Why wasn't Pat Rafter able to win Wimbledon?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by roundiesee, May 3, 2013.

  1. roundiesee

    roundiesee Hall of Fame

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    The recent Pat Rafer videos on FYB took me back down memory lane. I was reminded of how good Pat was especially as a serve volleyer, and with that nasty kick serve to boot.
    One thing missing from his resume quite obviously was a Wimbledon title. Having such a game suited for the fast grass courts of that era, I was puzzled as to why he wasn't able to win that big one at SW19. Granted he was unlucky to have met Sampras in 2000, I felt that he should have won in 2001 against Goran.
    I remember that there were lots of "histrionics" from Goran during that final, with Goran being so emotional during the match (eg looking to the heavens and "praying" many times, etc), I just wondered if that had somehow distracted Pat. Goran too was a popular "hero" during that Wimby, with almost every one rooting for him to win that one title that had eluded him for so long.
    Would like to listen to what others may say about that particular final in 2001............
     
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  2. Bhagi Katbamna

    Bhagi Katbamna Hall of Fame

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    Rafter could have beaten Pete in 2000. He was up one set and up in the second set tie-break but lost the second set. He later admitted that he got a bit nervous during that tie-break.
     
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  3. roundiesee

    roundiesee Hall of Fame

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    If I remembered correctly, Pat was up 4-1 in that second set breaker, but then made a string of errors (including a double fault I think) which allowed Pete back into the match.
     
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  4. Bhagi Katbamna

    Bhagi Katbamna Hall of Fame

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    At 4-1 in the tiebreak, he missed a routine forehand volley.
     
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  5. roundiesee

    roundiesee Hall of Fame

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    Yes, he perhaps should have won that second set tie-breaker, and quite possibly would have gone on to win
     
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  6. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    His high kicker worked much better on hard court than on grass, where it kept in a lower curve. And his return game wasn't first class.
     
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  7. Phoenix1983

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    He ran into Goran who was on a divine mission in 2001. :)
     
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  8. BHiC

    BHiC Rookie

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    For one thing, a kick serve does not have nearly the affect on grass that it does on hard courts or clay. The fact that his serve was easier to return allowed for people to have more looks in points and make Rafter have to hit tougher volleys. That is enough of a difference, especially at the pro level, to decide a match.

    Rafter on grass is similar to Murray on clay - on paper they should have very good results on the surface but in reality the surface does not allow for them to fully utilize their weapons (flat backhand sits up to much on clay for Murray and Kick serve doesn't have the same affect on grass for Rafter).
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2013
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  9. Jack Romeo

    Jack Romeo Professional

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    Like the best serve-volley players, Rafter had tremendous footwork for forward-backward movement. But I remember him saying once that he felt his footing on clay was even better than his footing on grass.

    Of course, eventually, he did get confident and comfortable on grass in order to reach two consecutive finals via memorable 5-set semifinal wins over Andre Agassi.

    He failed to win the final and he didn't give himself another chance. He stopped playing after 2001 when he could have gone another year, at least at Wimbledon. They changed the grass the following year, so we got two baseliners in the finals with Hewitt and Nalbandian. Maybe that could have been Rafter's chance. Grass is still grass, so it would have still rewarded aggressive play. But maybe the new, higher-bouncing grass would have helped his kick serve become more effective.
     
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  10. THUNDERVOLLEY

    THUNDERVOLLEY G.O.A.T.

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    Good points. Before his results, I---like many--had high expectations for Rafter at Wimbledon; his game was so suited for the surface, but it was not to be once he faced players with more natural gifts for that event.

    On the women's side, many thought Sam Stosur (long experienced as a doubles player, so a net game was not alien to her) would be one t eventually win the title, but like Rafter, her kick serve (some claiming it was so effective elsehwhere) was too easy to attack on grass, which allowed opponents to ready themselves for her predicted follow to the net.
     
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  11. Devilito

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    just because you're a great serve and volleyer doesn't automatically make you a great grass court player. I'd say both Edberg and Rafter were better on hard courts than on grass. What made Petros so amazing on grass was he had bigger shots, better set-ups and probably the best half volleys in the history of tennis. Edberg and Rafter were amazing at net but without the force to back it up like Petros. More sure footed movement on hard courts suited their games more letting them move and change direction better once at net.
     
