Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by MARK ANDERS, Mar 5, 2008.
I say Ivan, how say you?
Not sure it's really that interesting to discuss merely pace.
Even I could probably hit a forhand with as much pace as Lendl but I cant place it, spin it or hit it with any consistancy.
i still pick pete. but thats an interesting q. its really close, maybe even a tossup.
Lendl looked to have a stronger arm, but his racquet was less powerful (I have an old adidas and it's hard work). Hard to compare pace unless you're actually there courtside. They both had similar grips but Lendl seemed better at imparting topspin when he needed it, perhaps one reason his results on clay were better.
Harder = Lendl.
I think ignoring the time frame Sampras, but for the times they played and the equipment then Lendl by just a hair.
They both have the same type of forehand, relying on the shear mass of their rackets and a quick, loaded elbow/spring design to unleash a quick hitting, PENETRATING fury on the ball that unlike other "big" swings (see Bruguera/Nadal) didn't take a lot of time to get off.
In short, their forehands were the tennis equivalent of someone firing off rocks with a sling shot. It's a very efficient technique that holds up well over a long career.
If you look at their build, they were virtually identical. Their swing, virtually identical. Their ability to quickly accelerate the racket, virtually identical.
I would say their forehands were thus virtually identical, in terms of MAX pace.
I would say though that Sampras would go for the big one more often, while Lendl was more methodical about he worked the point and would very how often and how much we would go for his forehand based on who he was playing.
Against, Agassi Lendl seemed to go slower in the beginning working points over, letting the young Agassi "blow his wad" so to speak trying to stuff EVERY thing in sight down his throat...then the second Agassi got tired or cooled off, he'd step in for the kill and have Agassi on his heels going for much bigger shots overall than when he had started with.
Sampras was more of a straight forward strategy with what he was going to try to do with his forehand, and that was to hurt you. Lendl had greater modulation.
I guess you could say Sampras had more of a Chuck Liddel mindset (i.e. Reporter: "Who do you favor, Obama or Hilary?" Chuck: "I'm going to knock him out.") with his forehand, meaning he'd gladly take a few hits to his face, because he was confident enough in his kill forehand that he knew he only needed to connect once or twice on BIG points to actually win the match.
Lendl meanwhile, was more of a cerebral assassin out there. Meaning he had the mindset that I'm a trained and lethal, government assasin out there and my job is to bang, bruise, snipe...WHATEVER means justify the ends, AND I know I can do it, because whatever the method *I* know I trained for it...but did you? Ha...ha (Lendl laugh).
Seemed like Sampras had more pace simply because he went for bigger shots more often. Lendl had more variety in his forehand.
They are, as said above, nearly identical strokes. Sampras was essentially Lendl Jr. from the baseline, which is meant as a compliment.
Amazing post as always. The Chuck Liddell reference just seals it.
I would have to say toe to toe FH was Lendl, but Pete was bigger on the run.
I have a nice match between these two guys on youtube, 1992 Cincinnati final broken down into 13 parts
Lendl could vary it more, but to answer the original question Lendl hit with more pace. No debate.
Both were using pretty low-powered rackets compared to today's standards, and like !Tym said, used pretty similar swing mechanics. But if I had to choose one I would go for Ivan. He just seemed to hit such a heavy forehand with that tiny-headed racket. Wonder whether anyone can come up with some stats to show overall forehand winners during their respective careers. That would be an inetersting...
Yes indeed, that forehand on the run was a lethal weapon, did he made some points with that!
What I find interesting is how much spin Sampras gets on his forehand at the pace he hits. Check the pace of these winners, but the slow motion replay will actually show how much spin he was putting on the ball.
I also think that Sampras has one of the best forehand returns of all time, on both deuce and ad courts, on the deuce court he would hit it across the player, on the ad side he was deadly down the line.
Here's another long clip courtesy of Snapple with Sampras' forehand working great - the last point is incredible.
