Nadal is great but Roger is above him: Sampras | india | Hindustan Times
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Nadal is great but Roger is above him: Sampras

india Updated: Jul 07, 2006 16:11 IST
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Seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras, whose tennis retirement is always tougher during this fortnight, expects Roger Federer will beat Rafael Nadal in Sunday's final.

The 34-year-old American who won a record 14 Grand Slam singles titles made the prediction on Thursday in a telephone conference call regarding his slight return to the sport for seven days this month in the World Team Tennis league.

"Roger is pretty much unbeatable on grass, pretty much unbeatable anywhere but on clay against Nadal," Sampras said.

"Roger will have his way with him on grass in the final. Nadal will compete well and hard against him but I don't see him prevailing."

Sampras said he will always miss playing at the All-England Club, his hunger for the sport he left behind after winning the 2002 US Open never stronger than when he is forced to watch Wimbledon.

"I think I always will miss it, the feeling of playing on the court, the daily life at Wimbledon," Sampras said.

"I'll miss it at 34, 44 or 54. These are the two weeks I really do miss the sport, because I was so successful and I really do miss the sport."

Sampras has become one of Federer's biggest supporters, saying he will cheer on the Swiss star even if it means erasing his own Grand Slam records.

"I think he can and will break every tennis record out there. He's the only great player out there. Nadal is a great player but Roger is above him," he gushed.

"I don't see anyone threatening the number one ranking. He's too consistent and too good. He has a fear factor over everyone out there, like I did at some times but even more."

"He's on his way to breaking not only the number one record but the Grand Slam record. He has not only the demeanor but the ability to do it," he added.

Watching Federer makes Sampras wonder what it would be like to play against him today were both in their prime.

"I think we both would have our hands full," Sampras said.

French Open champion Nadal, the 20-year-old world number two from Spain, into his first Wimbledon semi-final, surprised Sampras a bit with his performance on grass rather than the red clay of Roland Garros.

"Mentally he's really positive on grass. A lot of clay courters come into Wimbledon afraid of the grass."

"It's almost like you're watching the French - it's just green. He's the only one staying back. Ten years ago, when there were more serve and volleyers, I think he would have a harder time doing what he's doing today."

Watching US men crash out at Wimbledon after glory days for a prior American generation had Sampras wary of setting the bar too high for Andy Roddick and James Blake, the current US banner-bearers.

"James and Andy have potential. But it takes a great player, someone who can handle it all," Sampras said. "I think they have it but it takes a lot of commitment and a lot of sacrifice.

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