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Pete Sampras says he could have beaten Roger Federer

The 14-time Grand Slam champion says Federer doesn't see true serve-and-volley players and he doesn't think anyone could beat him on grass in his prime.

July 27, 2009|Mike Penner

It is a dream video-game matchup, to be sure: Pete Sampras in his prime against Roger Federer in his prime. But what if such a matchup were actually possible, and they played each other on grass?

Who would win?

Sampras casts one vote for Sampras.

"I think one thing Roger doesn't see on grass is a true serve-and-volleyer, someone that's willing to come in and put pressure on him, make him pass, return," Sampras said during a recent conference call. "With these big serves, I don't think anyone really scares him. I think my game would make Roger a little more uncomfortable. I would come in on both serves, put pressure on his backhand, and go from there.

"Do I think I could have beaten Roger in my prime? Sure. I don't think anyone could beat me in my prime on grass. I felt unbeatable in the mid-'90s. But he'd be a tough guy to break, especially when he's hitting 50 aces like he did at Wimbledon. It would have been a great matchup."

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Trivia time

What five players were in the original class of baseball's Hall of Fame, inducted in 1936?

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Special plaques*

As baseball Hall of Fame voters are asked to consider the first round of "steroid era" eligible candidates, Henry Aaron favors "special plaques" for those who get in under the cloud of suspicion.

"Do you put guys in with an asterisk behind their name and say, 'Hey, they did it but here's why,' " Aaron was quoted saying by CBS Sports.com. "To be safe, I think that's the only way you can do it. . . .

"I've played the game long enough, and you've watched it long enough, to know it is impossible for players, I don't care who they are, to hit 70-some home runs [in a season]. It just don't happen. It just does not happen."

Aaron said: "Somewhere on the plaque, or behind his name . . . say, 'Hey, 73 home runs, da da da da, he was accused of . . . ,' That's the only way you can do it."

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Rickey says Rickey needs help

In a conference call last week, Rickey Henderson admitted he enlisted the help of former player Earl Robinson in writing his Hall of Fame induction speech. Why?

Said Henderson: "Speech and me don't get along sometimes."

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Trivia answer

Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson.

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And finally

Former British Open champion Paul Lawrie, to BBC Sport, on how 59-year-old Tom Watson nearly won this year's tournament: "Golf balls don't know how old you are."

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mike.penner@latimes.com

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