect for the past champions and it would be wrong and futile to invite someone of Sampras’ stature for the sole purpose of proving a point.

Why did Federer lose? Im not suggesting he tanked it, but if your familiar with the spirit an exhibition match is played, the difference is night and day from a real match. In fact anyone looking to this match or any exhibition for that matter, as an indication of whose greater is looking at the wrong place.

Super Star Says:

I watched the last match and I saw Pete’s eyes were on fire, which showed how much he also wanted to win the last match to stop the humiliation. So much for Fed’s fan that it sounds that whenever Fed wants to win a match against anyone, no matter a real match or just exhibition, it is all on his hands. People have been quoting the result Fed beaten Pete 3-2 five years ago to prove Fed was already superior to Pete then. Well, for a true competitor and a fighter, supposely Pete, having the desire to win at any time is just basic. I would somewhat accept during the last match, Fed was a little loose than a real tournment but gee, I could tell after having been stimulated by Pete’s seriousness in the middle of the game, Fed turned more serious too. There is enough saying about the game being just a setup for fun and matter of money for the two champions. For two sportsmen, we feel dirrerently.

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ooo Says:

Simply put, Federer would not have felt right to let Pete lose three matches in a row when he invited Pete to these exhibition matchs. Exhibitions are for fun, pure and simple. And it’s not fun to humiliate your guest of honor.

grendel Says:

Sensational Safin says: “I don’t understand why Federer’s competition is always attacked” – tends to be by the more rabid Sampras fans, and such people are not serious and are immune to argument. Sampras himself has made the point and there is no reason to doubt his honesty. It’s just his logic which is faulty. Obviously, as has been pointed out many times, if Federer is winning evrything, it doesn’t give any chance for new slam winners to emerge. Even so, as Ross points out, Fed has beaten quite a few of his predecessor slam winners.

Von – you make a lot of points, some of which are questionable. Eg, following his loss in Cincy2006, you say Fed said “there goes my bonus million dollars.” It’s impossible to know for sure, of course, but it sounds like a rueful joke at his own expense. Surely he said it with a grin? I love your picture of Tony Roche sleeping through Fed’s matches. I’m not sure of that, but he did look kind of distant, didn’t he? Getting to be an old man, you know. I suppose you could argue that Fed rather objected to giving fat cheques to a coach who slept through his matches…..Now you can criticise Fed for many things, no doubt, and you say he is exceptionally greedy – I have no idea whether this is true or not, but we’d need to have comparisons with other players’ attitude to money, none of this takes place in a vacuum and it becomes a question of how far a particular player strays from the norm, otherwise these accusations carry no weight. If the accusations turn out to be true, I will be sorry, but they won’t affect my enjoyment of Fed’s tennis; that’s what I really love. I think your characterising Fed as one dimensional is about as bizarre as you can get. When people say they find Fed boring it usually turns out, on inspection, that what they really mean is that they find Fed winning all the time boring. That I can understand.

Super Star says (concerning last match, in which “Pete’s eyes were on fire”): “I could tell after having been stimulated by Pete’s seriousness in the middle of the game, Fed turned more serious too.” I think this is interesting and lends weight to my earlier proposal that however these exhos originated, whether due to greed or a promotional spirit or a desire to have a bit of fun or perhaps a mixture of all three, the drama inherent in these two great champions meeting has somehow put all that aside. Not at once, but building up that way. The final match on March 10, I am convinced that’s going to be a real match, with both players well prepared and trying their utmost to win.

sensationalsafin Says:

Von, Federer says he wants to play until he’s 35. Considering how hard it is to play after your 30s especially nowadays, why would Federer say something like that? Because he loves the game and he doesn’t think he’s gonna be very involved in tennis after his pro days. Maybe Federer wants to make all this money so that when he’s 55 and away from the tour for 20 years, he’s not going bankrupt or going to jail like some old pros (Borg and Tanner). I’m not saying that’s what it is but who knows? Maybe he doesn’t wanna follow in their poor financial footsteps. Borg selling his Wimbledon trophies??? You think Federer wants to sell his Wimbledon trophies?

If Federer is soooo greedy why would he participate in so many charities? I can understand him being greedy, everyone’s a little greedy no matter how much money you have. But to see he’s SUCH a greedy person that deserves no respect is ridiculous. If he’s such a fake and a liar why does every player on the ATP say he’s such a nice guy. Is everyone on the ATP a liar? I’m sure if Federer was such a terrible person Roddick would be one of the first to point it out. But he doesn’t say anything because there’s nothing to say. I’m amazed at how much Federer is attacked! Is it out of jealousy? Are you mad he’s beating so many of Sampras’s records? Is it that hard to say Sampras was amazing? Instead you have to say Federer sucks?

As far as I’m concerned, as long as Sampras holds his 2 most important records he is the GOAT. He still has 14 slams and 6 consecutive years at number 1. Federer has a great chance to break the slam record, but I don’t see how he can beat that 6 year record. I read an article a while ago saying that the 6 year record is really the record to beat and Federer might not be able to. And I can believe that now because of all the players who are closing in on Federer. To finish number 1 for such a long time, the majority of a DECADE, is just incredible. But it’s too hard to say that, no, you have to say Federer’s a d*ck and Sampras is a better person. Because that’s what we look at, their personalities, not their tennis.

Regarding the “boring” matches that everyone seems to be watching, what the hell is wrong with everyone? I admit it’d be great to see more serve and volleyers, it’d be more interesting. But was the age of serve and volleying really more interesting than the age of baseliners? You’d rather see Big serve, volley, miss; Big serve, volley putaway; Big serve, return winner? WOW! That’s exciting. Ivanisevic can’t do anything else, but maybe Sampras will compensate? Nope. Same exact thing on the other side. Big serve, volley, miss, volley, etc. But we all know 5 sets of that is SOOOOOO much better than 5 sets of Federer vs. Nadal. I mean cmon, we only get Good serve, good return, crazy cross court angle, sick drop shot, unbelievable get, volley putaway. Wow is that the whole match? No, that was just one point that happened to go that way, no other point followed that pattern at all. One dimensional tennis? That’s what we watch? More like the most complete tennis ever. Serve and volleying is one dimensional. Staying on the baseline all the time is one dimensional. Coming in, staying back, drop shots, big serves, set up serve, 15 different forehands and backhands, and most importantly angles and shots that defy the laws of physics, THAT’S how tennis should be played. No one is taught to play one way, people are taught to be complete players. But who wants that? Who wants a player who has every f*cking shot in the god damn book? Federer is just an awful person. How could he infect the men’s game in such a terrible way?

Martin Donaldson Says:

This is really the stupidest article ever. If there was to be any “scripting”, any dummy with even the faintest understanding of drama would know to “fix” either match 1 or 2 so that people would have been on the edge of their seats for match 3, which was taking place at the weekend. Who on earth would “script” a dead rubber? Dumb.

A staged Federer defeat in round 1 or 2 would have:

a) set the scene for a Federer masterclass in Round 3

b) generated worldwide publicity and it is quite possible that a big TV company might have come in to screen the decider boosting the revenue.

If these two were simply in it for the money, then “scripting” the result of a dead rubber is about as dumb as it gets. As dumb as this article.

SG Says:

I think Roger is pretty aware of all the GOAT talk. He has targeted Laver’s slam and Sampras’ as milestones he would like to surpass. He wants to be recognized as the best ever.

I’m not certain I see the value (…other than the $ value)of throwing matches against a player he’s being compared too. By losing to a 36 yr old Sampras even once, he has raised the spectre of who is/was better. I think Roger thought he’d coast through, win the big points and run Sampras around a lot until he drew errors out of him.

I hope there wasn’t any tanking going on, but if there was, shame on them. This isn’t Arthur Ashe Day at the Open. I think people were genuinely interested in how Sampras (…even at his age) could compete against a top flight Fed. If this didn’t happen, shame on both players….

Kash Says:

Having been a big fan of sampras in the 90s, it is great to see pistol pete bringing his big serve, but there is no way sampras can beat federer on any kind of tennis court, if the two were giving it their all. (except may be a court where fed always plays on the side of court laden with landmines or other such dangerous things)

Put another way, if fed and sampras play one match where the loser will be left to die on the moon, federer will win that match a hundred times out of 101 matches. And if I am promised I wouldnt meet the same fate as the loser, if i got my prediction wrong, I would even say sampras will not win even one set.

Does that mean federer is a better player than sampras? no, not at all. Does it mean federer and sampras are 2 of the top5 all time greatest players? most definitely. If one GOAT plays another GOAT who is 10yrs older to him and retired for 5yrs, I would safely stick with my predictions I made for fed-pete. Having said this, it seems very much possible fed “let” sampras win. Why macau? and not kualalampur or seoul i have no idea. Sean’s argument sounds sane to me. May not be the truth, but sounds sensible

Kash Says:

“Having been a big fan of sampras in the 90s, it is great to see pistol pete bringing his big serve, but there is no way sampras can beat federer on any kind of tennis court, if the two were giving it their all. ”

I obvious meant a real match up today and not an imaginary match up with both of them bringing their A+ games

SG Says:

“Regarding the “boring” matches that everyone seems to be watching, what the hell is wrong with everyone? I admit it’d be great to see more serve and volleyers, it’d be more interesting. ”

Actually, what people miss is the contrast of styles. Borg vs. McEnroe, Mac vs Connors, Edberg or Becker vs. Lendl. Today, there is virtaully no style contrast which makes for matches where one guy tries to basically bludgeon the ball harder than the other from the back of the court. I’m not saying that baseline rallies can’t be interesting. Of course they can. But the classic battle of the Great Serve & Volleyer vs. the Great Baseliner is dead and sadly gone.

sampras vs. federer: trophy watch + pete goes down swinging « tennis served fresh Says:

[…] Then there was Kuala Lumpur, where Roger was probably a$ked to act less smug and make it a closer match. The scoreline: 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-5). […]

sensationalsafin Says:

So basically you want players who aren’t as good as they can be? You’d rather have your top players be able to only play one style whether they only serve and volley or only stay at the baseline? Who needs the top players to progress and play perfect tennis when they can play using a style that’s full of holes? Makes perfect sense.

Daniel Says:


Pete Sampras made 3 times more money that Federer in his era. He earned 100 million in one year.
He could win a lot more if he is as greed as you say. This comment of you were very sad! You sound completely hypocritical since sampras was one of the most greed players ever!

Dan Martin Says:

A quick question with the cash grab, what percent do you think each sent to their charities? I know Roger does his thing in South Africa and is a UNICEF ambassador. Pete is a big supporter of the Tim and Tom Gullickson Foundation as well as Andrea Jaeger’s work. I hope somewhere between 33-50% of what they pulled in went to charity. Any guesses?

FoT Says:

On Pete being Roger’s idol growing up… I have both books on Roger’s life and in the books he mentioned 3 people he idolized growing up: Boris Becker, Edberg, and Sampras. So when he said Pete was his idol… he was! He enjoyed the one-handed back hand of all his idols (is what he mentioned). Can’t a player have more than one idol growing up?

SG Says:

“So basically you want players who aren’t as good as they can be? You’d rather have your top players be able to only play one style whether they only serve and volley or only stay at the baseline? Who needs the top players to progress and play perfect tennis when they can play using a style that’s full of holes? Makes perfect sense.”

Players only play one style today anyway. They stay back and hammer the ball. It wuld be nice to see players who are as proficient at net as say…Rafa is from the back court. There doesn’t need to be compromise. Edberg was a serve and volleyer from Sweden…from the land of Borg and Wilander. He didn’t assimilate his game. He built a different type of game that was very succussful. That 1992 Open match with Lendl was a classic. Big baseliner against the attacker with guile. You don’t see that anymore. How about Cash and Lendl in 1984? Unbelievable match!!! It’s fun to see those styles go up against each other.

SG Says:

The best players (the GOAT candidates) could play net and stay back. Most of today’s players are missing a huge dimension. There is only once player with that diversity of skill and he happens to be No.1 for 4 years running. I think there’s a lesson in here somewhere.

John (1) Says:

I’m surprised at how many comments there are from people who did not see the third match.

It's okay Fedfans, it's just an EXO Says:

“Surprised, stunned, shocked at the result. Use whatever superlative you want, but honestly, who cares.”

Clearly you do.

Von Says:


“Pete Sampras made 3 times more money that Federer in his era. He earned 100 million in one year.
He could win a lot more if he is as greed as you say. This comment of you were very sad! You sound completely hypocritical since sampras was one of the most greed players ever!”

Touche’. Well, I have never been told that I am a hypocrite, as a matter of fact I have been told that I am fortright and honest. I guess there’s always a first time. Why am I being singled out for writing a blog and expressing my opinions. Isn’t that what you are all doing?


sensationalsafin Says:

You’re not being singled out. You said something he didn’t agree with, so he’s responding to what you said.

Von Says:


You wrote: “Von …. you make a lot of points, some of which are questionable. I’m not sure of that, but he did look kind of distant, ….
I think your characterising Fed as “one dimensional” is about as bizarre as you can get. When people say they find Fed boring it usually turns out, on inspection, that what they really mean is that they find Fed winning all the time boring. That I can understand.”

I never said Fed’s tennis was one dimensional. I said the following: “Tony always fell asleep, that reinforces my opinion about how boring and one-dimensional tennis is at the present time.” e.g., the matches wherein Nalbandian won, David brought a different style to the game, he played within himself, not Fed’s game,… his own.

sensationalsafin Says:

“the matches wherein Nalbandian won, David brought a different style to the game, he played within himself, not Fed’s game,… his own.

What??? How does that… What?? Different style? The great thing about watching Nalbandian vs. Federer is that they both have such complete games that you’ll see just about everything and anything you can possibly see in a tennis match. But what the hell are you saying? No one’s game is more like Federer’s when Nalbandian is playing his best. So basically he DOES play Fed’s game, which is also his own. Really? He played within himself? Because that’s how he ALWAYS plays. Different style? No. Not at all. And I really don’t get how that helps you defend your position even if you were right.

Harlock Says:

Playing styles? It’s come down to 2 styles, two-handed backhand baseliners vs 1-handed backhand all-court players. True serve and volley is just too tough on the body because of the punishing passing shots today’s players have. Even the 1-handed backhand players have wicked topsin backhand passing shots and so far as I can tell every single world class pro, man or woman, has a Western forehand, whether single, double,or even triple Western. 1 handers will always be superior at net, 2-handers at the baseline.

Von Says:


I can see you’re the spokesperson for just about everyone. If that is the case, I am not going to answer the questions you pose for them or make anything more clear, get them to clarify my point.

Tejuz Says:

well.. as SG suggests there certainly in a dimension missing from today’s generation.. Tim Henman, Mahut, Bjorkman are some of the exceptions. But today’s players are more all-round and not exactly boring. Some of those old matches are nostlagic memories.. and we sure miss them. I have quite collection of the 80’s and 90’s matches… great to watch but nothing more spectacular than current matches. I have a few Sampras vs Rafter matches… there very very few rallies.. most of them are service winners or put away volleys.. not exactly entertaining. Becker vs Agassi wimbledon semi final was more exciting.

