Pete Sampras took to the court at the SAP Open in San Jose last night to play an exhibition match vs. Fernando Verdasco. Verdasco beat Pete 6-3, 7-6 (2), and the 38-year-old admitted afterwards that he felt “a little old” compared to the strapping 26-year-old Spaniard. (Via Guardian) Perhaps next time Nando should play in his underwear.
This was Pete’s first exhibition since October, when he beat Andre Agassi in three sets in a Macau exhibition. It appears that the Agassi/Sampras rivalry is still going strong – and not just on the court. Shortly after the exhibition, Agassi’s controversial autobiography, Open, was unleashed on the tennis world, and Sampras – who still hasn’t read the book – wasn’t thrilled with the way he heard he was portrayed in it. After telling reporters last month that he wanted to talk “man to man” with Agassi about the book (click here for background), Pete said yesterday that they’ve worked things out. Via SF Gate:
“It was fine, no ill feelings,” Sampras said after the Verdasco match. “I know Andre likes to push the envelope, with everything he does, but with me, I thought we were above all that. He chose to be open and honest about everything, and I was a little surprised he went down that road.”
“I think it freaked out Andre that I did my thing,” Sampras said. “To me, that extreme focus was no big deal. That’s how (Bjorn) Borg, Federer, some other guys did it. That was normal to me. But Andre was amazed by it.”
“I didn’t want to offend anyone in my book (“A Champion’s Mind”),” he said. “It wasn’t about that for me. I wanted it to be something I could be proud of, something my kids could read, all about how I became a champion. It wasn’t about money, or about shocking people.“
I’m glad that Pete wasn’t above taking that subtle dig at the end. (Though I’d argue that Andre’s book also sought to entertain and engage people – two things that Sampras’s autobiography did less successfully.)
Of course, subtlety has never been Andre’s thing. Remember this gem from 1993?
“Nobody should be ranked No. 1 who looks like he just swung from a tree.”
Agassi later apologized to Sampras for that doozy – I guess old habits die hard.
Here’s one Andre quote that I’m sure Pete agrees with: “I think both of our worst nightmares would be to wake up the next morning and be the other.” – Andre on being polar opposites with Pete (2002)
Time to play another exhibition, guys! It’s always better to work things out between the lines. Speaking of, real tennis continues this week at the SAP Open, with both Roddick and Verdasco playing on Wednesday. Click here for the tournament website.
Agassi quotes via: “You can Quote Me on That” by Paul Fein.
Thanks to Judy for passing along the SF Gate article!