Better athlete: Federer or Sampras

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by dangalak, Sep 17, 2012.

?

better athlete?

  1. Sampras

    52 vote(s)
    28.1%
  2. Federer

    133 vote(s)
    71.9%
  1. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    Last edited: Sep 19, 2012
  2. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    One of the most important aspects of Federer (that many times passes unnoticed) is that he was as well one of the best defenders (when needed).

    Federer serve, forehand, backhand...winners in all kind of positions were absolutely great, but we all have seen great players making a ton of amazing winners in the past.

    The thing with Federer is that, when he wasn't winning being the aggresor, he could grind out matches like the best ones (in his prime at least).

    I've seen many times where Federer did run endlessly because he needed to do it.

    I remember Federer running like crazy from corner to corner in the US OPEN'05 Final (against Agassi) in the second and third sets, because he wasn't feeling confident with his backhand.

    I can not imagine Sampras or Agassi doing something like that. Agassi and Sampras would live and die playing their style: aggresion, dictating the points to death.

    Obviously they could and would run like crazy in some very important points, but not for an entire match.

    Federer has showed countless times in his career that, if needed, he could run and defend like the best ones, and could do it for hours.

    That is one of the things of Federer that differentiates him from other great aggresive players from the 90s like Sampras or Agassi or Becker.

    Usually, the players that almost always can impose their aggresive game (Sampras, Agassi, Becker,...) and so normally run way less than their rivals, they don't like to be the defending runners at all. They can do it on occasions, some important points, but you didn't see Sampras, Agassi or Becker doing it for hours, they preferred to take even more risks in their shots (and so to make the other guy run more than you again even if upping unforced errors) than to grind out matches.

    Federer could and in fact was very good at that as well (very quick, great footwork and special ability to retrieve very difficult shots).

    That very important aspect of his game is one of the main reasons why he had so very few losses during his prime. Even when not feeling specially inspired with his game, he could still win because he could and would run and grind if needed to win.

    Agassi, Sampras, Becker, they lost many matches in which they looked as if tanking, because if they were doing a lot of unforced errors, instead of trying to cut down errors and be more conservative from the baseline (even if that meant they had to run more because the rival could then dictate more) they went on taking more and more risks in their shots and making more and more unforced errors that looked like tanking.

    In that sense Federer could play like a Lendl, Wilander when needed (cutting down unforced errors), and obviously he could be a Becker, Sampras or Agassi taking risks and dictating points everytime he felt confident (the majority of his matches).
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2012
  3. Prisoner of Birth

    Prisoner of Birth Banned

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    Spot on. You can see how great his defense was in the 2005 Aussie semi-final against Safin, among others.
     
  4. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    And seriously, that shows how much he (Federer) cares about tennis and about winning.

    Because why other great players didn't do that?

    OK, Sampras had Thalassemia, low stamina, he couldn't physically grind out matches, so his only option was winning making winners all night long.

    Becker?, OK, he was a very big and a bit heavy guy. Even though he was terrificly strong, he possibly could never win running like crazy from corner to corner for hours. He had a heavy and big body.

    But Agassi?, he had great stamina, he wasn't big (5 f. 10 i.). Agassi could have done it....had he been faster. But Agassi was not a great runner, simply. It is possible that he had better results being the aggresor all the time than grinding out matches (even when being the aggresor was failing him).

    Federer had the great physical gift that he indeed could do it, and could do it like the best ones.

    Perhaps Sampras could have been like that had he had better stamina, because he was quick like hell and cat-like, but he always chose not to (and probably was right, because with his condition his only option was winning dictating all the points).

    Federer had the whole package, could do everything, that made him an incredibly difficult player to beat.

    I remember Edberg as well. Even though his game was pure serve-and-volley, Edberg was very very fast and smooth when running on the baseline, and a great defender as well when needed, but he had not the great forehand of Federer, so he could not defend that well from the forehand side (he was great hitting backhand passing-shots though, and he hit great lobs too).
     
