The Raonic serve

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by TheFifthSet, Aug 30, 2012.

  1. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    Just how good is that thing? To me it's already one of the best serves I've ever seen in my life. The second serve is just scary -- 3-4 times today he hit 120+ second serve aces. The first serve has lots of pace with sick placement, and the past two years (at ages 20 and 21) he's led the tour in % of first serve points won.


    733 Aces
    136Double Faults
    61%1st Serve
    83%1st Serve Points Won
    57%2nd Serve Points Won
    75%Break Points Saved
    602Service Games Played
    93%Service Games Won
    73%Service Points Won


    Call me bold, but just as a pure stroke (not taking into account how it fares it big moments, which we don't really know yet), it's comparable to the Sampras serve, IMO.
     
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  2. Russeljones

    Russeljones G.O.A.T.

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    No. Simply no.
     
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  3. syc23

    syc23 Professional

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    Raonic sure does have an impressive serve. Let's see if he can clutch serve in slam SFs and F like Sampras did and net 14 GSs then we can make a comparison. At the moment, Raonic is nothing but a servebot.
     
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  4. above bored

    above bored Semi-Pro

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    Yes, Raonic has a better serve than Sampras, not pound for pound, but still better nevertheless.
     
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  5. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    See, I expected close-minded respones like this. Simply, why not? Sampras game is better in EVERY other aspect by a lot -- I'm not suggesting he'll be the next Sampras. But, what could he POSSIBLY do to make you change your mind? My guess is nothing -- tennis fans are far too stubborn sometimes, and take these things as a dig or slight against the other player.

    Anyways, Raonic has many of the qualities Sampras had serving-wise: pace, placement, disguise, HUGE second serve (110 MPH on average in his first round match). His ace to double fault ratio this year is better than any of Sampras's years. He also gets a higher percentage of first serves in. Also, he leads the tour in just about every significant serving category.

    Also, it's at leasaat SOMEWHAT impressive that his stats are better despite being in an era of homogenized surfaces, and with the rest of his game being inferior (by a lot) to Sampras's.
     
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  6. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

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    The first serve is about as good, Sampras hit 730 aces in 42 games in 2002. Can he hit 2nd serve aces on game or match point though?
     
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  7. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    He hit a 122 MPH second serve ace break point down today -- but yes, it remains to be seen how it'll hold up in big matches. But surely it's not out of the realm of possibility that his serve is in Pete's league.
     
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  8. Russeljones

    Russeljones G.O.A.T.

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    I am so close minded that I refuse to consider Raonic's serve as comparable to someone who used his serve to devastating effect throughout a long and successful career. Raonic needs to do A LOT for his serve to be counted.

    A. You didn't watch Sampras enough.
    B. You just want to have something good to say about Raonic.

    Either way, I think your claim is ludicrous.
     
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  9. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    I watched him his entire career, his ascent to the game just about coincided with me first having watched tennis when I was a kid.

    I try to analyze their serves and provide facts and you thus far have provided conjecture. Again, when it comes down to it it boils down to "Sampras was more successful, therefore his serve was leagues better" - that's really what it is, let's be honest.
     
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  10. VPhuc tennis fan

    VPhuc tennis fan Professional

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    I understand your reservation about making comparison between Raonic and Sampras, even for the serve. Perhaps it's way too early. Nevertheless I believe the guy (Raonic) has it. It's a weapon that I wouldn't trade for anything since it gives me a lot of freebies. He just needs to be mentally tougher so the serve doesn't desert him at the most crucial moment. Imagine a Fed w/o his serve or a Sampras w/o his serve. No matter how wonderful their FH are, it's the serve that sets up almost everything.
    Of course, footwork, BH, bla bla bla , the kid still needs to work on. But hang on that serve, it will pull him out of many difficult moments, I'm sure of it.
     
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  11. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    To say they're not at least comparable (I wouldn't say its better than Pete's just yet, don't get me wrong), is basically saying that Pete's serve was much, MUCH better . . to me it just isn't feasible to think that they're so much apart.

