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BreakPoint
04-03-2008, 10:16 PM
I saw this match yesterday on Tennis Channel from the 1997 Davis Cup between Pete Sampras and Mark Philippoussis in Sept. '97 (I assume the DC semis?), and it just reminded me so clearly what a dominant player Sampras was in his prime. This guy used to play some awesome, jaw-dropping, eye-popping tennis. I remember when I used to watch him play during his prime I actually felt sorry for his opponents because he was just clearly so much better and playing on another level and he made his opponents look like amateurs. Well, watching this match gave me that feeling all over again.

I now have no doubt in my mind that Sampras in his prime would destroy Federer in his prime. I mean Sampras even "beat" Federer 10 years past his prime and 5 years into his retirement, imagine what he would have done to Federer is he were 10 years younger and in his prime? :shock:

Anyway, if you haven't seen this match or haven't seen Sampras play in his prime, you owe it to yourself to catch it. Tennis Channel will be repeating it this Saturday, 4/5, at 4pm EST/1pm PST.

stormholloway
04-04-2008, 12:21 AM
I agree with the first paragraph totally, but don't bring up the exhibitions. Sampras is a shadow of his mid 90s self.

My jaw was dropped during that DC match. He was amazing. I think he may have the hardest hit forehand I've ever seen. I was at MSG for the New York exo and Pete's forehand definitely had more raw power than Federer's.

Pete's backhand was so much better in the early and mid 90s than it was in the early 00s and today though. I don't know where that shot went.

laurie
04-04-2008, 12:25 AM
I agree with the first paragraph totally, but don't bring up the exhibitions. Sampras is a shadow of his mid 90s self.

My jaw was dropped during that DC match. He was amazing. I think he may have the hardest hit forehand I've ever seen. I was at MSG for the New York exo and Pete's forehand definitely had more raw power than Federer's.

Pete's backhand was so much better in the early and mid 90s than it was in the early 00s and today though. I don't know where that shot went.

Well that backhand came back drammatically in the 2002 US open final, much to Agassi's amazement.

That proves it really was all in the mind for Sampras, as Frew McMillan frequently said in his last 2 years of playing.

Breakpoint, I put the semifinal tie against Rafter on youtube last Autumn

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=1997+dc+semifinal&search_type=

AndrewD
04-04-2008, 05:39 AM
I remember when I used to watch him play during his prime I actually felt sorry for his opponents because he was just clearly so much better and playing on another level and he made his opponents look like amateurs.

You should watch the 1996 Australian Open match between Sampras and Philippouissis before feeling sorry for anyone. The Poo showed what could happen if you were able to get onto the Sampras serve and were strong enough to hold your own. Agassi could only ever do one of the two, Federer would be able to do both.

zagor
04-04-2008, 06:40 AM
You should watch the 1996 Australian Open match between Sampras and Philippouissis before feeling sorry for anyone. The Poo showed what could happen if you were able to get onto the Sampras serve and were strong enough to hold your own. Agassi could only ever do one of the two, Federer would be able to do both.

Well said,but problem with BP is that now that Federer is slumping he needs another god to worship,so he switched to Sampras.People forget that so far Federer is having a better year in 2008 than Sampras in 1998.Also if Sampras couldn't destroy Agassi who got 14 wins against him,I have no doubt that he wouldn't be able to destroy prime Federer as well.

laurie
04-04-2008, 07:13 AM
Well said,but problem with BP is that now that Federer is slumping he needs another god to worship,so he switched to Sampras.People forget that so far Federer is having a better year in 2008 than Sampras in 1998.Also if Sampras couldn't destroy Agassi who got 14 wins against him,I have no doubt that he wouldn't be able to destroy prime Federer as well.

How's that?

By this stage of 1998 Sampras had won Philadelphia and won Atlanta either just before or after Miami. Federer hasn't even won a title this year or played in a final yet. We don't know if Federer will come out of this slump or stay in the slump for 2008.

zagor
04-04-2008, 07:26 AM
How's that?

