Friday, September 14, 2007

Tennis: Federer to face Sampras in Shah Alam

World number one tennis player Roger Federer will take on his predecessor Pete Sampras in an exhibition match on Nov 22 at the Malawati Stadium in Shah Alam.The clash between the two greats is part of the inaugural Merdeka Tennis Challenge which features the exhibition match and the US$150,000 Malaysian Open.

The Malaysian Open featuring men's singles and doubles events is held at the same venue from Nov 18-25.

The exhibition match is the second time the two players will meet after their only meeting in a professional match during the fourth round of the 2001 Wimbledon Championships.
Federer then upset his former idol 7-6 (9-7), 5-7, 6-4, 6-7 (7-2), 7-5 win.

Federer also took great delight in beating Sampras at the American player's home in Los Angeles in a friendly match during his build-up to the Pacific Life Open in March.

“To play against Pete is a dream come true. The only time I ever played him in a professional match was in my first Centre Court appearance at Wimbledon in that famous match which I won 7-5 in the fifth set,” said Federer in a recorded video statement.

“I was still very young and Pete was clearly reigning at that time. I am so excited to play Pete and I am really looking forward to visiting Malaysia for the first time,” added the Swiss.

Sampras is also looking forward to playing Federer again.

“Practising with Roger in March has given me confidence as I felt that I really could hold my own,” said Sampras in a telephone interview during the press conference to announce the Merdeka Tennis Challenge in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

“It will be two players who have similar temperament playing some great tennis for the sake of history. Both of us like to let our racquets do the talking.”

Sampras also believes that Federer would be able to break his record of 14 Grand Slam titles.

Federer picked up his 10th Grand Slam by winning the Australian Open in January and would be looking to add to that number at the French Open, which starts on Sunday.

Another exhibition match is being organised during the Merdeka Tennis Challenge but the players involved will be named at a later date by the organisers First Events Promotions Sdn Bhd.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Open would feature a qualifying draw as well as a 32-player main draw. There would be no qualifying tournament for the doubles and the main draw would feature 16 pairs.

The organisers will exercise the right to offer at least one wild card entry in the men's singles qualifiers and another in the doubles for Malaysian players.

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