Greatest Volleyers of All Time

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by hoodjem, Dec 19, 2009.

  1. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Here's tier-one among the greatest volleyers in the history of the game: Laver, McEnroe, Edberg, Rosewall, Sedgman, Newcombe, Roche, Kramer.

    Here's tier-two: Borotra, Gonzales, Hoad, Emerson, Henman, Nastase, Panatta, Rafter, Sampras, Cash.

    I'd like to start a tier-three.
    Tier-three: Ashe, Perry, Krajicek, Stich, Becker, Gerulaitis.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2009
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  2. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    I think, Kramer, who was the first to volley constantly, Sedg, Emmo, Hoadie and Roche were first tier. I would add Borotra, who stormed the net after a weak serve. He came from pelota, a Basque ball game. Ashe had a weak forehand volley.
     
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  3. thalivest

    thalivest Banned

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    If Rafter really that much better than Sampras at volleying? For that matter is Becker really a better volleyer than Sampras, Stich, or even Krajicek.
     
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  4. ChrisCrocker

    ChrisCrocker Rookie

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    I Agree with above that sampras belongs in Tier-Two, and also federer and hewitt deserve to be in tier-three.
     
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  5. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    That's exactly what stood out to me. Rafter DEFINITELY tier 2....I'd put him roughly equal to Cash and Henman, and I'd drop Becker to tier 3.
     
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  6. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    I'm surprised that a knowledgeable poster like hoodjem would rank Henman and Becker above Sampras. Of all the '90s volleyers only Rafter's got a good case of being superior to Sampras, and even here I'd give the edge to Pete as he clearly had a more solid forehand volley and a little more touch. In any case Mac and Edberg are definitely a notch above Rafter.
     
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  7. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Excellent list and with all lists subject to debate. I may actually move Gonzalez down to tier 2 but I can see him also at tier 1. The reason is that people have said that Gonzalez had a catchy type volley and it wasn't as penetrating as for example a Laver or a Rosewall.

    Hoad is as usual, hard to rank since I've read that his volley was fantastic but I've also read he could make volley errors often. His forehand crosscourt volley was the reason Gonzalez changed his backhand grip to learn to hit crosscourt for the backhand pass. The volley was hit so hard even someone with the mobility of Gonzalez couldn't touch it.
     
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  8. Superman1272

    Superman1272 Rookie

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    #1 Martina
    she was amazing off both sides. Powerful and had incredible touch... depending on what was needed. She had great hands. She was fast (foot speed, set-up, hands, reaction) in every regard. Had a presence at the net that was intimidating to any opponent who had ever played her (or saw her play). Her S&V game rarely let her down despite what surface she played on. I also think her doubles efforts only solidified her as the best, or at the VERY least, top teir.
     
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  9. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Thank you everyone. I appreciate your comments and input. IMO many minds are better than one. Many edits made.
    Sorry, I cannot put Fed or Hewitt in tier-two or even tier-three.

    See here: http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=302002
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2009
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  10. jaggy

    jaggy G.O.A.T.

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    I always thought Frew McMillan had a great volley
     
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  11. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    I also think Pete belongs in tier two. I think Pete has the edge over rafter anyway. but no way is Pete tier 3.
     
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  12. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    You are correct. And the Woodies were both excellent volleyers. I have ignored many great doubles players on here. (I cannot decide if I should include them.)
     
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  13. heathcliff

    heathcliff Rookie

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    vitas gerulaitis - touch, reflexes and movement were great
     
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  14. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Yes but you have to remember they are good doubles volleyers. They don't have nearly as much net to cover.

    I used to play doubles with a woman who played on her college doubles team. She was an excellent volleyer when she played doubles ande she never missed a volley but in singles she didn't cover the net nearly as well and could be passed much more.

    Hoodjem, I may agree with Azzurri that Sampras may belong in tier two and I think Sedgman is tier one. Many think he may be the greatest volleyer of them all. Kramer said that if Sedgman got his hands on a volley, it was nearly always a putaway.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2009
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  15. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Looking at the current list, I would also put Sampras, as well as Cash in tier 2.
     
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  16. papatenis

    papatenis Semi-Pro

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    Winning 14 GS with a serve and volley game should put Sampras in the top tier.
    What was your reasoning for placing Sampras in tier 3?
     
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  17. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    repost..........................
     
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  18. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Was it his volley that won 14 GS? This thread is not about his serve-and-volley game, it is about the quality of his volleys exclusively.

