Strength has nowadays become the main attribute of the Tennis played throughout the world. Many have criticized this evolution over the years, arguing that this sport has thus lost its glamour and become rigid, symmetrical, and even predictable. Among the people who are familiar with the history of this sport it is known that in the ‘80s and ‘90s the pace used to be entirely different and the sophistication of the hits used to be a strong point, just like the famous game at the net.

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There was nevertheless a turning point in the evolution of tennis. Roger Federer --the young hopeful of the ATP circuit of the time-- and Pete Sampras --at that time the holder of seven trophies on the London grass court-- competed against each other in the 4th round of the 2001 Wimbledon edition. It was basically a collision between generations: old vs new, classic vs modern.

A legendary five-set match won by Roger Federer

That confrontation was a memorable landmark of the game.

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It marked the end of Sampras’ domination (he retired the following year after the triumph in the 2002 US Open) and simultaneously signaled Federer’s ascent to the ranks of the world tennis elite. Although Federer was eliminated in the following round and his first success in a Grand Slam would only happened a few years later at 2003's Wimbledon, the confrontation was without a doubt the clear expression of a generational change in tennis.

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Federer’s victory was dramatic. The recorded score 6-7 7-5 4-6 7-6 5-7 stands as clear evidence.

One thing is for sure: the classic serve and volley match could no longer be the weapon to ensure players they would win. Throughout that match Federer often lured Sampras to the net only to be able to subsequently surprise him with surgical passing-shoots in cross or with down the line hits, all of which proved to be the key of the match.

The Wimbledon grass court has two gods

Federer mentioned on countless occasions that Pete Sampras had been his idol ever since he was a child, a real role model whom he wanted to follow. And so he did. Both tennis players have won seven trophies at Wimbledon. Pete Sampras ruled the game in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000, while Roger Federer triumphed in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2012.

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Now, since Federer is 34, there are some legitimate questions one might ask: Is there perhaps room for another god at this select table? Can somebody rise to the level of the two world tennis titans?

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