What happened to Rafter in 1997?

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by flymeng, Sep 23, 2012.

  1. flymeng

    flymeng Semi-Pro

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    Rafter won one small tournament prior to 1997. He was considered a journeyman player in the big leagues. In 1997, he reached the semis of FO and won the USO. Chang was the favorite in the USO semis but lost to him in straight sets. What happened to his game? I think his ground strokes improved the most since he was able to reach the semis at FO. What about his serve and volleying game? Was his kick serve faster, deeper and higher?
     
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  2. Fastpace Ace

    Fastpace Ace Professional

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    He discovered lead tape.
     
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  3. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Kicker Serve

    I believe it was his serve. Particularly the development of his Kicker serve. I remember the January 1995 Australian Open. At the time the Aussi's were going on about how fast Rafters first serve was. It was a flat serve and quick. But Agassi just destroyed him at that tournament.

    By 1997 he was now using this monster kicker serve as his first serve - not a flat serve anymore. It was slower than his previous first serve but now had massive bite and kicked up massively from the court. It allowed him to close the net much easier and made the return of his opponents higher, which allowed his great volleys to come into play much more.

    So, slower first serve but more spin helped bring out the other strength of his game - really solid and intelligent volleys. I always felt he was really clever not just on the technique of the volley but how and where to place it. He could even do this on clay. Look how spectacular he played on clay at the World Team Cup in Germany in 1999.
     
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  4. gregor.b

    gregor.b Professional

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    His serve. He stopped hitting it flat and started using the kicker almost exclusively on first and second serve. The rest of his game was not greatly different although he did improve his topspin backhand drive somewhat.
     
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  5. tennisMVP

    tennisMVP Banned

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    Those 2 US Opens Rafter won are the 2 highest quality US Open performances of the last 15 years. Nobody has come close. And although neither were at their best, he beat Agassi in 97 and Sampras in 98, just for good measure.
     
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  6. RAFA2005RG

    RAFA2005RG Banned

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    I'll take Agassi 1999 and Nadal 2010 over Rafter.
     
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  7. tennis_pro

    tennis_pro G.O.A.T.

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    Gooby, please. Take any of Federer's US Open runs and I bet he beats the cr*p out of Rafter.
     
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  8. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    I don't know about "beating the crap out of Rafter". Federer will most likely win but I think it'll be competitive.

    Kicker high up to the one handed backhand is a nightmare, and Federer's backhand wasn't as good as it is now.
     
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  9. smoledman

    smoledman Legend

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    Federer's 2005-2007 US Open runs are the best ever.
     
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  10. Polvorin

    Polvorin Professional

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    Don't forget the 2004 demolition of Hewitt with two bagels. :D
     
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  11. obsessedtennisfandisorder

    obsessedtennisfandisorder Professional

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    close

    lol..federer didn't face anything like peak rafter 97-98 .

    anyway..to answer question ,physically he beefed up, which primarily helped his new kick serve as he got some serious rotation on the ball...as shown by his nasty serve out wide on the duece court,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1k1Nyuf_D0
     
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  12. tennis_pro

    tennis_pro G.O.A.T.

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    He did face Hewitt a couple of times there, though. The same Hewitt who as a teenager owned Rafter's ****.
     
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  13. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    As other have said, he learned how to use his strenghts and how to manage his weaknesses.

    He pefected a monster super kick serve that was the best possible serve for his amazing net skills.

    Second, he realized that, as he had not a killer forehand (neither a killer backhand) given that he had great athleticism, if he was at the back court during a point, he learned he had to be patiente enough, running and defending all he could on the baseline, and waiting for a good chance to go to the net and win the point there (or even winning some of those points because of unforced errors of the rival when going for too much).

    He improved his groundstrokes to the point to being able to hit some very good passing-shot winners in important points.

    He matured mentally, he started to believe in himself.

    He had always great potential, but it took some years to develop it and maximize it.
     
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  14. Mainad

    Mainad G.O.A.T.

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    Those were the prime years for Federer.
     
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  15. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    Could rafter serve hard when he was young? I only remember him hitting 110 mph kickers all the time.

    didn't he hurt his shoulder at some point?
     
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  16. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Hall of Fame

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    I'm shocked to see you say that!
     
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  17. RAFA2005RG

    RAFA2005RG Banned

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    Thanks I appreciate it.
     
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  18. Rafter4ever

    Rafter4ever New User

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    Do you realize that Federer is 0-3 lifetime against Rafter?

    Hewitt beat Rafter when Hewitt was a teen....

    Rafter beat Fed when Fed was a teen.....

    Granted Fed had not develop his game fully, I dont think Fed will beat the crap out of Rafter; when Agassi was returning serves shoulder height, you know that kicker would gave Fed some problems, especially the ad side.

    peak Rafter against peak Fed....most likely Fed, but not as one sided as some might think.
     
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  19. Polvorin

    Polvorin Professional

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    I've never seen a kick serve give Fed problems. His backhand has always been good on serve returns despite it having other issues at times. I can't see any serve and volley player giving him trouble especially after 2003~
     
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  20. Shaolin

    Shaolin Hall of Fame

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    When you have a Partick Rafter swarming the net behind the kick serve it will give you problems :) I met a guy that played Rafter before he made it big and he said it was "like being strangled".. he woukd get in to net so quickly and then you were done.
     
