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Cesc Fabregas
05-21-2009, 04:32 AM
Who in your opinion is the top 5 servers of the 90's? Imo its.

1. Sampras
2. Ivanisevic
3. Krajicek
4. Becker
5. Stich

thalivest
05-21-2009, 04:49 AM
1. Ivanisevic
2. Krajicek
3. Sampras
4. Philipoussis
5. Becker

Gemini
05-21-2009, 04:53 AM
1. Ivanisevic
2. Sampras
3. Stich
4. Krajicek
5. Philippoussis

Andres
05-21-2009, 04:58 AM
1. Ivanisevic
2. Krajicek
3. Sampras
4. Wayne Arthurs
5. Philippoussis / Becker / Stich / Rusedski (pick one)

helloworld
05-21-2009, 05:15 AM
Did you mean top 5 serve or top 5 server? If you mean 'server' and not just 'serve' then Sampras would have no competition at all. If you mean just the serve, then here is my list;

1. Sampras
2. Ivanesevic
3. Karlovic
4. Arthers
5. Krajicek

What makes Pete's serve the best by far is his second serve.

Cesc Fabregas
05-21-2009, 05:19 AM
Did you mean top 5 serve or top 5 server? If you mean 'server' and not just 'serve' then Sampras would have no competition at all. If you mean just the serve, then here is my list;

1. Sampras
2. Ivanesevic
3. Karlovic
4. Arthers
5. Krajicek

What makes Pete's serve the best by far is his second serve.

I meant serve,Goran had the best 1st serve and Pete the best 2nd but nobody does cluth serving better than Pete Sampras.

helloworld
05-21-2009, 05:27 AM
I meant serve,Goran had the best 1st serve and Pete the best 2nd but nobody does cluth serving better than Pete Sampras.

The difference between Goran and Pete is, while Pete has both great first and second serve, Goran's second serve was poor at times, especially under pressure.

swedechris
05-21-2009, 05:27 AM
Ivo Pete
Arthurs Krajicek Becker

tonyg11
05-21-2009, 09:50 AM
LMFAO at anybody not having sampras number 1 in the entire universe of all time on the serve.

You guys putting Goran and Kraijcek ahead of him need to put away the speed gun.

Xuxa Kuerten
05-21-2009, 10:53 AM
Sampras
Ivanisevic
Krajicek
Becker
Rafter (best kick serve I've ever seen)

35ft6
05-21-2009, 01:56 PM
His serve alone wasn't like a preemptive point ending atom bomb, but when he was number 1, Rios mixed up his serve like nobody really did at the time.

Cenc
05-21-2009, 02:06 PM
ivanisevic
sampras
krajicek
philippoussis
becker

tennisdad65
05-21-2009, 02:06 PM
You gotta have stats to back things up.. :)
who had the best 1st serve points won?
who had the best 2nd serve points won?
who had the best % of service games held?

btw... for everyone putting sampras on top by default, it is doing his entire game a big disservice. This only adds fuel to the argument that he was great only because of his serve. Sampras had a much more solid overall game (returns, net, baseline) compared to the other big servers.

BorisBeckerFan
05-21-2009, 02:12 PM
Who in your opinion is the top 5 servers of the 90's? Imo its.

1. Sampras
2. Ivanisevic
3. Krajicek
4. Becker
5. Stich

I mainly agree with this list. I'm biased towards Becker but I wouldn't be upset if Stich was up a spot on the list. He's motion was classic. Very fluid whipping speed. Becker had that hammering down action on his. Hard to choose but they both were very effective. I know guys like Roddick can bring more heat but I don't think there's any current player that could serve as well as any of the guys on this list. In many ways serving is a lost art. Not suggesting that the players of today are no good at it but it's just not the same. Roddick has a hard time acing Fed. Old Man Pete seemed to do it with relative ease. I don't think you can draw serious conclusions from exhibitions but those serves weren't going to be returned by anyone even if they had guessed right.

mental midget
05-21-2009, 03:12 PM
sampras
ivanesevic
krajicek
stich/becker
forget

anointedone
05-21-2009, 04:14 PM
I dont think Ivanisevic and Krajicek could have done as well as they did vs Sampras with inferior serves to his. The rest of their games were certainly clearly inferior. JMO.

GameSampras
05-21-2009, 04:15 PM
Sampras 3rd on people's list? LOL.. THats hillarious. Sampras was the greatest server of all time, next to Pancho. Hands down the greatest 2nd serve ever, and the most unreadable 1st and 2nd serves. No one could disguise their serve as Pete could

Hardest doesnt mean greatest serve.

anointedone
05-21-2009, 04:23 PM
Sampras 3rd on people's list? LOL.. THats hillarious. Sampras was the greatest server of all time, next to Pancho. Hands down the greatest 2nd serve ever, and the most unreadable 1st and 2nd serves. No one could disguise their serve as Pete could

Hardest doesnt mean greatest serve.

If people were just picking the hardest Rusedski and Philippoussis would have been 1-2 on most peoples lists. So obviously this isnt the case.

GameSampras
05-21-2009, 04:32 PM
If people were just picking the hardest Rusedski and Philippoussis would have been 1-2 on most peoples lists. So obviously this isnt the case.

I would still would like some feedback and clarification on why people think Goran or Krajieck served better than Pete. Neither are even in the remote area code of clutch serving and the 2nd serve that Pete had

anointedone
05-21-2009, 04:37 PM
I would still would like some feedback and clarification on why people think Goran or Krajieck served better than Pete. Neither are even in the remote area code of clutch serving and the 2nd serve that Pete had

Well for starters most times they played Pete they outserved him. It is the reason they did as well as they did with much weaker games in every other area, especialy Krajicek who returned poorly, moved poorly, and had even an iffy ground game alot of times.

Lefty78
05-21-2009, 06:54 PM
Anyone who says Sampras is not #1 is just out of their mind. Repeat. You're a f-ing moron if you do not think he has the goat serve ever.

1. Best serve under pressure. He almost always came up with his best stuff when it mattered most. He made Agassi fans like me weep.

2. Second serve off the charts. No one could consistently deliver the pace, accuracy, spin, and variety of his ball, all struck from an identical toss. I love Goron, but his second can't compare.

Lefty78
05-21-2009, 06:57 PM
What makes Pete's serve the best by far is his second serve.

BY FAR !!!!

dincuss
05-21-2009, 07:00 PM
Ivanisevic
Sampras
Edberg (Im in love with this serve)
Krajicek
Becker

matchmaker
05-21-2009, 07:35 PM
Ivanisevic
Sampras
Krajicek
Becker
Philipoussis

Mikey Fresh
05-21-2009, 07:47 PM
Anyone who says Sampras is not #1 is just out of their mind. Repeat. You're a f-ing moron if you do not think he has the goat serve ever.

1. Best serve under pressure. He almost always came up with his best stuff when it mattered most. He made Agassi fans like me weep.

2. Second serve off the charts. No one could consistently deliver the pace, accuracy, spin, and variety of his ball, all struck from an identical toss. I love Goron, but his second can't compare.

And he can put it anywhere. He can toss it like he is going outside and just skim the T

AndrewD
05-21-2009, 08:02 PM
Anyone who says Sampras is not #1 is just out of their mind. Repeat. You're a f-ing moron if you do not think he has the goat serve ever.

More like you'd have to be a moron to make a statement like yours. More like you'd have to be a moron to pass judgement when your frame of reference, obviously, doesn't extend back further than 15 years.

Sampras had one of the best serves the game has seen, but that's it. He had the best serve of the 90's and the decade that followed (no-one is close today). But that's it. IF you're talking about greatest of all time, Gonzalez and Fraser were equally as good and might well have been better considering Fraser had a left-handed edge plus greater variety, Gonzalez's serve was able to keep him in the game when he was past 40 and both had to do it with standard sized frames.

Anyone who blithely puts Sampras ahead of those two guys has the IQ of a dish cloth.

droliver
05-21-2009, 08:41 PM
When I hear this question, I interpret it to mean "Who's 1st serve could dominate?". Sampras was obviously the total package, but he did not have the scariest serve in terms of aces & winners (rather he was one of several who were near the best).

NO ONE was close to Goran. He made people look silly in a way that no one else could, particularly at Wimbledon. His delivery was unreadable. Wayne Arthurs was a poor man's Goran who could just have people flailing trying to pick up his motion. His delivery looked effortless in person. Krajicek was pure power and less guile. Stich & Sampras just moved people all over the place and had such variety, kind of like a MLB pitcher who has 4 pitches they can throw for strikes.

Again, Goran in a land slide based on just the serve in isolation

1. Ivanisevic
2. Krajicek
3. Stich
4. Arthurs
5. Sampras

Honorable mention: Becker, Philipoussis, Forget, Rusedski, Magnus Larson,

flying24
05-21-2009, 08:50 PM
1. Ivanisevic
2. Krajicek
3. Sampras
4. Philipoussis
5. Rusedski or Arthurs

Becker's best serving and tennis were in the 80s otherwise I would have him atleast #4.