    What Raonic really needs to work on is the return, especially on second serves, he's far too passive on the return games. Also he's so big that his movement may never be elite, but I guess we'll see.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2012
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  12. Russeljones

    Russeljones G.O.A.T.

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    Sampras's 1st serve averaged 2500 RPM. Fact. It's considered by many as the greatest serve in the history of the men's game. It put the C in CLUTCH.

    So tell me, what has Raonic's serve done for him and how is it better? I never saw any serious pundit come out and say this guy's serve is better than Pete's.
     
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  13. fed_rulz

    fed_rulz Hall of Fame

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    Simply as a pure stroke, Raonic's is definitely ahead of Pete, but behind Karlovic & probably Goran as well.
     
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  14. BeHappy

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    Of course it's possible his serve is as good. Sampras hit a 122mph second serve on match point to win the 1999 Wimbledon championships.
     
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  15. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    I kinda did already . . . :-?

    It's an unfair comparison though, because the rest of Pete's game was SO CLEARLY BETTER, BY A LOT. Give him Pete's forehand (especially running forehand, which Milos struggles with), backhand (not an amazing stroke but better than Raonic's), movement, net game, peak return and his results would clearly be better than they are now. Again, I'm not saying his serve blows Pete's out of the water - no ones does. Just that it's at least somewhat close.

    That's an appeal to authority. Lots of pundits also rank Emerson higher than Gorgo or Rosewall, which is ridiculous. Appeals to authority are just elitist cop-outs, IMO. Nobody ranked 15th in the world who's not a big star is gonna get lots of attention from pundits.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2012
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  16. Russeljones

    Russeljones G.O.A.T.

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    I could be proved wrong when Raonic saves some breakpoints in Grand Slam semis and finals and wins something having dug himself out of a tight spot thanks to his serve alone, something Sampras did many many times. But I somehow don't see Raonic getting in a position to do that. Then we look at the purely technical aspect and again, I've seen nobody else make your claim. Why is it that I have to prove something that is already established (i.e. the clutchest serve ever ;) ) ? We can respectfully disagree all I am saying is (again) that the claim is outlandish.

    PS: serve stats such as ace count and 1st serve points won etc. racked up against the other bottom feeders of the ATP tour is not a good way to go about building your claim.
     
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  17. mike84

    mike84 Semi-Pro

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    Raonic serve is one of the best ever but he lacks everywhere else poor backhand, clumpy footwork etc


    During today match commentators mentioned Raonic has unusual racquet grip for serve....not fully continental. weird.
     
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  18. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    don't forget the 2nd serve ace at 7-7 in a 5th set tiebreak in a USO QF.
     
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  19. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    OK fair enough, we might be hitting an impasse. But I just think it's better to judge it as a pure stroke -- the rest of Raonic's game inhibits his results.


    And I agree -- which is why since he hit his stride in 2011, his serving stats against great returners such as Federer, Murray, Nadal (85/54 first/second serve pct% points won in their match in Tokyo), and Ferrer are pretty damn good too.
     
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  20. fightfan

    fightfan New User

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    I agree that Raonic has an elite serve equaled by only a few in history. I usually volunteer at the SAP Open (where he won his first ATP tourney!), and he REGULARLY served into the 140s. I don't necessarily know if their radars are calibrated properly, but his serve was averaging probably 10mph faster than Roddick, Verdasco, and all the other pros I watched. I'm not saying that he has the placement, consistency, and clutch swings like Sampras had, but his first serve was basically unreturnable against Verdasco in the SAP Open final a couple years ago.
     
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  21. DolgoSantoro

    DolgoSantoro Professional

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    Raonic is mentally, technically, and physically inferior to Sampras, but unless you want to toss all those statistics out the window you'd have to admit their serves are at least comparable. Samp's is better IMO but I don't see how anyone who has watched raonic play could say he doesn't have a top tier serve, even at the all time level. No one will suggest any other part of his game even approaches that level
     
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  22. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    Yup, agreed.
     
