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View Full Version : Did Agassi's return of serve hold him back?


Mr Topspin
07-19-2007, 08:15 AM
I know it may seem strange bearing in mind that he is regarded as one of the best baseliners and possessing one of the best returns of serve of all time.
But when I look at Agassi's matches with Sampras I think that if he had varied his return of serve he could have had far more success over Pete than just trying to hit outright winners all the time.

If you compare the return of serve style of Hewitt for example, you will see that he had far more success in dealing with the Pete serve than Andre ever did. Hewitt relied on quantity of returns and getting them low and forcing Pete to hit more volleys, whilst Agassi wanted to hit the clean winner time and again. I think Agasssi's strategy was, when Pete was on, futile. Pete always had the advantage as a server and since Agassi gave so much pace to the return Pete could usually punch some of the volleys a away for a winner as he was used to the pace of Agassi's return.

Another example of varying the return was shown by Federer in his upset win over Sampras in the 4th round of Wimbledon. In that match Federer gave Sampras nightmares with bunted returns, low returns, topspin, drives etc.

Sampras was virtually in trouble in 70% of his service games due to the amount of variety that Federer provided and had to face over 14 bp's.

I firmly believe that if Agassi had added variety to his return style especially against Sampras ala Hewitt or Federer by slicing some returns or forcing Sampras to volley up alot more than he did he would have had more success over Sampras and over other heavy servers.

Any thoughts?

A.T.S.
07-19-2007, 08:30 AM
I don't think so. I loved his return of serve. Took it early but I don't think he always wanted to hit winners I just think he wanted to hit it to the open court. If he got a winner then great but I don't think he was expecting a winner everytime. I agree he could have adjusted and changed up the returns a few times but he was and is still one of the greatest.

TennisParent
07-19-2007, 08:38 AM
Let's not forget that Fed and Hewitt's encounters with Sampras occured when he was perhaps a bit past his prime. I think Andre did just fine against Pete, this was a great rivalry.

ACE of Hearts
07-19-2007, 09:39 AM
Actually, Pete still was playing very well during those times.I think Sampras fans want to say it the other way around.

ubel
07-19-2007, 10:05 AM
I hated his return of serve, because very often if a serve seemed slightly out of reach, he would just let them go by. Was this because of his back and worrying about straining/hurting it, or did he just think they weren't worth giving an effort for?

laurie
07-19-2007, 10:42 AM
That's an interesting question. Agassi from what I understand had a very good record against other big servers. Stich never beat him, he was 10 wins to 4 against Becker, had a good record against Phillipousis. I would imagine he had good records against guys like Rusedski. had a 9 to 5 record against Rafter and a close record with Krajicek 4-3 or somethng like that.

So Agassi figured that why change a winning strategy against Sampras. So again, it boils down to the factor that the commentators in print can't be bothered to explore because of easy "soundbites". In the 1999 Wimbledon final Pat Cash explained in depth what made the difference - and it was something I had predicted to friends the day before the match took place.

Their matches always hinged on two factors. One was Sampras' ability to go after the Agassi second serve so dctate the tempo of the match and second, Sampras' ability to match Agassi from the baseline (when it mattered). Sampras would win many of their baseline battles at key moments in the match planting doubt in Agassi's mind that Sampras could raise his game at any moment. Not Agassi winning a baseline rally at 40 love but when the game was close, that's when Sampras upped the ante on Agassi.

Now ironically between 2000 and 2001 when Sampras was playing his worst, his return of serve suffered as a result of lost confidence and lack of form. The 2001 US Open quarterfinal which was deemed a classic had no breaks of serve. That was during a period where Sampras' confidence on his return of serve, his backhand and his movement slipped.

And yet, just a year later in 2002 when Sampras was older, he rediscovered his return of serve and his baseline game by been more patient in the rallies and staying back on his own second serve at occassional intervals giving his opponents different things to think about. In his matches against Haas and Roddick, Sampras stayed back on quite a few second serves and was winning the points too especially when getting the forehand down the line into play. He definitely brought back elements into his game he had neglected for 18 months. Consequently in the 2002 US Open final he broke Agassi 4 times in 4 sets and Agassi broke him twice, once when Sampras was serving for the 2nd set. no tiebreaks, more typical of their encounters over the years.

Also, in their first 5 meetings Sampras was 4 wins to 1 against Hewitt and lost the next 4 in 2001 and 2002 when Sampras had lost confidence and his return of serve. In the 2000 Miami semifinal, Sampras was really beating Hewitt up with his power from the baseline. I feel if they played more with Sampras been more confident, Sampras would have maintained a winning record over Hewitt.

Federer actually learned from Sampras as well. Because as McEnroe said in the match commentary (from his own 1990 US Open semifinal experience against Pete because that's what Pete did to him) that Federer was varying his returns, getting them low and dictating with the passing shot. That's what Sampras did against the likes of Becker and Goran over the years. A player with a one hand backhand I believe has an advantage on return of serve.