World Beater
05-21-2009, 09:02 PM
karlovic >>>anybody on these lists.

flying24
05-21-2009, 09:04 PM
Karlovic is the only server today who could compare to the best of the 90s. Not sure if I would rank him #1 or not though. Unlike the greatest servers of the 90s Karlovic can do absolutely nothing well except serve.

380pistol
05-21-2009, 09:46 PM
Well for starters most times they played Pete they outserved him. It is the reason they did as well as they did with much weaker games in every other area, especialy Krajicek who returned poorly, moved poorly, and had even an iffy ground game alot of times.

So explain....

14 slams - 2 slams
6 Yr End #1 - ZERO Yr End #1
286 Weefs @ #1 - ZERO weeks @ #1

You mean Goran and Krajicek with their serves couldn't accomplish more than this???

380pistol
05-21-2009, 09:52 PM
I don't know (nor do I really care) who people have #2-5, but Sampras is #1. Why what makes a great serve.....

POWER - Sampras = Ivanisevic/Krajieck
PLACEMENT - Sampras all day!!!!
VARIETY - Sampras again!!!
CONSISTENCY - Sampras
CLUCTH - Sampras
WEIGHT -Sampras ...and by a chasm!!!!
1ST SERVE -
2ND SERVE - Sampras
GAME BEHIND SERVE -Sampras

I mean when you factor in all the aspects of what makes a great serve I fail to see how Sampras is not #1?!?

FedForGOAT
05-21-2009, 10:57 PM
I don't know (nor do I really care) who people have #2-5, but Sampras is #1. Why what makes a great serve.....

POWER - Sampras = Ivanisevic/Krajieck
PLACEMENT - Sampras all day!!!!
VARIETY - Sampras again!!!
CONSISTENCY - Sampras
CLUCTH - Sampras
WEIGHT -Sampras ...and by a chasm!!!!
1ST SERVE -
2ND SERVE - Sampras
GAME BEHIND SERVE -Sampras

I mean when you factor in all the aspects of what makes a great serve I fail to see how Sampras is not #1?!?

Then how do you explain the fact that Ivanisevic outaced Sampras by quite a lot? in His best year, Ivanisevic had 1447 aces. He has four of the top five years in number of aces served (Karlovic had the second highest total in 07').

Sampras' best year had around 1000 aces.

Yes, Goran double-faulted a lot, too. But his staggering ace count suggests that his serve had something Sampras' did not.

I'm willing to bet most players from the 90's were more fearful of Ivanisevic's serve than of Sampras'.

380pistol
05-21-2009, 11:22 PM
Then how do you explain the fact that Ivanisevic outaced Sampras by quite a lot? in His best year, Ivanisevic had 1447 aces. He has four of the top five years in number of aces served (Karlovic had the second highest total in 07').

Sampras' best year had around 1000 aces.

Yes, Goran double-faulted a lot, too. But his staggering ace count suggests that his serve had something Sampras' did not.

I'm willing to bet most players from the 90's were more fearful of Ivanisevic's serve than of Sampras'.

Cuz Goran stood 6'4" and was a lefty, that was part of the reason. So a more aces = better serve???

I broke down NINE aspects and you give me ONE?!? And what did Ivnisevic say about his serve and Sampras' when talking about the 1994 Wimbledon final?? Oh ans what did Ivanisevic say about the pressure of the Sampras serve.

And ask Henman about what he thought was the differnce about "fast" and "heavy" servers?? And while you at it when Sampras held 87 straight service games at the 2001 US Open, what did Safin say regarding Sampras and other big servers??

35ft6
05-22-2009, 12:49 AM
VARIETY - Sampras again!!! Not sure about this one. He mixed it up well, and could hit a dime, but in terms of different spins, level of spin, etc, I would argue that Sampras more or less hit the same kind of serve all the time and maybe that's why his second serve was so good, because in some ways he made little distinction between first and second serve and had his one kind of heavy, top spinny but not quite a kick serve down pat.
GAME BEHIND SERVE -Sampras
Sampras had a big serve, and I'm not downplaying his accomplishments in any way because the serve is a part of tennis, but like Roddick, Sampras relied on his serve for wins more than the average player.

0d1n
05-22-2009, 01:23 AM
You gotta have stats to back things up.. :)
who had the best 1st serve points won?
who had the best 2nd serve points won?
who had the best % of service games held?

btw... for everyone putting sampras on top by default, it is doing his entire game a big disservice. This only adds fuel to the argument that he was great only because of his serve. Sampras had a much more solid overall game (returns, net, baseline) compared to the other big servers.

I think the single most important stat determining who has "the best serve" is the percentage of unreturnable serves (first and seconds). Not aces...unreturnable serves.
As a result, I disagree with your example stats being the most important in determining who had the best serve. IMO those are heavily dependent on the rest of one's game (how one backs up the serve).
I do fully agree with the second part of the post, and that's why it is not as clear cut to me that Sampras had "the best" serve.
I think guys like Krajicek, Ivanisevic and a "peak" Boris Becker were right up there with him. Hard to pick an order from those.

So explain....

14 slams - 2 slams
6 Yr End #1 - ZERO Yr End #1
286 Weefs @ #1 - ZERO weeks @ #1

You mean Goran and Krajicek with their serves couldn't accomplish more than this???

You want to say Nadal has a better serve than Karlovic ?? What's your point exactly ??
Was AA's serve better than Stich's serve ?? And yet he has more slams, titles, #1's and whatever else you would want to pick from that "line of thinking". Your reasoning and logic is simply ... outstandingly poor...towards non-existent.

I don't know (nor do I really care) who people have #2-5, but Sampras is #1. Why what makes a great serve.....

POWER - Sampras = Ivanisevic/Krajieck
PLACEMENT - Sampras all day!!!!
VARIETY - Sampras again!!!
CONSISTENCY - Sampras
CLUCTH - Sampras
WEIGHT -Sampras ...and by a chasm!!!!
1ST SERVE -
2ND SERVE - Sampras
GAME BEHIND SERVE -Sampras

I mean when you factor in all the aspects of what makes a great serve I fail to see how Sampras is not #1?!?

You just invented a few "categories" and said Sampras after that.
Power, placement, variety and disguise are IMPOSSIBLE to distinguish between those 3 players you named. All 3 were simply outstanding at hitting their spots WITH power and disguise.
Sampras owed his disguise perhaps more to his same ball...different serve placement technique + turning back to opponent + huge shoulder rotation.
Ivanisevic and Krajicek owed their disguise to quick service action, low and similar ball toss on most serves.
Their serves were "in your face" much faster than you expected, even if you got to know them.
Ah... the "weight" factor you invented ... you have no way of determining that (yeah I've read the article about his pace + spin...so don't bother quoting it).
Provide me with a stat of "percentage unreturnable serves" that proves Sampras was above the other 2.
My "gut feeling" and years and years of watching tennis during the 90's (had a lot of time back then) tells me that he wouldn't be above Ivanisevic/Krajicek in that kind of stat.
He was a better player than the other two guys because of his MIND and athletic ability. In other words... Krajicek for example had just as ground stroking technique and volleys as Sampras did...and a similarly outstanding serve.
What he DIDN'T have was Sampras' MOVEMENT. Sampras' movement and speed were always underrated I feel. He was EXTREMELY fast, and as a result he was in position to hit a groudstroke much more often than the Krajicek type of guy.
That's simply an enourmous advantage he had over K and Ivanisevic, and that (+ confidence + less injuries ... etc) was what made him a much better player...not the fact that he had a better serve...because he didn't.

MethodTennis
05-22-2009, 01:58 AM
i was thinkin kaarlovic and roddick would be up there then remembered the went pro in 2000

Lefty78
05-22-2009, 04:05 AM
More like you'd have to be a moron to make a statement like yours. More like you'd have to be a moron to pass judgement when your frame of reference, obviously, doesn't extend back further than 15 years.

Sampras had one of the best serves the game has seen, but that's it. He had the best serve of the 90's and the decade that followed (no-one is close today). But that's it. IF you're talking about greatest of all time, Gonzalez and Fraser were equally as good and might well have been better considering Fraser had a left-handed edge plus greater variety, Gonzalez's serve was able to keep him in the game when he was past 40 and both had to do it with standard sized frames.

Anyone who blithely puts Sampras ahead of those two guys has the IQ of a dish cloth.


1. Been a fan well over 20 years. Just because I'm not a senior citizen doesn't mean I'm unfamiliar with tennis history. I've seen just about all the classic tennis I can get my hands on.
2. I stand by everything I said. No one can hit the different spin, direction, pace, and accuracy that Pete did, all from the same ball toss.
3. Never bragged about this before, but I just can't help myself. My IQ happens to put me in the top 1/4 of the top one percent (.25%) of the population. There was nothing blithe about my criteria for judging Sampras the best, as there must have been in your blind evaluation of my mental prowess. :twisted:

TsongaEatingAPineappleLol
05-22-2009, 04:11 AM
1. Tsongalol
2. Tsongalol
3. Tsongalol
4. Tsongalol
5. Safin

Rabbit
05-22-2009, 04:33 AM
1. Ivanisevic
2. Krajicek
3. Sampras
4. Wayne Arthurs
5. Philippoussis / Becker / Stich / Rusedski (pick one)

I think this pretty much nails it. Looking strictly at serve, Ivanisevic and Krajicek had better serves. What they didn't have was the total package like Sampras did. The other pros from "the day" all agree that the most feared player at Wimbledon was Ivanisevic. Why? Because of his serve. Ivanisevic was beatable though more due to what was between his ears and his game wasn't as complete. But on a day when he was hot, he was unbreakable.

