Federer Pleased with His Role in Change of Tennis Guard

Bill Scott/DPA

London, Jul 6: Roger Federer and Pete Sampras were headed in different directions Monday, a day after the Swiss took over from the American as the most prolific Grand Slam winner in the history of tennis.

The retired Sampras, 37, whose seven Wimbledon titles led him to 14 singles crowns overall at the majors was on hand for Sunday's changing of the guard on Centre Court as Federer lifted the new mark to 15, defeating Andy Roddick 5-7, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 16-14.

Sampras and his wife flew in for one night from Los Angeles to watch proceedings in the royal box and were back across the Atlantic 24 hours later.

The friends from two different tennis generations did have time for a brief chat as Federer accepted congratulations from former heroes in the post-match hours at the All England club.

"I'm happy I broke the record here because this is always the tournament that's meant the most to me because of what we spoke about with my heroes and idols being so successful here," said Federer.

"It feels like it's come full circle for me, starting it here and ending it here - but my career is far from over.

"It's also nice to think especially so many legends were sitting there today. Especially Pete, who I had a great time with in Asia (exhibitions) a short while ago.

"I know how much the record meant to him and he knows how much the record means to me. In a way, I still feel like we share it, because he was such a wonderful champion."

Federer will take the next month off to be with wife Mirka Vavrinec as he awaits the birth of their first child sometime over the summer.

While Federer is laying low, rival Rafael Nadal will be working to regain fitness in a pair of tendinitis-plagued knees which kept him from defending the Wimbledon title he won over Federer last year.

But Federer doesn't think the absence of the Spaniard changes the values of his sixth trophy in seven years at the grandest of the Slams.

"In tennis, that's the way it goes. Everybody expected Andy Murray to be in the finals, he wasn't there. It's not the mistake of the one who wins at the end.

"Of course, I would have loved to play Rafa again. But I've also played Andy (Roddick) now in three great Wimbledon finals. I think he deserves the credit, too, for playing so well."

Federer said that predicting "what-if" is useless.

"You never know how he would have played, but it's sad Rafa couldn't even give it a fair chance. He had the injury and tennis moves very quickly."

The Swiss returns to the number one position he held for a record 237 weeks until losing it to Nadal just before the Beijing Olympics last August.

"I'm happy at least that I became number one by winning the tournament, not just by him not playing at all, or me playing decent or someone else playing decent and getting to number one," said Federer.

"That's not the way it's supposed to be.

"It's supposed to be that you win big matches, big tournaments. That's how you get back to it."

If all goes well with the birth - date never made public - Federer should be back on court at the Montreal Masters 1000 from Aug 10.


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