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-   -   Stats for Federer-Sampras (2001 Wimbledon) (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=204111)

Moose Malloy 06-17-2008 10:33 AM

Stats for Federer-Sampras (2001 Wimbledon)
 
Federer d Sampras 7-6(7) 5-7 6-4 6-7(2) 7-5

Federer was 19, Sampras 29.

Sampras was ranked 6, but seeded 1. Federer was ranked & seeded 15.

My stats:

Federer had 42 non service winners: 21 fh, 10 bh, 5 fhv, 6 bhv
Sampras had 41: 12 fh, 9 bh, 8 fhv, 9 bhv, 3 ov

Sampras had 17 passing shot winners, Federer had 23.

Sampras had 8 return winners, Federer 12.

Winners by set:
Federer - 10, 9, 5, 8, 10
Sampras - 7, 9, 9, 6, 10

Both players had 25 aces.

Aces by set:
Federer - 5, 5, 3, 7, 5
Sampras - 8, 7, 1, 8, 1

Sampras had 60 unreturned serves, of which I judged 14 as service winners.
Federer had 64 unreturned serves of which I judged 7 as service winners.

Break point conversions by set:

Sampras
1st set: 0-1
2nd set: 1-5
3rd set: 1-1
4th set: 0-2
5th set: 0-2

Federer:
1st set: 0-3
2nd set: 0-6
3rd set: 2-4
4th set: 0-0
5th set: 1-1

Fed's only break point of the 5th came in the last game of the match. It was the first break point he had since 4-4 in the 3rd.

NBC's stats:

after 2 sets

Sampras had 38 winners, 18 unforced
Federer had 31 winners, 15 unforced

Murray_Maniac 06-17-2008 05:28 PM

Nice. I thought about doing stats for this match, but the match is too long for me to do it on. Watching it earlier this year, it was a very high quality match. Great Job.

Im planning on doing stats for their exhibition in Macau at the end of July.

krosero 06-17-2008 06:49 PM

These are extremely close stats. You've got Federer leading by 1 non-service winner, and you've got them both at 25 aces. And they drew almost the same number of return errors, 64 to 60 in Federer's favor.

The ATP actually has Sampras at 26 aces, and that would put the two men each at 67 clean winners.

The ATP has Federer winning 10 pts. more than Sampras overall, so if they were so close in winners, it looks like Federer just barely kept his errors lower than Sampras.

The margin is so little that we can almost count all of it. He had 4 fewer errors on the return, and per the ATP he had 6 double-faults to 9 by Pete.

Did you count their doubles?

I also found it interesting that Sampras lost even serving at 69% (to Federer's 62%), per the ATP. When he lost in '96, his service percentage was lower than Krajicek's (61 to 66).

Quote:

Originally Posted by Moose Malloy
Federer had 42 non service winners: 21 fh, 10 bh, 5 fhv, 6 bhv

Sampras had 41: 12 fh, 9 bh, 8 fhv, 9 bhv, 3 ov

So Roger has 31 ground stroke winners and 11 volleys. Pete has 21 off the ground and 20 volleys/overheads.

No real surprise but it's nice to see the breakdown. And the biggest stroke of the match was Fed's FH.

krosero 06-17-2008 07:01 PM

BBC stats
 
Took these down from my copy:

Federer’s first-serve percentages by set through 2-3 in the fifth: 53, 65, 63, 65, 85.

Sampras’ first-serve percentages by set through 2-3 in the fifth: 65, 76, 56, 78, 82.

(ETA: those fifth-set stats look extremely high, at least through five games; I wonder if they kept their percentages that high through the end. But it does look like Sampras starting in the fourth set was serving up close to the 80% range).

At 3-4 in the fifth, Federer had won 6 service games at love, Sampras one.

Federer had 12 service return winners for the match (I completed that stat myself when Fed hit one on match point).

At 2-3 in the fourth, Federer was getting 46% of first serves and 71% of second serves back. Sampras was at 41% and 64%.

At 4-5 in the fourth, Federer had won only 24 of 51 points at net, Sampras only 33 of 76. The announcers said that since first serves were generally not coming back, Roger and Pete were playing most of their volleys on second serve. That suggests that return errors were not counted in the net stats; if they were counted, you'd see higher net stats.

Anyway, we know already from Moose's stats that the volley winners were not that high; each man had more winners from ground strokes.

krosero 06-18-2008 06:52 AM

Agence France Presse -- English

Quote:

In truth, there was almost nothing to choose between the two men who both banged down 25 aces in a mesmerising encounter which neither really deserved to lose.

