Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by sampras RULES!, Mar 14, 2008.
If You Could Improve "Pistol" Pete's Game, What Would You Improve?
I'd "improve" his abilities on clay...
right now: his movement
all time: get rid of his energy zapping thallessemia.
I would get him to adopt an open-stance two-hander when on the defensive/run. It's a very easy shot to execute from a technical perspective, and as a former proficient two-hander, he should have no problems incorporating it. Coria is a master of this shot.
To me, this was always Sampras' biggest weakness. Whenever he had to hit a one-handed backhand on the run or at full-stretch, it was almost a guarantee that he'd weakly steer it WAY wide. By adding this one simple modification to his game, he could have been a contender :wink:.
I'd give him back ten years, put him in his mid-20's and put him on tour right now....
Why would you change ANYTHING about a guy that has won 14 Slams?????
I sure hope you are joking....:-?
The backhand could improve.
I agree, his backhand could always improve.
Short of turning anyone into perfect if you want to improve him, if you want to help the guy in the midst of todays competition, i think he would need these ingredients,
1) as chiru says he needs to improve his movement
2) also he needs baseline game
Couldn't we say that about anybody with any shot though?
Tennis fans' collective memory of Sampras sometimes characterizes him -- a little inaccurately -- as he was from 00-02: a one-winged serve-and-volleyer who was inconsistent from the baseline and very weak on the return, but who was lethal on serve and opportunistic on approaches.
In his prime, though, his backhand was no weakness, at least not any more than, say, Federer's is. It was the less excellent of many strengths. Sampras's BH held up with no problem in many classic confrontations with Agassi, and his ground game was, overall, sound. Yes, he did not have a reliable runing pass with it, but he could use it to neutralize pace, roll it deep, or -- like he did at the end of that famous 26-stroke set-deciding rally in the 95 USO final -- fire it for winner into the open court.
The S&V version of Sampras is essentially a late-career invention, and one that mitigated against his waning fitness just successfully enough for a few final slam runs. But for most of the career, the BH was not really all that exploitable a weakness.
(Even if it is now, though, for whatever that matters.)
Racquet and strings--but he knows that.
Just imagine his backhand was even better (not talking about the slices)
For me that was the only part he always could improve, strong backhand but not world class like Becker for example.
Give him Federer's game from the back of the court and let him keep his serve and volleys.
Defense, backhand, and shave body hairs.
He hit quite a flat ball, making him great on fast surfaces. So how about a bit more topspin flick on the ground strokes to make him better on clay? Of course only if he could revert to his flatter shots for the fast surfaces.
Sampras has always mixed in a "roller" (topspin) backhand, but yea, the forehand tends to be flat and hard. Occasional he'll throw in a topspin rally shot.
Without commiting himself to tour-level training it seems to me Pete could be doing more stuff to get his foot speed up a few notches. He has seemed so sluggish during a lot of the exos and senior matches, like a bear coming out of hibernation. It was painful watching Fed ace him easily four in a row with Pete nowhere near the ball.
C'mon Pete, you're only 36! ;-)
When Sampras was on tour, he had a hell of a baseline game. I don't know what you are talking about.
I would have improved his personality - as one, if not THE greatest player in the history of the sport, no one did LESS to truly call attention to and promote the sport during his time - it is a real shame. Not taking anything away from his incredible ability/accolades and you cant change someones personality, but what he could have done for the sport during his playing days could have been incredible. we look back on him with great fondness and awe now - put him up on legendary pedestal- but he was one of the most non-existent, forgettable dominant personalities in professional sports. Imagine if it were Andre....
Just to be clear about this post: IMO I think sampras' movement is definitely one of the greatest and most fluid looking movements of all time. I know nowadays everyone is all hyped up over Roger's ballet dancing on court, but I'd say although pete's movement was of a different style ( a bit longer strokes, a bit more "hopping" IMO) it was equally smooth and equally effective. It was his stamina that hindered him maintaining that kind of movement on the run in the back of the court 20 feet behind the baseline on clay. when you have anemia of any degree, there's really not a whole lot that can be done in that light.