I have a friend and former top 20 player in the world that battled both of these players as well as Connors, Mac, etc. I asked him who was the hardest hitting player he ever played against. Took him less than a second to reply: Ivan.
I have to go with Pete on this one.
Lendl overall. I say overall based on the fact that most FH's are hit during a rally, or when going for a winner. If it is a running FH, then Pete gets the nod. Noone has ever hit a harder running FH than Sampras. Pete unleashed an outright cannon when he was on the run.
Yeah, I agree with this. I hit with a guy who was Lendl's hitting partner, and he testified to this, too. He said that he has never hit with anybody who hits the ball as hard as Lendl did. He said it was even worse when he had to 'show up to work' when Lendl was pissed off, as Lendl would hit even harder on those days. He likened it to Packers receiving practice when Favre was angry.
Pretty much reflects my friend's statements about him. He said he was also the worst person on the planet to play as he could just toy with anyone--hit all around the court and take the breath out of you and then punish you with power. He said Lendl was the only player on tour that he never enjoyed playing-ever.
In the 80s I heard Mary Carrillo and others mention a few times how the other players used to talk about the "weight" of Lendl's shots - something about his "weight of shot" being heavier than the others without necessarily having more pace. I confess I never quite understood the concept of "weight" of a shot as anything other than the momentum of the ball (ball mass times velocity) but it is a notion I've often heard applied to Lendl.
The 'weight' of a ball is hard to describe. I remember P-Mac stumbling on that concept when Drysdale asked him at last year's AO when Andy and Marat played. P-Mac said Safin's was heavier although Andy's was faster. I think it is something you have to experience, and then know--but still cannot describe. I know I would be hard-pressed to describe a heavy ball to someone--but I've experienced it. I just wish I could hit one on more occasion!
It is the combination of r.p.m. and forward speed that makes a ball feel heavy. Lendl drove his heavy racquet through the ball with tremendous velocity while still generating heavy topspin. A looping brushed topspin and flat shot feel lighter to the opponent.
Yes it is the spin . . . same reason that Sampras' serve was probably heavier than most.
Well, it's not very scientific, but when I think of a heavy ball, I think simply in laymen's terms. Think about it, if faced with being smashed in the skull, would you rather be smashed with a razor sharp pencil tip or a heavy, rubber mallet? To me, that was the type of forehand Sampras and Lendl hit. It may not have looked fancy, but it was certainly effective. Their were others who generated flashier, racket head speed, more racket head speed, others who were physically bigger and more imposing, others who took bigger cuts at the ball, etc. and yet their forehands are up their as some of the most fear strokes tennis' has ever seen. To me, the REAL secret to their success is that they used some SERIOUS lumber.
It kind of goes back to the whole controversial swingweight theory of Travlerjam. He maintained while others said he was crazy, that when you lead your rackets to OBSCENE swingweight levels, you'll be amazed by how even taking a little swing at the ball can and does produce a SERIOUSLY heavy ball.
People talk about spin + speed = heavy, I look at it more simply. A heavy ball is anything that you feel BLUDGEONED by. A max pace Roddick forehand to your head for example might feel like a gun shot to the head, quick and damaging but no real sense of lingering aftermath. It's kind of a over and done with type of residual pain. By contrast, a max pace Safin/Lendl/Sampras/Gustaffson/Larsson style forehand (i.e. the more, caveman, "clubbing" style technique) to the head might feel like well? Being bludgeoned to death, AND you'll FEEL it, the residual after effects, afterward like how a good earthquake doesn't just hit alone, it hits with an ECHO effect, it hits with the very real sensation of lingering AFTER SHOCKS, such that you don't quite feel like you've regained your balance yet immediately afterward like you might against a bullet style forehand like Roddick's.
Btw, I don't use a SW2 racket like Traverljam advises, but I can tell you this, I've used approximately 12.7-13oz. rackets for awhile now, and have discovered since doing so that even I'm not swinging all that hard, my opponents seem to be "pushed" back with much less swing required from me. That's the obvious effect of a heavy ball.
