PDA

View Full Version : What were Sampras' weaknesses?


bluetrain4
05-04-2009, 08:11 PM
I know it may seem like an absurd question. Sampras is an incredible player. He had huge weapons and he has the most Grand Slam titles of any player in history.

But, the fact is he did lose. He never won more than two Slams in a season, meaning that beyond clay, he lost at a Slam where the surface was favorable to him.

I realize that any weaknesses may be fleeting, not arising consistently. But, I think it's an interesting discussion. How does Sampras lose to someone like Yzaga at the USO? Of course, a lot of his losses weren't to pushovers, but to legit champions in their own right, but the question remains. There had to be something, at various times, that enabled others to get the upper hand.

Structural weaknesses (strokes), strategy, mental components (focus, intensity), physical, anything?

GameSampras
05-04-2009, 08:15 PM
Week in week out consistency. Though I can understand that. Pete was more or less a "slam player." He played for the ultimate prize and thats where he would step up and thats where he felt the need to step up. He thrived on those situations. . His priorities were different I guess from other greats. Not changing rackets either which I feel hindered his chances on clay as did his ground strokes in terms of consistency.

Physical? Well he suffered from Thalassemia Minor. Not a great disease to have in the tennis world. So his stamina was affected.


Game wise though, I thought Pete could do it all. He could rally with the best from the backcourt like Andre, and he could destroy you with his serve-volleys. It didnt help his game on clay, but he still achieved success on that surface with that style of play

CEvertFan
05-04-2009, 08:23 PM
His backhand perhaps?

Tshooter
05-04-2009, 08:29 PM
How does Sampras lose to someone like Yzaga at the USO?"

Yzaga had a sweet backhand.

How does he lose to Korda?

Anyway, his weakness ? I thought his topspin backhand wasn't great. He used to pop the ball up high and short quite often. You could attack it.

And unlike Nadal who plays every point like it's match point, Sampras seemed happy to trade service games and then raise his game for one break a set. Sometimes that got him into trouble.

!Tym
05-04-2009, 08:52 PM
I know it may seem like an absurd question. Sampras is an incredible player. He had huge weapons and he has the most Grand Slam titles of any player in history.

But, the fact is he did lose. He never won more than two Slams in a season, meaning that beyond clay, he lost at a Slam where the surface was favorable to him.

I realize that any weaknesses may be fleeting, not arising consistently. But, I think it's an interesting discussion. How does Sampras lose to someone like Yzaga at the USO? Of course, a lot of his losses weren't to pushovers, but to legit champions in their own right, but the question remains. There had to be something, at various times, that enabled others to get the upper hand.

Structural weaknesses (strokes), strategy, mental components (focus, intensity), physical, anything?

Yzaga was no pushover. In McEnroe's own words, "Yzaga had a lot of talent." Yzaga was the shortest man on tour, that was his problem, not talent...just ask Olivier Rochus about what that feels like. Yzaga beating a top player on a good day shouldn't surprise anyone. I saw that match unfold live, my memory of it is foggy. Sampras was sick. He was sluggish, slurred, like his usual game was muffled. Still, it's not like he was completely incapacitated or something. At this level, everyone loses sometimes, it's not a big deal. Everyone's really, really good. If you're feeling under the weather and the other guy's hot, you've got a decent shot of losing, it's as simple as that. There isn't the HUGE difference we think there is between the top players and the journeyman. We're talking differences in inches, not like comparing rec league players to D1 college players or something.

Sampras didn't like heavy, spinny balls to his one-handed backhand. He specificaly said he didn't like playing the Spanish guys because of this. This doesn't mean he couldn't beat those guys, however. Guys' weakness at this level are all relative, no one at this level truly has weaknesses THAT bad with the exception of say when Coria, Sabatini, and Kournikova got into their serving jitters phase and would double fault over and over or spin it in at 40mph they had lost so much confidence in their motion. Just because Moya and Berasategui had "weak" backhands, I've still seen both of these guys hit plenty of incredible winners off this side, angles, everything you can ask for from a backhand...just not nearly as often as with their INCREDIBLE forehands. Like I said, it's all relative. They're still pro level shots, same goes for Sampras' notorious weakness, his backhand.

Sampras' when he got hot with the backhand was very dangerous with it and could rip many flat winners off it, and rally quite well with it. Really, it came down to a matter of consistency. In his earlier years, his backhand was considered one of the best one-handers in the game believe it or not. I don't know why, but at some point, he just seemed to start lose the feel on it and became more mechanical with it, less instinctual and fluid in his swing. He'd have both very good and very bad days with his backhand, on his bad days, he was terribly erratic with it for the pro level. That was his obvious weakness.

On the return, he was hit or miss. That was his other obvious weakness. But in some respects, this was a strength. He just relied on the law of averages, that was his philosohpy on his return. He figured that since his own serve was so reliable, that he could just afford to wing it on his return and sooner or later, he'd piece it together for a few points and get the one break he needed to win sets. To him, it was just a matter of time. And if he didn't? No big deal, nothing to sweat. He was always so confident in his serve holding up for him that he knew tie-breaks were to his favor anyway.

Guys who gave him trouble sytlistically were grinders on his bad days, like a Yzaga or Chang. They could take advantage of his erratic tendencies when he wasn't quite feeling up to the task.

Guys who could match or surpass his own style of hit or miss baseline tennis like Korda or Safin on good days.

Guys who were fast enough and had enough length to flag down his vauntaed running forehand and reset the points. Sampras' was a guy who expected to deliver the knockout blow with his forehand, with ONE clubbing blow. If you could manage to survive that blow, the chances would start to turn in your favor, the more you had to make him go for it. He was good for the big knockout punch, not so much the flurry of *punches in bunches* style to knock you out like an Agassi or Kuerten (though both these guys obviously had some serious knockout power too. The difference is that if they didn't knock you with the first big shot, they were CONSISTENT enough to maintain the pace and bring the heat for three, four, five, however many more shots were needed to put you away in a point). Bruguera, Ferreira, and Hewitt are good examples of these players. They also had some of the best passing shots around. You need a combination of great passes, defense, foot speed/athletiicsm, ablility to adjust and change directions on the fly to give Sampras problems, and that's both of these guys excelled at.

The other type that could give Sampras trouble was guys who also had titatnic serves. Guys like Stich, Krajicek, Philipoussis, and Goran could give Sampras a taste of his own medicine. They could hold just as easily as he could. And this put a new kind of pressure on Sampras that he wasn't used to dealing with the way someone like Chang crippled with a medicore serve had to learn to live with, ALWAYS having to fight tooth and nail for every point he got. These guys also forced Sampras to make the pass. Sampras like to make others feel the pressure of having to pass him, but when asked to do it consistently himself? Well...he wasn't that consistent. Sampras had serviceable passes, but let's be honest, he does NOT have the variety of spins, dippers, angles, and power as a Bruguera on the pass. Not the piercing sniper's accuracy of Agassi's ballistic passes. Not able to take it on the rise off the bounce on the pass and thus rob the volleyer of time like a Rios or Agassi. Sampras had the humdinger-ZINGER forehand or backhand pass...but not much else, the trajectory was predictable, the pace predictable...the *erraticism* predictable. I think this is wh Edberg matched up alright with Sampras. Edberg was also a guy who didn't try to do too much with the return which I think is a good play against Sampras.

The style of play that DIDN'T match up well with Sampras at all is the solid, "all-around" type styles of play, like Kafelnikov, Todd Martin, and Malivai Washington.

