x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Father Federer is still world force

Children or not, Roger Federer was likely to continue being a force in the world of tennis, according to Pete Sampras.

Children or not, Roger Federer was likely to continue being a force in the world of tennis, according to Pete Sampras. The world No 1 became a father for the first time when his wife Mirka gave birth to daughters Charlene Riva and Myla Rose in Switzerland on Thursday. Many suggested having a family could take Federer's focus away from his playing career.

But the Swiss player's friend and idol, Sampras - himself a father before he retired - said fatherhood would not be a deterrent for someone like Federer who was cut from a different cloth. "I don't see Roger changing diapers at four in the morning," Sampras, 37, said with a broad grin on Monday, the first day of the LA Open. "I don't think it will affect his career. "It's a life-changer for him but he is focused on his tennis and he's got the help from his wife and his parents and whoever else," added the American, who is a father of two boys.

Federer became a father 23 days after beating American Andy Roddick in a gripping five-set final at Wimbledon, clinching a 15th grand slam title to break the record held by Sampras. Asked if he had any regrets about ending his career at 32 with 14 grand slams, Sampras replied: "I was happy when I stopped. "It was more than a number for me. I wanted [Roy] Emerson's record, I got it. I wanted to win one more, and I did. And then I won the US Open [in 2002] and I was cooked.

"Emotionally I was spent. I didn't have much left in the tank. When I was done, I felt I had put up some numbers that nobody would touch," he added. "Little did I know that Roger was going to come along and surpass me in eight years. He saw 14 as his goal and now he has 15 and he's going to go on and win some more." Meanwhile, Maria Sharapova shook off the rust to beat Japan's Ai Sugiyama 6-4, 6-7 (6-8), 6-1 in the first round of the Stanford Classic on Monday.

Fellow Russian Elena Dementieva joined her in the second round after beating Britain's Anne Keothavong 6-1, 6-4. On the comeback trail after shoulder surgery last year, the three-time grand slam champion Sharapova conceded she needed more matches to get her form back. "I had so many chances to close out the match and I didn't," Sharapova, world No 62, said. "I couldn't raise my level when had to."

* With agencies