Roddick vs Sampras: The Serve

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by President, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. slice serve ace

    slice serve ace Rookie

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    ok let's reconsider

    if bolded stands, sampras should play lower ranked oponents more often at QF to F stage than roddick

    since they come from the different seeding sistem, let's compare them in 2 categories; how much they played players ranked 1-16 and 1-32


    australian open

    roddick has 10 matches from qf-f
    sampras has 14 matches from qf-f

    vs players ranked 1-16

    roddick played 5 of 10 matches, 50%
    sampras played 10 of 14 matches, 71%

    vs players ranked 1-32

    roddick played 7 of 10 matches, 70%
    sampras played 12 of 14 matches, 83%



    wimbledon

    roddick has 12 matches from qf-f
    sampras has 24 matches from qf-f

    vs players ranked 1-16

    roddick played 6 of 12 matches, 50%
    sampras played 14 of 24 matches, 58%

    vs players ranked 1-32

    roddick played 9 of 12 matches, 75%
    sampras played 19 of 24 matches, 79%



    us open

    roddick has 12 matches from qf-f
    sampras has 27 matches from qf-f

    vs players ranked 1-16

    roddick played 8 of 12 matches, 67%
    sampras played 21 of 27matches, 78%

    vs players ranked 1-32

    roddick played 11 of 12 matches, 92%
    sampras played 26 of 27 matches, 96%



    so sampras leads in every single category at every slam. looks like bolded doesn't stand in this comparation. sampras didn't benefit from lower ranked oponents - in fact he played tougher oposition more often, if we go by ranking, no matter if it's 1-16 or 1-32. so i stand by what i said before; sampras service game is in different class from roddick's from QF to F. is it because of sampras' superior backup game or the serve itself, that is arguable.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013
    #51
  2. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Hey slice serve ace, (very belated) thanks for those stats. I should have all the serve/return stats for Pete/Fed's Wimby finals by now. I'll open a thread on this eventually... after Fed calls it quits. :twisted: (It's really a good excuse!)
     
    #52
  3. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    This is a very key point.

    You are eluding to the fact that the percentages don't tell the whole story. They don't tell you *where* the server actually won the concentration of those points.

    Sampras' serve was better by far because it held up for him in all the crucial points/situations. Far more than Roddick.
     
    #53
  4. 2ndServe

    2ndServe Professional

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    big sampras fan and I don't think I've ever seen a more efficient serve but consider.

    Andy has a much worse overall game to backup his delivery. Sampras has better volleys, movement, groundies, defense. And Andy has played in an era with a plethora of great great returns and slow courts, yet he still holds a greater %. I think it'd be hard to argue that Andy has a worse delivery, his lack of holds at major points is more a statement of his overall game and not his serve.
     
    #54
  5. qwertre

    qwertre Rookie

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    I agree with the bolded sections, but the rest I think has been disproved by NonP and other great statisticians.

    I honestly think the two serves are about even. Roddick, as the big power server that he was, tended to generate a lot of weak, attack-able returns. Sampras, who had much better accuracy and disguise, tended to generate service winners and aces. Really, their two serves were completely different. Roddick blew his serve by people, Sampras sliced it around, over, and through them. I think this pre-disposed Roddick to fewer serve winners, as people could just block it back, as Federer did extremely effectively. Sampras, however, could be attacked whenever he didn't hit an ace or serve winner. It's true that Sampras' serve was more "clutch," so to speak, but I really think that it was more a representation of his incredible mental strength and the strength of the rest of his game that allowed him to be that way. Roddick, on the other hand, was so uncomfortable with his backhand that he often took pace off of his serve in big moments to try to prevent returns to that stroke.

    To me, though, the bottom line is this. Sampras got more points on his serve-- Roddick's was harder to attack. I couldn't choose between them, and I would take either in a heart-beat.
     
    #55
  6. Flash O'Groove

    Flash O'Groove Hall of Fame

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    Actually that's more a myth than a fact. This article http://www.tacticaltennisblog.com/clutch-players/ shows that Sampras's percentage of points won on serve is higher when he is not facing break point that when he is.