  5. rst

    rst Rookie

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    Sampras rarely had to endure long grueling baseline battles to win majors.

    im not sure if a 10 shot basline rally exerts more energy than a 3 shot approach and leap. the approach may require bending more and then a blast of energy for a volly/drop. som ebasline rallys appear measured in exertion.
     
  6. rst

    rst Rookie

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    Sampras relied almost entirely on a massive serve and short rallies. Any of the top 10 now are vastly more athletic than him."

    could they dunk?? could they have been as succesfula at the style of play the pete had?
     
  7. rst

    rst Rookie

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    but he had the cat-like burst of speed that is rarely seen even today.........


    cat like bursts over and over again take endurance...a special kind.
     
  8. rst

    rst Rookie

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    aside from a couple of players today does roger play more of a sampras type of game than anyone else?
     
  9. rst

    rst Rookie

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    if he does??? is it because its physically easier??? or other factors??
     
  10. rst

    rst Rookie

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    unless sent from corner of baseline to corner of basleine repeatedly, i have found that sprintign forward and having to perhaps chip and then leap into a hopefulley winning volley hurts more.
     
  11. rst

    rst Rookie

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    perhaps the clay surface negated petes type of moves to an extent that equalized or enhanced other atheltes games.

    basketball on gravel is tough
     
  12. dangalak

    dangalak Banned

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  13. rst

    rst Rookie

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    trying to cut down errors and be more conservative from the baseline......


    is that being less atheltic??? ill lift 100 lbs instead if 200 lbs, ie??
     
  14. Sadyv

    Sadyv Rookie

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    Pete's a considerably better athlete, but Roger is a more skilled tennis player.

    Roger is a very good athlete, who happened to have found the sport that best suits his particular set of talents most comfortably.

    Sampras was a superb athlete who could have used his athleticism to get to a high level in many sports. Tennis at the time was best suited for him, these days the game has probably become too dependent on more continuous stamina output for it to be his best fit, though he'd still be very good.

    It's easy to see Sampras wrestling freestyle in the Olympics or playing judo, playing in the backfield in American football, sprinting down the track or hurdling, chasing down a fly ball in baseball or cricket, even crossing someone up and dishing out a pass on the basketball court or hanging from the rings in gymnastics.

    For Federer, other than maybe figure skating or football, he just seems grooved perfectly in his frame and athletic gifts to be a tennis player, but not those other things.
     
  15. 90's Clay

    90's Clay Legend

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    Thats nonsense.. Pete was obviously very skilled and more of an "all courter" then Roger is. Roger was superior from the baseline.. Sampras superior all around the court. It takes more skill to be both dominant from the baseline AND at the net.

    Sampras was a better player between both the baseline and the net.
     
  16. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    The poll results are a major LOL here but then again any poll with Federer in it on Planet TW is worth a major LOL.

    True and Sampras from the baseline >>>> Federer at the net. Sampras has had many matches he outplayed Agassi and Courier from the baseline. I fail to see a hypothetical Federer having any days he would outplay prime McEnroe or prime Edberg (or prime Sampras) strictly from the net.
     
  17. 90's Clay

    90's Clay Legend

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    I agree.. When people say Fed is more "skilled" all around I question that. Fed is more skilled in certain aspects. But "overall" skill his very highly debatable considering Pete was known to demolish guys from both the net and the baseline.

    I don't think people realize how skilled you have to be to do that.

    1st and 2nd serve- Sampras by a mile

    FH- Fed was better standing still hitting the inside-out FH, Pete was better on the run with his FH and many can argue its just as much of a bullet is as Fed's is

    BH- Neither their strong points but both could do damage with it at times. Kind of a moot comparison.

    Mental toughness- Pete was certainly more clutch under pressure then Roger. Pete seemed to "welcome" the big points and clutch situations more then Roger who I never felt was ever that comfortable in those situations. At least not as much as Pete was.