I love Goron, but his second can't compare.

And some would define an f-ing moron as someone who can't spell "G*O*R*A*N"

More like you'd have to be a moron to make a statement like yours. More like you'd have to be a moron to pass judgement when your frame of reference, obviously, doesn't extend back further than 15 years.

Sampras had one of the best serves the game has seen, but that's it. He had the best serve of the 90's and the decade that followed (no-one is close today). But that's it. IF you're talking about greatest of all time, Gonzalez and Fraser were equally as good and might well have been better considering Fraser had a left-handed edge plus greater variety, Gonzalez's serve was able to keep him in the game when he was past 40 and both had to do it with standard sized frames.

Anyone who blithely puts Sampras ahead of those two guys has the IQ of a dish cloth.

Congrats! You've defined perspective for some of the challenged members of the boards. :)

I think the single most important stat determining who has "the best serve" is the percentage of unreturnable serves (first and seconds). Not aces...unreturnable serves.
As a result, I disagree with your example stats being the most important in determining who had the best serve. IMO those are heavily dependent on the rest of one's game (how one backs up the serve).
I do fully agree with the second part of the post, and that's why it is not as clear cut to me that Sampras had "the best" serve.
I think guys like Krajicek, Ivanisevic and a "peak" Boris Becker were right up there with him. Hard to pick an order from those.



You want to say Nadal has a better serve than Karlovic ?? What's your point exactly ??
Was AA's serve better than Stich's serve ?? And yet he has more slams, titles, #1's and whatever else you would want to pick from that "line of thinking". Your reasoning and logic is simply ... outstandingly poor...towards non-existent.



You just invented a few "categories" and said Sampras after that.
Power, placement, variety and disguise are IMPOSSIBLE to distinguish between those 3 players you named. All 3 were simply outstanding at hitting their spots WITH power and disguise.
Sampras owed his disguise perhaps more to his same ball...different serve placement technique + turning back to opponent + huge shoulder rotation.
Ivanisevic and Krajicek owed their disguise to quick service action, low and similar ball toss on most serves.
Their serves were "in your face" much faster than you expected, even if you got to know them.
Ah... the "weight" factor you invented ... you have no way of determining that (yeah I've read the article about his pace + spin...so don't bother quoting it).
Provide me with a stat of "percentage unreturnable serves" that proves Sampras was above the other 2.
My "gut feeling" and years and years of watching tennis during the 90's (had a lot of time back then) tells me that he wouldn't be above Ivanisevic/Krajicek in that kind of stat.
He was a better player than the other two guys because of his MIND and athletic ability. In other words... Krajicek for example had just as ground stroking technique and volleys as Sampras did...and a similarly outstanding serve.
What he DIDN'T have was Sampras' MOVEMENT. Sampras' movement and speed were always underrated I feel. He was EXTREMELY fast, and as a result he was in position to hit a groudstroke much more often than the Krajicek type of guy.
That's simply an enourmous advantage he had over K and Ivanisevic, and that (+ confidence + less injuries ... etc) was what made him a much better player...not the fact that he had a better serve...because he didn't.


Very good post/analysis and spot on IMO.

Rabbit
05-22-2009, 04:53 AM
Here's an interesting tidbit....


Ivanisevic had beaten the tournament record for the most aces served in Wimbledon - 213 in his race to the final, compared to 206, his previous record in 1992. The nearest rival to this record is Pete Sampras, who served up 94 aces in this tournament.

and the link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A610741

In 2001 when Ivanisevic won the tournament, he averaged 30 aces a match. In 1992 when he lost in the finals of the tournament, he averaged 29 aces a match.

Sampras, by contrast, only averaged 15 aces per match.

So what we have is a server's tournament, on a server's surface. I don't know, looking at those numbers, it's hard indeed to argue Ivanisevic's dominance in the serving department.

Add to this Richard Kraijcek's entry in the record book. He served a then record 49 aces against a fairly good returner in Kafelnikov at the US Open (and lost).

Looking at total aces in one match, Sampras doesn't register. Again, this in no way denigrates Sampras, rather points to just how much the other two guys relied on their serve. Sampras himself said he hated to play both of these guys and the year he lost to RK said he had the best serve out there.

Cesc Fabregas
05-22-2009, 05:50 AM
Here's an interesting tidbit....



and the link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A610741

In 2001 when Ivanisevic won the tournament, he averaged 30 aces a match. In 1992 when he lost in the finals of the tournament, he averaged 29 aces a match.

Sampras, by contrast, only averaged 15 aces per match.

So what we have is a server's tournament, on a server's surface. I don't know, looking at those numbers, it's hard indeed to argue Ivanisevic's dominance in the serving department.

Add to this Richard Kraijcek's entry in the record book. He served a then record 49 aces against a fairly good returner in Kafelnikov at the US Open (and lost).

Looking at total aces in one match, Sampras doesn't register. Again, this in no way denigrates Sampras, rather points to just how much the other two guys relied on their serve. Sampras himself said he hated to play both of these guys and the year he lost to RK said he had the best serve out there.



Theres more to serving than aces.

stormholloway
05-22-2009, 06:08 AM
Impossible to measure such a thing. Do you take into account the serve breaking down a bit under pressure? Or are you just talking about the effectiveness of the action? There are so many ways you can look at it. You have to incorporate the second serve into it as well.

But I say Sampras. He was more clutch with his serving, and I think that should count.

PERL
05-22-2009, 07:11 AM
and the link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A610741



You might be right overall and I mostly agree although Ivanisevic in that final he won had 27 aces and also 16 double faults. That particular match stat does not really serve your argument and shows how Ivanisevic could break under pressure, a Wimbledon final has to be the ultimate test.
27-16 = 11. Rafter had 13-4 = 9. Thatís pretty close in terms of free points, free errors and overall effectiveness. Now we donít have the service winners, Ivanisevic relied more on his serve and Rafter on his first volley anyway.

On a side note, I am even more impressed with the unforced errors made by Rafter that day. 11 ue for a 3 hours match and 5 sets, this is really few even with short exchanges. The guy was a clock at serving and volleying. I guess Edberg would have similar stats, percentage attacking tennis.

Lefty78
05-22-2009, 07:38 AM
Here's an interesting tidbit....



and the link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A610741

In 2001 when Ivanisevic won the tournament, he averaged 30 aces a match. In 1992 when he lost in the finals of the tournament, he averaged 29 aces a match.

Sampras, by contrast, only averaged 15 aces per match.

So what we have is a server's tournament, on a server's surface. I don't know, looking at those numbers, it's hard indeed to argue Ivanisevic's dominance in the serving department.



My bad. I thought we were talking about serve overall. Stupid me couldn't realize that all that really matters is aces.

Seriously though, lots of players have had great 1st serves. No one was ever close to Pete's 2nd, ESPECIALLY UNDER PRESSURE.

mental midget
05-22-2009, 07:40 AM
You might be right overall and I mostly agree although Ivanisevic in that final he won had 27 aces and also 16 double faults. That particular match stat does not really serve your argument and shows how Ivanisevic could break under pressure, a Wimbledon final has to be the ultimate test.
27-16 = 11. Rafter had 13-4 = 9. Thatís pretty close in terms of free points, free errors and overall effectiveness. Now we donít have the service winners, Ivanisevic relied more on his serve and Rafter on his first volley anyway.

On a side note, I am even more impressed with the unforced errors made by Rafter that day. 11 ue for a 3 hours match and 5 sets, this is really few even with short exchanges. The guy was a clock at serving and volleying. I guess Edberg would have similar stats, percentage attacking tennis.

the year stich won wimby, edberg didn't lose his serve THE ENTIRE TOURNAMENT.

he lost to stich 63 67 67 67 in the semis. stich was out of his mind for those last two matches--if that guy was mentally made of firmer stuff, and kept himself a little stronger physically, he could have been a 7, 8 major winner, on every surface.

Lefty78
05-22-2009, 07:40 AM
But I say Sampras. He was more clutch with his serving, and I think that should count.

YES! YES! YES!

All that matters is what you do under pressure.

Rabbit
05-22-2009, 07:57 AM
Theres more to serving than aces.

The OP was best serve....I didn't interpret that as anything more...

My bad. I thought we were talking about serve overall. Stupid me couldn't realize that all that really matters is aces.

Seriously though, lots of players have had great 1st serves. No one was ever close to Pete's 2nd, ESPECIALLY UNDER PRESSURE.

Never meant to imply that aces were the sole measure. However, when one considers just how effective a serve is, and serve alone, the number of aces is a stat that should be considered.

