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View Full Version : The Better Server: Agassi or Connors


theagassiman
04-27-2009, 03:16 AM
Tough question (at least I hope).

Both men not known for their serves (to put it mildly)

Jimmy Connors had that reliable lefty slice serve, but couldn't really put that much pace on it compared to his other rivals.

Agassi of course, was not a bad server, but he was not very reliable (especially in his early career) and his second serve wasn't that great.

So who do you think had the better serve?

pc1
04-27-2009, 03:25 AM
Clearly Andre. Andre could really hit the serve with great pace if he had to. He didn't do it that often because he could generally control the rally with his great groundstrokes after he put his first serve in. It wasn't a percentage play for Andre to go for the ace. Andre often was one of the percentage leaders in holding serve.

Connors really never had a good first serve. He had to place it and move it around so he could control the rally. The only major advantage he had was that he was a lefty and could hit the serve out wide in the ad court. I don't know how Jimmy did in holding serve because they didn't have the stats until really late in his career. I do seem to recall however some television commentator mentioned that Jimmy's first and second serve percentage of points won were about the same at 70% one year. Which meant to them that there wasn't much difference between his first and second serves.

hoodjem
04-27-2009, 05:59 AM
Agassi's serve was better.

Connors didn't have a serve.

Carlo Giovanni Colussi
04-27-2009, 06:00 AM
...I do seem to recall however some television commentator mentioned that Jimmy's first and second serve percentage of points won were about the same at 70% one year. Which meant to them that there wasn't much difference between his first and second serves.

Well in my memory, Agassi's serve was less easily broken by his opponents than Connors' so I would concur with pc1.
In very few occasions Connors' serve was a threat. It was perhaps a little weapon in his 1982 Queen's Club final and in the 5th set of his 1982 Wimby final (each time against Mac) but most of the time you knew that Jimbo could be broken in each of his serve's game.
I recall a written comment about Jimbo's success over Stockton in the "WCT Finals" final in 1977 when Jimbo would have serve about 71% of 1st services. Because previously that year Stockton had beaten twice Connors in the WCT circuit (US Pro Indoor-Philadelphia WCT and Toronto WCT), the commentator, given that Jimbo had his revenge over Stockton in Dallas and had a high percentage of 1st serves in that match, seemed to make Jimbo his favourite for the next Wimby. But apparently this man had overrated Jimbo's serve because that stroke didn't help much Jimbo against Björn in the Wimby final while Borg won many points with full aces or aces.

thalivest
04-27-2009, 07:33 AM
Serve: Agassi clearly
Return of serve: Connors (Agassi is overrated, especialy compared to Connors)
Backhand: Connors
Forehand: Agassi
Volleys: Connors
Movements: Connors
Mental Game: Connors

Connors is the better player but Agassi had the better serve.

pc1
04-27-2009, 08:11 AM
Serve: Agassi clearly
Return of serve: Connors (Agassi is overrated, especialy compared to Connors)
Backhand: Connors
Forehand: Agassi
Volleys: Connors
Movements: Connors
Mental Game: Connors

Connors is the better player but Agassi had the better serve.

I can't agree with your opinions on the relative merits of Connors and Agassi more. The stuff about Agassi being the greatest returner of all time started with McEnroe saying that on television I think but I don't think Agassi compares to Jimmy Connors with Agassi as far as returns are concern. I thought Andre was aced a lot and was more often overpowered on big serves than Connors.

The last two categories was very heavily in favor of Connors.

thalivest
04-27-2009, 08:24 AM
I can't agree with your opinions on the relative merits of Connors and Agassi more. The stuff about Agassi being the greatest returner of all time started with McEnroe saying that on television I think but I don't think Agassi compares to Jimmy Connors with Agassi as far as returns are concern. I thought Andre was aced a lot and was more often overpowered on big serves than Connors.

The last two categories was very heavily in favor of Connors.

The hype about Agassi being the greatest returner ever and superior to Connors as a returner were just that, alot of hype. As CyBorg said it best in saying that people who promote the game like McEnroe do everything to try to build up the recent best players, it is all about marketing and money. That is why Sampras, Agassi, Federer, and Nadal to varying degrees are all inflated even beyond how great they are, but Agassi by far the most of that foursome this is true of. For a player like Agassi who was the 2nd most important player of the 90s and 2000s until Federer and Nadal's emergence, that is why the ficticious and undeserved label of him as the "greatest returner ever" and the sudden building up of the once never heard of "career slam" occured.

