Tiger Woods

Serena Williams: nice to see her again?

Another guest post from James Christie, Content Writer at Social Media Agency No Pork Pies. James takes a look at social media conversations about tennis player Serena Williams’ return to Wimbledon – the place she regards as her second home

Former Wimbledon champion Lyndsey Davenport was on television yesterday, telling BBC Wimbledon viewers that Serena Williams’ return from injury is “good for the sport”.

Serena Williams herself was interviewed at the start of the tournament, also saying that her tennis comeback is “good for the sport”.

But are these views representative of most tennis fans’ opinions – do the majority of the sport’s watchers really want to see another Wimbledon dominated by a Williams sister.

I used social media monitoring tool Brandwatch to gauge sentiment about Serena – a player who tend to rip up the form book every time the grass court season comes around.

On Monday, 20 June th (the opening day of the tournament) defending champion Serena received 1,648 mentions across social networking sites and news outlets.

A short and pithy article in The Bleacher Report compared Serena to Tiger Woods – highlighting how both have taken off a year from their sport to ‘rehab’ (nice to see this word used as a verb!)

The article also mentioned Serena’s many business interest outside the game. Could these distractions affect sentiment regarding her?

On Tuesday, it became apparent that her busy life hadn’t affected her form enough for her to lose the first round of the defence of her title.

Response to her victory, which she marked with tears of relief, resulted in 3,718 mentions. Were the tears a little melodramatic? Most Twitterers, in the immediate aftermath at least, didn’t seem to think so – there were only 38 negative mentions, the worst of which was arguably “she wears the most ridiculous tennis gear”.

Negative comments during the week studied were consistently low (like a good sliced backhand); implying that there is a very small, hardcore group of people immune to Serena’s charms!

The positive comments, in contrast, leapt up after the win (she received 71 on Monday and over 200 on Tuesday).

Cheepcheepbird’s tweet contained mixed praise: “Serena has painted her nails in Wimbledon colours, they look fab but how does she play tennis with such long talons?”

On Thursday, when Serena again came from a set down to triumph, it was clear that some people had had time to reflect on the tears she shed after her first-round win. Hdbaling tweeted: “Serena Williams you are such a diva!! Ur an athlete, not a drama queen!”

But Alex Raven’s Twitter message was more typical of most social networkers’ reaction. He said: “How can Serena play with those earrings in?”

135 years of ladies fighting for equal pay at Wimbledon and still all people want to talk about the defending champion’s nails and jewellery.

You get the feeling that Serena – with her love of fashion – won’t mind too much!

IVANOVIC’S MISTAKE: THE FRIDAY FIVE

By Maud Watson

Mixed Priorities? – By now, everyone probably knows that Andy Roddick’s wife Brooklyn Decker is appearing on the cover of the famous Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. But in case you missed it, Serb Ana Ivanovic is also being featured in the popular magazine spread. It’s easy to see why she was approached to be in the issue, but I question her decision to do it nonetheless.  This is a woman who has slipped to No. 23 in the rankings, was in tears during her second round Australian Open defeat to Gisela Dulko, and after a dismal performance this past weekend in Fed Cup, freely admitted that she’s suffering from a psychological crisis. Her lifetime contract with Adidas aside, now is the time for Ana Ivanovic to focus more on her tennis and get it back on track. If she doesn’t, then she’s going to quickly be labeled as one of those underachievers who is nothing but a flash in the pan.

Setting an Example – In a refreshing bit of news, Barclay’s conducted a survey of 1,500 individuals and found that tennis stars Roger Federer and Steffi Graf were named top male and female sports role models. Given that it’s one of the cleanest sports, and the fact that golf has recently been rocked by the Tiger Woods scandal, it wasn’t entirely shocking that tennis should score so high. Hopefully tennis’ growing reputation as a model sport for young children and adults everywhere will further help grow viewership and participation around the globe.

Suffering Safina – It was announced earlier this week that former world No. 1 Dinara Safina had to pull out of the Dubai tournament due to her lingering back problem. She hopes to be able to compete in the upcoming Indian Wells tournament. I personally have my fingers crossed for the industrious Russian. I firmly believe she has the game to win a Grand Slam title, but this lingering back injury could very well be a sign that this is the beginning of the end of her tortured career.