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  23. NonP

    NonP Professional

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    I hate to sound like a broken record, but the ace and DF counts can be very misleading, especially when we're comparing the contemporary stats to the previous eras'. This is particularly true for Sampras, whose serve is thought by some (my former self included) clearly inferior as a pure shot to that of a Goran, Karlovic or Krajicek, since his # of aces tends to be lower.

    But that impression changes when you look at the % of unreturned serves (which basically means all the free points off one's serve). Here Pete is right up there with those guys, usually winning over 40%, often 45%, sometimes even 50%. You might have noticed some of these stats on the "Greatest Serves of All Time" thread. (It's a shame they aren't widely available.)

    And it's a common fallacy to think the fewer DFs the better. Yes, you'll lose a few more points if you DF more, but then your 2nd serve will have more bite and will increase your chances of winning the rest of your 2nd-serve points, if not win a few more points outright in case of a Sampras or Raonic. If anything today's players are too afraid to DF.

    If you're interested I once elaborated on this very topic here:

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?p=5968374#post5968374

    1st-serve % doesn't favor Raonic a whole lot. He's been averaging 61% this year, just two points over Pete's 59% career average (this number is most likely off, like so many of the ATP stats from the '90s, but I'm fairly certain it isn't off by much as he used to average about 60%). And then there are the issues of strategy, mentality and technology to consider. Again you can follow these links to see what I've written on these very topics:

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?p=5267685#post5267685
    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?p=6694094#post6694094
    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?p=6842225#post6842225

    If time is short at least try the last one, as it contains a few stats related to the surface issue. (That post has more to do with the supposed slowdown than homogenization, but the underlying idea is the same.)

    Anyway I agree with you that Raonic's serve is probably one of the best ever already. What intrigues me more is whether he'll surpass the likes of Karlovic and Isner as a tennis player.

    Again I hate to repeat myself, but it's very debatable whether this "fact" is based on a satisfactory number of samples. People really should be careful not to take these numbers as some sort of gospel. They're meant to serve as a starting point, like all the stats are.

    That said, yes, it's quite probable that Pete's serve had an unusual amount of spin. But what really made it so tough for the returner was its topspin component--35% according to Yandell, much higher than that of other servers he measured, and which explains why it looked so "heavy" (Yandell compares it to Roddick's in his article).

    BTW I wouldn't be surprised that Raonic's serve isn't too far behind in both RPM and topspin rate. He's given Fed fits in their meetings so far, the same Fed that has made many a big server's life miserable (Roddick should know). In fact their Halle match reminded me of the very Yandell article. Hopefully he'll get to Raonic's serve someday.
     
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  24. Rhino

    Rhino Legend

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    The serve itself could well be as good as Pete's but the serve has to be combined with what is going on in the players head. I've seen Raonic get broken when trying to serve out sets and on big points, or against elite players. I'm not saying this hasn't happened to Pete but I think Raonic is a little way off maintaining the quality of his serve when the stakes are raised. Pete was pretty rock solid under pressure throughout the 90's.

    However, I still think Federer's serve is better than either of those guys and RPM doesn't even come into it.
     
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  25. Larrysümmers

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    the reason why ive been comparing him to pete since whenever i saw him at the aussie: he goes for gutsy second serves at big times! im sure he's one of these players who is only going to get better as he gets a little older.
    also, the curly hair and wilson racket has a lot to do with us thinking we see pete in him.
     
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  26. pound cat

    pound cat G.O.A.T.

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    And his business like demeanor on court...Sampras was Roanic's model and he watched every Sampras match he could find...many times. Says he didn't care who Sampras was playing, as long as he won.
     
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  27. thejackal

    thejackal Hall of Fame

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  28. TheModernEra

    TheModernEra Rookie

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    I was in Memphis in 2011 and saw Raonic play. (Verdasco, Del Potro, Isner, Roddick, and Hewitt, among others were there that year as well). There is an approximately 6 foot wall behind the baseline to separate playing surface from stands. During service warm ups, Raonic was hitting bombs that had such pace and angle that the fans in the front 5-10 rows were getting popped with tennis balls. It was hilarious. Not Isner nor Roddick nor Del Potro came close to where his serves were landing. I know this thread is comparing Sampras to Raonic, and I never saw Sampras play live. All I am saying is that Raonic's serve is impressive and takes some getting used to (ask Verdasco about that).

