A Tale Of Generations As McEnroe faces Sampras and Sampras meets Taylor Fritz

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Copyright © 2015. No duplication is permitted without permission from Bob Larson Tennis.

ATPChampions Tennis News

With six players who have ascended to World No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, the United States has consistently been a powerhouse of tennis talent over the years. On Wednesday at the inaugural Monterrey Open, multiple generations were on display with the past meeting the future.

John McEnroe set a blockbuster final encounter against Pete Sampras, as both players took down Swedish rivals in the semis. McEnroe downed Mats Wilander 6-3, 6-4, while Sampras edged Tomas Enqvist 7-6(2), 7-6(5), but perhaps the top storyline of the day came away from the bright lights of Stadium Court.

Throngs of fans pressed against the fence surrounding Practice Court 1 to get a glimpse of Sampras hitting with 18-year-old rising star Taylor Fritz. The pair sparred for more than 30 minutes in preparation for the 14-time Grand Slam champion’s clash against Enqvist and birthday boy Fritz’s second-round match at the concurrent ATP Challenger Tour event, also held at the Sierra Madre Tennis Club.

The reigning US Open boys’ champion, Fritz is one of a handful of promising teens from the United States, he recently put together a 17-match winning streak, including two challenger titles, and he certainly caught the attention of his fellow Californian.

“I just hit with him for 30 minutes and he’s got a great game,” Sampras told ATPChampionsTour.com. “He hits the ball big, has a monster forehand. I haven’t seen him play that much, but he’s got a few big weapons. He’s a big kid. I was just talking to him a little bit about what it takes, that is working hard and sacrificing. He’s on his way and he’s got the right attitude, willing to learn and listen. He’s got a great future.”

When asked what advice he would give a rising teenager like Fritz, Sampras joked: “Get off his phone.”

“I think it’s just working hard and putting in the time off the court and getting in great shape. You look at the game today with Djokovic and Nadal, it’s gotten so physical. These guys are so strong and he’s only 18 and it’s going to take some time. He’s on his way, but he’s got to put in the gym work and stay healthy.”

It wasn’t long ago that Sampras was the young gun on the rise and McEnroe was the wily veteran, looking to teach his countryman a lesson at the 1990 US Open – their second of three meetings at the ATP World Tour level. With his career in its infancy, Sampras would capture all three and will look to notch yet another win as the pair square off for the ATP Champions Tour’s Monterrey Open crown on Thursday evening.

“At 56 years old he still plays great and brings a lot to the table,” said Sampras. “He’s a tricky matchup. I’ve never enjoyed playing lefties. He plays at a slow pace and obviously very talented, a great player. To have two of us play tomorrow will be exciting for the fans and that’s what people want to see. I’m looking forward to it. We’ve always battled each other pretty well.”

“We only played a few times and he beat me all three times,” McEnroe added. “It turned out he was a pretty good player.”

Enqvist and Wilander will battle in an all-Swedish match to decide third place before McEnroe and Sampras vie for the championship.

Copyright © 2015. No duplication is permitted without permission from Bob Larson Tennis.