Guys like this couldn't get Sampras out of his comfort zone enough. They didn't have any really overwhelming weapons or attributes to worry Sampras. They're ball trajectories/spin were kind of middle of the road, and imo, bounced right into his ideal strike zone on groundies.

bluetrain4
05-04-2009, 09:09 PM
Yzaga was no pushover. In McEnroe's own words, "Yzaga had a lot of talent." Yzaga was the shortest man on tour, that was his problem, not talent...just ask Olivier Rochus about what that feels like. Yzaga beating a top player on a good day shouldn't surprise anyone. I saw that match unfold live, my memory of it is foggy. Sampras was sick. He was sluggish, slurred, like his usual game was muffled. Still, it's not like he was completely incapacitated or something. At this level, everyone loses sometimes, it's not a big deal. Everyone's really, really good. If you're feeling under the weather and the other guy's hot, you've got a decent shot of losing, it's as simple as that. There isn't the HUGE difference we think there is between the top players and the journeyman. We're talking differences in inches, not like comparing rec league players to D1 college players or something.

Sampras didn't like heavy, spinny balls to his one-handed backhand. He specificaly said he didn't like playing the Spanish guys because of this. This doesn't mean he couldn't beat those guys, however. Guys' weakness at this level are all relative, no one at this level truly has weaknesses THAT bad with the exception of say when Coria, Sabatini, and Kournikova got into their serving jitters phase and would double fault over and over or spin it in at 40mph they had lost so much confidence in their motion. Just because Moya and Berasategui had "weak" backhands, I've still seen both of these guys hit plenty of incredible winners off this side, angles, everything you can ask for from a backhand...just not nearly as often as with their INCREDIBLE forehands. Like I said, it's all relative. They're still pro level shots, same goes for Sampras' notorious weakness, his backhand.

Sampras' when he got hot with the backhand was very dangerous with it and could rip many flat winners off it, and rally quite well with it. Really, it came down to a matter of consistency. In his earlier years, his backhand was considered one of the best one-handers in the game believe it or not. I don't know why, but at some point, he just seemed to start lose the feel on it and became more mechanical with it, less instinctual and fluid in his swing. He'd have both very good and very bad days with his backhand, on his bad days, he was terribly erratic with it for the pro level. That was his obvious weakness.

On the return, he was hit or miss. That was his other obvious weakness. But in some respects, this was a strength. He just relied on the law of averages, that was his philosohpy on his return. He figured that since his own serve was so reliable, that he could just afford to wing it on his return and sooner or later, he'd piece it together for a few points and get the one break he needed to win sets. To him, it was just a matter of time. And if he didn't? No big deal, nothing to sweat. He was always so confident in his serve holding up for him that he knew tie-breaks were to his favor anyway.

Guys who gave him trouble sytlistically were grinders on his bad days, like a Yzaga or Chang. They could take advantage of his erratic tendencies when he wasn't quite feeling up to the task.

Guys who could match or surpass his own style of hit or miss baseline tennis like Korda or Safin on good days.

Guys who were fast enough and had enough length to flag down his vauntaed running forehand and reset the points. Sampras' was a guy who expected to deliver the knockout blow with his forehand, with ONE clubbing blow. If you could manage to survive that blow, the chances would start to turn in your favor, the more you had to make him go for it. He was good for the big knockout punch, not so much the flurry of *punches in bunches* style to knock you out like an Agassi or Kuerten (though both these guys obviously had some serious knockout power too. The difference is that if they didn't knock you with the first big shot, they were CONSISTENT enough to maintain the pace and bring the heat for three, four, five, however many more shots were needed to put you away in a point). Bruguera, Ferreira, and Hewitt are good examples of these players. They also had some of the best passing shots around. You need a combination of great passes, defense, foot speed/athletiicsm, ablility to adjust and change directions on the fly to give Sampras problems, and that's both of these guys excelled at.

The other type that could give Sampras trouble was guys who also had titatnic serves. Guys like Stich, Krajicek, Philipoussis, and Goran could give Sampras a taste of his own medicine. They could hold just as easily as he could. And this put a new kind of pressure on Sampras that he wasn't used to dealing with the way someone like Chang crippled with a medicore serve had to learn to live with, ALWAYS having to fight tooth and nail for every point he got. These guys also forced Sampras to make the pass. Sampras like to make others feel the pressure of having to pass him, but when asked to do it consistently himself? Well...he wasn't that consistent. Sampras had serviceable passes, but let's be honest, he does NOT have the variety of spins, dippers, angles, and power as a Bruguera on the pass. Not the piercing sniper's accuracy of Agassi's ballistic passes. Not able to take it on the rise off the bounce on the pass and thus rob the volleyer of time like a Rios or Agassi. Sampras had the humdinger-ZINGER forehand or backhand pass...but not much else, the trajectory was predictable, the pace predictable...the *erraticism* predictable. I think this is wh Edberg matched up alright with Sampras. Edberg was also a guy who didn't try to do too much with the return which I think is a good play against Sampras.

The style of play that DIDN'T match up well with Sampras at all is the solid, "all-around" type styles of play, like Kafelnikov, Todd Martin, and Malivai Washington.

Guys like this couldn't get Sampras out of his comfort zone enough. They didn't have any really overwhelming weapons or attributes to worry Sampras. They're ball trajectories/spin were kind of middle of the road, and imo, bounced right into his ideal strike zone on groundies.

Tym!, as always, great post. Well thought out and brilliantly presented. And, good initial point. Of course, I am talking about relative weaknesses, not any sort of weaknesses that the everyday player has.

Also, I was going to ask about Edberg (who ended his career with a healthy 6-7 or 6-8 record against Sampras), but you answered the question.

380pistol
05-04-2009, 09:18 PM
I know it may seem like an absurd question. Sampras is an incredible player. He had huge weapons and he has the most Grand Slam titles of any player in history.

But, the fact is he did lose. He never won more than two Slams in a season, meaning that beyond clay, he lost at a Slam where the surface was favorable to him.

I realize that any weaknesses may be fleeting, not arising consistently. But, I think it's an interesting discussion. How does Sampras lose to someone like Yzaga at the USO? Of course, a lot of his losses weren't to pushovers, but to legit champions in their own right, but the question remains. There had to be something, at various times, that enabled others to get the upper hand.

Structural weaknesses (strokes), strategy, mental components (focus, intensity), physical, anything?

Obviously you don't know much about Sampras. How could he lose to Yzaga at the US Open?? Simple... cuz he was playing on damn near one leg!!! He injured his ankle and shin in the Wimbledon SF vs Martin, and played the final vs Ivanisevic wearing a brace. Instead of resting he played Davis Cup the following week, and did more damage to it in a loss vs Krajicek (which ended his 34 straight hardcourt win streak, then a record). He didn't play any hardcourt tournaments that summer at wasn't 100% going into the US Open.

One of Sampras' weakness was that as strong as he was he was very fragile. See US Open losses [Yzaga '94 and Rafter '98] as well as his narrow escape vs Corretja in '96. That would explain his losses in Flushing. 1994 tooka away a 3 slam year for Sampras, as well as Gullickson getting cancer at the 1995 Australian Open. In Australia, Kucera in 1998 was just a bad loss. P'sis 1996, similar to Krajicek played out of his mind and served huge (29 aces and 3 sets). It was a close match with 2 tie breaks (one going 11-9) and Mark one them both. And in 2000 he tore his hip flexor early in a 5 set loss to Agassi.

Structural weaknesses were the eastern grip Pete employed with his forehand. This gave him less room for error, unlike 95%+ of players who use semi-western and western grips. As devastaing as Sampras' fh could be it's simple physics, that was the gift and the curse. It was flat, and penetrating, but had less room for error to work with.

Pete played highstakes tennis. He was never out there trying to win every point. Many players said Pete would "give" you service games, feeling he could hold his. But then mistakes (if made) become magnified.

