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Old 01-08-2009, 08:31 PM   #18
Join Date: Aug 2008
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Originally Posted by krosero View Post
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.
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