Sampras - "Hewitt was a victim of his time"

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by benmarks1984, Jun 10, 2011.

  1. benmarks1984

    benmarks1984 New User

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2008
    Messages:
    44
    Interesting comments in Pete Sampras's book on his thoughts on Lleyton Hewitt =

    "He loved players who served and volleyed and tried to pressure him. Lleyton was one of the few guys who really could resist the onslaught of a high quality attacker. For a period I felt Lleyton might really dominate. His game translated well from surface to surface, but then a few things happened.

    For one Roger federer improved, and he figured Lleyton out cold. The game in general also improved while Lleyton was at the top. Guys were playing with a little more power, partly thanks to advances in racket technology, but fewer of them were playing into Hewitt's hands. Lleyton liked having a target, but in his era guys stopped coming to the net. Hewitt was a victim of his time"

    Sampras comments make a lot of sense if you look at Hewitt's head to head record against the top serve and volley players of the time. In brackets is the matches they played on grass, the surface usually dominated by the serve and volleyers.

    Hewitt 5-4 Sampras (2-1)
    Hewitt 9-1 Henman (4-0)
    Hewitt 3-1 Rafter (0-0)
    Hewitt 3-0 Ivanišević (3-0)
    Hewitt 3-1 Philippoussis (1-0)
    Hewitt 4-3 Rusedski (1-1)

    Does anyone else agree with Sampras's comments?? Is it fair to say Hewitt would have achieved more if he had played in another era where more players were coming to the net, like in the 1990s? Or to people think Lleyton would have had the same problems as Michael Chang had and would have been over-powered?

    Any thoughts?
     
    #1
  2. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2004
    Messages:
    10,031
    I agree with Pete's comments.
    I also think Hewitt was able to out baseline most baseliners. He's a hustler with counterattacking skills. Like a Frankenplayer made of Chang and Murray parts.

    But that grinding game and passing shot wizardry took its toll on his body. Also his mind.

    I like Pete's comment about how Rog figured him out 'cold'.

    Hewitt winning big titles and having a spell as world number one was not the most pleasant thing for those of us who prefer a Ferrero, a Safin, a Sampras, a Rafter or a Guga. Nice how Roger took over.
     
    #2
  3. Max G.

    Max G. Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2004
    Messages:
    4,357
    Well, I'd say he was sort of in a transition period. The older generation were still playing an older-school style that was going obsolete, and Hewitt did everything right to take advantage of that.

    I don't agree with the sentiment that he would have done more earlier. I mean yes, he would have had great records against those guys... IF he played the same way he did, but one generation earlier. But he wouldn't have been able to develop his game the way he did if he'd learned tennis 10 years earlier.

    Players are products of their time. It really makes no sense to wonder "how would he have done in a different era" without also wondering "how would he have played differently if he'd been taught tennis differently", which are basically impossible questions to answer authoritatively.
     
    #3
  4. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2004
    Messages:
    10,031
    Impossible is nothing.
    Now, there is app for that.

    Kidding. Great post.
     
    #4
  5. aphex

    aphex Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2008
    Messages:
    6,263
    Location:
    athens, greece
    He would have a better career than Agassi if he was born 10 years earlier.
     
    #5
  6. Cesc Fabregas

    Cesc Fabregas Legend

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2009
    Messages:
    8,318
    No he wouldn't. No way does he win a FO in the 90's and prime Sampras would take Hewitt to the cleaners on the other surfaces.
     
    #6
  7. aphex

    aphex Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2008
    Messages:
    6,263
    Location:
    athens, greece
    I'm not saying he would be a better player than Agassi. I'm saying he wouldn't have Agassi's long "black-out" periods and would have probably won more than him.

    Especially grass and HC...
     
    #7
  8. benmarks1984

    benmarks1984 New User

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2008
    Messages:
    44
    thats true, Agassi was absent for a lot of 90s and he when he did turn up at times he looked like he couldnt give a ****. I think hewitt's game would have been more successful in the 90s. Plus there were a lot of slams won by not great players like Rafter winning back to back US open titles, Krajeck beating Mel Washington at Wimbledon, Peter Korda and Kafelnikov winning the Australian open
     
    #8
  9. bolo

    bolo G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2008
    Messages:
    11,380
    Sampras once noted that hewitt was a slightly better version of chang.
     