By this stage of 1998 Sampras had won Philadelphia and won Atlanta either just before or after Miami. Federer hasn't even won a title this year or played in a final yet. We don't know if Federer will come out of this slump or stay in the slump for 2008.

True,he did win Philadelphia but he had worse results in big tournaments like AO,Indian Wells and Miami.Atlanta was about the end of april so no he didn't win that yet.Yes we don't if Federer will stay in slump or recover this year and win a slam but I'm not writing him off yet.Anyway I'm done arguing with blockheads,If you believe that any player is capable of destroying Federer in his prime then you're free to do so,I just think that Roger deserves a little more respect for what he has done for the past 4 years.If you and or anyone else don't realise that Federer is an amazing player(something that Sampras himself stated as well a couple of times)than it's fine.I'm not about to change your mind.

stormholloway
04-04-2008, 09:56 AM
Nobody 'destroys' Federer in his prime. If I had to pick one guy to beat him, however, it would surely be Sampras.

laurie
04-04-2008, 11:37 AM
True,he did win Philadelphia but he had worse results in big tournaments like AO,Indian Wells and Miami.Atlanta was about the end of april so no he didn't win that yet.Yes we don't if Federer will stay in slump or recover this year and win a slam but I'm not writing him off yet.Anyway I'm done arguing with blockheads,If you believe that any player is capable of destroying Federer in his prime then you're free to do so,I just think that Roger deserves a little more respect for what he has done for the past 4 years.If you and or anyone else don't realise that Federer is an amazing player(something that Sampras himself stated as well a couple of times)than it's fine.I'm not about to change your mind.

I think you are confusing youself. No where does my comment say Sampras will destroy Federer.

Hmm...You're not suffering from paranoia are you?

zagor
04-04-2008, 11:41 AM
Nobody 'destroys' Federer in his prime. If I had to pick one guy to beat him, however, it would surely be Sampras.

Agree with you there.

zagor
04-04-2008, 11:42 AM
I think you are confusing youself. No where does my comment say Sampras will destroy Federer.

Hmm...You're not suffering from paranoia are you?

No I do not suffer from paranoia and yes Federer may still end up having a worse year than Sampras did in 1998,but so far they're close.

BreakPoint
04-04-2008, 01:39 PM
Well said,but problem with BP is that now that Federer is slumping he needs another god to worship,so he switched to Sampras.People forget that so far Federer is having a better year in 2008 than Sampras in 1998.Also if Sampras couldn't destroy Agassi who got 14 wins against him,I have no doubt that he wouldn't be able to destroy prime Federer as well.
And how many wins did Sampras have against Agassi? And how many times did Agassi beat Sampras at the US Open or Wimbledon, the two most important tournaments in the world? ZERO!!!

Have you even seen the match I'm referring to? Sampras had an unreturnable serve. Not even Agassi, the best returner ever, was able to deal with it when it counted. No, not even Federer could return Sampras' serve. Not then, not now. Sampras in his prime was just more imposing and had both more power and touch than Federer does in his prime.

And what does this have anything to do with Federer's slump? :confused: I was saying the same thing about Sampras and Federer last year right after Federer cleaned up at the Master's Cup.

stormholloway
04-04-2008, 02:06 PM
Well, technically speaking Federer did return Sampras' serve, and quite well.

For you to say Federer would get destroyed is a tad much.

KFactor27
04-04-2008, 02:16 PM
I watched it also. It was great seeing Sampras back in the day. If Sampras and Federer had the chance to play eachother both in their primes, I think it would be pretty even. When Sampras won the one exhibition match I wouldn't consider that the best that Federer could play.

!Tym
04-04-2008, 03:00 PM
Well that backhand came back drammatically in the 2002 US open final, much to Agassi's amazement.

That proves it really was all in the mind for Sampras, as Frew McMillan frequently said in his last 2 years of playing.

