Former Coach Reveals How Roger Federer and Pete Sampras Used to Handle Criticism

Published 05/03/2021, 3:30 PM EDT
2 Jul 2001: Pete Sampras of the USA congratulates Roger Federer of Switzerland following his victory during the men’s fourth round of The All England Lawn Tennis Championship at Wimbledon, London. Mandatory Credit: Clive Brunskill/ALLSPORT


Fans are quite excited after getting to know that Roger Federer will return to the court at the French Open 2021. Before that, he will be playing at the ATP Geneva Open 2021 to train himself on clay. The Swiss maestro hasn’t played a Grand Slam since January 2020 and will like to make an incredible comeback on the court.

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In a recent interview, Roger Federer’s former coach Paul Annacone revealed how Federer and Pete Sampras used to handle constructive criticism. Interestingly, Annacone has coached both the tennis legends and mentioned that they both are very open to constructive criticism.

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“I never had an issue with either one of them,” began Annacone. “I could say to Roger I know you’re thinking this but here’s why I think that doesn’t work and then, we have a discussion about it. If I went-‘Roger that’s stupid, what are you doing’- that’s a problem. You know, you just have to figure out how to go into the disagreement in a way where it isn’t personal. It’s just about facts, about what you are seeing.”

WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND: Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates victory with the trophy after the men’s singles final match against Andy Roddick of the USA on Day Thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, England. Federer won 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 16-14. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Annacone coached Federer from 2010 to 2013 in which he helped him win the Wimbledon Championships 2012. Clearly, the coach reflected that he talked to Federer in a very polite way, and he also used to listen to him like an active listener.

“I found it very easy to talk to them”- Paul Annacone on Roger Federer and Pete Sampras

Annacone also coached the 14-time Grand Slam winner Pete Sampras for seven years from 1995 to 2002. Thus, he also disclosed how the American legend used to take criticism. The coach remarked that he was just like Federer and used to listen to his advice.

Pete Sampras of the United States serves to Martin Damm during their Men’s Singles first-round match at the US Open Tennis Championship on 2 September 2000 at the USTA National Tennis Center in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens in New York, United States. (Photo by Gary M. Prior/Getty Images)

“Pete was the same way. If I said to him- ‘Look you’re going to be more successful if you learn to put pressure on people’s second serve by using your athleticism coming forward’- and he says-‘Why, I actually think that gives away too much because it’s too risky’.

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“Then, we just have a normal conversation and we debate things very pragmatically… So I found it very easy to talk to them about things that we weren’t on the same page,” added the American coach.

Fans know that both Federer and Sampras are ambassadors of the sport. However, little do they know that it is because of their good listening skills and open-mindedness on and off the court.

Roger Federer will return to the court soon, and fans really expect a lot from him. Will he able to win his 21st Grand Slam title at the French Open this year?

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Anshul Singh

1103 articles

Anshul Singh is a tennis author at EssentiallySports, currently pursuing Journalism Honors from Delhi University. Having significant experience with content, Anshul has authored over 500 tennis articles. He has previously worked as a writer and an editor for DU Express, penning riveting articles on sports, politics, and culture.

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