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Rafa could be greatest ever, says Sampras

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 15:25

Fourteen-time Grand Slam champion Pete Sampras has said Rafael Nadal is more than capable of overtaking his tally of 14 major titles.

For years all the talk has been of Roger Federer overtaking Sampras as owner of the most mens Grand Slam singles titles, but after recent events in Melbourne Sampras says maybe Rafa will be the greatest ever one day.

‘Its affecting [Federer] a lot more than I thought. Its hitting home’ – Sampras

You have to look at Nadal now as someone who can win as many majors as anyone, said Sampras after a recent exhibition against German Tommy Haas. Six majors at 22. You do the math. Hes going to be right there.

And according to Sampras theres more bad news for Federer, who the American says has allowed Nadal to get inside his head.

Its not like he’s getting killed by the kid, said Sampras, but its just not happening. Mentally, I think hes in his head. I think we all know that.

Id try to come in a little bit more, said Sampras when quizzed about how Federer can get the better of the Mallorcan. Rafa stays so far back. As soon as Rafa gets one ball to [Federers] backhand, hes controlling the point.

Sampras also spoke about his surprise at Federers reaction on the Rod Laver Arena podium when he broke down in tears during the acceptance speeches.

He was really hurt in some way, said Sampras. Ive been emotional on the court for different reasons, but after a loss you sort of keep it together. I felt for him at the time. Hes frustrated and wants it so bad. To be at that breaking point its affecting him a lot more than I thought. Its hitting home.

It kinda caught me off guard when it happened but it shows me how much he cares, how much he wants it. Hell be fine. Hell recover.

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