Breakpoint, I put the semifinal tie against Rafter on youtube last Autumn

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=1997+dc+semifinal&search_type=

To be honest, it should not be ANY surprise AT ALL when one pro's slumping stroke or form suddenly finds itself back in the zone against a pro *they've frequently played*. Think of it like this, the brain stores neural templates of past performances against various opponents under various circumstances. Each of these templates should be thought of as being its own *unique* "performance" template. Each unique performance template has its own unique mental signature. For example, one mental template could be of you against player B, and you were just in the ZONE that day, and your mind and body and everything just felt like you could do NO wrong that day. Then, of course, there are the mental states you probably wouldn't want to remember, say the day when you felt like you couldn't hit the backside of a barn and you just felt really overwhelmed by the situation and occasion or whatever.

The thing is, the reason you often see times when a seemingly slumping player like Sampras' find his "zone performance state" against FAMILIAR old foes like Agassi...yet shrivel up like a prune and look tight as a donut unto itself against a complete and total nobody like Bastl on the infamous "graveyard court" of Wimbledon, is? Because the mind feeds off positive (or negative) "cue" triggers if you will. Playing against Agassi in that Open final, it didn't matter that Agassi was considered then to be the greater player of form at the time. Why? Because Sampras' probably wasn't thinking so much about that, but instead remembered, or more specifically, the MOMENT...triggered back the memory of him stealing Agassi's thunder so many years ago in the Open final, or even his last thrashing of Agassi on a huge stage at Wimbledon. In contrast, Agassi on paper may have been favored by many to win on paper based on their relative forms of the past year or so, but Agassi INSIDE undoubtedly was NOT able to block out the probably residual feeling he always felt of Sampras stealing THE PERFECT YEAR from him at that US Open final so many years ago.

Agassi's mental state coming in I think thus could have EASILY been forecasted...meaning, if you thought about tennis from this perspective, you'd probably make a strong INTUITIVE guess that he would more likely to RE-live-re-ASSUME the mental state of the Agassi that losted it all against Sampras versus the Agassi that punished Sampras in the Australian Open final.

It goes both ways, but if you look for these mental "triggers," if you will, you'll find that players often RE-assume the MENTAL-"performance" states of past outings. The key is to make an educated guess as to WHICH mental performance states are more likely to be *recalled* in a *given* moment/occasion.

!Tym
04-04-2008, 03:11 PM
You should watch the 1996 Australian Open match between Sampras and Philippouissis before feeling sorry for anyone. The Poo showed what could happen if you were able to get onto the Sampras serve and were strong enough to hold your own. Agassi could only ever do one of the two, Federer would be able to do both.

Completely agree with you, but you will NEVER see the Tennis Channel here in the states ever show that match...they're too biased.

The thing is...it was just one match either way. These things happen at this level, a match can get away from a player, he can feel tight, and another player can get on a roll and feel supremely confident.

Let's see, before Philipoussis went down with that unfortunate knee injury I would say ANYONE would say he looked like the more dominant player in that Wimbledon quarter against Sampras. You think Sampras was reliving the glory of that Davis Cup match in his mind then? I don't. I tend to think he got DARN lucky. In fact, I bet you anything he'd tell you the same. In fact, when Sampras went down to Federer at Wimbledon, he said in the back of his mind, he almost EXPECTED it, as he knew sooner or later the breaks wouldn't go his way and that people don't realize it, but that during his reign at Wimbledon he got lucky a number of times, he said, where the breaks just went his way, and that at any time he EASILY could have lose on of those matches, and there goes his "fabled" and "magical" reign. In other words, Sampras sub-consciously FATED himself to lose that match in my opinion. He said, that he knew, that he just had that feeling before hand, that he was due to lose a match like this at Wimbledon...and it happened. Believe me (even though I've never sniffed the top 10,000), if you go into a match at this level thinking that in the back of your head, that you're "due" for a heartbreaking loss, well, let's just say that tends to tempt fates ever so slightly the other way. And really, that's all you need at this level to make the difference.

laurie
04-04-2008, 03:37 PM
Completely agree with you, but you will NEVER see the Tennis Channel here in the states ever show that match...they're too biased.

The thing is...it was just one match either way. These things happen at this level, a match can get away from a player, he can feel tight, and another player can get on a roll and feel supremely confident.

