Sampras exclusively tells The Tennis Space that if Novak Djokovic wins the French Open, to hold all four grand slam titles, it would be “one of the greatest achievements in the history of the sport”. Sampras, who won 14 majors, and was the world No 1 for a record 286 weeks, argues that it would not matter that it would not be a calendar grand slam: “To have four in a row would be incredible and Novak’s very capable of doing it.”
Sampras on how Djokovic “turned the corner” and how “he goes out there with a lot of passion to play for his country”. “It would be an impressive run of victories if he wins in Paris. He really has turned the corner over the last 18 months. I’ve always thought Novak had incredible potential, I just felt mentally he was a bit up and down.
“Now he’s mentally a much stronger competitor. He loves his country and I feel like he’s sort of playing for his country. He goes out there with a lot of passion, he’s had a great run, and if he wins in Paris, that’s four in a row, all the majors under his belt, he could very well do it, he’s obviously one of the favourites and it would be one of the greatest achievements in the sport. Just an incredible player. We would have three players who have won all the majors in one generation. That’s pretty impressive.”
Sampras on whether it matters that it would not be a calendar grand slam. “I don’t think it really matters. I just think technically in the record book, it is all in one year like Laver did, if you want to make it a black and white situation, but I think it’s one of the best achievements in all of sports to win four in a row. If it’s not in a calendar year I don’t look at it as being different to do.
“I came three in a row into Paris, you’re winning on all surfaces, beating the best players in the world, you’re playing great at the right times, getting breaks on your side, everything sort of falls into place. Every slam is different. To have four in a row would be incredible for Novak and it really would be one of the best achievements in the sport. He’s very capable of doing it.”
Later this week on The Tennis Space: Sampras talks about the mental dynamic of Roger Federer’s matches with Rafael Nadal, how Federer can get down on himself “and dig himself a bit of a hole” and how Nadal is still the favourite in Paris.