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  12. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    rafter on fast HC > rafter on grass

    but edberg on grass > edberg on HC ... he won 4 slams on grass beating almost everyone of note on grass - becker, cash, lendl, mac, wilander etc ...

    edberg's game was clearly more suited to grass than on HC and was obviously clearly better than rafter on grass ... for one, he had the clearly better return and then the better slice and better passing shots ...

    edberg was heads and above sampras at the net. rafter was better by a bit as well ...
     
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  13. THUNDERVOLLEY

    THUNDERVOLLEY G.O.A.T.

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    Edberg reached ultimate success at Wimbledon twice, so he cannot be lumped in with Rafter. The point about Rafter is that he displayed a talent that would otherwise win titles if not for those who had the superior ability there (and if Rafter could modify his serve to not sit up so much for the kind of returns used against it).
     
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  14. mattennis

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    Edberg's and Rafter's volleys were a bit better than Sampras's volleys (in my opinion).

    Also both Edberg and Rafter were outstanding athletes (just like Sampras).

    In my opinion, it was the return of serve and passing-shots where Sampras was better than Edberg and Rafter (or any other great serve-volleyer and/or big servers from that era).
     
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  15. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    IMO sampras was better than rafter at returning and passing shots , but edberg was better than sampras at returning and passing shots were about equal ...

    what made sampras better than edberg on grass was his serve , his FH and that edberg's game depended more on precision ( if slightly off, would be considerably worse for him than for sampras )
     
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  16. mattennis

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    Also Becker had a great return game on grass (especially against serve-volleyers). One of the keys for his great success on grass ( 3 Wimbledon titles, 7 finals overall).

    In an era of so many great serve-and-volley players (and so many big big servers) like the 80s and the 90s, it was the return game what so many times made the difference.
     
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  17. pjonesy

    pjonesy Professional

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    I think I see your point. You are saying that Edberg might not have won Wimbledon if he was the same age as Rafter? Considering that they had similar serves? That does make sense. But Edberg had groundstrokes and approach shots better suited for grass. However, Sampras had so many weapons. Not sure if Sampras could have been beaten by anyone in history in his prime in a Wimbledon final.
     
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  18. mattennis

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    Mighty Goran was close in 1998.

    That return game he played in the fourth set to break Sampras (with four return+passing-shot winner "Nadal-like" points) was amazing.
     
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  19. roundiesee

    roundiesee Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for all the replies.
    Granted that Pete was "better" than Pat overall, and Pat lost that final to Pete in 2000, but surely Pat should have beaten Goran that year in 2001? After all Goran came in as a qualifier that year and would likely not have won if not for the "kindness" of the seedings committee.
    Any idea why Pat lost that final in 2001 to Goran?
     
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  20. mattennis

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    Goran always had the potential to play at the highest level, on all surfaces, but more so on grass. He was a head-case, yes, but when he felt inspired somehow, he could defeat anyone on any surface.

    In that 2001 Wimbledon he suddenly started to play great tennis again, he defeated great players (Moya, Roddick, Rusedski, Safin, Henman and Rafter). He always had the ability to play that well (he had been nÂș2 in the world several times, in some periods in 1994 and 1997, obviously he was a great player overall and absolutely great on grass).

    In 2001 he was in his lowest point, animically and mentally, but in that Wimbledon he played his best tennis in years. That was Goran, impossible to predict.
     
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  21. 2ndServe

    2ndServe Professional

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    serve wasn't big enough? His returns and groundies were pretty lackluster too. I've seen Edberg/Mac be able to stay neutral in a rally longer than Rafter.

    Bad circumstances? His peak was probably the same as sampras, krajicek, stich.
     
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  22. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Lendl

    I've heard that was Lendl's real problem on 80's Wimbledon grass. His serve was big enough to hold serve pretty well, it was his return of serve game on that grass, which caused problems for him. (Strangely he had a fantastic return game on fast indoor carpet - it was just the footing and bad bounces on 80's grass that gave him problems).
     
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  23. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    As a few have said above - he wasn't a dominant enough player at the business end of the tournament usually. His serve and groundies weren't big enough - he was a little too 80s in his playing style and not 90s enough.
     
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  24. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    krajicek, stich were nowhere near him in 99,2000 and 2001 ....
     