    Also, many here dispute that Sampras was a S&V player, some call him an all-court player.
     
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  19. papatenis

    papatenis Semi-Pro

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    How do you measure a great volley? If you think Sampras was an all court player, then how did he win Wimbledon so many times when grass was "real grass"
     
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  20. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    You're backing up a questionable stretch of reasoning with another! Well, for one thing, when grass was "real" (it still is....that's another modern day myth in my opinion), you didn't HAVE to be a SV'er to win. However, in Sampras case, he did SV a lot at Wimbledon, in fact, earliy in his career, it was the one place he seemed to be a completely dedicated SV'er. Though he would sometimes do quite a bit on fast indoor courts....though early on...he'd often stay back indoors as well.

    But there are other confounds to your original premise besides this...to equate volley to slams...well, SO many other variables and interactions. To give an easy example, Cash had a significantly better volley than Becker...(so does say....Leander Paes for that matter), but of course, it's not reflected in their singles slam count.
     
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  21. papatenis

    papatenis Semi-Pro

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    Grass was much faster in the 90's. Why do you think there were so many serve and volley players at that time.

    If one had great volleys, then in theory all they had to do was get to the net and win the point?

    How do you measure a great volley, style, efficiency or with wins.
     
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  22. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Personally, I don't call Sampras an all-court player. I call him a mostly serve-and-volley player.

    But IMO his volley was not as consistent, as accurate, as dependable, and as versatile as those in tier one, whether he won 14 slams or zero slams.

    If you want to know why Sampras won Wimbledon when the grass was faster, then you should ask Azzurri or other Sampras aficionados. I'm sure they can extoll the virtues of Sampras's fast-grass play better than I can.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2009
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  23. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Oh come on. I started by pointing out how you had two premises that were highly confounded...now you're presenting a third. I have posted extensively about the lack of SV style players in the past, but rather than digress into a thorough exposition on why this is, let me simply help you by telling you, and any others who would subscribe to this theory,. that you should think about:
    1.how long it takes to develop a pro player
    2.how in the space of only a few years, with the retirement of Sampras/Becker/Edberg/Krajicek/Rafter etc. SV largely disappeared
    3.whether potential pro players, and their coaches, design their games specifically for the speed of Wimbledon grass (do those that do, account for the majority?)
    4.what happened to the SV on other surfaces? What about indoors?
    5.despite Tim Henman's protestations, how come he was doing so well at the end of his career as an old man at Wimbledon?
    6.do you actually believe there were just as many juniors and rookie pros playing SV style and that they were then selected against...due to failure at Wimbledon from slow grass? If you do, you're wrong on ALL counts, I assure you.


    Whether you believe it has slowed down, or not, (and it certainly has not slowed down THAT much, despite what some players exaggerate, even scientific studies show that grass can only get SO "slow"). The lack of SV at Wimbledon, or in the game in general, is certainly not due to the slow grass conspiracy theory. I think that's absurd.

    Have no idea what this sentence means. In theory, if one had great volleys, one could win a lot of points if one got to the net with a good approach. Beyond that, great volleys mean nothing.

    Any great stroke will have SOME correlation with winning, but there are so many confounds, such a relationship is IN NO WAY a good measure or predictor. Again, Leander Paes has great volleys, so does Reneberg, so does Woodforde, so does Flach, so does Annacone. It does not mean they are going to win WImbledon or be particularly successful. Too many other variables.

    It's PARTICULARLY confounded when you point to Sampras 14 slams, (many of which were NOT from Wimbledon), many of which he largely won from the baseline, particularly in his younger years.
     
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  24. papatenis

    papatenis Semi-Pro

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    Sampras won Wimbledon SEVEN times.
     
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  25. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    With all due respect, Bill Tilden won Wimbledon and a lot of it was from the baseline. Jimmy Connors almost never served and volleyed and won two Wimbledons. Admittedly he served and volleyed in the 1982 final.

    Borg served and volleyed but he also stayed back and won five straight Wimbledons.

    Don Budge won Wimbledon mainly because of his great groundstrokes.

    My point is that you don't necessarily have to be a great volleyer to win Wimbledon. Not that the players I mentioned were not excellent volleyers but they won a lot of points because of other reasons beside the volley.
     
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  26. darthpwner

    darthpwner Banned

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    You have to be a great mover to win on grass. Anyone agree?
     