Super Star Says:

I just can’t help imagining putting Lendl, Edberg, Becker and Federer in a round robin match and see who would come out at the end. Fed is great and there is no doubt about it. But being the greatest of the greats, I am not sure. Dare anyone bet on Fed with everything he owns ? Sure it is just a dream.

grendel Says:

Von – I think Sensational Safin speaks only for himself. Personally, I find his posts pretty illuminating, and amusingly expressed, too. I think your point was that nalbandian doesn’t get drawn into fed’s web unlike some other players. But maybe that’s just because he’s better than other players! I think you’ll find Djokovic, too, plays “within himself” – you mean plays his own game? – and that will be enough most likely to challenge fed next year. Murray too, perhaps, anmd gasquet also certainly has the game to challenge fed, not sure if he has the mind. Meanwhile, you can’t really blame fed if other players aren’t as good as him – because that’s what it boils down to.

On serve and volley: these things go in circles. Correct me if I am wrong, but the Spanish claycourters are more inclined to resort to s and v, from time to time, than a couple of years ago, and this trend is surely likely to increase. Perhaps the authorities at Wimbledon, too, will get the message, and try to find a halfway point betyween today’s conditions and those of a few years ago.

sensationalsafin Says:

Harlock, Not all pros have western forehands. Many of them do, that’s no question, but the standard forehand is semi-western. Maybe that’s what you’re saying with the single, double, and triple, but I have no idea what that means. But I’m assuming you get the grips even if we don’t agree on terminology.

Nalbandian doesn’t get sucked into Federer’s web only when he’s playing well. When Nalbandian’s not playing his best it might take a set but eventually Federer runs through him (like last year’s first RR match at the TMC). And Von, if Grendel is right about what you mean then I would agree. I think this goes for Nadal, too, he plays his own game. This could be argued though, he plays a lot more aggressive than Federer, but I think that’s the game he should be playing against everyone anyway. I don’t understand all these complaints about epic clashes. I’ve seen so many, one can say, random matches that were in the 3rd or 4th round of a Masters series that was just great to watch. The match between Baghdatis and Nadal in Paris was just great tennis and great fun all around. Look at the field of this year’s TMC:
There’s Federer, the ultimate all around player who plays graceful attacking tennis.
Then you have his opposite, Nadal, who’s the (well now second best) ultimate grinder with a two hander and a left handed hook forehand.
Djokovic, even though he was tired his game is usually a compact all around solid game that differs a lot from Federer in a way that I can’t really explain.
Davydenko is similar to Djokovic only worse, but he’s also a grinder and very good from the baseline, only the baseline.
Roddick, big serve, big forehand, tries to volley, can’t do much else.
Ferrer, now the ultimate grinder who’s short, fast, very consistent off both wings and plays an amazing combination of attacking defense (if you think he plays more of a defensive attacking I won’t argue I’m not too sure how to describe him yet).
Gonzalez, similar to Roddick only he has a good one handed backhand and he doesn’t come into net.
And finally Gasquet, who has the ability to play like Roger Federer but his backhand is his signature shot and most of his game centers around that.

All of them have a lot of similarities but if you think about each one of them you remember them for their own unique games. Let’s see, 10 years ago we had:
Sampras was a serve and volleyer with a huge forehand.
Rafter was pretty much just a serve and volleyer.
Chang was the resident counter puncher with a great baseline game.
Bjorkman was ANOTHER serve and volleyer.
Kafelnikov, the other baseliner.
Rusedski was, what’s that? It can’t be! Another serve and volleyer.
Moya, again, baseliner who played his best on the clay.
And the final clay master, Bruguera, also a baseliner.

Can anyone really say that when they think of these players they remember them for something else? 4 baseliners and 4 serve and volleyers. Now we have 2 all around players, 3 grinders, 2 ball bashers, and a frenchman. Bring Nalbandian into the mix and you have another all around player. Here’s the biggest difference between Federer and Sampras, imo: when Federer faces these players a lot of the time he has to change something during the match in order to win because he has to figure out how to play this new and different player. Sampras faced many of the same type of players that didn’t really require him to change up his game ever really. If he faced a baseliner he’d just try to play his game the best he could and if he faced a serve and volleyer he just tried to prove he was the best at it. Whether you think Sampras or whoever else is better than Federer you can’t really deny that Federer is the SMARTEST player to ever step on the court. That’s why you gotta be quiet at his matches, because he’s a genius at work, haha.

Jazzcomedian Says:

I saw all three matches and viewed them not as serious competitions but as exhibtions of great players showcasing their skills in practice matches. But as an accomplished player who has played USPTA tournaments, I can assure you that while it’s not life or death you do try to win practice sets and matches. Sampras destroyed Roddick in straight sets a month after Roddick lost to Federer in the 2006 US Open Final. He’s already beaten Ginepri and Roddick in exhibitions. You think they let him win? Who knows? But I doubt it. Sampras like Federer is still a level above today’s players.

First match, Sampras seemed a little uncertain and missed a lot of volleys and had too many unforced errors. He seemed nervous. But his serve was kicking ass from jumpstreet. Federer was pretty sharp and in the rallies he could take advantage of Sampras not being as quick laterally as he used to be. Overall somewhat disappointing match.

Second Match Sampras seemed more relaxed, and was serving 134 mph serves with pinpoint accuracy and variety. Federer could not break him and Sampras was cruising on his serve and volleying crisply. But he couldn’t break Federer either, so two tight tie-breakers. You could see that Federer had more types of shots than Sampras especially a little flick backhand passing shot that Sampras couldn’t read at all. Sampras forehand when he gets a good swing at it is still a serious weapon, and would often change the dynamics of a baseline rally. His forehand put Federer on the defensive in ways that Roddick, Blake, and Gonzales etc. can’t. Very interesting to see that. Federer’s backhand, especially down the line, is vastly superior to Sampras backhand and he wrong-footed Sampras quite often if the rally got extended. High Quality though lighthearted match.

Third Match on a very fast surface which both players wanted. I looked at Sampras’s face as he walked out to the court, and I said to myself Pete means business tonight win or lose. There was something about the seriousness of his expression, and he seemed to be warming up with a lot of purpose. The announcer said that Pete in an interview had said that he was finding his range. Boy was he right. The best serving display I have ever seen 30 years of watching tennis. Especially on big points like 15-30, 0-30, 30-40. Unreal. Federer didn’t come close to breaking him in the first set. Sampras kept coming to the net on both the first and second serves, his volleys were crisp, biting, and deep. They had what the Aussies call “stick” on them and put Federer on the run. Federer is Federer so he was holding his serve just as easy, but Sampras totally neutralized Federer’s service return. Federer as usual hits some amazing shots to win some of the points. Some of the shots totally stunned Sampras because they were hit off of extremly forcing shots by Sampras which you could see he wasn’t used to having returned in such a manner. Another tight tie-breaker which Sampras played very well. and won. It was more of the same in the second set till 4-4, when Sampras got a break point, played a big forehand service return which got Federer on the run and then hit a forehand to the open court to get the break. Then he hit 3 unreturnable serves to go up 40-0, and a tough high serve to Federer’s backhand which he hit out. A very entertaining match which got more dramatic when you realized that Sampras’s serve was dismantling Federer’s return as the match wore on. His serve was like a train roaring down the track with no brakes, and the placement had the announcers in awe. Federer couldn’t read Sampras serve (unlike Roddick’s) and was caught leaning the wrong way several times. Even though they are both the same size, you got the feeling the Sampras game was more powerful, while Federer’s game had more variety, though Sampras did hit some very nice sharply angled drop volleys. Sampras seemed to grow in confidence over the three matches and become Pete Sampras again playing the type of match he used to play in his heyday-hold serve easily and break your opponent one time. Federer didn’t break Sampras for two matches. Amazing serving. Sampras’s serve is one of the wonders of the world. It’s got to be the best shot in the history of the game. Sampras had hoped to win one set in the three matches, and instead plays three tie-breakers, and wins a match.

I don’t think Federer let Sampras win, because that’s not Federer’s style and he has too much well-documented class to insult one of his idols that way. The extremly cynical assumptions regarding Federer’s motives reveal more about the the writers than it does about Federer. Both Sampras and Federer are and always will be world-class competitors. You could see Sampras raising his game each match as he realized that his serve was on. John Newcombe said during the 2002 US Open tournament that when Sampras’s serve is on, his whole game gets tough. His serve and tough, well-placed volleys put Federer under constant pressure that no one on today’s tour puts him under. Roddick has a bigger serve, but he doesn’t place it as well, and can’t back it up with volleys. What was clear to me after the exhibitions is how much more game Sampras has than today’s tour players. It’s a shame that he didn’t have the joyful attitude that Federer has, to being number one, and didn’t get the pleasure that Federer derives from being the target of all the other players. The crown wore heavy on Pete’s head, while Federer wears it lightly. If Sampras had had Federer’s attitude, he could’ve played longer and had more grand slam titles. When he won the 2002 US Open, he won five matches in seven days due to rain delays, and beat in succession, Haas, Roddick, Schalken, Safin, and Agassi in dominant fashion. He was, like Federer, a step above. Playing at that level there is no doubt that he could’ve easily won at least another Aussie Open, US Open, or Wimbledon. His difficulties in the two years leading up to it was more due to lack of motivation rather than loss of skill. In my opinion both he and the other great serve and vollyer, Pat Rafter retired while still playing fantastic tennis–but that’s their right.

When they play in Madison Square Garden in March, that could be a great match, if Sampras gets in better shape with respect to his mobility, and serves and volleys the way he did in Asia. Sampras plans to play exhibitions against more ATP pros to help get him ready. Two classically beautiful players to watch, but Sampras has to serve great and stay out of baseline rallies with Federer to have any type of chance. I’m just happy that my favorite player to watch during the ’90’s (Sampras) has been succeeded by my new favorite player to watch (Federer).

samps Says:

Finally! A post from someone who’s actually Watched the match! Thanks for the analysis dude. Except grendel, its clear that almost noone else has bothered to admit this trivial detail (of not watching the match) before blowing off on a ridiculous rant with twenty conspiracy theories.

Take a bow Sean for starting it all.

The truth seems rather simple : Fed didnt get his ‘A’ game to the match and couldnt read Sampras’ serve at All. And lost. ’nuff said.
Incidentally I found the match on youtube.com. So please feel free to enlighten yourselves before enlightening everyone else through your posts.

sensationalsafin Says:

I think this strengthens my belief that until Federer breaks Sampras’s 2 big record (slams and years number 1), Sampras is the GOAT. The talent and duration of Sampras is what makes him the GOAT and what clearly still makes him play great against the current number 1. Thank you Jazzcomedian for that brilliant description. See! It’s not all about money Sean.

MariaP Says:

Anyone who thinks the results of this exo makes Sampras GOAT is seriously crazy.
Let him go to Paris and make an RG final. That’s beyond the scope of his game, and these meaningless exos don’t change that.
It also doesn’t change that Sampras right now is nowhere close to Roddick. If he is, rush him to Oregon lol.

grendel Says:

“You could see that Federer had more types of shots than Sampras especially a little flick backhand passing shot that Sampras couldn’t read at all.” – Jazzcomedian.

“a little flick backhand passing shot” _Sampras’ very words, unless my memory fails me, but close enough, anyway. Sampras was saying this was a stroke of Fed’s he had “honestly never seen before” – memory again. Damned Google, it seems to shift! I had the feeling Sampras was kind of condoling with Fed – there, there, never mind, I may have beaten you, but you’re still the man! Roll on March 10 – this is for real. Can there any longer be in any doubt? The sceptics are falling off one by one, I notice.

Over to you, Sean………

Jazzcomedian Says:

Just a note about the high quality of the third exhibition match, and how well Sampras was playing. The statistics for the very long first set showed that Federer only made four unforced errors and still lost. After Sampras won the first set, I assumed that Federer would win the second set and it would go three sets where his superior fitness would prevai. But it became clear that Sampras was going to continue playing well, and you could see Federer kind of realizing that he wasn’t going to be able to impose his will in the match, and that winning the second set was not a foregone conclusion, because Sampras was proving impossible to break.

I have the DVD of the Federer/Sampras 2001 Wimbledon match. It literally could’ve gone either way with neither man giving ground. It is a very, very high quality match with both men serving and volleying and hitting great shots to win points, and while that match certainly had more at stake, the 2nd and 3rd exhibition matches were of comparable quality in the tennis that was played. Andre Agassi said when commenting during the US Open that guys on the tour have to play “redline tennis” and push the envelope when they play Federer just to stay close. Which is why after one or two great sets, they fade while he continues to play at a high level and beats them. They have to play the match of their life to beat him, and usually get dusted in the next round because they can’t sustain that level of play two days in a row. Whereas Sampras doesn’t have to get out of his comfort zone to hang with Federer. Like Federer he can sustain a high level of play for a long time. When they play each other, it’s like watching two Federers or two Sampras’s play each other. They both have all the shots, which Federer being more of an artist, puts on display more than Sampras. And Federer’s ability to serve on big points is very reminiscent of Sampras. As to who is the greatest of all time, unless he dies Federer is going to put the all-time grand slam record out of sight. So using that criteria he’ll definitely get the nod, but for me Sampras, Laver and Borg will always be in the conversation along with Federer for the greatest players that I have seen. I have four match DVDs of Laver during his 1969 Grand Slam year (US Open Final, Wimbledon Semi-Final and Final, and Australian Open Semi-Final) when he was in conquering form. Like Federer, he is a dazzling shotmaker–especially with a small wooden racquet. If he were playing today with today’s equipment his shotmaking consistency would make him a handful. As a shotmaker, Federer has more in common with Laver than Sampras. Sampras plays more the American power game, though capable of being a shotmaker when necessary, whereas Federer and Laver are shotmakers by nature. By Federer’s own description he is a “retro player with modern technology”, which is what makes him so enjoyable for me to watch. He has single-handedly brought back the slice backhand, by showing both it’s beauty and it’s effectiveness in changing speeds, and probing in rallies. Until Federer started employing it regularly to beat their asses, it had just about disappeared from the modern tennis player’s arsenal. Ditto for Justin Henin, though the women haven’t followed her lead.

MariaP Says:

There are a lot of comedy writers in this blog.
“the high quality of the third exhibition match”-lol!
That’s funny! Forget this year’s Wimbledon final, the high quality was that exhibition in Macau.

Speaking of high quality, did anyone see Kournikova’s exo in Philly?
Anna’s going to bury Henin next year.

Von Says:


Thank youfor being polite to respond to my blog. I can tell from your spelling that you are European, I too was schooled in Europe, but now am an American.

You wrote, “I think your point was that nalbandian doesn’t get drawn into fed’s web unlike some other players. But maybe that’s just because he’s better than other players! I think you’ll find Djokovic, too, plays “within himself” – you mean plays his own game?” … that’s precisely what it means to play within onesself. You think your game through, construct your points and follow through, and not allow yourself to get sucked into your opponent’s game. This is why David N. and Federer are dead even 8/8. They both stay in thir zone, which is tiresome because you have to use your brain. Not many players can do this they rely on their opponent to give them pace and then they try to return.

