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Monday, 10 July, 2000, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Emerson: Sampras deserves record
Roy Emerson with Pete Sampras at this year's Australian Open
Roy Emerson with Pete Sampras at this year's Australian Open
The arguments are already raging as to who is the greatest male tennis player of all time.

But Roy Emerson, who until Sunday was joint holder of the record for most Grand Slam men's singles titles, still shows grace under pressure.

There were no sour grapes from this champion of champions when Pete Sampras went clear on 13 Grand Slam wins after his triumph at Wimbledon on Sunday.

"He deserves it, he's been a terrific champion," said the Australian, now 63.



I can't think of anyone I would rather see break the record

Roy Emerson
"I can't think of anyone I would rather see break the record. But this one that Sampras has got now is going to last a long time.

"I don't think anyone will ever be as dominant as he has been over the past seven to eight years."

Unique

Emerson, in winning singles and doubles titles at all four Grand Slam tournaments, achieved something that no other man has done. But he said he would waste no time in phoning Sampras to congratulate the American on his own unique feat.

Emerson paid tribute to Sampras's performance in winning his seventh Wimbledon in eight years.

"It's pretty tough to be on top for that long," he said.

"To win seven Wimbledons - boy, he loves the grass. It's pretty demoralising when you can't get a good look at his serve because the ball is coming in at a terrific pace - and it's very hard to pick


Sampras now moves ahead of Emerson
Sampras now moves ahead of Emerson
"He must have played terrific (on Sunday). His serve, if it's on grass, is pretty much unreturnable unless someone is terrific at returning.

"I heard Rafter missed a couple of first serves and volleys and that's all it takes - there were not too many points separating them. At 2-0 Pat would have been a tough opponent to beat."

Grand Slam

Emerson, who won his last Grand Slam singles title aged 30, believes 28-year-old Sampras can take his total of wins still higher.

"I expect he will win Wimbledon again, I'm sure he's odds-on again if he comes back next year.

"He's got plenty of time to win more Grand Slams and put it out of reach of anyone else.

Emerson still holds the record for total Grand Slam titles - 28 doubles and singles - and he doesn't see that changing in the near future.

"That one will last a long, long time," he said.

"I'm definitely proud of that one - that could last for ever unless they change the rules to make the top players play the two events. I would like to see that."

Few of the top men players tackle doubles and singles at Grand Slams because of the number of sets they would be required to play.

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