The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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US looking to Roddick
- The 20-year old is like to be crowd favourite after Sampers

London: Itís as if Pete Sampras finally trusts Andy Roddick enough to hand on the torch of menís American tennis.

Samprasí decision to retire officially on the opening day of the US Open on Monday ends one of the greatest careers in tennis.

Thirteen days later, if all goes according to the organisersí plans, another American will be on court to receive the fansí adulation after the menís singles final.

That man could be Andre Agassi but, on form alone, it is much more likely to be the 20-year-old Roddick.

For a dozen years, Sampras dominated menís tennis. All 14 of Samprasí Grand Slam crowns were won with the minimum of fuss as though they were his by right.

He won his last Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows in 2002 but waited 12 months before finally telling the tennis world what it already knew ó that he would play no more. This year Sampras has watched Roddick win five titles and climb to the top of the Champions Race.

Compared with Sampras, Roddick is a very different beast, a man much more from the Andre Agassi mould.

But, like the other two, the boy can certainly play.

Where Sampras was deadly stealth and concentration, Roddick is an explosion of razzmatazz and aggression.

Donning multi-coloured outfits and spiked-up, gelled hair, he throws himself into every shot ó not least his service which, at 149 miles (239.8 km) per hour, is the joint-fastest on record.

There are many who believe the swaggering 20-year-old stands on the verge of greatness. ďItís the attitude... itís the charisma... itís the personality,Ē Boris Becker said earlier this month when describing what it takes to become a great. ďAndy Roddick has all those ingredients.Ē

Roddickís new coach Brad Gilbert, the man who guided Andre Agassi to Grand Slam glory, is in no doubt.

ďI donít want to say Ďok, he has to win eight or 10 Grand Slams to become the next great playerí... I donít want to put pressure on him. But eight years from now he will have done some amazing things. Heís got an unbelievable opportunity to become an amazing player.Ē

A turning point in his career came at the US Open last year when lost to Sampras in the quarter finals. He had been taught a lesson by the master. ďI watched what I should be doing on all the big points. I think Iíll have my moment here some day.Ē

Not many would now disagree.

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