Connors is by far the best all around returner ever. He was just as scary an offensive return as Agassi but was tougher to ace, far more able to to get his racket squarely on the biggest serves, got far more in play, far more able to get overpowering serves back either deep or low to neutralize things vs a serve he couldnt quite attack full out, far smarter a returner. There is no comparision between the two.

drakulie
04-27-2009, 08:48 AM
Menroe,
Lendl,
Borg.

3 guys which Connors coulnd't handle their serves.

On the other hand:

becker
sampras,
ivanisavec,
krajicek,
stich

all of which had *WAY* better serves that the 3 previously listed, and yet Agassi handled them fine.

But yeah, *AA* is over hyped.

Hell, if you want to really get stupid, AA serve, according to many here wasn't that good, and Connors couldn't even handle AA's serve.

drakulie
04-27-2009, 08:48 AM
Menroe,
Lendl,
Borg.

3 guys which Connors coulnd't handle their serves.

On the other hand:

becker
sampras,
ivanisavec,
krajicek,
stich

all of which had *WAY* better serves that the 3 previously listed, and yet Agassi handled them fine.

But yeah, *AA* is over hyped.

Hell, if you want to really get stupid, AA's serve, according to many here wasn't that good, and Connors couldn't even handle AA's serve.

flying24
04-27-2009, 09:09 AM
Connor's handled the serve of all of McEnroe, Lendl, and Borg fine. Borg's baseline dominance, extraordinary consistency, unshakeable nerve and knackness for coming up at clutch shots at the right moments, were why he dominated Connors and everyone else in his peak years. Borg hardly served Connors off the court ever. McEnroe's volleying was a much bigger problem for Connor's than just his serve, and none of the guys you mention volley better than McEnroe including Sampras. Connors owned Lendl until old age took over, and even though Lendl's overpowering forehand and fitness were bigger problems than his serve.

Agassi couldnt handle Sampras's serve at all on faster surfaces, only on slower surfaces. On faster surfaces he was helpless to the Sampras serve. Agassi only led Ivanisevic and Krajicek 4-3 so he likely had alot of trouble with their serves as those particular players were wildly inconsistent headcases who had little else to back up their serves, especialy compared to the 3 much greater players you mentioned Connors facing. Agassi did well vs Becker during his past his prime years.

matchmaker
04-27-2009, 09:22 AM
Agassi was the better server IMO. Still, not a great serve, but he knew his limits and would often go for the wide serve so he could open the court for his angled groundies. He is a good example what someone with an average serve can realistically do and will earn him a high number of won serve games.

drakulie
04-27-2009, 09:23 AM
^^^flying24, try again.

Agassi defeated Sampras on many fast hard courts.

Also, handled becker from beginning to end of his career.

Lastly, although the player I mentioned are "the greats", they didn't have better serves (by a long stretch), compared to the guys I mentioned.

Rabbit
04-27-2009, 09:37 AM
Serve: Agassi clearly
Return of serve: Connors (Agassi is overrated, especialy compared to Connors)
Backhand: Connors
Forehand: Agassi
Volleys: Connors
Movements: Connors
Mental Game: Connors

Connors is the better player but Agassi had the better serve.


I agree with one friendly amendment....

Serve - Agassi
Backhand - Connors
Forehand - Agassi
Volleys - Connors
Movement - Connors
Mental Game - Connors

Return of Serve - EVEN

In my view, these two were the best returners of serve during their era. I might also add Ken Rosewall as another guy with a great return who overlapped his successor...

flying24
04-27-2009, 09:37 AM
^^^flying24, try again.

Agassi defeated Sampras on many fast hard courts.

Also, handled becker from beginning to end of his career.

Lastly, although the player I mentioned are "the greats", they didn't have better serves (by a long stretch), compared to the guys I mentioned.

Becker's prime was 1985-1989 and Agassi lost all 3 of their 1989 meetings. Agassi is a combined 0-6 vs Sampras at the Worlds two premiere fast court events- Wimbledon and the U.S Open, and a combined 2-12 vs him at Wimbledon, U.S Open, Miami, and the year end Championships (his 2 wins were RR wins too). What the heck are these many fast courts Agassi beat Sampras on. In their long history two RR matches at the year end Masters, one which Sampras came back from to destroy Agassi in the final in 99, and one match in Paris in 94. That is it.