    #9
  10. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2011
    Messages:
    4,092
    so, let me get this straight. In TT world, Sampras is still good enough to play on the Tour, and 'prime Sampras' would take Hewitt to the cleaners.

    Except Hewitt has a career 5 - 4 winning record against Sampras?

    This place cracks me up.
     
    #10
  11. gpt

    gpt Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2009
    Messages:
    880
    me too Timbo, me too
     
    #11
  12. aphex

    aphex Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2008
    Messages:
    6,263
    Location:
    athens, greece
    Where was this written?
     
    #12
  13. zagor

    zagor Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2007
    Messages:
    26,018
    Location:
    Weak era
    Post #6 .
     
    #13
  14. aphex

    aphex Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2008
    Messages:
    6,263
    Location:
    athens, greece
    LMAO...I only read the 1st part of that post....

    In fact, people shouldn't read Cesc's posts at all.
     
    #14
  15. TheNatural

    TheNatural Legend

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    7,879
    Hewitt's strength was consistency and counterattacking. He grew up being good under 1 set of conditions, then the new rackets and strings came along(and slower courts) and they took away the relative advantage he had over his competitors by making it a lot easier for the average player to hit consistently and harder. Now Hewitt's game is too underpowered compared to the other bigger hitting and just as consistent players.

    Same happened with Agassi, he lost his relative advantage too. The new string technology made everyone hit just about as hard and consistently as Agassi, then Agassi's lesser relative athletisicm was exposed easier. I remember him making some statements about how the new strings changed the game.

    Fed was actually one of the beneficiaries of this, he used to be great sometimes and inconsistent other times. He was able to leapfrog the top guys faster with the help of the extra consistency. You could say he came along just at the right time, during the transition period in the improvement of technology, mainly string technology and maybe also rackets to complement the strings.

    Look at that list of Hewitt Opponents, most were all court players. Now the top players have to be more athletic baseline runners than they used to have to be but theres not many good all court players any more because it's too easy for baseline players to be consistent now relative to before when it payed off more to attack with an all court game.

    ANyways the baseline game has evolved, but the all court, net game hasn't under these conditions.
     
    #15
  16. sarmpas

    sarmpas Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Messages:
    511
    Ever heard of Agassi, Chang who were quite good as hitting passing shots. What about Connors before, his return of serve wasn't bad either.
     
    #16
  17. sarmpas

    sarmpas Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Messages:
    511
    Hewitt cleaned Pete's clock in a USO final 7-6(4), 6-1, 6-1.

    Two bagels on a fast hardcourt against one of the best servers of all time.


    I like the bit where Pete said himself the players started to hit the ball a bit harder(than his generation).
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2011
    #17
  18. marcub

    marcub Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2010
    Messages:
    531
    Hewitt was indeed a victim of his own time just as much as
    he was lucky to peak exactly when he did, i.e at the dusk of
    the Sampras era and just before Fed's dawned. His game
    was primarily based on speed, retrieving everything in sight
    and he could not have sustained his peak for long.
    Before Ralph changed his game around 2009 I was convinced
    he would fade away just like Hewitt. Boy was I wrong!
     
    #18
  19. sarmpas

    sarmpas Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Messages:
    511
    Surprising thing is Hewitt is only 6 months older than Federer.
     
    #19
  20. benmarks1984

    benmarks1984 New User

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2008
    Messages:
    44
    I defiantly think the fast courts at Wimbledon & the us open in the 1990s would have suited Lleyton. Nearly all the top players were serve and volleyers so were giving him that target he loved to hit.

    For Sampras to say "For a period I felt Lleyton might really dominate" just confirms how highly a player Pete must have thought of Lleyton.

    As for Cesc Fabragaes saying "'prime Sampras would take Hewitt to the cleaners" is rubbish. I mean Pete was playing great at queens in 1999 and 2000, and 18 year old Hewitt beat him in 2000 final and was serving for the match in 1999 s/final before losing in a 3rd set tie-break.
     
    #20
  21. marcub

    marcub Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2010
    Messages:
    531
    99-00 Sampras was well past his prime.

    There was once a prime-to-prime type of survey on Eurosport's site (interesting idea, but results were kind of messed up). A prime Sampras might very well have taken prime Hewitt to the cleaners.
     
    #21
  22. sarmpas

    sarmpas Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Messages:
    511
    How can Pete be past his prime. He beat Federer recently in an exhibition match.
     