    Defense-Roger was superior... But Pete was no slouch on the defensive end tracking those balls down for some running FH winner

    Athleticism- Pete certainly was more of an athlete

    Stamina- Roger due to Pete's blood disorder which caused him to fatigue faster then other guys

    Net Play- Pete by a mile

    Transition to the net- Again Pete by a mile

    Footwork- Federer

    Speed-Sampras was faster



    Fed really only has Pete in a few categories. This place is crazy sometimes.. I swear some people didn't watch Pete in h is prime here.

    Its almost as if people here want to compare Roger at his peak to Pete at the end of his career and not the pete of the early-mid 90s
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2012
  18. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    ITA with all you said, especialy the last sentence. Although I must say Sampras's inside out forehand scared opponents to heck as well, people would be scared to his forehand in his prime and would desperately try to work over his backhand corner, but eventually would have to go to the open court and face that dreaded running forehand. It was tough to know where to go vs prime Sampras from the baseline, except on clay sometimes where just made lazy errors, and not enough mental resilence or patience at times. Sampras's down the line forehand was amazing and IMO better than Federer's, and his inside out forehand was almost as great, only Federer's crosscourt forehand without being on the run (without either Sampras or Federer hitting it on the run, but more from a standstill) is more clearly better I guess. I wont even get into Federer's backhand which is so overrated on this forum it isnt even funny, it isnt bad of course, but it is closer to Sampras's than what people on this forum view it as being which is much superior to Gasquet, Kuerten, Nadal, Murray (who all have a much better backhand than Federer does), basically supposably better than anyone but Nalbandian, Agassi, and Djokovic on Planet TW.

    Anyway that all aside this thread is purely about who is the better athlete so even those who feel Federer has a way better and more complete tennis game, Sampras should still come out ahead here. He is no doubt physically stronger, jumps higher by a long ways, is faster, is atleast as agile and flexible. In no way is Federer a better athlete. In a decathalon I would be willing to bet money Sampras comes out ahead easily.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 29, 2012
  19. helloworld

    helloworld Hall of Fame

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    I've watched both played, and I must say Sampras relied a lot more in his superior athleticism than Roger does. Pete wins this by a clear margin.
     
  20. DragonBlaze

    DragonBlaze Hall of Fame

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    Now let me use your logic -

    1st and 2nd serve- Sampras although Federer is no slouch.

    FH- Federer all day every day. Yes Sampras running forehand was great. HELL to the NO as an overall stroke, Federer is definitely superior.

    BH- Federer by a CONTINENTAL mile.

    Mental toughness in a big match - Pete is better.

    Mental toughness displayed over the year/average level of play in prime - Federer

    Defense- Again Roger, not even debatable

    Stamina- Federer by a gap that is big enough to fit the grand canyon.

    Athleticism - Pete by a hair.

    Net Play- Pete

    Footwork- Federer

    Half volleys - Federer

    Drop shots - Federer

    Overhead - even, although Sampras had a more dramatic one for sure

    -----------------------------------

    Oh look, I can paint a picture with rose coloured glasses too!!! It is just as easy to shortchange Pete and exaggerate Fed's strength as it is to do the opposite. Furthermore I have also included some bullsh*t categories like you, e.g. having Speed and athleticism as two different categories. Net play and "Transition to net" also :lol:. Oh wait I forgot to include "Transition from defense to offense from the baseline" which btw Federer also wins.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2012
  21. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Overhead is not even, and Federer does not have better half volleys. Federer probably has a better backhand than Sampras but this idea he has this super great backhand on Planet TW has become some urban legend. He never had one of the great backhands in the game. Just look at how easily Nadal takes it to pieces, and how players with stronger backhands who are infinitely inferior in most every other aspect of the game like Nalbandian, hip butchered Kuerten, an old way past his prime Agassi, Murray, pre 2.0 Djokovic are such a problem for him, mostly since they terrorize him off that side.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 29, 2012
  22. Biscuitmcgriddleson

    Biscuitmcgriddleson Professional

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    Only probably?
     
