Sampras tips Federer to win Wimbledon ahead of Nadal
Tennis great Pete Sampras tipped Roger Federer Thursday to regain his Wimbledon crown from Rafael Nadal, who will be carrying extra pressure as defending champion.
The American, who won Wimbledon seven times, said he sensed Federer was hungry for another title.
"It will be interesting for Rafa to come back as defending champion as before he was always just a contender, so there will be a bit more pressure on him this year," he said as he launched the Venetian Macau Showdown.
"Roger is very hungry for the title and he came so close last year.
"In last year's final Roger and Rafa really transcended the sport. It's also a good opportunity for players like Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic to come through.
"If I was to put money on it I would say Roger, but he's not a shoo-in."
If Federer does win Wimbledon he could equal or even beat Sampras' record 14 Grand Slam titles. The Swiss superstar currently has 13 and has a chance to make it 14 at next week's French Open, although clay is not his best surface.
Meanwhile, Sampras, who retired after winning the 2002 US Open, dismissed suggestions that the standard of American men's tennis was in decline, saying it had always gone in cycles.
"In the early 1990s people were saying the same thing then Andre (Agassi), Jim (Courier), Michael Chang and myself came along," he said.
"And the state of American men's tennis is not poor right now. We've got Andy (Roddick) and James (Blake).
"It's just that people expect No.1s and Roger and Nadal are head and shoulders above everyone else.
"Hopefully we will get back to being right at the top and we have some promising players coming through who can hopefully do that."
Sampras will play an exhibition in Macau in October against old rival Agassi.