Why did Krajicek have a winning head to head with Sampras

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Trillus, Sep 22, 2010.

  1. Trillus

    Trillus Banned

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    I always was surprised Sampras had so much trouble with Krajicek and even has a losing head to head. Tennis is alot about matchups but what was it about Krajicek that created the matchup problem. He really did nothing better than Sampras. Not the 1st or 2nd serve, not volleys, not overheads, and certainly not movement, returning serve, groundstrokes, or any of the intangibles of the game.
     
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  2. tennisdad65

    tennisdad65 Hall of Fame

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    4-6 overall and 1-1 in grandslams is not bad. It was not like a 4-10 record or something.

    Krajicek had a huge 1st serve, and if he got hot, he was unbreakable. He probably got pumped up for Pete.

    look up the stats..
    H2H at the 2 grandslams, he out aced Pete ~49-16.
    and out aced Pete in 8/10 matches.
     
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  3. Trillus

    Trillus Banned

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    It is just amazing he outaced Sampras that far though. Krajicek had an outstanding serve, but it wasnt ever considered better than Sampras's as far as I remember. And obviously his return of serve wasnt considered anywhere near Pete's, in fact it was largely regarded as pretty weak. Yet in some matches he could outace him by that match, amazing.
     
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  4. TheRed

    TheRed Professional

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    I wouldn't look at it like what things Kraijicek did stroke by stroke that was better than Sampras. His serve was massive, and when on, just as untouchable (maybe more so) than Sampras'. He moved well for a big guy and I would NOT say his volleys are worse than Sampras'. Krajicek really had no glaring weakness. He had a very good backhand (better then sampras), big forehand, decent movement and most importantly, was neither a huge head case nor had any fear of Sampras.

    Sampras was very good because he could do everything well combined with 2 huge weapons - serve and forehand. Even more important, he was clutch (something Fed can't really claim to be). He beat them baseliners by holding serve, hanging tough from the baseline and then winning the clutch points by having the bigger huevos/going for bigger shots in the clutch. He beat the big servers/hitters by holding serve, just getting returns back, then winning from the baseline based on better movement/ground game.

    This formula didn't work against Krajicek as well. Krajicek was just as unbreakable and just as competent from the baseline (better on backhand, almost as good on forehand). There was nothing Sampras did that was much better than Krajicek and I think he knew it. Kraijicek had no fear of Sampras, an ingredient that's necessary for domination.

    Krajicek's main problems were stamina and injuries. He was always getting back into shape, always coming back from an injury. Sampras had a similar problem early in his career against Goran because Goran, in some ways, had just as few weaknesses and a huge serve. Only problem was that he was a head case.
     
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  5. TheRed

    TheRed Professional

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    Pete's not a great returner. That was probably his biggest weakness imo.
     
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  6. Kobble

    Kobble Hall of Fame

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    Krajicek could exploit two things, the Sampras return, and the Sampras backhand by chip and charge. Krajicek also had brilliant volleys at times, and almost always very good. I think the head to head would have been better had Krajicek avoided injury (two knees and an elbow/shoulder). He could have easily won 3 slams.
     
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  7. tennisdad65

    tennisdad65 Hall of Fame

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    it is tough to ace guys who are 6-5, I guess.
     
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  8. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    Krajicek was one of those players who had all the shots/weapons to be truly great - except as TheRed covered in his post above, he just didn't pull it together enough. With most players who showed great potential but didn't get lots of results you'd say it was their head but Krajicek seemed pretty tough generally.. the days when he was misfiring however happened much more often than Sampras.

    His serve was fantastic and, when on form, was 2nd only to Ivanisevic in sheer unreturnability - when these guys were in the zone they were way ahead of Sampras' ace hitting ability. Sampras conversely could hit his serve at an extremely high level all day, every day and, importantly, in tight situations whereas the other two were often patchy.
     
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  9. tennisdad65

    tennisdad65 Hall of Fame

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    That's because those guys hit flat (Krajicek) or slice (Goran) first serves. Sampras had much higher topspin component on his first and second serves compared to Goran or Krajicek.
     
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  10. eric draven

    eric draven Rookie

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    Krajicek was a one of the few people who could do to Sampras what he did to other people:

    Dominate him with his serve
    Take time away from him by taking the net
    Moving well enough to cover the court at his size
    He had enough firepower off his groundstrokes to keep him off balance.