  23. DragonBlaze

    DragonBlaze Hall of Fame

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    That's not the point, I was just giving an extremely biased version of their respective attributes. The point of my post was that 90s clay should atleast try to post a somewhat objective account rather than shortchanging Roger and excusing Pete's weaknesses. My post is clearly NOT an objective one either.

    Also Fed does not "probably" have a better backhand. He does. Period. That's like me saying that Sampras "probably" has a better serve. Does that not sound ridiculous?
     
  24. TheFifthSet

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    Demolish from the baseline? Hardly. Pete was a great baseliner, especially in his prime, but not an elite one.

    Here you're just avoiding the elephant in the room, which is that Federers forehand is far superior than Sampras's. I/O and I/I FH? Federer. Overall rally forehand? Federer. Angles, explosiveness and consistency? Federer. CC forehand? Federer. DTL forehand? Federer. FH pass? Federer. Pete had a great running FH although I think Federer's running FH is very underrated. You're so quick to amplify all the categories in which Pete has an advantage, but you won't even concede one of the most obvious disparities.

    Did I just hear this? Federers backhand slice is much better than Pete's. Even now it's among the best on tour, barring Murray whose slice is also sick. Pete's BH was also more attackable and he was less deadly on the pass than prime Federer. Put it this way, AT BEST their BH drives are comparable, but given how much better Federer's slice is (which isn't comparable) its definitely not a moot point.

    At the very most it's close in the mental aspect. While Sampras seemed to keep it together better in grand slam finals, Federers knack for getting over tough loses is almost unparalleled. When Sampras lost to Kafelnikov at RG in '96, it's sort of like he mailed it in on clay after that. For somebody to falter so often on a surface that consistutes 30-40% of the tours tournaments, it's not good. At the end of the day though, I don't think that there's a BIG difference between the two mentally. Heck they're the two most successful players of the open era, and you can't do that if you're not close to unflappable between the ears.


    To say Pete was no slouch is an understatement, but he's also clearly 2-3 notches below Federer here.

    This is debatable. There's more to being an athlete than running fast and jumping high. Federer has immaculate footwork, supreme balance and coordination, better stamina (I don't see how this isn't part of the discussion), and a game that is expolosive yet simuletaneously easy on his body. Also, Federer excelled in soccer, cricket, basketball and other racquet sports as a youth. It's at least close.

    BTW, if you wanna chalk up Sampras's inferior stamina to it being a genetic trait therefore not fair, fine. Sampras said his shoulder was freakishly flexible, which is one of the primary reasons he had such a formidable serve. Is that not due to genetics too? Or do we only count it when it is negative?

    Pete had thalassemia minor, a common disorder in mediterranean people, which is far less debilitating than thalassemia major. It's an overused excuse, and it hindered him less than you seem to think. And even if it did hurt him in the stamina category, Federer still deserves credit for being an incredibly fit player. You make it seem as if Federer only wins this by default.

    Yup, no doubt although Federer probably would have been much better than he currently is at the net if he had played in the 90s fast surfaces. Not better than Pete at the net but better than he is now. However, yes, Pete has the clear edge here.

    No doubt.

    May I add -- "by a mile".

    Yup.


    Federer has the forehand, drive BH, BH slice, return, footwork, defense, passing shots, drop shots. Pete has 1st and second serve, FH and BH volleys, overall net play, speed afoot, and overhead. Although the overhead is a moot comparison, because it registers as a minor shock when either of them fail to put away an overhead or miss it. It's about as sure a thing as anything, so its not much of an advantage.

    Yes, I saw Sampras play in his prime btw. :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2012
  25. DragonBlaze

    DragonBlaze Hall of Fame

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    THANK YOU! You phrased that much better than I could.
     