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  27. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Oh and don't forget Agassi. He won it almost entirely from the baseline.
     
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  28. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    I agree, although...it's generally true at all the slams! Grass with it's fast, low bounce and, especially in the old days, erratic bounces, put a special premium on quickness and flexibility of feet, hand, and mind. Though it's conceivable that a big man, with a big all around first strike game, could win at Wimbledon, even if not the greatest of movers, it happened only once in recent times (Krajicek).
     
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  29. papatenis

    papatenis Semi-Pro

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    During the 90's when Sampras won 6 Wimbledon and the year 2000 he won another for a total of 7 Wimbledon, how in the world do you think he won all those Wimbledon? Surely not from the baseline.
    Do you agree that Sampras was a serve and volley player, especially on grass?
    If you agree, then I would say that he would have to be one of the greatest volleyer's.
     
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  30. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    I agree, although...it's generally true at all the slams! Grass with it's fast, low bounce and, especially in the old days, erratic bounces, put a special premium on quickness and flexibility of feet, hand, and mind. Though it's conceivable that a big man, with a big all around first strike game, could win at Wimbledon, even if not the greatest of movers, it happened only once in recent times (Krajicek)


    Lindsey Davenport did it.
     
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  31. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    No one's saying that Sampras was a 2nd-rate volleyer. He's just not in the same rarefied league as McEnroe and Edberg, and I say this as a huge Sampras fan. I also think Mac was a better volleyer than Laver, but I'll let the old-timers decide that as my viewing experience of Rod is admittedly limited.

    As to your question, playing serve-and-volley and being a serve-and-volleyer are different things. Almost everyone S&Ved their way to the Wimbledon finals back then (Agassi is the only exception I can think of), but we don't call, say, Courier a S&Ver per se. Sampras in his early years was an all-court player who S&Ved often. He did become more aggressive later in his career, but even then he stayed back a good amount of time outside of grass. What won him 7 Wimbledons wasn't just his volley but also the rest of his all-around game, including one of the best serves in history. It ain't called serve-and-volley for nothing.
     
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  32. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Good point. To be frank, I never even think of the women!
     
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  33. papatenis

    papatenis Semi-Pro

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    Sampras combined the serve-and-volley game of McEnroe with the ground game of Lendl with the athleticism and demeanor of Borg. But his mentality as a tennis player harkened back to the Aussies, Laver in particular. His game was designed to win Wimbledon. Arguments about who had better volleys are largely academic. Tony Roche is said to have had the greatest forehand volley ever. So what. Who had the greatest serve-and volley game? That is a far more interesting question. After all, there are many dimensions to it that are often overlooked. Here I think it might be useful to recall what McEnroe said about Sampras. He said that Sampras was a great control volleyer, as opposed to someone like Rafter, who used his kick serve to get in close to the net and hit a first-strike volley. Sampras played percentage tennis, but in the most aggressive way possible. If the percentages dictated less aggressive play, then he played less aggressively. In this sense, he was the most conservative player. Like any good serve-and-volleyer, he knew that if you come in, you are going to get passed. So you craft your serve-and-volley game to reduce those passing opportunities. It's actually a defensive-minded mentality guiding an offensive style of play. What made Sampras so invincible at Wimbledon was a serve-and-volley game that was virtually impenetrable. Volleys only tell part of the story. Has anyone ever half-volleyed better than Sampras? Henman comes close. Did anyone hit a better overhead? I doubt it. How about the drop volley? The lunge volley? The high backhand volley? Agassi's was pretty good. Sampras used his superior athleticism combined with great touch and creativity to "defend" the net. He applied this style of play and mentality throughout his career, with results that speak for themselves.
     
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  34. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Uh... this is nice and all, but in case you haven't noticed, this thread is about volleys only. If you're interested there's already another thread on the greatest serve-and-volleyers:

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=295149

    Anyway we don't actually disagree much. As I said yesterday I'm a big fan of Pistol Pete.
     
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  35. duusoo

    duusoo Rookie

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    I think David Wheaton and Marty Riessen deserve some recognition as being great volleyers
     
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  36. ttbrowne

    ttbrowne Hall of Fame

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    I have to put doubles players up there too. I just cannot see today's top doubles players as having a worse volley than Sampras or anyone else. Just because they don't have the skills to play singles means nothing.
    You HAVE to put the Bryans, and almost everyone in the top 10 in the best category over the old dudes. Doubles today is lightning fast and you can't compare Hoad with Paes. Paes would eat his lunch.
     