To be fair to Agassi, he regularly went to the one hander when stretched throughout his career. But it wasn't just the return against Sampras that was the problem.

Sorry for such a long reply.

superman1
07-19-2007, 02:43 PM
One of the reasons why Agassi was a great returner is because he could adapt. He would actually stand further back returning Philippoussis' serve at Wimbledon than anyone else's. Couldn't get away with that against Sampras, though, because Sampras was so damn good at net.

He tried everything, believe me. Even when he could get a good return back, Sampras had it covered at net. Sampras was a step slower when he played Hewitt, and definitely not as agile around the net. AA still beat Sampras 14 times, so that's pretty decent.

anointedone
07-19-2007, 03:48 PM
I think his return is very overrated. I have seen him play many times and he gets aced a ton more by huge servers then even the greatest returners of today - Federer and Hewitt, let alone the greatest returner of all time - Jimmy Connors.

hewittboy
07-19-2007, 04:01 PM
Also, in their first 5 meetings Sampras was 4 wins to 1 against Hewitt and lost the next 4 in 2001 and 2002 when Sampras had lost confidence and his return of serve. In the 2000 Miami semifinal, Sampras was really beating Hewitt up with his power from the baseline. I feel if they played more with Sampras been more confident, Sampras would have maintained a winning record over Hewitt.

Do keep in mind though Hewitt was going through his own rapid rate of improvement from 1999 to the end of 2001 when he won the U.S Open and consolidated the year end #1 ranking by winning the year end Masters. Hewitt was just an up and comer in 1999, not even a real contender yet, in 2000 he grew into a dark horse contender on tour and reached his first ever slam semi at the end of the year at the U.S Open. Then in 2001 was when he really came into his own as a player.

So the fact any particular player would start doing less well vs Hewitt going from the years 1999 and 2000, to the years of 2001 and 2002, is not surprising since Hewitt was just a young up and comer in the former years, and a much mature and improved player in he latter years.

I am not disputing Sampras declined and that helped Hewitt, as did all his other opponents. Just wanted to point out Hewitt was definitely not just staying the same through those particular years though, nor should he be considered to be in his prime as a player even in 2000. His best years as a player to date (one can always hope) are definitely 2001, 2002, 2004, and 2005.

Also I dont recall Sampras having an easy time with Hewitt ever, even when Hewitt was just up and coming. I remember their match at Queen in 1999 which Pete won in a final set tiebreaker. Then their match at Miami in 2000 was very evenly played until Pete hit another level in the final set, until then the whole match was evenly played. Then Hewitt beat Sampras at Queens later that year. Their U.S Open semifinal was straight sets, but it was still hard work all the way.

superman1
07-19-2007, 05:29 PM
Hewitt was very good from a very young age. Didn't he beat Agassi when he was 15? He was ridiculously good, which explains why he has declined so much now. Sampras just wasn't Sampras in the 00's, except for a few moments when he really geared up and tried his hardest.

superman1
07-19-2007, 05:32 PM
I think his return is very overrated. I have seen him play many times and he gets aced a ton more by huge servers then even the greatest returners of today - Federer and Hewitt, let alone the greatest returner of all time - Jimmy Connors.

Look at his head-to-heads with the biggest servers ever. 6-3 against Becker, 4-3 against Ivanisevic (won the last 4 of 5), 5-1 against Roddick. He edges most of them out. He got aced more, maybe, but those guys couldn't hit aces all day. When they didn't hit the perfect serve, Agassi pounced. When Federer gets an easy serve to return, you rarely ever see him pounce, he just hits it right back down the middle.

pj80
07-19-2007, 09:09 PM
Look at his head-to-heads with the biggest servers ever. 6-3 against Becker, 4-3 against Ivanisevic (won the last 4 of 5), 5-1 against Roddick. He edges most of them out. He got aced more, maybe, but those guys couldn't hit aces all day. When they didn't hit the perfect serve, Agassi pounced. When Federer gets an easy serve to return, you rarely ever see him pounce, he just hits it right back down the middle.


Hes really 3-3 with Ivanisevic, on one of the agassi wins he had to pull out after 3 games only.

hewittboy
07-19-2007, 09:18 PM
5-1 against Roddick.

Federer is 14-1 against Roddick. Hewitt was 6-1, before Roddick got 2 wins over a slumping Hewitt to bring it to 6-3.

Mr Topspin
07-20-2007, 02:19 AM
That's an interesting question. Agassi from what I understand had a very good record against other big servers. Stich never beat him, he was 10 wins to 4 against Becker, had a good record against Phillipousis. I would imagine he had good records against guys like Rusedski. had a 9 to 5 record against Rafter and a close record with Krajicek 4-3 or somethng like that.

