Which Serve & Volleyer of the 90's was most fun to watch?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by eric draven, Sep 14, 2009.

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Who was the most fun Serve and Volleyer to watch in the 90's?

  1. Pat Rafter

    22.7%
  2. Tim Henman

    2.1%
  3. Stefan Edberg

    42.3%
  4. Boris Becker

    6.2%
  5. John McEnroe

    9.3%
  6. Pete Sampras

    17.5%
  1. eric draven

    eric draven Rookie

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    Since a lot of us on the boards bemoan the lack of serve and volleyers in today's game I was thinking on the ones I remember watching. The 90's held the last generation of sucessful net rushers and I'm wondering who all of you think was the most fun to watch. Here are some suggestions based on my own opinion:

    Pat Rafter - One of the most athletic people I've seen play the game
    Tim Henman - Classic strokes, not so much a power player as a chess player on the court
    Stefan Edberg - One of the smoothest movers ever, his first volley was phenomenal
    Boris Becker - Big serving, big groundstrokes and a beast at the net
    John McEnroe (yes I realize the 90's was the end of his career) but still was fun to watch
    Pete Sampras - More of an all-courter but his instincts at the net behind that serve were amazing.

    If I missed any players feel free to add them to the mix. For me I loved watching Rafter constantly advance to the net. Everyone in the stadium knew that he was going to rush the net but he earned trips to GS finals with his game.
     
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  2. David_86

    David_86 Rookie

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    Krajicek and Stich were great to watch when they were on-form
     
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  3. vive le beau jeu !

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

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    edberg and rafter for me ! :)
     
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  4. darthpwner

    darthpwner Banned

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    Where's Goran, Krajicek, and Stich? I liked Edberg for his s&v the most, Sampras for his overall game, and Goran for his nasty serve
     
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  5. T1000

    T1000 Hall of Fame

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    Pete's dunk was the best
     
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  6. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    Edberg, his defensive volleying at net and his fine angle volleys were glorious
     
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  7. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I'll take Edberg--absolutely fearless at the net. (I also love his second serve, and his backhand.)
     
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  8. Ripper014

    Ripper014 Hall of Fame

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    All great choices... but it would be McEnroe for me.. just because he was so unorthodox.
     
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  9. Brian Purdie

    Brian Purdie Semi-Pro

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    pete! mac wasn't good in the 90's, and Edberg's unusual service motion made him difficult to watch for me. Becker didn't play as much S&V in thee 90's as he did in the 80's.
     
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  10. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Other the the '92 Wimbledon final Goran was horrible to watch play. He's one of the reasons they slowed the courts.
     
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  11. ClubHoUno

    ClubHoUno Banned

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    Pat Rafter was my favorite volleyer to watch, but close second is Stefan Edberg.

    Mac was the greatest in the 80's, not the same in the 90's.

    Sampras was my overall favorite player ever, but only top 4 as a serve & volley player.

    Preferred Rafter, Edberg and Becker as S&V players.
     
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  12. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    That's why I chose Rafter. His volleying skills were on a par with Edberg (both much better than Sampras who was effective but very heavy handed) but the amount of sheer effort and athleticism he put into his game was phenomenal. If Pat Cash had remained a viable competitor into the 90's I'd have picked him as well. Not given enough credit but he was Edberg's equal and owned possibly the best forehand volley the game has seen since Sedgman.
     
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  13. Tennis Dunce

    Tennis Dunce Semi-Pro

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    I voted Sampras.

    Even though I think God reincarnate would play tennis like Stefan Edberg played tennis.

    But come on...Pete 93-2000 was the MAN!
     
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  14. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Mcenroe (for the amazing touch, improvised shots, and drive volleys, with those artist like hands)
    Edberg (smoothest player of all time, rock solid volleys + touch)

    Tier 2
    Sampras (Some of Mcenroe's touch, some of Edberg's smoothness). All court power with shotmaking excellence.

    Tier 3
    Rafter (didn't have the touch of the 3 above, but good instincts, and excellent athleticism, made for a dynamic, if inelegant net game)
    Becker (the worst of all of these players on the volley, but all-court game and charisma, and the dive, made him exciting)

    Tier 4
    Henman (good all around, but....rather bland, unless you're british!)

    Other fun SV'ers/allcourters who played into the 90's a little....Noah, Leconte, Stich....
     