What makes you think Stich had any better a serve than McEnroe or Lendl. He wasnt an amazing server like those others you mentioned, a very good server with a very good all around game. Ivanivsevic and Krajicek probably troubled Agassi a great deal with their serves to have almost an equal head to head as they were injury prone headcases who were mediocre in other areas of the game (especialy Krajicek). If Agassi handled their serves with no problem he would have dominant head to heads vs both as there was no other area they would trouble him.

crabgrass
04-27-2009, 09:45 AM
Serve: Agassi clearly
Return of serve: Connors (Agassi is overrated, especialy compared to Connors)
Backhand: Connors
Forehand: Agassi
Volleys: Connors
Movements: Connors
Mental Game: Connors

Connors is the better player but Agassi had the better serve.

agree with pretty much everything here,
makes you wonder how much more connors could of achieved if he'd had a half decent serve.
as for return of serve, agassi was good but connors was the best ive seen.

drakulie
04-27-2009, 09:47 AM
^^Oh, I see. When Agassi beat becker, becker sucked. :roll:

AA beat becker 9 times in a row, including carpet, hard, grass, and clay.

to add, Connors is 0-6 against Becker.

Agassi beat Sampras on both hard and carpet.

But yeah, I know>>>> the sun was in Sampras' eyes the days he lost to AA. :roll:

flying24
04-27-2009, 09:58 AM
^^Oh, I see. When Agassi beat becker, becker sucked. :roll:

AA beat becker 9 times in a row, including carpet, hard, grass, and clay.

Agassi beat Sampras on both hard and carpet.

But yeah, I know>>>> the sun was in Sampras' eyes the days he lost to AA. :roll:

3 wins on fast surfaces are not much when you played 18 matches on them, especialy when you went 0-10 in matches excluding RR at Wimbledon, U.S Open, year end Masters, and Miami, the 4 most important fast court events throughout their careers.

I didnt say Becker wasnt good the years Agassi beat him but his heyday as a player was 1985-1989 when he won all 3 of his Wimbledons, won his only U.S Open, had most of his best performances at the French Open, had his only ever years winning more than 5 tournaments. Those were the best years of Becker.

drakulie
04-27-2009, 10:02 AM
especialy when you went 0-10 in matches excluding


actually, AA went 0-34 against Sampras, cause we all know the sun was in Sampras' eyes when he lost.

crabgrass
04-27-2009, 10:15 AM
Connor's handled the serve of all of McEnroe, Lendl, and Borg fine. Borg's baseline dominance, extraordinary consistency, unshakeable nerve and knackness for coming up at clutch shots at the right moments, were why he dominated Connors and everyone else in his peak years. Borg hardly served Connors off the court ever. McEnroe's volleying was a much bigger problem for Connor's than just his serve, and none of the guys you mention volley better than McEnroe including Sampras. Connors owned Lendl until old age took over, and even though Lendl's overpowering forehand and fitness were bigger problems than his serve.

Agassi couldnt handle Sampras's serve at all on faster surfaces, only on slower surfaces. On faster surfaces he was helpless to the Sampras serve. Agassi only led Ivanisevic and Krajicek 4-3 so he likely had alot of trouble with their serves as those particular players were wildly inconsistent headcases who had little else to back up their serves, especialy compared to the 3 much greater players you mentioned Connors facing. Agassi did well vs Becker during his past his prime years.

connors owned lendl up till lendl was 22 years old, by that stage connors had built up a head to head record of something like 8-0 or 9-1.
the following 2 years they traded victories back and forth with connors last victory being in tokyo over a then 24 year old lendl.....after this lendl would reel off 17 straight victories, if you include exhibitions the streak would extend to over 20.

flying24
04-27-2009, 10:50 AM
connors owned lendl up till lendl was 22 years old, by that stage connors had built up a head to head record of something like 8-0 or 9-1.
the following 2 years they traded victories back and forth with connors last victory being in tokyo over a then 24 year old lendl.....after this lendl would reel off 17 straight victories, if you include exhibitions the streak would extend to over 20.

This is true. I still think Connor's head to head with Lendl is completely unfair representation when Lendl ended their "rivalry" with a 17 match winning streak that began when Connor's was already 32 years old and had won his final of 8 slam titles over a year earlier. At the very least the head to head should not serve as any evidence of Lendl's superiority (which could be argued but just not based on head to head) or of the specific matchup being in Lendl's favor. If one would argue either based on the head to head it would in fact be in Connor's favor. In 1982 Lendl at 22 had his breakthrough year winning a whopping 15 tournaments, stretching a match win streak vs #1 ranked McEnroe which even began in 1981 to 7 straight wins, and making slam finals and semis consistently. Yet despite this Connors went 5-5 vs Lendl starting with a loss to Lendl at Cincinnati 1982 just before Connors turning 30 and extending to a win over Lendl at 1984 in Tokyo, just after Connors turned 32. Lendl did not beat Connors in a slam event until Connors was 33 years old at the 1985 U.S Open. Lendl failed to beat a 30 year old Connors at the 82 U.S Open, a 31 year old Connors at the 83 U.S Open, and an almost 32 year old Connors at Wimbledon 1984.