So Agassi figured that why change a winning strategy against Sampras. So again, it boils down to the factor that the commentators in print can't be bothered to explore because of easy "soundbites". In the 1999 Wimbledon final Pat Cash explained in depth what made the difference - and it was something I had predicted to friends the day before the match took place.

Their matches always hinged on two factors. One was Sampras' ability to go after the Agassi second serve so dctate the tempo of the match and second, Sampras' ability to match Agassi from the baseline (when it mattered). Sampras would win many of their baseline battles at key moments in the match planting doubt in Agassi's mind that Sampras could raise his game at any moment. Not Agassi winning a baseline rally at 40 love but when the game was close, that's when Sampras upped the ante on Agassi.

Now ironically between 2000 and 2001 when Sampras was playing his worst, his return of serve suffered as a result of lost confidence and lack of form. The 2001 US Open quarterfinal which was deemed a classic had no breaks of serve. That was during a period where Sampras' confidence on his return of serve, his backhand and his movement slipped.

And yet, just a year later in 2002 when Sampras was older, he rediscovered his return of serve and his baseline game by been more patient in the rallies and staying back on his own second serve at occassional intervals giving his opponents different things to think about. In his matches against Haas and Roddick, Sampras stayed back on quite a few second serves and was winning the points too especially when getting the forehand down the line into play. He definitely brought back elements into his game he had neglected for 18 months. Consequently in the 2002 US Open final he broke Agassi 4 times in 4 sets and Agassi broke him twice, once when Sampras was serving for the 2nd set. no tiebreaks, more typical of their encounters over the years.

Also, in their first 5 meetings Sampras was 4 wins to 1 against Hewitt and lost the next 4 in 2001 and 2002 when Sampras had lost confidence and his return of serve. In the 2000 Miami semifinal, Sampras was really beating Hewitt up with his power from the baseline. I feel if they played more with Sampras been more confident, Sampras would have maintained a winning record over Hewitt.

Federer actually learned from Sampras as well. Because as McEnroe said in the match commentary (from his own 1990 US Open semifinal experience against Pete because that's what Pete did to him) that Federer was varying his returns, getting them low and dictating with the passing shot. That's what Sampras did against the likes of Becker and Goran over the years. A player with a one hand backhand I believe has an advantage on return of serve.

To be fair to Agassi, he regularly went to the one hander when stretched throughout his career. But it wasn't just the return against Sampras that was the problem.

Sorry for such a long reply.



Good Post!


You are quite right! Agassi gained so much confidence from beating the other big servers, that he thought IMHO that he could just replicate that form against Sampras, but it wasn't enough. As you mentioned Pete could hang at the baseline with most guys and had a bigger forehand and when on a bigger backhand than Agassi which meant Pete could raise his game at any time and unload on Agassi who did not get the best out of his serve untill the late 90's.

However, i still think that Agassi could have made life a little more difficult for Sampras if he varied the return back. If you take Wayne Ferreira for example, he was 6 - 7 against Pete and precisely for the variey of return that he produced but he was also extremely athletic, moreso than Agassi. Agasssi was athletic but no where near as athletic as Pete or Ferrieira. Navratillova commented that the 1999 Wimbledon final between Agassi and Sampras was won by Pete's athletiticism.

Your point about being one handed is spot on. Most one handers have advantages on return as they can block, bunt slice back returns far easily than double handers. Tim henman, is a prime example of someone who was in the top 5 of making a high percentage of returns in by simply blocking them back!

Mickey Finn
07-20-2007, 12:25 PM
I can't argue with J. Mac's opinion that Agassi has the greatest return of all time. His reaction time is unmatched by any player in any era, and his eye-hand coordination was incredible. Hewitt gets more returns back and has better range on the return, but Agassi did more with the ball.

tommytom11
07-21-2007, 08:41 PM
I can't argue with J. Mac's opinion that Agassi has the greatest return of all time. His reaction time is unmatched by any player in any era, and his eye-hand coordination was incredible. Hewitt gets more returns back and has better range on the return, but Agassi did more with the ball.


EXACTLY. the best offensive returner ever.

FiveO
07-21-2007, 10:30 PM
^^^I also agree. I think the difference in Agassi's and Hewitt's approaches to returning were predicated by different skill sets they possessed and how those matched up against Sampras as opposed to other huge servers. I think each adppted return strategies best suited to those skill sets and the one's which gave them the best chance to win against Sampras and other big servers. I don't think either was well equipped to adopt the other's return style.