Anyway even at less than 100% it took a very high level to beat Pete.....
Sampras vs. Rafter 1998 US Open SF
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1joY25wmIA -1st set
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ7U8tw9_QI -2nd set
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mn8UbEoibHM -3rd set
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZxvKoEZBvg -4th set
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jFFdrrwpgY -5ht set

bluetrain4
05-04-2009, 09:23 PM
Obviously you don't know much about Sampras. How could he lose to Yzaga at the US Open?? Simple... cuz he was playing on damn near one leg!!! He injured his ankle and shin in the Wimbledon SF vs Martin, and played the final vs Ivanisevic wearing a brace. Instead of resting he played Davis Cup the following week, and did more damage to it in a loss vs Krajicek (which ended his 34 straight hardcourt win streak, then a record). He didn't play any hardcourt tournaments that summer at wasn't 100% going into the US Open.

One of Sampras' weakness was that as strong as he was he was very fragile. See US Open losses (Yzaga '94 and Rafter '98) as well as his narrow escape vs Corretja in '96. That would explain his losses in Flushing. In Australia Kucera in 1998 was just a bad loss. P'sis 1996, similar to Krajicek played out of his mind and served huge (29 aces and 3 sets). It was a close match with 2 tie breaks (one going 11-9) and Mark one them both. And in 2000 he tore his hip flexor early in a 5 set loss to Agassi.

Structural weaknesses were the eastern grip Pete employed with his forehand. This gave him less room for error, unlike 95%+ of players who use semi-western and western grips. As devastaing as Sampras' fh could be it's simple physics, that was the gift and the curse. It was flat, and penetrating, but had less room for error to work with.


Yeah, Yzaga is probably a really bad example. I just remember it being a big upset and failed to remember Sampras' injuries.

But, the question remains. And, seriously, I'm not trying to insult Sampras or suggest that he's anything less than the incredible player he is. I just think the question of why/how someone that good occasionally loses and what, if anything, players did to neutralize him, is interesting.

hoahuyen
05-04-2009, 09:24 PM
Thanks !Tym

You are the GOAT in this forum.

380pistol
05-04-2009, 09:51 PM
Yeah, Yzaga is probably a really bad example. I just remember it being a big upset and failed to remember Sampras' injuries.

But, the question remains. And, seriously, I'm not trying to insult Sampras or suggest that he's anything less than the incredible player he is. I just think the question of why/how someone that good occasionally loses and what, if anything, players did to neutralize him, is interesting.

Understood. Well while I'm here I'll touch on Tym's post.......

COUNTERPUNCHERS
Throw Hewitt out of the window. pete won 4 of their first 5 matches and then Hewitt one his 2nd match vs Pete after Pete got married and took off 3 months. The won the last 3 matches they played in 2001-02, when Sampras was playing the worst tennis of his life. Pete was also 12-3 vs Chang after his 19th b-day. Sampras would Hewitt if they both played in their prime. Pete would just go mono a mono and outslug them. As in the 1996 US Open Carillo said "This is simply the big guy beating on the little guy". Pete could deal with counterpunchers, by going through them not around them.

BIG SERVERS
Other than Stich (a great talent but inconsisten) and Krajicek, look at how Pete did vs Becker (12-7 never lost outdoours), Ivanisevic (12-6 and won 9 of last 10), Rusedski (9-1 only loss was the last match of playing 6 consecutive weeks), Philippoussis (7-3, at one point won 15 of 16 sets). Theonly time he played Stich and Roddick in slams he lost a total of 18 games in combined in 2 matches.

The reason Pete dealt with big servers so well was due to Ivanisevic. In 1992 Wim SF he served 36 aces and beat Pete. Sampras said he grew frustred with Goran's serve and not getting any looks. He said that taught him to be patient and take your chanses when they come. I don't know the #'s but while Sampras was never among the leaders among return games won, he was very thorough when it came to convering break pts. By 1994 that patience helped him. That final Goran fired 16 aces in the 1st set alonre, but Pete amassed 5 break chances in that set.

BACKHAND
Pete was like Graf in this regard. They protected it well. It was never a glaring strength like their serves, forehands, movement, but not a weakness, and they knew how to protect. Everyone knew 3rd set go to Graf's backhand, the problem.... you couldn't find it. Cuz Sampras possessed such a devastaing running forehand, he could shade to the left side of the court moreso than others. Supreme groundstrokers like Agassi and Courier, would go after Pete's backhand, not only cuz it was the weaker side, due to the fear his forehand put in them.

Passing shots. Pete was never the greatest passer in the realm of Borg, Connors, Lendl, Agassi, Rios, Bruguera, Hewitt, Nadal and some others. But very underestimated, espescially of the backhand wing. You don't win 7 Wimbledons on real grass without being able to pass. Many, Goran, Becker, Rafter, Henman, P'sis all went after Pete's BH and made him pass with that side, and guess what... he came up with the goods. Mac even noted about the top spin, and diping angle backhand passes Pete was hitting in the 1995 final vs Becker. And after one of passes vs Ivanisevic in the 1994 final Mac called it a "Conchita Martinez type angle".

RETURN
Again not the greatest returner, but easily one of the smartest. Playing Becker for instance, Pete would aggresivlely return his 2nd serve (see 94 YEC F and 95 Wim F) as he knew Boris' 1st delivery would be a problem. Thus he put pressure on Becker's 1st serve by the ferocity in which he went after his 2nd. Also depending on the server he'd attack differently, chip and come in, or attack off the ground. He also was very adept and blocking the return on grass and keeping it low.

He returned strategically, cuz he could. Like the Dodgers in the 1960's (Koufax, Newcombe and Drysdale), they didn't have to score a lot to beat you. They could score 5 runs total and still be up 3-0 in the series. Koufaz would shut you out in game 1 (1-0). Drysdale would throw smoke for 8 innings and beat you 2-1 in gm 2. And Newcombe could beat 2-0 or 2-1 in gm 3. They didn't score a lot cuz they didn't have to, unlike the Yankees,(the ronx Bombers) who didn;t possess the arms the Dodger's did. Pete knew one break and his mind the set was over. If he broke you early, then the effort the rest of the set diminished as it didnt matter, cuz unless you culd break him (which he felt you couldn;t) hewas gonna win the set, irregardles of what you did with your serve game the rest of the set. Or many times he would coast (see 4th sets of 1995 and 2002 US Open finals), the around 3-3, 4-4 you can really start to see him crank it up. The finish line was in sight.


It's tough find Pete's weaknesses due to the way he played. For better or worse he was going to play the match on his terms, and you had to figure a way through. Dre would love nothing more than to trade backhands for 2.5 hrs vs Pete or gring from the baseline all day long, but Pete simple wouldn't permit it.

grafselesfan
05-04-2009, 10:03 PM
Pete had no major weakness. His backhand and return of serve were not as great as his forehand or serve but they certainly werent weak either. Like previous posters said he forced opponents to play matches on his terms which make him nearly unbeatable on non clay surfaces, which is something Federer fails miserably to do when he plays Nadal.

!Tym
05-04-2009, 10:43 PM
380Pistol...I think you took my post too literally. I never said, Sampras couldn't beat problematic styles. He's the in many people's minds, the greatest of ALL time. I thought it was a given that someone with those kind of credentials loses very...very...VERY seldomly. By problematic matchups, I just means styles that could POTENTIALLY give him trouble *here and there*. Since when has a greatest of all time level candidate ever had THAT much trouble in overcoming slightly uncomfortable matchups? A better way to say it is not, problematic matchups, but rather potentially ANNOYING matchups.

Btw, Bruguera beat Hewitt early in his career in straight sets at the Australian Open after Hewitt had already made a splash as a young one to watch by upsetting Agassi in one of his first tournaments. I don't think that Bruguera would have beaten Hewitt on hard courts too often, however, if Hewitt were at his peak level...no, not even when Bruguera was at his own peak. Could he win some? Yeah, I think Hewitt is *uncomfortable* against high-bouncing balls like Bruguera or Moya's....doesn't mean he can't still beat them.