Connors head to head with McEnroe also seemed somewhat unfair representation given that he lost 11 out their final 13 matches which began just before Connors turning 31. Then again Connors won 6 of his first 7 matches vs a still green McEnroe.

martin
04-27-2009, 11:09 AM
This is true. I still think Connor's head to head with Lendl is completely unfair representation when Lendl ended their "rivalry" with a 17 match winning streak that began when Connor's was already 32 years old and had won his final of 8 slam titles over a year earlier. At the very least the head to head should not serve as any evidence of Lendl's superiority (which could be argued but just not based on head to head) or of the specific matchup being in Lendl's favor. If one would argue either based on the head to head it would in fact be in Connor's favor. In 1982 Lendl at 22 had his breakthrough year winning a whopping 15 tournaments, stretching a match win streak vs #1 ranked McEnroe which even began in 1981 to 7 straight wins, and making slam finals and semis consistently. Yet despite this Connors went 5-5 vs Lendl starting with a loss to Lendl at Cincinnati 1982 just before Connors turning 30 and extending to a win over Lendl at 1984 in Tokyo, just after Connors turned 32. Lendl did not beat Connors in a slam event until Connors was 33 years old at the 1985 U.S Open. Lendl failed to beat a 30 year old Connors at the 82 U.S Open, a 31 year old Connors at the 83 U.S Open, and an almost 32 year old Connors at Wimbledon 1984.

Connors head to head with McEnroe also seemed somewhat unfair representation given that he lost 11 out their final 13 matches which began just before Connors turning 31. Then again Connors won 6 of his first 7 matches vs a still green McEnroe.


I agree completely. Connors is often being punished for being so good at old age but he was definitely far over his prime. One of the reasons why Lendl and Mcenroe could turn the head to head. If he stopped at 32 and not at 40 years of age he would have had probably the best winning percentage of any player except for Borg maybe but on the other hand we would have missed his great run at the US open.

pc1
04-27-2009, 12:56 PM
I agree completely. Connors is often being punished for being so good at old age but he was definitely far over his prime. One of the reasons why Lendl and Mcenroe could turn the head to head. If he stopped at 32 and not at 40 years of age he would have had probably the best winning percentage of any player except for Borg maybe but on the other hand we would have missed his great run at the US open.

I agree also. Lendl himself said about Connors in the his later years that he was able to attack on shots that he could have several years before.

hoodjem
04-27-2009, 02:28 PM
I'd be interested to see a Service Ace/Winner comparison.

Neither had many, but I bet Agassi had more.

jimbo333
04-27-2009, 03:26 PM
Great thread:):)

I'm one of Connors biggest fans, but there is no doubt Agassi had the better serve. Actually his serving seemed to get better as he got older (don't know how stats add up mind), if he had a better serve earlier in his career it would have really benefitted his game I reckon:)

timnz
04-27-2009, 03:57 PM
3 wins on fast surfaces are not much when you played 18 matches on them, especialy when you went 0-10 in matches excluding RR at Wimbledon, U.S Open, year end Masters, and Miami, the 4 most important fast court events throughout their careers.

I didnt say Becker wasnt good the years Agassi beat him but his heyday as a player was 1985-1989 when he won all 3 of his Wimbledons, won his only U.S Open, had most of his best performances at the French Open, had his only ever years winning more than 5 tournaments. Those were the best years of Becker.

I remember that Becker himself thought that he reached his peak form in 1996. That year he won the Australian Open. Was unlucky to get injured early on in Wimbledon, but bounched back to be the equal or near equal of a peak Sampras indoor. He said at the time that the level he had 10 years earlier couldn't even compare with his 1996 level.

thalivest
04-27-2009, 04:03 PM
I remember that Becker himself thought that he reached his peak form in 1996. That year he won the Australian Open. Was unlucky to get injured early on in Wimbledon, but bounched back to be the equal or near equal of a peak Sampras indoor. He said at the time that the level he had 10 years earlier couldn't even compare with his 1996 level.

Agassi said in 2005 he felt he reached his peak level too. Do we believe him also.

timnz
04-27-2009, 04:21 PM
Agassi said in 2005 he felt he reached his peak level too. Do we believe him also.

