I don't believe these matches were "fixed" in any way. Both Sampras and Federer have too much pride and integrity to fake a match. You can't hit exceptional drop volleys or compete as hard when you are "acting". You can't control the score and whoever tried this would get their ass handed to them by the other player. That said I don't think either felt the most pressure in the world. They simply went out and displayed the quality of tennis only two of the all time greats could.
The first in the Federer vs Sampras Exhibitions of 2007 was in Seoul, Korea. Federer won 6-4, 6-3. The second was in Kuala Lumpur, Malasia. Again, Federer won. This time a more tightly contested match; 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-5). The last match was in Macau, China. Sampras won 7-6 (10-8), 6-4.
In March of 2008 they met at Madison Square Garden for the Net Jets Showdown. Federer won 6-3, 6-7, 7-6.
Sampras Federer Asian Showdown was a reintroduction to the world of the Sampras vs Federer rivalry.
In Seoul, Korea they picked up where they left off in 2001 Wimbledon.
Federer vs Sampras Exhibition 2007 Seoul, Korea
To the appreciator of tennis one sees complete games competing against one another. The Sampras drop volleys. Those opportunities given to Sampras by the relentless power of his first and second serves. The very straightforward power groundstrokes of Sampras. On the same hand, one sees a game complete with all the weapons of a defensive specialist. Federer's balletic foot work allows him to jet in position. He is able to dip passing shots at Sampras' feet. He is able to hold the ball on his racquet and hit the forehand into the open court. And he is able to get virtually every ball tailing off the court Sampras hits.
In Kuala, Lumpur they seem to be STAYING BACK ? ? ? ?
I have a link to a youtube series where you can watch Federer vs Sampras Exhibition Kuala Lumpur 2007 in its entirety by watching all 9 videos. I randomly posted part 4 above. And just by watching the first point you can tell it is a completely different match than Seoul, Korea. Powerful forehands exchanged by Federer and Sampras. Each trying to one up each other. But their defense is underrated and you have the feeling of watching the flow and continuity of a clay court match. Because no matter how powerful the shots hit the other gets there and hits an even faster scorching shot. Great stuff!
And 2007 wraps up with Macau, China.
Federer vs Sampras Exhibition Macau, China 2007
Sampras' volley game was strengthened by the power and variety of his serve in this match. He never faced a break point. His serve was stronger than Federer and he won 7-6, 6-4.
March 2008 the Net Jets Showdown occurred in Madison Square Garden. This was hyped by John McEnroe and many others. Federer Sampras Exhibition Net Jets Showdown Madison Square Garden 2008
This goes back to the complete games facing each other. Like Seoul and Wimbledon both players come in a good deal. Mostly Sampras displaying his vintage move his body away from the shot to hit pristine angled volleys. And Federer hitting tremendous passing shots on the run to counter attack the Sampras serve and volley.
For a complete quality viewing of this match that is basically a tennis seminar; Please check out this dvd below.
The Netjets Showdown: Pete Sampras vs. Roger Federer
Summary: The fact that Sampras won a match puts some doubt into who is the true GOAT (Greatest of All Time). And the argument will always wage on. Fueled by facts like Sampras had a better record against the people in his era. But Federer won more Slams. Federer has a stronger backcourt game. But Sampras' serve was more powerful. They are certainly two players we can and should model our games after.