Why Sampras never conquered FO?

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by a529612, Jun 6, 2004.

  1. a529612

    a529612 Semi-Pro

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    He said he practised a lot on clay but still it didn't work out. Any idea? S&V is not suitable for clay?
     
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  2. Phil

    Phil Hall of Fame

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    Some possible reasons:

    1. Clay tends to neutralize a big serve; Pete couldn't hit 33 aces in a match, as he did on hard courts and grass. Very few quick, cheap points on this surface.
    2. He didn't have the patience to trade groundies from the baseline for 15-20 plus strokes.
    3. He didn't have the necessary fitness for the long rallies and 5-set grinder matches. He could have improved his fitness, but not to the level of, say, a Thomas Muster, because he has anemia.
    3. He didn't go to Europe and STAY there for the duration of the clay season in order to get himself match tough.

    Other than 3, which was out of his control, he could have improved on any number of other things and S&V, or a modified version, would have worked for him there. Look at Tim's results (albeit against second tier players). A Sampras with patience would have been devastating at RG-his groundies were better than anyone else's out there. But he is who he is, and that's not something he could have easily changed. I would say, having success in 3 of 4 majors is very good-can't have everything.
     
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  3. roundiesee

    roundiesee Hall of Fame

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    Amongst modern day players, it's extremely rare to find a champion who could win all the slams in a career span. (In the old days, players like Perry and Laver seemed to be able to do it rather "routinely"). I suppose it's far more difficult now bearing in mind that all the four are played on different surfaces and conditions. The slams used to be only on grass other than the French. Certainly Pete having 3 out of 4 slams is more than a splendid accomplishment. I mean, Lendl never won Wimbledon, Borg never the US Open, and ditto Boris and Mac for the French.
    Pete not being able to play from the baseline nonetheless is quite a mystery. When he won his first slam at 19, he basically won from the baseline. Who could forget that fantastic drubbing of Andre in his first Open final with pure baseline power? It seemed that after winning his fisrt Wimbledon 3 years later, he went on to develop a serve and volley style which made his baseline game "suffer". Still one really can't fault him for trying year after year at RG. Too bad it didn't happen.....
     
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  4. jings

    jings Professional

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    Indeed Roundie, at the very least it would have meant that the GOAT discussion could have been put to bed once and for all!

    In the end I think his mind let him down - deep down I don't think he believed he could lift it, not in the same way that he "knew" he could win the other three. That he mucked about with tensions and weighting with his stick just for RG makes me believe that he felt he had to do something different to win at RG.
     
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  5. Bertchel Banks

    Bertchel Banks Semi-Pro

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    Sampras never won Roland Garros because his ground game is weak. Unlike Andre, his groundstrokes were one dimensional and his backhand was unsound.

    Winning the USO from the baseline doesn't make you a RG contender. Look at Hewitt, Safin, and Roddick.

    Aside from patience and sound groundstrokes, Pete's game lacked the intelligence to construct a winning point from a neutral position.
     
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  6. JohnThomas1

    JohnThomas1 Professional

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    In my view Pete actually DIDN'T attack enough. He went too far away from his own game, and that was to get to the net. When Edberg made the final he still attacked at every opportunity, as did Mac in 84. Sampras could win his share from the ground on cement as he hit so hard and attacked so much with his forehand. On clay however he couldn't put the ball away as easy. Many feel he should have traded groundstrokes with a view to get to the net, not outrally anyone or hit winners. Maybe he would have got passed all day who knows. Better most times to try to win with your best game tho.
     
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  7. Camilio Pascual

    Camilio Pascual Hall of Fame

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    Only one reason. He had poor footwork technique for clay. Period.
     
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  8. ragnaROK

    ragnaROK Professional

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    I tihnk his fitness was the biggest problem. Sampras is a type of player that relies on quick points to get through. You start dragging him out into the 5 setters and he won't last. That's not entirely his fault because of the anemia. He has done well on clay on certain occasions such as at Davis Cup but its the fitness more than anything. He can get through as many second tier opponents as he can but he'd have nothing left for the better players. Just think about when he lost to Safin and Hewitt as the US Open because he was gassed already even on a more preferable surface.
     
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  9. AAAA

    AAAA Hall of Fame

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    Almost all players who have a few physically exhausting 5 setters usually don't win the final if they get that far.

    Roddick at last years AO had no energy left when he met Schuettler in the semi. The win against Younes, in the previous round, drained all his energy reserves.