Agassi's strengths were his superior hand-eye coordination and the ability to generate disproportionate pace with extremely compact strokes which allowed him to best cover court by standing in on the return and throughout the point. What allowed Agassi to "cover the court" well was not his footspeed but his ability to cut the court off by playing on the baseline. Beyond possibly reading other servers better, AA could afford to take a step back if he chose or if that server was on a roll because very few of them backed up those serves as well as Sampras. I'm fairly sure that AA calculated that the extra split second gained from giving ground on the serve was not worth the extra court he would be forced to cover off Sampras's first volley or groundie off the return. I also believe that as Rafter peaked, he posed a similar problem for AA, in that Rafter was getting in deeper to net and then backing his serve up so well. It simply came down to a time/space necessity for Agassi, he simply had his best chance standing in cutting the angles down as he was more a "do or don't" third baseman than a fast, far ranging shortstop.

On the other hand Hewitt could afford to play more safely and "make" more returns because he had the exceptional speed and willingness to run down every next ball. He read/reads most everyone's serves well, but is not a particulary economic big hitter. He's got longer strokes and doesn't generate a ton of pace from them. His percentages lie in making all his returns and relying on his two biggest assets, his speed and his heart, i.e. the willingness to run everything down. As opposed to Agassi, Hewitt applies pressure by playing "a deeper shortstop", making the return and then using his superior speed and range.

Hewitt's approach was more problematic for Sampras, who never enjoyed playing that type of opponent. After his retirement when asked about playing the other Americans of his "class" Sampras frankly admitted that he always had to remind himself not to overplay or overhit vs. Chang because of the added pressure his speed presented. That explanation makes Sampras's 12-8 career h2h vs. Chang less perplexing given the apparent mis-match. Hewitt seems to have proved even more difficult a solve for Sampras later in his career as he lost his edge and some confidence to hang in points a tad longer.

hewittboy
07-21-2007, 10:36 PM
I am biased obviously but I think Hewitt is someone maybe hurt that there are not more serve-volleyers around. His game matches up extremely well with that kind of player. Now everyone stays back and his style does not seem as effective.

FiveO
07-21-2007, 10:47 PM
I am biased obviously but I think Hewitt is someone maybe hurt that there are not more serve-volleyers around. His game matches up extremely well with that kind of player. Now everyone stays back and his style does not seem as effective.

I think there is more than an element of truth in this assessment. I think he liked a target and to utilize all his options on the second or third ball on a return point. No target nothing to shoot at. I think this is why his best results came on the faster surfaces which didn't penalize his relative lack of power as much as the slowed surfaces have and why his lobbying of Australian tennis to speed up the surface at the AO has become an annual event.

NadalandFedererfan
07-22-2007, 04:25 PM
Agassi is one of the most overrated players in history. He won most of his slams after Sampras dominance had ended, and before the Federer-Nadal era began. He could not stand up to the real great players.

rod99
07-22-2007, 04:37 PM
Agassi is one of the most overrated players in history. He won most of his slams after Sampras dominance had ended, and before the Federer-Nadal era began. He could not stand up to the real great players.

you're an idiot. career grand slam, enough said. get back to me when sampras, federer, nadal, etc pull that off.

NadalandFedererfan
07-22-2007, 04:47 PM
you're an idiot. career grand slam, enough said. get back to me when sampras, federer, nadal, etc pull that off.

Get real you dumb homer, even the American tennis experts dont talk about Agassi in the same breath as Federer at this point. Federer is on a different echelon then Agassi already, and still has so much to go. Federer is only 26 and has 11 slams to Agassi's 8, 3 year end #1s(probably will soon be 4) to Agassi's 1, 3 year end Masters to Agassi's #1, two different 3-slam years (soon to be 3) to Agassi's 0. If you ask a player whose career they would rather have between Federer and Agassi, 99% of them would say Federer. Winning a lucky French Open over a bunch of choking clowns does not change that.

Oh yeah Agassi is envious of Sampras's career in pretty much everyway. If you think the career grand slam makes Agassi even close to Sampras's league then you are dreaming. Agassi would take Sampras's 4-0 record vs him at the U.S Open, Sampras's 12 total titles at the big 2 slams of Wimbledon and the U.S Open, Sampras's six straight year-end #1s, over his 1 French Open title anyday of the week.

As for Nadal, Agassi at Nadal's age had choked his first 3 slam finals away. Nadal has already been in 5, and won 3 of them. Who cares if he hasnt won something other then the French, Agassi hadnt won anything squat at this age. Agassi had played Wimbledon once and lost to David Wheaton, at the same age Nadal has been in 2 finals and gave the great Federer the scare of his life both times.

rod99
07-22-2007, 05:10 PM
Get real you dumb homer, even the American tennis experts dont talk about Agassi in the same breath as Federer at this point. Federer is on a different echelon then Agassi already, and still has so much to go. Federer is only 26 and has 11 slams to Agassi's 8, 3 year end #1s(probably will soon be 4) to Agassi's 1, 3 year end Masters to Agassi's #1, two different 3-slam years (soon to be 3) to Agassi's 0. If you ask a player whose career they would rather have between Federer and Agassi, 99% of them would say Federer. Winning a lucky French Open over a bunch of choking clowns does not change that.