SensationalSafin: You wrote, “And Von, if Grendel is right about what you mean then I would agree. I think this goes for Nadal, too, he plays his own game.” That’s correct. Sometimes it is referred to as “being in the zone.”

I have read everyone’s comments regarding the 3 matches between Pete and Fed. I am a Sampras fan. I saw all 3 of them. I think Pete did very well. As the matches progressed he did get better and was finally able to win. He even broke Fed’s serve in the first set of the first match.


I liked your blog. The 3rd exho match was good quality tennis. I also like Gasquet’s backhand. It’s super.

Jazzcomedian Says:

I just found this comprehensive and objective analysis of the Sampras/Federer exhibitions written by noted tennis writer Steve Flink for the TennisChannel.Com:

Steve Flink: Extraordinary Exhibitions
11/12/2007 1:27:00 PM

AP Photo
by Steve Flink

Almost across the board, for as long as I have been out in the field of tennis reporting, I have tried as a rule to avoid watching exhibitions. Too often, the players go through the motions during these forums, providing mild entertainment to the public, but seldom if ever exploring the boundaries of their capabilities. Furthermore, in many cases, there is a tacit agreement between the players to split the first two sets and then play the third and final set out fair and square. Seasoned observers recognize that the hype surrounding exhibitions between big name competitors seldom lives up to the reality of what occurs on the court.

Be that as it may, the three exhibition series contested last week by Roger Federer and Pete Sampras was clearly an exception to the rule. After a respectable but not top of the line opening match in Seoul, Korea on November 20 which Federer won with relative ease 6-4, 6-3, the last two encounters were a joy to observe. The tennis delivered by both men in their second and third skirmishes was even more remarkable than they could have promised. Federer and Sampras performed magnificently on November 22 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where the Swiss prevailed 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5). And then they concluded their proceedings on November 24 in Macau, China, with Sampras unexpectedly recording a stirring 7-6 (8), 6-4 victory.
In Seoul, Sampras came out of the blocks more swiftly than Federer, taking a 4-2, 15-30 first set lead. When Sampras served at 4-3 in that opening set, he had two game points. On the second, he stayed back behind his first serve, ran around his backhand, and went for one of his trademark forehand winners down the line, or inside-in as some would say. He narrowly missed.

Thereafter, Federer was in command. From his deficit in the opening set, he surged to 4-1 in the second set, winning eight out of nine games to seize complete control of the match. His dazzling forehand was the master stroke, and he did a terrific job of getting so many returns back into play. Sampras, however, was not in sync, losing three out of four service games at one stage. He surprisingly missed a bunch of relatively easy backhand volleys from close range, some of them sitters by his normal standards. The good news was that he was getting in tight behind his first and second serves, positioning himself very well as he approached the net. The bad news was that he was not cashing in on his openings. Sampras served an impressive ten aces in nine service games but his first serve percentage was below 50% in the opening set.

On to Malaysia, where the atmosphere appeared to be considerably more festive, where the players took it all to another level, where Sampras found his bearings and raised his game immeasurably from where it had been only a few days earlier. Neither player lost serve in this absorbing contest. Both competitors were in very good form as a grateful, animated audience was enthralled by what they witnessed on Thanksgiving. On a very quick indoor court, both men served with uncanny accuracy, variation, and deception. This time around, Sampras put on a stellar demonstration in the forecourt, volleying stupendously. His backhand volley was masterful. Federer, meanwhile, was backing up his delivery with a barrage of meticulously struck ground strokes, and he ventured to the net often enough to keep Sampras honest.

The outcome here was settled largely in the first set tie-break. With Federer serving at 4-5, Sampras got the look he wanted at a second serve. Federer sent a kicker to the American’s backhand, and Sampras tried to take it early and go down the line with topspin. The serve was too good, and Sampras drove the return wide. At 6-6, after Sampras had already saved a set point, he got the first serve in deep to the backhand. Federer rolled his return low, but Sampras made a good pick up on the forehand half volley, playing it aggressively crosscourt, keeping the ball low and deep. Federer responded with perhaps his shot of the match, flicking a forehand passing down the line at a high trajectory for an astonishing winner, tantalizingly out of the American’s reach. It was a startling shot only he could have made. One point later, it was set to Federer.

In the second set, Federer fought off a break point in the opening game, held from 0-30 in the fifth game, and then seemed on the verge of victory when Sampras served at 3-4, 15-40. An ace sliced wide in the deuce court and a huge, unanswerable first serve to the backhand enabled Sampras to escape on those break points. Inevitably, they moved on to another tie-break, with Federer counter-attacking beautifully on his way to 6-3, triple match point. An obdurate Sampras saved two match points, erasing the second with a scintillating backhand volley winner past Federer as both men challenged each other at the net. But Federer got the job done on the next point.

And so Federer had toppled Sampras for the second straight time with his triumph in Malaysia, but not before the American had planted the seeds for a possible surprise in China. In the Malaysian clash, Sampras had connected with 70% of his first serves, and he was thus controlling his service games with utter conviction, as was the mighty Federer. The statistics tell the story of how sedulously both men took care of their service games: Sampras won 60 of 79 service points while Federer secured 61 of 79. Their methodologies contrasted as Federer only occasionally played serve-and-volley while Sampras followed his serve in on all but six points in the entire match.

In any case, the two prideful competitors finished their business admirably in China on an even faster indoor court. As was the case during the first two matches, I was watching on Tennis Channel but could feel the electricity in that arena across the airwaves. Federer and Sampras seemed to feed off the exhilaration, producing another first rate piece of business. On this occasion, Sampras made his intentions entirely clear from the outset. He was going to give this confrontation everything he had, and then let the chips fall where they may. Federer displayed the same kind of attitude. They had enjoyed a number of light moments in their first two exhibitions, smiling and gently ribbing each other between points, then recovering their intensity without much trouble. Sampras seemed to be enjoying himself immensely, and Federer welcomed the comic relief provided by his opponent.

But now, in China, after more of the same joviality was exhibited by both players in the first set, the intensity level was elevated on both sides of the net because each player seemed to sense this just might be the night for Sampras. He came out blazing from the outset, releasing seven aces across his first three service games. Federer was equal to that task. At 5-6 in that first set, Federer connected with consecutive first serve aces, and then threw in two second serve aces, holding at love without Sampras making contact with a single ball. But Sampras raised the stakes in the tie-break, drawing a big roar from the crowd when he cracked a flat forehand crosscourt return winner for 2-1. Sampras served at 5-3 but was forced into a half volley error by a superb, dipping backhand pass from Federer.

The players looked dead serious as they fought on through that nerve wracking sequence. Sampras saved a set point at 5-6 with a thunderbolt, an unstoppable serve to the backhand. Federer answered by saving a set point himself at 6-7 with a service winner to the forehand. Sampras saved a second set point at 7-8 with another blockbuster first serve that Federer could not handle, and then the American closed out the set two points later with a winning forehand return off a second serve, going behind Federer into his adversary’s vacant forehand corner.

Federer clearly wanted to turn the match his way in the second set, and nearly did. He saved a break point on his way to 2-1 with a clutch ace and then had Sampras down 0-30 in the following game. On the next point, Sampras unleashed a second serve ace down the “T” and went on to hold. With Sampras serving at 3-4, Federer turned on the magic, making a bid for a critical break. At 40-15, Sampras punched his forehand first volley with sidespin, deep to the Federer backhand. Federer somehow rolled his half-volleyed pass sharply crosscourt at an unimaginable angle for a clean winner. At 40-30, Sampras stayed back on a second serve, and Federer took advantage, running around his backhand for a sparkling forehand return winner.

Sampras stood at 3-4, deuce, with the set and perhaps the match hanging precariously in the balance. What was his response? Calmly and characteristically, he found the “T” with another ace, and then won a spectacular exchange with a forceful smash. He was back to 4-4. And then he pounced in the ensuing game as Federer, serving at 15-30 and perhaps a shade apprehensive, netted a routine inside-out forehand with a wide open court at his disposal. Now at double break point, Sampras nailed a devastating flat forehand crosscourt, got the short ball, and then moved forward for an inside-out winner into a wide open space.

Serving for the match at 5-4, Sampras was much like his prime time self, missing only one first serve, hitting his 14th and final ace for 30-0, holding commandingly at love. As was the case in Malaysia, Sampras and Federer were exemplary in giving nothing away on serve; Sampras was victorious on 52 of 68 service points while Federer made good on 49 of 68. It had to be an enormously gratifying moment for Sampras— who stuck to his guns again and served-and-volleyed on all but seven points, connecting with 72% of his first serves—- as he got on the board in his last exhibition of this series and finally stopped Federer. But he was fittingly understated when it was over, greeting a smiling Federer at the net with complete respect. It takes an all-time great to fully understand another player of the same ilk, and even if it was only an exhibition, Sampras was not going to rub it in. There was no gloating. Not a chance. His graciousness in victory was even more impressive than his dignity in defeat. Federer was no less of a sportsman.

It was all over for the 36-year-old Sampras and the 26-year-old Federer, two estimable men who own 26 majors between them. They will play another exhibition at New York’s Madison Square Garden in March. But, as I reflect upon what transpired in Asia and look forward to their New York reunion, I must reiterate that the tennis Federer and Sampras played in Malaysia and China was awfully inspiring.

Sampras improved dramatically from where he started in Seoul, and had every reason to be proud of how far he took his game. Not losing his serve in his last two meetings with Federer, not serving even a single double fault in those two encounters, reminding everyone how majestic he used to be and how great he still can be, was no mean feat. To be sure, he had more incentive to play well in this series than Federer, who was coming off a long, draining 2007 campaign and had finished his official business with a triumph in Shanghai at the Tennis Masters Cup. Federer acquitted himself as honorably as Sampras did, having fun, competing as hard as he could, advertising his decency and professionalism every step of the way.

The view here is that Federer fully expected to sweep the series, even if he knew Sampras was getting better with every match. Perhaps he slightly let his guard down for the last exhibition, but perhaps not. The bottom line is that Sampras was giving away a lot of years, but he had plainly trained diligently to get ready for Federer. His task was a whole lot tougher because he left the men’s game five years ago. He was asking a great deal of himself to step on the court against today’s dominant player. And yet, he rewarded himself with a highly commendable win at the end.

Don’t get me wrong. Exhibitions don’t get placed in the record books. The players are well aware of that. Sampras told the media after his win not to “get carried away”, because he understood the circumstances and wanted to put it in perspective. But, as I said at the outset, there was something extraordinary about these particular collisions that made them more appealing and compelling. Their entertaining exhibitions will only ignite the arguments on both sides of the aisle about how Federer and Sampras would have fared against each other if both had been simultaneously in their primes. This past week serves to remind us that they could have been a part of the greatest men’s rivalry in the history of men’s tennis, although I maintain that Sampras would have at least slightly held the upper hand. Be that as it may, since they only met once during their respective pro careers, it was apparently as much a treat for them to confront each other across the net as it was for us to watch them perform.

I will be there in Madison Square Garden for their New York moment. I would not miss it for the world.

Steve Flink is a weekly contributor to TennisChannel.com

It's OK Fanfans, it's just an EXO Says:

“Honestly folks, if some of you really believe deep down that both Federer and Sampras were giving their all to win these matches, then I would strongly suggest changing the dosage on your meds or checking into a medical clinic ASAP. Seriously. You must be the same people that believe pro wrestling is real.”

No offense Sean but I’ll bet you’re one of those Federer fanboys who actually thought Roddick was playing 100% during the Kooyong exo while Federer “bamboozled” him into thinking that that was how he was going to play at AO. I’ll bet you think Santa Claus is real too.

Jazzcomedian Says:

For those of you Sampras and Federer lovers who want to make your own independent judgements and not rely on hearsay on these Sampras/Federer exhibition matches, you can get superb visual quality DVDs of all three matches for $5 each at http://www.tennisdvds.net. Watch them and make your own informed assessments. I’ve ordered many matches from them this year including the 1969 Laver Grand Slam matches.

By the way Flink is the author the the classic “The Greatest Tennis Matches of the Twentieth Century”, the reading of which so sparked my curiosity that I started searching for, and collecting classic matches on DVD.

If you really want to see the most graceful, flowing player, male or female in the history of the game, get your hands on some Evonne Goolagong matches. There aren’t many available. The most mezmerizing stylist ever. Makes the balletic Federer look stiff. A real artist. I have one match where they do a slow motion close up on her footwork during a point, and it’s like watching a ballerina floating on air. And cat quick. Her 1974 US Open Final with Billie Jean King, and 1975 US Open and 1976 WTA Final matches against Chris Evert are amazing, and the matches she and Evert played during their rivalry are much more interesting and entertaining than the Evert/Navratilova rivalry matches in my opinion. It’s like watching Miles Davis play Beethoven. Great jazz genius vs great classical genius. Creative shotmaking from both players. And Evert has the soundest fundamentals you’ll ever see. Everything hit dead in the center of that small sweet spot with long followthroughs. Easy to see why she was able to compete through the different eras with fundamentals like that. I consider those matches my own personal tennis clinics. Check ’em out sometime.

Bob Smith Says:

Don’t they have serve speed stats for the match? That would quantify how much of a chance Federer was giving Sampras with his serves.

It was pretty clear that on Fed’s service games he was being pretty generous. Sampras was serving very well, and I think Federer legitimately didn’t have too many chances on Sampras’s service games *on the fast surface they were playing on*.

Still, it was an entertaining set of matches and I’m glad they did it. I definitely enjoyed all three. (They got better and better.)

Steve Flink’s writeup is detailed, but very generous and biased. Federer was definitely not hitting away from Sampras often at all, which was his “self-handicap”. And he did spray some shots on purpose, like that volley that was about 10 feet wide — he *never* does that usually. And his watch was on!!!

I do agree, however, that Sampras’s game is the formula for giving Federer real trouble. It takes time away, and keeps the pressure on constantly. Maybe Roddick and others will learn something from this… I certainly hope so.

Tejuz Says:

Jazzcomedian .. nice posts..

I have watched all three matches live.. 2nd and 3rd matches were entertaining. Sampras played (served)great and that helped his volleying too… and probabaly the surface suited his serves cuz it was sitting up and was very fast. Not to forget Sampras has most of his titles indoors.

Fed, i dont think was giving his all in this match. His 1st serves were slower than usual. He was sometimes going for 2nd serve aces for fun.. He was always a step slower most of the times. And i guess he dint mind the result at all. If he won playing that way.. good for him.. but it dint look like he tried very hard.

3- unforced errors in the last service break that he had… and thats coming when he has virtually no(4) unforced errors through-out that 1st set… And those errors were somethin that he makes with his eyes closed.

I have been owning the Fed-Sampras wimby match for a long time, watched it many times.. it was great, both of them with great serve-volleys.. Fed had lots of chances on Sampras serves…more than Sampras had on Fed’s.

Fed has improved so much after that. If they play each other across the world.. Clay, Grass, Hard, Indoor.. Fed will eat sampras on Clay and slow hard courts. The other surfaces .. it will be competitive, with Sampras coming up with big serves to keep him in the game. Sampras would beat Fed for sure, but less often than Fed winning them.

