© Ella Ling


Sampras exclusive - Tsonga and Raonic the big threats


If anyone knows how to get the job done at Wimbledon it’s Pete Sampras, the seven-times champion who lost just once at the All England Club between 1993 and 2000. The top four – Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, may have separated themselves from the pack but the American believes there are a few players who could upset the odds this year.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga almost took out Novak Djokovic in Paris and has a good Wimbledon record. Is he the biggest threat?
I think  he has the tools. He can get very hot. Beating Roger (Federer) at Wimbledon was a great achievement. I just think in order to win a major, to stay in the top five or six, he needs to be more consistent. Mentally you can’t take a five-minute break against the top guys. Tsonga is close – it’s a little like Novak was a few years ago, you lose your concentration or you go off for a minute and you lose a set against (the top guys), that’s the way it goes. I think Tsonga’s shown glimpses of greatness. I look at him as talented.

You like the game of Milos Raonic a lot, we understand?
He’s progressing out there very nicely. I’d be surprised if he wasn’t in the top 10 by the end of the year. I think he’s got a huge game, big serve, moves well, competes hard and is just getting more experience, more matches under his belt. That serve – I played an exhibition with him – up in Canada and I was just “wow”, this is a major weapon in the sport. He is really is a dark horse for Wimbledon and the US Open. It helps being 6ft 6 and having that racket-head speed. He generates a lot of kick, a lot of movement and he has confidence in it. He certainly has the guts to swing hard and go for that second serve and it’s a monster weapon in the game. He is not a player that people want to see in their side of the draw. If he’s serving well, he’ll be dangerous.

I think he’s willing to go for it and he has a good technically sound serve. It’s not going to break down under pressure, his body will take over his mind. The thing I like about Milos, he’s willing to come in a little bit, serve and volley at times and back it up a bit. It’s one thing having a big serve but it’s another being willing to be a bit aggressive with it, even in today’s game where everyone stays back. Nice kid and great attitude.

John Isner has a massive serve but a poor Wimbledon record. Is he a real threat?
I think so. (But) to win a major you’re going to have to get a little dirty, you’re going to have to fight hard. I know John’s getting a little more comfortable out there but to win a major it’s very, it takes a certain attitude, the nerves, getting tired. I think John’s getting closer and he’s very capable of having a big upset. He is believing in himself a little more. Obviously he has a huge serve and he’ll be in every match because of that. I just think over the course of two weeks and seven matches, just being able to get a little dirty out there…but he’s showing signs of it.