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Sampras insists not on the comeback trail

Written by: Staff

NEW YORK, Apr 5 (Reuters) Pete Sampras insists he is not contemplating a serious comeback and that an exhibition match scheduled for tomorrow is simply for fun.

But the 34-year-old American, who holds the record with 14 men's grand slam singles titles, said in a teleconference yesterday he knew what it would take to derail world number one Roger Federer.

''With Roger, the problem is with his competition today, I don't see anyone with a big enough weapon to hurt him,'' Sampras said ahead of his match against fellow-American Robby Ginepri in Houston.

''They're just staying back and Roger is able to move well enough and dictate well enough. With Roger you just have to beat him. You just have to serve well and attack him.'' Federer, 24, has taken charge of the men's game since Sampras retired after winning the 2002 US Open. The Swiss has won seven grand slams and has held the number one rank for more than two years.

''There's no one out there that has a big enough game, a big enough serve to really put pressure on him. I would stick to my game and hopefully that would be big enough to beat him,'' said Sampras.

The clay court match against Ginepri will be broadcast live on a Web cast carried by usta.com starting at 8:30 p.m. (EDT).

CHOPS LICKING Sampras said he had been playing a lot of golf and started to get into poker when he felt the itch to pick up a racket again.

''When you retire you want to get as far away as possible from the game for a couple of years,'' said Sampras.

Sampras said he scarcely played any tennis over the past three years before deciding around Christmas he would like to ease back into it.

''I've been hitting some balls for the past month. Hopefully I won't embarrass myself. I was ready to start doing something more than I had been doing.'' Sampras also plans to play World Team Tennis this season but said it was no way an indication that he was coming out of retirement.

''I'm just getting in shape and having some fun.'' Sampras said watching the men's game has been a little less fun for him given the trend away from serve-and-volley.

''The art of the serve-and-volley game is pretty much extinct,'' he said. ''Basically everybody stays back and trades groundies. I miss the contrast of one guy coming in and the other guy defending. I think that's the best tennis.

''You look at Wimbledon the last couple of years. The part of the court worn out is the baseline and not the net.

''If I was playing, I'd be licking my chops on grass.'' Reuters AD VP0703

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