    On an aside, Roddick hit a 150mph serve at this tourney. Seeing this at nearly ground level, one gets an appreciation for how good all these guys really are.
     
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  29. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    Seeing Raonic's match yesterday and how his opponent was able to get good plays on his serve for most of the match I wonder if it's really as good as people make out when you consider it overall.

    How good is his variety of pace? His variety of placement? His ability to go to either corner on both sides of the court? How predictable is he generally? How predictable is he on break points? These things matter a lot when it comes to separating those who can simply bomb serves down and those who are the greats.

    Sampras, and to an extent Federer, both ruled their eras in these regards. It wasn't hitting 140mph serves or 122mph second serves that made their serves as great as they were - it was being able to dominate with it for virtually every match they played for years on end.

    Raonic has something special going on with is serve but let's see a few more years of results before crowning it GSOAT..
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2012
    #29
  30. rafan

    rafan Hall of Fame

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    Once he stops delivering these serves he is in trouble as we have seen. You just cannot be a big server in tennis all the time. For a start it is exhausting after a while and your shoulders arms and legs start to feel it. He was starting to move better yesterday but he is still an awkward athlete
     
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  31. tudwell

    tudwell Hall of Fame

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    Federer has done that tons of times as well - is his serve better than Raonic's?
     
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  32. Russeljones

    Russeljones G.O.A.T.

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    Start a thread titled 'The Federer serve' and I'll answer you.
     
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  33. VPhuc tennis fan

    VPhuc tennis fan Professional

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    All right, put all your claims and counter-claims on ice. Give the young guy a year or 2, and then we can revisit this isssue. As I said, the mental aspect is one of the critical issue a young player needs to work on. Not wavering, not unconsciously altering your motion because of the hole you find yourself in, that's what separates the champ from the chumps, or the contenders from the pretenders. Another thing we tend to forget as we mostly watch tennis on TV is the real speed how these guys move. Especially for the big guys. They always seem to lumber around, so much slower than the shorter ones. In reality, they're not so bad once you see them sitting on the stands.
     
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  34. citybert

    citybert Professional

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    Sampras was like a cy young pitcher placing and mixing up his serves and spins and S and V. Maybe we can compare him more to isner. I think he like isner is tall enough to serve down onthe net
     
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  35. InvisibleSoul

    InvisibleSoul Hall of Fame

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    But the thing is Raonic isn't THAT tall. He isn't like Karlovic (6'10") and Isner (6'9"). Raonic is "only" 6'5". There are many guys on tour at that height or taller.
     
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  36. ChanceEncounter

    ChanceEncounter Professional

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    I don't know why people consider Sampras's serve as the holy grail on this forum. In the 90s, people considered Goran and Krajicek's serve at least as effect as a pure stroke. Sampras's follow up game was much better, but as far as the serve itself, Goran and Krajicek had at least as good of a serve.

    Raonic's serve isn't quite in that category, but it honestly isn't far off, and definitely comparable to Sampras's serve.

    And yes, I did watch Sampras, including each of his grand slam winning matches.
     
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  37. vamospunch

    vamospunch Banned

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    Raonic sucks. He's one of the mentally weakest players on tour. He's all talent and no toughness. His future is looking no better than Berdych.

    Raonic is as far opposite of Sampras as it gets.
     
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  38. Russeljones

    Russeljones G.O.A.T.

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    I think you refer to people who have also watched Goran, Philippoussis and Kraijcek. Back in the day it wasn't so often that we saw their matches, you couldn't tune into a website with streaming video. You saw Goran, Philippoussis and Kraijcek when they were playing someone useful (of course I am playfully belittling the 3's singles careers).

    When you watched them and then watched Sampras you could see how much better his serve was. The discussion now is quite pointless, you've either seen it or you haven't.
     
