where do sampras volleys rank historically?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by dominikk1985, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    Sampras was of course known for his serve and FH but his volleys where pretty good too. where do his volleys rank among the best volleyers ever?
     
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  2. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    I can't put him with the best volleyers because he actually missed quite a few at the net. However, he was really successful because he always came in after a ridiculous 1st AND 2nd serve, and a great penetrating forehand.

    Rafter was a better volleyer.
     
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  3. NEW_BORN

    NEW_BORN Professional

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    This is how i see it,

    Overheads - 10
    Punch volleys - 8
    Lunge volleys - 8
    Touch volleys - 7
    Dig-outs - 7
     
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  4. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    for some reason people have begun to denigrate the Sampras volley more than I would. Tier one from 68 forward is Mac, Edberg, and assorted/ magnificent Aussies, but I put Pete right in the next group and no lower. Yes his serve did a lot of talking, but he broke serve with net play as well, and in a time where passing shots were hit with incredible speed and lobs with tons of spin. It wasn't a picnic being up there in the '90's and that extra top and pace will induce more errors.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2014
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  5. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    There's a thread here somewhere in which we listed GOAT volleyers. (I'll try to find it.)

    We didn't rank them numerically, but instead listed groupings called Tier One, Two, Three, etcetera.

    I believe that Sampras was in Tier Two, but I could be wrong.
     
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  6. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Wooops. I was wrong: Tier Three.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2014
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  7. SamprasisGOAT

    SamprasisGOAT Semi-Pro

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    Only mcneroe edberg and laver are better
     
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  8. helloworld

    helloworld Hall of Fame

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    Lol, the present tier is just sad. :oops:
     
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  9. helloworld

    helloworld Hall of Fame

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    I would put him in tier 2 purely on volley alone. If we talk about SERVE and Volley, he is easily tier 1.
     
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  10. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    I agree with that. you have to consider the power that 90s guys like pete, rafter and edberg faced compared to the 60s to mid 80s guys. to be fair volleying with wood is harder too but not as much as passing i.e the wood was a relative advantage for the net players.

    the power game basically started with lendl in the mid 80s and mac struggled big time with him. he probably would have struggled with agassis huge power too.

    I would rank sampras behind rafter and edberg but clearly ahead of becker, krajicek and certainly goran. not sure about henman.

    comparing him to older players is hard because the game got so much faster. of course his serve helped him but still he faced very tough returns.
     
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  11. McLovin

    McLovin Hall of Fame

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    Other than Lopez, where are all the doubles specialists? The Woodies? Bryan brothers? How can Paes not be on that list? The guy has arguably the best hands on the tour, even at his advanced age.
     
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  12. McLovin

    McLovin Hall of Fame

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    Oh, and according to McEnroe, Nadal belongs in Tier-one...
     
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  13. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    the list is a couple years old (other thread) and just considers singles players.
     
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  14. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    It's obvious that you never watched Rosewall, Newcombe and Roche....
     
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  15. Devilito

    Devilito Hall of Fame

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    or maybe it's obvious you've never watch Petros
     
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  16. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    they were very good but they also didn't face monster returns and passing shots like sampras or rafter.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014
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  17. Anaconda

    Anaconda Hall of Fame

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    You forgot to add Llodra.






    By the way, Sampras net game was terrific because of his movement and his approach shots. He didn't need to have Edberg volleys - who has the best volley ever. It's like the serve really this department, their is a difference between volley and net-game just like serve and service game. I'd say Roddick has a pretty damn good volley, his net game was crap due to approaches.
     
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  18. Rosewall

    Rosewall Rookie

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    When I saw the list of present players, I understood why, but felt Nadal should have been there. Best backhand overhead I have ever seen. Very good touch, exceptional athlete. Like Borg, he has the hands and reflexes and skill, he just chooses to not make it more of his game. Would I put him anywhere close to that first tier? Uh, no way.

    As for Sampras, I think Tier Three is fine. That is still a great group and as others already mentioned, he usually didn't have much work left after his serve or forehand approach. Where I thought he was lacking was lateral coverage of the net. You couldn't go over him, but there was room to pass.
     
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  19. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    Or Rafter for that matter...
     
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  20. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Third Tier is excelent.Most of his volleys look easy because of big approach shots and a terrific serve.But he is not a top tier voleyer.
     
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  21. shakes1975

    shakes1975 Semi-Pro

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    Right behind Edberg and Mac in the OE, in terms of effectiveness.

    Many have visions that Pete was strolling up to net knocking off sitter after sitter solely due to his serve.

    Not only was Pete technically sound, though Edberg is probably the most technically perfect volley model off both sides that one could find, but during his career played more 1/2 volleys and first volleys from deeper positions than almost everyone. What Sampras did with those shoe toppers, and overall with volleys hit from deeper in the court is what sets him apart from other high quality volleyers of his time and before.

