November 22, 2007 / 4:58 PM / in 11 years

Federer says Sampras would still be in top five

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - World number one Roger Federer said Pete Sampras would be ranked in the top five if he was still a player.

Roger Federer (R) of Switzerland poses with Pete Sampras of U.S. after their tennis invitational exhibition match in Kuala Lumpur November 22, 2007. REUTERS/Zainal Abd Halim

The American, who retired after capturing the last of his record 14 grand slam titles at the U.S. Open in 2002, proved that he was still a force to be reckoned with in an exhibition match against Federer on Thursday.

Although Sampras lost 7-6 7-5, his blistering 210 kph first serves impressed the Swiss.

“It was very difficult to read his serve,” said Federer, who is two grand slam titles from equalling Sampras’ record.

“I think if he was still playing he would be a top five player.”

Sampras, however, has no plans to make a comeback at 36.

“No. It’s a tough lifestyle and I’m happy with a great wife and great two kids relaxing in Los Angeles,” he told reporters.

Sampras, retired for five years, brought back memories of his no-nonsense style of play during the match and later lamented the demise of serve-and-volley tennis that he put to such good use over the years.

“Serve and volley is extinct,” he said.

“In my day we had some great serve-and-volley players. There was myself, Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker, Goran Ivanisevic and others.

“But with the size of rackets getting bigger, junior players these days are only taught to hit the ball as hard as they can. There are some players who come in but they are not natural serve-and-volleyers.”

The match in the Malaysian capital was part of the country’s 50 years of independence celebrations.

Writing by Nazvi Careem; Editing by Sonia Oxley

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