Overall.. Fed is much more all-round all-court player.

johnnhoj Says:

I hope the next X-Blog topic is worth commenting on, preferably something regarding real matches, not fundraisers.

Debra Gardner Says:

Well, I agree with Lexi. I posted my opinion on Roger’s site a long time ago, so there’s really no need to rehash it now. Suffice it to say that I’m glad Pete won-exhibition or not-and I think it’s insulting to Roger to say he “let” Pete win. I really thought Roger would win all of them-He’s ten years younger and has a whole season of wins behind him-but it was a bit of a surprise. Pete may not win a lot of matches, but when the “I hate to lose” feeling is there, I daresay he might be a bit dangerous in some situations. I’m glad the whole thing is done with. Pete is special to me, and Roger is special to me. How I feel about them wouldn’t change, even if Pete came back on tour and Roger beat the socks off him every time they met. But this gives the ones who like such things something to talk about. Talk away!

Giovanna (Mtl, Tennis Magazine) Says:

Ha ha ha ha, We all love our thin champion and we are stunned of a lost exhibition game. However the two games played against Navaldian were not orchestrated. Navaldian played excellent games and his technic was equal if not better than Federer’s (these times). I hate this eagle-faced Navaldian but I love tennis more. I had the chance of watching his games in two different channels or angles, I see that our Roger is not as edgy as in previous years. Statistics are there to help. Too many compromises are paying its tool.
Come on Rodfe, focus again and beat them again!!!

Fed4Money Says:

Fed4Money! That is crazy. We are talking about a guy who spent his last christmas (2006) in Pondicherry, India (my town) with UNICEF team overseeing Tsunami relief efforts. No one (journalists, web sites) could care less then. It wasn’t even in the news. He wasn’t seeking fame or fortune by playing exhibition matches last year. Instaed of resting or enjoying his holidays (after a great season) he was playing cricket with tsunami victims.

I’ve seen the guy when he visited my town last year. No one wears the No 1 tennis crown better than Roger Federer. He is humble and wears it with grace and aplomb.

As far as these exhibition matches, they were played in the right spirit. Both are great champions. It was very clear that Roger was casual. Whenever he was in defensive position he was going for winners (which was not there) instaed of putting the ball in play. This is not how he plays. Go and see how he won the Wimbledon and US Open 2007. In both these matches he was playing percentage tennis when he was on the defense and then went for the kill at right opportunes. Roger was having fun at these matches playing Pete and Pete was assessing how he could hang with today’s great. Lets not over analyze Pets’ win. Pete is great and he has a game that could trouble Roger and many of today’s players. But to suggest anything else is fallacy. However Pete’s win has set up MSG show down nicely. End of the story.

By the way Roger is doing a PSA campain on AIDS for UNICEF. Some writers may even suggest there is money involved here. Get a grip people.

Fred Says:

Apparently Rodfed has a very special way of living inside-outside the tennis courts. He is showing to be a quality person in all regards. His evolution continues, he speaks 5 languages contrary to american players (due to certain conditions) and his way of conquering is trough his childish approach to everything. I agree with Giovanna, if tennis is his goal he still has to learn about balancing compromises and sport. Myself I have seen Nabaldian’s last games and they make my eyebrows rise. He did one of the best performances in hard court this year.
But of course Rodfed is going to beat him soon. (very soon)

sensationalsafin Says:

What is Rodfed? No matter what your opinion is on Roger Federer, whether he’s a real nice person or just an act, you can’t deny he is a great person. With all the money tennis players make they really do put a lot of effort into giving back to the world, in this case. Andy Roddick started his fundraiser when he was 18!!! That’s incredible. For all the insults he gets for being a jackass, obviously he’s got a heart. And think about it, as professional athletes their number 1 priority is practicing and training. That’s how they get better and when they get better they make more money. How many football players are UNICEF ambassadors? Of course these guys play for money, and they have plenty of it, but they atleast attempt to put it to good use. They deserve a lot of respect. Even if Federer gets paid 1 million dollars to play in Dubai, he donates a lot more across the year so you can say that Dubai is donating to charity. So that it doesn’t look like I’m bashing Sampras, he also donates a lot to Gullikson.

SG Says:

I watched some of the Macau match on YouTube. It is true that there were some points where Fed went for the flashy shot instead of the kill. That being said, on Sammpras’ serve, Fed didn’t look like he had much of a clue as to how to deal with it. And other than Laver and Edberg, I can’t think of any player that backs up his serve with volleying like Sampras did (…and apparently still does).

One of Sampras’ great skills was his ability to hit volleys deep into the court, even when he had to volley from below the net. This is something that very few players in the world today can do. Sampras (with the help of Pete Fisher) molded his game to emulate Laver. How could his game be anything other than awesome when you combine this with his natural athletic ability? I don;t think there’s any question that of fed and sampras played n the same era, each would have owned a few less majors. I do agree with the concept that as the surface gets slower, federer gains the advantage. On clay, Sampras would get waxed Fed. No doubt about it. However, as the surface gets faster, I believe that sampras’ serve, volley and flatter shots become far more difficult for Fed to contend with.

In the 90’s, the balls were lighter and the courts were quicker. This did favor Pete’s game. Just as now, Fed benefits from heavier balls and slower surfaces.

grendel Says:

I think, on the contrary, Fed would benefit from lighter balls and quicker courts. Remember, he has adapted, of necessity, to the slower courts. Given the chance to adapt back to the faster ones, he would gain a huge advantage over his rivals, especially Nadal at Wimbledon.

Tejuz Says:

SG.. H2H, Sampras would get more advantag on faster court, but it will not be as big as the advantage that Fed would get on slower courts. On a very fast court.. Sampras wouldnt blow Fed away cuz Fed himself has the game for fast courts. It will be a match similar to Macau where tie-breaks will decide the sets and matches.. and yes.. both these guys are awesome in tie-breakers.

On a slower court, Fed would probabaly straight-set Sampras more often.

In head 2 head with Pete, Fed might benifit from slower surface and heavier balls..

But on the whole.. in today’s game against today’s players Fed would only benefit from faster surfaces.
He is unbeaten on a fast US Open surface for 4 consecutive years.
he is being strected in Wimby by players since its started to get slower and slower.
Obviously he beat Sampras at wimby when courts were fast.

But overall… surface would not matter too much for Federer… as it does for Sampras.. cuz Fed can adapt himself to that surface. That makes Fed a more complete-all court player.

SG Says:

grendel Says:
“I think, on the contrary, Fed would benefit from lighter balls and quicker courts. Remember, he has adapted, of necessity, to the slower courts. Given the chance to adapt back to the faster ones, he would gain a huge advantage over his rivals, especially Nadal at Wimbledon. ”

I think we’ve all read many times about how Federer is like an artist, a painter if you will, on the tennis court. I’ll certainly buy into it. His game is beautiful watch. His strokes are textbook perfect and he moves beautifully.

The thing is, fast tennis courts can neutralize a player’s ability to create beautiful shots. Partcularly from the baseline. 90’s tennis at Wimbeldon, which some people hate and others miss, involved playing with a wire thin margin for error because the points were so short. If you miss a key second serve and the other guy is serving out of his mind, you lose. Even Sampras, with his great serve and all around game, lost to Krajicek and struggled with Ivanisevic from time to time.

When you’re playing a rapid fire world, one hot player can derail you if they happen to have things really going. Federer doesn’t have a monster serve and I don’t think he volleys as well as Sampras or Edberg or McEnroe or even Becker. So, if we time wapr the guy backwards to an era of light balls and fast courts where the rallies are 3 or 4 shots long, maybe he runs into a giy who beats him here and there because there’s no time for Fed to spin his web.

grendel Says:

Possibly so, SG. But I was thinking of today. Nadal is a potent threat at Wimbie in today’s conditions. He wouldn’t be if the courts speeded up. On the other hand, it may be that Djokovic would be more dangerous to Fed on fast courts. So, maybe 6 to one and half a dozen to the other.

Dan Martin Says:

Not to be conspiracy minded, but Sampras owns a chunk of the Tennis Channel. The Tennis Channel shows the matches and makes money off of ads and internet hits. One of the Tennis Channel’s writers says the matches were awesome and legit. What is he going to say?

Maybe the matches were legit (I have only seen some highlights), but a source who ultimatly answers (in part) to one of the competitors in the series is not a reliable judge of the quality of these matches.

naresh Says:

hitting most returns into the nets is not what i would call,’Fed at his best’.it had a lot to do with how Sampras served in the match and for sure,the ‘faster’ court, but Fed’s been there b4{ wimbledon 2001 }. Sampras had to serve like a god to win this match and he did, which is why he’s considered one of the ‘Greatest’, if not ‘The Greatest’. i will not say that Fed didnt try to win, he did.. but he ‘did’nt’ and ‘does’nt’, have to prove anything to anyone.
Sampras is not any older than Fabrice Santoro 35yrs{ who beat Djokovic in paris masters }, so 36yrs is not that bad an age, especially for Sampras , who’s game is Serve & Volley. On a fast surface, he is pretty devastating, but if he had to join the tour and play matches on todays courts..even a fully fit Sampras’ serve & volley game would’nt be good enough.
if Agassi & Sampras were to start their career now, their head to head would be pretty even..i’d even give Agassi the edge !

Tejuz Says:

If Fed played back in 90’s .. he would have probabaly won lil less Grand slams, as in the total count, at the age of 26.. it might have been a battle between him and Sampras for Wimby and US open crowns.. or he would have been upset by the likes of Ivanesevic or Krajicek..(that can still be the case today if he meets Karlovic or Isner on their vest serving days)

But probabaly he would also have had couple of French open to his names (cuz there was no Nadal.. and he cud have beaten Muster or Brugera) and also infact a whole Grand-SLAM to his name.

So.. Fed would have compensated on other courts in the 90’s anyways had he been upset by some of the above mentioned players.

Serve and volley is not ALL that is there to tennis.. Its just one of the many dimensions and it works only on few surfaces where coniditons are favourable. So .. the BEST serve-volleyer is not necessarily the best Tennis player. Thats why we never saw Sampras, Rafter or Ivanesevic getting too much success outside Wimby or US Open. Sampras was much better than the others.. but still he was heavily reliant on the conditions to favour him.

Its not the same with Fed. He could still blow away these serve-volleyers on a fast court if they are a lil below their best.. and can hold his own and pull out a win had they been playing at their best. He could stay with the clay-courters (except Nadal) and beat them at their own game. So he is not reliant on the conditions to favour him, unlike Sampras.

Dan Martin Says:


I really liked your post. If Roger were transorted back to Pete’s era then the Aussie Open is another place he could have made some inroads. Courier won the event in 1992 and 1993 and I cannot see Courier troubling Federer much because Fed would exploit Courier’s grip changes and playing 85% of the court with his forehand to no end. Agassi did not play Oz until 1995 either so the field was not as tough as it could have been in several of the early and mid 1990’s Aussie Opens.

SG Says:

I think that great champions transcend and would have found success in any era they would be put in.

Let’s not forget that Laver called Sampras the best player he’d ever seen until Federer came along. Becker said Sampras was the best player he’d ever played. Agassi’s top 5 players were, “Sampras, Sampras, Sampras, Sampras & Sampras”. I don’t think you get those kinds of accolades if you are one dimensional or limited by surface. Sampras reached the AO final 3 times and won it twice on a surface a whole lot slower than the US Open or Wimbledon. This being said, I do agree that Fed would have the advantage in Australia and Paris though I’m not certain that Fed would dominate Sampras on Rebound Ace.

And there’s no telling whether or not Sampras would have lost to Agassi in the 95 AO final if his coach’s head hadn’t crashed through a table due to a brain tumor. There’s such a fine line between winning and losing. Especially when two great players run into each other. And 1995 was one of Agassi’s best years.

SG Says:

There is also an opinion that if Sampras is much more dependent on his serve than Federer. I agree that his game was more dependent on his serve, but not much more dependent. Fed is pretty reliant on his serve to win big matches. Without his serve, Nadal would have beat Federer at the AELTC. Without his serve, Djoko would have beaten him at the US Open. Fed is pretty dependent on his first serve. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a weapon that he’s worked on and developed.

Tejuz Says:

SG, Sampras is certainly not a one-dimensional player like say Rafter or Ivanesevic.. if so he wouldnt have won 14 Grand Slams. But then. most of his success has come on faster courts, which suits his game. Fed on the other has success on all kind of courts on slower rebound ace, fast asphalt, slower and faster grass as Wimbledon (right from 2001 to 2007.. except 2002) and ofcourse on clay (4 MCs, 3 MC finals, 2 RG finals). So certainly Sampras is more reliant on his big serve than Fed… and that certainly doesnt mean he is less of a player.. cuz every body have their strengths and weaknesses.

Fed has probabaly less weaknesses than Sampras

sensationalsafin Says:

“I think that great champions transcend and would have found success in any era they would be put in.”

That pretty much says it all. No matter what kind of player you are if you’re talented enough to be on top in one era, you’re talented enough to be on top in another. Tremendous talent isn’t determined by surfaces or equipment, but it can be amplified by those.

Federer has been extremely reliant on his serve this year, to put it mildly. I don’t think Sampras was so much “reliant” on his serve as he just had an amazing serve that helped him out a lot. Sampras obviously knew this so that’s how he played his game. His reliance on his serve wasn’t what hurt him on the clay. Sampras had/has an amazing kick serve, too, and that should’ve helped him on the clay. The reason for his lack of success is pretty much because he’s a volleyer and his huge forehand was neutralized so grinders could take him down.

Tejuz Says:

Federer did rely on his serve more against players who have a very good return games like his final against Nadal and Djokovic in Wimby and US Open especially during break points.. ditto Sampras. Probabaly his return game this year wasnt on par with last year..but he did win Aussie Open without losing a set(straight setted Djokovic and Roddick not just by his service game).. broke Nadal twice in the wimby final set when he dint see a break point for more than 3 sets.. broke Djokovic again when he was down 3 set points in the US Open final(yeah Djok choked.. but Fed dint)… broke Roddick, Ferrer, Nadal numerous times in the Masters Cup….

now did he do that with his service???

Certainly he has far less aces than Sampras, Karlovic, Ljubicic, Isner etc .

Fed is 21st ranked in 1st serve percentage.. most of the top 10 are ahead of him here… so his 1st serve dint help him all the time.. yeah, prob during break points and crunch time.

He is 1st in percentage of points won on his second serve.. and obviously serve alone doenst play a part there for sure… its what you back it up with.

He is 4th in percentage of points won returning 1st serves (33%) and that surely is not a small deal…he is behind the best returners like Nadal, Davydenko and Ferrer by just 1%

And well.. thats just the stats for this year… where he looked to some as though he was hugely reliant on his serves.

naresh Says:

The reason why Sampras didnt win as much in his days, as Fed does now, is cause, he didnt have an all court game like Fed does. he was great on the fast courts like Grass & Indoor carpet, but on the other surfaces, Agassi, Courier, Rafter etc. could really challenge him. Guys like Becker retired when Sampras hit the top, cause their game was similiar, but Pete was just better ! If Sampras and Becker had to start their careers together, Becker would’nt have had the slams that he does, which would make him..’Not so Great’ { going by the logic of Fed critics }.

