Sampras rues lack of variety

14-time Grand Slam champion says sport is one-dimensional now

Sampras rues lack of variety

The legend of Pete Sampras has been such that despite his modest appearance, he has commanded the attention of fans world over. India was no different, where fans flocked to catch just a glimpse of the man, who ruled the world of tennis with his single-handed backhand and terrific serve and volley game during the 90s.

The now 43-year-old 'Pistol' Pete, as he was fondly called for his booming serve, today speaks with a hint of regret at the growing trend of one-dimensional tennis.

“My generation was a little more serve and volley, there was little more contrast, I would play Boris (Becker) the one day, play Andre (Agassi) the next, every match would be different. But today everyone plays the same.

If you look at the Wimbledon, everyone is playing from the back, no one wants to come in, don’t really know how to come in,” said Sampras, who was here for International Premier Tennis League.

“The kids now growing up are watching Novak, Rafa and Roger who all stay back, so that's what they want to do. We grew up watching McEnroe, Edberg and Boris serve and volley. It’s just the style of play today is very one-dimensional with everyone staying back and they are great at it. It’s just that sometimes you would like to see a little bit of contrast.”

Despite Stanislas Wawrinka and Marin Cilic disturbing the trend of top players winning the Grand Slams, Sampras remained of the view that it will still be the top three who would rule the pecking order in the coming years.

“Novak is the obvious choice. Roger is very motivated to get to number one, Rafa is uncertain with his health but I feel once he is healthy, he will be in the mix. Grigor Dimitrov is someone who is ready to take the next step.

He’s showing signs but I think he just needs to learn how to win. I still see those three guys dominating. Wawrinka has got an interesting Australian Open to defend. Cilic is up and coming.

‘It’s going to be an interesting year but I still think Novak and Roger and Rafa are the cream of the crop. They have the experience, they won it and when they are playing well, they are going to be tough to beat.” The American does not see him moulding into the role of coaching top players like the other former stars like Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg.

“I am not ruling out (Davis Cup) captaincy or coaching in the future but for the time being, for the next couple of years I’m just happy playing some exhibition every now and again and staying at home,” he said.

The IPTL format has been debated by tennis stars worldwide and the Sampras offered his two pence. “The format is different. You have to be on your toes. Get off to a good start. It’s a different energy, it’s much quicker. It’s a lot of strategy, I think it’s fun, exciting for the fans, different…it’s an exciting format.”

He also described India as a ‘big tennis town’.

“I have travelled all around the world, and wherever I have gone, I have met Indian people whether it is Germany or Los Angeles. They know their tennis and are enthusiastic to talk about it,” he signed off.
DH News Service

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