Thai Sighting – For all of you Paradorn Srichaphan “Sricha-fans” out there who’ve been wondering what Thailand’s favorite native son has been up to, he’s been preparing to star in an upcoming Thai action film.  Just a week after Leander Paes announced he was going to be starring in a psychological thriller, Paradorn announced that he would be the feature star in the upcoming film Beng Rjan II. Paradorn has been sidelined from tennis with a wrist injury since 2007, and odds appear slim he’ll ever make it back onto the tour. With any luck, this movie gig will work out and he’ll have a second career on the big screen.

The Enigma is Back – I’ll be the first to admit that aside from thrilled, I was more surprised to read that Russian Marat Safin is planning to play the Champion Series event in Rio this coming March.  Given Safin’s attitude towards tennis as primarily a business, I never really expected him to play another competitive match again, and certainly not so soon after his November retirement. One thing is for certain, however.  Given the more laid back and jovial atmosphere that exists on the Senior Tour, you can bet that the affable Safin is going to be bringing plenty of laughter to the tennis court and delighting fans around the world once again.

Davenport Defends Tiger’s Wife

Former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport is defending Elin Nordegren Woods, the wife of Tiger Woods, in lieu of accusations that she was too aggressive with an alleged attack on her husband after allegations of martial affairs surfaced late last month.

Davenport, the 1998 US Open and 1996 Olympic gold medalist and friends with the couple told Entertainment Tonight that Mrs. Woods was “very loving, very loyal” and “level-headed.” Says Davenport to ET, “The insinuation that [Elin] would be aggressive or attacking is just preposterous. … She always handles herself with class.”

Nordegren was mimicked for her alleged attack on Woods, that sent the golfing legend to the hospital, Saturday night during the popular American television show Saturday Night Live.

Says Davenport of the now shaky Woods marriage, “Anyone’s wish when they get married is to make it work, and we’ll see if they can do that.”

Davenport, who is currently not active on the WTA Tour, is married to Jon Leach, the younger brother of ATP doubles legend Rick Leach. Like Tiger and Elin, the couple have a baby boy and girl, son Jagger, born June 10, 2007 and daughter Lauren, born June 27, 2009

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal was asked of his opinion of the Woods controversy last weekend at the Davis Cup final in Barcelona and said to the inquiring reporter, “I am surprised you talk about that. We aren’t nobody to talk about his privacy life, no? He don’t have to say, explain to nobody about what he’s doing in his private life. That’s my think(ing). I think he’s a big champion and we have to respect his private life.”

Murray Dumped Over Playstation?

While Tiger Woods is having relationship problems due to spending intimate time with other women, British tennis ace Andy Murray problem’s lie with too much time playing video games.

The Telegraph in the United Kingdom is reporting that Murray’s split with girlfriend Kim Sears was partially due to too much time playing Playstation. Writes the Telegraph, “Sources close to Sears said one of the causes [of the breakup] was the world number four’s long hours playing video tennis and PlayStation 3 games such as the best selling Call of Duty sequel. Brad Gilbert, Murray’s former coach, has said in the past that Murray spends “seven hours a day” playing video games.”

The U.K’s tabloid newspaper The Sun quoted another source saying, “He would spend all his time glued to them (video games). In the end she just got fed up with it. She wanted more out of the relationship.”

14 Majors For Federer, Sampras and…Woods

Roger Federer won his 14th career major championship at the 2009 French Open, which not only tied him with one Pete Sampras, but another “rival” in professional sports, Tiger Woods. Ironically, on the same day that Federer won at Roland Garros, Woods won his 67th career PGA Tour event at The Memorial as he heads into the home stretch to try and win his 15th career major golf title at the US Open at Bethpage Black in New York. The following excerpt from the book THE ROGER FEDERER STORY: QUEST FOR PERFECTION by Rene Stauffer (www.RogerFedererBook.com, $24.95, New Chapter Press) details Federer’s relationship with both Sampras and Woods.

When Tiger Woods achieved the “Tiger Slam” in 2000 and 2001-winning all four of golf’s major championships in a row-Roger Federer was not yet 20 years old. The way that Woods dominated golf and reignited interest in the sport certainly caught the attention of the young Federer. However, he never thought that he would ever be compared to someone as dominant as Woods. “His story is completely different from mine,” he said in the spring of 2006. “Even as a kid his goal was to break the record for winning the most majors. I was just dreaming of just once meeting Boris Becker or being able to play at Wimbledon some time.”