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  37. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Actually, because Mac's volley is more "touch" and drop, I would offer that Sampras's volley was modelled more on Edberg's volley: based more on power and placement.

    I know that Sampras worked with Lendl on his private courts (when late 80s early 90s?), but it is a stretch to say that Sampras had the "ground game of Lendl": Lendl's backhand was much stronger than Sampras's with more variety. Borg was stoic and aloof; Sampras was quiet and reserved. I guess they are similar demeanors.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2009
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  38. K Factor

    K Factor Banned

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    1. sampras
    2. federer
    3. nadal
    4.corretja
    5.gonzalez
     
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  39. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Actually, I don't think it was THAT much stronger than Sampras. Though Lendl's backhand is great by any standards, Sampras' is underrated. Interestingly, in the 80's, Vic Braden used to say that Lendl was the pro who best represented the strokes Braden taught, 10 years later, he'd say that Sampras had the backhand that best represented the strokes he taught!

    But, you are right in that Sampras didn't learn/model his strokes from Lendl, though there is some similarity in both forehand and backhand. Sampras modelled mainly after Laver era players, (according to him and Fischer), and the fundamental mechanics of his groundstrokes came from Landsorp. His training time with Lendl, may have influenced his strokes a bit, but he already had his basic game well imprinted by that point, and really, he didn't spend very long with Lendl. Mostly they were hoping Pete would learn from Lendl's discipline and off-court training!

    PS. Oh, yes, that was late 80's I believe.
     
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  40. Leelord337

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    Last edited: Dec 24, 2009
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  41. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Of the last 10 years only, maybe so. But not OF ALL TIME.
     
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  42. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Awesome tennis !! Watching this I started to think that Laver had better volleys than either Edberg or Mac, in that he seemed to be able to equal either with both touch, drop volleys or with angled power volleys.

    Then I started focusing on his groundstrokes, and was amazed at how fast was his preparation on the topspin backhand with always perfect placement. Then I started watching his forehand and thought that they looked like Fed's best sharp-angled, topspin point-ending, unplayable forehands.

    Then as I was picking my jaw up off the floor, I noted that when Laver was in trouble, he'd hit a lob that would fall within inches of or kick up a little chalk off the baseline.

    And Roche looks pretty damn good, also.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2010
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  43. ttbrowne

    ttbrowne Hall of Fame

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    Before you go on and on about how good these volleys are...can you guess how hard the ball is being hit on the ground stroke with a wood racket. Come on, you can't be serious.
     
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  44. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Seems like I've heard this before.
     
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  45. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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  46. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    Yes, Sampras is tier II in my book also. His serve helped him, but he was not a Mac, Edberg, Laver, etc. He did have some areas to the volley that was tier I (like his FH short volley), but overall he was not at the level of mac and Edberg.

    Pete was an all-court player for his coach Gullickson and a S&V player for Annacone. Is he a true all-courter, in a sense depennds on when (year) Pete was playing, but his game allowed to play from the back court if needed. If you have any tape of him from the 80-95 (not Wimbledon), you will see he plays quite often from the back court, depending who he plays. Check some of his matches against Agassi and Courier. But against Edberg, Mac and Goran he played more S&V tennis. Main reason he was able to win those 14 titles was he had adapatability. som call him an all-court player and some a S&V player. I ask what year?

    fast court, he was a typical S&V player.
     
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  47. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    The S&V player ruled W from 85-01. I agree that W was the ultimate test of the S&V player. not many baseliners won W during those years. I don't disagree with you, because I feel Pete was the best S&V player of the 90's. Winning is one aspect, but people will give the nod to others above Pete for other reasons as to who was the best S&V player of the 90's. But I do get what you are saying.
     
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  48. K Factor

    K Factor Banned

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    sampras was not an all court player. he was an all world player. pete could do anything he wanted to similar to a federer. remember sampras could relax and blast on the basline if he so choose, but his serve and volley game was soo far ahead of everyone that it became his natural style pete also could have been a pusher but why should he have pushed with that big first serve. sampras did a lot for the game-trust me pete was not a categorical player. he could do it all
     
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  49. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    only problem was clay.
     
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  50. K Factor

    K Factor Banned

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    thats because sampras never had enough spin to compete and win titles on clay. no doubt if pete went to a larger head size i think he would have won at least 3 french opens.
     
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