    Sampras' volley game diverged from the pre-McEnroe, McEnroe, Edberg to Rafter's more traditional style. Sampras followed in bigger serves than all the former players, and as a result was often volleying from deeper positions often thought disadvantageous to the style in general. There was/is a reason why all the traditional volleyers eschewed following big serves to the net - you are in danger of sacrificing position, which is crucial when you are relying on hitting an attacking volley.

    Further, I would put Sampras above Edberg and Mac when it comes to dealing with sheer pace. Once Courier and Agassi came on to the scene, Edberg took a hit as he couldn't deal with returns coming back quicker and harder.

    Despite what I see as non-sensical analysis of the Sampras game that he continually came in and volleyed away sitters off his "single weapon", Sampras possessed a stellar volley game and would thump volleys from those deeper positions to the open court.
     
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  22. shakes1975

    shakes1975 Semi-Pro

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    I feel Sampras's volleys are terribly under-rated. He prosecuted s & v differently than both Edberg & Rafter, the best, closest contemporaries practicing the style. To consistently follow in first serves in the 120's to 130's means by definition that the first volley will be hit from behind the service line and many of those will come in the form of 1/2 volleys. Edberg, Rafter and for that matter McEnroe, all took their firsts from inside the service line simply because they came in behind lower paced serves.

    Handling those volleys from that area of the court as well as he did puts Sampras's volleying ability up there with the best. Aside from that if comparisons are being drawn between he and Rafter, Rafter did have a better bh volley but Sampras had a better fh volley by a wider margin.
     
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  23. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Sampras volleying position is similar to Stan Smith.

    In terms of a combination of a mighty first ball and deep inside volleying you have to look at Newcombe
     
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  24. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    True, but they did not have melon-sized sweet-spots to hande them with either.
     
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  25. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Mac could take softly all the power of a bombing shot at him and convert it into a deadly drop shoter.
     
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  26. shakes1975

    shakes1975 Semi-Pro

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    Agree about Newcombe. Also, Laver.
     
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  27. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    Exactly. I've said many times in the past that for a serve-and-volley game, Pete's serve was not the best or more suited. In fact Edberg's and Rafter's serve were much better to be able to hit a first volley well within the service box.

    Sampras made many more aces and unreturned serves than Edberg and Rafter, but on the other hand Sampras had to make many more difficult first volleys that them when their first serve were being returned properly.

    As you correctly pointed out, if Sampras first serve was returned properly (and Agassi, Courier, Chang, Safin, Kucera, Bruguera, Becker, Krajicek, Ivanisevic, Stich and many other players were able to return Pete's first serve properly many times), Sampras was forced to hit a very difficult low first volley 2 or 3 meters behind the service line (way away from the net zone) or directly a half-volley, and he was great (the best of his era) precisely at this two things.

    But it's true that once at the net (which for Pete was usually from his second volley on, whereas players like Rafter and Edberg were able to hit their first volley much closer to the net, way easier first volleys) Pete's volleys, in general, were of a tad lower level than those of Edberg, Rafter, McEnroe or even Becker I would say (and more like Krajicek, Henman, Stich...).

    Of course there were selected times (concrete points in a given match) where Sampras decided to hit a first serve like those of Rafter or Edberg (mega-kick serve) to change the rythm, and you could see how in those points he were able to hit a first volley well within (inside) the service box, an easier first volley in general. But he rarely did this. Usually he opted to hit 120-135 mph first serves, because many of them would be aces or unreturned (or very weakly returned).

    But you just have to watch some of his matches against Agassi, for example, to see how many times he was forced to hit an extremely difficult low first volley off of a laser-beam-like return from Agassi, from 3 meters behind the service line, if not a half-volley, and how good he was at that.

    That is why it is difficult when trying to compare Sampras with other players like Edberg, Rafter or McEnroe at the net-game.

    With Ivanisevic it is even more difficult, because Ivanisevic first and second serves were so fast and well-placed that they were aces, unreturnables, or very weakly returned, and the times the returner was able to hit a great return, Ivanisevic was not in a good position to volley. Still Ivanisevic was more than capable of making extremely difficult volleys, as well as failing at the very easy ones (sometimes).

    In general, Rafter and Edberg (and McEnroe) made use of their volleys in just about every point of a match, and so they were much more solid there than other players that also had great volleys but did not use their volleys in every point (Sampras, Becker, Stich, Ivanisevic....won many points exclusively from their groundstrokes).
     
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  28. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    and Tony Roche, who used a sliced and cornered serve and had a fast first step onto the net.
     