Despite their different developments and the differences between their sports, the commonalities between Woods and Federer became unmistakable through the years. Like the four-time Masters champion, Federer is in full pursuit of sports history. While Woods is pursuing Jack Nicklaus and his 18 major championships, Federer is chasing Pete Sampras and his 14 Grand Slam singles titles. Both Woods and Federer are amazing because of their mental resilience, which is evident from the fact that they manage to make the most terrific shots under the greatest of difficulties.

Unlike his parents, Roger Federer is not a passionate golfer, but he follows Woods’ career with great interest. “It would be interesting to meet him and to see what he’s like in person,” Federer said in Key Biscayne in 2006.

Both Federer and Woods are clients of the International Management Group (IMG) and Federer’s agent, Tony Godsick, is friends with Mark Steinberg, the agent of Woods. In the summer of 2006, Federer asked Godsick if he could arrange a meeting with Woods. “The next thing I heard was that Woods would be delighted to come to the US Open final,” Federer recollected. “At that time the tournament hadn’t even started. I would have preferred meeting him in a more relaxed atmosphere than on the day of the US Open final-and I still had to get there first.”

The public had no idea that a spectacular meeting was in the making behind the scenes at the US Open. After Federer defeated the Russian Nikolay Davydenko in the semifinals, he was informed that Woods was going to make good on his promise. He flew to New York from Florida on his private jet with his wife, Elin, to watch the US Open final in person. To everyone’s surprise, Woods took a seat in Federer’s guest box-which was quite noteworthy given the fact that Federer faced an American, Andy Roddick, in the final. “The fact that Tiger was sitting there put me under extra pressure,” Federer later admitted. “It was just like when I was younger when my parents or Marc Rosset watched me play in person. You want to play especially well.”

Woods’ timing was perfect. He watched and cheered as Federer won his third straight US Open title, defeating the resurgent Roddick 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1. For the third year in a row, Federer won both Wimbledon and the US Open-a record that he didn’t have to share with anyone.

While Federer briefly met Woods before the final, the two spent well over an hour together in the locker room following the match, drinking Champagne and gazing at the US Open trophy that Federer just won. Woods even talked on the phone to Federer’s parents who were at home in bed as it was nearly three in the morning in Switzerland.

“I was impressed by how much we had in common,” Federer explained when Woods was on his way back to Florida. “He knew exactly what I was going through and I see what he has to go through. I’ve never spoken with anybody who was so familiar with the feeling of being invincible.”

“It was terrific for me to see him go into my player’s box, shake his fist, and enjoy himself,” he recollected a few weeks later. “He was the loudest one in my box. I was surprised how loose he was about it. He was happy as a kid to be able to watch the final. I think we’ll do things together more often.”

The appearance of Woods at the 2006 US Open final sparked more comparisons-and debates-between the two “athletes of the century” as to who was greater and more dominant. With all due respect to Woods, James Blake came out in favor of Federer. “In tennis, it’s a tournament where you have one bad day and you’re out,” said Blake. “That’s what we do every single week. Roger is winning every Grand Slam except for the French, winning every Masters Series tournament. That means he can’t have one bad day-that’s incredible. Not to mention he has to be out here for four hours running as opposed to walking while carrying one club-again not taking anything away from golf. Tiger’s proven himself every Sunday every time he has a lead. But look at Roger’s record in Grand Slam finals, too. In Grand Slam finals, he’s 8-1. That’s unheard of.”

The Woods camp and golf fans pointed out that the American, in contrast to Federer, already won all four major tournaments in his sport and instead of only having to defeat seven opponents at the biggest tournaments, Woods had to fight off around 150 contenders. Tennis aficionados emphasized that Grand Slam tournaments lasted two weeks and not just four days and that in tennis, having an off day is enough to get knocked out whereas in golf, players could always save the day in such a situation.

Still others highlighted the commonalities between the two. “Despite their total dominance, Tiger Woods and Roger Federer show a modest self-discipline that would have impressed the most chivalrous medieval knight,” The Daily Telegraph of Britain wrote. The Calgary Sun stated unequivocally which of the two super athletes it favored-“(Federer) is infinitely more human than Tiger Woods, more precise, more likable, more honest, less robotic, seemingly enjoying his place as a tennis player for the ages.” The Daily News of Los Angeles, by contrast, questioned all of these comparisons. “You say the Swiss dude is definitely the greatest tennis player of all time? Good, then we can switch back to the Bengals-Chiefs. Equating Roger Federer to Tiger Woods isn’t a backhanded compliment, it’s a forehanded insult. An athlete of Federer’s all-around refinement deserves better than to be defined in terms of another athlete.”