Great plearys at the peak of their powers, just because they're facing an uncomfortable or unfavorable or less than ideal style matchup, does NOT in ANY way shape or form PREVENT them from winning.

Like I've said many times, the difference between players is literally a HAIR. If it weren't you wouldn't see a complete nobody like Takao Suzuki giving Federer a pretty darn good challenge on a hot day. Imo, the no name players and also the top but maybe not quite "GOAT" caliber players, get far, far, FAR too little credit on this board.

I mean seriously, none of these guys are pushovers. A lot of what made Sampras so great as Stich said, the real difference between someone like himself and Sampras, is that Sampras was soooo single-minded, and ONLY cared for tennis.

Stich found that characteristic of Sampras a bit offputting and almost vulgar, kind of made it sound like Sampras was a caveman to care so much about a stupid little game only chasing little fuzzy balls around. To Stich, the world was always a lot bigger than just tennis, and he saw tennis for what it was...just a game.

Andrei Medvedev had a similar viewpoint. Saying that for most of the other guys their lives revolve around tennis, but for him tennis revolves around his life and that no one would ever be able to change that about him.

Furthermore, just because I say Sampras could have problems with SOME big servers does not mean all. I never thought Becker matched up all that well with Sampras. Sometimes, believe it or not, tennis is NOT played just on paper. It's NOT just x's and o's, black and white. There is something called intangibles.

I always loved playing huge servers (for my level, that would be guys who could serve into the 120s). MOST of them that is. The spin and feel and just your general ability to intuit and "sense" where they're going to serve the ball is different for EACH AND EVERY player. There was one guy, I remember I couldn't return his serve for jack when I knew his serve while big wasn't as good as other players I played with who were of a higher caliber, open level, while this guy was a 4.5...with to my mind, not a whole lot other than that serve. I killed him in every aspect EXCEPT for his serve. I don't know why, but I just could never get a feel for it. I would be leaning the wrong way, just his general service rhthm, the timing of his motion, would just always make me feel unsettled. I wouldn't pick up his serve off the bounce never quite rigth it seemed. I could never logically figure why, but it just is what it was.

EVERYONE'S balls feel just a little bit different. And that nuance is always the wild card in talking about style matchups. I like what I heard one fighter say, you can talk about x's and o's all you want, you can talk about common past opponents and try to draw conclusions from that all you want, but at the end of the day, the truth is you DON'T really know until two guys actually meet.

Put it this way, Agassi always seemed so much more "on" to Stich and Becker's serves than Sampras'. He always felt slightly unsettled trying to return Sampras' serve. Whereas Goran said that Stich's serve was to him the best and hardest to return of all the big servers on tour. He said the reason was that for him he couldn't read his ball direction or serve type for nothing. To him, every serve looked exactly the same. When you can't read someone's serve, for *whatever reason*; that's gonna feel like the tougher serve for you to return. Meanwhile, Bruguera seemed so much more "on" Sampras' serve than he ever did Goran's. He would always make a big point about how Goran's serve is the best in the game and when it's on you can't do nothing. This has carried over to the seniors tour, when Goran upset the then #1 seniors player Bruguera on clay. He said man the way Goran served today, it was better than any serve out there today even on the MAIN tour. To HIM personally, that probably feels like the case and it IS true. Bruguera did a decent job returning Krajicek, Stich, Becker, and Sampras' serves...but Goran's mystified him and made him look absolutely helpless whenever it was on. That's to me what my 4.5 friend's serve felt like. I couldn't put a finger on it, all I knew is that for whatever reason I was always consistently leaning the wrong way against it.

That's life. That's the variety and x-factor of human beings playing other human beings.

380pistol
05-04-2009, 11:10 PM
380Pistol...I think you took my post too literally. I never said, Sampras couldn't beat problematic styles. He's the in many people's minds, the greatest of ALL time. I thought it was a given that someone with those kind of credentials loses very...very...VERY seldomly. By problematic matchups, I just means styles that could POTENTIALLY give him trouble *here and there*. Since when has a greatest of all time level candidate ever had THAT much trouble in overcoming slightly uncomfortable matchups? A better way to say it is not, problematic matchups, but rather potentially ANNOYING matchups.

Btw, Bruguera beat Hewitt early in his career in straight sets at the Australian Open after Hewitt had already made a splash as a young one to watch by upsetting Agassi in one of his first tournaments. I don't think that Bruguera would have beaten Hewitt on hard courts too often, however, if Hewitt were at his peak level...no, not even when Bruguera was at his own peak. Could he win some? Yeah, I think Hewitt is *uncomfortable* against high-bouncing balls like Bruguera or Moya's....doesn't mean he can't still beat them.

Great plearys at the peak of their powers, just because they're facing an uncomfortable or unfavorable or less than ideal style matchup, does NOT in ANY way shape or form PREVENT them from winning.

Like I've said many times, the difference between players is literally a HAIR. If it weren't you wouldn't see a complete nobody like Takao Suzuki giving Federer a pretty darn good challenge on a hot day. Imo, the no name players and also the top but maybe not quite "GOAT" caliber players, get far, far, FAR too little credit on this board.

I mean seriously, none of these guys are pushovers. A lot of what made Sampras so great as Stich said, the real difference between someone like himself and Sampras, is that Sampras was soooo single-minded, and ONLY cared for tennis.

Stich found that characteristic of Sampras a bit offputting and almost vulgar, kind of made it sound like Sampras was a caveman to care so much about a stupid little game only chasing little fuzzy balls around. To Stich, the world was always a lot bigger than just tennis, and he saw tennis for what it was...just a game.

Andrei Medvedev had a similar viewpoint. Saying that for most of the other guys their lives revolve around tennis, but for him tennis revolves around his life and that no one would ever be able to change that about him.

Furthermore, just because I say Sampras could have problems with SOME big servers does not mean all. I never thought Becker matched up all that well with Sampras. Sometimes, believe it or not, tennis is NOT played just on paper. It's NOT just x's and o's, black and white. There is something called intangibles.

I always loved playing huge servers (for my level, that would be guys who could serve into the 120s). MOST of them that is. The spin and feel and just your general ability to intuit and "sense" where they're going to serve the ball is different for EACH AND EVERY player. There was one guy, I remember I couldn't return his serve for jack when I knew his serve while big wasn't as good as other players I played with who were of a higher caliber, open level, while this guy was a 4.5...with to my mind, not a whole lot other than that serve. I killed him in every aspect EXCEPT for his serve. I don't know why, but I just could never get a feel for it. I would be leaning the wrong way, just his general service rhthm, the timing of his motion, would just always make me feel unsettled. I wouldn't pick up his serve off the bounce never quite rigth it seemed. I could never logically figure why, but it just is what it was.

EVERYONE'S balls feel just a little bit different. And that nuance is always the wild card in talking about style matchups. I like what I heard one fighter say, you can talk about x's and o's all you want, you can talk about common past opponents and try to draw conclusions from that all you want, but at the end of the day, the truth is you DON'T really know until two guys actually meet.