And when you have a disparity like the one I relayed....well....and when Sampras himself and the other pros refer to Goran as a "monster".....that's enough for me

droliver
05-22-2009, 08:21 AM
My bad. I thought we were talking about serve overall. Stupid me couldn't realize that all that really matters is aces.

Aces & service winners are the only objective thing you can look at as a proxy for serving prowess as a stroke in and of itself. Other metrics tend to measure the strength of the rest of their game in many instances. Goran just took it to another level from the field for years in a way that's remarkable in hindsight. Sampras was an extraordinary server, but Goran's serve was a freakshow

Winners or Errors
05-22-2009, 08:22 AM
Is Edberg not really in here because he didn't do much after 1992? I mean, he did play well in 1990, 1991, and 1992, so he should qualify.

In my mind, Edberg had maybe the most effective serve of the entire group. It was certainly as effective as Sampras', though it didn't yield many free points. Honestly, I think Rafter's serve should be second fiddle to Edberg's, as I see Rafter's game in ways as a tribute to Edberg. As for all the kings of the ace that came out of the 90s, I'm not sure their serves were "effective," because they were too inconsistent to qualify for me as being among the top 5 servers of the 1990s.

As always, this is MHO. Certainly, those guys, Sampras, Edberg, and Rafter, make my top 3. Not sure who rounds out the top 5, because, as I said, when I think of the best serve consistency of performance has to come into play.

droliver
05-22-2009, 08:34 AM
In my mind, Edberg had maybe the most effective serve of the entire group. As for all the kings of the ace that came out of the 90s, I'm not sure their serves were "effective," because they were too inconsistent to qualify for me as being among the top 5 servers of the 1990s.

Again, you start to incorporate other elements of these players games rather then just the serve when you talk about "effectiveness". Edberg & Rafter had fine serves to set up a serve and volley game, but they were not home run hitters in the way that we talk about who had the biggest serve

380pistol
05-22-2009, 09:13 AM
Not sure about this one. He mixed it up well, and could hit a dime, but in terms of different spins, level of spin, etc, I would argue that Sampras more or less hit the same kind of serve all the time and maybe that's why his second serve was so good, because in some ways he made little distinction between first and second serve and had his one kind of heavy, top spinny but not quite a kick serve down pat.

The reason I say this is if you lookat Sampras' last match vs Agassi, it's not that his fastest ace was at 133mph, but his slowest was at about 105mph. And this is no fluke, against Roddick 2 matches earlier his fastest ace was 131mph, yet his slowest was 101mph. He did this consistently. That's a 30mph difference. In terms of spin I recently posted an article that Sampras generated something like 30% more spin (rpm wise) than most servers.

Thguy would not only slice it out wide in the deuce court, but slice it up the middle in the ad court. He was like a pitcher who would throw any pitch to any spot at any time in the count. He would hit any type of serve to any spot at any time.


Sampras had a big serve, and I'm not downplaying his accomplishments in any way because the serve is a part of tennis, but like Roddick, Sampras relied on his serve for wins more than the average player.

The reason I mention game behind serve is if you look at Roddick for instance. His serve is faster than Pete's but the general consensus is thatif you block it back, and/or get it deep, you'll be OK. Do that vs Pete and he'll eat you alive. Safin and Courier both spoke about not just returning Pete's serve that was a problem, but you had to do something with it, or you'd be in trouble.

Many here talk about how Sampras aced Dre a lot. Why?? Cuz Agassi would hug the baseline and try and attack Sampras' serve, cuz he knew being passive wouldn't get the job done. His serve forced people out their comfort zones more than anyone I believe. Even with Goran, you could get away with it abit more, cuz he wan't as good of a volleyer as Pete. The mindset you have when returning an opponenets serve is something that I felt is overlooked.

mental midget
05-22-2009, 09:13 AM
Is Edberg not really in here because he didn't do much after 1992? I mean, he did play well in 1990, 1991, and 1992, so he should qualify.

In my mind, Edberg had maybe the most effective serve of the entire group. It was certainly as effective as Sampras', though it didn't yield many free points. Honestly, I think Rafter's serve should be second fiddle to Edberg's, as I see Rafter's game in ways as a tribute to Edberg. As for all the kings of the ace that came out of the 90s, I'm not sure their serves were "effective," because they were too inconsistent to qualify for me as being among the top 5 servers of the 1990s.

As always, this is MHO. Certainly, those guys, Sampras, Edberg, and Rafter, make my top 3. Not sure who rounds out the top 5, because, as I said, when I think of the best serve consistency of performance has to come into play.

the ace kings were all very tall people. the taller you are, the harder it is to be consistent. longer levers, higher center of balance, etc.

It's come up before, but it really does seem like around 6'-6'2 or so is the perfect height for tennis. tall enough to allow for good serving, but still compact enough to be consistent, and a good mover.

380pistol
05-22-2009, 09:28 AM
You want to say Nadal has a better serve than Karlovic ?? What's your point exactly ??
Was AA's serve better than Stich's serve ?? And yet he has more slams, titles, #1's and whatever else you would want to pick from that "line of thinking". Your reasoning and logic is simply ... outstandingly poor...towards non-existent.

Wow you clearly misunderstood what I said. I never said they should have better resumes than Pete. Sampras' game was built around the serve. He rlied on it fr a lot, dspite his excellent all around game. The point I was making is if the arguement was made that these other players relied so heaily on their serves, and te serve was the hallmark of Pete's game, why such wide margins between Ptete and Goran/Krajicek COMBINED!!!! Tells you just a little something about Pete's serve.



You just invented a few "categories" and said Sampras after that.
Power, placement, variety and disguise are IMPOSSIBLE to distinguish between those 3 players you named. All 3 were simply outstanding at hitting their spots WITH power and disguise.
Sampras owed his disguise perhaps more to his same ball...different serve placement technique + turning back to opponent + huge shoulder rotation.
Ivanisevic and Krajicek owed their disguise to quick service action, low and similar ball toss on most serves.
Their serves were "in your face" much faster than you expected, even if you got to know them.
Ah... the "weight" factor you invented ... you have no way of determining that (yeah I've read the article about his pace + spin...so don't bother quoting it).
Provide me with a stat of "percentage unreturnable serves" that proves Sampras was above the other 2.
My "gut feeling" and years and years of watching tennis during the 90's (had a lot of time back then) tells me that he wouldn't be above Ivanisevic/Krajicek in that kind of stat.
He was a better player than the other two guys because of his MIND and athletic ability. In other words... Krajicek for example had just as ground stroking technique and volleys as Sampras did...and a similarly outstanding serve.
What he DIDN'T have was Sampras' MOVEMENT. Sampras' movement and speed were always underrated I feel. He was EXTREMELY fast, and as a result he was in position to hit a groudstroke much more often than the Krajicek type of guy.
That's simply an enourmous advantage he had over K and Ivanisevic, and that (+ confidence + less injuries ... etc) was what made him a much better player...not the fact that he had a better serve...because he didn't.

Power can't be measures?!? Heard of mph?? Maybe that's speed but they alltopped out in the mid 130's or so. In 1998 Wimbledon when they all made the SF, the fastest see of the tourney belonged to who?? When Goran led the same category in 1994 Wimbledon who was just 3 mph behind??

Sampras owed his disguise to the same motion and the same ball toss. Brad Gilbert even when as far to say tbhat Sampras would toss the ball behind his head (where most players hit a kick serve) yet he'd hit it flat up the middle, or toss it straight and slice it out wide etc. His serve was more disguised than Goran and Krajicek whether you believe so or not.

Aahh the "weight" facor I invented, yet you know the article. I don't care to count unreturnable serve, ask Tim Henam for instance what he said about the difference betwen returning a "fast" serve and a "heavy" serve, or maybe he was just "inventing" things as well.

So I listed NINE categories, and either you have insufficeint reasoning, or tell me I invnted them.

380pistol
05-22-2009, 09:33 AM
Impossible to measure such a thing. Do you take into account the serve breaking down a bit under pressure? Or are you just talking about the effectiveness of the action? There are so many ways you can look at it. You have to incorporate the second serve into it as well.

But I say Sampras. He was more clutch with his serving, and I think that should count.

That's all I'm saying. Sampras served better under pressure than both, but it seems to mean nothing here. It was more consistent, but yet I here aces. I here Sampras had a better game behing the serve, but then here theis talk of 2nd ser pts won. Didn't Nadal lead that category in 2008, and his serve the best in the game??

All I'm saying is when you consider EVERYthing I see Sampras coming out on top.

Lefty78
05-22-2009, 10:01 AM
Was just watching match point (several times over) where Agassi beat Ivanisevic in the Wimbledon final.

I have to say that it seems completely obvious to me that Sampras would never have hit such an indifferent 2nd serve when facing match point. About the best thing I can say for it is that Goran at least got it to Andre's backhand. The serve was short in the box, the direction was marginal, and it's almost a wonder Agassi had the discipline not to go for a winner.

GameSampras
05-22-2009, 10:03 AM
Its just Fed and Nadal fans or disgruntled Agassi fans hating on Sampras . What else is new with this board. Its always been personal to most when talking about Pete.

