Wed, Nov 21, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Roger Federer beats idol Sampras

AFP , SEOUL

The world's former No. 1 tennis player was no match for the current champion when they met on court yesterday for only the second time.

In an exhibition match in the South Korean capital, Roger Federer beat Pete Sampras 6-4, 6-3 in a match lasting just 61 minutes.

Serving for the match leading 5-3, Federer was stretched to deuce when he badly mis-hit a return on 40-30. But he won the next two points for the 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, winning it easily with the help of his booming serve.

But the 36-year-old American could only muster one more game against the 26-year-old Swiss, whose effortless performance demonstrated why he has been the world No. 1 for four years running.

The Swiss ace is at the peak of his powers, lifting his fourth Masters Cup title on Sunday, whereas Sampras retired from the professional game in 2002.

But the American legend had been working hard on getting back in shape and is unbeaten in three starts on the Jim Courier Outback Champions seniors tour, his first serious tennis since hanging up his racket.

"It was a little tricky situation. I'd been playing well and Pete's been retired for five years," Federer said. "I expected myself to win tonight. I am very happy with my performance but I think Pete's still playing very, very well."

In a fast-paced opening set the two players traded two games apiece before Sampras broke Federer's serve in the fifth game. The American won the following game with his signature serve and volley attack to establish an early advantage.

But Federer came back to win the next four games and the set, breaking his opponent's serve twice in the process with an array of shots.

Sampras, known for his powerful serve in his playing days, hit 10 aces in the match compared to Federer's six and put up a good fight. But it was not enough.

"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," the former No. 1 said. "I was a little careless up on the net and missed a few easy balls. But I think I will play well in the next match."

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