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  29. hawk eye

    hawk eye Hall of Fame

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    You nailed it. Very astute analysis. Sampras could do anything from anywhere on the court, coming forward. His halfvolley pick ups are unmatched by any player in history or today. With his volleying he could absorp the pace of hard shots as well as anyone for a soft dropper, or choose to knock it deep. Whatever the situation asked for, he came up with the sublime answer.

    First three points in this vid (from Lauries thread) are exemplary:

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x19j7np_best-of-improvisation-pete-sampras_sport
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2014
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  30. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    And, by the same token, Sampras didn't have to face the returns or passing shots that Tsonga, Federer and Llodra had to.

    Sampras was perfectly adept at volleying in a way which suited how he played. He was nowhere near the level of Edberg overall though.

    Compared to the current guys I think Federer hits better general volleys than Sampras when they're within reach and there's not as much time pressure (not talking about putaways like where Nadal picks up the majority of his stats, but volleys under mild pressure). Sampras (like Becker as well) however was truly amazing at high pressure lunge volleys. They did so many of them compared to the current guys I guess they just developed a better feel for them. This is where Federer and Tsonga mainly fall short of Sampras imo and a lot of it is probably down to lack of in-match practice at it rather than technique or sheer ability. Llodra shows what a bit of practice can result in with regards to lunge volleys - he's amazing at them and volleys amazingly well overall considering he is basically a kamikaze net-rusher playing, on-average, guys on the baseline with far more advantages on their side than in previous eras (the courts, balls and strings).
     
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  31. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

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    Oh yes, Federer's volleys are mind blowing.

    By the way, not mind blowingly good....

    As for Tsonga, I have seen him play live many times since 2007 including Wimbledon twice and at Queens and Tsonga often suffers in the solid volley department, he hits spectacular volleys but often doesn't deal with regulation volleys adequately. Its a big ask to be a top class volleyer as he had to switch from a mid size stiff Wilson racquet to a flexible oversize Babolat racquet to protect his fitness. In that sceario compromises had to be made.
     
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  32. shakes1975

    shakes1975 Semi-Pro

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    Disagree. If that were so (that Fed and Co. faced superior returns and passing shots to what Sampras faced from Agassi - and others like Courierm Kafelnikov, Bruguera etc.), there was nothing to stop Fed from volleying against Agassi even during his 2001-2003 avatar. But Fed never played S/V against Agassi. In fact, Fed never played S/V outside of Wim.

    See my post above. It's hard to compare because Sampras was coming in off bigger serves and so frequently found himself volleying from deeper positions in the court (almost always from behind the service box). Edberg/Rafter were mostly mid-way between the service-box and the net.

    Further, Sampras took a lot more scorching half-volleys than Edberg/Rafter did.

    I would put Edberg a tad above Sampras, but saying "Sampras was nowhere near Edberg" is a real stretch.

    Only partially correct. Fed has better feel and so, IMO, has better touch volleys, but his volleys are not as firm as Sampras' were (in fact, Fed doesn't seem to have a FH drive volley at all and opts to play the swinging volley), esp. on the FH side. Further, Fed's FH low volleys are decidedly mediocre because of his poor technique (doesn't bend his knees as much, and tends to drop his racquet head below his wrist).

    Where Fed also falls short is his anticipation and in his approach shots. Overall, including approach shots, FH and BH volleys, half-volleys, anticipation after volleying, decisiveness in coming forward etc., Fed lags quite a bit behind Edberg/Rafter/Sampras/Becker.
     
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  33. shakes1975

    shakes1975 Semi-Pro

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    Agreed. This used to be common with Ivanisevic as well (and, to a lesser extent, Becker). This indicates that the basic technique is poor, or rather, poorly ingrained and therefore not consistent.
     
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  34. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    Do you forget the thousands of GOAT volleys he's hit in his career because, when facing down better baseliners with an insane tech advantage that none of Sampras' opponents ever possessed, he has bungled so many too?

    Sampras had it easy at the net compared to Federer... the comparison is not even close. He was a great volleyer but to simply look at the results only considers half the story. Put Sampras in this era and his all-round volleying stats, GOAT pick-ups/half volleys would take a major nose-dive. People would be right here asking why Sampras kept trying the same thing against Nadal and Djokovic when it only worked half the time.

    I agree. Tsonga is French - that explains a whole lot with regards to the balancing act between having magical touch and making regulation/routine shots.
     
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  35. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    yes but don't forget that fed (especially since about 05 when he totally stopped to play serve and volley) and other modern players would only come in when the ball is already halfway dead.

    nadal mostly looks like a great volleyer because he comes to the net only when the opponent is scrambling for the ball.

    still federer and nadal are both good volleyers but you can't compare a player who picks his spots to a player who charges the net all the time.
     