Let's see, before Philipoussis went down with that unfortunate knee injury I would say ANYONE would say he looked like the more dominant player in that Wimbledon quarter against Sampras. You think Sampras was reliving the glory of that Davis Cup match in his mind then? I don't. I tend to think he got DARN lucky. In fact, I bet you anything he'd tell you the same. In fact, when Sampras went down to Federer at Wimbledon, he said in the back of his mind, he almost EXPECTED it, as he knew sooner or later the breaks wouldn't go his way and that people don't realize it, but that during his reign at Wimbledon he got lucky a number of times, he said, where the breaks just went his way, and that at any time he EASILY could have lose on of those matches, and there goes his "fabled" and "magical" reign. In other words, Sampras sub-consciously FATED himself to lose that match in my opinion. He said, that he knew, that he just had that feeling before hand, that he was due to lose a match like this at Wimbledon...and it happened. Believe me (even though I've never sniffed the top 10,000), if you go into a match at this level thinking that in the back of your head, that you're "due" for a heartbreaking loss, well, let's just say that tends to tempt fates ever so slightly the other way. And really, that's all you need at this level to make the difference.

Yeah, I remember when Sampras went to shake hands with Phillipousis - his raised eyebrows (can't miss those bushy eyebrows can you?) said it all, he knew he got off the hook.

Although in the semi against Henman he looked out of it in the first set and went on to win in 4 sets, so I suppose you never know.

Moose Malloy
04-04-2008, 04:09 PM
You should watch the 1996 Australian Open match between Sampras and Philippouissis before feeling sorry for anyone. The Poo showed what could happen if you were able to get onto the Sampras serve and were strong enough to hold your own.

There was only one break in that match, only a few points decided it, it wasn't as one-sided as the media made it out to be imo, it wasn't like when safin beat him at the open or something.

When they played again at Wimbledon & the USO later that year, Sampras won both matches in straights, I think Mark didn't even get one bp in either match (John Newcombe said Sampras played their 4th Round match at the Open like a 'final')

Yeah, I remember when Sampras went to shake hands with Phillipousis - his raised eyebrows (can't miss those bushy eyebrows can you?) said it all, he knew he got off the hook.


I'm a bit surprised by how this match is remembered, Sampras was only down a set when Philipoussis retired(& in the one game in which he lost serve, he double-faulted 3 times!) it wasn't really that big a deficit, Sampras played many 4 setters at Wimbledon in his heyday.

Completely agree with you, but you will NEVER see the Tennis Channel here in the states ever show that match...they're too biased.

Think you're reading a bit too much into their programming decisions, they obviously have very limited funds(I didn't realize so many infomercials existed!), I doubt they can just air(or find) any old match. That's why they just repeat the same matches(& other programs) for years. They've shown Becker defeating Agassi in an old DC match many times, where is their bias there? or Lendl over Mac at the FO, or Federer over Sampras at W...

BreakPoint
04-04-2008, 05:41 PM
Well, technically speaking Federer did return Sampras' serve, and quite well.

I recall Federer lunging and diving for the ball but could barely get his racquet on it when Sampras served those bombs down the "T" at 135mph in Kuala Lumpur last November.

BreakPoint
04-04-2008, 05:50 PM
You should watch the 1996 Australian Open match between Sampras and Philippouissis before feeling sorry for anyone. The Poo showed what could happen if you were able to get onto the Sampras serve and were strong enough to hold your own. Agassi could only ever do one of the two, Federer would be able to do both.
I never saw that match. Not sure if it was televized in the U.S. or maybe I was travelling overseas.

But how about the other two matches that Sampras and Philippoussis played in 1996, at Wimbledon and at the US Open, both of which Sampras won easily in straight sets?

1996
US Open
NY, U.S.A.
Hard
R16
Sampras
6-3 6-3 6-4

1996
Wimbledon
England
Grass
R64
Sampras
7-6(4) 6-4 6-4

stormholloway
04-04-2008, 06:41 PM
I recall Federer lunging and diving for the ball but could barely get his racquet on it when Sampras served those bombs down the "T" at 135mph in Kuala Lumpur last November.