  26. TheFifthSet

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    thanks mate :) to me, having seen both forehands at their respective peaks, theres just no way you can compare the two strokes and not come to the resounding conclusion that fed's is better.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2012
  27. dangalak

    dangalak Banned

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    How does Federer not have a 7/10 BH at the least? Nadal takes every OHBH to pieces. In fact, people who are considered to have better OHBH than Federer often have worse records against Nadal than Federer himself. (Gasquet, Haas, Wawrinka, Almagro etc)

    Djokovic never was capable of "terrorizing him of that side". If anything it's the reverse. Murray, I'll give you that one. (even though peak Federer embarrassed him at the AO :lol:) Nalbandian gives him fits but not because of BH to BH exchanges. Old Agassi was Federer's pidgeon. Kuerten didn't exactly crush Federer. He beat Federer before his clay prime on clay. He also has the best OHBH drive of all time. Not a huge suprise really.

    How ever, Federer's BH >>> Sampras. Let's not be ridiculous.
     
  28. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Yeah since Federer doesnt far trump those players you mentioned in every aspect of the game besides the backhand right. If you actually watch the matches Wawrinka, Gasquet, and Almagro have nowhere near as much trouble off the backhand side vs Nadal as Federer does. They just dont have enough game in most areas or staying power to ever beat Nadal.
     
  29. dangalak

    dangalak Banned

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    I think it's the western grip, really.
     
  30. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Fed has a better bh and that's just about everyone have agreed on. He's playing in the most toughest era when the conditions rewards for a two handed bh since the ball bounce high and the courts are slowing down. Despite being successful as he is, his bh would be even better(and suited) in the 90s.
     
  31. okdude1992

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    Well it depends how you define athleticism doesn't it. If we are talking pure athleticism (how its conventionally defined) as in strength, explosiveness, speed over a short distance, power, jumping ect its obviously Sampras.

    But then again, some people are talking about Tennis athleticism. (as in the specific abilities most suited to tennis) This includes anticipation, quickness, footwork, balance, flexibility, endurance. In this way Federer is more athletic.

    Overall, I prefer the first definition more, because more people identify athleticism like that. So Sampras is more "athletic" than Federer in a conventional sense. But Federer has alot more tennis specific athleticism working in his favor. Especially for the modern game of slower courts and longer rallies.
     
  32. edberg505

    edberg505 Legend

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    Probably? Hahahaha, that is freaking hilarious. And I guess Michael Jordan probably had a better jump shot than Lebron James. You have such contempt for Federer. I don't know why that is. But it hardly renders your comment objective. Look, I was a huge Pete fan. I've seen too many of his matches to count. And in no universe was Federer's backhand "probably" better. It was definitely better in every aspect!
     
  33. Sid_Vicious

    Sid_Vicious G.O.A.T.

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    That definition of athleticism is only conventional to mostly Americans who think that 40 yard dashes, vertical leaps, and Bench presses are what athleticism is all about. The second definition is the one that makes sense. The first one is just stupid and makes it seem like only NBA and NFL players qualify as athletes.

    This guy is one of the most adored athletes in the world

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lionel_Messi

    He is only 5 ft 7 and weighs less than 150 lbs. I guess his 40 million fans on facebook need to look up what a "true athlete" is.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2012
  34. dangalak

    dangalak Banned

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    Tbf, Messi isn't very athletic. Ronaldo (both of them) and Kaka would be better examples.
     
  35. Vcore89

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    I agree on Messi not on par with Ronaldo and Kaka in terms of athleticism but he is great at what he does. Frankly, I give Mascherano my vote of confidence over Messi but Messi always comes up with something when it matters.

    Sorry OP for hijacking the thread with off-topic...
     
  36. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    Federer. Sampras might be a much better jumper but overall fed moved much better and did so with much greater endurance.