Guys like Safin & Hewitt, have won Slams b4, by beating the likes of Sampras & Agassi {even Fed}, but just cause, now , that they’re being thrashed by Fed, they’ve suddenly become, ‘not much of a competition’.

So to say that, Sampras had more competition, in his time than Fed does, does not hold, cause had Fed been in Sampras’ place..with his all court game..he’d still be winning 90% of his matches !

Samp Fan Says:

Once again Sean the scorn lover takes jabs at Pete whenever possible. I saw all the matches and by no means did I think that Roger gave Pete the third match. The court was fast and Pete was serving well and didn’t make the mistakes he did in the earlier matches. He imposed in game on roger. That being said I am not saying Roger was on his game that day and he may have checked out a bit looking forward to time off. But to say Roger gave it to Pete is naive. Roger has too much respect to do that to Pete and I think Pete would be offended if that was the case.

SG Says:

naresh Says:
The reason why Sampras didnt win as much in his days, as Fed does now, is cause, he didnt have an all court game like Fed does. he was great on the fast courts like Grass & Indoor carpet, but on the other surfaces, Agassi, Courier, Rafter etc. could really challenge him.


Sampras won 5 US Opens (the most in the Open Era) and two AO’s. That’s half his major count. I’d hardly say that he was limited to grass and indoor carpet. Sampras was strong on all surfaces except clay. Federer is strong on all surfaces, period. I think we all agree that Federer is a better pure baseliner than Sampras was.

But, this notion that Federer has a better all court game than Sampras did? I don’t buy that. Sampras was every bit as good a serve and volleyer as Fed is a baseliner. And the Sampras of the mid 90’s could flat out hit from the backcourt. So, Sampras could play the backcourt and he could attack the net. Federer is a supreme agressive basliner but hit net game and serve are not as strong as Sampras’. Seems like a wash to me.

Samp Fan Says:

One observation I noticed watching the matches and have heard Pete comment of late is that he is hitting the ball better then he did while playing due to the fact he is using a different racket. The prostaff he used throughout his career was developed in 1985. He finally accepted the new technology and a slightly larger racket. As for his movement it is a step slower. Wonder if he accepted new technology while he was playing if he might of hoisted a French title or a few more GS. We will never know.

Jazzcomedian Says:

Though Sampras is primarily a serve and volley player, he is also an excellent all-court player capable of doing very well from the baseline. All you have to do is watch his great 2001 and 2002 US Open matches with Agassi, where he had to stay back and rally on Agassi’s serve. That’s what makes those matches so special. While Sampras would serve and volley on his serve, on Agassi’s serve he had to stay back and duel with the great agressive baseliner in exciting, and absorbing rallies. And I think we can all agree that Sampras acquitted himself very well in those rallies and showed the full dimensions of his game–because he had to.

What makes Federer so much more of a threat at the French Open than Sampras was, is the very salient point that Federer, as he will often point out, was brought up on European clay, while Sampras like all American players, was brought up on fast hard courts. While Federer is very content to construct long creative baseline rallies, in his prime Sampras would rally looking for the first opportunity to get to the net and shorten the point. Sampras has hard court patience, Roger has clay court patience, so he can beat all of today’s clay court specialists with the exception of the very best-Nadal. Though I personally think he’ll get Nadal at the French someday. Sampras being a hard court player could rally well, but nowhere near as long as the best clay court specialists of his day–Muster, Brugera, Kuerten, though I have the 1996 French Open match between he and Courier where he beat Courier from the baseline. But Pete was on a mission for his dying coach at the time.

Federer is in essence a clay court player, with all-court capabilities. And thank God for that because he constructs the most beautiful long points that I have ever seen. He is what brought me back to watchng men’s professional tennis–but only his matches. And I get a kick out of Santoro as well.

As to who is the greatest of all time between Sampras and Federer, it’s a certainty that Federer will undoubtedly end up with more grand slam title, but in purely tennis terms they are both the greatest at what they do best. Sampras is without question the greatest serve and player tennis player who has ever lived, and in my Federer is the greatest all-court player that’s existed so far, and probably forever–though of course no one can predict who might just come from nowhere and dazzle us in the future. Before 2003, Roger was just another talented young player, and no one foresaw his ascension to this transcendant, consistent form he has displayed. There is no definitive way to settle the greatest of all time debate about Sampras and Federer. But we are lucky to have seen them play such high quality and entertaining tennis against each other last week.

Tejuz Says:

5 US Open .. thats still a very fast surface.. which suits big server-volleyers. Thats why Agassi hasnt got much success at US Open as he did at Au Open. Rafter won 2 of them.. Roddick won one cuz of his serve..

Samps was able to win only 2 Au Open over a span of 10 years.. whereas Fed has managed 3 over a span of 4 years. Nobody said Sampras couldnt at all play on slow courts.. but his success ratio is way less than say Fed or even Agassi on these kind of slow courts. So certainly something is lacking here. otherwise Sampras isnt a person who gives away matches

Clay… forget it… not much discussion there. so obviously Sampras was getting thrashed on that surface.

If you say, Fed is content on playing a defensive clay court games… thats not true. Unlike Sampras, instead of just coming to net and finishing off points(because he couldnt hit winners often from back of the court), Fed can finish off points from the back of the court… its certainly isnt European clay court style game… its more like Agassi type. Fed isnt a grinder like some of the clay courters. But he can adapt himself to be a grinder on the red-clay.

Tejuz Says:

Sampras is a serve-volley specialist …
whereas Fed is a specialist in all departments.

naresh Says:

i’m not saying Sampras was a ‘no show’ on the other surfaces{ AO, US open ],those surfaces were also much faster than they are in todays times, but he definitely was’nt as invincible on them, as he was on Grass & Indoor {where he won most of his titles}. On clay of course..he was a no show ! He played the Serve & Volley game better than anyone could possibly play ! But when i say Fed’s got an all court game, i mean an all court game period. The 2001 wimbledon match between Fed & Sampras, was played on a fast grass court{much faster than today}. Fed did’nt win that match by playing from the base line. both of them came to the net throughout the match.

So Fed won by playing the ‘Serve & Volley’ game. Fed says that if he tried playing the Serve & Volley game nowadays, he’d be losing a lot more matches..why ? cause the courts have gotten slower !
Sampras was definitely the master of Serve & Volley and Fed definitely a better Baseliner, but the key here is to see how weak are their weaknesses..In Fed’s case, i cant see any !

Dave Says:

Fed absolutely was not playing his top game during any of the exhibitions. Just watch him the week before at the Masters. He took a step backin the exos, and it seemed intentional. His groundies weren’t as penetrating, he wasn’t running all out, he wasn’t hitting serves as big as he usually does, and overall his mental intensity wasn’t as high.

I know Sampras was a great champion, but this was not a serious competition, and to think that Sampras is better now (despite his new racquet) than he was five years ago when a still improving Federer beat him on Sampras best surface is misguided. Sampras’ serve used to top out around 140. In these matches he topped out in the 130’s with a more powerful racquet. Federer has consistently beaten big servers like Roddick, Karlovic, Isner, etc. I don’t think Sampras serve is going to give him THAT much trouble.

grendel Says:

“Federer has consistently beaten big servers like Roddick, Karlovic, Isner, etc. I don’t think Sampras serve is going to give him THAT much trouble.” Oh, come off it. The whole point about Sampras’ serve is a)power (agreed) but b)extraordinarily consistent placement,c)lethal second serve and d) tremendous back up volley. Roddick is just not there (except with power, although he is unpredictable and sometimes is good on b) and c) as well). Karlovic has first 3, but not the 4th. Probably same with Isner?

I find Tejuz largely convincing on the relative merits of Sampras and Fed on the different surfaces, but I do suspect a bit of a myth has grown concerning Fed’s defeat of Sampras at Wimbie. I don’t just mean that Sampras wasn’t in his prime – that’s not necessarily relevant. He was sometimes quite as good in his later years as in his earlier, just not as consistent. But that year at Wimbie, Sampras really was not playing well. The match before Fed, he was stretched to 5 sets by Barry Cowan – a typical English tennis player who never won anything of note before playing Sampras and never won anything after. If Fed hadn’t beaten Sampras that year at Wimbledon, somebody else would, long before the final. On that occasion, Fed was frankly lucky, and I suspect this leant piquancy to Sampras’ desire to have a whack at Fed.

Dave Says:

Fed was not nearly at his prime yet either, but Sampras serve and overall play certainly aren’t better now than they were at Wimby. The entire premise of my post was not to say that Sampras in his prime wouldn’t give Fed trouble. He is NOT in his prime now. His serve is not as effectiveas as it used to be, and certainly not as big as Karlovic’s who many players have said has one of the hardest serves to read in the game (not to mention the big bounce that comes from his height).

Fed was obviously backing off. I have watched the matches many times now, and nobody can convince me that Fed was giving it his all.I know his game too well.

If we are talking about the GOAT, I pretty much think those types of conversations are useless. BUT, every player who has played them both (and Sampras has admitted this at moments) has said that Federer is the better player overall. Agassi played Sampras in his prime, and has said on many occasions that he has never played a player as good as Fed. Many others have echoed the sentiment.

grendel Says:

Not about Sampras being not in his prime – about him having had very bad day at the office. So maybe he IS better now than on THAT particular day.(Just that day, or at any rate fortnight; get it, old bean?) Wouldn’t know myself, haven’t seen these exhos. This disqualifies me from comment, except insofar as I am making a logical point. And – to say again, Karlovic doesn’t have the follow up volley. Kindly repeat (three times) after me: it is incorrect and misleading to evaluate Sampras’ serve outside the context of his follow up volley.

naresh Says:

hey Fed v Sampras match is there on youtube for all to see, it was’nt high school tennis, if thats what your{grendel} trying to suggest.

Sampras won the US Open that year ! yeah, he might not have been as consistent as the previous years, but champions like him.. once they’re past the first 2-3 rounds, they automatically become the favourites to win .

Dave Says:

It is not incorrect and misleading to evaluate Sampras’s serve outside the context of his follow up unless you somehow feel that I am obligated to stick to your terms of debate. I was strictly referring to other players ability to READ the serve and make an effective return, irrespective of what happens next.

Unless you have seen both the Wimby match and the exos, there is no basis to make an assessment of Sampras’ level of play on both days.

My point has been and continues to be much more about Federer’s play than Sampras’. He was not playing his best. It seemed obvious to me that he was pulling back.

Since this exchange has already veered ridiculously off course, let me take it a little further. Maybe, when every player in the ATP says that they don’t serve and volley because string technology has made it much more difficult, we should take them at their word. Players are much more able to get a deep return of serve because the racquets can return a lot of the energy thrown at them. If the server rushed in to volley, most of the time they are met by the ball much sooner and deeper than they would have been with older technology. Now some players (like Sampras) were and are good at taking a swinging half volley of the return, but it is a rare skill to be able to do it effectively, and a low percentage shot even for the most skilled. Pete’s serve and volley style, while I have no doubt would be effective in his skilled hands, just wouldn’t be AS effective today, and I repeat my assertion that he was only as effective against Fed in the expos because Rog wasn’t really trying to get deep low returns or penetrating groundies, thus Pete was more able to follow up his serves with great volleys, and he was also able to tee off on HIS groundies because he had plenty of time and space.

I’ve enjoyed this little exchange. debate always gets me to think, and I never mean disrespect or ill feelings in a post. (It’s hard to tell sometimes because words without voices don’t have inflections). I have no dog in the fight, so to speak. I don’t get residuals for defending Fed. I just think he’s a better player than anyone I’ve ever seen. Have to go now. Have a good night.

Von Says:

I think that it will be a bit difficult in determining as to who is the greatest of all time between Sampras and Federer, it’s a certainty that Federer will undoubtedly end up with more grand slam titles, but in purely tennis terms they are both the greatest at what they do best. Sampras is without question the greatest serve and volley player from the late 70s – 80s era, and at the present time it looks as though Fed will be the greatest all-court player. How long that is going to last is left to be seen. Maybe some young upstart, Djokovic or Isner or one of the young guns, Murray, Gasquet, et al., will get better and stun us all. Remember Fed was only noticed until about 2001 when his game started to improve, Before that, he used to hit nearly everything into the net. I remeber seeing him those years, and he did not dress like he was from Vogue. In 1999-2000 Pete suffered back injuries and did not play for several months, he refers to that time as the best in his life, because that was when he met his wife. When Fed beat him at Wimbledon he was rusty, getting back into the game. Fed referred to his win over Pete at Wimbledon as the time when people started noticing him. He was just another young player, and no one placed any emphasis on his game.

I do not think that it will be easy to settle the question of who is the greatest player of all time. Each of them has his own strengths and weaknesses., and I do not think that it will be about the amount of slams won. Laver is also in the mix when this question is asked.

There are a few things we have to take into consideration of the contrast between the Sampras and Fed eras:

For instance (1) the type of racquets used pre- Fed time,(2) the different surfaces and how they have changed, the weight of the balls and the amount of sets that were mandatory for a win. e.g., at the slams I believe it used to be 4 of 7; at the masters series 3 of 5 sets. The players of that era had to put out much more energy.

To compare Fed to Pete and Laver, we’re talking 3 gererations of players, how could we possibly think that Fed is better because he is an all-court player or Pete was better because he was a serve and volleyer player. Sampras could, when the occasion arose, play an all-court game , when he played Agassi. If he could not play that kind of game Agassi would have blown him off the court. Sampras later in his career played many times from the baseline, because of the opponent he was playing, but he had an added weapon he could serve and volley too. Federer is a baseline player. He sometimes comes to the net but not as good as Sampras.

Speaking of the exhos – I do not think Fed gave Pete the 3rd match. Pete played very well. He began playing well from the second match. I saw Pete in an interview and he said that he would not play the exho matches if he felt in his heart that he couldn’t hold his own. It just shows the pride and quality of the man. I think if for one moment he felt Fed donated the match to him, there would not be anymore exhos because his pride would be bruised. Maybe, Fed was having an off-day if as some say he was a step slower. His girlfriend was not at the match, could it have been a lover’s spat he had on his mind?

I was very lucky to see the Davis Cup Match USA v. Russia. I read a post on this site that stated: Roddick was just a big serve and forehand. Well he would have fooled anyone the way he hustled on the court. In addition to Sampras am also Roddick fan.

I brought up the Davis cup because there’s one more thing great about Pete is that he played Davis Cup for several years with a big heart. He brought the USA to a win in 1995 single-handledly. He won all thee points. I admire players who play for their country and feel honored to do so. Why doesn’t our No.1 think the same way.

grendel Says:

“Why doesn’t our No.1 think the same way?” -You mean Federer, Von? Well, Tony did a long thing on Fed in Davis Cup, and as I understood it, Fed’s record of participation is not bad. I don’t recall Sampras as being wildly enthusiastic, not like Roddick undoubtedly is.

