Two-time Grand Slam winner Marat Safin of Russia, who has entered politics, has all chances to become the president in the next 20 years, former world No.1 and American tennis player Pete Sampras has said.
A former world No.1, the 31-year-old Safin defeated Sampras at the 2000 US Open. Safin is running for the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, as a member of the ruling United Russia party from the Nizhny Novgorod region.
"Marat is very intelligent, articulate and well-spoken so I think it's great that he's getting involved in government in his homeland," Sampras was quoted as saying on the Tennis.com website.
Considered one of Russia's most eligible bachelors, Safin retired as a professional tennis player in November 2009.
"I think he'll do a great job. He's good with people and people like him, and that's half the battle with being a politician. He's very young and it's nice to see that he's got this passion in him."
"In 20 years, Marat will be the president of Russia! Trust me, this guy is going to go a long way. The guy is an international star and the future president," Sampras said.
Safin is not the first Russian athlete to take up politics. The United Russia, led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, already includes prominent sports figures as Olympic champion in figure skating Anton Sikharulidze, Olympic gold winner in gymnastics Alina Kabayeva, Olympic medal winning speed skater Svetlana Zhurova, and world champion boxer Nikolai Valuyev.