Thorlos Egoscue E-cise Program for Tennis
Pete Egoscue has taught people of all ages from all walks of life how to use the Egoscue Method. Focusing on proper alignment, posture and muscle engagement, the Egoscue Method provides simple but powerful techniques to restore flexibility and function while at the same time boosting energy, revving up the immune system, even raising the body's metabolic rate.
See these great tennis warm-up and strengthening exercises!
It started with a simple phone call. This past March, on his way to Indian Wells, Roger Federer dialed up Pete Sampras, a number he no doubt obtained from their mutual management group, IMG. The two met at Sampras’ house in Beverly Hills and of course headed out to the court. Since neither is particularly what you’d call a drill-lover (particularly Sampras), they soon enough played a practice match. Though Federer impishly revealed a week later that he’d won, the spark was lit. No doubt with aid and interest from IMG, a profitable venture was created: a series of exhibitions to be held in Malaysia late in November. Closer to the U.S., they’ll also go at in New York City on March 10, 2008.
So what can we expect from these matches? How will they improve our understanding about which of these two can truly lay claim to being the greatest player in tennis history? Or in a bigger sense, why are they happening?
Click photo: Pete Sampras in an exhibition match against Sam Querrey in Tiburon, CA in September.
Let’s address these questions in reverse order. It takes any pro a while to decompress from life on the tour. Sampras told me earlier this year that after he retired he went three years without picking up a racquet. But anyone who makes a life out of a singular, passionately-pursued – sports, music, painting are three that come to mind – surely can feel the stirrings to do it again.
This isn’t the case of an accountant who cashes out and swears he’ll never look at a spreadsheet again. This is tennis, a recreational pursuit that earned Sampras millions. But this is also a man who very much loves tennis. Yes, he’s tired of the hard work, but the game itself still engages him and likely will do so like nothing he ever does in his life. And when the chance came to whack a few versus Federer, well, why not? My belief is that much of the drive for these exhibitions has come from Sampras.
Federer’s motivations are more difficult to grasp. Given that he’s still quite active on the ATP tour, why does he want to put any energy into what seems more of a diversion? What does he have to gain from competing against a man ten years his senior? Consider: Would Sampras at age 26 have wanted to do this against John McEnroe? Doubtful.
A key difference is that Federer-Sampras is marked by far more positive vibes than Sampras and his elders. The likes of McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, and other tennis notables weren’t particularly forthcoming when it came to praising Sampras. I once talked to Don Budge about Pete and within ten minutes he’d turned Sampras into a 4.0 player.
But even that tightwad Budge would likely appreciate Federer, just another member of the chorus that has gushed over the Swiss. In large part, Federer has emerged as a tennis version of the Sun King, a kindly, regal leader who helps everyone see themselves and their sport in the brightest possible light. Though Sampras was never rude, he was certainly more reticent than Federer, and at the same time the sport was engaged in so much soul-searching, naval-gazing, and nostalgic lamenting for the days of yore during Sampras’ reign that it couldn’t let itself fully appreciate his genius.
Federer has liberated tennis from its demons. Even Connors, exceptionally stingy with praise, has sung his songs. And so, Federer is approaching these matches the way he does much of his life: seemingly carefree, driven on his terms, not about to lose sleep over whether he wins or loses versus a player he highly respects – and probably deeply confident that he can lose a few points and games and still win.
Click photo: Roger Federer at Cincinnati Masters event earlier
in the year.
On to question two. If you think these matches will help cogently place Sampras and Federer in history, you are deluded. Do not confuse one-off exhibitions with the arc of each player’s 15-year-career. Nary anything from these matches will add or subtract from the Sampras or Federer legacy. I suppose the only caveat is that if Sampras wins by losing two or less games a set he’ll make me wonder. But even then, the ultimate historic evaluation is currently strictly in Federer’s hands. Sampras’ oeuvre is completed. Federer’s is still in progress.
But as far as what will happen on the court goes, at least at some level we’ll see something that has rarely been discussed: The stylistic interactive quality of Sampras versus Federer. For all the talk about how Federer is a genius, on his way to surpassing Sampras, there has been little written about how Sampras plays a game that doesn’t exist on today’s tour – an aggressive style that can force Federer to come up with many a backhand passing shot. At the same time, how will Roger fare when returning Sampras’ serve?
Seeing Sampras try to be aggressive versus Federer’s superb mix of defense and offense is eye candy. And on an indoor court (for Sampras, the faster, the better), watching Sampras press Federer promises to be as enjoyable as seeing Kareem post up against Shaq. The baseline rallies also will have their share of sparkling moments. Sampras told me that using a slightly bigger racquet has added more to his backhand, but it’ll be delightful to see how these two forehands match up. And how will Pete cover the court against Roger’s rapier drives?
Finally, let’s not recall the aging warrior that Pete was in his final years, but the springy, lively man who could patrol the court magnificently. Freed from the need to trek all over the world to play tennis, Sampras now is a happy warrior. But as with the basketball matchup, the age difference could likely prove telling. Sampras-Federer is scarcely historic – but it’s certainly engaging.
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