'Felt like I met my match,' recalls Pete Sampras in emotional video message to outgoing Roger Federer
Another major singles champion remembered Roger Federer ahead of the Swiss great's swansong at the 2022 Laver Cup on Friday, September 23. 14-time Grand Slam champions Pete Sampras said that Swiss maestro Roger Federer will be missed as he prepares for his last dance at the Laver Cup in London.
Sampras paid tribute to the 20-time Grand Slam singles champion Federer, saying: "Not really sure where to begin, so I'll just start from the very beginning.
"When I first played you, you were 19 years old, an up-and-coming player and people were talking about you. And we had a great battle on the Centre Court of Wimbledon. And you took me down," Sampras said in a video shared by the ATP Tour.
Sampras, who was the defending champion at the 2001 Wimbledon, lost to then 19-year-old Federer in a five-setter in the fourth round.
"Tough five-setter," recalled Sampras, who had won the previous four titles at the Championships to take his tally to seven. "And I just remember walking off the court, feeling like I met my match.
"Little did I know, 20 years later, that you would have 20 majors, be number one for years, dominate our sport - basically do it all.
Sampras called Federer truly a special player, and added, "You're going to be missed in our game."
He further highlighted the sacrifices of Federer, who made the game look easily effortless. Sampras said that Federer has been an 'ultimate professional' with his preparations and wished him a great retirement.
"I know through those 20 years, that you sacrificed, dedicated yourself, got your body right, I don’t think people saw that side of you because you made the game look so easy. But I know you are the ultimate professional when it comes to preparing. I’ve admired the way you handled it all. From the very beginning to the very end. We are all going to be sad to see you go. But it’s part of sports. It’s not easy. I want to wish you a great retirement."