Oh yeah Agassi is envious of Sampras's career in pretty much everyway. If you think the career grand slam makes Agassi even close to Sampras's league then you are dreaming. Agassi would take Sampras's 4-0 record vs him at the U.S Open, Sampras's 12 total titles at the big 2 slams of Wimbledon and the U.S Open, Sampras's six straight year-end #1s, over his 1 French Open title anyday of the week.

As for Nadal, Agassi at Nadal's age had choked his first 3 slam finals away. Nadal has already been in 5, and won 3 of them. Who cares if he hasnt won something other then the French, Agassi hadnt won anything squat at this age. Agassi had played Wimbledon once and lost to David Wheaton, at the same age Nadal has been in 2 finals and gave the great Federer the scare of his life both times.


hilarious. who said that agassi had a better overall career than sampras or federer?? that's right, nobody. i brought up the point of the career grand slam when you made the nonscense of him being overrated and not being able to compete with the best. winning all 4 slams (especially the fact that he won all 4 on 4 different surfaces which NOBODY has ever done) is one of the top accomplishments in all of tennis and by doing this, his spot in the top 10 of all time is secure. and he didn't win wimbledon on the hard court that it's being played on now (and if nadal does it, it won't be near the accomplishment compared to if he had done it on the fast grass).

if nadal continues to play the style he's playing he'll be in a wheelchair when he's 30. yes, he's started his career off unbelievably well but ask chang, courier, hewitt, etc if that style leads to a long career.

NadalandFedererfan
07-22-2007, 05:34 PM
hilarious. who said that agassi had a better overall career than sampras or federer?? that's right, nobody. i brought up the point of the career grand slam when you made the nonscense of him being overrated and not being able to compete with the best.

What I am saying is his career slam does not prove squat to how he even compares to the likes of Sampras, Federer, or other top greats. It doesnt, and he isnt even in their league. Before long we will be saying he isnt in Nadals league either.

winning all 4 slams (especially the fact that he won all 4 on 4 different surfaces which NOBODY has ever done) is one of the top accomplishments in all of tennis and by doing this, his spot in the top 10 of all time is secure.

Top 10 all time. Hell no. He is below all of Laver, Sampras, Gonzalez, Borg, Federer, Rosewall, Budge, Tilden, Connors, Lendl, McEnroe, Perry, Kramer, all time easily. I could easily tell you why all of those deserve to be rated over Agassi all time without probem.

Without his French Open title he is around the 25th best player all time, with it he is about the 14th. So he does not gain a huge amount with it, but not enough to be top 10.

and he didn't win wimbledon on the hard court that it's being played on now (and if nadal does it, it won't be near the accomplishment compared to if he had done it on the fast grass).

Already preparing the excuses. Funny.

if nadal continues to play the style he's playing he'll be in a wheelchair when he's 30. yes, he's started his career off unbelievably well but ask chang, courier, hewitt, etc if that style leads to a long career.

Yeah and Nadal talent-wise is on par with second-rate greats like Courier, Chang, and Hewitt. Get a clue.

rod99
07-22-2007, 05:42 PM
obviously you're a nadal fan and an agassi hater. i'm actually looking at this without picking sides. if you think agassi isn't top 10 all time then you need to get a clue. i can also give you reasons why he's better than many of the guys on that list with no problem at all.

and as a nadal fan, i'm sure you'll admit that you are worried about the possibility of a long career. he's already had several injuries (esp on hard courts) and he's only 21.

i hope you're not arguing the fact that it's more impressive to win wimbledon from the baseline pre-2002 (borg, agassi) than post-2001 (hewitt). the court surface isn't close to the same.

NadalandFedererfan
07-22-2007, 05:55 PM
So anyone who doesnt rank Agassi in the top 10 is a hater. What a huge Agassi homer you must be to say that. Agassi has 8 slams, which only puts him in the top 11 all time in that since there are 11 guys with 8 or more. He has the career slam true, but someone like Fred Perry who alot of people rank outside the top 10 also has it too. There are 3 others, outside of Perry and Agassi who have it; plus there are people who dont have it who are still undisputably over Agassi all time - Federer, Tilden, Sampras, Borg, for starters. So that alone does not make his place in the top 10 unquestioned.
The vast majority of the 19 players with 7 slams or more (for practical purposes ignore Renshaw, Sears, Larned, and maybe Emerson; but replace them with Gonzales, Kramer, Budge, and maybe Hoad) have much greater consistency then Agassi, and much greater dominance at some point in their careers then Agassi. Agassi also has only 3 titles at he big 2 slams.

OK feel free to explain which of those 13 players I mentioned you would rate Agassi over and why. I am very curious to see your irrefutable explanations on that.