Dave, you make a strong case. Even so:” I was strictly referring to other players ability to READ the serve and make an effective return, irrespective of what happens next.” Sorry if I sound nitpicking, but I don’t see how you can divorce the idea of making an “effective return” with “what happens next.” Because an effective return against an average volleyer (like Karlovic) may be an ineffective return against a good volleyer (like Sampras).

Tejuz Says:

Grendel.. Karlovic certainly has a better volley than Isner or Roddick… but not in the same class as Sampras. Atleast this year, he has been quite successful.. even on slower courts. Anyway.. Sampras certainly has great volleying skills to back up his even greater serve. But it again requires Surface and balls to favour him sometimes.

Regarding Fed vs Sampras wimby match.. it certainly was a high quality match, with more winners than unforeced errors from both players. Similar to the Fed vs Safin AU Open semi match(except that this was more baseline tennis). And Fed was returning the Sampras serves well… often hitting them for winners whenver he got some look in.

If you watch that match.. Sampras dint look rusty at all.. in the 5th set it was as though he was resigned to the fact that he had finally met his match at wimbledon.

As Naresh pointed out… its how weak is your weakness which would determine who is better.. cuz both these guys know how to exploit other’s weakness. Fed has less holes in his game than Sampras or anybody for that matter.

sensationalsafin Says:

Von, please tell me you’re joking. 4 outta 7 sets? In the past?? Are you serious??? Up until, I think it was, the late 70s or early 80s, they only played best of 3 until the quarters (or was it round of 16) and then best of 5 from there. And the masters almost always had best of 5 set FINALS, which they still should have if the ATP wasn’t retarded.

It really isn’t that much of a stretch to think that Federer is better than Sampras for having an all court game. [On a quick side note, why doesn’t anyone ever accuse Laver of having weak competition? The guy played like 4 different guys in every semi and final.] Tennis is about how much you can do and how well you can do that much. So it is a fair comparison. Agassi was a baseliner during the serve and volley days and was plenty successful, so obviously it could have been done. Sampras chose to focus on his serve and volley skills, while Federer is excellent off the ground and serve and volley. He did beat Sampras serving and volleying at Wimbledon. Ok, I get it, so maybe Sampras wasn’t as sharp as in his prime, whatever. The point is that Federer proved that he could serve and volley exceptionally well. Right now he’s dominating the sport off the baseline. The guy can do everything!! Sampras could do everything but not nearly on the same level.

Von Says:

Grendel:,”Tony did a long thing on Fed in Davis Cup”, what do you mean?


I think we’re both wrong. I don’t know where 7 came up, it was 2.00 am. I was not thinking correctly. What I do know for sure, is that the Masters was always 3 best of 5 sets each match not just the final. The final match was not a tie-breaker. The 7 is the 7 points at the tie-break during each match except for the final.

What I should more clearly state is the fact that the Masters were played like the slams with 5 setters. Now, we have 2 of 3 in the Masters and 3 of 5 in the slams with no tiebreak in the 5th set.

As for Laver, there is still the question of whether he is the greatest and also that he could have won more slams if he was allowed to participate .. and that is Ivan Lendl’s question, not mine. Lendl thinks if Fed were to hold the 4 slams in a calendar year, the same as Laver, then he would surpass Laver and Sampras, but for now he has to give it to Laver. How do you like those apples?

Someone said Pete owns a part of the Tennis Channel, maybe he wants to know who is the greatest because it’s on the Tennis Channel that Lendl asks these questions.

Tejuz Says:


what Grendel was referring to were posts from Tony in this blog.

This(Davis Cup commitments) has been discussed numerous times and buried as well.

Every body have their opinions.. Lendl has his. If you start looking at opinions, you might find quite a few players saying Fed is the beat ever.. including Laver, Agassi etc. Regardless… Fed surely is in the top 3 greatest of all time. And his 4 year(2004, 5, 6 and 7) dominance is the ‘BEST’ ever in history of the sport by a long stretch.

Von Says:


Thank you for providing me with the site. I read some of it — it’s hilarious. But, was it really Tony Roche, Fed’s ex-coach who wrote the posts. Somehow I don’t picture that very quiet, reserved man posting his comments. Anyway, Davis Cup articles are back on this site again due to the finals being played over the weekend. I am sure many will be posting comments.

Von Says:

I enjoyed some of the posts regarding the exho matches. I know that I have at times been controversial but I do not want to offend anyone, I just like to see what others think. Seriously, even though I am a die-hard Sampras and Roddick fan, I must admit that FED IS THE VERY BEST AT THE PRESENT TIME,(I say this grudgingly) but I would just like to see my favorite player win sometimes.

I look forward to the 2008 season because it’s going to be a very competitive one. I’ll be rooting for my guy and I know without a doubt you’ll be rooting for your champ. Enjoy!!

Tejuz Says:

Von ..

That wasnt Tony Roche on that site :-) .. he is just a fan like you and me posting his opinions on the blog.

Anyway.. glad your champ won the Davis Cup this year along with team-mates… convincing performance.

naresh Says:

Man…cant wait for the New York show down ! if Pete & Fed read this blog.. then i’m sure thats gonna be a Rockin’ match lol !

grendel Says:

interesting what Naresh says. See, this is my point. Even if these exhos started off in the same spirit as any other exho – so, basically, bit of fun (or yawn, depending where you’re coming from) – events, and in particular the reaction of fans, make it for sure that the final match is going to be real dingdong stuff. It may be that if either Fed, or Sampras, had any idea that this was to be the case, one or other or both of them would never have agreed to the set up in the first place. No idea.
Just to disagree with Lexi (about 50 years back), this is gonna concentrate the mind of fed far more than sampras. sampras will train and train and train with this event in mind and no other. fed’s going to have to give it his all whilst all the time looking over his shoulder at Nadal and Djokovic.I think that just adds spice to the occasion, and that fed will come to enjoy the extra pressure. I doubt if anyone chooses to take on loads more pressure when there’s no real need to. But seems fed’s the sort of bloke that, when the pressure is there, like it or not, it clicks on some nerve centre in him – and he responds with relish. Surely that’s why (injury apart) nalbandian and safin have never really been able to hack it – they don’t respond well to pressure as a matter of course.

But, the die is now cast. Like it or not, you’ve got a proper match coming in March, and both players are going to do their very utmost to win. They’ve got no choice. Too much hangs on it – and for once, just gloriously, for once- this has nothing to do with money. It’s gonna be hard for some experts to take this in, there are still gonna be some sceptics, and that’s because this has never happened before.

No one planned it. No one foresaw it. But it’s gonna happen.

reckon there’s the slightest chance that those of us who don’t have access to Tennis Channel will get a chance to see it?

naresh Says:

Grendel, your totally right bout Fed’s love for pressure. i mean, it was he who called Sampras, to practice with him, at the time of US Open.

At that time, Fed said that Sampras was still playing pretty well and Sampras too said, that he “held his own” ! it was again Fed, who called up Sampras and asked him to come and play these Exhos.
While the whole world was saying that, Fed would get nothing out of these matches, cause if he won, it’d be expected, but if he did’nt, the axe would fall on him, but he’s still went ahead with it !

If i had Fed’s talent & commitment,maybe i’d ve done the same.. but i have take a bow to these guys, for their passion & love for the game, especially Fed, for putting his ass on the line, without ever flinching.

just awesome !!

sensationalsafin Says:

It’s hard to believe anyone really loves pressure, but when Federer says it, it’s hard not to take his word. I mean pressure in general is one thing but the amount that Federer has to deal with is just insane! The fact that he’s created such high expectations is crazy enough but that he actually enjoys it, he’s just not human.

Von, you make a really good point about the lack of tie breakers in the past. The Wilander-McEnroe Davis Cup battle comes to mind. What if they played with tiebreakers, the match would have been very different. So many things go into account but I think Federer’s game just puts him above the rest. But I still consider Sampras the GOAT.

Also, who else is absolutely thrilled about USA winning Davis Cup? I know I am.

Von Says:


That stupid no-tiebreaker rule cost the U.S. to lose the semifinals in Davis cup in 2006. Roddick played a great match against Turunov and lost in the 5th set 17-15. If there was a tiebreaker, he would have probably dropped 7 bomb aces and it would have been over. Needless, to say, I was hearbroken.

That makes 2 of us caring about DC. Sean is not correct. When the news of the location, Portland, was announed, the tickets, 12,000, were sold out in 30 minutes. I don’t think that represents an uncaring public. DC has a lot of history and prestige, and it was the intention of Davis that all countries should come together and be unified with the sport of Tennis. What can I say, you win some and you lose some.

As for media coverage, Versus and the Tennis Channel carried the matches. I answeed Randall’s comment on DC.

Are you a Safin fan? I like him. He is so cute but so mercurial. If he’s on, he could take on anybody and win. But those times are few. I hope he can get his knee fixed. I enjoy his matches.

If you access the ATP tennis website you probably could see the Sampras/Fed match in March ’08. It’s http://www.atptennis.com. Goodluck!

Von Says:


I bet you had a good chuckle about my mistaking Tony for Tony Roche. What do I know. I am very gullible.

Thank you for your kind words re Andy and DC team. I am thrilled they won.

sensationalsafin Says:

Well I was glad Russia won Davis Cup last year. And I’m glad USA won this year. I think DC has a pretty large fan base but I wish it was more popular. USA won for the first time in 12 years and no one really cares. 12,000 out of several million doesn’t cut it.

Jazzcomedian Says:

Sampras returns … but just for fun
Ex-champion shows he can still play but won’t mount a comeback

By Melissa Isaacson
Tribune staff reporter

November 29, 2007, 8:25 PM CST

Astute readers of the sports section and watchers of “SportsCenter” may have caught it. And of those who did, some may even have taken it seriously.

Pete Sampras, 36, who won his 14th Grand Slam title five years ago, then retired from the pro tour, defeated No. 1 Roger Federer in the final of their three-match Asian exhibition series Saturday 7-6, 6-4. Federer won their first two matches 6-4, 6-3 and 7-6, 7-6.

But Sampras beat Federer.

Sampras plays Todd Martin on Saturday night at the UIC Pavillion in the FedEx Tennis Shootout, and if you think a little less hair and two kids has taken any of the competitive fire from the seven-time Wimbledon champ, well, as they say, think again.

“I had a moment walking off the court when I thought I can still play today,” Sampras said by phone from his home in Beverly Hills, Calif., a day after returning from China.

There are those who think he should — that, ironically, tennis is in desperate need of the kind of drama that the best and last serve-and-volleyer in the game could provide. For those who may have forgotten, Sampras’ greatness was often mistaken for dullness, especially when he was battling longtime rival Andre Agassi.

Federer, who at 26 already has won 12 Grand Slam titles and deserves to be called one of the all-time greats, is smarter than that.

“I think if [Sampras] was still playing today, he would be a top-five player,” Federer said.

For Sampras, who held the No. 1 ranking for a record 286 weeks and finished on top a record six consecutive years, fatherhood and golf were enough to keep him going for 2 1/2 years after he retired in 2002.

“I put on some weight, I saw a picture of myself and that was the pivotal moment,” he said. “I was like, ‘What happened to me?’ My face looked full. I said, ‘I don’t want to be one of these athletes who puts on 30 pounds,’ so I changed my eating habits, started played basketball twice a week.”

And he began playing tennis again. Seriously.

“If I have a day when I don’t play tennis, I have no focus, I’m a little restless, a little bored; my day is too open,” Sampras said. “That’s why I started playing, just to give me a little balance.”

It also gave him a little incentive to play competitively again. Martin saw Sampras’ victory over Federer and knows firsthand Sampras’ level of play, having lost to him in three meetings in the Outback Championship Series, a top-level 30-or-older circuit promoted by their former contemporary, Jim Courier.

“It was plainly obvious how well he was playing. … The type of play that would still be competitive with those who play the game at the highest level,” said Martin, who played at Northwestern and reached the 1999 U.S. Open and ’94 Australian Open finals.

“Pete has this weapon that honestly is probably in the top five of all serves right now. His serve is unchanged from when he was the best.”

Again, the Federer match was an exhibition, and Sampras generously downplayed his victory, allowing that Federer had come off a long season, which culminated in a Masters victory. But Sampras also said that, while slower on court, he was hitting “better than ever” thanks to the new technology in rackets, and his famous serve indeed was clocked at 130 m.p.h.

“It was very difficult to read,” Federer said.

And this is why it would be fun to watch the two battle, even in just one more Wimbledon for Sampras. Not because he hits his serve harder. Andy Roddick can blast away at 130-plus. So can Ivan Ljubicic and Ivo Karlovic.

Never heard of them? They’re the 18th- and 22nd-ranked players in the world, both from Croatia, but only a tennis junkie could pick them out of the pack. The same could possibly be said of Roddick, for all he has done to challenge Federer. “As hard as Andy Roddick serves, it’s not as accurate [as Sampras’],” Martin said, “and I think Federer has a read on it, so Andy has to play loads more points.”

Sampras also says Roddick is “at a level below Roger” and calls the contention that Federer’s domination is hurting the men’s game “very honest and very fair. … It’s hard to watch something when you know the result.”

Added Sampras: “Roger is already a legend, which is great for the sport, but to transcend it from a media standpoint, he needs Roddick or someone to push him. It’s basically one guy breaking all my records.”

But to come back to the tour at 36, even for just one more Wimbledon, Sampras draws the line.

“I could do that,” he said. “But people who really know the sport and know Wimbledon [know] it’s a lot of work. Sure, if you told me I would train for two weeks and play Federer in the final of Wimbledon, I’d probably do the work. But there are a lot of great players I haven’t seen play before, and there’s not a whole lot to gain, probably a little more to lose.”

Sampras does not deny that he still has a strong desire to compete.

“I’m not going do it for the limelight; I’m going to do it for the win,” he said. “But I feel I’ve won enough, I have nothing to prove to anyone. In a romantic sense, it might be a big shot in the arm of the sport, and it would make news, but it’s not worth it for me.”

Too bad for us. And for tennis. But for Sampras, it is somehow comforting and fitting that a gentleman like Federer is poised to break his records.

“I’m at peace with what I did in the ’90s,” Sampras said. “Would I want my [records] to stand forever? I’d be lying if said no, but there’s nothing I can do about it, and if someone has to beat it, I’d like to see Roger do it, someone who is what I was about, not horns and whistles and all that other stuff that some people in this country want.”

Still, beating Federer reminded him how much he loved it.

“I believe people come back for different reasons, some for the limelight, some for the money,” Sampras said. “I always played to win. Playing [Federer] definitely magnified that, and I’ll always have that moment here and there when I wonder, but it goes away quickly. That day-to-day grind, I don’t have it in me anymore. I had my time.”


Copyright © 2007, The Chicago Tribune

SG Says:

Naresh is correct when he says that Fed’s playing Sampras was pretty amazing. No matter what the result was, he wasn’t going to get much credit. The guy is a great champion.

Sanyi Says:

Roger was relying on his 2nd serve to make things interesting? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve read this year, and it’s been a long year. Do you have eyes?

