Sampras forehand underrated?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Cesc Fabregas, Sep 23, 2009.

  1. drwood

    drwood Hall of Fame

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    I've always been very consistent, as any objective reader can see -- now if you're looking to quickly skim over what I've written in order to flame me, then it might be harder to appreciate that.

    So let me spell it out for you clearly what my views are:

    Pete Sampras is the 2nd greatest player of all time, behind only Federer. He unquestionably has the greatest 1st serve and greatest 2nd serve of all-time. He also has the greatest running FH of all time, and one of the top-5 FH of all time. He played in a decent era, which was SLIGHTLY more difficult than the current era.

    He was a very good volleyer, but not in the league of Edberg or McEnroe. For his FH brilliance, it was very streaky when confronted with consistent deep pace, but difficult to expose on fast surfaces largely b/c of his serve, and b/c of his prowess at the net. Still his FH was a lethal shot and far more consistent than his BH.

    His BH was average, and one of the worst for a GOAT candidate. But this shot was streaky as well, and if he was hitting BH winners, he was virtually unbeatable (see 1996 San Jose final vs. Agassi and 1999 YEC final vs. Agassi for examples). However, his BH went off much more routinely than players of comparable achievements which explains 3 things: 1. Why he never came close to making a French final (making only 1 SF where you get bageled while losing in straight sets isn't close), 2. Why even in his prime he lost to very low ranked players -- much lower than Fed has lost to (i.e. Leander Paes, Jaimie Yzaga, Paul Haarhuis, Gilbert Schaller), 3. Why early in his prime he was owned by Edberg in slams (92 US Open, 93 Australian) -- the quality of his BH passing shots and BH return were average, not great. That anyone would even hint that Pete's BH was as good as Federer's is laughable.

    Pete was very good at hiding his BH b/c of his serve (very few rallies), his movement (very good at running around his BH), and the strength of his running FH (best example IMO were the rallies with Courier in the 1st set of the 93 Wimbledon final) which allowed him to camp on the BH corner for the majority of baseline rallies. When his serve was neutralized (slow surfaces like clay), it became harder for him to come to the net and his streakiness on the ground could be exposed -- i.e. his 99 UEs against Schaller in the 95 French (the only year where he made the finals of every other Slam), getting smoked by Agassi in the 92 French winning only 9 games, losing to Kucera in the 98 Australian.

    Pete was also one of the great movers in tennis history -- his speed in his era was second only to Chang's, and it was a close second IMO. His movement was what separated him from Agassi in their big matches on fast surfaces, as Pete could get to Andre's big shots, but Andre couldn't get to Pete's.

    A lot of people felt Pete's game was boring b/c of how much he relied on his serve, and b/c how many games he would not give it his all, especially on return games if he had already gotten an early break in a set. I loved Pete's serve and never found that boring. It did annoy me how many return games he would tank whenever he got up an early break in a set.

    For as great a champion as Pete was (tons of talent, guts, athleticism and mental toughness), he had very poor physical conditioning for a #1 player (especially considering how many short points his matches consisted of b/c of the dominance of his serve). As many slams as he won (14), he would have easily won at least 5 more if he had been in better condition (some examples: 94 US Open, 96 French, 98 US Open, 00 Australian, 01 US Open). Some people erroneously attribute this to his thalassemia minor, which is wrong b/c many athletes have the condition and it does not require treatment -- only thalassemia MAJOR requires treatment. You can go to medical school to learn the difference between the two conditions if you don't believe me.

    Off the court, Pete was ok -- he had a lot of class, but was also very passive-aggressive and insincere when other players got more attention than him (i.e. Agassi, Rafter in the summer of 98.). He could also be quite arrogant after losses, even Serena-esque -- best example was after his lost to Bruguera at the 1997 Miami Masters on HC (Datacipher flamed me and questioned my integrity about this until I posted the proof on this board, then he wisely never brought up the subject again).

    Compared to Connors, Lendl and McEnroe, of course Pete was far more gracious and well-mannered on and off the court. However he had less off-court class than Chang, Rafter and Edberg of his time, and Nadal and Federer of present time. Pete has always been self-centered, which is ok as long as he doesn't pretend to be some magnanimous generous figure (which he certainly is not, hence why he has never been heavily involved in charity work).


    I challenge you to show any post of mine that has contradicted these views.
     
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  2. darthpwner

    darthpwner Banned

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    Conquistador "You Cannot Be Serious". Sampras has a great forehand. You really think that 5 players in today's game have better forehands than Sampras. Only Federer and Nadal have forehands that can be muttered in the same breath as Pete in today's game. Here's my list of greatest forehands:
    1. Federer
    2. Lendl
    3. Courier
    4. Sampras
    5. Nadal
    Conquistador please stop with your bias against "Petros" and give him credit when it is due.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2009
    #52
  3. darthpwner

    darthpwner Banned

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    Courier's forehand was a major weapon inside out and I agree it is better than Sampras'. Moya's was only a major weapon on clay. Scud's was way too inconsistent. Lendl's forehand was a monster. Safin's breaks down too much on junk and is not better than Sampras. Federer has the greatest forehand. Berasatagui was only effective on clay. Overall, Sampras had better forehands than most on this list.
     