    Overall, he was a great talent but mentally he was a little shaky and he never could stay healthy.
     
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  11. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Here is their head-to-head:

    Richard Krajicek 6-4 Pete Sampras
    1993 Miami QF: Pete Sampras def. Richard Krajicek (6-3, 7-6)
    1993 Los Angeles SF: Richard Krajicek def. Pete Sampras (6-4, 3-6, 7-6)
    1994 Davis Cup QF: Richard Krajicek def. Pete Sampras (2-6, 7-5, 7-6, 7-5)
    1994 Paris Indoor R16: Pete Sampras def. Richard Krajicek (6-4, 7-6)
    1996 Wimbledon QF: Richard Krajicek def. Pete Sampras (7-5, 7-6, 6-4)
    1997 Stuttgart Indoor R16: Richard Krajicek def. Pete Sampras (6-4, 6-4)
    1998 Stuttgart Indoor SF: Richard Krajicek def. Pete Sampras (6-7, 6-4, 7-6)
    1999 Miami QF: Richard Krajicek def. Pete Sampras (6-2, 7-6)
    1999 Cincinnati QF: Pete Sampras def. Richard Krajicek (6-4, 6-2)
    2000 US Open QF: Pete Sampras def. Richard Krajicek (4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-2)
     
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  12. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    Good thread and the question was answered very well by all.
     
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  13. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Krajicek was a great talent, but his upper body didn't fit in with his extremely long legs. His legs made him vulnerable to injuries. A player with even more talent was Michael Stich, who also had a positive record vs. Sampras. I saw Stich completely destroy Krajicek in Davis Cup, really pounding the hard serves with his backhand.
     
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  14. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Stich was a better athlete than Krajicek.

    Honestly, a lot of simplistic answers and reasoning here.

    The reasons for such a head to head between two great all-courters is not nearly so straight forward as the answers here.

    We all wish for simple explanations eg. it was because of player X's BH, or return....

    But matchups between top level players like this, who have complete games are many, many subtle factors that we gloss-over as the "match up" because a lot of it is intangible, and cannot be reduced to singular factors.

    Of course it is not as simple as Krajicek had a great first serve.....Sampras played SO many huge servers, many as huge as Krajicek. Did Krajicek's quick, and low toss throw Sampras off? Maybe. Then again, Goran's motion was faster, AND Goran was a lefty, something that always gave Sampras fits.

    Also, some here have suggested Krajicek was Sampras' equal in all/most physical ways....Krajicek had an excellent all-court game, but in fact, he was MUCH MUCH slower than Sampras. One of the single most important factors. At net, this was partially compensated for by his extreme reach, but it could not compensate in many ways.

    You can say trite things like "he was able to do to Sampras what Sampras did to others" (which is always true in a sense, players always want to impose their games, especially aggressive all-courters), but even if we say this is true (and obviously, he wasn't able to do it all the time), why not Flipper? Why not Stich? Why not Becker? etc. etc.

    So you raise a good question Trillus, but there really isn't a simple answer to this one, as most posters here portray. Also, bear in mind Trillus, that the two didn't play all that much when seen over the course of their whole careers, some of Krajicek's wins were TIGHT wins. Probably coming down to a key point or two, as is often the case with big game players like this. What if a couple of those points had gone Sampras way? 6-4 H2H for Sampras and nobody would even think twice about it?
     
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  15. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    This was a pretty good post! Will mention though that the other problem with Goran was that Sampras hated the lefty serves, and had a lot of problems (relatively) with them. Gullickson helped him with technical advice about playing lefties.
     
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  16. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Actually Krajicek probably had the highest kicker, with the most topspin of all 3 of them, on 2nd serve. He was also the most conservative...and probably the weakest on 2nd serve.

    As to Goran using "slice" on the first serve, he didn't use it anymore than Sampras. In fact, I think the only thing that would have made Goran's serve even better was using more lefty slice first serves. He only sliced out wide for aces (just like Sampras). Goran tended to POUND flat serves down the middle and wide, for first serve. Then again, since Goran probably had the best first serve of all time (lefty slice, flat to both corners, and very unreadable (in fact, he purposely telegraphed some first serves in the wrong direction), he didn't really need to mix it up with say...slice into the body. If he got it in, he was going to win the point, 9 out of 10 times or so.
     