After his US Open victory, Federer returned home to Switzerland when he received a surprise phone call. Pete Sampras, whose legacy and records were now one of Federer’s biggest rivals, called to offer congratulations. “He had already text messaged me three days ago and now he was calling me to congratulate me personally,” said Federer shortly after the US Open. “He asked if I had gotten the message. I said I was just about to reply. It was almost embarrassing. Perhaps I should have replied quicker.” Sampras told Federer how much he liked to watch him play and emphasized that he now was more clearly dominant than he was during his prime. “To hear something like this from him was incredible,” Federer said. “It’s never happened to me before that my earlier idol called me to compliment me.”

Sampras and Federer continued their text message relationship, with Sampras offering more good wishes over the following few months. Before the tournament in Indian Wells in March of 2007, Federer then took the initiative and called Sampras, who meanwhile announced he was returning to competitive tennis on the Champions circuit run by his contemporary Jim Courier. Federer asked Sampras if he would like to hit some balls and train together. “I wanted to see how well he could still play because, after all, he was one of my favorite players growing up,” Federer explained. With a wink in his eye and devilish grin, he then said, “beating him in his backyard in Wimbledon was so special to me, so I wanted to try and beat him in his house.”

Federer and Sampras only played once during their careers-the memorable round of 16 match at Wimbledon in 2001. Late in Pete’s career, the two had one brief practice session together in Hamburg. “It started to rain,” Federer recollected. “I was so disappointed, but he was happy to get off.”

After their training session together in Los Angeles in the spring of 2007, Federer expressed his surprise at how well Sampras could still keep up during their practice session. “We played some great sets and tie-breaks. I’m glad to see that he’s actually still enjoying tennis.” The scores of these practice matches? “They’re secret,” Federer said. “Surprisingly, he was very good, but not good enough to beat me!”

Federer found that he and Sampras shared many commonalities and could talk in great detail of their respective lives and pressures on the tour, as well as common experiences, experiences at particular tournaments and even about players who they both played against. With Woods, this was not the case. “Pete and I played the same tournaments and even played against the same opponents,” Federer said. “I have much more in common with Pete than I have with Tiger off court.”

“When I was new on the tour, I hardly ever spoke to Pete,” he continued. “First of all, he was never around at the courts, and when he would come into the locker room, everything was quiet because he was respected so much by all the other players.” Several years later, Federer finally got a chance to find out what made Sampras so unique and what brought him so close to perfection.

On This Day In Tennis History

Today, March 10, is a big day in tennis history for Hall of Famer Jim Courier, who, as excerpted from my book “ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY” ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.newchapterpressmedia.com), won one of the first major titles of his career back in 1991 in Indian Wells, Calif. (the current day BNP Paribas Open). Also, back in 2006, Courier’s brainchild – the Outback Champions Series tennis circuit – debuted in Naples, Fla. Courier will be in Brazil later this week to compete in the Rio Champions Cup, the second of eight events on the 2009 Outback Champions Series. The full book excerpt is below.

2008 – A sell-out crowd of 19,690 that includes golf legend Tiger Woods pack Madison Square Garden in New York City for the NetJets Showdown exhibition match between Roger Federer and Pete Sampras. Federer, an owner of 12 major singles titles, edges 14-time major singles titlist Sampras in a third-set tie-breaker 6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (6) in the sometimes competitive celebration of tennis. Says Sampras, “It was a great night for tennis.” Writes the Associated Press of the match, “There were moments when, if you squinted a bit, you would have sworn that was the Sampras of old, rather than an old Sampras. There were moments when, if you listened to the whip of the racket through the air, you would have been absolutely sure Federer was giving it his all. And then there were moments when, as you watched Sampras throw his racket to the ground in mock disgust or saw Federer raise an index finger to celebrate four aces in a single game, it didn’t really matter whether this match counted or not.” Says Federer after the match, “I don’t think winning or losing was really the issue tonight. I think we both tried to do our best and have a fun night, and that’s what it turned out to be.”

1991 – Twenty-year-old Jim Courier, ranked No. 26 in the world, wins his second career singles title, defeating No. 5 ranked Guy Forget 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) to win the Newsweek Champions Cup in Indian Wells, Calif. “To win it – and it sounds like a cliché – but it’s a big honor for me,” says Courier.