Yeah. And I recall four straight aces against Sampras at MSG. Of course Sampras is going to serve aces. It's the best overall service ever, but for you to say Federer can't return it is a stretch. He beat Pete at Wimbledon, and Sampras was serving very well.

BreakPoint
04-04-2008, 11:32 PM
Yeah. And I recall four straight aces against Sampras at MSG. Of course Sampras is going to serve aces. It's the best overall service ever, but for you to say Federer can't return it is a stretch. He beat Pete at Wimbledon, and Sampras was serving very well.
Sure, Federer will return some of Sampras' serves, but he'll return fewer of them than from the average guy he plays against on tour today, even Roddick's.

I think Sampras served better in his prime (until about '99) and in that '97 Davis Cup match against Philippoussis than he did against Federer in that '01 Wimbledon match.

!Tym
04-05-2008, 11:17 AM
There was only one break in that match, only a few points decided it, it wasn't as one-sided as the media made it out to be imo, it wasn't like when safin beat him at the open or something.

When they played again at Wimbledon & the USO later that year, Sampras won both matches in straights, I think Mark didn't even get one bp in either match (John Newcombe said Sampras played their 4th Round match at the Open like a 'final')



I'm a bit surprised by how this match is remembered, Sampras was only down a set when Philipoussis retired(& in the one game in which he lost serve, he double-faulted 3 times!) it wasn't really that big a deficit, Sampras played many 4 setters at Wimbledon in his heyday.



Think you're reading a bit too much into their programming decisions, they obviously have very limited funds(I didn't realize so many infomercials existed!), I doubt they can just air(or find) any old match. That's why they just repeat the same matches(& other programs) for years. They've shown Becker defeating Agassi in an old DC match many times, where is their bias there? or Lendl over Mac at the FO, or Federer over Sampras at W...

No, the reason I doubt that is because the guys you mention are all LEGEND caliber players...and by comparison the "scud" is just poo-poo.

The bias I mean is that if they won't even show a little sumthin'-sumthin'-know-what-I-mean from Chang's "on a mission from God" run at the French, then what WILL they show?

...they certainly will NOT show Sampras-Poo-poo from the Australian.

I agree with you that their funds are limited, but it's still apalling the selection of old matches they show. I seriously don't think it'd cost THAT much to show those IN-BETWEEN great matches like Pioline-Stich. In other words, there's more to just tennis than the legend's glory. Why not show Forget-Sampras Davis Cup? Never saw that tie, but it looked from highlights like it was an INCREDIBLY emotional and inspired team performance from Leconte, et. all to win that one. I mean it actually looked like a REAL team sport celebration with REAL crying and emotions and stuff, and not just, whoo-hoo we're jumping around a few times in a circle for show to make it look like this REALLY means more than anything else in the world to us as tennis players.

Btw--with Sampras' serve it's not like he's ever truly out of a match, but to me, Philipoussis may not have been beating him love and love, but the feeling I got watching that match? How to compare the feeling? Like watching Krajicek dismantle Sampras at Wimbledon. Did Krajicek win that match love and love and love either? No, of course not, it's REAL grass back then. But still, that's as close as you're going to get to Sampras feeling like he was being "dominated" out there. To me, had Philipoussis not got the freak injury, Sampras would have lost. Philipoussis was feeling it that day, and believe it or not, Sampras can have so-so days too and lose to VERY dangerous players but streaky players like Philipoussis on grass if they're hot. Krajicek proved it. IF you don't get spooked out and let the shining light, the "aura that is 'The Sampras'" get to you; it's very possible. All you gotta do is step through the hoop...right Goran? Right Patrick? Right ROG? See the difference in BOLD?

JamaicanYoute
04-05-2008, 12:45 PM
I agree with you that their funds are limited, but it's still apalling the selection of old matches they show. I seriously don't think it'd cost THAT much to show those IN-BETWEEN great matches like Pioline-Stich. In other words, there's more to just tennis than the legend's glory.

Totally agree with you. It's really ridiculous how little they truly show. And even if they were to only show "legend's glory", there's a LOT more that they haven't shown.