    #22
  23. zagor

    zagor Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2007
    Messages:
    26,018
    Location:
    Weak era
    LOOOOOOL! :)
     
    #23
  24. benmarks1984

    benmarks1984 New User

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2008
    Messages:
    44
    How can you say 99 sampras was well past his time??? Did you not see the wimbledon final in 99 against agassi, possibly the best performance of his career.

    He even said in his book = "that was as close to perfect as i felt i could get" He also said at that moment in 1999 "I was probably at the absolute height of my tennis powers, and secretly felt that my game had quietly jumped a notch"

    So defiantly not past his prime!
     
    #24
  25. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,112
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    I totally agree with Sampras' comments about Hewitt. I also felt Hewitt would dominate tennis, not foreseeing that serve and volley tennis would become virtually extinct on the main ATP Tour.
     
    #25
  26. marcub

    marcub Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2010
    Messages:
    531
    And his best is yet to come :)
     
    #26
  27. sarmpas

    sarmpas Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Messages:
    511
    Damn! That book is good.
     
    #27
  28. marcub

    marcub Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2010
    Messages:
    531
    He was 28-29 at that time, Agassi is the only exception in modern tennis who can still be called prime at that age, mostly because of the breaks he took earlier in his career.
    Past prime doesn't mean spots of brilliance are gone with the wind. Consistency however is. Just look at Fed nowadays.

    I read Pete's book. Everyone is entitled to a dose of being subjective, and that includes him. BTW, I used to like him better before reading the book.
     
    #28
  29. TheNatural

    TheNatural Legend

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    7,879
    5 years retired Sampras+ modern strings and racket > Prime Fred + same modern strings and racket
     
    #29
  30. sarmpas

    sarmpas Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Messages:
    511
    16 > 14..........
     
    #30
  31. zagor

    zagor Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2007
    Messages:
    26,018
    Location:
    Weak era
    Not to mention a 3-1 H2H lead.
     
    #31
  32. marcub

    marcub Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2010
    Messages:
    531
    Did you really feel the urge to troll?
     
    #32
  33. sarmpas

    sarmpas Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Messages:
    511
    Pete wasn't at his best but he was

    5 years retired Sampras+ modern strings and racket > Prime Fred + same modern strings and racket
     
    #33
  34. aphex

    aphex Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2008
    Messages:
    6,263
    Location:
    athens, greece
    Prime Sampras.

    Post prime Sampras.
     
    #34
  35. BrooklynNY

    BrooklynNY Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2010
    Messages:
    1,627
    Prime Sampras would be beating Hewitt Regularly. He won 4/5 first meetings, and then lost the next 4 within a year of retiring.

    I already mentioned this in another thread. Here were my thoughts on Hewitt

    Hewitt is a strange example to use in my opinion, he is a counter puncher suited to faster courts with his generally flat(ter) strokes. To me this is why he excelled during the last year and half of Sampras' career and into the transition period between Sampras and Federer eras/Quick skewed conditions into slower present day conditions.

    I don't think Hewitt is an accurate comparison to how Nadal/Nole/Murray would do against Pete or Andre or a 90s era player, with the constant being that they are all in peak form, because I have the feeling Lleyton's game is really more suited to that quick court era(given his strength is redirecting pace, not so much absorbing pace and tracking down balls in the same vein Andy Murray does) even though he played a large portion of his career during the entire time Federer was #1 and present day.

    I personally think aside from injury, the gradual heavier conditions sort of pushed a player like Lleyton out of the game, and made way for slow hardcourt counterpunchers like Andy Murray, Gilles Simon type players who are a bit taller/stronger
     
    #35
  36. TheNatural

    TheNatural Legend

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    7,879
    Nadal is keeping Serve and volley alive :)
     
    #36
  37. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,112
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    Some people talk about Hewitt making use of the transitional period between the end of the Sampras era and before the start of the Federer era, and that is when Hewitt won most of his tournaments, but I think Hewitt played his best level of tennis in 2004-2005. Unfortunately for Hewitt, prime Federer was about in 2004-2005.

    The reason Hewitt didn't finish 2004 as the world number 2 was because of his low ranking of 17 at the start of the year, which meant that he kept bumping into Federer earlier on in tournaments, while Roddick was in the top 2 all throughout the year. And in 2005, Hewitt had 2 spells out with injury, which included the whole clay-court season and the last few months of the year, yet he was still losing to the eventual champions in majors.
     
    #37
  38. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Sampras was still much closer to his prime level those years than Hewitt was. Especialy in 1999, you would have to be completely delusional to think otherwise.