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  15. morten

    morten Hall of Fame

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    great Datacipher... :)
     
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  16. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    During the 1990's, Sampras, Becker, Edberg, and Rafter were all great fun to watch as they S&V'ed against great baselines such as Agassi and other great baseliners. As far as "fun to watch" I'd put Becker at the top with Sampras second, Rafter third, and Edberg fourth. Yet, I tell you what, of the four, Edberg may have been the most consistent one, and the most lethal. His mechanics were unbelieveable, which he combined with great fitness/speed/quickness. The BEST S&V player in my opinion was Sampras. Yes, he had a great serve to set up his volleys, but he was an amazing volleyer. Lot's of angled backhand volleys!
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2009
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  17. eric draven

    eric draven Rookie

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    You're right, all three of them deserve to be on the list but I didn't include each for different reasons.

    Goran was too inconsistent and was really mostly a serve.
    Krajicek was too inconsistent because of his health. I loved his game but never really became a fan because he just couldn't stay healthy and be a threat consistently.
    Stick, probably should have been included on the list, my mistake for overlooking him.
     
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  18. eric draven

    eric draven Rookie

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    Yeah, he really just seemed to slice and dice people to death when he was on. He didn't overpower you but he hit unconventional shots and angles.
     
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  19. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Plus he was strong as an ox
     
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  20. eric draven

    eric draven Rookie

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    You really thought Sampras was heavy handed? I always kind of attributed it to that club of a racket he used. Considering how heavy it was and how tight he strung I was still amazed at his volleying.

    Cash would have defenitely been on the list if it was for the 80's. I loved watching him play but only caught his matches more towards the end of his career.
     
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  21. ubermeyer

    ubermeyer Hall of Fame

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    Sampras, but Karlovic is more fun to watch...
     
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  22. darthpwner

    darthpwner Banned

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    You do know that Edberg used the same racket as Pete right?
     
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  23. quest01

    quest01 Hall of Fame

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    Edberg had the best volleys but Pete Sampras was more fun to watch at the net.
     
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  24. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    Yes, I do. I don't think it had anything to do with the weight of his racquet because there were a lot of guys using hefty racquets that displayed infinitely more touch and (most important when talking about volleyers) considerably faster hands. It's just that he was very manufactured on the volley. Of course, due to his talent, he was able to master the shot (in the same way that Rosewall, who wasn't a serve-volley player by inclination, became enormously effective due to an abundance of natural ability). However, it just wasn't in the same league as guys like Rafter, Edberg, McEnroe, Fitzgerald, Jarryd, Woodforde and Woodbridge.

    Pete was a great player BUT when talking purely in terms of serve-volley he is hideously overrated. No doubt that's due to the majority of people having absolutely no idea what constitutes serve-volley as a style. I'm sure they figure that Pete won almost everything and he used to come to the net (not that it was a natural thing for him) so that means he must have been a great serve-volleyer. I'm sure you can see how stupid that is. Pancho Gonzalez, rated as one of the greatest players of all time (some rate him at the top), had the best serve of his era and followed it to the net. However, no-one ever tried to claim that he was the best serve-volley players of his era. They could see that, technically and style-wise, there were others who were far better (Hoad was streets ahead, so was Kramer and Sedgman was the best of the lot)

    I'll put it like this - Pete was the greatest server who volleyed, but he wasn't the greatest serve-volleyer. With Sampras they really are two separate things rather than being one unit. A true serve-volley player serves to set up the volley. Sampras, on the other hand, served to win the point outright.
     
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  25. Carsomyr

    Carsomyr Hall of Fame

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    Great analysis. However, I preferred Rafter, if only because it was hard to predict what would happen while he was at net and the exchanges were generally longer due to his less-than-stellar first serve backing up his net attacks.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2009
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  26. 0d1n

    0d1n Hall of Fame

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    In the "fun to watch" category I'll take an in form Stich over anybody and not only in the "S&V" style...but in ANY style. "Style" was Stich...and Stich was "style" :).
    I loved Edberg's game as well (except for that horrible forehand), and liked to watch Rafter for the sheer athletic ability and determination that he had.
    And yes, I agree with AndrewD with regards to Rafter vs Sampras volleying skills...Sampras had other qualities, but a better volley than Rafter he did NOT have...sorry, he was clearly behind.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2009
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  27. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    sampras

    got to agree w/Andrew D's assessment of Pete....he was a great server who occasionally volleyed. Used to get aggravated watching him, frankly, since he really should've/could've come in behind all of his serves. Think he would've been more effective that way, particularly against some of the blasting baseliners who tagged him later on (hewitt, safin). His serve was so good, it was criminal not to come in behind it....
     
