“Rafael Nadal is incredible,” says 14-time Grand Slam Champion Pete Sampras, after watching the Spanish player perform live for the first time.
Nadal — who has good chances of winning his 14th Grand Slam this Sunday, tying Sampras — will play against Stanislas Wawrinka in the Australian Open Men’s Final — and is on track to become one of the winningest tennis player of all time.
Pete Sampras made these comments to the BBC after arriving in Melbourne in time to watch Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer in straight sets Friday:
“I think he’s incredible. I saw him play live for the first time on Friday night and the movement he has is incredible. He’s able to adjust his shots on the run. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Sampras is considered one of the best players in the history of tennis and has the edge at Wimbledon when compared to Nadal, however, the 27-year-old Spaniard owns eight French Open titles, while Sampras has none. Roland Garros was the elusive one for the American great.
Pete Sampras, 42, ended his career in 2002 with 14 Grand Slams only to lose his standing to Federer — who leads with 17 titles, the most of any player.
Rafael Nadal is expected to surpass that record as well, barring a devastating injury, it shouldn’t be difficult for the No. 1 player in the world to win four more titles.
But first, Rafa must needs to match Sampras’ record on Sunday — which most expect him to do as this is Wawrinka’s first Grand Slam final.
After Pete Sampras saw Rafael Nadal beat four-time Australian Open Roger Federer he spoke to BBC:
“To see him play – he hits a very heavy ball, serves pretty well, he does everything,” said the seven-time Wimbledon champion, who will present the trophy to the winner on Sunday, 20 years on from the first of his two Australian victories.”
“He’s mentally tough – he has the whole package.”
“He’s not looking at 14, he’s looking beyond. Realistically, he could very well get 17, 18 majors when it’s all said and done. He’s a credit to the sport. I’m a fan.”
As to Wawrinka’s chances, the Swiss eliminated current champion Djovak Nokovic, however, he has not been able to take one set from Rafael Nadal in their previous 12 meetings.
Pete Sampras is one of many who believe Wawrinka has no real chance against the feisty Spaniard:
“Stan’s very talented, he hits the ball well, but I’m just not sure he has the firepower from the back court.”
“He’s going to be dealing with Rafa, he’s going to be dealing with his nerves – first major [final], he’s going to be nervous, so he needs to settle down and work his way into the match. But he’s up against a tough guy, I think it’s just a touch match-up for him.”
“If he’s able to come in a little bit, put a little bit of pressure on Rafa, flatten out his ball, maybe – but I just think Rafa’s playing too well.”
What do you think are the chances of Rafael Nadal tying Pete Sampras’ 14 Grand Slam titles?