Pete Sampras already figured Roger Federer would go down as the greatest tennis player in history. That Federer tied Sampras' record of 14 Grand Slam titles by winning the French Open yesterday only reinforced that opinion.
"What he's done over the past 5 years has never, ever been done, and probably will never, ever happen again," Sampras said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press. "Regardless if he won there or not, he goes down as the greatest ever. This just confirms it."
Federer added his first French Open championship to five titles at Wimbledon, five at the U.S. Open and three at the Australian Open. He's the sixth man with a career Grand Slam; Sampras won three of the majors but not the French Open.
Sampras was home in Los Angeles and watched on TV during part of Federer's 6-1, 7-6 (1), 6-4 victory over Robin Soderling.
"I'm obviously happy for Roger," Sampras said. "If there's anyone that deserves it, it's Roger. He just is a great, great player that is a credit to the sport and is a positive influence for young kids and just tennis in general."
Federer will get his first chance to break Sampras' mark at Wimbledon, which starts June 22.
"It's pretty incredible," Andre Agassi said after presenting the championship trophy to Federer. "A lot of people say it's better to be lucky than good. I'd rather be Roger than lucky."
"Now that [Federer's] won in Paris, I think it just more solidifies his place in history as the greatest player that played the game, in my opinion," Sampras said. "I'm a huge [Rod] Laver fan, and he had a few years in there where he didn't have an opportunity to win majors. But you can't compare the eras. And in this era, the competition is much more fierce than Rod's."
Svetlana Kuznetsova was as dominant in winning the women's singles crown on Saturday as Federer was yesterday. Kuznetsova was a 6-4, 6-2 winner over Dinara Safina, adding the French Open major to the U.S. Open title she had won in 2004. *