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Beyond the Baseline

Memory Lane: Roger Federer, Pete Sampras clash in MSG exhibition

Roger Federer and Pete Sampras Roger Federer (left) and Pete Sampras played a tight exhibition six years ago at Madison Square Garden. (Robert Caplin/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

On March 10, 2008, Roger Federer beat Pete Sampras 6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (6) in an entertaining exhibition before a capacity crowd of nearly 20,000 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The fourth exhibition match between the two stars took place when Federer had 12 Grand Slam titles, two behind Sampras' record. Federer was 26 and ranked No. 1, but he had started the year sluggishly amid his revelation that he had contracted mononucleosis. Sampras was 36, nearly six years removed from winning the last tournament he played (and won) as a tour pro, the 2002 U.S. Open.

After splitting the first two sets, Sampras showed some old magic and built a 5-2 third-set lead before Federer rallied. They played for more than two hours in front of a crowd that included Tiger Woods and Billie Jean King.

"This is maybe why so many people came out: You don't often get the No. 1 in his prime playing against maybe the greatest player of all time," Federer said.

Check out highlights from the match:

The two greats met only one time on tour, when a 19-year-old Federer upset Sampras 7-6 (7), 5-7, 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5 in the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2001. Sampras, the four-time defending champion and seven-time winner, had won 31 straight matches at Wimbledon and 56 of 57.

Videos via YouTube users Pray4RF and sai reddy.

(h/t Randy Walker)

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