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  4. grafselesfan

    grafselesfan Banned

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    That looks like a good list. I have a hard time ranking those 5 as they all have such great forehands but they are definitely the top 5 forehands for now. On clay Nadal's forehand would be #1 though, with Courier's #2.
     
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  5. droliver

    droliver Semi-Pro

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    I'd politely disagree re. Moya, Berasatagui, & Safin having surface specific forehands. They just hit monster shots on all surfaces when they set up, but in contradistinction to Sampras they get exposed on faster surfaces (as opposed to slower surfaces like Pete) due to some of the grips involved. Berasatagui's extreme FH grip (kind of like Courier) obligated him to a weaker 2H BH grip. Moya still hits one of the biggest, most penetrating FH on the tour, but his movement has dropped off so much he has trouble running around his much weaker BH.
     
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  6. droliver

    droliver Semi-Pro

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    You're missing the context of this in a discussion of his forehand strength rather then some discussion on how Sampras was a "GREAT" (if not the greatest) player. Sampras would not have earned a living on the tour on the strength of his ground game. His serve made the some of the rest of his game look better then it was (in this case his forehand) IMO and I was trying to explain why many are puzzled when the Sampras FH is excessively celebrated.
     
    #56
  7. darthpwner

    darthpwner Banned

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    I didnt say Safin had a surface specific forehand just not very good against slice. Moya I agree still has a monster forehand and he cannot hit inside out or inside in as much because of his movement, but I believe Sampras had the better one on the run. Berasatagui had a 1H BH.
     
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  8. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    OWNED! :cool::cool::cool:
     
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  9. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    Absolutely terrific post. Agreed with everything (with some slight maybe's), but in all extremely well stated. You may end up being placed on my buddy list.
     
    #59
  10. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    Pete was not a S&V player until after 1998. He was an all-court player for most of his career. I disgaree with you regarding this statement. His FH, quickness, transition game made him an excellent all-court player.
     
    #60
  11. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    LOL, what is wrong with you. I agreed with him, I have made these kinds of statements many times. I noted droliver's passage regarding Sampras's strenghts and drwood agreed with the ENTIRE statement, hence I called him out for being inconsistent. But as far as drwood's post, I agree with it and anyone that knows me (which you obviously don't) knows that is how I feel.
     
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  12. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    He did serve and volley all the time at Wimbledon though correct? And for the record (and this is not aimed at you) other than stupid red dirt clay Sampras is an all time 1st tier great on Grass/Hard/Carpet. All this talk of what he supposedly couldn't do is laughable. Guy was number one for like 6 year ends.
     
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  13. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    correct, he did S&V at Wimbledon. If I recall correctly, he did less volley on second serve earlier in his career, but eventually he S&V on both serves. carpet and fast hardcourt same way. But until around 1998 he did use the entire court unlike Rafter, Edberg, Cash, Mac who were true S&V their entire career. Pete adapted his game, but yes the 6 years straight is remarkable.
     
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  14. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Sampras actually was a very versatile player. I think if he didn't have thalassemia affecting his stamina that he would have won a lot of top clay titles.

    I was reading a thread the other day comparing Nadal and Sampras and of course most picked Nadal to defeat Sampras on clay. And of course if you compare clay records it makes total sense. But I was think that if Sampras was well rested for one match on red clay, he could gave anyone problems, perhaps even a player of the quality of Nadal.

    Sampras has proved that on certain occasions he could be great on clay like in the 1995 Davis Cup against Russia or in winning the Italian Open.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/sampras-clinches-davis-cup-victory-1524025.html
     
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  15. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    I hear you. but Nadal is a beast. Soderling had the type of game to win, not sure Pete has tht kind of game, but nadal is just so strong on clay. hard to fathom.
     
    #65
  16. JW10S

    JW10S Hall of Fame

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    I've never heard anyone 'underrate' Sampras' forehand. The late Jack Kramer said that Ellsworth Vines and Pete Sampras had the 2 best forehands he'd seen.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2009
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  17. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    Anyone that states BS about Pete's FH has obviously never watched him play.
     
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  18. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    But he challenge you to prove if he was inconsistent or contradicted himself. Where's the proof?

    drwood owned you. You are no match for him.
     
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  19. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    and you are no match for me. that is why you have 2 usernames Conquistador. you will be banned soon enough.
     
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  20. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    TMF is a fanboy, but he isn't anything like Conquistador IMO (different posting style).
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2009
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  21. Shaolin

    Shaolin Hall of Fame

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    I am a bigger fan of Sampras than Federer but you are seriously delusional. Petes FH was superb but Fed has the best the sport has seen.

    Also, no one underrates Petes FH. There are constant references to his FH, esp running FH.
     
    #71
  22. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    I am not the only one that believes they are the same person. I think they have more similarity than difference.
     
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  23. wyutani

    wyutani Hall of Fame

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    hw can u tell who is who?
     
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