Put it this way, Agassi always seemed so much more "on" to Stich and Becker's serves than Sampras'. He always felt slightly unsettled trying to return Sampras' serve. Whereas Goran said that Stich's serve was to him the best and hardest to return of all the big servers on tour. He said the reason was that for him he couldn't read his ball direction or serve type for nothing. To him, every serve looked exactly the same. When you can't read someone's serve, for *whatever reason*; that's gonna feel like the tougher serve for you to return. Meanwhile, Bruguera seemed so much more "on" Sampras' serve than he ever did Goran's. He would always make a big point about how Goran's serve is the best in the game and when it's on you can't do nothing. This has carried over to the seniors tour, when Goran upset the then #1 seniors player Bruguera on clay. He said man the way Goran served today, it was better than any serve out there today even on the MAIN tour. To HIM personally, that probably feels like the case and it IS true. Bruguera did a decent job returning Krajicek, Stich, Becker, and Sampras' serves...but Goran's mystified him and made him look absolutely helpless whenever it was on. That's to me what my 4.5 friend's serve felt like. I couldn't put a finger on it, all I knew is that for whatever reason I was always consistently leaning the wrong way against it.

That's life. That's the variety and x-factor of human beings playing other human beings.

Well said.

theagassiman
05-04-2009, 11:11 PM
Yzaga was no pushover. In McEnroe's own words, "Yzaga had a lot of talent." Yzaga was the shortest man on tour, that was his problem, not talent...just ask Olivier Rochus about what that feels like. Yzaga beating a top player on a good day shouldn't surprise anyone. I saw that match unfold live, my memory of it is foggy. Sampras was sick. He was sluggish, slurred, like his usual game was muffled. Still, it's not like he was completely incapacitated or something. At this level, everyone loses sometimes, it's not a big deal. Everyone's really, really good. If you're feeling under the weather and the other guy's hot, you've got a decent shot of losing, it's as simple as that. There isn't the HUGE difference we think there is between the top players and the journeyman. We're talking differences in inches, not like comparing rec league players to D1 college players or something.

Sampras didn't like heavy, spinny balls to his one-handed backhand. He specificaly said he didn't like playing the Spanish guys because of this. This doesn't mean he couldn't beat those guys, however. Guys' weakness at this level are all relative, no one at this level truly has weaknesses THAT bad with the exception of say when Coria, Sabatini, and Kournikova got into their serving jitters phase and would double fault over and over or spin it in at 40mph they had lost so much confidence in their motion. Just because Moya and Berasategui had "weak" backhands, I've still seen both of these guys hit plenty of incredible winners off this side, angles, everything you can ask for from a backhand...just not nearly as often as with their INCREDIBLE forehands. Like I said, it's all relative. They're still pro level shots, same goes for Sampras' notorious weakness, his backhand.

Sampras' when he got hot with the backhand was very dangerous with it and could rip many flat winners off it, and rally quite well with it. Really, it came down to a matter of consistency. In his earlier years, his backhand was considered one of the best one-handers in the game believe it or not. I don't know why, but at some point, he just seemed to start lose the feel on it and became more mechanical with it, less instinctual and fluid in his swing. He'd have both very good and very bad days with his backhand, on his bad days, he was terribly erratic with it for the pro level. That was his obvious weakness.

On the return, he was hit or miss. That was his other obvious weakness. But in some respects, this was a strength. He just relied on the law of averages, that was his philosohpy on his return. He figured that since his own serve was so reliable, that he could just afford to wing it on his return and sooner or later, he'd piece it together for a few points and get the one break he needed to win sets. To him, it was just a matter of time. And if he didn't? No big deal, nothing to sweat. He was always so confident in his serve holding up for him that he knew tie-breaks were to his favor anyway.

Guys who gave him trouble sytlistically were grinders on his bad days, like a Yzaga or Chang. They could take advantage of his erratic tendencies when he wasn't quite feeling up to the task.

Guys who could match or surpass his own style of hit or miss baseline tennis like Korda or Safin on good days.

Guys who were fast enough and had enough length to flag down his vauntaed running forehand and reset the points. Sampras' was a guy who expected to deliver the knockout blow with his forehand, with ONE clubbing blow. If you could manage to survive that blow, the chances would start to turn in your favor, the more you had to make him go for it. He was good for the big knockout punch, not so much the flurry of *punches in bunches* style to knock you out like an Agassi or Kuerten (though both these guys obviously had some serious knockout power too. The difference is that if they didn't knock you with the first big shot, they were CONSISTENT enough to maintain the pace and bring the heat for three, four, five, however many more shots were needed to put you away in a point). Bruguera, Ferreira, and Hewitt are good examples of these players. They also had some of the best passing shots around. You need a combination of great passes, defense, foot speed/athletiicsm, ablility to adjust and change directions on the fly to give Sampras problems, and that's both of these guys excelled at.

The other type that could give Sampras trouble was guys who also had titatnic serves. Guys like Stich, Krajicek, Philipoussis, and Goran could give Sampras a taste of his own medicine. They could hold just as easily as he could. And this put a new kind of pressure on Sampras that he wasn't used to dealing with the way someone like Chang crippled with a medicore serve had to learn to live with, ALWAYS having to fight tooth and nail for every point he got. These guys also forced Sampras to make the pass. Sampras like to make others feel the pressure of having to pass him, but when asked to do it consistently himself? Well...he wasn't that consistent. Sampras had serviceable passes, but let's be honest, he does NOT have the variety of spins, dippers, angles, and power as a Bruguera on the pass. Not the piercing sniper's accuracy of Agassi's ballistic passes. Not able to take it on the rise off the bounce on the pass and thus rob the volleyer of time like a Rios or Agassi. Sampras had the humdinger-ZINGER forehand or backhand pass...but not much else, the trajectory was predictable, the pace predictable...the *erraticism* predictable. I think this is wh Edberg matched up alright with Sampras. Edberg was also a guy who didn't try to do too much with the return which I think is a good play against Sampras.

The style of play that DIDN'T match up well with Sampras at all is the solid, "all-around" type styles of play, like Kafelnikov, Todd Martin, and Malivai Washington.

Guys like this couldn't get Sampras out of his comfort zone enough. They didn't have any really overwhelming weapons or attributes to worry Sampras. They're ball trajectories/spin were kind of middle of the road, and imo, bounced right into his ideal strike zone on groundies.

Here's a refresh of your memory:

Sampras v Yzaga 1/21 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WPHmWXFxVo

That's the first clip of 21 clips showing the Sampras v Yzuga match. the other clips can be found in the 'jsnap2's channel.

theagassiman
05-04-2009, 11:23 PM
Sampras's weakness:

Forget about grinders and spanish players with funny names for a sec. Although Brugaera had a winning head-to-head record Sampras, he, besides Hewitt, is the only grinder I can think of, to have one.

Sure grinders caused Sampras' 1hbh problems, but besides clay and other slow surfaces, they were usually not a problem for him on any other surface.

No his real problem/weakness was:
The fact that he did not like to play anyone who could serve big and volley well, e.g: Becker, Goran, Stich, e.t.c.., because they made him FORCE TO PASS THEM on a regular basis, and Pete wasn't too comfortable doing that.
Sure, he could pass excellently, but he was not too good at passing all the time, and that's what Becker, Stich, Goran and Krajieck made him do.

I actually think though that he liked playing Becker, because I think he could predict his serve better than, say, Stich.

As for Goran, although he was basically helpless when Goran got his first serve in, on that second serve, he could crank it up, and because he had a better all-round game than Goran, he could beat him at the back as well.

With Stich and Krajicek, however, it seemed to me that he looked quite nervous playing them. These guys, unlike Becker and Goran most of the time, could easily compete with Sampras at the backcourt, and coupled with their huge serves and good volleys, they were extremely dangerous.

I think if Krajicek was more consistent and Stich had just had a better mentality, I don't think Sampras would be the guy sitting up there being debated as the GOAT everyday by fanatics like us......

The-Champ
05-04-2009, 11:57 PM
380Pistol...I think you took my post too literally. I never said, Sampras couldn't beat problematic styles. He's the in many people's minds, the greatest of ALL time. I thought it was a given that someone with those kind of credentials loses very...very...VERY seldomly. By problematic matchups, I just means styles that could POTENTIALLY give him trouble *here and there*. Since when has a greatest of all time level candidate ever had THAT much trouble in overcoming slightly uncomfortable matchups? A better way to say it is not, problematic matchups, but rather potentially ANNOYING matchups.