As an example, just try a Volkl C-9 Pro (a defacto standby in the "light player's stick" category) back to back with a RD-7 (a famously sluggish, "clubby" response for a "stock" commercially available frame). You'll note a VERY noticeable difference when switching back between the two when playing against other advanced players. You'll find that just no matter how big a swing or cut you take at the ball with the C-9, it never really seems to "effect" the other player quite as you think it should, quite as you thought it would, given the MASSIVE swing you just took.
Then, switch to the RD-7, and take the same swing, and you'll note that for the same swing, your opponent is pushed back and begins making inexplicable errors. Those errors are a result not so much of the "visible" pace you see, but rather the feeling of WEIGHT behind the shot that it seems only true heavyweight, beefy rackets seem to be able to impart. This said, it's a trade-off, because just as important as a heavy racket, is also making CLEAN contact. Clean contact results in precision and knowing what you're going to do to the ball beforehand, which is very important in its own right. When your stretched out wide, or find yourself handcuffed in quick exchanges, a more maneuverable racket can also be a huge benefit as well, as it allows for fine-tuned, agile, positioning when the going gets tight.
To me the secret to Lendl and Sampras having "heavy" forehands is very simple, they used some serious lumber. The reason not EVERYONE doesn't adopt the same route, however, is because not everyone's strokes are TAILOR made to use such hardware. Sampras and Lendl? Their stroking techniques allowed them to get the benefits of using heavy timber, WITHOUT being too badly touched by the associated negatives. Their techniques in other words were mechanically efficient, and "in tune" with the weight of their rackets in other words. Like a perfectly weighted pendulum, when it's in sync, it's just in sync.
Nadal generates a heavy forehand in his own right too, but he uses a frame optimized for his specific technique as well too. I really believe finding an optimum equipment setup for your specific strokes CAN make a difference at this level. Some people discover that secret, and others don't. But if you DO find it, for goodness sake's DON'T CHANGE IT, *use it*...and abuse it, abuse your power to rule the world that is.
Well, after thinking about it for a while, I tend to agree with those who point to the fact that the kind of spin and trajectory must be what accounts for the apparent discrepancy between pace and "weight""of shot.
The "heaviness" of the ball that you feel when you hit it is a measure of its kinetic energy when it strikes your racquet, which energy is one half the mass of the ball times the square of its velocity. This means that variations in velocity affect the energy of the ball quadratically (for example, doubling the speed would result in quadrupling the energy) whereas variations in mass would have only a linear effect.
In any case, the only thing that changes is the velocity of the ball. The mass of the ball is constant no matter with what you hit it. But the important thing is that it is the velocity *after* the bounce that matters. This is why, I assume, a completely flat shot, or a topspin shot with a very heavy arc have perhaps more of their energy absorbed during the bounce (i.e. the velocity of the ball decreases more as a result of the bounce) than a low-arc shot carrying a lot of topspin, where most of the balls speed must remain after the bounce. Or maybe it even accelerates after the bounce. It is the only explanation that makes sense as to why a flat shot with more pace (before the bounce) may feel lighter than a a heavy spin (but relatively low) shot that retains more of its speed after the bounce. Something like that.
Conversely, the best way to counter the heavy ball is with some lumber of your own. If you have a heavy racket then it's not too difficult to block back a heavy ball and turn your opponent's power against them(see Federer returning Roddick's serve) or if you can take a full swing with some lumber and make good contact you will barely notice the weight of the shot and send back a pretty heavy shot.
Sampras or Lendl? You know it's Enqvist, Mark...
Yeah, Lendl hit harder.
What is your friend's name? Did he ever play Andre or Boris?
Heavier ball and consistency definitely go to Ivan Lendl.
!TYM, I bow down, great stuff!!!! Ck. this though..