    Safin at this years AO after 2 tough 5 setters against Roddick and Agassi was too tired to give Federer much of a match.

    When Safin lost his AO final match to Johannsson, he afterwards said he was too tired going into the match. I think he had a really tough semi with someone like Sampras, Hewitt or Agassi.

    Bottom line is most players won't win a slam final if they have a few tough 5 setters along the way.
     
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  10. Max G.

    Max G. Hall of Fame

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    Haas, actually. That was when Haas was one of the contenders for the title.
     
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  11. AAAA

    AAAA Hall of Fame

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    Haas it is.

    Thanks
     
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  12. tetsuo10

    tetsuo10 Rookie

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    I don't think Pete had the patience needed on clay. But I also think his groundies were a problem, particularly that Eastern forehand of his. I don't think he could generate enough topspin consistently.
     
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  13. fastdunn

    fastdunn Legend

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    Although his game is not a perfect fit for clay, I really thought
    he could have pulled off 1 or 2 French like Agassi did.
    I really don't think he did not have any technical problem
    for winning on clay, since his 1st nature was a baseliner.
    I did approach clay like Becker did for some years.
    He wanted to beat his opponent from every department
    of the game, on clay, like Becker did and eventually failed.
    He did score impressive wins on clay over the greatest clay
    courters of his genrations, Bruguera, Courier, Muster...
    I think all the things people list for not wining FO are true.
    But the biggest problem that he could not recover is the fitness
    as RagnaROK pointed out. He played energy conserving,
    efficeint tennis. He always paced himself to peak at the right
    time. He was more like assassin than road warrior.
    So, he was always strong in formats like year end ATP Master's
    championship. He admitted he had this mild blood condition
    that often puts him in a low energy mode. It's not a serious
    condition for average people but I think it was one of the hardest
    things he had to overcome to make his living as a world
    class athete in a tough individual sport like tennis.....
     
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  14. Kevin Patrick

    Kevin Patrick Hall of Fame

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    I thought Pete would definitely bag a French at some point in his career, but I knew it would tougher as he got older.
    Both he & McEnroe said they would both need some luck to triumph at the French(favorable draw, dry conditions, quick matches etc.) Don't think he ever got those breaks in his prime.
    I also think Pete was a bit psyched out by the tournament, not believing he could really win it.
    In '94 there was a lot of attention on Pete at Roland Garros. He had won 3 majors in a row, was young(22) & fit & had just won the Italian Open. He played Jim Courier(who wasn't having a good year & Pete owned him head-to-head) in the quarters. Most analysts picked Pete to win, he came out playing too conservatively & lost. I think that was his best chance to win, conditions were fast that year & he still had that "fear factor" among the other players, even on clay.
     
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  15. tetsuo10

    tetsuo10 Rookie

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    Pete Sampras is to Roland Garros as Ivan Lendl is to Wimbledon.
     
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  16. JohnThomas1

    JohnThomas1 Professional

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    And Johnny Mac to the French as well, not to forget Borg to the US Open :)
     
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  17. Kevin Patrick

    Kevin Patrick Hall of Fame

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    tetsuo10
    I wish that were the case, Lendl was far more accomplised on grass than Sampras on clay. Lendl's record at the big W:
    '83 SF,'84 SF,'86 F,'87 F, '88 SF,'89 SF, '90 SF
    Sampras at Roland Garros:
    '92 QF,'93 QF, '94 QF, '96 SF
     
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  18. Kobble

    Kobble Hall of Fame

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    The clay took the zap out of all his major weapons. His serve was slowed to a human level, and his running forehand did not skid through the court like it does at the U.S. Open and Wimbledon. The clay specialists have more consistent backhands as well, and could win many points off of him there. I believe he claimed that he never liked the bounce of clay, so that would correspond to the foot work claim. He said jokingly on Letterman that it is just really dirty out there and the ball just stops. He tried to pass it off as ugly tennis, and not pretty like the titles he won.
     
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  19. JohnThomas1

    JohnThomas1 Professional

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    At the end of the day too, tho superb at the net Sampras may not have quite been in the Mac/Edberg class. Might cop some flak for that one lol
     
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  20. tetsuo10

    tetsuo10 Rookie

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    Lendl may have made more semi's and finals, but he still couldn't get over that hump. Lendl's game was better suited for grass than Sampras's was for clay.
     
