RHODE ISLAND - On the eve of his induction into the Hall of Fame, Pete Sampras had admitted it was the boredom of retirement which drove him back to tennis on his own terms.
The 35-year-old, who quit in 2002 after beating Andre Agassi in the US Open final, has over recent years begun dipping his toes back into the sport that he once dominated. His latest lark was the July World TeamTennis season with the Newport (California) Beach Breakers.
Sampras said after three years of improving his golf, increasing family and wondering what to do with weeks of free time, something was missing.
"I realised when I played a few exhibitions here and there that I enjoyed it, I enjoyed getting in shape. I enjoyed playing tennis again," said the man whose all-time record of 14 Grand Slam singles titles is now under serious threat from Roger Federer with 11.
"It's not a crazy schedule, I'm not playing every week, but every couple of months, I need something to look forward to, to focus on."
Sampras is due to play a series of exhibitions in November in Asia against Federer, whom he got to know in March during a few hitting sessions at the older man's Beverly Hills mansion.
"I'm playing Roger in Asia and I'm looking forward to that. Playing keeps me sharp, it keeps me in the game. It's not anything I need to kill myself over, but I still want to play well and perform well," he said. - Sapa-DPA