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  17. ttwarrior1

    ttwarrior1 Professional

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    Stich is one of those players that would do well on every surface if he was in his prime today and would do very well
     
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  18. supersmasher

    supersmasher New User

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    Krajicek was very talented. Reminded me of the raw talent Marat Safin had. Both of these champions with better mindsets could have left a bigger mark on tennis
     
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  19. hoosierbr

    hoosierbr Hall of Fame

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    I have their US Open QF from 2000 on dvd. Ted Robinson asks John McEnroe that very question during the first set. Mac said that he asked Paul Annacone, then Pete's coach, about it and PA said it was because of Krajicek's serve. Sampras could never get into a rhythm returning and therefore it was tough to break him.

    If you look at their matchups they played a lot of tiebreaks and for Krajicek, if he could hold his serve, he had a chance to beat Sampras because one or two loose points in a tiebreak could swing the match.
     
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  20. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    hmmm, so who knows, Data or Annacone?:p
     
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  21. hawk eye

    hawk eye Hall of Fame

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    Very good post, except for the backhand part. But I do understand where that observation is coming from.
    Krajicek was a prodigy in Holland, already being highlighted on national tv in the early eighties. Then he sort of went under the radar for a long time. Later it appeared he was struggling with growing pains and all kinds of teen related problems. As a kid, he was a skinny little guy and a pure baseliner who relied on consistency with a 2HBH (like so many other kids). In his late teenage years he came into the spotlights again, with a giraffe like posture, a big serve and a OBH he cound't really hit to save his life. All he did was slice and run around to hit forehands, and together with his serve and above par net game it brought him into top 10 early in his carreer. He reached FO and AO semi's and looked destined for more, but after '93 he couldn't live up to expectations and his ranking started to slip.
    Before Wimby '96, nobody considered him a contender of even to go far in the tournament. In Holland, by then he had a name as a headcase with a big serve and dito forehand, but poor movement and a crap backhand. Furthermore, anything but a clutch player.

    At Wimby that year he went through the early rounds pretty unnoticed, finding his best tennis and especially a backhand (return) he never possessed before. In the 4th and quarters all of a sudden he took out former champs Sampras and Stich in straights, ripping BH winners off of huge first serves like only Agassi had done before. While his own serve was on fire, his volleys more than solid and his FH a flawless winner machine. In those matches and especially agains Sampras, he was just in a league of his own. Nobody in history would have stand a chance to beat him those days.. After that he demolished Jason Stoltenberg in the semi's and had no problem with Malivai Washington whatsoever, to take the Wimby crown.

    After that, with injuries playing their part, he never quite reached that level of play again. His weapons remained his serve and his (rather underrated) FH, and his backhand which was mysteriously magical at Wimbledon '96 dropped a level or two after that, only very rarely bringing back memories of it's glory days (maybe not coincidently, against Pete more often than not)..
    Still he reached a career high of nr.4 in the world. And his Wimby '96 is still the only Dutch singles GS title up until this day.
    But who knows, Richard himself claimed Thiemo de Bakker is the biggest talent ever from Dutch origin (well, he himself had Czech roots so maybe he was just being diplomatic)..
     
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  22. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    I do...that should be blatantly obvious of course. Annacone is giving a soundbite answer to a complex problem. Of course Krajicek was a huge server, as were many others, and that's always a problem, though Sampras had more problems with huge lefty serves.

    In any case, while I think it interesting that the Krajicek motion might have been particularly difficult for Sampras, it's obviously more than that. As I began to outline in my last post.

    But again, as I mentioned, the entire head to head, is a bit of silly question. The matches were tight, and many could have easily gone either way. In the end, against one of the most dangerous and complete players of all time, in limited number of encounters, Sampras came out slightly behind...it's hardly a life mystery or a conclusive outcome.
     
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  23. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    its still a bit surprising IMO, how the krajicek return which a weakness of his, grew so hot during the run at wimby 96 ( especially the BH return )
     
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  24. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    agreed. for whatever reason Richard played well against Pete. but what amazes me is how easily Pete got into Goran's head for all those great mathces..poor Goran. Should/could have been a 5 time W champ.
     
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  25. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Hey, you gotta check this out:

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=350673

    Hope all is well.
     
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  26. Azzurri

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  27. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Well poor Goran could have won many a title....I don't know if he would have gotten that many Wimbledon's with Sampras around, but he should have been a top contender on everything, everywhere.