You should watch the 1996 Australian Open match between Sampras and Philippouissis before feeling sorry for anyone. The Poo showed what could happen if you were able to get onto the Sampras serve and were strong enough to hold your own.

Yeah, but how often were people actually able to do that compared to how much Pete did it to others? Also, the Wimbledon Fed-Sampras, I don't think he played as well as everyone says.

Well said,but problem with BP is that now that Federer is slumping he needs another god to worship,so he switched to Sampras.

I assume you have a problem with him, (I don't know him) but he has a photo of Sampras as his avatar....so I don't know why you'd say this as if he hasn't "worshipped" Sampras before. And if he really does "worship" Roger, he knows like most people that even if Fed were to never win another tournament he'll still be considered one of the best players ever.

The more I see Federer play the more I am impressed by him. Especially in person (TV does nothing for Tennis). But more and more I still continue to believe that in their prime Sampras would most of the time have his way with Federer. I think the only thing Roger does better than Sampras is return. His serve and volleys are certainly not AS good (but they're good), his forehand is probably just as good. His backhand is a little more consistent, but that's probably because he brushes the ball a little more than Pete. And before he got older, Pete's backhand was pretty good to say the least. On his better days it was great. His speed was very underrated. Not to mention, I think Sampras is a better athlete than Roger.

I think if God were to put them on a Tennis Court and said "You're gonna both play your best tennis today", Pete would come out the victor. We've seen him take apart his best opponents while they were playing their best (Agassi in '99 a few times, for example).

Now, before we argue some more, how about we argue about how well they would do together at Wimbledon in doubles if they were to get some practice in together.

stormholloway
04-05-2008, 06:19 PM
Sure, Federer will return some of Sampras' serves, but he'll return fewer of them than from the average guy he plays against on tour today, even Roddick's.

I think Sampras served better in his prime (until about '99) and in that '97 Davis Cup match against Philippoussis than he did against Federer in that '01 Wimbledon match.

I agree here.

laurie
04-06-2008, 01:41 AM
Hi Moose, I agree in that 1999 Wimbldon, Sampras was a set down - that's why I said you never know because like I said against Henman he played poor and deservedly lost the first set, but by the end of the match he played very well in sets 3 and 4 which set him up nicely for the final the next day (semis were played on Saturday in 1999 due to rain)

I always thought this about the 2001 Federer match, Sampras was clearly out of form going int that tournament after not winning any event for exactly 12 months. Before the tournament began, Pat Cash said on BBc that Sampras was vulnerable and the talk in the locker room was that players feel they have a chance, he didn't return as well as he usually does on grass, which was one of his strengths on grass. He played well in that despite been out of form, he raised his level in the 4th and 5th set and could have won had he taken those break points at 5-4 in the 5th set. So he has nothing to be ashamed of in that match - it's the Basstl match he hates to talk about. For instance, what won the Wimbledon final in 2000 was return of serve, for some reason Sampras always seemed to cause Rafter loads of problems on return, maybe more than Agassi against Rafter, maybe it was the chipped backhand getting it low, in addition to his drive returns, a return two handers usually don't have.

laurie
04-06-2008, 03:43 AM
I just want to add, despite been a Sampras fan- I remember after watching the 1st set against Federer which he lost on a tiebreak, I remember having to go for a walk! I did stomach the 3rd, 4th and 5th sets though. Talk about similarities between them was already taking place and people were excited before the match to see what would happen, there was talk Federer had a chance to cause an upset.

But Federer beating Sampras was by far the best thing that happened to Wimbledon. You had all these players who Sampras had denied desperate to win - Henman, Martin, Rafter, Agassi, Ivanisevic. It turned out in my opinion to be the best Wimbledon I've ever seen.

And I suppose Federer going out this year before the final will be of similar proportions if it were to happen this year.

Back to Sampras v Phillipoussis, they played eachother a lot in slams didn't they? They also played eachother in the 1995 US open 4th rd and 2000 French Open 1st rd - they knew eachother well and had a similar philosphy to the game. (how they played the game).