I mean youre are talking about hands down the greatest server ever next to Pancho when taking everything into consideration yet Sampras is only arguably a top 3 server of the 90s? Ok...

Winners or Errors
05-22-2009, 12:57 PM
Again, you start to incorporate other elements of these players games rather then just the serve when you talk about "effectiveness". Edberg & Rafter had fine serves to set up a serve and volley game, but they were not home run hitters in the way that we talk about who had the biggest serve

But what is the serve (or return) except for a setup to the rest of a player's game? If one guy serves at 140mph, but it's not effective and he loses serve more frequently than a guy who places it well but serves below 120mph and gets a lot of weak returns back, who has the more effective serve? Who is the better server? Not talking about who had the biggest serve here. Pretty sure we're talking about the top 5 servers... to me, that means they were able to consistently deliver and exploit it.

martin
05-22-2009, 01:18 PM
If serve only means who has the best first service than Ivanisevic is the best server with Krajicek at second place. If we're talking about first and second serve combined than Sampras is the best followed by Krajicek and Stich who both had a very good second service also. Ivanisevic second serve was not the best.

grafselesfan
05-22-2009, 02:39 PM
Never bragged about this before, but I just can't help myself. My IQ happens to put me in the top 1/4 of the top one percent (.25%) of the population.

Right, and I was the first man to land on the moon.

Lefty78
05-22-2009, 04:24 PM
Right, and I was the first man to land on the moon.

That's pretty cool. I wish I had done that.

I was only defending myself with THE TRUTH after a guy insulted my intelligence. I'm happy to take any IQ test any time to prove what I said. My contact info is available on this site.

!Tym
05-22-2009, 05:46 PM
The reason I say this is if you lookat Sampras' last match vs Agassi, it's not that his fastest ace was at 133mph, but his slowest was at about 105mph. And this is no fluke, against Roddick 2 matches earlier his fastest ace was 131mph, yet his slowest was 101mph. He did this consistently. That's a 30mph difference. In terms of spin I recently posted an article that Sampras generated something like 30% more spin (rpm wise) than most servers.

Thguy would not only slice it out wide in the deuce court, but slice it up the middle in the ad court. He was like a pitcher who would throw any pitch to any spot at any time in the count. He would hit any type of serve to any spot at any time.



The reason I mention game behind serve is if you look at Roddick for instance. His serve is faster than Pete's but the general consensus is thatif you block it back, and/or get it deep, you'll be OK. Do that vs Pete and he'll eat you alive. Safin and Courier both spoke about not just returning Pete's serve that was a problem, but you had to do something with it, or you'd be in trouble.

Many here talk about how Sampras aced Dre a lot. Why?? Cuz Agassi would hug the baseline and try and attack Sampras' serve, cuz he knew being passive wouldn't get the job done. His serve forced people out their comfort zones more than anyone I believe. Even with Goran, you could get away with it abit more, cuz he wan't as good of a volleyer as Pete. The mindset you have when returning an opponenets serve is something that I felt is overlooked.

There is a lot to matchups though. Bruguera didn't try to do to much with Sampras' serve, yet he was one of the more effective at returning it I've seen. Like always, he'd just try and just block/chip/dink it back in off the forehand side. Wouldn't try to get too fancy with it. Every now and then, he'd try and unload however win or lose the point, just to keep Sampras guessing a little.

A dink chip return COULD be a NEUTRAL play against Sampras too when he came in. It was for Bruguera. The thing you have to factor in though is that Agassi didn't have Bruguera's foot speed or athleticism to get off the mark quick enough for the ensuing volley. Imo, guys like Bruguera and Ferreira were better able to defend against Sampras' running forehand and off the first volley off weak returns than Agassi because they were more athletic/quicker.

Agassi was that best at controlling the center of the court I've ever seen, but if you could get him off the mark and on the run he became decidely more ordinary. Still great of course, but no longer special.

Maybe for Agassi it was the right play to be extra agressive on the return against Sampras knowing that, but imo, it would be a bad move for guys like Ferreira and Bruguera who had a better set of wheels.

This said, off the backhand side, Bruguera took a much more aggressive stance on the return than normal. I believe he did so recognizing that if ALL he did was block it back NO set of wheels would save him there. He had to try and balance it, ultra conservative on the forehand return, unusally aggressive on the backhand return. Why? For the same reason a great server mixes his serves up. Part of effective returning is mixing up the type of returns you go for. If ALL you do is chip it back, it's easy to get a groove off it. If ALL you do is try and blast it, it's easy to sit back and brace for it...or wait for the inevitable slew of errors and gifts. You really should try and mix it up on Sampras' serve. I thinkn this was a mistake by Agassi to overcrowd the line against Sampras. Imo, Agassi was an aggressive returner by nature, but he wasn't the best defensive returner.

It's my feeling that prime Connors would have been a better returner against Sampras for this reason, he'd make Sampras actually PLAY more. It's my opinion, that Hewitt while not as aggressive a returner as Agassi, was actually a better "type" of great returner against Sampras for the same reason as Connors would be imo.

This said, I totally aggree that what made Sampras' serve so effective wasn't really his pace so much. He was always just a hair below the very best in terms of pace. He was a 95-96 mph type fastball pitcher, but not the one or two in the league type guys who can getty it up past the 98mph limit. That's still some SERIOUS heat, BUT the difference is the movement. Yes, a 98mph FLAME thrower with nothing else can be effective when on, but in general, guys like this are reserved more for the bullpen as closers on teams. They're one trick ponies. Pure speed kills...in bursts, in spurts, but NOT over the long haul imo.

But if you want durability, and lasting results, consistent results over time, over a long match, etc. the horse you want on the mound in game 7 is the guy with the 94-96mph guy who can occasionally hit 97 like Sampras, but whose fastball has some nasty MOVEMENT and tail to it as well. That was Sampras.

Goran was an ace machine, not as much work on the ball, but DART-placed and with incredible angle from his height/lefty combination, virtually untouchable on his great days, but beatable on off days. Sampras had much more margin on his serve, because of the spin he generated.

Sampras was actually more of a big server in the sense that heayv-hitting clay courters like Muster and Bruguera at their best were. They hit HARD shots, yes, but not necessarily what you'd call FAST shots in the way you'd describe a flat "hard" hitter like Korda. Korda was like Goran or Philipoussis on groundies, going's great...until they're off and double faulting on break points down left and right. Bruguera and Muster were described as "aggressive baseliners" by Patrick McEnroe in their Lipton final. They were pounding the ball back to each other back and forth. The key word being POUNDING it.

He said that it's a misconception to think of these guys as counterpunchers or pushers like the way people perceive someone like Chang. He said, that these guys hit very hard, but they're not necessarily going for winners most of the time. They're goal instead is to FORCE you into errors by the HEAVINESS and WEIGHT of their shots. It is the combination of pace and spin that makes a shot feel "heavy."

Sampras' serve was proven to have the best spin to pace ratio there was basically, and the lab results verified the anecdotal evidence of guys saying wow, this guy's serve is HEAVY. Players would talk about how it almost made it feel like their racket was twisting in their hand trying to return his serve. The famous Rafter incident where Sampras' serve literally burned a hole through Rafter's gut is a good illustration of the kind of impact a HEAVY shot makes on you.

Heavy shots make you feel like your racket's twisting and like you CAN'T make solid contact, even if you thoguht you just did.

If Goran was the king of aces, Sampras was the king of unreturnable serves.

It's like how PMac described one particularly viscious rally between Muster and Bruguera. He said, see what I mean? That might go down as an unforced error in the stat sheet, but to me that's not an unforced error. That's a FORCED error, the HEAVINESS of the shot caused that error, FORCED the guy to miss. He said it's a shame there's no stat for forced errors in tennis, because that's the way the game is played today so often.

onehandbh
05-22-2009, 06:12 PM
There is a lot to matchups though. Bruguera didn't try to do to much with Sampras' serve, yet he was one of the more effective at returning it I've seen. Like always, he'd just try and just block/chip/dink it back in off the forehand side. Wouldn't try to get too fancy with it. Every now and then, he'd try and unload however win or lose the point, just to keep Sampras guessing a little.

A dink chip return COULD be a NEUTRAL play against Sampras too when he came in. It was for Bruguera. The thing you have to factor in though is that Agassi didn't have Bruguera's foot speed or athleticism to get off the mark quick enough for the ensuing volley. Imo, guys like Bruguera and Ferreira were better able to defend against Sampras' running forehand and off the first volley off weak returns than Agassi because they were more athletic/quicker.

Agassi was that best at controlling the center of the court I've ever seen, but if you could get him off the mark and on the run he became decidely more ordinary. Still great of course, but no longer special.

Maybe for Agassi it was the right play to be extra agressive on the return against Sampras knowing that, but imo, it would be a bad move for guys like Ferreira and Bruguera who had a better set of wheels.

