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June 28, 2017

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Sampras wants to witness Federer get 14 Grand Slams

LONDON -- Pete Sampras thinks Roger Federer will overhaul his record for most career Grand Slam singles titles, despite his recent dip in form.

In fact, Sampras plans to be sitting among Federer's most vocal supporters when he does win a 15th career major — even if that requires a lengthy flight to Melbourne, Australia.

Federer has 12 Grand Slam titles, two behind Sampras' record.

If Federer won a sixth straight Wimbledon title next month and a fifth consecutive U.S. Open title in September, he would be aiming for No. 15 at the Australian Open in January.

"There is a burning desire in Roger to break my record, and when he does it I would like to be there," Sampras said. "I said to Roger, 'Just make sure it's in New York or London. Australia is a long way to go. (But) if it worked out like that, I would fly there.'

"I would just let him enjoy it as his moment but (I would want to be there) just to respect the record and what he was able to do and to just say, 'Congratulations."'

Despite Federer's heavy loss to by No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal in the French Open final, Sampras is confident the Swiss star will bounce back at the All England Club.

"He's created this monster of winning so many tournaments and so many majors and doing it with ease," Sampras said in a video news release from Sao Paulo, Brazil. "As great as Roger is, he's going to have his losses and his bad days. It's just human nature to go through some lulls."

That doesn't mean he has lost his edge, Sampras said.

"In the majors, he's still the guy that's most likely to win them," Sampras said. "He's lost a couple and, if anything, that'll do him some good. It'll get him going and fired up. He'll be just fine."

The 36-year-old Sampras was speaking from BlackRock Tour of Champions, where he makes his debut Thursday in Brazil against Thomas Muster.

But Sampras will find it hard wiping out thoughts of Wimbledon, which begins Monday, and where he captured half of his career majors.

"I think if I were to step back on that court at Wimbledon it would bring up a lot of emotion," Sampras said. "Just because of what the place meant to me and how big it was to the sport of tennis."

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