I am not worried about whether Agassi has a long career. He will win so much by 25 he will already be an all time great, whether his career ends up long or not. Borg ended around that point and he is still one of the best ever.

rod99
07-22-2007, 06:11 PM
you can't even compare players of the pre-open era to the post-open era. too many players missed out on grand slam opportunities b/c they turned professional and too many players won grand slams b/c some of the best players were already pros. one could argue that someone like tilden was better than federer or sampras, but it's a pointless argument b/c the times were so different.

i'd certainly agree that laver, sampras, federer, borg, and lendl were better than agassi. i'd also say that agassi had a better career than mcenroe, connors, edberg, and becker. people who aren't agassi fans like to downplay how huge it was to win all 4 grand slams, especially on 4 different surfaces. it's a huge accomplishment and it's what gives him the edge over some of the players mentioned above. what's unfortunate for agassi is that his peak coincided with sampras' peak and sampras always played his best against agassi. if the grass of today was being used in the 90s then i could definitley see agassi winning at least 2 more wimbledons, as it would have helped him emmensely and hurt sampras' game.

since 1988 (when the australian switched to rebound ace), all 4 of the slams are prestigous. most all the players play each of the slams so to say that winning one of the slams is more important than another is silly. most europeans and south americans consider the french the most important, so to say that wimbledon and the us open are more important than the rest is ridiculous.

and before even bringing nadal into this conversation, maybe he should actually reach at least a semi-final at the australian and the us open.

Chauvalito
07-22-2007, 06:17 PM
If agassi would have had the serve of Pete, things might be quite different...

his return made up for some of his other weaknesses

NadalandFedererfan
07-22-2007, 06:21 PM
So you are basically saying you are certain Agassi is top 10 based on seperating the open era and pre-open era. In that case you are not even disagreeing with me entirely, since I am not seperating the open era and pre-open era as you are, and if you are rating 5 Open era players above Agassi there is still a good likelihood he would be out of the top 10 if you counted pre-Open era players.

Of the 13 players I rated above Agassi only 7 were mostly open era players: Laver, Federer, Sampras, Borg, McEnroe, Connors, and Lendl. You are rating 5 of those above him, so there is only a difference of 5 people vs 7 between us.

As for Connors and McEnroe, I easily rate Connors over Agassi since he had even more longevity, lights years more consistency (I cant even begin to describe the difference in consistency), and his 1974 was much more dominant then Agassi has ever been. The Australian Open was not a highly valued slam then, limiting Connors slam count, but he still managed to tie Agassis slam count, and he won 7 of his 8 titles at Wimbledon and the U.S Open. He has a record number of tournament titles, over 100. He has the most Slam semifinals in history AFAIK. Compare various things like his years in the top 3, his years in the top 5, his years in the top 10 to Agassi. They wont even come close. The only thing Agassi has over Connors is the career slam, and that alone does not overcome how Connors record is superior in so many other ways. Anyway almost all feel Connors would have won the calender slam had he been allowed to play the 74 French Open.

McEnroe is not as clear cut. However I rate him over Agassi since his 84 year again was far more dominant then any year Agassi has ever had. McEnroe ended 3 of 4 years #1 from 81-84, showing some dominance over a multiple year span, which Agassi never had. He has only 1 fewer slam, and as is the case with Connors the Australian Open was not as valued then as it is now. So that limited Mcenroes potential slam title, and he still ends up only 1 behind Agassi. 7 of his titles were at Wimbledon and the U.S Open.
The consistency edge goes to McEnroe, since Agassi only became consistent when he was too old to fulfill his potential, while McEnroe was the #1 or #2 player for 7 years in a row, winning atleast 1 slam 6 of those 7 years. The longevity edge goes to Agassi.

rod99
07-22-2007, 06:25 PM
it's funny how mcenroe himself rates agassi above both himself and connors on the all time list. i guess he doesn't know anything (roll eyes).

and i read a post of yours on another thread which said "if borg and nadal played one another nadal would blast borg off the court." wow. nothing you say on this board can actually be taken seriously after that garbage. just wow.

anointedone
07-22-2007, 06:28 PM
Oh there is Agassis secret mancrush rod99 again in an Agassi thread. Funny how someone who actually said he thinks Agassi would likely have won the 95 French Open had he not been injured(ROTFL!!)is telling anyone they cant be taken seriously.

rod99
07-22-2007, 06:30 PM
i said agassi had a good chance of winning the '95 french, which he did. he may not have been the favorite, as muster was, but he had a great chance. he injured himself in the first set of the kafelnikov match and that was all she wrote.

NadalandFedererfan
07-22-2007, 06:33 PM
it's funny how mcenroe himself rates agassi above both himself and connors on the all time list. i guess he doesn't know anything (roll eyes).