Right now though, based on my observations of his srs. matches in boston, his exos in asia and the Garden, he is SLOOOOOWWWW as molasses. Now look anybody who's seen my posts knows im the biggest pete fanboy there is, but in all honest i'm disappointed. he's really not that old...he could be doing a bit more for his fitness/movement. I think the thing is that in his mind the thing he missed from practice was hitting balls, so that's what he's doing instead of doing conditioning drills. I actually think he's hitting the ball okay from the baseline, he's just never in position to do it more than once a rally.
Yes, that's true. Actually Sampras' backhand was one of his strengths during his early career. I checked three DVDs of my Sampras match collection and in each of them ESPN broadcast listed Pete's strengths and weaknesses. It's interesting to compare the following matches:
1990 Grand Slam Cup Final: Sampras vs. Gilbert
Strengths: serve & volley, backhand
1992 Philadelphia Final: Sampras vs. Mansdorf
Strengths: explosive serve, backhand, winning shot
Weaknesses: inconsistency, concentration lapses
1995 Indian Wells Final: Sampras vs. Agassi
Strengths: serve, backhand return of serve, running forehand
Weaknesses: none at moment
So according to ESPN, Sampras of 1995 was nearly a complete player.
I do not understand people moaning about Sampras' weak baseline game. On fast surfaces he did more than hold his own from the baseline.
Off course, his clay court abilities could have improved a lot.
back hand..., wait, were talking about current Sampras or ATP Sampras? Well, anyways, I think if he had a better bh he would've dominated even more so. His BH was ok, but not a real weapon, like Feds or Gasquet. Have you seen vids of young Samp on u tube? Seems to me his BH used to be better when he was young than later on, he seemed to hit it earlier; always appeared to me that, later on, he ocassionally catched it a bit late, so couldnt hit through it so much... anyways, nobodys perfect and he won 14 slams with that bh, so maybe nothing wrong there...
Its ridiculous to question his backcourt game, I mean, he took Agassi to class almost everytime they played each other, specially when Sampras was at his peak, cmon, Andre couldnt hit a winner past Pete, as much as it hurts to admit it, since Im an Andre fan all the way.... Pete at his peak was spectacular, just watch the SAn JOse Sybase OPen final of '96, and the QF of Stuttgart in 96 (Granted, carpet...), where IMO Agassi played really well
Agassi beat Sampras a number of times, I'm pretty sure he could hit a winner by him...
If Sampras could have had anything, he would probably have wanted some extra fitness. He was good from the baseline but tended to go for broke a lot to shorten the points, and the times he was successful are usually the only clips you'll see on YouTube.
Jsnapple and myself put Sampras matches on youtube that are matches broken down into sequences - no highlight reels.
Even so, if Sampras won those rallies - it's because he won those rallies, it's not an illusion anyway. Sampras often had Agassi's number from the baseline - even if Agassi was a baseline specialist - something Agassi and his fans have to come to terms with, even now.
This 4 minute clip is an indication of why Sampras had the measure of Agassi from the back. Note - this is not a highlight reel
Yup, I've come to terms wid it... When Sampras ruled, I used to cheer against him... hoping Agassi could narrow the gap, but at the end of his career, I couldn't help but respect, admire, and even cheer for the guy. I sure miss seeing him on tour
I'd give him Kuerten's or Gaudio's backhand. 35 slams for him!
Just imagining that is hilarious, almost liek a chuck norris joke.
scary thing is, if he had a perfect game, winning every gs he was in, he wouldve had 40 +....
imagine THAT record..
Sampras himself has said that he could never win against Agassi by playing exclusively from the baseline, but that if he could win some of those points, then he could get into Agassi's head.
I could post so many clips of Agassi beating Sampras down, but Agassi fans tend not to be as desperate as Sampras fans.
Sampras had his moments, but Agassi was definitely the better player from the baseline.
You are misinterpreting what I'm saying - I'm saying that Sampras often had the measure of Agassi from the baseline in their matchups - which frustrated Agassi often into being more inhibited than when he played other attacking players.
That's not desperation - just a fact. No one says Sampras is a better player from the baseline than Agassi because that's obviously not the case.
