Sampras accepts his record will soon be history

December 3rd, 2008 - 3:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Roger FedererLondon, Dec 3 (DPA) Pete Sampras is prepared to bow to the all-but-inevitable fact that his all-time record of 14 Grand Slam singles titles will soon be eclipsed by Roger Federer.
And the 37-year-old American, playing in London for the first time in six years since a heart-break second-round Wimbledon loss, says he is braced for the passing of the guard in the sport.

“There’s a lot left in him,” Sampras said of Federer, who could pull even on his own 14 with another title at the Australian Open next month. “I think he’s gotten to a stage where it’s about the Majors.”

Sampras confessed that he’s filed away the dismal past at Wimbledon, when he exited at the event where he owned seven title with a 2002 loss to Swiss George Bastl.

“Last time I was here was a major low point, but I feel pretty good. At 37 I can still play pretty well,” he said.

Sampras said that no matter what happens on court at the season-ending senior event at the Albert Hall reserved for former Grand Slam champions and number one players, he’s glad he changed his own mind on the merits of playing as an “oldie.”

“I said during my career that I would never play senior’s tennis,” he confessed. “But you should never say never.

“I didn’t know how retirement was going to be. It’s tricky. Every athlete will tell you that when they stop at a pretty young age, trying to find different ways to keep yourself fulfilled is difficult and some people have to come out of retirement to do that.

“The schedule provided by playing here keeps me in shape and makes me a better father and husband.”

Rich-for-life Sampras confessed that he has suffered from boredom that endless days on the golf course cannot cure. “When you’re not doing much throughout your day I can lose my patience and start to think ‘what am I doing with my life’.

“But I’ve got years to figure it out and retirement is still a work in progress for me. There’s no book on it. But I’m still enjoying playing a little tennis.”

The American does not rule out that hard-charging No.1 Rafael Nadal - current with five of which four at the French Open - could also approach the 14-Grand Slam barrier.

“Rafa’s got as good a chance to win double digits as anyone,” Sampras told BlackRock media. “I think Roger’s going to break this record over the next couple of years.

“Rafa, he could win some more French’s, he could win a couple more Wimbledons. He could have 10-12 majors when he’s done, if not more.”

Nadal, winner of eight trophys in 2008, took over the top ATP ranking spot from Federer prior to the Beijing Olympics, where the 22-year-old Spaniard lifted the gold medal a month after dethroning Federer after five straight Wimbledon titles for the Swiss.

“It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Nadal next year,” Sampras said of the Spaniard who had to miss the Masters Cup plus the Davis Cup final due to a knee injury, blamed in part on his grinding go-for-broke style.

“It takes so much work for him to keep it going, to stay healthy, to stay on top. That’s one thing Roger has over him. I think it takes a lot less energy for Roger to stay on top.”

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