2006 – The “champions” tennis circuit returns to the United States for the first time since 2001 as the Outback Champions Series begins in Naples, Fla., as Mats Wilander defeats Aaron Krickstein 2-6, 6-2, 10-2 in the opening round robin match of the series. Tour co-founder Jim Courier defeats Mikael Pernfors 6-2, 6-2 and, in the final match of the day, Pat Cash surprises John McEnroe 2-6, 7-6(5), 10-6 in the Champions Tie-break.

1971 – No. 1 seed Rod Laver is upset by Mark Cox of Great Britain 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 in the third round of the Australian Open in Sydney. No. 3 seed and fellow Australian John Newcombe is also upset, losing to Marty Riessen 7-6, 1-6, 7-6, 7-6.

1996 – In her second tournament in her second comeback attempt in professional tennis, Jennifer Capriati routs Shi-Ting Wang of Chinese Taipei 6-0, 6-0 in 43 minutes in the second round of the State Farm Evert Cup in Indian Wells, Calif.

Tiger Woods, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer

The following excerpt from THE ROGER FEDERER STORY, QUEST FOR PERFECTION (www.rogerfedererbook.com) by Rene Stauffer discusses the relationship between Federer and Tiger Woods and Roger Federer.

When Tiger Woods achieved the “Tiger Slam” in 2000 and 2001—winning all four of golf’s major championships in a row—Roger Federer was not yet 20 years old. The way that Woods dominated golf and reignited interest in the sport certainly caught the attention of the young Federer. However, he never thought that he would ever be compared to someone as dominant as Woods. “His story is completely different from mine,” he said in the spring of 2006. “Even as a kid his goal was to break the record for winning the most majors. I was just dreaming of just once meeting Boris Becker or being able to play at Wimbledon some time.”

Despite their different developments and the differences between their sports, the commonalities between Woods and Federer became unmistakable through the years. Like the four-time Masters champion, Federer is in full pursuit of sports history. While Woods is pursuing Jack Nicklaus and his 18 major championships, Federer is chasing Pete Sampras and his 14 Grand Slam singles titles. Both Woods and Federer are amazing because of their mental resilience, which is evident from the fact that they manage to make the most terrific shots under the greatest of difficulties.

Unlike his parents, Roger Federer is not a passionate golfer, but he follows Woods’ career with great interest. “It would be interesting to meet him and to see what he’s like in person,” Federer said in Key Biscayne in 2006.

Both Federer and Woods are clients of the International Management Group (IMG) and Federer’s agent, Tony Godsick, is friends with Mark Steinberg, the agent of Woods. In the summer of 2006, Federer asked Godsick if he could arrange a meeting with Woods. “The next thing I heard was that Woods would be delighted to come to the US Open final,” Federer recollected. “At that time the tournament hadn’t even started. I would have preferred meeting him in a more relaxed atmosphere than on the day of the US Open final—and I still had to get there first.”

The public had no idea that a spectacular meeting was in the making behind the scenes at the US Open. After Federer defeated the Russian Nikolay Davydenko in the semifinals, he was informed that Woods was going to make good on his promise. He flew to New York from Florida on his private jet with his wife, Elin, to watch the US Open final in person. To everyone’s surprise, Woods took a seat in Federer’s guest box—which was quite noteworthy given the fact that Federer faced an American, Andy Roddick, in the final. “The fact that Tiger was sitting there put me under extra pressure,” Federer later admitted. “It was just like when I was younger when my parents or Marc Rosset watched me play in person. You want to play especially well.”

Woods’ timing was perfect. He watched and cheered as Federer won his third straight US Open title, defeating the resurgent Roddick 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1. For the third year in a row, Federer won both Wimbledon and the US Open—a record that he didn’t have to share with anyone.

While Federer briefly met Woods before the final, the two spent well over an hour together in the locker room following the match, drinking Champagne and gazing at the US Open trophy that Federer just won. Woods even talked on the phone to Federer’s parents who were at home in bed as it was nearly three in the morning in Switzerland.

“I was impressed by how much we had in common,” Federer explained when Woods was on his way back to Florida. “He knew exactly what I was going through and I see what he has to go through. I’ve never spoken with anybody who was so familiar with the feeling of being invincible.”

“It was terrific for me to see him go into my player’s box, shake his fist, and enjoy himself,” he recollected a few weeks later. “He was the loudest one in my box. I was surprised how loose he was about it. He was happy as a kid to be able to watch the final. I think we’ll do things together more often.”

