Sampras 'amazed' by relentless Federer motivation

Pete Sampras has long admired Roger Federer's talent for striking and stroking a tennis ball. Now he also has a great appreciation for how Federer - a 33-year-old father of four - still has such love and enthusiasm for playing the sport.

"It's amazing that Roger is still going. He has done everything in the game and then some, and yet he still has that motivation to travel and to win," Sampras told ESPN.

Federer's longevity is such that his victory over Canada's Milos Raonic in this month's Brisbane final took him to 1,000 career victories, making him only the third man in history, after Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl, to bring up four figures.

Should he reach 1,007 before leaving Melbourne Park this fortnight, he will become the first man of the modern age to score five Australian Open titles.

"Am I surprised that Roger is still up there? Yes and no," said Sampras. "I don't doubt Roger's ability. That's still there. He's been playing well. But it's the mental side. I'm just amazed that he still has the motivation, that he is still travelling and still winning events."

It is Sampras's analysis that Federer responded with class and dignity to the suggestions in 2013 that the Swiss should consider retirement. Federer's reaction in 2014 was to come extremely close at Wimbledon - he lost a pulsating five-set final to Novak Djokovic - to winning what would have been his 18th Grand Slam title, and his first since 2012.

When he arrived in London last November for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals, it was still mathematically possible for him to finish the year as the world No.1 (as it turned out, Djokovic did).

"I don't think Roger's a vindictive guy," added Sampras. "I'm sure he heard the suggestions that he should retire in 2013 and he dealt with it. I don't think that Roger is one of those personalities who is in your face.

"He lets his racket do the talking. He lets his hard work do the talking. It's by working hard that he has been able to do what he has done. He's got healthy. His level dropped off the last couple of years, but he has got his confidence back."

There were several reasons for Federer's revival last season, including that he did not have the back problems of 2013 (even if he withdrew from the final at the O2 because his back had seized up). He also switched to a larger racquet. But, Sampras argued, Federer wouldn't have had such success if he hadn't hired Stefan Edberg as his coach.

"First of all, Stefan is a great guy. He's easy to hang around with and he knows the game so well. He's been around the tour for years, and he knows what it's like to be out there," Sampras said.

"Stefan was an aggressive player, and I'm sure he is giving little insights to Roger about how to be more aggressive, and how to use his athletic ability. So Roger has been coming in a bit more, shortening the points a little bit more, chip-and-charging, serve-and-volleying.

"Stefan has been adding a little bit here and there, and that's helping Roger at this stage of his career. They've been trying to add some things. Stefan is very smart and knows what's going on. It's obviously a good match-up."

Date: 22nd January 2015, Source: ESPN UK


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