    There is not the equivalent statistics for Roddick, but Federer suffer from the same problem. He wins less points on his serve when confronted to a break point than not.

    Nadal is more clutch (his percentage of points won against a break point is higher than against a normal point). Strangely, Berdych is the better in this category (among the players for whom the statistics was calculated). He win 67% of points on his serve when confronting a normal point, but 70% of points on his serve when confronting a break point.
     
    #56
  7. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    I don't consider saving a break point to be that big of a factor. Sure, it is important... but it only gets you back to deuce. What that statistic leaves out is that you can still lose the game after saving a break point.

    A better statistic would be consolidation of breaks. Unfortunately, they don't track this metric... but this is where Sampras was dominant. The guy simply didn't choke after breaking his opponent.

    Consolidating a break is far more clutch against a tough opponent than getting back to deuce on a break point against you.
     
    #57
  8. The Isomotion31

    The Isomotion31 Semi-Pro

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    I love both. But man....When I could feel Sampras was about to hit a second serve ace and he did...I would lose my ****. loved that. Same reaction I have when someone does a nice cross-over in basketball.
     
    #58
  9. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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    #59
  10. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    Yes, and you only need look at some of the names to see why these stats aren't the end-all of clutch-ability. I mean, according to the list Fernando Verdasco is among the so-called clutch players. Verdasco of all people!

    A more plausible explanation, provided by the author him/herself, is that these "clutch" hotshots' numbers look better than they actually are because they aren't as match-ready as their more successful colleagues, so when they face BPs they're forced to focus more on the match whereas a Fed, Rafa or Djoko doesn't have to make such a big adjustment. Another explanation is that the latter group faces stronger/higher-ranked opponents more often, which brings down their %s. Put another way, if we were to take these stats at face value we'd be almost penalizing the top players for taking their game more seriously and simply being more successful!

    And this view is reinforced when you look at their career BPs saved. In this category the ATP site ranks Sampras 3rd and Roddick 4th at 68%, Fed 7th at 67% and Nadal 11th at 66%. The likes of Stan, Stepanek, Verdasco and even Murray are all the way down in the 50s at 62%, while Berdych sits 38th at 63%. The one surprising exception is Tsonga who occupies the 6th place at 67%, which, along with Isner's No. 2 place at 69%, strongly suggests the serve plays a big role in what we normally consider clutch.

    As always stats should serve only as a guide. Used alone they're often useless or, even worse, misleading.
     
    #60
  11. 1477aces

    1477aces Hall of Fame

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    Lets see, roddick won a higher percentage of service games despite being regarded as having a far worse of a serve. Roddick's serve any day. Roddick also had way more pace than sampras, and had great placement too, that's why his serve is better than guys like isner or karlovic who also served faster. Roddick's first serve was also very consistent.
     
    #61
  12. droliver

    droliver Semi-Pro

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    There's still been no solid rationale given to explain why someone would give the nod to Sampras when all the individual metrics of the serve (winners, aces, serve %, double faults) tend to favor Roddick
     
    #62
  13. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    Sampras had the better serve without a shadow of a doubt. His second serve in particular was a step above Roddick's. That's what made Sampras so great on serve - his opponents rarely got a reprieve even when he missed his first serve.

    If you imagine him in his prime with a 95 sq in racquet and modern strings the gap between them would be glaring.
     
    #63
  14. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    For one, Sampras played a couple of really poor years near the end of his career that would have sunk his percentages big time. In the same way as for most players who hang around into their 30s, career-long stats soften in the last few years.

    Comparing Sampras to Roddick by statistics alone is a hard one. Sampras could step up and dominate opponents so well on serve that his own serve return stats for example were poorer because he just went out there and swing at them. If he got 30-0 down on return he usually packed it in until the next return game, he was that confident he'd hold his own serve. That made him look like a worse returner than he really was statistically (percentage of return games won are the same whether you win the game to love or if it went to deuce 20 times...)

