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-   -   Sampras style of play - stylish or robotic? (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=100342)

laurie 10-05-2006 03:05 PM

Sampras style of play - stylish or robotic?
 
In Sampas debates there always seems to be divided opinions about whether he was smooth or a grinder. I come down on the smooth and graceful side of the coin. Of course there was that famous comment by Fred Perry about Sampras moving like oil.

However, there a lot of people who disagree with that assessment so I thought I would have a poll and see what side people come down. Feel free to give your views and reasons for voting either way.

tennisboy87 10-05-2006 07:23 PM

I'd say he was smooth and athletic.

alan-n 10-06-2006 12:39 AM

Sampras a grinder? Oh boy what are those people looking at. Sampras movement was Federer like smoothness and quickness. His service motion speaks for itself, the best looking motion and results ever. Athletic would describe his netplay, overheads, and on the run winners.

Phil 10-06-2006 12:45 AM

I've never heard Sampras' movement referred to as "Grinding". If opinions are "divided" on that point, then it must be divided in the following manner: 99 to 1 in favor of smooth.

War, Safin! 10-06-2006 12:55 AM

Robotically stylish.

crazylevity 10-06-2006 01:12 AM

his movements were smooth, but stylish? Esp when compared to Federer? :p

The tennis guy 10-06-2006 09:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by laurie
In Sampas debates there always seems to be divided opinions about whether he was smooth or a grinder. I come down on the smooth and graceful side of the coin. Of course there was that famous comment by Fred Perry about Sampras moving like oil.

However, there a lot of people who disagree with that assessment so I thought I would have a poll and see what side people come down. Feel free to give your views and reasons for voting either way.

No one said he was a grinder. The argument came when it depends on whom you are comparing him with.

Overall he is smooth and athletic. However, he is not as smooth and graceful as Federer.

Kobble 10-06-2006 09:59 AM

Efficient and smooth. They usually go together.

laurie 10-06-2006 10:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The tennis guy
No one said he was a grinder. The argument came when it depends on whom you are comparing him with.

Overall he is smooth and athletic. However, he is not as smooth and graceful as Federer.

Not true at all, Barry Flatman, the Times journalist in the UK called Sampras a grinder when interviewed on national radio in September 2003 and asked to assess Sampras' career. He also said he was not a fan of his type of play. Then last year I had that argument with another Times journalist, Simon Barnes who wrote a piece here in England and blatantly claimed Sampras' game was all about grind and Federer's game was about flow only. I plastered my reply to Simon Barnes on both this and BBC message boards. Needless to say, Simon contacted me quite quickly and we had a correspondence going for about a week.

These journalists have the ability to influence people's thinking, especially the fickle. And they can also use their dislike of a player to do them down if they wish.

By the way, I disgaree with you (ah, the beauty of opinions). I've seen both players live and Federer is as smooth as Sampras, Sampras is as smooth as Federer. There is no question in my mind about that. It's easy to say Federer is smoother because he's still playing and Sampras is retired, so we can't see a 25 year old Sampras in real life and make a comparison.

By the way, I still have the Simon Barnes correspondence somewhere in my emails.

fastdunn 10-06-2006 10:22 AM

Federer is a great athelete but he is not the smoothest movers I've seen.

When you say smooth mover, you refere to the cat like mover, Mecir,
Sampras type. They move quiet, light, butter smooth.
"Moves like oil" Sampras. Or Coria "moves like ice cube on the glass plate".

Federer is an astute mover with great court sense. Very dilligent and pretty
smooth. To me, he is somewhat upright and stiff in his upper body
while Sampras gets really low like submarine when he moves.

And when Federer hit his forehand on the run, she shows some awkwardness
in his steps. Breaking with his right foot with some stutter steps near contact
zone. Sampras passes by the contact zone like wind.... shuuu--ing.

The tennis guy 10-06-2006 11:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by laurie
By the way, I disgaree with you (ah, the beauty of opinions). I've seen both players live and Federer is as smooth as Sampras, Sampras is as smooth as Federer. There is no question in my mind about that. It's easy to say Federer is smoother because he's still playing and Sampras is retired, so we can't see a 25 year old Sampras in real life and make a comparison.

People who say Sampras is a grinder doesn't deserve a response.

I said Sampras is not as smooth and graceful as Federer, not just smooth itself. Well if you think otherwise, there is not much I can say. Both of them are smooth and graceful compare to other players. But if you just compare the two, I see a difference.

