Originally Posted by thor's hammer
The Champions Series is a mix of entertainment and competition. It's not WWE, but it's not ATP either.
From an article on the Chang/Sampras match: Chang won his semifinal 6-4 over Pete Sampras, who had beaten Chang one night earlier in Florida by the exact same score.
The current format is one set per match. Not like a traditional exo where evenly matched players could afford to swap first two sets and play out the final set/breaker. Maybe Chang came out hot and Sampras didn't warm up, maybe there was some kind of agreement to even things out over more than a single evening.
I didn't see the match, and would be interested in the impressions of anyone who did, but regardless, a 6-4 win is hardly getting schooled. And Chang is indeed still a very good tennis player!
Don't have the time to write a "report," but I've got a few tidbits:
- Chang actually outserved Sampras in that match. 8 aces to 3 IIRC, including 3 in a row to start off the match (or at least Chang's 1st service game). The crowd was chuckling at the irony of it all, which obviously wasn't lost on Chang, and after giving them a "what, you guys think I'm chopped liver or something?" shrug, he then shouted to Pete, "So how does it feel now?"
Laughter all around.
- But it was a ballgirl who got the biggest reaction of the night. It started out as a standard exhibition shtick, players giving the ballboy/girl a chance to hit with the pro after a supposedly grueling point (this time between Courier and Agassi). At first she couldn't even roll her serves in, so Courier went up to the center of the net and held it down in good sport. An extended rally followed, which the ballgirl won, just catching the tramline with her FH. Agassi actually tried to get to it, but was unsuccessful. As you can imagine, the arena erupted in applause.
- Chang was indeed the best
player of the Fab Four that day. He certainly served well, and he hit at least 2 clean winners with his lob, which seems as good as it ever was.
- Sampras frankly didn't impress much. One thing I've noticed in his recent exos is how much pop he has lost on his serve, which was still pretty big just a year or two ago. But then he did win the whole shebang just the day before, so maybe I've happened to catch him on bad days.
- Both Agassi and Courier still can and did knock the bejesus out of the ball. Of course we already know this, but Courier's BH was really a surprise, because I don't remember him generating such pace with it, especially CC. (I didn't keep an exact count, but I doubt he fared all that worse in his BH exchanges with Agassi.) How much of that is due to the equipment or my hazy memory, I can't say.
- None of these guys are slouches at the net; even Agassi displayed some good touch up there. (For the record I do think Agassi's touch is often overlooked, but you don't really expect it in the front court apart from a few swinging volleys.) Chang and even Courier would be considered among the better net players today.
And I do agree with you on the CE being somewhere between WWE and the ATP, probably a little more towards the latter. Well, except for Mac and Connors, of course.