Federer, Sampras give tennis show in Seoul
World’s No. 1 wins in Asian tour exhibition match
|Roger Federer returns to Pete Sampras during their exhibition tennis match at Jamsil Gynmasium in southern Seoul last night. Federer, the world’s No. 1 player, won the match 6-4, 6-3. [YONHAP]|
Pete Sampras might have talked a good fight, but on the court, he was no match for Roger Federer.
Federer, the world’s top-ranked player in men’s tennis, handily beat Sampras, the former No. 1, 6-4, 6-3 in an exhibition match in Seoul last night.
Serving for the match leading 5-3, Federer was stretched to deuce when he hit a return way out of line at 40-30. But the Swiss won the next two points for the easy victory.
After taking the first set 6-4, Federer took four of the first five games in the second set. Sampras showed signs of life in the sixth game, winning it easily with his trademark booming serves.
But the 36-year-old mustered only one more game the rest of the way. With his effortless victory and an array of shots, Federer proved why he’s been the top-ranked player for four years running.
“I expected to win tonight, and I am very happy with my performance,” Federer said. “The level of play was very good. I was impressed with the way Pete hit the ball.
“It scared me to face someone who plays as smoothly as Pete, because I am not used to seeing it,” Federer added. “He came out of the blocks strong.”
Federer admitted that he “tensed up a bit” because Sampras is one of his heroes. “You don’t like to beat a hero,” he said. But once he found his groove, the 26-year-old Swiss was off and running.
After the players traded two games apiece in the opening set, Sampras broke Federer’s serve in the fifth game and won the following game with his signature serve and volley attack to take a 4-2 lead.
But Federer came back to win the next four games and the set, breaking Sampras’s serve twice in the process.
“When I found my range, Pete missed a few too many shots,” Federer said. “I was maybe lucky to win the first set. Then I got on a roll and started to relax.”
Sampras said on Monday that he felt he could still be competitive. But despite putting up a good fight early ― he had 10 aces for the game compared to seven by Federer ― the American came up well short.
“I feel a little disappointed,” Sampras said. “But I made Roger sweat a little bit tonight.
“I can still serve quite well, but the hardest thing for me is movement,” Sampras continued. “I was a little careless up on the net and missed a few easy balls. It was tough for me to maintain the high level.
“When you play a lot of matches, you gain confidence. But it was difficult for me to build confidence. Plus, Roger moved so well and put a lot of pressure on me.”
Throughout the match, Sampras wowed nearly 6,000 fans with powerful serves and nifty drop shots.
When asked if he’s thought of a comeback since retiring in 2002, Sampras said, “It’s not even in consideration.”
Next up for the two players on the Asian tour is Kuala Lumpur on Thursday. Their final Asian stop is Macao on Saturday.
By Yoo Jee-ho Staff Writer [firstname.lastname@example.org]