Btw, Bruguera beat Hewitt early in his career in straight sets at the Australian Open after Hewitt had already made a splash as a young one to watch by upsetting Agassi in one of his first tournaments. I don't think that Bruguera would have beaten Hewitt on hard courts too often, however, if Hewitt were at his peak level...no, not even when Bruguera was at his own peak. Could he win some? Yeah, I think Hewitt is *uncomfortable* against high-bouncing balls like Bruguera or Moya's....doesn't mean he can't still beat them.

Great plearys at the peak of their powers, just because they're facing an uncomfortable or unfavorable or less than ideal style matchup, does NOT in ANY way shape or form PREVENT them from winning.

Like I've said many times, the difference between players is literally a HAIR. If it weren't you wouldn't see a complete nobody like Takao Suzuki giving Federer a pretty darn good challenge on a hot day. Imo, the no name players and also the top but maybe not quite "GOAT" caliber players, get far, far, FAR too little credit on this board.

I mean seriously, none of these guys are pushovers. A lot of what made Sampras so great as Stich said, the real difference between someone like himself and Sampras, is that Sampras was soooo single-minded, and ONLY cared for tennis.

Stich found that characteristic of Sampras a bit offputting and almost vulgar, kind of made it sound like Sampras was a caveman to care so much about a stupid little game only chasing little fuzzy balls around. To Stich, the world was always a lot bigger than just tennis, and he saw tennis for what it was...just a game.

Andrei Medvedev had a similar viewpoint. Saying that for most of the other guys their lives revolve around tennis, but for him tennis revolves around his life and that no one would ever be able to change that about him.

Furthermore, just because I say Sampras could have problems with SOME big servers does not mean all. I never thought Becker matched up all that well with Sampras. Sometimes, believe it or not, tennis is NOT played just on paper. It's NOT just x's and o's, black and white. There is something called intangibles.

I always loved playing huge servers (for my level, that would be guys who could serve into the 120s). MOST of them that is. The spin and feel and just your general ability to intuit and "sense" where they're going to serve the ball is different for EACH AND EVERY player. There was one guy, I remember I couldn't return his serve for jack when I knew his serve while big wasn't as good as other players I played with who were of a higher caliber, open level, while this guy was a 4.5...with to my mind, not a whole lot other than that serve. I killed him in every aspect EXCEPT for his serve. I don't know why, but I just could never get a feel for it. I would be leaning the wrong way, just his general service rhthm, the timing of his motion, would just always make me feel unsettled. I wouldn't pick up his serve off the bounce never quite rigth it seemed. I could never logically figure why, but it just is what it was.

EVERYONE'S balls feel just a little bit different. And that nuance is always the wild card in talking about style matchups. I like what I heard one fighter say, you can talk about x's and o's all you want, you can talk about common past opponents and try to draw conclusions from that all you want, but at the end of the day, the truth is you DON'T really know until two guys actually meet.

Put it this way, Agassi always seemed so much more "on" to Stich and Becker's serves than Sampras'. He always felt slightly unsettled trying to return Sampras' serve. Whereas Goran said that Stich's serve was to him the best and hardest to return of all the big servers on tour. He said the reason was that for him he couldn't read his ball direction or serve type for nothing. To him, every serve looked exactly the same. When you can't read someone's serve, for *whatever reason*; that's gonna feel like the tougher serve for you to return. Meanwhile, Bruguera seemed so much more "on" Sampras' serve than he ever did Goran's. He would always make a big point about how Goran's serve is the best in the game and when it's on you can't do nothing. This has carried over to the seniors tour, when Goran upset the then #1 seniors player Bruguera on clay. He said man the way Goran served today, it was better than any serve out there today even on the MAIN tour. To HIM personally, that probably feels like the case and it IS true. Bruguera did a decent job returning Krajicek, Stich, Becker, and Sampras' serves...but Goran's mystified him and made him look absolutely helpless whenever it was on. That's to me what my 4.5 friend's serve felt like. I couldn't put a finger on it, all I knew is that for whatever reason I was always consistently leaning the wrong way against it.

That's life. That's the variety and x-factor of human beings playing other human beings.


Thanks. This is one insightful post.

On Bruguera vs Krajicek: I find it amusing that Bruguera has a winning record against Krajicek on indoor matches while only managing 1 win in 4 clay matches against the dutch.

rod99
05-05-2009, 03:37 AM
pete's groundstrokes were very solid b/n say 1994 and 1997. not coincidentily, these were the years that he did well on clay. as he got older, his consistency suffered greatly and he began playing even more high stakes tennis than he already was. you rarely saw pete engage in many long baseline rallies towards the end of his career. he started relying more and more on his serve.

Winners or Errors
05-05-2009, 05:02 AM
The only weakness in Sampras' game came from something Agassi said, something to the effect that Sampras "lacked the patience" to win at Roland Garros.

I honestly don't view lapses in intensity as a weakness. Look how long he was able to play at a high level.

Patience. If he had had more, he'd have won that French Open.

canadave
05-05-2009, 06:15 AM
Just to back up what !Tym was saying about certain opponents giving Pete "problems"....if you read Pete's autobiography, he lists in the back appendix his record against a selection of players. Several of them had winning records against Pete...and a couple of them completely had his number (I don't have the book handy, so I can't go back and refer to it, but I remember reading it and finding that fascinating, given Pete's dominance). So clearly, he had major trouble against certain players.

larry10s
05-05-2009, 06:33 AM
i dont go to this part of the message board often but big time kudos to a very intellectual insightful commentary by all. i really enjoyed reading the posts.

mental midget
05-05-2009, 06:34 AM
high balls. hence relatively bad clay career.

pete would have no doubt won a RG or two had he come along a few years before heavy topspin became the order of the day. but those grips of his, like someone mentioned, the mechanics just aren't there to club away at neck-high rally balls all day.

Gorecki
05-05-2009, 06:46 AM
i believe llike someone else said that sampras was too much of a "minimal service" player, that would content to just go for a minibreak on the TB to take the set... that is obviously a risk strategy... sometimes he got caught in it

plus he never seemed to put in alll of his gas into the game. maybe due to his "condition"... who knows. his backhand, while amazing and effective for fast skid 90's grass, was too attackable in high bouncing surfaces such as AO and FO...

is reluctance to move in gear also cropped his chances to take FO, therefore turning to a stain in his resume!

just my 2 cents!

380pistol
05-05-2009, 10:15 AM
high balls. hence relatively bad clay career.

pete would have no doubt won a RG or two had he come along a few years before heavy topspin became the order of the day. but those grips of his, like someone mentioned, the mechanics just aren't there to club away at neck-high rally balls all day.

High balls but on the backhand wing, mostly. I don't recall any type of forehand Sampras consistently had problems with. But if you could go high and away to his backhand wing, he wasn't really gonna hurt you from there.

Cesc Fabregas
05-05-2009, 10:16 AM
You could say Pete's backhand was a weakness but it was good enough for him to rally with to get his running forehand into play and his backhand had its hot days.

380pistol
05-05-2009, 10:19 AM
The only weakness in Sampras' game came from something Agassi said, something to the effect that Sampras "lacked the patience" to win at Roland Garros.

I honestly don't view lapses in intensity as a weakness. Look how long he was able to play at a high level.

Patience. If he had had more, he'd have won that French Open.

This is true. Sampras had very good groundstrokes, but he hit them to end points, clean winners, put you on the defensive, put him in a postion to attack and/or move forward. Clay was not conducive to this, and that's where Pete's lack of patience could be detrimental to him.