I still watch Sampras on tape a lot right now. I don't forget about how Sampras plays.

The tennis guy 10-06-2006 11:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fastdunn
And when Federer hit his forehand on the run, she shows some awkwardness
in his steps. Breaking with his right foot with some stutter steps near contact
zone. Sampras passes by the contact zone like wind.... shuuu--ing.

I think we talked about this before. It's due to the way they hit the ball differently, not style. Federer hits the ball earlier than Sampras, thus he hits the ball much closer to his body than Sampras. Thus even when Federer hits forehand on the run, he needs to get to the ball one extra step closer to the ball than Sampras.

tricky 10-06-2006 12:01 PM

Yeah, that's one key difference between the modern mechanics Federer uses and the classical stuff Sampras does. Fed, like most players today, needs to rotate his torso significantly in order to initiate the swing. But, then again, for also that reason, he can generate lots of power without moving his legs a lot. In any case, it means that you have to have excellent footwork to crank balls accurately on the run, which Fed can do.

It's just with Sampras, he can run full-force and use that speed to whip on the ball. His stance can kinda float between pure closed and neutral, but his whiplike delivery isn't dependent on that. As, again, most old-school pros who use classical form can to some degree in a proper game. The more extreme grip are even more limited in the sense that if they chase a ball down the run, they need the ball at a certain rise in order to hit the ball cleanly. If they run into a ball, they have to time it perfectly.

Grimjack 10-06-2006 12:41 PM

Pete certainly wasn't "robotic." If anything, he was like fricking Gumby out there. His body bent in absolutely obscene ways on his serve ("classic" my ***), and he flailed more than he forced. I wouldn't call him "smooth" in any sense, but he sure as hell wasn't "robotic." More like "loosey goosey."

At any rate, it worked for him.

What WAS "robotic" was his strategy and execution. Serve into the corners, come in, and know that because your serve is hard, spinning like mad, and unreadable, you'll almost invariably hold. On the return, hit it hard and hope for the best. Hope that at least once per set, you can string a few lucky returns together and gather a break -- which you can do because you know you won't be broken yourself.

Simple, ruthless, effective. Very much robotic, in a sense. Even legitimately a "grind," in a sense, though the word "grinder" in the tennis lexicon has come to mean something else -- so it's an unfortunate (though accurate) choice of words in this case.

laurie 10-06-2006 12:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tricky
Yeah, that's one key difference between the modern mechanics Federer uses and the classical stuff Sampras does. Fed, like most players today, needs to rotate his torso significantly in order to initiate the swing. But, then again, for also that reason, he can generate lots of power without moving his legs a lot. In any case, it means that you have to have excellent footwork to crank balls accurately on the run, which Fed can do.

It's just with Sampras, he can run full-force and use that speed to whip on the ball. His stance can kinda float between pure closed and neutral, but his whiplike delivery isn't dependent on that. As, again, most old-school pros who use classical form can to some degree in a proper game. The more extreme grip are even more limited in the sense that if they chase a ball down the run, they need the ball at a certain rise in order to hit the ball cleanly. If they run into a ball, they have to time it perfectly.

Yes, Sampras, Steffi Graf and Lindsay Davenport have the ability to take the ball late and still generate tremendous power and hit clean winners. Thats the sort of thing someone cant teach. Its instinct.

tricky 10-06-2006 01:04 PM

Quote:

. Thats the sort of thing someone cant teach. Its instinct.
To a degree, yes, but a lot of it is about differences in technique. Sampras's quirky elbow-back swing doesn't requite as much of a unit turn as what they teach today or what Fed uses. Because he doesn't need it as much, he can continue to drive into the ball with his legs in between a closed and neutral stance. And because he has such explosive legs, well he can crush the ball when he's moving. Theoretically, linear weight transfer can generate more power than pure hip-torso rotation if you can do this at full speed. In practice, people do both, but in Sampras case, it was about his powerful legs. Likewise, when Sampras's foot speed dropped, his groundstrokes suffered. About Fed not crouching as low as a Sampras, well again that's more a end-result of his swing.

The extreme counterexample would be a Nadal. Even when he's using a flatter stroke, he doesn't really move toward the ball with his feet. He must rely completely on his hip turn and then his arm-follow through to produce his most power.


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