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  21. Rafter4ever

    Rafter4ever New User

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    When Fed encounters a kick serve, he would just slice it low and cross court, the safer shot; but if you know you opponet is rushing the net, the pressure is on the returner to hit a good return, Fed struggles taking the ball up high on the BH side[/QUOTE]

    There weren't too many after 2003, Henman about the only one
     
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  22. vive le beau jeu !

    vive le beau jeu ! G.O.A.T.

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    that would be a highly entertaining match... :)
     
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  23. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    His serve seemed harder to return than it had previous. 96 and earlier his kick serve seemed just to easy to get ahold of for a good returner. I remember watching Rosset take his serve apart at the 95 U.S Open like it was nothing. He also seemed less easy to blow away even from the baseline, which allowed him to wait longer to work his way into net if he so desired.
     
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  24. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Hewitt's game is perfect for countering someone like Rafter, moreso than pretty much anyone, Federer included. Had there been more Rafter like players in the game rather than a slew of baseliners you would see Hewitt last alot longer near the top. So Rafter's abilities shouldnt be judged solely by his record vs Hewitt. Anyway despite the overall H2H I remember watching Rafter beat Hewitt very easily at Cincinnati 2001 weeks before Hewitt's U.S Open title and rise to #1, and when Rafter was already on decline and near retirement due to shoulder problems.
     
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  25. RAFA2005RG

    RAFA2005RG Banned

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    ^^ True, Hewitt is the master of returning balls to the feet and making the incoming volleyer volley up, leading to an easy put-away for Hewitt. Hewitt also gave Sampras fits. And Hewitt is the reason why Federer stopped serve-volleying. Hewitt was dominating Federer for the first few years.
     
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  26. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Federer learnt he could dominate and overpower Hewitt from the baseline, and with bigger serving, and could move and defend just as well from the baseline too. There was no need to come in and face Hewitt's amazing passing shots, service returns, and counterpunching.
     
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  27. RAFA2005RG

    RAFA2005RG Banned

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    Yep, whereas Sampras was at the tail-end of his career and couldn't afford to exert so much energy from the baseliner.
     
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  28. Sabratha

    Sabratha G.O.A.T.

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    Rafter hit his peak is what happened.
     
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  29. RAFA2005RG

    RAFA2005RG Banned

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    Exactly correct. As we saw with Djokovic in 2011.
     
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  30. Polvorin

    Polvorin Professional

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    I've seen many players try to hit big kickers to Federer's backhand (notably Philippoussis/Sampras at Wimbledon and Roddick everywhere) with less than stellar results ;)

    Also, there is nothing wrong with chipping a return low at the server's feet. It is actually a very effective play.

    Earlier you pointed out Fed being 0-3 to Rafter...but of course the obvious thing to point out is that those matches were played when he was 18-20 years old, and we all know Federer was a late bloomer. Those matches don't reflect anything about how a "prime" Federer would play against a prime Rafter.
     
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  31. Rafter4ever

    Rafter4ever New User

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    Hey dont read too much into it. I acknowledge a peak Fed would defeat a peak Rafter. I made that statement just to let 'tennis pro' know their head to head record and that if that match was ever played; IMHO, it would be closer than one think.

    Rafter defeated Fed in 2001 Key Biscayne 2 and 2 (if memory serves me right), 3 months before Fed scored the famous victory that dethroned Sampras at Wimby; so yes, it was a young Fed, but an up and coming young Fed that has enough game to beat Sampras. Rafter at that time, whom 12 months earlier had just recovered from a near career ending shoulder injury, and was near the end of his career
     
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  32. Polvorin

    Polvorin Professional

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    Haha, don't worry, I loved Rafter too. Those wins against Agassi at Wimby were some of the best matches I've ever seen. Too bad the guy always choked so much :(
     
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  33. big ted

    big ted Hall of Fame

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    rafter himself said with the new strings its not feasible to serve and volley that much anymore so unless he played federer in pre-poly era, federer would be all over him
     
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  34. galain

    galain Hall of Fame

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    here's a story related to me back in 96/97 by Pat's mother.

    Pat ALWAYS played serve volley tennis. Even as a youngster, he would come charging the net at every opportunity, but given the anatomical failings that youngsters have (ie - not being especially big), he would regularly lose. He just wasn't tall enough, with enough reach, to cover the net like he wanted.

    This went on for some years - so much so that (as she told it to me), Pat was never considered in the upper echelon of Australia's junior talent pool. He lost more than he won, often to people he should have beaten.

    And yet, he refused to change his game. He knew his body was eventually going to catch up to his game plan - so he kept at it. It eventually paid off.

    I find it incredible to think, as a junior, that he had the mentality to stick with what he felt was best, despite it not getting him the results he needed. I can't imagine that many people not trying to change things a little, especially at that age. It's one of many reasons why Pat will always be one of my favourite players.
     
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