The appearance of Woods at the 2006 US Open final sparked more comparisons—and debates—between the two “athletes of the century” as to who was greater and more dominant. With all due respect to Woods, James Blake came out in favor of Federer. “In tennis, it’s a tournament where you have one bad day and you’re out,” said Blake. “That’s what we do every single week. Roger is winning every Grand Slam except for the French, winning every Masters Series tournament. That means he can’t have one bad day—that’s incredible. Not to mention he has to be out here for four hours running as opposed to walking while carrying one club—again not taking anything away from golf. Tiger’s proven himself every Sunday every time he has a lead. But look at Roger’s record in Grand Slam finals, too. In Grand Slam finals, he’s 8-1. That’s unheard of.”

The Woods camp and golf fans pointed out that the American, in contrast to Federer, already won all four major tournaments in his sport and instead of only having to defeat seven opponents at the biggest tournaments, Woods had to fight off around 150 contenders. Tennis aficionados emphasized that Grand Slam tournaments lasted two weeks and not just four days and that in tennis, having an off day is enough to get knocked out whereas in golf, players could always save the day in such a situation.

Still others highlighted the commonalities between the two. “Despite their total dominance, Tiger Woods and Roger Federer show a modest self-discipline that would have impressed the most chivalrous medieval knight,” The Daily Telegraph of Britain wrote. The Calgary Sun stated unequivocally which of the two super athletes it favored—“(Federer) is infinitely more human than Tiger Woods, more precise, more likable, more honest, less robotic, seemingly enjoying his place as a tennis player for the ages.” The Daily News of Los Angeles, by contrast, questioned all of these comparisons. “You say the Swiss dude is definitely the greatest tennis player of all time? Good, then we can switch back to the Bengals-Chiefs. Equating Roger Federer to Tiger Woods isn’t a backhanded compliment, it’s a forehanded insult. An athlete of Federer’s all-around refinement deserves better than to be defined in terms of another athlete.”

After his US Open victory, Federer returned home to Switzerland when he received a surprise phone call. Pete Sampras, whose legacy and records were now one of Federer’s biggest rivals, called to offer congratulations. “He had already text messaged me three days ago and now he was calling me to congratulate me personally,” said Federer shortly after the US Open. “He asked if I had gotten the message. I said I was just about to reply. It was almost embarrassing. Perhaps I should have replied quicker.” Sampras told Federer how much he liked to watch him play and emphasized that he now was more clearly dominant than he was during his prime. “To hear something like this from him was incredible,” Federer said. “It’s never happened to me before that my earlier idol called me to compliment me.”

Sampras and Federer continued their text message relationship, with Sampras offering more good wishes over the following few months. Before the tournament in Indian Wells in March of 2007, Federer then took the initiative and called Sampras, who meanwhile announced he was returning to competitive tennis on the Champions circuit run by his contemporary Jim Courier. Federer asked Sampras if he would like to hit some balls and train together. “I wanted to see how well he could still play because, after all, he was one of my favorite players growing up,” Federer explained. With a wink in his eye and devilish grin, he then said, “beating him in his backyard in Wimbledon was so special to me, so I wanted to try and beat him in his house.”

Federer and Sampras only played once during their careers—the memorable round of 16 match at Wimbledon in 2001. Late in Pete’s career, the two had one brief practice session together in Hamburg. “It started to rain,” Federer recollected. “I was so disappointed, but he was happy to get off.”

After their training session together in Los Angeles in the spring of 2007, Federer expressed his surprise at how well Sampras could still keep up during their practice session. “We played some great sets and tie-breaks. I’m glad to see that he’s actually still enjoying tennis.” The scores of these practice matches? “They’re secret,” Federer said. “Surprisingly, he was very good, but not good enough to beat me!”

Federer found that he and Sampras shared many commonalities and could talk in great detail of their respective lives and pressures on the tour, as well as common experiences, experiences at particular tournaments and even about players who they both played against. With Woods, this was not the case. “Pete and I played the same tournaments and even played against the same opponents,” Federer said. “I have much more in common with Pete than I have with Tiger off court.”

“When I was new on the tour, I hardly ever spoke to Pete,” he continued. “First of all, he was never around at the courts, and when he would come into the locker room, everything was quiet because he was respected so much by all the other players.” Several years later, Federer finally got a chance to find out what made Sampras so unique and what brought him so close to perfection.