HyperHorse
04-06-2008, 04:32 AM
Just thought I'd post here and defend Philipoussis for i saw this match and remember it well, for people with a biased opinion and that just want to say Sampras was the best ever blah blah blah.
Flip was far from being a complete player this year, he was still in his "look how hard i can hit the ball" stage of his career...
So he was hardly a match for Pete on the day...

krosero
04-06-2008, 09:17 AM
For instance, what won the Wimbledon final in 2000 was return of serve, for some reason Sampras always seemed to cause Rafter loads of problems on return, maybe more than Agassi against Rafter, maybe it was the chipped backhand getting it low, in addition to his drive returns, a return two handers usually don't have.The ATP stats don't provide support for this. Sampras won 35% of his return points against Rafter. In the semis against Rafter, Agassi had won 34%. A slight edge in Sampras' favor, and yet it isn't, considering that the two matches were different -- a four-set win by Sampras and a five-set loss by Agassi. Sampras won 53% of all points played against Rafter, Agassi only 49%, yet their success on return was hardly different.

In 2001 Agassi lost that other five-setter to Rafter, again winning 49% of total points, and he got up to 36% on return.

Strange as it may seem, the closest comparison to the Sampras-Rafter final, in terms of points won, is Agassi's straight-set win over Rafter in the 1999 semis, when Andre won 54% of the total points (compared to Pete's 53% in 2000). On return Agassi was at 36% (compared to 35% for Sampras in 2000).

laurie
04-06-2008, 01:57 PM
The ATP stats don't provide support for this. Sampras won 35% of his return points against Rafter. In the semis against Rafter, Agassi had won 34%. A slight edge in Sampras' favor, and yet it isn't, considering that the two matches were different -- a four-set win by Sampras and a five-set loss by Agassi. Sampras won 53% of all points played against Rafter, Agassi only 49%, yet their success on return was hardly different.

In 2001 Agassi lost that other five-setter to Rafter, again winning 49% of total points, and he got up to 36% on return.

Strange as it may seem, the closest comparison to the Sampras-Rafter final, in terms of points won, is Agassi's straight-set win over Rafter in the 1999 semis, when Andre won 54% of the total points (compared to Pete's 53% in 2000). On return Agassi was at 36% (compared to 35% for Sampras in 2000).

Thanks for that. I was thinking of most of Sampras v Rafter meetings over the years where Sampras nearly always seemed to have the measure of Rafter's serve.

In that 2000 Wimbledon final, Sampras actually had 11 break points before breaking Rafter in the 3rd set and twice in the 4th set. Before they came off for rain at 4-5 in the first set, Sampras was all over Rafter's serve, he lost his rythm after the rain delays and Rafter pinched the first set on a tiebreak.

Stats are fine, but I think Sampras played the big points really well and that's the most important thing. Also, I think if Sampras was 100% fit he would have beaten Rafter in straight sets in that final. Rafter couldn't beat Sampras even though Sampras was literally hobbling on one leg for 3 hours plus.

krosero
04-06-2008, 04:48 PM
I was thinking of most of Sampras v Rafter meetings over the years where Sampras nearly always seemed to have the measure of Rafter's serve. That's fine and I'd have no problem with the argument that Sampras had the measure of Rafter's serve. He was the easily the greatest player of the 90s and he had the measure of so many things. What's unclear is whether you're still comparing to Agassi here, in the matches you're referring to. Is there a trend showing that Sampras had a higher winning rate in return games against Rafter than Agassi did?

Or is there a match comparable to Agassi's defeat of Rafter at the '95 Australian? I took those stats myself and Agassi returned Rafter's serve with clean winners 12 times. Ten took place off Rafter's second serve -- and on second serve a driving return in the hands of a returner like Agassi could be a punishing weapon, at least as great an asset as a chip return by Sampras on grass.

In that 2000 Wimbledon final, Sampras actually had 11 break points before breaking Rafter in the 3rd set and twice in the 4th set. Before they came off for rain at 4-5 in the first set, Sampras was all over Rafter's serve, he lost his rythm after the rain delays and Rafter pinched the first set on a tiebreak.