But he was good enough to get into Agassi's head. The 2002 finall is a great example, even Agassi secretly thought Sampras was no longer the same player and was shocked for 2 sets at Sampras' level before he clawed his way back into the match - Sampras was hitting backhand winners left and right for two sets.
I hope you can understand that - it couldn't be more clearcut.
Please do post clips of good Agassi moments - it's not desperation - they are paid to entertain the public after all - lets' not lose sight of this and enjoy his great play too.
I hope insecurities are not playing a part in your replies - I believe in you are an Agassi fan right?
In my opinion, Agassi was always a poor matchup for Sampras' stylistically. Agassi wasn't a great mover, and one of the keys to figuring out Sampras from the baseline was being able to flag down some of his trademark running forehands. If you could do that and turn the tables ON HIM a few times off his best groundstroke, you could get into his head.
Agassi was always very ordinary IF you could pull him from his favorite perch right on top of the baseline, smack dab in the middle, dictating play by sending you side-to-side as if on a yo-yo all day long.
That's not a product of his ball-striking ability, which as we all know was off the charts, it was a product of his mediocre NATURAL athleticism. Pete was a thoroughbred who could explode out of nowhere to hit his running forehands, Agassi simply wasn't that kind of athlete. To me, he was like a boxer who needed to plant his feet to unload...he WASN'T going to be able to chase you and unload Mortal Kombat style in other words. An Agassi forced to move and run around too much lost coordination and would often times end up dumping off-balance groundies on the run into the bottom of the net.
Also, Agassi's hard, flat groundies fed RIGHT INTO Sampras' IDEAL strike zone.
Understanding each player's ideal strike zone is one of the KEY factors in determining just who has the measure of who at the pro level when it comes to groundstroke exchanges. Bruguera vs. Kuerten? = Bad matchup for Bruguera because his high-bouncing groundies fed right into Guga's ideal strike zone, i.e. really tall, lanky guy with a full western grip = made for that. Bruguera vs. Arazi? = Bad matchup for Arazi, as high-bounding balls to a short and undersized one-handed backhand player, you do the math. Kuerten vs. Kafelnikov? IF Kafelnikov had his head screwed on right, I believe him when he said that Guga had nothing for him when his head was all there. Why? Again, because of ideal strike zones. Kafelnikov is a tall, husky guys with simple, NOT WIGGLY, strokes. Those efficient, robust strokes of his were MADE for handling Guga's trademark combination of LASHING topspin power and turning it against him, by redirecting it with a solid plane. A Kafelnikov at the top of his game could turn Guga's groundies against him by making him feel like he was trying to hit through a brick wall...not gonna happen.
Agassi vs. Ferreira = Agassi can win with his eyes closed, because Ferreira was a cagey mover and athlete, like a cheetah really, who couldn't faze Agassi. Yes, he was quick, yes he hit hard, yes he was extremely versatile from the baseline, and yet NOTHING Ferreira could do was so very exceptional from the baseline that he could drive Agassi "off his center" so to speak. When these two met, Agassi would just send him on his yo-yo all day long. It didn't matter if Ferreira was fast, he couldn't run all day like that and expect to win when he had nothing *quite* powerful enough (the Sampras' running forehand, Safin, Kuerten, Lendl, etc.), or junky enough (Santoro), or heavy enough (Bruguera and Nadal's forehands bouncing out of his ideal strike zone), or annoying enough (Kucera), or consistent enough (sometimes Chang), or take the ball early enough and/or with enough angle (Rios), etc. to make Agassi uncomfortable.
Agassi was like a tennis bully from the baseline. He was a great front runner who when he felt like he could bully you (see his decimations of Clement and Lee in his Aussie victory), he would...easily and ALL day long playing some of the cleanest, error free tennis you'll ever see anywhere.
HOWEVER, when you unsettled Agassi by bringing something to the table that could draw him from his center, the cracks underneath the surface sheen would show.
To me, Ferreira and Bruguera were better matchups against Sampras than Agassi, not because they were better players in the grand scheme of things, but simply because their cagey athleticism was a key factor in helping them to neutralize the Sampras' freight train.