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  28. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    This post is hideously over rated. Pete was an all time great
     
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  29. darthpwner

    darthpwner Banned

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    Pete's serve is better than all of the other guys on the list combined with the exception of Becker
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2009
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  30. zagor

    zagor Talk Tennis Guru

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    Rafter for me,he was sheer guts and athleticism at the net,his every match seemed like some great battle(for me anyway)in which he would charge no matter how good of an approach was and would rely on his great athleticism as much he relied on his touch.Contrast to Edberg who at his best was somehow always at the right spot at the right time and seemingly effortlessly put everything away.

    I don't consider Sampras and Becker to be serve and volleyers,they're attacking all courters who could overwhelm any opponent with their power IMO.
     
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  31. World Beater

    World Beater Hall of Fame

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    rafter...and henman. these guys won their points at net...they didnt just finish off pts at net.
     
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  32. eric draven

    eric draven Rookie

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    Didn't Edberg use the midplus though? And Pete weighted his heavier and I'm pretty sure he strung his tighter as well. Not really the same racket...
     
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  33. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Nah he used the same racquet pete did
     
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  34. eric draven

    eric draven Rookie

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    I don't know about "hideously overrated" but I see your point. I did qualify putting him in the poll as more of an all-courter. But still, you don't win as many Wimbledons as he did by being a so-so volleyer that just happened to have a great serve. I do see your point on separating his serving from being a serve and volleyer though.
     
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  35. eric draven

    eric draven Rookie

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    Then I stand corrected. But, I've always thought that Edberg was far more proficient in his volleys anyway. He just seemed to always know how to strike the ball when he was at the net. I would have rated him as the best if not for his continental forehand that would go awry on him every so often.
     
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  36. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Edberg is probabaly the best volleyer I ever saw but Pete was no chopped liver.
     
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  37. eric draven

    eric draven Rookie

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    Well, towards the end of his career he became much more aggressive in his approaches to the net. In Paul Annacone's second stint with Pete didn't he pretty much tell him to use his serve and just get to the net all the time? You could see it in his last run for the US Open title.
     
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  38. eric draven

    eric draven Rookie

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    No not at all. But I doubt we'll ever see another volleyer like Edberg. No one is trained like that anymore... well outside of Taylor "bioinic back" Dent. And there's no comparison there...
     
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  39. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Because it's a losing strategy now.
     
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  40. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Eric,

    I find I rarely agree with Andrew's posts, I find them rather biased and somewhat ignorant, but he is entitled to them. In the case of Sampras, I feel Sampras had excellent touch, and I feel you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned it is all the more impressive with such a heavy racquet. Note, that others who have paid great accolades to Sampras' touch include Mcenroe, Gilbert, Courier and many others.

    Yes. You are correct, that Annacone pushed for increasing SV from Pete, and Sampras began to do this more, as his stamina and legs were beginning to betray him more and more. Imagine how devastating his SV would have been had he done it more in his mid and early 20's?

    I don't really agree with seperating Sampras' serve from his volleys. To me, that is rhetorical nonsense. At what point to do you draw the line? Everyone...(well...a few posters excluded), recognized Sampras devastating net game, and knew he could and would back up that serve, if he was coming in. Just because his serve was a huge weapon does not make his volley game any lesser....it simply meant he needed to use it a bit less! lol. But almost every SV'er used his serve as a big weapon. Becker, Krajicek, heck, Gonzalez, Tanner, Ashe etc. all hit aces, and all hit winners. (admittedly in the past, the mindset was less ace oriented). However, just because Sampras had such a good second serve that he could afford to go all out on the first, does not take away from his SV game! Even Edberg, and definitely Mcenroe, hit aces....people forget that....Rafter also hit plenty of big serves for aces and winners...Rafter and Mcenroe often went for big first serves, and only backed off, if their opponent was being too effective on the 2nd serve. Edberg often did use a kicker for his 1st, (but still mixed flat and slice serves in), but part of the reason for that was simply that it happened to be his BEST serve! He even had a great kicker as a young boy, so, he built his game around that! If you need to go for that first serve because you can't really volley, then yes, maybe you are not really a SV'er, but that clearly wasn't the case with Sampras.
     