    That said I am pretty sure prime Sampras would have figured Hewitt out the same way Federer did. Instead he was getting older and slower and Hewitt gradually got better so that wasnt as likely.
     
    #38
  39. marcub

    marcub Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2010
    Messages:
    531
    We're not disagreeing. He was closer but not by much.
     
    #39
  40. tacou

    tacou Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,036
    I agree, but that's sort of Pete's point..Lleyton developed in an "era" of tennis that didn't really exist, a player between generations--at least as far as his style of play. He played like the newer generation but based around defeating the older generation which was disappearing.
    very interesting I think.
     
    #40
  41. jackson vile

    jackson vile Legend

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Messages:
    9,827
    You can't argue with the facts, just look at the guy. Once baseliners took over it was lights out for Hewitt. He could not compete in this environment as his game was designed for something completely different. One way to acknowledge this would be to take a look at his record against top baseliners.
     
    #41
  42. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2009
    Messages:
    21,215
    Not sure if he would have a better career, but definite would have achieved more. His great footwok, ROS, passing shot and figthing spirit would be better off playing against a s/v rather than a baseline specialist.
     
    #42
  43. corners

    corners Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2008
    Messages:
    5,441
    Hewitt's record against those premier attackers also suggests how they would have fared against a mature Federer - not well.
     
    #43
  44. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,112
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    That is why Hewitt had most of his achievements in 2001-2002, despite his best tennis coming during 2004-2005 when Federer was at his peak. The thing is, in the early noughties, I didn't foresee serve and volley just disappearing, so I thought Hewitt would thrive and be the next dominant player in tennis. Serve and volley style seemed to decrease dramatically around 2002 when Rafter retired and the grass at 2002 Wimbledon seemed very different to before with regular baseline players suddenly getting deep into the tournament, even beating serve and volley players. Malisse beating both Rusedski and Krajicek, and Nalbandian getting to the final, sums it up.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2011
    #44
  45. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,112
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    I don't see it, personally. I never once thought that Chang would dominate tennis, no matter how much of a fighter he was. Hewitt seemed to have it all, he was simply amazing at turning a serve and volleyer's firepower back on them and could rally with the best of the baseliners. He also had a will and determination that was similar to Jimmy Connors. His lightening speed also made up for his lack of bulk when he was a teenager and in his early 20s. Hewitt was a guy who went to Florianopolis, Brazil with Australia's Davis Cup team in 2001, and beat Kuerten on clay in 3 straight sets in a very high quality match.

    Hewitt was definitely the best prospect out that generation to my mind. Safin was amazingly talented, brilliantly entertaining and with an amazing game, but was very volatile and unpredictable. Federer, although very talented, seemed even more of a headcase than Safin, and without the ability to put all the pieces together in his game. As for Roddick, an impressive serve and seemed a future Wimbledon champion, although his volley needed a lot of improvement.
     
    #45
  46. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Well I never thought Hewitt would dominate tennis either, even while he was #1. I just never thought he was that great to do something like that. I never thought he would win anything on clay either. I actually thought Federer, Roddick, and Safin would all have better careers, and only on Federer was I clearly right (by an even bigger margin than I imagined).
     
    #46
  47. marcub

    marcub Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2010
    Messages:
    531
    That's funny.
    Based on that logic, Fed of December 2010 beating Ralph's *** at the WTC at past 28 is prime, whereas Fed getting his *** whipped by Ralph at Roland Garros in 2006-7 would be, well, sub-prime.
     
    #47
  48. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,112
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    I can possibly understand Safin, but how the heck could anyone have thought when Hewitt was number 1 in the world that Federer or Roddick would have better careers? That would have been a joke at the time.
     
    #48
  49. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Not really. Federer visibly had more natural talent than Hewitt even while Hewitt was the better player, and Roddick had alot more power and the serve. Roddick also was a couple years younger, which is a big deal when you are younger and coming up.

    It is just like when Sabatini and Graf were both young and Sabatini was doing better at first, I never predicted Sabatini would end up being the better player either, which she clearly didnt.
     
    #49
  50. BevelDevil

    BevelDevil Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    1,541

    There's a difference between "prime" and "prime performance".

    Agassi said his best performance of his career was at age 35, in the 2005 USO vs. Federer. However, I don't think we would say Agassi was "in his prime" at 35.
     
    #50

Share This Page