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rogerfederer26
06-08-2009, 06:10 PM
Roger Federer and Pete Sampras: The Most Prolific—Not Greatest—of All Time
by Burton DeWitt (Analyst)
42 1788 reads
June 07, 2009

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/194334-federer-and-sampras-the-most-prolific-not-greatest-of-all-time

Well, he's the best, the greatest, the champion of all time, the legend. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Let the babbling commence.

NBC couldn't stress the fact that Federer is the greatest of all time any more than I'm stressing the word “fact.”

“You certainly are the greatest,” NBC commentator John McEnroe said to Federer, long after the rest of the crew had made the same conclusion in complete unanimity.

Federer, now the holder of 14 Grand Slam titles, had not just equaled Pete Sampras's mark, but had also completed the career Grand Slam. His win over Robin Soderling in straight sets completed the quest once thought a foregone conclusion.

Sampras never won at Roland Garros, losing in the semifinals in his best performance on the red clay of Paris. Yevgeny Kafelnikov destroyed the overmatched Sampras in straight sets.

Federer? He's been to the finals of every slam at least four times.

But it's wrong to measure historic greatness by Grand Slam titles, as wrong as it was to call Sampras the greatest champion until today.

Sampras was a one-dimensional player who dominated an era without any strong and consistent all-around players.

Other than Andre Agassi, who was a great player when he was not being a nutcase, Sampras's slam victories came over the likes of Cedric Pioline twice, Todd Martin, an old Boris Becker, Carlos Moya, Goran Ivanisevic twice, Patrick Rafter, Jim Courier on the Wimbledon lawn, and Michael Chang.

While these were all good players, who other than Boris Becker and Jim Courier was ever part of the “Who's Who?” of tennis? Sure, Moya and Rafter both made it to the top of the rankings, but so did Marcelo Rios.

Just in the open era alone, Stefan Edberg, Ivan Lendl, and Mats Wilander, who battled each other for the better part of a decade, have more of a claim.

Lendl made eight consecutive U.S. Open finals during the 1980s, a sign of consistency heretofore unmatched.

And during that streak, he played the likes of Becker, Wilander, Edberg, McEnroe, and Jimmy Connors in the finals alone, beating McEnroe and Wilander.

He also reached a Grand Slam final every year from 1981 to 1991 and the year-end championship finals every year from 1980 to 1988, winning it five times.

Lendl's running forehand has long been considered one of the greatest of all-time, strong and controlled, nothing ever too difficult for him to hit a winner. Yet because he played in the toughest decade of the open era, we discount him because he could not win 14 Slams?

Do you really think Federer or Sampras would have won 14 Grand Slam titles playing during the 1980s?

Doubt it.

I'd guess Sampras would have won less than five and Federer's total would be more in line with Lendl's eight.

Speculation, I know, but let's just keep this in perspective.

Moreover, how about all the professional players before 1968?

Pancho Gonzalez won two U.S. Championship titles in the 1940s before turning professional. He then spent eight consecutive years as the top-ranked player, remaining one of the greatest players into his 40s.

When the open era returned, he was already 40. Nonetheless, he made the semifinals at Roland Garros, defeating the defending champion in the process.

At the age of 41, he played the longest match in the history of Wimbledon, winning in five sets over Arthur Ashe's college roommate, Charlie Pasarell.

He dropped the first set 22-24 and took the final set 11-9.

That match is widely recognized for spawning tiebreak games to keep sets from going on indefinitely.

But Gonzalez cannot be the greatest of all time. He only has two Grand Slam titles.

And there's no way I can hold this article to 1000 words and describe the greatness of Max Decugis, Henri Cochet, Rene Lacoste, Bill Tilden, Fred Perry, Don Budge, Frank Sedgman, or Ken Rosewall.

And we must not forget Rod Laver, who won the calendar year Grand Slam both as an amateur in 1962 and a professional in 1969.

He won 11 Grand Slams despite missing the five best years of his career from 1963 to 1967 while dominating the professional ranks.

With the dearth of top-level players on the amateur circuit and no comparable newcomers in the middle of the decade, Laver would have easily won another 10 Grand Slam titles, if not more, had he been able to play those years.

Easily.

Judge greatness on something as asinine as total Grand Slam titles, and you hand that honor to Pete Sampras. No offense to Sampras, but he just does not rank up. He lacks the all-around game to even contend with people like Federer or Rafael Nadal.

Sure, Federer and Sampras are the most prolific champions of the open era, but the greatest of all time? That is debatable.

It's definitely not a certainty, no matter what John McEnroe wants to say. At best, it's a possibility.

