Towards the end of his career, whenever Pete Sampras was beaten by some young buck he would declare them “the future of tennis”, thereby somehow legitimising his defeat. Or so the legend goes. In fact, Pete only said this about 4 players as far as I can recall. And who were they? Marat Safin, Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick and a certain Roger Federer.<br /><br />Look at the Grand Slam finalists this year, and its the four above plus Coria and Gaudio (well the French is always a bit random). It seems Pete was onto something. Aside from Safin, who has the talent but not the application, they will be carving up the big titles for years to come. <br /><br />Hewitt will certainly bounce back from the Federer drubbing. He, and many other players, will just have to get used to the fact that if Roger is on song, no-one on the circuit can stay with him. Perhaps no-one of all time, but we can only speculate.<br /><br />What is undoubted is that Roger has lifted the game to new heights. One player every so often sets a new standard, and it is for the others to catch up. Still, Sampras had 5 slams by Roger’s age. He has a way to go to break THE record of 14, but I wouldn’t bet against it. Pete might not have predicted that.