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  41. paterson

    paterson New User

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    Rafter was a better volleyer than Sampras.
     
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  42. justafa

    justafa New User

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    Becker. He could dive to dig out impossible volley winners.
     
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  43. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    I never understand why people say Sampras wasn't a serve & volleyer. I've seen Agassi serve & volley. Does that not make him a baseliner?
     
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  44. darthpwner

    darthpwner Banned

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    Sampras, Goran, Stich, Becker, Krajicek and all the big servers had monster serves that they used to get an easy volley. Sampras though, was by far the best volleyer of those 5. Meanwhile, you have guys with weaker serves like Edberg and Rafter who must rely on their volleys because their serves arent gonna cut it.
     
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  45. SAFINATORZ

    SAFINATORZ Hall of Fame

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    Uhh what about RICHARD KRAJICEK & Michael STICH.
     
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  46. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    No idea. he served and volleyed a ton. And his volleys were hall of fame level, not just putting away easy sitters.
     
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  47. darthpwner

    darthpwner Banned

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    Here you go
    10 char
     
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  48. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    I would say that Sampras was an all-courter. During the early and mid 90's their were many matches he won, especially off grass, that were predominantly won from the baseline. He actually SV'd more in 89-90, then again later, late in his career. Of course, he always had the option, and on grass, he'd exercise that option a lot.

    I have no problem with calling Sampras not an SV player during much of his career. But his SV was excellent, and in every year, was a part of his game, at certain times! (in this sense, I halso have no problem calling Sampras an SV during those times, and in general saying that he could and did SV)

    What I happen to differ with is this silly notion that Sampras should not be called an SV, because he "relied" on his serve. That's just a poor attempt a snarky attack on Sampras....all experts know how good his volley was, just because his serve often got the job done by itself, doesn't mean he wasn't backing it up.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2009
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  49. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    I can't vote on this since my vote is four-fold fun vote for S&V to watch in the 90s -- though with a hair's breadth's advantage I would probable go with Pete Sampras, but with nuance for Rafter, Edberg and Becker.

    IMO -- and very closely huddled together with minimal distance between them in S&V entertainment-value:

    4) Becker was best in the 80s, particularly, late 1988 and 1989, but he was almost as great in patches in the 1990s.

    3) Then we have Pat Rafter -- great to watch. Pure natural volleyer but with amazingly intense, always entertaining -- sublime blast off S&V. At his peak -- liquid joy.

    2) Then Edberg. So flowing at his best. Deadly and poetic at his peak. One of the finest volleyers ever. Incredibly flowingly anticipatory, fast and forceful first volley. Making them consistently amazing often even in very sticky positions on very strong returns.

    1) Pete gotta get it from me. Maybe not as good as Edberg on the volley per se -- but Pete's volley was sublime SO OFTEN and at clutch, so many times, and he made such fantastically athletic, cobra-quick, smooth, extremely difficult volleys on the move that made you bug-eyed -- principally at will, like a machine...

    Just as good as the finest of the others IMO...

    Sure the serve helped him a lot -- but it also easily deceives your eye on the majority of times he pulled off astonishing stuff on bullet-returns AND AT CLUTCH SO OFTEN. That is entertaining in my book.

    And Pete had more clutch than either of them. Even in his volley IMO.

    So okey. With a hair's breadth I go with Sampras on the vote. Now you know why. The others -- than the four I mentioned above -- they were very good indeed in their own right -- but not IMO on the same level of watch-ability-class when it comes to sublime S&V-combo IMO.

    Not just volley.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2009
    #49
  50. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    I should add though that the OP was about the 1990s exclusively. McEnroe and Edberg would rise to the absolute equal level of Sampras if we include all decades and all their peak performances.

    Pete was the greater champion overall and stronger on my GOAT-list than the other wonderful champions (excluding Henman then of course).

    McEnroe had a God given volley. Just as great as Edberg's IMO and a bit stronger at clutch -- even more anticipatory which is saying a lot. Mac have a radar/time-machine operated into his head so he knows even before the opponent hits his shot where the ball is going to go -- so he moves smoothly and effortlessly to that spot to humiliate you so you actually feel happy just to have witnessed such a one-of-a-kind, great shot...

    A tennis ex-ray vision -- a quality that comes to very few people...
     
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