Take a look at Beckers indoor matches against a Peak Sampras in 1996 on YouTube. He looks pretty incredible in this form!

1996

Stuttgart - Becker Won

World Championship - Round Robin - Becker Won

World Championship -Final - Becker lost very narrowly 6-4 in the fifth.

thalivest
04-27-2009, 04:28 PM
Take a look at Beckers indoor matches against a Peak Sampras in 1996 on YouTube. He looks pretty incredible in this form!

1996

Stuttgart - Becker Won

World Championship - Round Robin - Becker Won

World Championship -Final - Becker lost very narrowly 6-4 in the fifth.

That is on his best surface. Other than Wimbledon he had hardly any semifinal or good showings in slams for multiple years by that point (yeah I know he won the 96 AO, I said hardly any). Sampras looked pretty incredible at the 2001 and 2002 U.S Opens too despite being far past his prime, and that wasnt even his very best surface.

380pistol
04-27-2009, 09:38 PM
Most in this thread are clowns. Now if one is to say Connors has better return than Agassi, fine. That's debatable, but to say Agassi's return is "over hyped" is just a clear illustration of the disdain for Agassi that is going around.

I love when shots are thrown at certain players (nad we all know who they are) it's almost blasphemous, yet with Dre the same rules don't apply. I mean look at the game breakdowns, Connors getting the nod where the backhand is concerned without anyone batting an eyelash. Are you all serious?? Agassi had one of, if not the best two handed backhand ever, and if ehe doesn't he's definitely in the discussion for that crown. If you don't believe that then there's a bridge in Brooklyn I want to sell you.

I'm not even the biggest fan of Agassi, but give credit where credit is due. But that won't happen. Look at the question of this thread?? Dre has the better serve, but we can't just give him what's rightfully his with out taking shots at him on the slide, yet the waterworks start when certain other players aren't praised all day. And yes you know what players I'm talking about.

380pistol
04-27-2009, 09:41 PM
Agassi said in 2005 he felt he reached his peak level too. Do we believe him also.

Look at Agassi in 2005 and compare that to Becker 1996. Agassi was 35 with back problems, Becker didn't reach 29 til November, won Aus Open, Queens, Vienna, Stuttgart Masters and final of YEC, you wanna compare that to what Agassi did in 2005. Becker finished #6 despite missing 2 slams that year. In 1995 final of Wim, SF of US, F of Paris Indoor and won YEC.

Now was it the best of Becker?? No, that was 1989. But it was damn good Becker (probably #3 today), and yes superior to Agassi 2005. No contest.

drakulie
04-28-2009, 05:11 AM
I see that this has become a debate where only the players victories count. All losses have some sort of **asterick** attached to them.

theagassiman
04-28-2009, 08:08 PM
Look at Agassi in 2005 and compare that to Becker 1996. Agassi was 35 with back problems, Becker didn't reach 29 til November, won Aus Open, Queens, Vienna, Stuttgart Masters and final of YEC, you wanna compare that to what Agassi did in 2005. Becker finished #6 despite missing 2 slams that year. In 1995 final of Wim, SF of US, F of Paris Indoor and won YEC.

Now was it the best of Becker?? No, that was 1989. But it was damn good Becker (probably #3 today), and yes superior to Agassi 2005. No contest.

I thought Andre's prime was 1999?

jimbo333
04-29-2009, 04:36 AM
I thought Andre's prime was 1999?

I agree, and don't forget he was a better player than Sampras that year:):)

pc1
04-29-2009, 06:32 AM
I agree, and don't forget he was a better player than Sampras that year:):)

Maybe, but people would have a good argument for 1995 being Andre's best year also even if he was second in the world to Sampras.

I'm sure Andre prefers 1999 however.

Cesc Fabregas
04-29-2009, 07:10 AM
I thought Andre's prime was 1999?

Imo he played better tennis in 95 but 99 was his best year.

anointedone
04-29-2009, 11:12 AM
I agree, and don't forget he was a better player than Sampras that year:):)

This is a highly debateable comment. Sampras went 4-1 vs Agassi that year. agassi won one RR match, and Sampras won 4 other tournament finals or semis in straight sets. Agassi's U.S Open title came with a Sampras WD at the last minute, and Sampras was the heavy favorite to win the U.S Open that year after his most dominant summer ever, including 3 of those consecutive straight set wins over Agassi- 1 on grass, 2 on hard courts.

anointedone
04-29-2009, 11:13 AM
Imo he played better tennis in 95 but 99 was his best year.

I agree on both counts. He got a bit unlucky in 1995 and a bit lucky in 1999.