Federer admirably restricted himself to 16 unforced errors whereas Sampras had 22.

krosero 06-18-2008 06:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Moose Malloy (Post 2434469)
Sampras had 8 return winners, Federer 12.

You got the same number for Federer as the BBC (which did not give a figure for Sampras).

That's all the stats I can find.

Moose Malloy 06-18-2008 08:20 AM

Quote:

Did you count their doubles?
My count was the same as the atp site.

Quote:

Federer admirably restricted himself to 16 unforced errors whereas Sampras had 22.
NBC had them both on pace for higher errors than that after 2 sets.

Quote:

In truth, there was almost nothing to choose between the two men who both banged down 25 aces in a mesmerising encounter which neither really deserved to lose.
My ace count was the same as NBC's(they updated the ace count late in the match, when it was 25-25) There were no aces in the last 6 games I believe.

Quote:

At 4-5 in the fourth, Federer had won only 24 of 51 points at net, Sampras only 33 of 76. The announcers said that since first serves were generally not coming back, Roger and Pete were playing most of their volleys on second serve. That suggests that return errors were not counted in the net stats; if they were counted, you'd see higher net stats.
Its kinda odd that the BBC counts net points this way. They had a low number for both players late in the 5th of the '95 Goran-Sampras W SF as well.

Like you've said in the past, many missed returns are the result of a player coming in, you can't not count those as net points won.

noeledmonds 06-18-2008 02:32 PM

Interesting stats Moose. It was a fairly balanced match as the statistics show. One of the most overrated matches in recent times though. Neither player was anywhere near their best. It was never the clash of titans that some people portray it as.

Moose Malloy 06-18-2008 02:58 PM

Quote:

Neither player was anywhere near their best.
True, but the stats do show that both players had far more winners than errors though. Every break point felt like a set point(which was often the case in the faster grass era)

Quote:

also found it interesting that Sampras lost even serving at 69% (to Federer's 62%), per the ATP. When he lost in '96, his service percentage was lower than Krajicek's (61 to 66).
I wonder if this stat is important, in terms of matches he loses.

helloworld 06-19-2008 10:24 AM

The quality of the match wasn't that good to be honest. I saw Sampras missed his trademark overhead twice, when he usually missed that once or twice a year. His volleys were horrible throughout most of the match, and he blew his chances quite a few times. Federer on the other hand, was sloppy at times. I'd say the exhibition match they played in Asia is better in terms of quality.

krosero 01-07-2009 10:40 PM

And this is Wimbledon.org's boxscore for the match, archived at http://web.archive.org/web/200107191...y8/1113ms.html. The ATP stats are identical except that they have Sampras at 26 aces.



So this match was only 6 points shorter than the 1980 final.

The main problem with this boxscore is that the Winners are presented as including service, but they can't: they line up almost exactly with Moose's count of winners apart from service.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Moose Malloy (Post 2434469)
Federer had 42 non service winners: 21 fh, 10 bh, 5 fhv, 6 bhv
Sampras had 41: 12 fh, 9 bh, 8 fhv, 9 bhv, 3 ov

(The same thing happened later with the final: Wimbledon.org and USA Today published boxscores in which Rafter was given 49 winners "Including Service", while Cox News Service gives him 66 winners, which they probably got by throwing in his 13 aces and a handful of service winners; see http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showt...97#post2512597).

It also looks like Wimbledon.org did not include Sampras and Federer's double-faults in their Unforced Errors category, though at least that category is not described as including service.

NBC does look like it's including df's:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Moose Malloy (Post 2434469)
NBC's stats:

after 2 sets

Sampras had 38 winners, 18 unforced
Federer had 31 winners, 15 unforced

After two sets, per Wimbledon.org, Federer had 10 Unforced Errors and 5 Double-Faults -- so that lines up nicely with NBC.

Sampras does not line up so well. Wimbledon gave him 11 Unforced Errors and 3 Double-Faults: only 14 compared to NBC's 18. But the problem is the same: NBC appears to be including double-faults while Wimbledon.org does not.