    Sampras also played in an era when the first shot he hit after the serve mattered a lot more than it did for most of Roddick's career - Sampras was hitting volleys or forehands which he intended to end the point with right there so naturally that increased the error rate. Roddick mostly stayed back though meaning his next shot was normally much easier than Sampras' - and in his early days his forehand was a monster versus most opponents it almost didn't matter that his backhand and movement were very sub-par.
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2013
    #64
  15. droliver

    droliver Semi-Pro

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    Bobby,

    You're falling into the trap of people who dismiss stats in baseball. The serve is about the only quantifiable thing that you can study in isolation and it's described in just a handful of meaningful #'s (aces, winners,1st serve %, double faults) . Roddick (and a few others) are all slightly better then Pete at the top of ATP tour stats for this and it suggests as a singular stroke they were better.
     
    #65
  16. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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    #66
  17. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    Is there any objective evidence that Sampras was a better server than Roddick?

    1) In terms of aces and double faults Roddick had more aces and far far less double faults.
    2) He had a higher first serve percentage.
    3) Won slightly less 1st serve points but slightly more 2nd serve points. This with an inferior game to Sampras. His overall points won serve is slightly higher.
    4) Equal percentage on saving break points.
    5) An ever so slightly higher hold percentage in favour of Roddick.

    Not sure how Roddick could be considered a worse server.
     
    #67
  18. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

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    I wouldn't say Roddick had a much worse serve, he had faster pace on the 1st delivery and its been mentioned that he won slightly higher amount of 2nd serve points in his overall career, well done.

    What I do know is that Sampras' spin on 1st serve was upwards of 3000 rpm on serves timed at 125mph on occasions. Now with those really "old fashioned" gut strings that is an incredible amount of topspin at pace. And some 2nd serve serves were recorded with 4000 + rpms. So when Sampras hit some of those 2nd serves around 117mph for isntance with that amount of topspin, you can see why opponents found them so difficult to deal with. Of course, often his 2nd serves were actually between 90 and 105mph and he reserved those really big ones for special occasions. Its a great pity that the study of players strokes from the 1998 US Open has gone offline in the last two years. For instance, at the same speed of 125mph, Henman's serve only had 1200 rpms, I distinctly remember that, you can clearly see the difference.

    But Agassi has it right (even though he hates Sampras), he said last year that Sampras was the best at defending his serve; so whether that was coming in to net, staying back or hitting the corners, he was great at holding serve over and over again because he could mix it up.

    And that's the point I made in a thread about Karlovic, Isner etc and their serves - their stats are fanstastic because they don't play as many matches, they win their matches, play a really good player then lose. Sampras played more higher level matches and higher level opponents than Roddick as he played in many more ATP tour finals and major finals. So Sampras had to be at his best more often to win, he would have played around 90 to 100 finals in his career, I would say that's considerably more than Roddick. So if the stats are that close between the two, then I think Sampras is a better server because he needs to use it at a higher level on a consistent basis much more often.

    By the way, what I used to love and what we don't see much of now, is when Sampras hit those serves with slice and topspin down the middle (T) on deuce and ad courts, and it ricochet's off the opponent's racquet into the crowd and someone would try to catch it like in a cricket match, the serve had so much spin there were so many mishit returns going on.
     
    #68
  19. TheRed

    TheRed Professional

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    I don't think there is any objective evidence. Sampra's legend comes from the fact that he was a very clutch server. To me, he seemed to serve at 80% for a match because his serve combine with the rest of his game was enough to hold. He'd crank it up a bit when he needed.
    Roddick was different. He was always at 100% because he didn't have the game to back it up. As crazy as it sounds, this forum underrates Roddick's serve. Roddick had an incredibly high 1st serve percentage for a guy that hits that hard. He frequently had a 1st serve % in 60-70% range. That's an incredible feat.
    People tend to forget Sampras usually served about 55% which would be considered low these days.
    Frankly it's hard to say which is better but I definitely wouldn't say Roddick's serve is worse.
     
    #69

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