    I don't think it's too suprising Sampras was in his head....Sampras was iron, especially in the big matches at key moments....that was the key to his success on grass...making the key points count, with the big ace, or the big pass, or the big return. Goran...just the opposite....his serve was gold, but even it could falter ever so slightly at the biggest of the big moments. The rest of his game, could really go out the window.

    Goran knew it, Sampras knew it. So.....
     
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  28. Bossy

    Bossy New User

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    Also, the father of his biggest childhood friend (and tennis talent) Paul Dogger died shortly before Wimbledon 1996 after a lingering disease and this gave him a different perspective towards tennis, at least during that tournament.
    Thiemo de Bakker was on his way to become the new Paul Dogger, but now he seems to live up to his talent.
     
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  29. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    so who would you consider the biggest failure..Goran or Marat?
     
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  30. droliver

    droliver Semi-Pro

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    Krajicek arguably had the best right-handed first serve of that era and could just club people with it at times. His technical form was always celebrated as nearly perfect on the serve. As noted, he had a lot of tie break sets with Sampras, likely a testimony to their respective strengths. He and Sampras were of similar skill off the ground, with Krajicek having a better backhand and better clay court results suggesting a steadier game to me.
     
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  31. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    I think that's a pretty close battle, but in the end, I have a LOT more respect for Goran, in that "choking" isn't something anyone chooses to do....and it's something any competitive player can relate to.

    On the other hand, playing lousy tennis for people who paid to see you, because you were up all night partying, or because you haven't bothered to prepare at all....well that's most certainly a choice.
     
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  32. Azzurri

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    hmmm, so what would you say seperated them at 14-1 slams? I know Richard had some injuries, but he played many matches and only had one slam. I don't think you can compare the two and claim Richard had a steadier game (less aggressive maybe).
     
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  33. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    I like your answer. People forget or wish to forget that Marat THREW AWAY his opportunity at greatness. Goran battled and I respected him for that. Its easy for people to confuse the two by just watching casual tennis. Both had personality and big games. Both had big time tempers, but Marat's desire was always a question. I could be wrong, but I don't recall that too much with Goran. It was always the question of Goran vs, Goran.
     
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  34. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Azzurri,

    That's really a great question. I think both of these guys were extremely talented. A lot of people used to think Marat was the most talented player in tennis including Federer and Nadal so I suppose most thought Marat Safin was more talented than Goran.

    Goran was one of my all time favorites and I was very happy when Goran finally won his cherished Wimbledon. Quite fitting that it was the last tournament he ever won. Goran had huge talent also but he did win 22 tournaments in his career with one major while Safin won 15 tournaments (six of them in 2000) with two majors. I think if you defined failure as inability to live up to potential, I guess Safin also.

    Data's take on that question was super.
     
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  35. droliver

    droliver Semi-Pro

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    That's a proxy for clay court results. RK was much more capable on that surface results wise and he was pretty comfortable rallying with baseliners more the Sampras to grind it out. Pete was the super-predator on all surfaces looking for the kill-shot off the ground. He didn't have the consistent strokes or mentality to play 1990's clay court tennis week in week out at the highest level.

    Back to the original ? of why he had a favorable head to head: Much like Petes HTH deficit with Stich, their "A games" were pretty comparable and I think it's kind of a statistical fluke based on a small sample size and getting luckier in a few tiebreaks
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2010
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  36. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    In 1996, Krajicek had shown some form before Wimbledon, reaching the final of Rome, losing to eventual champion, Thomas Muster, and reaching the quarter finals of the French Open, losing to eventual champion, Yevgeny Kafelnikov. At Wimbledon, it all clicked perfectly into place for him.
     
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  37. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Better than long-winded post that gives no answers.
     
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  38. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    There were plenty of majors where Goran just dialed it in. AFAIR, the only major Goran really cared about was Wimbledon. I think the losses there devastated him. And, I think the win sealed the end of his career even more than the shoulder problem.

    With regard to Krajicek, I agree that when he was on, he was better than Sampras on grass. Problem for Krajicek was that he was nowhere near as consistent as Sampras. In the year he won Wimbledon, he pretty much gave a clinic on power S/V tennis for his 7 matches. I always though Krajicek's serve was the most impressive I had seen and he followed it up with precise and scalpel like volleys. The guy just defined precision to me.