How many times does Roger double fault in a ‘real’ match? And how many times does he hit 2nd serve aces? The answer to both is not many.

Roger double faults maybe twice in a match, but against Pete he hit many, many 2nd serves. He was going for aces, blasting serves, not spinning them in at all only for the 2nd serves, natch.

So the evidence that Federer wasn’t playing his damndest because he wasn’t going for his 1st serves is 100% false.

After reading such a poor+incorrect observation, I didn’t bother reading the rest of the ‘article’.

Tejuz Says:

yeah true.. Fed was trying different things.. he hit 2 consecutive second serve aces following his 2 1st serve aces.. just to tease Sampras that he could also do what Sampras did to his opponents. Fed also hit a few running forehands down the line… it was more like he was giving tribute to the great Sampras. And Sampras was fine with it.. he infact gave his racquet to a ball boy when he wasnt able to touch Fed’s serves…. similar to what Becker did when he was aced by Sampras in Wimby 1997 QF.

naresh Says:

Jazzcomedian Says:
Sampras returns … but just for fun
Ex-champion shows he can still play but won’t mount a comeback

By Melissa Isaacson
Tribune staff reporter

November 29, 2007, 8:25 PM CST

But to come back to the tour at 36, even for just one more Wimbledon, Sampras draws the line.

“I could do that,” he said. “But people who really know the sport and know Wimbledon [know] it’s a lot of work. Sure, if you told me I would train for two weeks and play Federer in the final of Wimbledon, I’d probably do the work. But there are a lot of great players I haven’t seen play before, and there’s not a whole lot to gain, probably a little more to lose.”

Sampras does not deny that he still has a strong desire to compete.

“I’m not going do it for the limelight; I’m going to do it for the win,” he said. “But I feel I’ve won enough, I have nothing to prove to anyone. In a romantic sense, it might be a big shot in the arm of the sport, and it would make news, but it’s not worth it for me.”

Now this is what i meant when i said that i have the highest respect for Federer..even more so, than Sampras.

The whole world said it was stupid of him to go ahead with these exhos against Sampras, but he did’nt give a dam about what anyone thought. he just went ahead with it.

For Sampras there was was no pressure..losing to Fed, would’nt even put a scratch on his ‘Greatness’. But when asked if he’d like to compete at wimbledon, Sampras said it was’nt worth it..why ? Cause he had a lot more to lose, than to win !

I don’t think Pete Sampras or any other all time great,would’ve done what Fed did, if he were in Fed’s place !

GrandSlamTennis Says:

10-years is big difference but perhaps not as much as many think. It’s not like Sampras has forgotten how to play tennis…he can beat almost anyone on a given day. He’s just not fit enough to play everyday on tour.

Despite rust and decline in other skills, he has one nearly unstoppable weapon to stay competitive. That is his serve, of course. It reminds me of when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was playing from age 35-42. He also had a weapon that nobody could touch and used it to school opposing centers 10-15 years younger than him. He wasn’t the best overall center anymore, but the weapon was there…

I don’t think Federer played at max level, and there was more pressure on him. If he did, maybe match gets ugly…very few want to see that. But he would have also looked bad if he made it too obvious he was keeping things close. And Pete was just unloading 1st serves (even on 2nds), going all out with nothing to lose.

All sides should be happy; Federer won 2/3, Sampras got 1 win; matches were fun for fans.

SG Says:

1 match left. I don’t think Fed will want to leave any doubts about the whole GOAT thing so he’ll bring his best stuff. Fed’s got an ego like any premier athlete.

Hopefully, Sampras will too. If Sampras serves very well, I think it will be another tight one that Fed pulls out in breakers or 7-5 sets or something like that.

grendel Says:

They ought to make it a 5 setter. In case you think that’s unfair to the old fella – not true. It’s match after match Sampras wld have difficulty with, not a long one off. You lose flexibility and speed with age, not stamina, or at least not yet, not till forties – look at long distant runners, some boxers. Also, there’s question of concentrating – i.e. mental stamina. But that’s always been a Sampras strength, why shld he have lost that?

5 sets. Proper match.

Tejuz Says:

yesh.. 5 sets should be entertaining

naresh Says:

it won’t go to that.. i’m prediciting a straight sets win !

SG Says:

I think that by making the match a best out of 5, you kind of remove the exo feel of it and turn this match into something I that I don’t think either player wants.

Federer is definitely better than Sampras at this point. He is better conditioned, better mentally, etc. By making the last one a 5 setter, you basically bring in factors that should not be part of an exo. We want to see 2 great players strut their stuff to the best of their abilities. Unless the surface is a skating rink, 5 sets definitely favors Fed. You want conditions that balance advantages as much as possible. And you want to see these guys empty their arsenal from the first shot to the last. 5 sets is not conducive to that.

I agree with Naresh. Even in a best of 5, Fed wins in straight sets. But, if Sampras serves very well, they will be closely fought sets.

naresh Says:

Sampras is a great great champion. he ain’t going into a match to be clobbered, i can assure u.

So yes, if his serve, serve’s him well, then we’re looking at a tight 3 sets !

sensationalsafin Says:

Boy was I wrong. The great Tennis Channel has been showing Australian Open Classic Matches and I caught some of the Courier-Sampras match where Sampras fought back from 2 sets to love down. I started watching in the 4th set when Sampras was down a break and started to come back and I was extremely impressed with his game. He played just like Federer! Even his backhand was really good and they hit some pretty sick angles that are supposedly only possible in the current String Generation. The only differences between Federer and Sampras that I noticed were the fluidity of the strokes. Yeah Sampras had a huge forehand but Federer just looks a lot more fluid on both sides. Also, Sampras didn’t have the backhand down-the-line as an ordinary shot in his arsenal. But, Sampras’s serve was straight out of a video game. He’s down and it’s his serve and he just hits 4 straight huge first serves. And his motion just looks so simple it’s as if though he doesn’t even think about it, it’s his default. With Federer, you know he has to put extra focus into serving his way out of trouble because he doesn’t have those natural bombs.

Von Says:

Grendel and sensationalsafin:

I came across this little tid-bit about a match played by Federer.

“He didn’t need to go for such a big shot,” admonished Patrick McEnroe from the commentary booth. He sounded a bit dazed too by this blistering display of Federer firepower.

Absolutely true, Patrick, but you miss the point. Federer normally plays “well within himself” and doesn’t grossly overhit the way some players do. The fact he chose to do so says to me that the lad was absolutely feeling it. He knew he could hit that shot. He did it because he COULD do it. Because it was there. He did all the right things to get to that forehand and now he was going to fry it up good. Stand aside, please.

Do you remember my comment “playing within himself.” And, I was clobbered.


I watched those AO matches between Sampras and Courier. Pete did have an all court game besides serve and volley. He also had a great backhand, which was misfiring during that match. What I enjoyed seeing was his play at net when there was too much back and forth, he would just lob the ball over his opponent’s head and end the point. He was 24 years old at that 1995 AO. What a difference 12 years make.

Anyway, for those of you who have access to the Tennis Channel they are broadcating the AO matches and also Masters Series between Federer and Nadal all wwek, and I think until the AO statrts. I enjoyed the Masters series when it was 3 best of 5 sets. The way it’s played now 2 of 3, I feel before I get into the match it’s over.

Just 33 more days to the AO. There’s a dark horse that not many are thinking about as a possible winner, and that’s LLeyton Hewitt. Now that he is under the tutelage of Tony Roche, I bet Fed’s wondering how much better he has gotten. We’ll see.

sensationalsafin: you never did answer my question as to whether you are a Safin fan, or are you Marat himself. Anyway, I like Marat and ealways enjoy his matches.

sensationalsafin Says:

Am I Marat himself? He doesn’t even care about the Davydenko betting scandal to even remotely show interest in a blog. But I wish. I’m more of a Safin fanatic. I do NOT always enjoy his matches. I can’t remember the last match of his that I really enjoyed. This year every match he’s played has been crap. Against Nadal, ugh, I don’t even want to get into it. Does it bother anyone else that TTC is showing the Fed/Safin match at 10 PM on a Sunday night? It’s over 4 hours long!! Who wants to watch the same episodes of Open Access and No Strings for the billionth time? Pretty lame scheduling if you ask me.

Hewitt? Improved? I don’t know. I wouldn’t mind, I like Hewitt. But I don’t know what to expect from him. In Montreal and especially Canada, Hewitt played very very well especially against Federer. After that I think many people, including myself, expected him to make a good run at the US Open. Instead, he lost in the second round, the earliest he’s ever exited in his entire career. And he lost to some old geezer. Calleri was it? So after that I was kinda like, well, I guess he’s not really made much improvement after all and his matches against Federer were kinda flukes due to Federer’s lowered level. But who knows? If he goes deep then great, if not then oh well. The only players I will be upset about losing are Safin, Federer, Djokovic, Murray, Gasquet, and Berdych. I wanna see Federer smoke Nalbandian early. And I wanna see one of the young guns smoke Nadal early. Until then, let’s enjoy late night classics.

grendel Says:

“Against Nadal, ugh, I don’t even want to get into it.” I thought Safin was definitely competitive against Nadal for first set and only lost it really through sloppiness. But he did enough to raise a few tentative hopes for the future……

sensationalsafin Says:

That’s why I don’t wanna get into it. He could’ve taken the first set but blew it. And the second set was ALLL him missing every other shot. Nadal could barely get the ball over the net because of Safin’s power but everytime he had the put away he would miss like no other. It was painful to watch. Very, very painful.

Von Says:


“old geezer”, Calleri. He’s probably not even 30. Old geezer is a british word, my dad used it all the time.

Seriously though, I think Nadal is at the end of his good run. He depends on his swiftness and the physicality of the game, well he ain’t got the sting anymore. That’s what happened to Hewitt. He was fast and then as he got older he started slowing down and he lost his zing. You ain’t got a thing if you don’t have the zing …

Don’t write off Marat, the mercurial one will bounce back. I just love his humor.

sensationalsafin Says:

He’s 31, therefore, he’s an old geezer. As for Nadal, I expect him to do even better this year. He makes progress every year and I think his body will last another 2 years.

grendel Says:

This is Sampras’ take on the exhos, towards the end of an intriguing telephone interview with Steve Flink, printed on the Tennis Channel website.

“It was very exciting. It was competitive and we had some light hearted moments but we were taking it seriously. We were playing hard and Roger and I were going a hundred percent. My wife put the matches on TiVo and when they did the close ups I could see Roger had the same look that he has all the time. Maybe we were not quite as intense but I felt good about the whole experience and to pull off a couple of sets was a thrill for me. It was a tricky situation for both of us in a weird way and I thought we both handled it well. I had not played in five years and Roger is the best player in the world. Roger could have done this with anybody but he was nice enough to throw an old man a bone by giving me a chance to play against him over there.”

There’s quite a lot of subtle manoeuvring going on here, seems to me. On the one hand, Sampras is making a claim – a very big claim, if you think about it. But then, he plays it down just a little – they were after all exhos, and so on. But the impression I get is that Sampras has proved to his own satisfaction that, at the very least, he is Federer’s equal. I guess he is entitled to that. But it does make the next match critical – if it takes place; seemingly, there is some doubt about that now (according to Flink).

Von Says:


I also read that article and if I am reading it correctly, Pete did not mention the exho at Madison Square Garden. He subtly threw out an invitation to Blake and Andy to play an exho match with him. I don’t know what is going on in Pete’s mind, but what I do know is if I were in his place I would not want to play with Fed again because of the comments made that Fed let Pete win. I posted some comments in a previous post … here it is…

I do not think Fed gave Pete the 3rd match. Pete played very well. He began playing well from the second match. I saw Pete in an interview and he said that he would not play the exho matches if he felt in his heart that he couldn’t hold his own. It just shows the pride and quality of the man. I think if for one moment he felt Fed donated the match to him, there would not be anymore exhos because his pride would be bruised …

I am of the opinion that Pete has settled in his mind that he could still compete with the best and hold his own. It seems that he wants to move on from Fed to other players. Pete was very succinct and gracious tin his remarks regarding Fed. What a grat champion!

naresh Says:

i dont think anyone, other than, Sean & die hard Fed fans, have felt that Fed let Pete win in Macau. Pete’s still got his serve and on that fast Macau court, it was a serious weapon.

Pete’s 36 yrs old, but if u think bout it, it’s not really that old. i mean Agassi retired last year at 35yrs.

for a guy like Agassi, who was a baseliner, who did’nt get too many free points from his serve, to have been able to play at the higest level till bout 33-34yrs of age, shows that its possible.

so yeah, Pete at 36yrs of age, with his great serve n volley game,came to these exhos knowing that he could put up a fight and with a real fast court {which is not used anywhere, in todays day} favouring him, he made the most of it and won !

wether they play again in march in new york or not, i’m just glad that Sampras wants to play again. maybe not at the most competitive level, but to play against guys like Blake & Andy in more exhos, will be wonderful !

Von Says:


Considering Jimmy Connors played until age 40 and won a slam around 39, the US Open, I think Pete could continue to play for enjoyment. His problem concerns the fact that after he retired he did not do any kind of training and that is pretty tough to suddenly start training after a long absence. Perhaps if he builds on the training that he did for the exhos then he’ll get rid of the rust and probably change his mind about competitive tennis. I would prefer to see him devote his time to the WTT matches, the Senior Tennis tournaments and exhos.

By the way, are you saying Andy and Blake do not play at a competitive level? I know what you mean — just being facetious. Check out the article on Philipoussis and the AO wildcard situation. There are some torrid postings concerning that article.

grendel Says:

I posted a recent Sampras quote regarding himself and Federer, and here is an even more recent one (from the Telegraph, Dec.17). I think – if there’s anyone left reading this thread – people will agree that it is generous in tone and spirit:

“Does Sampras regard Federer as what Americans call the ‘GOAT’ (the Greatest Of All Time)? “It’s difficult to say who is the greatest tennis player in history. The people who are usually mentioned are Roger, myself and Rod Laver, and I think it’s probably one of us three.

“Roger’s critics say that he can’t be the greatest of all time unless he wins the French Open, but I don’t think that’s true.

“It’s difficult to compare generations, as things have changed so much since Laver’s day. Rod was my hero, and I have such great respect for what he did, but I remember him telling me once that he only had to start playing from the fourth round onwards. There’s no way that’s the case now, as you really have to turn it on from the first round onwards.

“I think there’s a chance that people will look back on Roger as the greatest of all time.” So says the sage in Beverly Hills.

naresh Says:

hey von, dude you and grendel & the Fed fans have just gone haywire on the Philipoussis and the AO wildcard blog.. everyone gets emotional, guys, but you cant let that take over your objectivity..lets talk tennis please !

and yeah, Jimmy didnt win the US Open at 39 buddy, but he did i think get to the quarter final stage, which i still think is great, considering Jimmy’s game was more about being the hound dog on the court{ this is not a diss by the way..i love him & his style}.

about Sampras being out of training, well, there’s a couple of interviews, which i’ve seen and i think its also on youtube, where he says that the 1st year, he totally stayed away from tennis, but he soon realised that to be able to function in life, he needed to have his dose of tennis everday.

so i’d say he’s been playing, even if he’s not been training hardcore. he also said that the one thing thats still with him from his playing days is his serve !

what i meant when i mentioned ‘the most competitve level’, is the ATP tour, which is way way way tougher than playing here & there exhos, thats all. didnt mean to undermine, Andy & Blakes talent..but then you knew that !