This said, off the backhand side, Bruguera took a much more aggressive stance on the return than normal. I believe he did so recognizing that if ALL he did was block it back NO set of wheels would save him there. He had to try and balance it, ultra conservative on the forehand return, unusally aggressive on the backhand return. Why? For the same reason a great server mixes his serves up. Part of effective returning is mixing up the type of returns you go for. If ALL you do is chip it back, it's easy to get a groove off it. If ALL you do is try and blast it, it's easy to sit back and brace for it...or wait for the inevitable slew of errors and gifts. You really should try and mix it up on Sampras' serve. I thinkn this was a mistake by Agassi to overcrowd the line against Sampras. Imo, Agassi was an aggressive returner by nature, but he wasn't the best defensive returner.

It's my feeling that prime Connors would have been a better returner against Sampras for this reason, he'd make Sampras actually PLAY more. It's my opinion, that Hewitt while not as aggressive a returner as Agassi, was actually a better "type" of great returner against Sampras for the same reason as Connors would be imo.

This said, I totally aggree that what made Sampras' serve so effective wasn't really his pace so much. He was always just a hair below the very best in terms of pace. He was a 95-96 mph type fastball pitcher, but not the one or two in the league type guys who can getty it up past the 98mph limit. That's still some SERIOUS heat, BUT the difference is the movement. Yes, a 98mph FLAME thrower with nothing else can be effective when on, but in general, guys like this are reserved more for the bullpen as closers on teams. They're one trick ponies. Pure speed kills...in bursts, in spurts, but NOT over the long haul imo.

But if you want durability, and lasting results, consistent results over time, over a long match, etc. the horse you want on the mound in game 7 is the guy with the 94-96mph guy who can occasionally hit 97 like Sampras, but whose fastball has some nasty MOVEMENT and tail to it as well. That was Sampras.

Goran was an ace machine, not as much work on the ball, but DART-placed and with incredible angle from his height/lefty combination, virtually untouchable on his great days, but beatable on off days. Sampras had much more margin on his serve, because of the spin he generated.

Sampras was actually more of a big server in the sense that heayv-hitting clay courters like Muster and Bruguera at their best were. They hit HARD shots, yes, but not necessarily what you'd call FAST shots in the way you'd describe a flat "hard" hitter like Korda. Korda was like Goran or Philipoussis on groundies, going's great...until they're off and double faulting on break points down left and right. Bruguera and Muster were described as "aggressive baseliners" by Patrick McEnroe in their Lipton final. They were pounding the ball back to each other back and forth. The key word being POUNDING it.

He said that it's a misconception to think of these guys as counterpunchers or pushers like the way people perceive someone like Chang. He said, that these guys hit very hard, but they're not necessarily going for winners most of the time. They're goal instead is to FORCE you into errors by the HEAVINESS and WEIGHT of their shots. It is the combination of pace and spin that makes a shot feel "heavy."

Sampras' serve was proven to have the best spin to pace ratio there was basically, and the lab results verified the anecdotal evidence of guys saying wow, this guy's serve is HEAVY. Players would talk about how it almost made it feel like their racket was twisting in their hand trying to return his serve. The famous Rafter incident where Sampras' serve literally burned a hole through Rafter's gut is a good illustration of the kind of impact a HEAVY shot makes on you.

Heavy shots make you feel like your racket's twisting and like you CAN'T make solid contact, even if you thoguht you just did.

If Goran was the king of aces, Sampras was the king of unreturnable serves.

It's like how PMac described one particularly viscious rally between Muster and Bruguera. He said, see what I mean? That might go down as an unforced error in the stat sheet, but to me that's not an unforced error. That's a FORCED error, the HEAVINESS of the shot caused that error, FORCED the guy to miss. He said it's a shame there's no stat for forced errors in tennis, because that's the way the game is played today so often.

Your posts always have such great detail. Were you
around when some of the old greats played like Pancho
Gonzalez, etc? Would love to hear stories /analysis about
them.

thalivest
05-22-2009, 06:19 PM
he reason I mention game behind serve is if you look at Roddick for instance. His serve is faster than Pete's but the general consensus is thatif you block it back, and/or get it deep, you'll be OK. Do that vs Pete and he'll eat you alive. Safin and Courier both spoke about not just returning Pete's serve that was a problem, but you had to do something with it, or you'd be in trouble.


With his serve if Roddick had learnt to volley properly when he was a younger player growing up it would have been a huge benefit to him. His serve is partialy wasted since all you do is try and get ahold of it and float it back deep, and there are lots of guys who can then outplay him from the baseline. If he had learnt to follow his serve to net effectively growing up it might have made a big difference to his career.

joe sch
05-22-2009, 07:00 PM
1. Been a fan well over 20 years. Just because I'm not a senior citizen doesn't mean I'm unfamiliar with tennis history. I've seen just about all the classic tennis I can get my hands on.
2. I stand by everything I said. No one can hit the different spin, direction, pace, and accuracy that Pete did, all from the same ball toss.
3. Never bragged about this before, but I just can't help myself. My IQ happens to put me in the top 1/4 of the top one percent (.25%) of the population. There was nothing blithe about my criteria for judging Sampras the best, as there must have been in your blind evaluation of my mental prowess. :twisted:

If your putting Sampras ahead of Gonzales based on video seen then I like to know where you have review the video of Pancho ? I have heard he had the best serve ever but this is just based on historians who have seen both play and there is very littlle, almost no video available of that era where Gonzales dominated. He did also beat most anybody in the world upto 40 years of age with his big service weapon.

380pistol
05-22-2009, 10:27 PM
There is a lot to matchups though. Bruguera didn't try to do to much with Sampras' serve, yet he was one of the more effective at returning it I've seen. Like always, he'd just try and just block/chip/dink it back in off the forehand side. Wouldn't try to get too fancy with it. Every now and then, he'd try and unload however win or lose the point, just to keep Sampras guessing a little.

A dink chip return COULD be a NEUTRAL play against Sampras too when he came in. It was for Bruguera. The thing you have to factor in though is that Agassi didn't have Bruguera's foot speed or athleticism to get off the mark quick enough for the ensuing volley. Imo, guys like Bruguera and Ferreira were better able to defend against Sampras' running forehand and off the first volley off weak returns than Agassi because they were more athletic/quicker.

Agassi was that best at controlling the center of the court I've ever seen, but if you could get him off the mark and on the run he became decidely more ordinary. Still great of course, but no longer special.

Maybe for Agassi it was the right play to be extra agressive on the return against Sampras knowing that, but imo, it would be a bad move for guys like Ferreira and Bruguera who had a better set of wheels.

This said, off the backhand side, Bruguera took a much more aggressive stance on the return than normal. I believe he did so recognizing that if ALL he did was block it back NO set of wheels would save him there. He had to try and balance it, ultra conservative on the forehand return, unusally aggressive on the backhand return. Why? For the same reason a great server mixes his serves up. Part of effective returning is mixing up the type of returns you go for. If ALL you do is chip it back, it's easy to get a groove off it. If ALL you do is try and blast it, it's easy to sit back and brace for it...or wait for the inevitable slew of errors and gifts. You really should try and mix it up on Sampras' serve. I thinkn this was a mistake by Agassi to overcrowd the line against Sampras. Imo, Agassi was an aggressive returner by nature, but he wasn't the best defensive returner.

It's my feeling that prime Connors would have been a better returner against Sampras for this reason, he'd make Sampras actually PLAY more. It's my opinion, that Hewitt while not as aggressive a returner as Agassi, was actually a better "type" of great returner against Sampras for the same reason as Connors would be imo.

This said, I totally aggree that what made Sampras' serve so effective wasn't really his pace so much. He was always just a hair below the very best in terms of pace. He was a 95-96 mph type fastball pitcher, but not the one or two in the league type guys who can getty it up past the 98mph limit. That's still some SERIOUS heat, BUT the difference is the movement. Yes, a 98mph FLAME thrower with nothing else can be effective when on, but in general, guys like this are reserved more for the bullpen as closers on teams. They're one trick ponies. Pure speed kills...in bursts, in spurts, but NOT over the long haul imo.

But if you want durability, and lasting results, consistent results over time, over a long match, etc. the horse you want on the mound in game 7 is the guy with the 94-96mph guy who can occasionally hit 97 like Sampras, but whose fastball has some nasty MOVEMENT and tail to it as well. That was Sampras.

Goran was an ace machine, not as much work on the ball, but DART-placed and with incredible angle from his height/lefty combination, virtually untouchable on his great days, but beatable on off days. Sampras had much more margin on his serve, because of the spin he generated.

Sampras was actually more of a big server in the sense that heayv-hitting clay courters like Muster and Bruguera at their best were. They hit HARD shots, yes, but not necessarily what you'd call FAST shots in the way you'd describe a flat "hard" hitter like Korda. Korda was like Goran or Philipoussis on groundies, going's great...until they're off and double faulting on break points down left and right. Bruguera and Muster were described as "aggressive baseliners" by Patrick McEnroe in their Lipton final. They were pounding the ball back to each other back and forth. The key word being POUNDING it.