McEnroe is very close to Agassi, that is no secret. McEnroe picked Agassi to win a ton of major events from 1999-2003 he never won, including ones he was never favored for like the 2001-2003 French Opens. His bias to Agassi was very apparent. Plus he doesnt like Connors, that is also no secret.

anointedone
07-22-2007, 06:44 PM
i said agassi had a good chance of winning the '95 french, which he did. he may not have been the favorite, as muster was, but he had a great chance. he injured himself in the first set of the kafelnikov match and that was all she wrote.

Actually your exact words:

"he very likely would have won the french open that year had he not hurt his hip against kafelnikov in the quarters." Never mind such things as he had entered 2 tournaments on clay before the French and won neither, one of them losing in the final to Chang (who Muster waxed in the final), and the other getting creamed 6-3, 6-1 by Brugera in the quarters. Never mind that Muster was coming in on a 28-match winning streak on clay. Never mind that Agassi has a losing record to all the greatest clay courters of his time, on clay.

I also dont rate Agassi top 10 all time. There are too many players who have him trumped in everyway except the Career Slam. That is more then made up, by alot of these others, in Agassi's complete inability to substain a top level of tennis acceptable for a Champion over an extended time like they all were, and the fact he was never once truly the best player in the World, whereas all the others were atleast 3 years it seems.

The 4 slams might be close to equal today, but they were not in the days of guys like McEnroe, Connors, Lendl. That is the point when people bring that up.

War, Safin!
07-24-2007, 03:41 AM
I know it may seem strange bearing in mind that he is regarded as one of the best baseliners and possessing one of the best returns of serve of all time.
But when I look at Agassi's matches with Sampras I think that if he had varied his return of serve he could have had far more success over Pete than just trying to hit outright winners all the time.

If you compare the return of serve style of Hewitt for example, you will see that he had far more success in dealing with the Pete serve than Andre ever did. Hewitt relied on quantity of returns and getting them low and forcing Pete to hit more volleys, whilst Agassi wanted to hit the clean winner time and again. I think Agasssi's strategy was, when Pete was on, futile. Pete always had the advantage as a server and since Agassi gave so much pace to the return Pete could usually punch some of the volleys a away for a winner as he was used to the pace of Agassi's return.

Another example of varying the return was shown by Federer in his upset win over Sampras in the 4th round of Wimbledon. In that match Federer gave Sampras nightmares with bunted returns, low returns, topspin, drives etc.

Sampras was virtually in trouble in 70% of his service games due to the amount of variety that Federer provided and had to face over 14 bp's.

I firmly believe that if Agassi had added variety to his return style especially against Sampras ala Hewitt or Federer by slicing some returns or forcing Sampras to volley up alot more than he did he would have had more success over Sampras and over other heavy servers.

Any thoughts?
Agreed.
Agassi used to religiously play Sampras' serve from the baseline - put total faith in his exceptional hand-eye coordination and never changed his starting position, which I think was the one thing that held him back from consistently beating Sampras.
Once a server gets into a rhythm and the returner is not threatening them too much, they begin to feel invincible which is what Sampras probably felt against Agassi.
When you face a serve-volleyer on grass it's not just about getting the ball back, it's about putting it in a difficult position too (as with Hewitt, like you stated), because he'll be there at the net before you know it. On a big first serve most returners will aim to hit back down the middle if you're serve-and-volleying. The very good ones will try and hit it past you but this can open up the angle for the volley, so it has to be totally accurate. If hit well, the one straight back at you gives you very little time - even if you stay back after serving.

shakes1975
07-26-2007, 10:30 AM
That's an interesting question. Agassi from what I understand had a very good record against other big servers. Stich never beat him, he was 10 wins to 4 against Becker, had a good record against Phillipousis. I would imagine he had good records against guys like Rusedski. had a 9 to 5 record against Rafter and a close record with Krajicek 4-3 or somethng like that.

So Agassi figured that why change a winning strategy against Sampras. So again, it boils down to the factor that the commentators in print can't be bothered to explore because of easy "soundbites". In the 1999 Wimbledon final Pat Cash explained in depth what made the difference - and it was something I had predicted to friends the day before the match took place.

Their matches always hinged on two factors. One was Sampras' ability to go after the Agassi second serve so dctate the tempo of the match and second, Sampras' ability to match Agassi from the baseline (when it mattered). Sampras would win many of their baseline battles at key moments in the match planting doubt in Agassi's mind that Sampras could raise his game at any moment. Not Agassi winning a baseline rally at 40 love but when the game was close, that's when Sampras upped the ante on Agassi.

Now ironically between 2000 and 2001 when Sampras was playing his worst, his return of serve suffered as a result of lost confidence and lack of form. The 2001 US Open quarterfinal which was deemed a classic had no breaks of serve. That was during a period where Sampras' confidence on his return of serve, his backhand and his movement slipped.