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  25. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    eh, his serve was good enough - he did beat in-form agassi in 2000 and 2001 ... his problems were his return/passing shots and to a lesser extent groundies,though he could junkball well and it worked decently on grass ....
     
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  26. ark_28

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    Pete himself admitted he went from feeling he was going to lose the match to feeling like he was going to win it, within the space of a few points in that 2nd set tiebreaker.
     
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  27. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    Well, look at it another way. If he'd won Wimbledon he would have had the weakest serve of any Wimbledon winner, other than Agassi in 92, going all the way back to Pat Cash in 87. He wasn't the sort of server who could completely bamboozle his peers like Sampras, Krajicek, Stich, Becker and Edberg did before him.
     
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  28. mattennis

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    Rafter and Edberg had very similar serves. A great kick serve that was especially good to do serve-and-volley.

    They didn't make many aces (they usually were out of the top-20 in the "aces per year" statistics), but they hit so many easy first volleys (and very close to the net) because of their great kick serve.

    Rafter served a bit harder than Edberg and made a bit more aces than Edberg, but they had very similar type of serve.
     
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  29. mattennis

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    Yes. Obviously he (Lendl) was still a great returner on grass (though not as good a returner as he was on other surfaces), but I sincerely think that ON GRASS Becker had even a better return game than Lendl (maybe Lendl put more returns in play than Becker overall, but Becker hit so many clean return winners on grass).

    And yes, Lendl had a great serve too.
     
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  30. ttwarrior1

    ttwarrior1 Professional

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    A lot act like he was lucky he even won 1 us open. I kind of Hugh's he was almost rooting for Goran to win
     
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  31. Sabratha

    Sabratha G.O.A.T.

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    That would have changed in 2002 anyway, as Hewitt had a horrible serve.
     
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  32. roundiesee

    roundiesee Hall of Fame

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    Yes, I felt exactly the same way, that Pat "let" Goran have the title after Goran's past history of losing 3 finals, and that Goran would not be able to live with himself if he had let slip yet another Wimbledon title.
    And remember Pat was Goran's close friend at the time. Not that he did that on purpose, just had the feeling Pat didn't really try hard enough in that fifth set.
    That's not to take anything away from Goran, he definitely played superbly throughout the 2 weeks and fully deserved to win the title. All's well that end's well! :)
     
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  33. fluffyyelloballz

    fluffyyelloballz Rookie

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    Nerves and fate. No way was Goran going to lose that final. Entering Wimbledon on a wild card and making the final, and that final being played on a Monday? Goran was inspired.
    Nerves because he had it in the bag against Sampras and then got jittery.
    He should not have retired when he did. 2002 would have been his.
     
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  34. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    I'm with you; he could've won that final against Sampras, but he got tight when it mattered most and Pete smelled it. Goran, well, he was just fated to win that one, after so many tries. I think if Rafter hung around a bit longer, he might've won one. He definitely had the S&V skills, IMHO.
     
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  35. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    really now ? then why did he hit this magnificent lob on MP ?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTOgUaT190o&t=3m36s

    both were trying their utter best. rafter's greatest regret in tennis is probably not able to win that final ...
     
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  36. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    Edberg's serve was miles, miles more dominant than Rafters (for the era). He just wasn't an ace-machine like Ivanisevic, Sampras etc - but he was much more forceful than Rafter on serve.
     
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  37. Sabratha

    Sabratha G.O.A.T.

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    Hewitt was a better player than Rafter so he would have won 2002, and by 2003, Rafter would probably be done so Federer would sweep like usual. Where's this chance come from?
     
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  38. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    I'm not sure Rafter's kicks served him well on grass.

    Also, it didn't help that he had to play 5 setters against Andre Agassi prior to each Final. Agassi, who was known for deliberately running people to tire them out.
     
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  39. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    perhaps in a different era, Lendl would've won Wimbledon at least once. He was a bit unlucky, yes, but he also had to face off 2 generations of players who were actually better on the surface than he was--markedly so, IMHO.[Mac, Connors then later Becker, Edberg, etc.]. Much like Borg and the USO, he certainly had the skills to win, but the stars did not quite align for him despite his many valiant attempts.
     
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  40. heninfan99

    heninfan99 Legend

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    Goran had a well earned date with destiny and Sampras was better than everyone on grass basically. A bit of bad luck for the Aussie.
     
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