I think that you can click through each individual set of the boxscore but I've had trouble with archived pages, so this is the breakdown by set:

Sampras:

Aces - 8, 7, 1, 8, 1
DF's - 1, 2, 2, 2, 2
UE's - 6, 5, 5, 4, 2
Winners - 7, 10, 9, 6, 10

Federer:

Aces - 5, 5, 3, 7, 5
DF's - 1, 4, 1, 0, 0
UE's - 4, 6, 2, 4, 0
Winners - 10, 9, 5, 8, 10

From this it looks like what won Federer the match is that he made no unforced errors of any kind in the fifth set.

abmk 01-07-2009 11:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by helloworld (Post 2440461)
The quality of the match wasn't that good to be honest. I saw Sampras missed his trademark overhead twice, when he usually missed that once or twice a year. His volleys were horrible throughout most of the match, and he blew his chances quite a few times. Federer on the other hand, was sloppy at times. I'd say the exhibition match they played in Asia is better in terms of quality.

What !? :shock:

It was a good match, sampras didn't volley badly either.

380pistol 01-08-2009 09:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by helloworld (Post 2440461)
The quality of the match wasn't that good to be honest. I saw Sampras missed his trademark overhead twice, when he usually missed that once or twice a year. His volleys were horrible throughout most of the match, and he blew his chances quite a few times. Federer on the other hand, was sloppy at times. I'd say the exhibition match they played in Asia is better in terms of quality.

This match is in the vein of Becker (85 Wimbledon), Edberg (85 Aus Open), Chang (89 French Open), Sampras (90 US Open) and Safin (00 US Open) except that Federer didn't go on to win the title.

Federer like the above players played beyond his years, and while Sampras was beyond his best years, he still played well. Stats are blown out of the proprtion, like Pete's 1st serve %. He held routinely through the 1st set, and Roger was aided by a net cord in the tie break. T

In the 2nd set, was where Roger really returned well, but Sampras came up with the goods to to save numerous break pts and hold, and then steal the set. Sampras all but gave the 3rd set away, being broken twice in that set. How often does that happen. He missed makeable volleys, double faulted a few times in the games he was broken, and missed an overhead to hand Roger the set.

Federer kept up his stellar play, but from that point he did not see another until the last game of the match, where Sampras missed 2 volleys he'd normaly make. Not to mention the sitting pass at break point at 4-4 in the 5th that Pete hit right back to him. Thugh credit has to be given to Roger cuz he kept his level of play up.

thalivest 01-08-2009 12:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by noeledmonds (Post 2437836)
Neither player was anywhere near their best. It was never the clash of titans that some people portray it as.

I agree. Federer wasnt even a top 10 player yet, had something like 1 dinky tournament title, and wouldnt even make another slam quarterfinal for another 2 full years. Sampras would soon drop out of the top 10, would only win 1 tournament the final 2 years of his career (granted it was the U.S Open) and would lose to George Bastl next year. Neither player was even half the player they were in their primes. The most insanely overrated match ever.

Andres 01-08-2009 01:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by krosero (Post 2986420)


.

110 mph 2nd serves on average. Holy sh"·$"·$"!!

krosero 01-08-2009 04:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 380pistol (Post 2987518)
This match is in the vein of Becker (85 Wimbledon), Edberg (85 Aus Open), Chang (89 French Open), Sampras (90 US Open) and Safin (00 US Open) except that Federer didn't go on to win the title.

Federer like the above players played beyond his years, and while Sampras was beyond his best years, he still played well. Stats are blown out of the proprtion, like Pete's 1st serve %. He held routinely through the 1st set, and Roger was aided by a net cord in the tie break. T

In the 2nd set, was where Roger really returned well, but Sampras came up with the goods to to save numerous break pts and hold, and then steal the set. Sampras all but gave the 3rd set away, being broken twice in that set. How often does that happen. He missed makeable volleys, double faulted a few times in the games he was broken, and missed an overhead to hand Roger the set.

Federer kept up his stellar play, but from that point he did not see another until the last game of the match, where Sampras missed 2 volleys he'd normaly make. Not to mention the sitting pass at break point at 4-4 in the 5th that Pete hit right back to him. Thugh credit has to be given to Roger cuz he kept his level of play up.

Ah, but it’s not exactly giving credit to Roger to say only that he played stellar tennis, mentioning none of his errors while listing Pete’s. A little balance please. Sampras lost the third set, and you say he handed it away. You could have said the same about Federer in the second set; instead you give Pete the credit for stealing it with good play; but in that last game of the set Roger double-faulted twice and put out an easy volley on set point.

I don’t happen to think that sets were given away in this match; but if it’s going to be put that way, the second set certainly fits.