He was a going to hit groundstrokes to engage in 15 stroke rallies all day. And onclay there are too many players who will make you do that to beat them.

380pistol
05-05-2009, 10:22 AM
Just to back up what !Tym was saying about certain opponents giving Pete "problems"....if you read Pete's autobiography, he lists in the back appendix his record against a selection of players. Several of them had winning records against Pete...and a couple of them completely had his number (I don't have the book handy, so I can't go back and refer to it, but I remember reading it and finding that fascinating, given Pete's dominance). So clearly, he had major trouble against certain players.

In his prime the only players I know who even had a winning record over Pete were....
Krajicek 6-4
Stich 5-4
Bruguera 3-2
Haarhuis 3-1 (Pete retired in one match)

So I don't know where "completely had his number" comes from. Others just tacked on wins vs Pete in the twilight of his career. I always though and Edberg or Stich posed problems for him. And were top choces to match up vs Sampras.

tennis-hero
05-05-2009, 11:03 AM
what was Sampras' weakness?

Krajicek

GameSampras
05-05-2009, 03:56 PM
Serve-volley on clay are just not a great combination. Your game is much neutralized as a result. Its the equivalent of sticking Nadal on Indoor Carpets. Its too bad Pete couldnt have resorted for the time being a much more patient baseline game during the clay season where he could pick his spots.

But Pete proved he could win on clay. For some reason though, the French Open was a bit of mystery to Pete. He even said so himself. He said he suffered major anxiety at RG. Not succeeding there, may have gotten into Pete's subconscious somehow. Of course many of the players who Pete fell victim to at RG went on to win it.

The-Champ
05-05-2009, 04:13 PM
Pete had too many big weapons that it made his backhand seemed weak. But it wasn't really that weak.

BTURNER
05-05-2009, 05:53 PM
I think it was Chang who when asked what Pete's weakness was, replied "he can't cook."

canadave
05-06-2009, 06:58 AM
In his prime the only players I know who even had a winning record over Pete were....
Krajicek 6-4
Stich 5-4
Bruguera 3-2
Haarhuis 3-1 (Pete retired in one match)

So I don't know where "completely had his number" comes from. Others just tacked on wins vs Pete in the twilight of his career. I always though and Edberg or Stich posed problems for him. And were top choces to match up vs Sampras.

I wish I still had the book. I could've sworn, if my memory hasn't deserted me completely, that there were a couple of players who had fairly significant win percentage against him. Perhaps I'm mistaken....if so I apologize. If anyone wants to dig out their copy of the book and check?.... :)

pennc94
05-06-2009, 07:15 AM
Just like any other player, his weaknesses included playing on courts that did not suit his style of play (clay).

RoddickAce
05-06-2009, 07:57 AM
I wish I still had the book. I could've sworn, if my memory hasn't deserted me completely, that there were a couple of players who had fairly significant win percentage against him. Perhaps I'm mistaken....if so I apologize. If anyone wants to dig out their copy of the book and check?.... :)

Or maybe it looks worse as a percentage or fraction. 1/4, 2/5, 4/9, etc...if those were test scores those would look horrible. But it looks better as a h2h.

gsquicksilver
05-06-2009, 03:54 PM
I think it was Chang who when asked what Pete's weakness was, replied "he can't cook."

HAHA, that was at the 1994 wimbledon quarterfinals pre-match interview!

GameSampras
05-06-2009, 04:04 PM
How Fragile Pete could be physically didnt help pete's career at times. At times he could be injury prone. Which cost him a few slams that should or could have been his. 1999 USO considering the way he was playing in 99 and suffered a herniated disc, 94 USO vs. Yzaga, 98 USO against Rafter, 00 AO which he suffered a torn hip flexor. Not to mention Thalassemia Minor which hurt his stamina a bit. This was obvious at the 96 French Open when there was nothing left in the tank during his match with Kafelnikov after he defeated Courier and Bruguera and possibly against Hewitt in 01 which after the first set he looked like he was ready to throw in the towel losing 1-6, 1-6 after going through that brutal draw

pc1
05-06-2009, 04:22 PM
Made an error. Check the next post.

pc1
05-06-2009, 04:23 PM
I wish I still had the book. I could've sworn, if my memory hasn't deserted me completely, that there were a couple of players who had fairly significant win percentage against him. Perhaps I'm mistaken....if so I apologize. If anyone wants to dig out their copy of the book and check?.... :)

I have Pete's book and here's the records from the book. Pete's wins comes first in the numbers.

Becker (12-7)
Bruguera (2-3)
Chang 12-8
Courier (16-4)
Edberg (8-6)
Ferreira (7-6)
Hewitt (4-5)
Ivanisevic (12-6)
Kafelnikov (11-2)
Korda (12-5)
Krajicek (4-6)
Kuerten (2-1)
Lendl (5-3)
Martin (18-4)
Muster (9-2)
Philippoussis (7-3)
Rafter (12-4)
Rios (2-0)
Stich (4-5)

Interestingly enough, Sampras mentioned he feared Stich the most. He wrote that Stich could do it all.

GameSampras
05-06-2009, 05:16 PM
I have Pete's book and here's the records from the book. Pete's wins comes first in the numbers.

Becker (12-7)
Bruguera (2-3)
Chang 12-8
Courier (16-4)
Edberg (8-6)
Ferreira (7-6)
Hewitt (4-5)
Ivanisevic (12-6)
Kafelnikov (11-2)
Korda (12-5)
Krajicek (4-6)
Kuerten (2-1)
Lendl (5-3)
Martin (18-4)
Muster (9-2)
Philippoussis (7-3)
Rafter (12-4)
Rios (2-0)
Stich (4-5)

Interestingly enough, Sampras mentioned he feared Stich the most. He wrote that Stich could do it all.



And I dont see anything even REMOTELY CLOSE to a 6-13 record on there. :). Its interesting Pete said that about Stich. Kraijeck looked to be Pete's biggest obstacle. Both Stich and Krajieck however were great when they were on. Tough Tough players.

The Hewitt h2h is a wash up IMO. The Hewitt matches were primarly played by the end of Pete's run. At least close to the end. I highly doubt , Hewitt would have created much of an issue for Pete in his prime. Pete had more trouble with the talented attackers like Edberg and Kraijeck

Azzurri
05-06-2009, 05:27 PM
very good posts, espcially Tym. good read.

!Tym
05-06-2009, 07:04 PM
How Fragile Pete could be physically didnt help pete's career at times. At times he could be injury prone. Which cost him a few slams that should or could have been his. 1999 USO considering the way he was playing in 99 and suffered a herniated disc, 94 USO vs. Yzaga, 98 USO against Rafter, 00 AO which he suffered a torn hip flexor. Not to mention Thalassemia Minor which hurt his stamina a bit. This was obvious at the 96 French Open when there was nothing left in the tank during his match with Kafelnikov after he defeated Courier and Bruguera and possibly against Hewitt in 01 which after the first set he looked like he was ready to throw in the towel losing 1-6, 1-6 after going through that brutal draw

Um, the French Open played very fast that year, unusually fast. Maybe he shouldn't have had such a tough time putting those guys away then to get to Kafelnikov, it's not like Bruguera was exactly in great shape that match either. He's not the only one who didn't have something left in the tank after tough matches or coming off injury. YES, he was influenced by injury and his energy sapping disease, but you're not going to see Rios or Krajicek or Guga or Norman crying him a river. You can't win as many slams as he did being THAT fragile. It's just not possible, to do that he would have had to have been a whole above everyone else in level and that's not the case. Yes, he was an incredible player, but it's not like other guys couldn't even hang with him. This is why Rafter took issue with Sampras. He felt like Sampras never wanted to give guys any credit for when they beat him. Yes, you're a GREAT player was his point, but come on....