    Of course...the above all applies to him when he was on. Not-so-on is a different story. And, he was plagued with injuries.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2010
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  39. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    I like this post much better..thanks for clearing that up.:)
     
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  40. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    hence the Goran vs. Goran remark. Bigger headcase than Marat.:)

    yes, if one remembers RK's 96 run at W then they would recall his incredible serve and volley game and great return game. I still think Pete of 99 would beat RK of 96, but man..what a match..lets discuss this in another thread.:)
     
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  41. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Here is Richard Krajicek's run to the title at 1996 Wimbledon:

    R128: Richard Krajicek def. Javier Sanchez (6-4, 6-3, 6-4)
    R64: Richard Krajicek def. Derrick Rostagno (6-4, 6-3, 6-3)
    R32: Richard Krajicek def. Brett Steven (7-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-2)
    R16: Richard Krajicek def. Michael Stich (6-4, 7-6, 6-4)
    QF: Richard Krajicek def. Pete Sampras (7-5, 7-6, 6-4)
    SF: Richard Krajicek def. Jason Stoltenberg (7-5, 6-2, 6-1)
    F: Richard Krajicek def. MaliVai Washington (6-3, 6-4, 6-3)

    An extremely impressive run.
     
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  42. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    I'm sure of it. Despite Pete not liking the particulars of Krajicek's game. Krajicek was on fire that year, and hitting all his shots, but Sampras did that much more regularly, and Sampras was simply MUCH MUCH faster...you're talking one of the quickest players on tour, versus one of the most plodding. In the long run, that would give Pete the edge....even though at net, Krajicek's reach compensated for the slower feet.
     
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  43. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    I don't think so....I doubt Goran would have been around much longer regardless of the win. His shoulder was not good, and he was hardly a youngster anymore.

    There is no way to know what exactly Goran or Marat "cared" about, but as far as I'm concerned Goran came in with better effort more consistently. Flakey without a doubt, Goran was hardly a rock. But Goran had a reputation as a hard worker off the court....Marat trained hard SOMETIMES....I don't recall Goran losing a match due to being out of shape...Marat...well like Noah, he could be the fittest-looking out of shape player out there sometimes.

    Grand slam results...Goran clearly wins to me....Goran made the quarterfinal or better a lot more than Marat...who really showed how completely "not there" he was a lot of the time. He either played seriously...once a year...and made it deep into the slam...

    I am sure there rankings reflect that as well. Goran was the top 10 a LOT. Marat? He was all over the place.

    Again, nobody can be sure, but I feel strongly that many (though hardly all...he was perfectly capable of throwing away matches, though even those tended to be emotional reactions...not simply blase...who cares about tennis, type throws) of Goran's failure were the result of chokes and emotional instability. In a sense, many of those were the result of caring too much.....Marat...the opposite. Marat proved early on, he even had the strength of mind to win the big ones....he just found the discipline of being a true professional to much to ask.
     
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  44. darthpwner

    darthpwner Banned

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    Goran is a god, Marat is a clown.
     
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  45. pjonesy

    pjonesy Professional

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    Excellent analysis! Krajicek was a big guy, with a big, accurate serve. He also back up his serve with smart baseline play and compact volleys at the net. Krajicek had an excellent fast court game, used his weapons effectively and could beat anyone on the tour if he played his best. That is why he had the edge head to head against Sampras.
     
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  46. pjonesy

    pjonesy Professional

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    You're exactly right. It always seemed that Krajicek had a very clean, compact, low-impact game. The type that would not seem to contribute to chronic injuries. Maybe his height overstressed his joints or he had a genetic predisposition to those types of injuries.
     
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  47. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    or maybe the guy did not do much in the gym? not saying he was lazy or anything, but maybe he did not take care of himself like the Petes and the Andres.
     
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  48. pjonesy

    pjonesy Professional

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    That's possible. If he was on, he did not have to spend much time on the court. Krajicek did not have great results on clay either. Maybe he did not do much work off the court.
     
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  49. HoyaPride

    HoyaPride Semi-Pro

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    I agree with this. I think Kracjicek gave us the best exhibition of grass court tennis we've ever witnessed. There's not really much you can do with a 6'5 bomber when his serve is on fire and he's doing everything else with sheer excellence.

    Of course, Federer would have taken him down in straights thay year, though.
     
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