I just think that in a long match, even great players make errors – everyone from Rod Laver on down. Grasscourt tennis in particular, because service breaks are so rare, is about holding your concentration just a little better than your opponent in a close match – just hold it long enough, because eventually someone makes an error and the set or the match is gone quickly; there’s nothing unusual about that. This is especially true when great players are facing each other. What would be sloppy work against a lesser player is merely two great players putting heavy pressure on each other and drawing understandable errors.

That’s why I also would argue with your comment about Pete missing volleys in the last game that he would “normally” make. I’d say that about the first volley that he missed, which was not technically difficult (same with the critical overhead in the third set). The second volley, though, was a 15-30 point on which Federer did just what you should do, when you’re two points away from victory: get that return low and put the pressure on your opponent. On another day, without any pressure, Pete can make that volley without trouble; the trouble here was that this was match game, with 4 consecutive titles on the line. He missed it, and I saw nothing particularly noteworthy about that. He might have made it; he might not; but in either case I don’t think it’s possible to speak about missing what he “normally” makes, because there is no normal here. It’s not a normal situation. It’s a match with high stakes in which one great champion draws what I think is an understandable error (not a choke) from another great champion after 59 draining games, and then pounces to barely take the ribbon. A match that certainly could have gone either way.

At 4-all in the fifth you say Sampras had a “sitting pass”; and I didn’t recognize what you were describing. So I put in the DVD. I did have this in my notes, but I had seen it very differently. Sampras ripped a low return and I saw Roger making a great half-volley. Pete moved forward, still looking for a kill, but that half-volley came back at him very fast, which is why he was unable to direct his backhand in either direction – something I’ve seen happen many times to the greatest players. It was no sitting pass; that makes it sound like Pete had time and merely did something lame.

Basically I’m going into this detail to make the point that the match should be described in a balanced way; but I have to stop there because I think the “key” moments in this match are usually over-analyzed. Moose and I have been doing stats now for some time, and I can’t recall seeing a match that was so close, statistically. The temptation with this match – particularly because it’s been overblown with meaning that no single match could bear – is to pick out tiny details and say that the match could have gone the other way. And sure, it could have gone either way: I just think that in a match this close, ANY of the points could have gone differently, not just the obvious “errors” and “sitters” and such. At any stage a shot could have had been different by mere inches, and you’d have other stuff to talk about. That’s why debating little points could literally go on endlessly – and pointlessly.

World Beater 01-08-2009 07:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by krosero (Post 2988758)
Ah, but it’s not exactly giving credit to Roger to say only that he played stellar tennis, mentioning none of his errors while listing Pete’s. A little balance please. Sampras lost the third set, and you say he handed it away. You could have said the same about Federer in the second set; instead you give Pete the credit for stealing it with good play; but in that last game of the set Roger double-faulted twice and put out an easy volley on set point.

I don’t happen to think that sets were given away in this match; but if it’s going to be put that way, the second set certainly fits.

I just think that in a long match, even great players make errors – everyone from Rod Laver on down. Grasscourt tennis in particular, because service breaks are so rare, is about holding your concentration just a little better than your opponent in a close match – just hold it long enough, because eventually someone makes an error and the set or the match is gone quickly; there’s nothing unusual about that. This is especially true when great players are facing each other. What would be sloppy work against a lesser player is merely two great players putting heavy pressure on each other and drawing understandable errors.

That’s why I also would argue with your comment about Pete missing volleys in the last game that he would “normally” make. I’d say that about the first volley that he missed, which was not technically difficult (same with the critical overhead in the third set). The second volley, though, was a 15-30 point on which Federer did just what you should do, when you’re two points away from victory: get that return low and put the pressure on your opponent. On another day, without any pressure, Pete can make that volley without trouble; the trouble here was that this was match game, with 4 consecutive titles on the line. He missed it, and I saw nothing particularly noteworthy about that. He might have made it; he might not; but in either case I don’t think it’s possible to speak about missing what he “normally” makes, because there is no normal here. It’s not a normal situation. It’s a match with high stakes in which one great champion draws what I think is an understandable error (not a choke) from another great champion after 59 draining games, and then pounces to barely take the ribbon. A match that certainly could have gone either way.

At 4-all in the fifth you say Sampras had a “sitting pass”; and I didn’t recognize what you were describing. So I put in the DVD. I did have this in my notes, but I had seen it very differently. Sampras ripped a low return and I saw Roger making a great half-volley. Pete moved forward, still looking for a kill, but that half-volley came back at him very fast, which is why he was unable to direct his backhand in either direction – something I’ve seen happen many times to the greatest players. It was no sitting pass; that makes it sound like Pete had time and merely did something lame.