The most under appreciated fo hand ever, and NO DOUBT one of, if not THE BEST, FLATTEST...BRUTE FREAKIN STRENGHTH...ON A ROPE...LASER BEAM...BAM! POINTS OVER WITH OPPONENT SAYING WTF!?!?! IS BY THE VIKING GOD THOMAS FREAKIN ENQVIST! Now, I know all you youngsters, uninformed pseudo experts will be shakin your collective heads, or blankly staring at the screen thinking...what?? He was very under the rader, shy and didn't care for spotlight, but if you saw him courtside, or up close, when he was "ON" (and I saw him SMOKE FED on side court at IW, circa 2002), OR you talk to the players in the locker and you will understand. I've seen almost ALL and this was a special shot.....RIGHT MIKAEL!
I look at it this way. Lendl's forehand was more successful. It did more of the work in matches/ tournaments/ and career than Sampras's as a higher percentage of Sampras' points that he won, were won by serve,volley or the combination. Lendl's weapon was proven more effective on grass than Sampras weapon was effective on clay in that he got to more finals/ semis of Wimbledon than Sampras did at RG, thus it was more adaptable. He could get it to be steady with top or flat for a pass or approach. He even used sliced it for drop shots and used it for more lobs. Lendl's forehand played a bigger part in his success everywhere than Sampras.
Tym, very well said man, nice to read!
I have a RD 7 at home and its sluggish but when you hit the ball right it's a rocket, that frame is made for heavy balls!
Well certainly in his early years, up to and including 1997, Sampras pretty much took the Lendl approach with controlling most rallies with his forehand. 1998 onwards his game became more serve and volley oriented on all surfaces.
However, if you watch the 2002 US Open final aginst Agassi for instance, his last match as a pro - you will be surprised by how much Sampras was still using his forehand to control rallies, the diference been, he did it much more on Agassi's serve than his serve, he only stayed back on his serve a few times in that final. In the matches against Haas and Roddick in the 4th rd and quarterfinal, he stayed back on his second serve much more to get the forehand into play, almost a throwback to his days in the first half of the 1990s, it was nice to see - and certainly helped him conserve energy for the final as opposed to 2000 and 2001 US Open campaigns where he didn't stay back on second serve at all.
A really good example is the 1997 Australian Open final between Sampras and Moya - that was a forehand clinic by Sampras that day, really incredible ball striking. Probably the last slam final Sampras played where he not only only stayed back a lot on his second serve to get the forehand into play, but also stayed back a lot n his first serve to get the frehand into play. In the press conference after the match Moya said that the key to the match was Sampras' serve and hs forehand and that he never felt comfortable during the match.
That was a common theme that opponents would talk about. As Jack Kramer said when interviewed at the 1999 Los Angeles final, Sampras game was based on his good forehand and serve, many players never mentioned his volley much - they were better volleyers like Edberg during that period, it was Sampras' forehand his oponents were really afraid of throughout his career. Before the 1999 Wimbledon final Agassi said Sampras' forehand was "obnoxious" in the press conference after Agassi's semifinal win over Rafter
A few examples
Nice clips there. Which year are those?
1991, 1999, 2000, 2002
Thanks. Tennis Channel should replay some of those. Maybe include some of Edberg, Lendl and Becker.
Brad Gilbert said Lendl.
Lendl I think.
lendl's forehand would just get on top of a player like no one else's. it would hit deep and jump at them/past them/through them. i've played against big hitters and heavy hitters and i'd much rather play a big hitter as you could block it back some. that heavy ball just makes your best footwork/racquet prep late. lendl could cause more hitting errors than anyone else.
Damn it, I hate when I come in late on a good thread. Hats off to everyone. Quality posts galore.
Great posts by !Tym. A true pleasure to read.
Thanks much Laurie for the video clips.
Keeping in line with the topic, I found this quote on YouTube. From their 1990 USO meeting Lendl gets pissed for playing into the Sampras forehand on break-point:
"If I would have gotten the chance of playing Sampras, I think I would NEVER play to his forehand in ANY point."
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