And yet, just a year later in 2002 when Sampras was older, he rediscovered his return of serve and his baseline game by been more patient in the rallies and staying back on his own second serve at occassional intervals giving his opponents different things to think about. In his matches against Haas and Roddick, Sampras stayed back on quite a few second serves and was winning the points too especially when getting the forehand down the line into play. He definitely brought back elements into his game he had neglected for 18 months. Consequently in the 2002 US Open final he broke Agassi 4 times in 4 sets and Agassi broke him twice, once when Sampras was serving for the 2nd set. no tiebreaks, more typical of their encounters over the years.

Also, in their first 5 meetings Sampras was 4 wins to 1 against Hewitt and lost the next 4 in 2001 and 2002 when Sampras had lost confidence and his return of serve. In the 2000 Miami semifinal, Sampras was really beating Hewitt up with his power from the baseline. I feel if they played more with Sampras been more confident, Sampras would have maintained a winning record over Hewitt.

Federer actually learned from Sampras as well. Because as McEnroe said in the match commentary (from his own 1990 US Open semifinal experience against Pete because that's what Pete did to him) that Federer was varying his returns, getting them low and dictating with the passing shot. That's what Sampras did against the likes of Becker and Goran over the years. A player with a one hand backhand I believe has an advantage on return of serve.

To be fair to Agassi, he regularly went to the one hander when stretched throughout his career. But it wasn't just the return against Sampras that was the problem.

Sorry for such a long reply.

good post. you have made a very valid point. sampras could keep agassi more honest with his net game mainly because he commanded agassi's respect from the baseline.

that said, IMO, agassi didn't do enough with his returns against sampras. granted, agassi had great success against other big servers, but that was mainly because those guys didn't have the game to back up their second serves, which sampras had. this obviously put a lot of pressure on their first serves.

however, agassi played sampras 34 times. that's more than enough number of times to figure out that his go for the offense, hit-as-hard-as-i-can on the return doesn't work against sampras like it did against other players. at which point, agassi should've tried a little more finesse on the return. something like chipping them low, chipping them to the side, making sampras volley up etc. this is something hewitt and fed did against sampras.

agassi didn't realize that sampras used agassi's pace on the return against him, knocking off great volleys. if agassi had mixed up his returns by bunting them low and to the side, he would've not given much pace to sampras to use for the volley, would've made sampras to volley up, and he himself would've had more time to get into position.

that said, i don't think agassi was made to match up well with sampras. fed had a greater wingspan, and both hewitt and fed had greater lateral speed (both upper body movement and footspeed) to counter sampras' serve and his running FH.

like i always say, tennis is all about match-ups.

coloskier
07-27-2007, 11:41 AM
good post. you have made a very valid point. sampras could keep agassi more honest with his net game mainly because he commanded agassi's respect from the baseline.

that said, IMO, agassi didn't do enough with his returns against sampras. granted, agassi had great success against other big servers, but that was mainly because those guys didn't have the game to back up their second serves, which sampras had. this obviously put a lot of pressure on their first serves.


Who could??? No one had ever been able to do anything with Sampras's serve. The only time Sampras lost is when his serve was off or he was playing on a slower court (can you say Roddick???) :p . But Sampras himself said that Agassi had the best return of serve he had ever faced and 90% of the pros at that time agreed. Agassi was good at returning serve and still got aced a lot because he was very good at guessing which way the serve was going, but when he guessed wrong he got aced. He once was aced 51 times by Joachim Johannson and still won the match in 4 sets because of his return of serve. (Broke Johannson 4 times) Agassi had 27 service return winners in that match.

laurie
07-28-2007, 01:23 AM
good post. you have made a very valid point. sampras could keep agassi more honest with his net game mainly because he commanded agassi's respect from the baseline.

that said, IMO, agassi didn't do enough with his returns against sampras. granted, agassi had great success against other big servers, but that was mainly because those guys didn't have the game to back up their second serves, which sampras had. this obviously put a lot of pressure on their first serves.

however, agassi played sampras 34 times. that's more than enough number of times to figure out that his go for the offense, hit-as-hard-as-i-can on the return doesn't work against sampras like it did against other players. at which point, agassi should've tried a little more finesse on the return. something like chipping them low, chipping them to the side, making sampras volley up etc. this is something hewitt and fed did against sampras.

agassi didn't realize that sampras used agassi's pace on the return against him, knocking off great volleys. if agassi had mixed up his returns by bunting them low and to the side, he would've not given much pace to sampras to use for the volley, would've made sampras to volley up, and he himself would've had more time to get into position.

that said, i don't think agassi was made to match up well with sampras. fed had a greater wingspan, and both hewitt and fed had greater lateral speed (both upper body movement and footspeed) to counter sampras' serve and his running FH.

like i always say, tennis is all about match-ups.

Yes, I agree with you