Basically I’m going into this detail to make the point that the match should be described in a balanced way; but I have to stop there because I think the “key” moments in this match are usually over-analyzed. Moose and I have been doing stats now for some time, and I can’t recall seeing a match that was so close, statistically. The temptation with this match – particularly because it’s been overblown with meaning that no single match could bear – is to pick out tiny details and say that the match could have gone the other way. And sure, it could have gone either way: I just think that in a match this close, ANY of the points could have gone differently, not just the obvious “errors” and “sitters” and such. At any stage a shot could have had been different by mere inches, and you’d have other stuff to talk about. That’s why debating little points could literally go on endlessly – and pointlessly.

GSM krosero

380pistol 01-08-2009 08:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by krosero (Post 2988758)
Ah, but it’s not exactly giving credit to Roger to say only that he played stellar tennis, mentioning none of his errors while listing Pete’s. A little balance please. Sampras lost the third set, and you say he handed it away. You could have said the same about Federer in the second set; instead you give Pete the credit for stealing it with good play; but in that last game of the set Roger double-faulted twice and put out an easy volley on set point.

I don’t happen to think that sets were given away in this match; but if it’s going to be put that way, the second set certainly fits.

I just think that in a long match, even great players make errors – everyone from Rod Laver on down. Grasscourt tennis in particular, because service breaks are so rare, is about holding your concentration just a little better than your opponent in a close match – just hold it long enough, because eventually someone makes an error and the set or the match is gone quickly; there’s nothing unusual about that. This is especially true when great players are facing each other. What would be sloppy work against a lesser player is merely two great players putting heavy pressure on each other and drawing understandable errors.

That’s why I also would argue with your comment about Pete missing volleys in the last game that he would “normally” make. I’d say that about the first volley that he missed, which was not technically difficult (same with the critical overhead in the third set). The second volley, though, was a 15-30 point on which Federer did just what you should do, when you’re two points away from victory: get that return low and put the pressure on your opponent. On another day, without any pressure, Pete can make that volley without trouble; the trouble here was that this was match game, with 4 consecutive titles on the line. He missed it, and I saw nothing particularly noteworthy about that. He might have made it; he might not; but in either case I don’t think it’s possible to speak about missing what he “normally” makes, because there is no normal here. It’s not a normal situation. It’s a match with high stakes in which one great champion draws what I think is an understandable error (not a choke) from another great champion after 59 draining games, and then pounces to barely take the ribbon. A match that certainly could have gone either way.

At 4-all in the fifth you say Sampras had a “sitting pass”; and I didn’t recognize what you were describing. So I put in the DVD. I did have this in my notes, but I had seen it very differently. Sampras ripped a low return and I saw Roger making a great half-volley. Pete moved forward, still looking for a kill, but that half-volley came back at him very fast, which is why he was unable to direct his backhand in either direction – something I’ve seen happen many times to the greatest players. It was no sitting pass; that makes it sound like Pete had time and merely did something lame.

Basically I’m going into this detail to make the point that the match should be described in a balanced way; but I have to stop there because I think the “key” moments in this match are usually over-analyzed. Moose and I have been doing stats now for some time, and I can’t recall seeing a match that was so close, statistically. The temptation with this match – particularly because it’s been overblown with meaning that no single match could bear – is to pick out tiny details and say that the match could have gone the other way. And sure, it could have gone either way: I just think that in a match this close, ANY of the points could have gone differently, not just the obvious “errors” and “sitters” and such. At any stage a shot could have had been different by mere inches, and you’d have other stuff to talk about. That’s why debating little points could literally go on endlessly – and pointlessly.


Maybe "stellar" was understating it, but Roger played well, hence I referenced to oter great performances of others who played well before they peaked.

Yes I fell Pete "handed" the 3rd set way, due to the fact he got broken twice. Once on his double faults and the 2nd missing a volley and an overhead he can with his left hand. I said Pete "stole" the 2nd set, not necessarily meaning he did it with great play. I said Sampras came up with the goods to save the 5 or 6 break pts he saved in that set, then stole it. Yes I think he came up with winners in the 12th game, but Roger did miss badly on the volley down set pt.

