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20 May 2024

Sampras likens modern tennis to 'throwing rocks' at each other

Pete Sampras is in Melbourne to present the trophy to the men's winner of Sunday's Australian Open final. (AP)


American legend Pete Sampras on Friday lamented the lost art of serve and volley tennis and the one dimensional nature of the modern game, which he likened to “throwing rocks” at each other.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion, who is in Melbourne to present the trophy to the men's winner of Sunday's Australian Open final, was the master of serve-volley, replete with an intuitive single-handed backhand.

Sampras said tennis has changed substantially since he retired after winning the 2002 US Open.

“The game certainly has changed in the last 10 years. The serve-and-volley tennis is a lost art. No one is really doing it,” he said.

“Everyone is staying back and hitting the crap out of the ball, which is fun to watch.

“You look at Wimbledon these days. It is one-dimensional. It's just the nature of technology, maybe the nature of how everyone is growing up with technology.

“They're used to not having to volley, serve and volley. It takes time. It doesn't happen overnight.”

Sampras said in his era Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker and Goran Ivanisevic were great serve-vollyers along with him.

“Now everyone plays the same way; there's just four or five guys that are a lot better than the rest,” he said.

“Roger Federer has a little more variety, to come in, slice it, chip-and-charge occasionally, show a little bit of that.

“For the most part it's just everyone staying back and throwing rocks.”

Asked if he was still playing would he be serving and volleying, he said: “Yeah, why wouldn't I? Serve and volley on both serves. That's the only way I know how to play.

“People say it's harder to do it with the technology. But I think technology would have helped me out.

“If I used these racquets that Rafa Nadal is using, it's easier to serve, easier to volley. I could serve harder, longer. It would have been easier.

“It all evens out. But I think serve and volley tennis, it would have been just fine today. I just think you need to know how to do it.”