ibnlive » Tennis

Jul 08, 2009 at 01:24pm IST

Debate settled: Federer better than Sampras

New Delhi: World No.1 Roger Federer has already won 15 Grand Slam titles making him the most successful tennis player in Grand Slam history.

Between themselves Federer and Pete Sampras have won 13 of the last 17 Wimbledon titles.

The world hasn't seen much of the two pitted against each other. The first and the last time they met, they produced among the greatest match ever to be played on grass with Federer coming out trumps in the 2001 Wimbledon fourth round match.

LEGENDS: Wimbledon champion Roger Federer (2nd R) with ex-champs Rod Laver (R), Pete Sampras and Bjorn Borg (L).

Federer defeated his idol 7-6 (7), 5-7, 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5.

But as Federer moved past Sampras' record on July 5 and chose his favourite surface to reach the milestone, tennis pundits as well as former players have started debating - who is better?

"Roger's a friend, he's a great player, and he is a good guy. He's got 15 now; he can get 17 or 18 majors. If he just keeps it going and stays healthy, he could go to 18, 19, actually," Sampras said after Federer won his sixth Wimbledon men's singles title/

Though Federer is still one short of Sampras' seven Wimbledon titles, most believe, with age on his side and his passion and fitness still very much there it would just be a matter of time before he makes that stat his own as well.

"It's a thrill for yourself to get out there and play and you know that's the one thing that Roger has that I think is admirable for tennis. It's great that tennis has someone like Roger," Rod Laver had said before Sunday’s final about a 15th Grand Slam for Federer.

So, is Federer the greatest of all time? Is he better than Sampras on grass? It is impossible to judge and to compare eras. Sampras though heaps wholesome praise on his heir to greatness.

"He moves very well… doesn't seem to be in any hurry," said Sampras.

The case for Federer is now almost closed and even Sampras vouches for that.