    Feds endurance is greatly underrated because he has that asymmetrical body and no razor abs but he is probably the tennis player with the greatest endurance in tennis history. he never gets tired even in a 5 setter (even now at age 30-unless some very rare occasions) while sampras sometimes had stamina issues (yeah I know he had this blood illness but being healthy is part of the game).
     
  37. Sabratha

    Sabratha G.O.A.T.

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    Federer is also decling slower than Sampras did.
     
  38. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    While the rest of your post was pretty much spot on I'm struggling with how you could be astute enough to make all those comments and then somehow think Murray's slice backhand is even remotely comparable to Federer's. OR have I misread what you meant?

    Murray's slice is good as an addition to his 2HBH -solid enough. Federer's, by contrast, is without compare on the tour currently (granted: there may be some 200th ranked player with an arguably better on but with a worse *everything else*). You'd be hard pressed to name someone who outshines him in this department in the last 20 years.
     
  39. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    Ditto... it was well put indeed.
     
  40. dangalak

    dangalak Banned

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    Youzhny? Lopez? They aren't better than him, but not that inferior either.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2012
  41. droliver

    droliver Semi-Pro

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    That's not that impressive. I could do that in my teens at 5' 11" and I certainly wasn't a elite specimen. I always though the Sampras jumping overhead was just showing off BTW. Completely superfluous.
     
  42. dangalak

    dangalak Banned

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    You could almost never successfully lob him.
     
  43. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    I would definitely take Federers slice over Murrays. It's one of the most consistent shots of his era, and look where it's got him. However, when Murrays feeling it his slice is incredible too. That match against Roddick at Queens, Olympics match vs Fed, even the Wimby match against Fed, it was sick. I'm not saying its better than Federers, but I would venture to say among the top players its Federer and Murray that have the best slices by far.
     
  44. World Beater

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    hewitt, agassi, chang and safin disagree.

    Sampras overhead is so overrated, its ridiculous.

    The overhead should be a regulation shot..its by no means a weapon, and pete has missed some overheads in crucial situations.

    Two that come to mind....against federer at wimbledon, and against corretja at the usopen in the famous match where he puked.

    Sampras slam dunk was a total showboat move.
     
  45. jaggy

    jaggy G.O.A.T.

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    Sampras had major cajones but cant say he was all that athletic
     
  46. 90's Clay

    90's Clay Legend

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    Yea horribly overrated.. I mean so many guys could do this :shock:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emPy439hmCQ
     
  47. smoledman

    smoledman Legend

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    Who can successfuly lob Federer?
     
  48. dangalak

    dangalak Banned

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    No it isn't.

    Do you seriously think I would defend Sampras if he didn't deserve it? Even in matches where he was getting outplayed he spiked some lobs into the ground so decisively, I don't think i have seen many others do it. (the match against Safin comes to mind)

    I have watched matches against him wherein he was lobbed by what I would deem decent lobs, only to utterly demolish them. The only guy whom I would consider close to him from the top players is Tsonga. Federer is good too, but not quite as good.

    More people than Sampras.
     
  49. World Beater

    World Beater Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    Messages:
    2,745
    Well that is your opinion. I happen to disagree.

    I watched sampras his entire career, and he botched some overheads that he should not have. The overheads he did get a handle on, he tried to hit as hard as he could - but it doesnt matter how hard you hit it as long as you win the point.


    I would say both edberg and rafter were better than sampras when it came to defending the net from the lob. especially edberg - he was amazing - the way he could backpedal and use his flexibilty to get to balls.

    For me a good overhead - is one which is reliable and gets the job done with very few mistakes. If the objective is to win points and lose the fewest, i do not see how sampras gets the nod here. Sampras gets style points for sure though - but he does make more mistakes than some other players.

    People see sampras showboat some easy overheads, and assume he has the best overhead. He jumps much higher than he needs to on those to win the point.
     
  50. dangalak

    dangalak Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2012
    Messages:
    609
    The guys you mentioned were just as good as Sampras.
     

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