Von Says:

Naresh: I am not going to post anymore, maybe for a while. I’ll just read and be amused. I am drained by the preaching. However, I don’t want to be impolite, and in answer to your statement, I always try to stick to the subject matter, but then there are some comments that causes me to go off-track.

I know exactly what you meant by Andy and James. That is why I added the sentence in quotes below. You seem to be someone who has a sense of humor, hence my remarkremark:

“By the way, are you saying Andy and Blake do not play at a competitive level? I know what you mean — just being facetious.”

Von Says:


Just for the record, I need to clear up a tiny mistake, I know I have been referred to as “dude”, I am not one. You called me “buddy”, I am not one. I am female. It’s hard to tell from some people’s names, their gender. I am not offended.

naresh Says:

wow Von, thats a pleasent surprise ! i mean the fact that you are a girl, really does’nt matter, but even so, i would’nt have figured.

you’ve been pretty aggressive on the Philipoussis blog. one does’nt generally associate aggression with women, so i just assumed ..my apologies .

judging from our correspondence, you seem to be a level headed person..a little emotional sometimes, but your on top of things. so don’t let stupid comments get to you. there’s no growth in that{you reminded me about the same thing, just the other day lol!}.

Von Says:

You are making me do what I vowed not to do ever, and that is blog. Believe me, the Sampras-Federer match was the first time I ever gathered up the couraage to post because I felt the comments written about Pete, a great champion, were uncalled for, so my anger got the best of me and I did what I thought I would never do and that is communicate in this manner. However, I do my best writing when I am angry, and that’s the result of my legal and psychological background. I’ve won many legal points when i get angry and, there’s a lot of psychology in business, law and marketing.

I only mentioned the fact I am female, because I felt people were assuming I’m male, you called me “buddy,” remember. In my profession, in the United States, a woman has to be agressive to survive in Corporate America. I know this will probably make you take another look, but I am a very soft person, not like my writing, I guess that is how I express myself.

I will keep on reading the posts. Some of them are quite funny. Laughter is good for the soul!

By the way, on the Tennis Channel tonight, there is a match, 2000 AO, between Sampras and Agassi. Agassi won, but in the 5th set. That was one of the worst matches I have ever seen Pete play. He was dating then and got married later in the year, so I don’t think his mind was on tenniks. Anyway, there were some great moments.

Keep those posts coming!

naresh Says:

i think the worst thing written about the Sampras- Federer match, was the article itself-

‘Federer lets Sampras win’.

that i thought was pretty riddiculous. no champion lets another champion win, you’ve got to earn it. but i guess Fed fans just cant seem to fathom the fact that he lost to a retired champ ! even Fed was gracious in his defeat{you might not think so..or wanna believe so.} and did give Sampras the credit.

i personally think both these guys Sampras & Federer are really great champions on & off the courts. people can say all they want to about them, but the way they’ve gone around playing the game and conducting themselves,showing respect to their peers and with all the charity work they’re doing{in 2005 december,around Christmas time, Fed was in Madras in south of India, meeting with the Tsunami victims and playing Cricket with their children..he’s never played a tournament in India, but he came to give support.} they’ve been nothing short of brilliant for this sport !

naresh Says:

Von i know what you mean. it’s always been tough for women,especially in the corporate sector, not just in America, but all round the world. i guess you’d have to be more aggressive just to get a foot in.
i definitely thought that you might be a lawyer..the way you dug out, past quotes of Grendel lol !

i’m gonna check out that Sampras-Agassi match on youtube, that way i can rewind when i see something interesting. will let u know my thoughts on that one cheers !

Von Says:


You must be a night owl such as myself. I am writing a letter that’s very technical, the enclosures are about 3 inches thick. So you can imagine how much digging I had to do.

About those articles, it’s really a writer looking for kudos, that is, I guess they get votes or something for the amount of hits that they receive. It’s terrible, but it stirs up people and the sensationalism gets them all excited. Psycholigically it is good to post because fans are angry about some injustices done to their team or plyaer and this is a good way whereby they cold vent and get it over with. I don’t really think the athletes care, probably they do not even read ur stuff, because they are accustomed to this. We are the ones who go at each other and that is destructive. And, the beat goes on.

There is another article written that has mwentioned Federer and Henin being overlooked. The awards were given to the Americans. It’s the same as the SI award. There were 3 posts I read them and had a gpood chuckle.

Between now and Jan uary 14th, AO, there will be a lot of matches, Tennis Classics, men and women matches, of the retired champions, if you can pick them up on YouTube, they are worth watching. Keep me posted. Have happy holiday and a wonderful New Year. Bye.

naresh Says:

am i a night owl..yeah maybe ! i like to post just b4 i go to sleep, but it is the holiday season, so i endedup posting in the day too !

i live in india and so theres a big time difference between us !

i did read the AP award article..had a good laugh myself..these blogs are like gravity..no matter where they go with their analysis and opinions, it just comes right back to the same thing Federer !!!

wish you a fun new year too !

Von Says:


I figured out that you are Indian by your name. A, I also figured out you live in India in answer to my post about people living in America, but what I did not remeber was the difference in time. I know England is 6 hours difference. I don’t know the difference in India. I can’t know everything, I’ll bre walking encyclopedia, and that’s too much knowledge. for anyone.

Do you know any history about the Khans in Southern India. They are my ancestors. I believe from what someone told my sister, is that there are statues of them over there. I guess your eyes are now wide open abvout my heritage. I am not all Indian, some English too. Bye.

Von Says:

Sorry about the many typos.

grendel Says:

“definitely thought that you might be a lawyer..the way you dug out, past quotes of Grendel lol !”

Thought that was good, did you, Naresh? What a fellow you are for dragging people out of hibernation. Not one, but two. Never mind! Me, I’m going straight back in – after I’ve had my say, of course.

Yes, it was good stuff, wasn’t it. Cleverly designed to make a broad appeal to whoever might be listening in – in short, calculating and devious. But psychologically acute. Someone as long winded, preachy, acerbic, not to mention ever present, as myself – such a person is likely to have rubbed up not a few noses. And I daresay your new chum sussed that I was, so to speak, ripe for the picking.

The immensely long quotes given from me give the impression there were loads of them. It’s a clever effect – I myself was surprised how few there were, when I looked back for purpose of writing this post. Marvellous are the ways of “legal training”. And also, given that I am supposed to be “everywhere”, the impression is that they come from all over the place. “Here are a few of your posts from other sites”. In fact, all but one were from this site.

The one that wasn’t, from Tennis Planet, was in reply to Eva. Bearing in mind this:”It’s all about Federer and his wonderful mastery of the game”, how can one account for the fact that it is in fact a defence of Djokovic, who happens to be a bete noire of Eva’s? Curious, and yet the cumulative effect of all this stuff is that it somehow hardly matters. Anything can mean anything. And then we have; “you have appointed yourself Eva’s judge and jury”. You are not to know, perhaps, (and, more important, nor is anybody else) that Eva is a very prolific poster, putting even me in the shade, is not shy of an argument, and can well look after herself. I rather admire her, actually, she’s pretty indomitable, and we both play “jacks” – quite a bond! Eva, b.t.w., is about as convinced a fed fan as you’re ever likely to meet, far more than me.

Another of the long quotes beginning “the loss to Nadal at Monte Carlo….” seems to me quite unexceptional. It was actually a reply to Sensational Safin, and a genuine attempt to talk tennis, even if I am not terribly equipped to do so. The following comment is this:”in that tone, one would think that you are Federer’s coach and advisor”. A very surprising remark to me; judge for yourself, Naresh.

I conceded some quite important points to our lawyer friend. This was not reciprocated. She was just plain wrong on several counts, and her way of dealing with this was to act as if they had never been said, or to resort to rhetoric . Legal training, I daresay. Furthermore, like a good lawyer, she didn’t acknowledge my concessions, but used them as a sign of weakness, and proceeded to put the boot in further. Thus I took the opportunity (rather gratefully, I must say, since I’d felt bad about it) to apologise for my churlish behaviour to Zola, a rather sweet natured person, so far as I can see, even if she is a Nadal fan. But the lawyer jumps on this:”It’s not only Zola. It’s Eva, Lulu, SG, Jane, and many, many others”.

That’s good, isn’t it Naresh, that “many, many others”. What a world is contained in that. And all bad, no possibility of good. You’ve got to admire it. This person understands how to wield an axe. But meanwhile, look at this list. I’ve spoken of Eva. Jane and SG – whom I have certainly annoyed, sometimes justifiably (imo), sometimes not – are nevertheless tough cookies who can take care of themselves. But Lulu? If my memory serves me correct – and sorry, I just can’t be bothered to trawl around in the archives – I never once addressed her. But she posted an appreciative comment to me when I made a fairly robust defence of Safin, one of my favourite players, who had come under a somewhat vicious attack.

But why let mere facts worry you, eh Naresh?

Meanwhile is there not something a bit sad and bitter in posting like this at Christmas? Yes, I expect so. I won’t be having easy access to a computer over the next week or so, so I need to get on with it. Even so. I return now to hibernation – hopefully, for a good long time.

Compliments of the season to you, Naresh.

Von Says:


I wanted to get this to you before you lose your computer and because it’s Christmas.

Please don’t blame Naresh. He was just trying to make a bad situation good. It’s about 3:00 a.m. here, so if you see typos I am sorry. Also, if there is improper grammar, syntax, parallel construction, etc., it’s because this is very hard for me to do.

We are the problem. We just seemed to get off on the wrong foot. Naresh had nothing to do with my writing and what I said. If you notice, and you did notice, I wanted to stop blogging, and will do so. For one heightened moment of curiosity I tried it a few months ago and stepped on a few toes and drew some angry posts. I also did overdo the patriotism thing, not on purpose though. I have two American born children and an American husband. So you can understand how I feel about this Country. I sensed from your comments, you feel all of this was carefully orchestrated but it wasn’t at all,it just happened. One post led to another and you know how it ended.

I did not answer your posts after the last post, because I felt enough was said by both of us. And, believe it or not, it really upset me more than you could understand. I am not a confrontational person and it made me feel terrible. However, I am a roaring lion in my job and when I write. Law does that, you don’t leave any stones unturned and tie up all of the loose ends, and then some. I can turn off everything from law, but my writing.

Grendel, I thought you were female, you did give some subtle hints, which, even though you don’t think so I, picked up on your hints. But I wanted you to say it directly, not hint, to be absolutely sure. Your name, possibly it’s a post name, Grendel, is a German woman’s name. In the beginning until about two weeks ago I thought you were female. I am sorry, but names can be very deceiving

Grendel, for whatever it’s worth, I am very, very sorry. It was never my intention to hurt you or anyone, but when you get a lion going, watch out. My husband always tells me that I can topple a huge building with my speech and writing. I hope you can forgive my anger and heightened emotion. In some ways my anger was borderline cruelty now that I have re-read my posts. I feel very bad and sad about it all. I hope you can forgive me for hurting you and making you feel sad and especially at Christmas time, no less.

I wanted to tell you the very next day,that I was sorry, but when I found another post the next day the tone of it turned me off and I thought that it was not the right time. You seemed to be more angry. It takes more out of me than the other person whenever there is an argument, that is why I try to avoid them. I suppose I just got carried away. To be truthful, Grendel, you could turn the knife in pretty deep yourself, when you want to. This is not a criticism, just an observation.

Be that as it may, all things considered about what was said or what anger was unleashed, I hope you would accept this from my heart, mea culpa, … and oh so sorry. I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a New year filled with great tennis matches. You’re a good bloke!

Please continue to post, you are good. I, on the other hand, need to just read and not say anything. My mouth is too dangerous.


naresh Says:

hey Grendel, i’m not being partial to, or against anybody..it’s not like i think your wrong and Von’s right or anything.

if anything, i thought that some of the posts you guys made on the Philipoussis blog, were riddiculous & uncalled for, cause it became personal after a point.

i’m a Fed fan like you, so in that sense i should be on your side. but more than anything i love tennis and even though i have my favourites,i try and give credit where its due !

i know you guys, only through this site and i must say it’s been great fun talking tennis with you’ll..i can’t wait for 2008 season to begin..man are we gonna be blogging, cheers !

Von Says:


I asked you the following question: “Do you know any history about the Khans in Southern India. They are my ancestors.One-half on my mother’s side. I believe from what someone told my sister, there are statues of them over there. I guess your eyes are now wide open abvout my heritage. I am not all Indian, some English too, wel 1/4 Indian, and 3/4 English. I believe in my parents time we wer spoken of as “Eurasians.”.

Please, if you do know my sister will start checking. Thanks.

naresh Says:

Von, you’d have to be more specific than that ie; which state in the south ? the full name of your ancestors ? were they totally Indian or did they also have a mix race ? cause Khan is a pretty common muslim surname in India.

If as you say, there are statues of them in the southern part of India, then they must’ve been famous or they must’ve been part of the government at that time.

i’ll do a check with my friends from the south and see if i can get any more info..but as of rightnow, i don’t have a lot to start with.

hey, i’m getting more & more surprises from you everday huh ! you should probably get a DNA check..the results might be very interesting !

Von Says:

Naresh: Thanks. I don’t know all of the details,
and my Mom died 2 years ago at Christmastime, no less. Yes, they were famous, Muslims. That mich I do know. I know my Mother’s Grandfater’s name, Ghinday(or Ginday) Khan, sounds like Ghenghis Khan, and you know how famous he was. It’s a pity we did not try to trace anything before. My sister has this bug to find out more. It doesn’t really matter to me. Apparently, someone told her that she looked just like the Khans in Southern India and that she should look at the statues and she’ll see the resemblance. However, neither of us ever went to India. And,there’s more to this fairytale story on my mother’s side, and her ancestry. She is part Persian (now Iran) too and there’s something in her lineage that if I were 100% Persian I would definitely want to find out. I’ll leave that part as a mystery.

You’re right I should get a DNA check, who knows, I might be your family. That would be something considering how we got to know each other. AS the saying goes you might be talking to an angel or entertained one and did not realise it. What I find is happening to me since blogging and reading the British and European spelling. I just realised when I typed the first “realise”. Old habbits are hard to break. Someone might say something about out writing exchange because it has nothing to do with the subject matter. But this subject matter is old now, and I don’t think it will matter much.

The AP award blogging is heating up. I like to read them. Well, old chap, cheerio and all that good stuff.

grendel Says:

Damn! And there I was, gearing up for Round 17…

P.S. Yes, I can see it was a tricky post, Von. Does you credit, I guess.

Von Says:


You can put away your boxing or sparring gloves. PAX! Have a happy New Year. The drought is nearly over. January 14, ’08, is nearly here. Keep posting, I’ll be reading.

Von Says:


My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family concerning the very sad situation in your country. Take care of yourself, stay well and God bless.

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