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India a great tennis town, says Pete Sampras

India a great tennis town, says Pete Sampras
Asked whether he expected a raucous reception on his arrival here on Sunday, Sampras said: “I had a feeling. I have travelled all around the world and met a lot of people from India. They love tennis. They are excited to see you, they are enthusiastic, they are nice people. I could be in Germany or Los Angeles, I meet them and they know tennis, know Wimbledon.

“They seem to know I did pretty well there. I see it as a great tennis town. I am happy I am here finally and hopefully I will come back.”

Sampras, whose 14 Grand Slam singles titles was a record until it was broken by his good friend Federer, was asked a barrage of questions on how the game has evolved ever since he stopped playing professionally in 2002. The American mastered the art of serve and volley tennis which doesn’t find a place in the modern game of playing from the baseline.

“My generation had serve and volley but it also had contrast. I was playing Boris Becker one day and Andre (Agassi) the next day. Now everyone plays the same and from the back. These three four guys (Federer, Djokovic, Nadal) are so much better than the rest. No one really wants to come, they don’t know how to come in, that has been the biggest change, the style of play,” said the 43-year-old.

He further said: “I don’t think the courts have gotten quicker, the style of play is just one dimensional, everyone is staying at the back and they are great at it but it would surely be nice to see come contrast. Sampras said he doesn’t see the current style changing anytime soon. “The kids growing up are watching Novak, Roger and Rafa, they would like to play like them. My generation we had Stefan Edberg, Boris, (John) McEnroe who served and volleyed and I became familiar with it,” he pointed out.

The 2014 season saw first major winners in Marin Cilic (US Open) and Stan Wawrinka (Australian Open), challenging the supremacy of the ‘top three’, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. However, Sampras feels the top three will continue to dominate in 2015.

“Novak is the obvious choice, Roger is motivated to get to number one again, Rafa’s fitness is uncertain but once he is healthy he is in the mix. Dimitrov (Grigor) is showing signs, he needs to learn how to win but he has got the talent.

But I still see those three guys dominating. I see guys threatening them but when push comes to shove you will see those three in the second week of Majors, in semis and finals. Wawrinka, Cilic are up and coming. It is going to be an interesting year but I still think those three are the cream of the crop. They have the experience so they will be tough to beat,” reckoned the seven-time Wimbledon champion.

What does a player need to succeed in the prevailing scenario and he said, “You need a good forehand. You look at Novak, Roger, Rafa, their forehands are penetrating, consistent, they are weapons. You need to have that shot or some sort of a weapon from back court. So I would say forehand is a start. Having a good serve helps to set it up but the game is a lot more physical now, you need to move well. You have to have a weapon.”
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