The 15-30 volley at 5-6 in the 5th. First Pete was a step slower getting to net, and though it was a good return by Roger, I've seen Pete come up with clutch shots for damn near 10 years, so maybe I just expect it from him. That's like saying when Jordan missed the final shot in game 1 of the 1991 NBA finals. You don't talk about pressure, cuz Jordan has been there before. "Pressure" not for someone as mentally strog as Pete and has been there time and time again, save those excuses for James Blake. That's just my perspective.

About the pass at 4-4 in the 5th. The only thing I can say is watch the 1996 ATP World Championship final vs Becker at 4-4 in the 5th, on break point. Almost identical situation and shot, but Sampras execution was different in both matches. Maybe it's me, but that's I pass that I don't only think Pete should make, but expect him to.

My initial post were to 2 other guys posting, and as well as Roger played, Pete made mistakes (and got unlucky at crucial times). The net cord in the 1st set tie breaker, missing an overhead that sealed the 3rd set, and the pass and volleys in the 5th. Yes Roger played extremely well, and "stellar" may have benn understating it, but I just call a spade a spade.

tennisdad65 01-08-2009 10:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Andres Guazzelli (Post 2988334)
110 mph 2nd serves on average. Holy sh"·$"·$"!!

yep. Holy Sh... is right :). and even then he won only 46% of 2nd serves.

krosero 01-09-2009 06:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by 380pistol (Post 2989390)
Maybe it's me, but that's I pass that I don't only think Pete should make, but expect him to.

I think that the problem when anyone watches his favorite player is exactly this expectation. I'm not putting you down: anyone with a favorite player is just going to look at a failed shot and remember (esp. if they've seen a lot of him) times when he made similar shots. Then you ask, Why didn't he make that? Someone else can tell you: he didn't make it because he didn't make it. He's human. No big deal. Maybe it comes down to a different philosophy but I think sometimes you make shots and other times you don't (because you're human; and the other guy has to make some shots, too). Tennis is still won on errors and no one has ever eliminated unforced errors in one of his matches. The definition of an unforced error is a shot that, in your judgment, such a player "should" make. But 10 or 20 or 30 times in match, even Sampras and Borg and Laver unavoidably make them. And very rarely do they falter on key points; but key points over a career add up to hundreds, and no human is going to play all of those points with exactly the same skill; unavoidably some are going to be less well played than others. Maybe there will even be a choke; Rod Laver said in the 70s that he chokes, always has, and always will; everyone does; though in this case we're not even talking about that.

This situation is a lot more simple. You noted yourself how Roger saw no break points in the last two sets until the final game. Of course those break points did not come up then as mere coincidence. They came up because it was match game, and one player went for his opportunity and the other faltered a little. Countless matches are won that way. On another day (if they'd had a rematch, for example), maybe Sampras is more likely to get out of that game. Every situation is different.

4-all in the fifth set in Hanover: I figured you were comparing to great shots in his career but I didn't think you'd bring up that one. He was set up for that one, had more time, and Becker had done nothing unusual. And I said before, the story of that break point at 4-all in this match, when I watched it, was Federer's half-volley; it surprised me a little that he came up with it; and it came back fast enough so that Sampras had no time. Sampras did nothing wrong; he was still boring in as he should; he was just left with little time (and was possibly surprised given how strong his return had been). On another day, another shot, he passes Federer. Big deal. That's how I expect it to go when two players of comparable skill meet more than once.

But I do want to make clear, as much as it delicious to talk about the mechanics of the tennis, ultimately there's no "identical" shot from the past -- not even one that was physically identical. There's the whole mental aspect that you're not bringing in; the full context. And the context never repeats itself. He only played with 4 Wimbledons on the line, against Federer in a fifth set, once in his career. The best comparison, I think, is the loss to Krajicek; but even that match was very different.

He won the contest with Becker; he lost this one with Federer. Somehow your list of Pete's errors, and comparison with the past, seem to suggest that Pete should win all of his great matches; or express a regret that he didn't win all of them. But that is certainly too much to expect of any tennis player.

Especially when one GOAT comes up against another. One of them has to lose.

And even in those fantasy matches where we like to pair up players at their peaks, I think if these matches could actually happen you just might see moments in which the critical break occurred on an error rather than a winner; and the simplest thing in the world would be to search the past and find a physically similar shot that the player had made on another day, but misses on this day. Tennis is still won on errors, and even GOAT's at their peak are not going to be superhuman on every key point.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a Federer now, more than when he was #1, which is when I saw this match. I was not a Sampras fan when he was #1 but he's won me over a lot by watching and re-watching so many of his past matches on video.


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