Third time the charm as Sampras wins in straight sets

MACAU -- Pete Sampras notched a win to wrap up a three-match exhibition series against Roger Federer.

Sampras never faced a break point and handed Federer a 7-6 (8), 6-4 defeat Saturday at the Venetian Macao arena, finishing 1-2 against the top-ranked Swiss player.

Sampras downplayed his victory, noting Federer was coming off a long season and he was helped by his big serve and the fast indoor carpet surface. His goal was to win one set during the three-match series.

"Let's not get carried away," he said at a news conference.

Sampras ruled out a comeback from retirement, telling the audience after the match, "I had my time in the '90s."

The two players have won a combined 26 Grand Slam titles, but the 36-year-old Sampras retired five years ago after winning the U.S. Open in 2002. Federer, 26, won three Grand Slams this year and the Masters Cup last week en route to a 68-9 record.

"I'm sort of surprised. This guy can play tennis, you know," Federer said after his loss.

He put on a positive spin on the match, saying he wasn't embarrassed to lose to his idol.

"It's been tough beating my idol the last two times," Federer said. "I'm happy that he got me at least once."

Federer beat Sampras 6-4, 6-3 in Seoul on Tuesday and edged the American 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5) in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

"I hope we can do it again in the future," Federer said. "I'd like to get him back."

Federer said he thought Sampras could beat the top five players on a fast surface. Sampras predicted Federer could beat his record of most Grand Slam wins "if not next year, pretty soon."

"He's a great, great player. He's got things in his game that I couldn't do," Sampras said.

On Saturday, Federer outhit Sampras early in the match. But Sampras held his own with the powerful serving and crafty volleying that helped him win seven Wimbledon titles.

The first set went on serve. In the tiebreak, Federer had set points at 6-5 and 8-7 but Sampras saved both. The American went up 9-8 on a missed return by Federer and then took the set with a forehand service return winner.

Federer ran into trouble early in the second set, falling behind 30-40 in the third game, but recovered to hold serve.

At 4-4, Federer fell behind on his serve again. A forehand error gave Sampras break point, which he converted with a forehand winner. Sampras held serve and closed out the match when Federer's backhand return sailed long.