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Pete Sampras: Roger Federer the greatest but Rafael Nadal making case

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Roger Federer and Pete Sampras

Roger Federer (left) has three more Grand Slam titles than Pete Sampras. (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Pete Sampras agrees with Andre Agassi: Rafael Nadal is making his case to be considered the greatest player of all time.

Sampras says that distinction still belongs to Roger Federer, though.

“It’s always been so clear to me that Roger is the greatest,” Sampras told The Tennis Space. “But I would say that, with Rafa doing what he’s been doing, he has an argument to be in the conversation. Rafa isn’t done yet. He could win more majors. He’s got a winning record against everyone that he has played in his generation. He’s won the Davis Cup [with Spain], he’s won the Olympics [singles].”

Federer has a record 17 Grand Slam titles, three more than Sampras and four more than Nadal, who won the U.S. Open three weeks ago to push his total to 13 at age 27. Nadal is 21-10 against Federer, who has been more consistently dominant than his Spanish rival.

“I just think that Roger was so consistent and so good for so long,” Sampras said. “But with Rafa, he’s sure to pass me on the list of most Grand Slam titles, and the question is whether he can take it further and go for that record.”

Federer, 32, is having his worst season in more than a decade. The Swiss is 35-12 with one title, and he failed to make a Slam final for the first time since 2002. Federer’s record streak of Grand Slam quarterfinals ended at 36 with a second-round loss to No. 116 Sergiy Stakhovsky at Wimbledon. Since then, Federer has lost twice more to players outside the top 50 and fallen to No. 22 Tommy Robredo in the fourth round of the U.S. Open.

Still, Sampras cautioned against dismissing Federer’s chances of bouncing back and winning another major title.

“Roger is too great a player for people to be writing him off,” Sampras told The Tennis Space. “He needs to find his confidence and to get back to his winning ways. That could take a set, or a tournament, to find his game. I don’t know what Roger’s goals are. I just know that he’s been a great champion and always will be. It’s just a matter of what he wants in his life, and for how much longer he wants to play.

“People wrote me off,” said Sampras, who snapped a 33-tournament title drought when he won the 2002 U.S. Open at 31 in his final tournament. “But what the great players have is belief, and once Roger has that belief back, and starts playing well again, I think he can win another major. He will at least contend. Maybe he won’t be the big favorite that he was around 2005. I think that if he is playing well, and stays healthy, he is capable of winning another major.”

Earlier this week, Agassi called Federer “a class above” Sampras and said Nadal is staking his claim to the best-ever title.

“Nadal has an argument to make for the best of all time,” Agassi told HuffPost Live. “If Nadal is sitting at a table with Federer and Federer says, ‘I’m the best ever,’ my first question would be, ‘Well, then how come you didn’t beat me, because I beat you twice as many times? And, hey, by the way, you know I won everything, including a gold medal [in singles at the Olympics] and Davis Cup.’

“But at the same token, Federer has separated himself during a few years like nobody else. And he’s done it more consistently. To be able to make the argument for both guys playing in the same generation is pretty remarkable.”

  • Published On Sep 27, 2013
  • 5 comments
    jacknine
    jacknine

    Sorry, Rod Laver is still the greatest ever. While his 11 slams trail trail 4 others, he was locked out for 5 years and 20 grand slam events because of turning Pro. He won all 4 his last year and all 4 once the open era started. He would almost certainly have won more than 20. Furthermore he won at least 2 of each of the 4, whereas Nadal and Federer only have 1 each on their weakest surface.

    rbala.pe
    rbala.pe

    Agassi was trying to rub off on Pete with his rather unkind and inconsiderate remarks.  As Roger was peaking to his top notch game Sampras was fading. Yet, they had a close contest in the last US open which Federer won. Had Federe and Sampras been true contemporaries, there is a good chance Sampras could have bettered Federer. Also, Agassi is one or maybe two classes below Sampras, particularly on grass and hard court

    xnasesco
    xnasesco

    All those grand slams against who??? Rafa has beat two greats, and has spanked federer over and over and over again.

    RosalieBernard
    RosalieBernard

    Oh! I must add though, that no amount of twerking will help him when he plays Rafa. Rafa controls the headspace as well. Vamos!!!!

    RosalieBernard
    RosalieBernard

    Sampras, Roger has not lost his game. He still plays the same game over and over again.......therein, lies the problem. Roger's game now is like an open book and easy to read. When another player knows what to expect, then he is better able to plan his response. Roger has been so dominant for so long playing his style that he probably thinks that there is nothing to change. If it ain't broken, why fix it? However, Roger should realize that he is no longer a spring chicken and should therefore make some adjustments here and there. Rafa and Novak are constantly fine-tuning, mixing things up and improving on the way they execute their game. Rafa and Novak are very observant when it comes to an opponent's change of game, and then they make their adjustments to conquer. Rafa especially, is very analytical with his tennis. Roger is not as quick as before so he needs to do a little twearking here and there. Sorry! Had to get that in somewhere.