Punishing the champions before the 1960s for trying to make a living just isn't the way to do it.

Suzanne Lenglen, still widely regarded as the greatest woman to ever play the game now more than 70 years after she died, put it best.

“I have worked as hard at my career as any man or woman has worked at any career,” the great champion said after turning professional. “And in my whole lifetime I have not earned $5,000 - not one cent of that by my specialty, my life study - tennis.”

So she turned professional, like so many men before and after her, so that she could continue to perform and bring enjoyment to the thousands of men and women who watched her in the stands.

As a result, she could not compete in what are now the Grand Slam tournaments.

To discount a player based on a statistic as arbitrary as Grand Slam titles is bogus; it is dumb.

Sure, you can call Federer or Sampras the most prolific. But greatest?

Not in a heart beat.

“Today we've seen Roger Federer become the greatest of all time,” an NBC commentator said today right before they went to re-air the final set of the 2008 Wimbledon Gentlemen's Singles final between Federer and Nadal.

He then called that match the greatest match ever played.

Funny, I'd say Pancho Gonzalez holds claim to both of those. But I can at least understand the latter.

Last year's match was a great struggle between two of the greatest who ever played; Pancho beat a mediocre journeyman.

Beat a mediocre journeyman, just like Federer did today against Robin Soderling.

Winners or Errors
06-08-2009, 06:19 PM
Some nice perspective.

drake
06-08-2009, 06:29 PM
[B]Beat a mediocre journeyman, just like Federer did today against Robin Soderling.

Soderling, a mediocre journeyman huh. Pretty insulting to call the #12 player in the world a "journeyman" that's made over $4,000,000. I only ask one thing to Burton DeWitt, lets see what your wife or girlfriend looks like!

dozu
06-08-2009, 06:32 PM
guy needs to loosen up a bit ... while the entire world is having a party, the guy just had to rain on the parade.

pathetic.

Jchurch
06-08-2009, 06:36 PM
I think a better way to look at it is would Lendl, Edberg, and Willander have been as dominant today. I still think that Pete would have had his Wimbledons and some of his USOs. Same for Federer. Would they both have 14? Hard to say. With regards to consistency, Lendls 8 consecutive US Open finals don't compare to Federer's 4 consecutive FO, 6 consecutive Wimbledons, and 5 consecutive USOs.

rosenstar
06-08-2009, 06:39 PM
I personally don't like the argument that one person had stronger competition than another from a different era. How can one say whether federer had weaker competition than samprass, or if he had equal competition, and is just at such a high level above it? No way to really distinguish...

Mick
06-08-2009, 06:40 PM
Is Federer the greatest of all time? Like religious belief, there are believers and there are non-believers. Believers know Federer is the greatest and no matter what you do or say, non-believers will never change their minds.

raiden031
06-08-2009, 06:43 PM
There are alot of 'what ifs'. Just like what if Lendl wasn't in the era he was in, what if Nadal was not in Fed's era. There is a GOOD chance Fed would have won 5 consecutive FO titles and crowned greatest clay player of all time. The 6 titles that Nadal won could very well be Fed's, which means Fed would hit 20 slam titles. Alot of things could've happened differently. But they didn't, we only have to go by what actually happened.

raiden031
06-08-2009, 06:47 PM
Is Federer the greatest of all time? Like religious belief, there are believers and there are non-believers. Believers know Federer is the greatest and no matter what you do or say, non-believers will never change their minds.

Nobody can deny that Federer has a very good case for being in contention for GOAT. Its true nobody can objectively say with certainty he is, so alot of it is about faith. I can probably write down 20 things that reinforce the belief he is the GOAT, while only noting a handful of things that might take away from it.

fortunecookiesjc
06-08-2009, 06:50 PM
This is stubid, there shouldnt be any what ifs this and that. Its not like we can make a list of the top 100 tennis players of all time and stick them with each other and see how they play

There's a reason why there wasnt supposedly any competition in each repected era...it was cuz they were that good.

CEvertFan
06-08-2009, 06:57 PM
This is just one person's opinion and I for one will just take it with a grain of salt, meaning I don't take it very seriously.

tennisdad65
06-08-2009, 07:06 PM
Sampras was a one-dimensional player who dominated an era without any strong and consistent all-around players.

I stopped reading the article at this point..

I am not much of a sampras fan, but that statement is stupid.. The guy could serve, volley, return, approach, and had good ground strokes. thats not 1-D at all..

He did not do well at the french does not mean his baseline game was bad. He just never had the patience, guile, or experience on clay.

Claudius
06-08-2009, 07:08 PM
Sampras...one dimensional? Ignorant 20 year old college student.