Stats are fine, but I think Sampras played the big points really well and that's the most important thing. The weakness of the particular stat I used -- Return Points Won -- is that it's merely general. In theory, Sampras and Agassi could each have the same returning percentage against Rafter, while Sampras was better than Agassi at winning key points. That sort of thing would not show in a stat like Return Points Won. But you mention yourself the high number of unconverted break points that Sampras had: in the end he converted on 3 of 14.

Agassi, in the semifinal, converted 4 of 9, a much better percentage.

Again, if the only argument is that Sampras played big points well, I heartily agree. His Hanover win over Becker is just one example, in that he won fewer points overall but came away with the match.

It's just I don't see a favorable comparison with Agassi-Rafter. What's in Pete's favor in that comparison is that he converted in the end; but that's true of anyone that wins a match; in the end they pull it out and get those key points. It doesn't begin to show that they're a better big-point player than the other guy, who lost to Rafter for no reason except the simple one that he wasn't nearly as good as Sampras on grass.

laurie
04-07-2008, 12:29 AM
That's fine and I'd have no problem with the argument that Sampras had the measure of Rafter's serve. He was the easily the greatest player of the 90s and he had the measure of so many things. What's unclear is whether you're still comparing to Agassi here, in the matches you're referring to. Is there a trend showing that Sampras had a higher winning rate in return games against Rafter than Agassi did?

Or is there a match comparable to Agassi's defeat of Rafter at the '95 Australian? I took those stats myself and Agassi returned Rafter's serve with clean winners 12 times. Ten took place off Rafter's second serve -- and on second serve a driving return in the hands of a returner like Agassi could be a punishing weapon, at least as great an asset as a chip return by Sampras on grass.

The weakness of the particular stat I used -- Return Points Won -- is that it's merely general. In theory, Sampras and Agassi could each have the same returning percentage against Rafter, while Sampras was better than Agassi at winning key points. That sort of thing would not show in a stat like Return Points Won. But you mention yourself the high number of unconverted break points that Sampras had: in the end he converted on 3 of 14.

Agassi, in the semifinal, converted 4 of 9, a much better percentage.

Again, if the only argument is that Sampras played big points well, I heartily agree. His Hanover win over Becker is just one example, in that he won fewer points overall but came away with the match.

It's just I don't see a favorable comparison with Agassi-Rafter. What's in Pete's favor in that comparison is that he converted in the end; but that's true of anyone that wins a match; in the end they pull it out and get those key points. It doesn't begin to show that they're a better big-point player than the other guy, who lost to Rafter for no reason except the simple one that he wasn't nearly as good as Sampras on grass.

Thanks again K, as you know we are in different time zones so you won't read this for a few hours yet.

I confess I don't look for stats like you so have no comeback on your statistical facts. I just go on my observations of the matches I watched over the years between them. Well, I think Sampras and Rafter only played on grass once, most of their matches were on outdoor hardcourts and indoors. I'll give you a few examples where Sampras really went to town on Rafter's serve, if you have any of these, maybe you chart the stats or check the stats on the ATP website?

1997 Grand Slam cup final
1997 Davis Cup semifinal
1997 ATP round robin
2001 US Open 4th rd
1997 Philadelphia final - I never saw that one but understand it was comprehensive.

Some of their close meetings scoreline wise:

1998 US Open semifinal
1998 Cincinnati final
1999 Cincinnati final
2001 Indian Wells quarterfinal

As for Agassi, well Agassi and Rafter played two of the greatest matches of recent times, the 2000 and 2001 Wimbledon semifinals. The 1999 Wimbledon semi, that's some of the best Tennis I've seen Agassi play ever. The 2001 Australian semi, Rafter had a great opportunity until he cramped badly in the 4th set.

Rafter enjoyed rallying with Agassi, they had some great rallies in their matches, allowed Rafter to get a rythm. Sampras more wanted to crush Rafter where possible (there was tension between them as well) and really raised his level often when playing Rafter, and Rafter responded.

Let me know if you have stats of any other matches. Cheers

krosero
04-07-2008, 06:27 AM
Let me know if you have stats of any other matches. CheersWill do, thanks for the list and observations.