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  21. JohnThomas1

    JohnThomas1 Professional

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    Hmmm, Lendl's volleys were probably bettered by 80 players in the field each year. He used a looser string tension to help his serve volley game, at the expense of groundie control. With his big swings on the groundies he was also susceptable to the renowned bad bounces of the big W. I'm actually thinking Lendl's volleys were not as good as Sampras's groundstrokes actually.
     
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  22. tetsuo10

    tetsuo10 Rookie

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    As I recall, Lendl tried to play a S&V game at Wimbledon, at least towards the end of his career. That means his S&V was better than what you stated based on his results. Lendl did have that weird hitch in his forehand volley. But I think Sampras's Eastern forehand didn't serve him very well at FO either.
     
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  23. Kevin Patrick

    Kevin Patrick Hall of Fame

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    Lendl always S&Ved at Wimbledon. I think his grasscourt game is unfairly maligned because it wasn't 'pretty.' His results showed that it was effective. He just lost to better grasscourt players(in some extremely close matches) Maybe his excessive s&v took him out of his comfort zone, but you have to admire his willingless to try to adjust his game. More than you can say about 90% of today's players. Hewitt won in '02 without S&V even once!
    In fact, if he was playing today I think he'd be favored against anyone on grass except Federer(& maybe Henman)
     
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  24. laurie

    laurie Guest

    Lendl was quite unlucky to play in a time when there were "GREAT" serve and volleyers. People like McEnroe, Becker, Edberg, Cash until he ws injured. Still got to two finals and numerous semifinals. If Lendl was aound in 2002 when Hewitt won? Hewitt took advantage of the fact these guys were disappearing. Lendl has a great record on grass.

    It seems Sampras had a mental block on the thought of having to win 7 matches to win the French. Having seen some of the great wins he had there, the reality is that it is a mystery why he didn't do better. I think only Sampras can really explain that. I also think Sampras changed his game under Annacone which was less conducive to consistently do well at French (ie not playing from the baseline as much as he did under Joe Brandi and Tim Gullickson)
     
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  25. pound cat

    pound cat G.O.A.T.

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    I don't recall Safin saying anything about being too tired from a tough match. He may have been tired, but not from tennis. Remember the bench?
     
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  26. JohnThomas1

    JohnThomas1 Professional

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    @tetsuo10, i get your point but i was only speaking of Lendl's volley. Fortunately his serve was one of the very best in the world, and quite often didn't come back. Trouble was in the latter matches against the finest natural grasscourters (Cash, Edberg, Becker)it did come back. This is where his volleying didn't quite stand up most times. I also agree with everyone about him being up against a prolific era of great serve volleys. Lendl probably fell victim to less Wimbledon upsets than any of the above named players actually. He was almost always there plugging away in the last rounds. Lendl is my favourite player actually, and i always stayed up late at night here in Australia cheering in the hope he could achieve his greatest ambition. I would have taken enormous pleasure in seeing him lift the trophy.
     
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  27. Russell Finch

    Russell Finch Rookie

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    Me too - he obviously worked his butt off and was desperate to win Wimbledon. His best chance was in 89 I think when he was totally dominating Becker in the semi only for BB to sort himself out thanks to a rain break. Edberg had a bad day in the final and I think Lendl could have beaten him had he got there.

    Didn't Rafter S+V all the way to the French final not so long ago??
     
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  28. tetsuo10

    tetsuo10 Rookie

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    I believe what Connors said at the time was that great grass court players are born, not manufactured, which is what Lendl tried to do. However, it was probably more in his mind. I think any great tennis player can win on any surface, he doesn't have to be great grass player such as Agassi. Even the year Hewitt won, he blew Henman off the court in the semis. Becker said Lendl just didn't believe he could win at Wimby, and I second that.
     
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  29. JohnThomas1

    JohnThomas1 Professional

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    Trouble was tetsuo10 he had to win with his weaknesses, at the net. In his first years there he tried to stay back more and had no real success. Both Lendl and Roche believed he could not win it from the baseline, Lendl's game wasn't partial to fast bad bounces at the back, and it is oh so hard to pass players of the quality of Becker, Edberg and Johnny chipping and charging at every opportunity. Lendl could have easily won it against Cash, but Pat played close to a career best match and Ivan was simply dismal. Also, as Finchy points out above, he was very unlucky that year against Becker, Lendl was playing the best grass court tennis he ever had :)
     
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  30. Hewittfan22

    Hewittfan22 Semi-Pro

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    Because he just felt like not winning one, i mean he couldve won if he really felt like he could win on this surface he always went there feeling,, o im not gonna win this tournament, there is a attitude problem which all the americans still have them same problem
     
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