To understand strike zones, ask yourself why a hot Korda could scare Sampras from the baseline. It was because Korda's groundies were so flat that they were almost like HARD slices. They just skidded through courts like a knife through hot butter when on, making it difficult for Sampras to time his loping one-hander and just a little too low for him to uncork his running forehand as a percentage play.
Why do you think a high-bouncing inside-out forehand from Bruguera to Sampras' backhand would be uncomfortable for him vs. a piercing but flat (yet not so flat that it didn't bounce up AT ALL like with a perfectly struck Korda groundie)? How about a mousy little short angle Bruguera "dive" topspin forehand crosscrout to a Sampras' running forehand vs. a typical Agassi blitzkrieg crosscout forehand? What did Sampras like to do with his running forehand? It's called TURN THE TABLES on you in a split second, what do you think would be easier for him to pull that off of? It's like a dance, and the Agassi forehand simply fed better into Sampras' dance by bouncing right where he'd like it, with a KIND of pace he could use effectively against you with the kind of stroking technique he had, classic grips (=solid, non-wiggly hitting platform, ideal for combatting Agassi's flat power), cocked elbow like a gun, ready to shoot his racket STRAIGHT through a contact zone...but not necessarily as flexible and hingeable at handling various spins and trajectories as say Guga's forhand technique. Get where I'm getting at?
It's really no mytery to me. Being a fan of one or the other has nothing to do with it to me. I've always felt that if Agassi and Sampras were both at their best from the baseline, Sampras would come out on top more times than not not because he's the better baseliner in the grand scheme of things, but rather SIMPLY because Agassi's groundies feed into 1) Sampras' ideal strike zone and 2) Sampras' explosive, hard, flat YET erratic groundies exposed on one hand 1) Agassi's lack of NATURAL athleticism and 2) the erratic and unpredictable nature of Sampras' groundies made it difficult for Agassi to settle into a comfortable groove and stroking rhythm (the exact opposite of his matches with say Clement, Lee, and Ferreira during his last Aussie win).
i'd give him a bigger racquet, and a stricter diet.
i think his movement went downhill due to him gaining some lbs.
Oh come on! Give Fed some credit!
I agree that his backhand looked better earlier in his career. I'm not sure how it happened, but it did.
Maybe because of increasing amount of lead on his frame. It helped him with his volleys but inhibited his one handed backhand. It was the trade-off he was apparently willing to accept.
Seriously, I just can't believe that none of you were actually willing to admit (if it even occurred to you) that the absolute key to Sampras's success from the baseline was his success on serve. He and his opponents always knew that it was going to be a huge effort to break him so he could enter any return game swinging a lot more freely than a guy who would have a tougher hold. Take the sting out of his serve and his groundstrokes lose their edge because they start to matter a lot more than usual.
That's one of the reasons why he wasn't more successful on clay (his fitness is a pathetic excuse: if you walk onto the court you're fit, end of story). The simple truth is that he didn't have enough patience to win 7 matches on clay and, when his serve started to come back with regularity, he wasn't willing to grind. Henri Leconte got to the final of the French, so did Andre Medvedev, Martin Verkerk and a early model Andre Agassi. None of them would ever have been considered models of fitness but they were willing to learn when to pull the trigger on clay courts (and Leconte was one of the most impulsive and wilful shotmakers of all time).
Interesting point. It's a pity he didn't give clay more care and attention - after all his results on that surface up to 1996 were quite good, at least he was a contender and his play in the Italian Open was nice in the early 1990s, winning there in 1994; and he won Kitzbeul in 1992 as well.
He must regret not having tried harder there in his later years - even if he doesn't admit it.
In all seriousness, if you're getting older, with your chances of winning the french diminishing and you're pretty sure ur gonna own the GS record, id prob be a little lazy about the french too. how could he know crazy roger would show up like a few years later and start knockin on the door of his records?
roger had the luxury of knowing that even with 14 majors, ppl were still giving pete sh** about not winning the french, so i think hes treid really really hard to try to prevent that from happening to himself, but then how would roger know hed run into (arguably) the best clay courter ever?
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