Federer: Sampras Slam record never came up

Updated: January 31, 2009, 11:32 AM ET
Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Despite traveling together for a series of exhibition matches in 2007, Roger Federer and Pete Sampras didn't speak about the men's Grand Slam record.

Federer faces top-ranked Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final Sunday for a chance to tie Sampras' record of 14 majors.

Federer and Sampras played exhibition matches in Asia and a match at Madison Square Garden last March. But the topic never came up in conversation.

"I didn't ask him how many he thought I was going to win, you know," Federer said. "This is not stuff you ask Pete. We were mostly just chatting about how it was for him to stay at the top for so long and how it is for me and how different it is today maybe than it was back then."

Federer said it was a thrill to spend so much time with Sampras, who retired after winning the U.S. Open in 2002.

"It was, just for me, a great honor to be around Pete for like a week, day in and day out, playing him and practicing with him and doing press conferences with him," the 27-year-old Swiss star said.

"Just being around Pete, such a champion, it was a nice feeling. I think I was more interested in the person than his records, really."


YOUNG GUNS: Yuki Bhambri defeated Alexandros-Ferdinandos Georgoudas 6-3, 6-1 to become the first Indian player to win an Australian Open juniors title.

The 16-year-old Bhambri, of New Delhi, needed only 57 minutes to finish the match.

"Winning the Australian Open is obviously a very big achievement, regardless of being the first Indian," Bhambri said. "I mean, that's actually news to me. But I dreamed of winning it, and it's come true."

His previous best junior Grand Slam performance came at last year's Australian Open, when he lost in the semifinals to eventual winner Bernard Tomic of Australia. This year, Tomic made it to the second round in the main draw.

Christina McHale of the United States and Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia rallied to win the girls doubles, 6-1, 2-6, 10-4, over Alexandra Krunic of Serbia and Sandra Zaniewska of Poland.

In the girls singles final, third-seeded Ksenia Pervak of Russia was a 6-3, 6-1 winner over Australian-born Laura Robson, who represents Britain.

Francis Casey Alcantara of the Philippines and Hsieh Cheng-peng of Tiawan beat Russian Mikhal Biryukov and Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan 6-4, 6-2 for the boys doubles title.


MEDICAL LEAVE: Tennis Australia chief executive Steve Wood will miss the men's singles finals after he was admitted to a hospital with chest pains.

Wood, 46, reported for work at the Australian Open on Saturday, but later sought medical assistance. He was admitted to Melbourne's Epworth Hospital. The extent of his illness was not immediately released.

Wood, a former tour player, has been Tennis Australia CEO since March 2005.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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