He said that it's a misconception to think of these guys as counterpunchers or pushers like the way people perceive someone like Chang. He said, that these guys hit very hard, but they're not necessarily going for winners most of the time. They're goal instead is to FORCE you into errors by the HEAVINESS and WEIGHT of their shots. It is the combination of pace and spin that makes a shot feel "heavy."

Sampras' serve was proven to have the best spin to pace ratio there was basically, and the lab results verified the anecdotal evidence of guys saying wow, this guy's serve is HEAVY. Players would talk about how it almost made it feel like their racket was twisting in their hand trying to return his serve. The famous Rafter incident where Sampras' serve literally burned a hole through Rafter's gut is a good illustration of the kind of impact a HEAVY shot makes on you.

Heavy shots make you feel like your racket's twisting and like you CAN'T make solid contact, even if you thoguht you just did.

If Goran was the king of aces, Sampras was the king of unreturnable serves.

It's like how PMac described one particularly viscious rally between Muster and Bruguera. He said, see what I mean? That might go down as an unforced error in the stat sheet, but to me that's not an unforced error. That's a FORCED error, the HEAVINESS of the shot caused that error, FORCED the guy to miss. He said it's a shame there's no stat for forced errors in tennis, because that's the way the game is played today so often.

Well said. When I was talking about Agassi, I just meant in general, players had to return better vs Sampras than say a Goran, or they knew this going in they had to, cuz Sampras brought more behind it. Whatever strategy Bruguera used vs Pet was one thing. But if he left it short who would do more damage to it, Pete or Goran?? Who would hit a better volley, Pete or Goran?? I was just saying the midset of a returner would be even if my return is a little off, there's more wiggle room vs Ivanisevic than there would be vs Sampras, as Sampras had the more polished game behind his serve.

I was sayig just factor in everything which many here aren't doing. You made a great analogy among pitchers. Take Johan Santana.. what makes his change up so devastaing?? Not only the movement, but he throws it with the same arm action as he does a 94mph fastball. Take Mariano "Mr. Cut Fastball" Rivera... why is that cut fastball so devastating, not only the late movement, but you kno at anytime he could bring the gas, and you'd be late. Why is he legendary?? Cuz hispost season ERA is 0.something.

Sampras does a lot with his serve, from being clutch, to consistent, to the wirght, the accuracy, the variety and more that gives him the #1 spot.When everything is considered I don't see someone who;s overall package will come out ahead of Pete's.

380pistol
05-22-2009, 10:31 PM
With his serve if Roddick had learnt to volley properly when he was a younger player growing up it would have been a huge benefit to him. His serve is partialy wasted since all you do is try and get ahold of it and float it back deep, and there are lots of guys who can then outplay him from the baseline. If he had learnt to follow his serve to net effectively growing up it might have made a big difference to his career.

Agreed. Roddick could have done more with his game behind the serve not just allowing many to just block it back then outplay him from the baseline.

This is why I feel in some aspects Federer and Nadal may not have better serves, but more effective ones than Roddick. Todd Martin once said "Roddick serves to your racket, while Sampras serves to the lines". Take Nadal, he will slice it out wide, use the fact he's a southpaw to his advantage. Federer will move the ball around, kick it slice it. They can both get you out of position with the serve. Nadal does something that Agassi used to very well, use the serve to start the point out on their terms. Not punishing or dominating serves, but very effective.

!Tym
05-22-2009, 11:56 PM
With his serve if Roddick had learnt to volley properly when he was a younger player growing up it would have been a huge benefit to him. His serve is partialy wasted since all you do is try and get ahold of it and float it back deep, and there are lots of guys who can then outplay him from the baseline. If he had learnt to follow his serve to net effectively growing up it might have made a big difference to his career.

I agree with this, and this is something most experts have said for years.

Unfortunately, while it's convenient to think if only Roddick had been raised to be a volleyer growing up, people don't take into account that Roddick was an undersized, small junior growing up much more like a Chang who relied on grinding (albeit without the blinding speed and once in a generation level mental toughness) to win.

The big weapons of the forehand and serve didn't come until he had a MAJOR overnight growth spurt basically. Rumor was that he was taking growth hormones, took a break, and then the next thing everyone knew he came back like twice the height.

Silly rumor, but regardless the point is he was a short guy who played a short man's game to survive in the junior ranks growing up. He was a good but not great junior player, and was not in any way heralded as some kind of young prodigy or phenom or anything the way guys like Chang and Agassi were. NO ONE thought hey this kid is going to be special, is DESTINED to be something special like with those two.

The other BIG factor people overlook is that even with the growth in height, he STILL did not have the famous Roddick nuclear blue-plate special he's so famous for now.

The Roddick nuclear special came about while he was just messing around at the end of practice one day and just decided to whack it out of the ball park for fun. He was INSTANTLY astounded by the pace he generated as was everyone else. He said holy cow, and just tried to keep repeating whatever it was that he just did that was giving him so much pace...and th rest as they say is history. Very shortly afterward he blew up onto the world scene blowing the snot out of the ball on his serve in a way no one had ever seen before.

Roddick's serve was in many respects one of the greatest "accidents" in the history of sport. By that age, by your late teens, your stroke technique is pretty engrained. To accidentally just stumble upon a new way of doing things that instantly makes your serve into something the world has never seen before, and gives you the fastest serve in history, is absolutely unheard of.

Roddick has a big forehand now, but that's a weapon that wasn't there when he was much smaller. I've seen him when he was smaller, and he was a scrapper, not a bombastic flame thrower, despite having much the same motion on his forehand and backhand. The huge growth spurt definitely had a LOT to do with him suddenly developing that weapon. He wasn't a TRUE prodigy like Agassi who was able to generate scary pace out of the womb, who didn't have to be 6 foot plus to bang it from the baseline. It's like why Gilbert was so blown away when he first saw Agassi. He said who cares about how the guy looks, what he's wearing, or how he's dressing, he said WHO CARES? This guy's like 5'9" 150 dripping wet and he's beating the living bejesus out of the wall like no one he's ever seen before.

Roddick didn't develop his volleys probably because he wasn't overly naturally talented. He concentrated what he had to with his size to get by as a pretty darn good but not "special" junior player.

A guy like Rios wasn't the competitor Roddick ever was, but even undersized, he WOWED scouts the world over with his natural talent. Coria was the same deal. He WOWED talent scouts the world over in his junior days. Scouts were keen to these guys as being possibly special players in the future, and as top future prospects.

Yeah, if Roddick were always a taller than average kid growing up, he probably would have worked on his volleys more, his coaches would have thought that a more prudent and PRACTICAL decision, but since that wasn't the case?

Well...the rest is history.

The Roddick we have now is a big guy with a HUGE serve and a BIG forehand...BUT without the NATURAL "talent" to make the most out of that big forehand as you would seemingly think he is capable of.

Roddick's forehand is big on paper, his serve is big on paper, but he lacks the INNATE, INTANGIBLE talent to fill in the blanks and round it out, it's the subtle nuanced things you can't quite quantify or put a finger on that make the difference. Guys like Coria and Rios whilst undersized, in their youth, the scouts could clearly see that they just had a "knack" for the ball that you can't really teach. You can just FEEL it when you watch them, and know they have something you can't teach. Roddick wasn't that way. He was a mechanically good but not great junior who competed really, really hard.

Rios or Coria with that size and the "big" forehand would have figured out how to get a LOT more mileage out of it, how to put it all together much better. That's the difference.

Courier you would think of as a guy kind of like Roddick, hits hard, but not necessarily the kind who struck scouts as being naturally gifted. And yet, a big difference is that Courier is a much better natural athlete than Roddick. Imo, that makes a difference. Courier's stamina and foot speed/court coverage and strength were all elite class on tour. That's a subtle difference, but it definitely makes a difference. Courier was able to get in position to unload on his big forehands more effectively than Roddick, able to defend better than Roddick because he's a better athlete, mask his weaker backhand better than Roddick because he's a better athlete, etc. Roddick on the other hand is just a pretty good/decent athlete, but not great. Add that his talent is also pretty good but rather ordinary level as well, and what you have is a guy with a nuclear serve and forehand but without the CONNECTIVE tisues needed to put it all quite together like the USTA had hoped once they discovered he had suddenly aquired the world's largest serve ever and an Incredible Hulk foreahnd.

Time has born out that while massive firepower is a great weapon to have in your arsenal, it's still not a substitute for natural talent and athleticism. It'll get you close, but to get over the hump, you still need that little more. That's what guys like Nadal and Federer have, that little extra more, the *connective tissues* (i.e. the feeling that a guy is "putting it all together out there" without you knowing exactly how, but you can just FEEL it) of elite natural talent and athleticism.

!Tym
05-23-2009, 12:17 AM
Well said. When I was talking about Agassi, I just meant in general, players had to return better vs Sampras than say a Goran, or they knew this going in they had to, cuz Sampras brought more behind it. Whatever strategy Bruguera used vs Pet was one thing. But if he left it short who would do more damage to it, Pete or Goran?? Who would hit a better volley, Pete or Goran?? I was just saying the midset of a returner would be even if my return is a little off, there's more wiggle room vs Ivanisevic than there would be vs Sampras, as Sampras had the more polished game behind his serve.


