World Tennis Day came to London for the first time this week, an annual event launched by the International Tennis Federation, which sees grand slam champions battle it out around the globe to help increase interest of young players in the game.
The first visit to London couldn’t have hosted a more hotly anticipated game, seeing former world number 1 player and 8-time Grand Slam champion, Andre Agassi, take on 7-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras.
Agassi and Sampras played each other 34 times during their professional careers, with Sampras winning 20 of those matches.
During the pre-match press conference at the Athenium Hotel, which was a sponsor for the event, both players who first met when they played junior tennis aged just 8 and 9 spoke highly of each other.
Agassi said of Sampras, “You could play well, play the best tennis you have ever played, yet you could still lose. He would bring out the best in me.”
Sampras similarly only had words of praise for Agassi. “His returns always made it a tough match. He hits well and is easily the best player I have ever played in my career. A special opponent.”
Images courtesy of Andrew Hillman
Sampras revealed that after he retired from the game he had no more desire to play. “I didn’t play for four years, I had no interest in the game. But then boredom set in, and I started playing a little. Though as you get older it’s not so easy on the joints.”
The match at London’s Earls Court saw Agassi take the match 6-3, 7-6.
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