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  39. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Raonic has a great serve, feeding off the lower ranked players.
    Did any of you watch his match vs the Columbian, Santiago? If Santiago had hit 1/2 of his 5" misses IN the court, he would have easily won the match. Really hard to miss by 5", at least 20 shots in the final two sets, but he managed it.
    Lots of great players in the past don't feed off the lower ranking pack, and don't go for their absolute best serves. Milos does.
    Is Milos' serve better than Kraijeck and Phillipousis'? I think not. We only got to see Krai and Phi play against the BEST players in the world, the Q's, semis and finals. The best players make the server work and run, fetch and change direction constantly. That way, the serve is not quite as good.
     
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  40. ChanceEncounter

    ChanceEncounter Professional

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    No, you couldn't. If that was the case, Krajicek would not be 6-4 against Sampras because there's absolutely no way you could argue that Krajicek had a better ground or net game than Sampras. There were other players with serves at least in the same league as Sampras, and this was also reflected in the % of service games won match.

    And it's nice that you patronize everyone who doesn't hold Sampras's serve as the greatest simply hasn't watched him.
     
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  41. Russeljones

    Russeljones G.O.A.T.

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    Oh I am sorry clearly everyone who has a winning record vs Sampras has a better serve than him. Kraijcek 'Rosoled' him at Wimbledon. And that created a matchup problem for Sampras when faced with Kraijcek.

    The fact is certain player's serving stats get inflated due to protracted service games. Federer and Sampras (usually) could only hit 2-3 aces per service game. But a bum like Kraijcek or Philippoussis could hit 5 or 6 in a 10-deuce game.
     
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  42. ChanceEncounter

    ChanceEncounter Professional

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    Right, because I clearly implied that everyone who has a winning record vs Sampras has a better serve than him. :rolleyes: If you're not even going to argue ingenuously, then what's the point of this discussion? Go back to sticking your head in the sand.

    I'm not talking about ace figures. I'm talking about % of service games won. You want to win as close to 100% of your service games you play, obviously. For example, in 1997, Sampras won 90% of his service games. In the same year, Krajicek won 91% of his service games. The overall figures don't lie.

    Now, I'm sure you'll agree that Sampras's ground game was much better overall than Krajicek's. Sampras has a powerful forehand, a competent backhand, and covered the net brilliantly. But yes, of course because he won championships, he must have the best serve ever.
     
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  43. Russeljones

    Russeljones G.O.A.T.

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    Now if you'd account for the level of opposition Sampras and Kraijcek faced in 1997 you'd come to the same conclusion as most people who watched tennis back then. The Sampras serve is the most trustworthy weapon in the men's game. It's not about what it could be at any particular moment. It's about the whole shabang and at the very highest level Sampras's serve was virtually infallible. :)
     
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  44. ChanceEncounter

    ChanceEncounter Professional

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    Right, the tour just rolled over and died for Krajicek and not for Sampras. Makes sense... It's like how Karlovic has higher service games won than Federer. Federer probably plays slightly tougher competition than Karlovic all things considered, but Karlovic's serve is still stronger.
     
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  45. fed_rulz

    fed_rulz Hall of Fame

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    it's blashphemy to suggest that as a single stroke, his wasn't the best ever, not even top 5. many here will have fits arguing that. It is like some theory that can never be challenged, regardless of the statistical evidence you can provide.
     
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  46. smoledman

    smoledman Legend

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    Federer's serve is more clutch.
     
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  47. VPhuc tennis fan

    VPhuc tennis fan Professional

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    Anyone watching the Raonic-Blake match today? I saw just the highlights, and read some comments, but it appears that Raonic's serve bailed him out more than a few times. Granted, Blake's return is not in the same league as Djoker or Rafa or Fed or Murray, but then whose is anyway, right? So if the young guy can control his nerves and kept bombing away even in the most crucial moments, he's getting there, I think.
     
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  48. Atherton2003

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    Is Raonic the guy who has the pig snout?
     
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  49. Paullaconte1

    Paullaconte1 Rookie

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    Can't compare Pete with Milos... Pete's overall game was too good. The service.. maybe, but I hope we are going to get back to a boom boom game (boring!)
     
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  50. Baxter

    Baxter Professional

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    He popped a 143 mpher into the crowd today. I was impressed.
     
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