As part of the Rogers Cup Legends Series, tennis great Pete Sampras is in Toronto to play a couple of exhibition matches: Friday against James Blake and Saturday against the always-entertaining and John McEnroe.
Before his first exhibition bout against the younger Blake, Sampras stopped by to say a few words on Milos Raonic, Andy Murray and the state of American tennis to mention just a few subjects.
“Obviously expectations aren’t too high with how much I play but it’s good to be back in Canada,” said the 41-year-old. “I’m excited to play tonight and tomorrow night. Hopefully my body stays healthy and I just hope the fans enjoy the tennis.”
Sampras was then asked to touch on his feelings on the aforementioned Milos Raonic and whether he will be a threat someday.
“I think he’s a threat already. I think he’s got huge game, monster serve, willing to come in and do some things and get to the net.
“You know, it is tough to break through. He’s up against Djokovic and Murray and Roger and four great players and it takes time. It’s not going to happen overnight but he does have a big game and he does have a game that could get hot at a major and potentially win one.”
Sampras was then reminded that fellow American John Isner had an early exit in Montreal this week. With his premature elimination, he will likely drop out of the Top 20 in the ATP rankings marking the first time in 40 years where men’s rankings will not have an American in their Top 20. Simply put, Sampras was asked what’s wrong with tennis in the United States.
“I don’t know have a great answer for you. People ask me all the time what’s wrong with American tennis. I don’t know why. It’s looking a little slim,” the legend said honestly. “But I don’t know. I really don’t know why. I just think a lot of these other countries their best athletes are playing tennis. Our best athletes are playing other sports other than tennis.”
Reminded of the fact that he is a seven-time Wimbledon champion, Sampras was asked what he thought of the current Wimbledon champ, Andy Murray.
“I think he’s turned into a great player. He’s always been a good hitter of the ball, been a great mover. I think mentally he’s a bit better now. He recovers from some sort of bad situations in a match.
“Now he feels like he belongs, like he’s up there with Roger, up there with Rafa. He’s on his way to doing great things. He’s got a good chance at the US Open up here.”
And with that, Pete Sampras was off to prepare for his match against James Blake which received a great turnout from the fans in Toronto. Tomorrow’s exhibition should be even more fun as Sampras takes one of the greatest players who was always known for his on-the-court petulance, the aforementioned John McEnroe.
It promises to be a great weekend here at the Rogers Cup.