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Page last updated at 08:38 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 09:38 UK

Federer still the best - Sampras

Roger Federer and Pete Sampras
Federer (left) is Sampras's tip to win Wimbledon again this year

Pete Sampras has dismissed suggestions that Roger Federer's four-year dominance of tennis is on the wane.

Seven-times Wimbledon winner Sampras believes Federer remains the man to beat despite the Swiss having won just two minor titles in 2008.

And Sampras has backed Federer to win his sixth consecutive Wimbledon title.

"He's still the guy most likely to win the majors. He's lost a couple but if anything that'll do him some good, it'll get him fired up," said Sampras.

"As great as Roger is he's going to have his losses and his bad days, it's just human nature to go through some lulls.

As much as I'm a full-blooded American and I love the US Open, there's just a certain romance that I've always had with Wimbledon

Pete Sampras
"The media need a story and something to grab on to, like he's lost his edge. He hasn't lost his edge.

"If he goes through the next few months and he's losing a lot and he doesn't contend for tournaments then maybe, but I don't see that happening."

Federer was thrashed by world number two Rafael Nadal in the French Open final earlier this month, winning just four games.

And Novak Djokovic, who beat Federer in the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January on his way to the title, says the Swiss is vulnerable.

He said: "Federer is still the number one in the world, but suddenly he feels a little bit shaken up because of a couple of losses.

"It's normal to have ups and downs after four years of absolute dominance.

"New names are coming, talented players who believe they can beat him and I am one of them. Suddenly he is a little bit worried."

606: DEBATE
Sampras, though, remains convinced that he will lose his record of 14 career Grand Slam titles to Federer.

And the American former world number one says he wants to be present when it happens - ideally at Wimbledon, a place he has not returned to since he retired.

Sampras will make his first return to London since Wimbledon 2002 when he plays in the BlackRock Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall in December.

"If I were to step back on that court at Wimbledon it would bring up a lot of emotion, just because of what the place meant to me and how big it was to the sport of tennis," said the American, who makes his debut on the BlackRock Tour of Champions in Sao Paulo on Thursday.

"As much as I'm a full-blooded American and I love the US Open, there's just a certain romance that I've always had with Wimbledon.

"I didn't always express it with words but I think internally I just felt a great connection with the place, the court and the arena.

"I felt like that was what tennis was all about for me and I look forward to going back and enjoying that experience."


see also
Rusedski on the 'big three'
18 Jun 08 |  Tennis


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