The reality is EVERY pro player has to deal with injuries, not just Sampras. And yes, he had a condition, yes it sapped his energy. But then again, well, he was also blessesd with fast-twitch muscles galore. Those were his genetics, what can you say? Those were the cards he was dealt, and he made the most of it. It's not like he was born without a hand like Jim Abbott, the former Angels pitcher....

Sampras is NOT the only one who coulda/woulda/shouda won more slams you do know if not for the injury bug or being petered out. Heck, that poor Chang...he was born with this poor affliction of being short, of only being 5'6" (his real height). Poor, poor guy, being one of the most successful short guys of all time. How unfair that if he weren't born with that short gene condition, you could conceivably conjecture that HE would be the greatest of all time, that he would have won tons more slams than the measly little one that he did.

Yeah, yeah, it's probably true; but by the same token, Mr. Man upstairs also gave Chang something called LEGS and the one of the toughest tennis MINDS of all time. Yeah, he got the short end of the stick sure, but somewhere out there there's a thousands od other short guys who are rolling their eyes saying, man, I try just as hard as him, but I don't RUN as fast as him, I don't have the hand-eye coordination of him, etc.

Look, Bruguera had a great 97 Lipton. You could argue that man, he ran out of gas against Muster in the finals. You could clearly see that he was COMPLETELY out of gas after the first set and at the end of the first set. That if it weren't for that he was actually playing better than Muster and should have won that first set, that tie-break was HIS I tell you. It's not fair that it over one hundred degrees on court that day, that just the day before he had to be Sampras in a tight, three-set thriller in the same scorching heat. It's not fair that his body didn't have enough time to recover fully. Man, it's not fair that fates were against him...but why would you? He ran out of gas, Muster didn't. That's life. If he didn't want to run out of gas, maybe he should have put away Sampras earlier, he shouldn't have lost that first set. Point is, that's his OWN fault. Quality of competition has nothing to do with it. You're dealt the cards your dealt when the draw is made, you either beat them or you don't, if you run out of energy later because of expending too much energy early, that's your OWN fault AND it's also to the CREDIT of your opponents for pushing you that hard in the first place.

Chang has a good about this when looking back. When asked do you wish you maybe had it a little easier as your grand slam finals' opponents, that maybe you would have won more than one slam, that if it weren't for the greatest of all time standing in your way, you would have got the #1 ranking?

And he said, absolutely not, no, without any hesitation. He said, his thing was always you know I know I'm gonna try the hardest that I can try, and if I lose in the end, that was God's will. I tried the best that I could try, and I have no regrets looking back. Why would I want EASIER opponents in grand slam finals? He said, the fun is in the CHALLENGE. Of challenging yourself, that you want the biggest challenge possible to overcome. If you don't do it, ok, fine, so long as you gave it your personal best, you tried your hardest, there's nothing you can do in the end, but years later you can sleep easy about that.

Furthemore, I don't think Hewitt gets enough credit on here for his late career victories over Sampras. Yes, Sampras was pooped out, yes he was past his prime, but you still have to give the man credit. Believe it or not his game had matured to, not only that but his CONFIDENCE had peaked. That's HUGE in this sport. Match are often swung by the player who exudes confidence that's not faked. Just ask Sampras about how effective that can be.

Hewitt matched up VERY well with Sampras. Look what he did to Henman as well. Hewitt's passes at his peak were amongst the greatest of all time. He also had foot speed that KILLS at his peak. He was so mentally ALERT, that combined with his foot speed is EXACTLY what you want against serve and volleyers. Against volleyers you need to be SUPER alert to get early jumps on the ball. That split second difference in alertness is the difference between getting passed clean or a clean volley winner.

Hewitt's return of serve is WITHOUT DISPUTE among the best this game has ever seen at his best. I mean he had several attributes you NEED to combat someone with Sampras' attributes. It's not saying who's the better player overall, it's just pointing out the OBVIOUS. Hewitt at his peak was no ordinary grinder, ESEPCIALLY against guys who dared challengeh is passing ability. Hewitt didn't like high bouncing topspin balls, that was well-known...Sampras didn't hit those kind of balls. Hewitt LOVED a target...Sampras gave that to him. Hewitt fed off pace, he liked hard flat balls and his rigid stroking technique was DESIGNED to counteract such shots. Many of Sampras' attributes played into Hewitt's attributes. No one denies that Sampras isn't the better player overall, I'm just denying that Hewitt didn't match up well with Sampras. Doesn't mean Sampras couldn't beat him, but there are worse style matchups to be had for Hewitt's particular game.

obsessedtennisfandisorder
05-06-2009, 08:55 PM
hewitt's game matched up well with sampras...he had excellent falt passes
a superb lob of both wings and reached well for the ball to stop aces and force s@v players into low first volleys..thus I'm glad the 2001 final is up
on youtube. peak Pete sampras I agree may have righted that head to head
but remember lots of those pete-hewitt matches happened on lightning fast courts too...so in the end I'm just saying hewitt deserves respect..yes I know
some feel his slams were "easy" but he took his chances when they came
(are you listening David?)....

I wanted to draw attention to pete excellent footwork that was escpecially displayed throughout all his shots....the chip and charge for example he would
get to the net lightining fast..

weaknesses? maybe an inability top hit a backhand winner during rallies
ala safin/agassi....

If pete antipated he had to move back to cover a lob his smash was good..
but if he was caught to close to the net I felt he couldn't backtrack as well
as say rafter or edberg..or macenroe...and he often just gave up as opposed
to hitting between legs runing it down etc..maybe to conserve energy?

Although his volleys were excellent(especially compared to todays players)
i thought he was prone to errors that rafter usually made. not really a
weakness i know....

other than that...i guess the return could be seen as a weakness depending
on what angle you look at it....he tended to take risks or take his chances
rather than consistent high levels returns giving server jitters...eg agassi
or consistently getting it back...connors/hewitt.

grafselesfan
05-06-2009, 09:52 PM
hewitt's game matched up well with sampras...he had excellent falt passes
a superb lob of both wings and reached well for the ball to stop aces and force s@v players into low first volleys..thus I'm glad the 2001 final is up
on youtube. peak Pete sampras I agree may have righted that head to head
but remember lots of those pete-hewitt matches happened on lightning fast courts too...so in the end I'm just saying hewitt deserves respect..yes I know
some feel his slams were "easy" but he took his chances when they came
(are you listening David?)....

I wanted to draw attention to pete excellent footwork that was escpecially displayed throughout all his shots....the chip and charge for example he would
get to the net lightining fast..

weaknesses? maybe an inability top hit a backhand winner during rallies
ala safin/agassi....

If pete antipated he had to move back to cover a lob his smash was good..
but if he was caught to close to the net I felt he couldn't backtrack as well
as say rafter or edberg..or macenroe...and he often just gave up as opposed
to hitting between legs runing it down etc..maybe to conserve energy?

Although his volleys were excellent(especially compared to todays players)
i thought he was prone to errors that rafter usually made. not really a
weakness i know....

other than that...i guess the return could be seen as a weakness depending
on what angle you look at it....he tended to take risks or take his chances
rather than consistent high levels returns giving server jitters...eg agassi
or consistently getting it back...connors/hewitt.

I think that is a good accessment all around. As for Hewitt he is underrated since people see him playing now as a shadow of his old self and forget he was alot faster, more determined, more consistent, and sharper in nearly everyway at his peak. Also that his smackdowns at the hands of Federer are still fresh in peoples minds, but people forget to consider Federer is just a very bad matchup for Hewitt, the same way Hewitt is a bad matchup for Sampras (even considering Sampras being a bit older then), and the same way Nadal is a bad matchup for Federer. That plus Hewitt himself was a bit past his best already by the time Federer began to dominate anyway.