No doubt, Pete has a more polished game behind that serve (Goran could only really get away with pure serve and volley on grass, because all he had to do was dump the ball into the open cour to win the point at that point), BUT again there is a bit of individual matchup aspects to it as well.

Bruguera always went out of his way to point out that Goran had the best serve in the game, not Sampras, for whatever reason. You can't really quantify things like that. Bruguera for whatever reason seemed to struggley immensely more at trying to pick up Goran's serve than he did the other noted big servers of his generation like Stich, Sampras, Krajicek, Becker, etc. That's something that's intrinsic to each player. Yes, most everyone agrees that Sampras' serve edges Beckers out just ever so slightly, but really it is a very slight difference imo, and they are very similar type servers, i.e. more well-rounded among the big servers (i.e. like compared to Philipoussis who was a very one-dimenstional style big server). Agassi picked up on Becker's serve like it wasn't even there. He ate up Stich's delivery, etc. It's just the way it is sometimes. Whereas Goran said he found Stich's delivery the most difficult to return by far.

This said, one of the keys might just be that, Agassi said he noitced something Boris did, a little facial tick or whatever, that gave away the direction he was going to serve, which is what allowed him to pick up on his serve seemingly so super humanly. It's the little things like this that can make the difference.

Incidentally, Philipoussis gave Bruguera fits on the return as well. To me, both he and Goran were more one-dimensional servers than Becker, Stich, Sampras types who mixed it up I think much more. Philipoussis and Goran I always felt had too little margin on their deliveries, they were too flattish, and this would inevitably cost them when their nerves got tight with big double faults. Yet, maybe there's just something to the flatter delivery that perplexed Bruguera more for whatever reason.

The other thing is Bruguera actually DID dink chip it sometimes Sampras as a play. He would try to chip it low at his feet or not put much on it. You know that kind of ball kind of just floats and dies in no man's land with nothing on it. If you can place it just right it gives an incoming serve and volleyer nothing to work with. It seems and FEELS like they should be do something with it, but in reality you can't. A well-placed dink no man's land ball is actually such a deceptive shot in that way. It's a frustrating shot to have to keep on hitting. It wears on your confidence because you "feel" like you should be able to just put this away no problem but because the ball ends up sitting low and with no pace such that you kind of have to scoop or lift the ball back over.

A well placed dink return to an incoming net rusher also gives the added benefit of giving someone who is already exceptionally fast off the mark that little extra millisecond to get in position for the reply. Bruguera had good feel for the dink forehand return, however, I think that many people might not pick up on.

Yes, chip returns are basic shots, but over time, you develop a "feel" for it, but only with ample practice. Bruguera's incredibly whippy/wristy forehand motion FORCED him to develop this return style, and I think that's actually why he had such surprisingly VERY soft hands at net despite not coming in that often.

You know as an example of this, I use a guy like McEnroe. He was the MASTER of the dink return, the dink hell ANYTHING. McEnroe's "talent" wasn't in his flashly looking strokes or wonderful technique, it was that he was the all time greatest ball pokere there ever was. He was the MASTER of dinking it JUST right in just the right place to leave you in a compromised feeling situation where you felt like you could and should be able to crush the ball, but that you were in a low percentage position to do so and you didn't really know why.

Bruguera was imo much more adept at this when facing net rushers than other players simply because he'd been forced to chip the forehand return so much growing up that he developed a "feel" for it in his hands that most players hadn't. A chip or block return is a simple technique obviously, but what separates a good chipper from a crappy one is the ability to modulate the chip with the mere nuances of your hand and subtle micro-positioning of your racket face on contact with the ball.

It all happens in the blink of an eye, and that's why that nuance can only come with repeated practice. That imo is another reason why Bruguera could effectively chip dink forehand returns against incoming net rushers with big serves much more effectively than say Thomas Muster would be able to get away with.

Agassi was NOT a ball dinker, he had hands of stone. Agassi's hands were trainend to do one thing growing up and that was to CRUSH the ball into oblvion. Like Agassi's dad told him, who cares if you hit them out. Just keep on trying to smash the ball as hard as you can and one day they'll land in more often than they do out.

Lefty78
05-23-2009, 06:19 AM
If your putting Sampras ahead of Gonzales based on video seen then I like to know where you have review the video of Pancho ? I have heard he had the best serve ever but this is just based on historians who have seen both play and there is very littlle, almost no video available of that era where Gonzales dominated. He did also beat most anybody in the world upto 40 years of age with his big service weapon.

There is video of both Fraser and Gonzales on the web.
Both have enviable serves and then some.

In fairness, most of the Gonzales video is from later in his career. It's incredible how good he still was, although Sampras' serve still looks damn good these days too (38 this summer).

One thing I can't get away from though is the technology effect. On one hand, stiffer frames have allowed players to do things previously impossible. On the other hand, the technology has FORCED players to learn NEW skills in order to compete at the highest levels. (This is evident in any # of sports other than tennis) The way I see it, Pete, who grew up with a wood frame, could easily adapt to the old school; he wouldn't have to learn new skills, whereas Pancho would have to raise the bar in order to compete today.

onehandbh
05-23-2009, 06:40 AM
The big weapons of the forehand and serve didn't come until he had a MAJOR overnight growth spurt basically. Rumor was that he was taking growth hormones, took a break, and then the next thing everyone knew he came back like twice the height.


Not saying the rumor regarding Roddick taking HGH isn't true, but I think
it is possible to grow very quickly. I was 5'2 or 5'3 at the end of my
freshman year in high school. Then over 3 months during the
summer break I grew 6-7 inches! There was a bit of foreshadowing though.
My feet had already grown to size 10 before I grew. After that growth spurt
I grew another few inches until I reached 6' 0". Now that I think about it,
my game did change. I used to always be the shortest kid but was faster
than the other kids so I was sort of a scrapper in most sports. Then once
I grew, I started S&Ving and going for bigger shots. Probably should have
kept a bit more of the scrapper mentality instead of becoming too much of
a low percentage player.

!Tym
05-23-2009, 11:17 AM
Not saying the rumor regarding Roddick taking HGH isn't true, but I think
it is possible to grow very quickly. I was 5'2 or 5'3 at the end of my
freshman year in high school. Then over 3 months during the
summer break I grew 6-7 inches! There was a bit of foreshadowing though.
My feet had already grown to size 10 before I grew. After that growth spurt
I grew another few inches until I reached 6' 0". Now that I think about it,
my game did change. I used to always be the shortest kid but was faster
than the other kids so I was sort of a scrapper in most sports. Then once
I grew, I started S&Ving and going for bigger shots. Probably should have
kept a bit more of the scrapper mentality instead of becoming too much of
a low percentage player.

It's not really a big deal. I just thought it was an interesting rumor for what it is, doesn't mean anything one way or another. Bruguera was the #1 guy in Spain growing up all the way until...he started reaching that 16ish age. His dad panicked, why isn't he he winning as much anymore, why isn't he dominating anymore? So, he had I can't rember his name, but the last great Spaniard player, to come and take a look at him, to evaluate his game for him. He said after the evalutaion session, nothing's wrong with him. He's just too small. Basically, in ohter words, he was saying he hadn't gone through puberty yet. The other kids were all grown up now, big boys, and he still had the body of a little boy. Not long after that session, Bruguera had a dramatic growth spurt, and grew like 6, 7, 8 inches one year basically at 17. Next thing you know, he was on tour at like 18 and one of the fastest risers.

He's not alone. I think I've read of several well known pros who also had late dramatic growth spurts like this.

So if anyone ever tells you, not being tall in tennis has its advantages too like Chang and Hewitt have their speed, slap them. Because that's probably what Chang and Hewitt would do if you told that to them.

I really think Hewitt's more 5'9-10" than 5'11", and Chang 5'6-7" ish than 5'9". According to my friend who actually got to play b-ball with Chang, he is DEFINITELY not 5'9", and 5'6" in reality. He said absolutely not, no way, no how he is 5'9" like listed....

Chang at even just a legitimate 5'9" could have been something else imo. There's no doubt these guys had more natural talent in their tail bone than Roddick has in his entire body, NO DOUBT imo.

theagassiman
05-24-2009, 11:18 PM
Agassi had a huge serve back in the day.....;)

Nah just kidding.
He could mix it up a bit though.

But the guy who I really admired in terms of serve was Edberg.
That guy I swear could kick it to space, I don't know how anyone got that thing back.

35ft6
05-25-2009, 01:46 AM
With his serve if Roddick had learnt to volley properly when he was a younger player growing up it would have been a huge benefit to him. His serve is partialy wasted since all you do is try and get ahold of it and float it back deep,I kind of feel like the best volleyers mix up their targets a lot and hit mostly very spinny, heavy serves. Edberg, Mac, Sampras, and Rafter coming to mind. For the most part, seems true serve and volleyers, the ones who serve and volley all the time, not when the opportunity presents itself, don't throw flat bombs, they assume the return is coming back but want to control with their serve what the return is going to be like. Kraijeck might be the exception.