Blue Drop
06-08-2009, 07:14 PM
Pretty idiotic article, actually. The guy's an "analyst"? What exactly is that? Because that somehow qualifies him to argue against McEnroe (who DID play in the 80s) when he says this:

"Do you really think Federer or Sampras would have won 14 Grand Slam titles playing during the 1980s?

Doubt it."

Nice try. A better question would be, Has Burton DeWitt ever set foot on a tennis court?

Doubt it.

Claudius
06-08-2009, 07:14 PM
I really don't like this guy. Mediocre journeyman? C'mon, a player ranked 12th in the world is not "mediocre."

Claudius
06-08-2009, 07:15 PM
Wow..anybody as infuriated as I am?

drakulie
06-08-2009, 07:15 PM
I stopped reading the article at this point..




same here.

yada, yada, yada, and blah, blah blah.

author is clueless.

Federer would triple bagel Pancho, as would soderling.

Claudius
06-08-2009, 07:15 PM
I want to invite this guy to this forum.

Blue Drop
06-08-2009, 07:16 PM
I really don't like this guy. Mediocre journeyman? C'mon, a player ranked 12th in the world is not "mediocre."

The author of the article is a smug idiot. Shame on him for diminishing the accomplishments of Soderling, who played a great tournament ... of Sampras, who is hardly one dimensional ...

Idiot.

JeMar
06-08-2009, 07:20 PM
http://bleacherreport.com/users/28906-Burton-DeWitt

That is the author. He's less of an analyst as he is just a blogger. We all know how objective bloggers can be.

I agree with a few of his points, but I certainly don't agree with how he goes about stating it.

malakas
06-08-2009, 07:21 PM
I want to invite this guy to this forum.

the author of this article IS a poster on this forum.:)

fortunecookiesjc
06-08-2009, 07:29 PM
Soderling was great throughout the tournament
apparently what the author is saying you arnt allowed to win a slam unless your top 10....
stop bashing on soderling, he's great. How is not taking out Nadal a great achievement.

Blue Drop
06-08-2009, 07:30 PM
http://bleacherreport.com/users/28906-Burton-DeWitt

That is the author. He's less of an analyst as he is just a blogger. We all know how objective bloggers can be.

I agree with a few of his points, but I certainly don't agree with how he goes about stating it.


Thanks for digging this up. A 20 year-old student/blogger who looks like he's 12. Pretty much sums it up.

geese_com
06-08-2009, 07:31 PM
I'd say that Lendl is definitely up there. I don't think he gets enough credit.

AprilFool
06-08-2009, 07:34 PM
Funny how quickly the discussion changes. The eighty or ninety per cent of people who say he is GOAT now were writing him off six weeks ago.

psYcon
06-08-2009, 07:48 PM
looks like a 20 yr old pimply faced kid. Yea let him be the judge of who's the greatest of all time.

BorisBeckerFan
06-08-2009, 07:51 PM
As I've said before, no such thing as GOAT. Fed however seems to be on his way to most accomplished of all time.

obsessedtennisfandisorder
06-08-2009, 07:53 PM
This Goat debate is fun, the article I agree with to the extent that some people are going overboard now saying he(fed) is definitely etc GOAT...

Fed has a good claim...but so does laver..and to a certain extent 5 other guys like sampras/pancho etc...but really goat is hard to define ever.

On sampras he is right on one thing..pete made winning slams fashionable to the extent other stuff (like davis cup) doesn't really matter...

On the other stuff about pete..I started to wonder if this guy had actually watched pete play...

sure Lendl deserves alot of credit, but a still near prime lendl was beaten
by sampras (just turned 19) in 1990...the year before sampras was too much
for wilander.....sampras was definitely not 1dimensional..that would be goran.

anyway....goat is a difficult debate comparing eras..he's right on that.

JoshDragon
06-08-2009, 08:04 PM
Wow..anybody as infuriated as I am?

Yeah, this article sucks.

CyBorg
06-08-2009, 08:28 PM
Burton DeWitt is a nice name.

VictorS.
06-08-2009, 08:36 PM
Lendl was certainly underrated in my opinion. Obviously his unfavorable Grand Slam Final record doesn't bode well for him in the GOAT discussion. However his dominance can't be denied. In addition, the stiff competition that he faced must be taken into account. He didn't have Federer's grace or Sampras' athleticism. However his groundies were big & consistent. Nobody hit it harder than Lendl off of both wings. You take into consider newer racket technology & polyester strings.....and you put Lendl in today's equation....I am very confident in saying Federer wouldn't have 14 grand slams right now.

IvanAndreevich
06-08-2009, 08:47 PM
Sampras 1D = epic fail.