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  36. shakes1975

    shakes1975 Semi-Pro

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    Which explains why Fed had success S/Ving against Agassi - both during 2001-2003, and 2004-2005. Not.

    Sampras didn't have it easy against Agassi AT ALL. What Sampras did with those umpteen laser returns from Agassi (frequently caught volleying almost just a few feet into the court) is something I have never seen anybody (not Edberg or Becker or Rafter, and certainly not Fed) do.

    You make the same mistake that most ppl make here. You are extrapolating Sampras' volleying results from Fed's results using the assumption that bcos Fed is more talented than Sampras (according to you, of course), he cannot be a worse net player. Let's not look at extrapolation. Let's just look at technique and execution.

    Fed's technique - knee bend, racquet head position, body weight transfer and alignment with the racquet arm, anticipation on the pass, split-stepping etc. etc. are not in the same league as Sampras or Rafter or Henman or Becker or Edberg.

    So this immediately indicates that Fed's results (or lack of) does not give any indication of Sampras' results.
     
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  37. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

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    Sorry Bobby, I have no intention of doing the sort, or be blinded by any GOAT this or GOAT that. Federer's volleys are not as good as Sampras.
     
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  38. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    At no point anywhere have I ever claimed Federer volleys better than Sampras. The point I make is, Federer is nowhere near as bad a some muppets here try to make out especially considering he has to hit, on-average, more difficult volleys in, on-average, more baseliner friendly conditions.
     
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  39. shakes1975

    shakes1975 Semi-Pro

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    Agreed. Folks have the idea that because Fed is so talented, he must be as good/talented as Sampras in every aspect of the game.
     
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  40. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    To save you the effort since it's obvious you're chasing my posts like a rabid dog, I have you on ignore based on your incessant muppetry a few months ago.

    Keep replying if you like but you're wasting your effort. Add me to your ignore list if you like. I'll consider it a success!
     
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  41. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

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    Well I haven't seen those posts. We know this is a forum of extremes, if people are saying Federer's volleys are rubbish then that's not correct of course.

    Funnily enough, Federer did a question and answer session way back in 2001 via ESPN, it was before Wimbledon, I asked him a question about his game and he made it clear to me in his answer that he doesnt come in that much or that's the tennis he wants to play. So even back then he had the vision of being a baseliner but probably serve and volleying on grass only like many players did back then. He has never been totally comfortable as a net player even though we know he can do it, but its not an aspect of his game he gave everything in practice.
     
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  42. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    Missed quite a few? Uhm, that doesn't make sense since he won 7 Wimbledon titles. Rafter may be regarded as better, but only because that's all he did. But I rate them darn close. Both were fantastic.
     
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  43. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    I think its hard to compare volleyers of the wood era to graphite. Mac is a great link to both era's, but that is it with regards to upper tier volleyers. I realize some of those wood era players were incredible at the net, but they didn't have the same kinds of returns from wood racquet as a graphite one. Just too different. He watched Pete, but he has this odd thing about traditional players.
     
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  44. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Let´s make no mistake on this subject: a very hard hit return is not just every great return.Angles, slices,paces, heights and so on count just as much.You surely heard about Ken Rosewall, isn´t it? Not a bombastic returner by any means but one of the all time best.
     
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  45. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    You're right. The wood era certainly had all that you mentioned. Its just wood era and graphite era is just hard to compare. Just as you stated..differences in the way the net gamewas played. There were wway more McEnroes in the wood era than Edbergs. I didn't mean just hard hit, also spin and of course angles. Rosewall...did he ever turn pro?
     
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  46. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I don´t know if you are being a bit sacastic about Rosewall: he is the guy with more pro slams of any time.Just ask Bobbyone.:)
     
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  47. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    Emerson? One of the greats never turned pro. Thought maybe it was Rosewall.
     
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  48. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Emerson didn´t run pro and stayed in the amateur ranks until very late in his career, when he signed to NTL and after the NTL-WCT merger, became a WCTier for 3 years ( he retired in 1973 if I am not wrong)

    Rosewall stayed as an amateur very shortly; until 1956, and by 1957 he was already a banned pro.His mate and twin Lewis Hoad would join the pros ( led by Kramer) in 1958.Rosewall was the best player in the world from 1961 till 1965, when Laver clearly took over.
     
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  49. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    OK, got it. I confuse the two sometimes.
     
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  50. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    kiki, it's fine that you try to explain to Azzurri that Emerson is not Rosewall and Muscles is not Emmo, but I fear that you will not always be a successful teacher for your pupil, at least not regarding "difficult" matters like the question if WCT or AO was more important in the 1970s...

    Hoad turned pro already in July, 1957.

    I don't think that Laver took CLEARLY over in 1965. Laver won one pro major that year and Rosewall won two (but I concede that the Rocket was better in the other tournaments).
     
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