Originally Posted by ClairHarmony
Either footspeed/reach or an impestuous ability to simply bonk winners wherever when finding yourself in King Kong form for the day. Guys like Bruguera/Ferreira had the cagey kind of athleticism you need (think soccer player style) to run down balls with a flourish. Agassi was a pigeon-toed by comparison. But unlike Chang, Bruguera/Ferreira also had big forehands themselves, and the ability to loop it with extreme top (no one had a more varied array of arc on a 2-handed backhand than Bruguera, from lofty moonballs to shoelace top pickups to penetrating screamers...he mixed it up extremely well off this side when on) in the case of Bruguera. They returned just fine (Ferreira off both wings), and Bruguera's weak dink forehand return was actually almost a neutralizing/frustrating advantage against net rushers, why? Because he had the speed off the mark to flag down the first volley, while the dink did not give the net rusher enough zing with which to put it away (the classic problem you encounter when you stand way back to get full pace in, like Muster...but end up giving your opponent to much open court, angle, and pace to work with if you don't smack it just absolutely smack dab righteously).
Agassi's average to slightly above average (in his youth) footspeed, the problem he ran into with Sampras on the fast stuff especially (that era was really more geared toward Sampras' game than these days, back then it was far more unfair to the extreme grippers, but now it favors them...this is what happens you cater to only one side of the equation, respecting the right to be great equally all around not exactly the same)...just didn't cut-it when it came down to it against a *streaking* Sampras. That's what Sampras do...he'll come out of nowhere, and explode...and bullet forehand suddenly streaks to a corner, not expecting to be caught up to...but Bruguera/Ferreira could also suddenly go all spider man on you, and *could*...and this is where Agassi would fail. The key to taking Agassi out of his game was always the same. Whether by cutesy behind the back angles...anything to get him to *stretch.* Or, if you could get enough top on the ball, to *force* him to stand way back...his swings were actually quite flat, and meant to *deaden* the ball if you will, *from primarily up close.* That's really how he "geared," and "fine-tuned" his swings. Small takeback on the backhand, but with a vicious follow-through. Large, but mostly straight almost, *hack down* on the ball, feeling-ish take back on the forehand, like how a hungry pirate would instinctively look to do it with his rusty sword, if on the 44th day on the tuna fishless sea, he imagine a plump, hard pineapple magically appearing to appear from out of nowhere on a *deck stump*...how would he react? T-hwACK!!! That's kind of how Agassi saw ball, as something to thwack down upon visciously, cold-cut, clean-slicing through hard pineapple, *clinical.* At his best, he did with surgical precision and could mishit not once all day...*unless* you had someway to get him off his perch. Move that birdie off his branch, and those claws didn't move sideways like that...he lost his feathers quickly then...*in his youth.* But then, he worked on it. And even with bad matchups, which Sampras *definitely* was for him style-wise (I don't think Sampras and his fans play this up enough, because then it'd of course take away from their legacy in a big way..but it's just the truth...Sampras' game/strengths simply just out and out matched up better with Agassi's, than the other way around. Furthermore, heavy top to Sampras' backhand was more likely to give him rhtyhm problems than simply blasting it semi-flat there, which in a way, gave Sampras less time to think, and more time to unload...which is what he did best, randomly unload on you...and suddenly send you scurrying off-guard at any time, from anywhere...that he missed a lot too, was what made it in a way more effective, you just didn't know how/when to brace for...as Courier said, he could be doing keeling over on the ground barely pushing-ups one second, then SLAP! shot from heck, and I'll be darn, I didn't really see that coming...*point over.* With his serve allowing him to stay even on cruise control...this proved to be a both a highly effective and *intelligent* formula to play with.).
Sampras was the master of the *ricochet* effect in tennis. That's how his forehands came out you randomly at the most opportune of times. You better be *quick* enough to do something about it, bcs. you ain't gonna get many chances to break him, that's for *sure.* Agassi was no ballerina on the run, he was all thumble, and desperate, lunges, and *-acks!* at the ball by comparison. From the center of the court, in *dominator* position, no one's ever struck it so cleanly and with such conviction with *so few mishits* as Agassi did when on. This is why he had a field day with Ferreira. A big forehand...*but one that's neither flat enough, angley-cutesy enough, or hurrican high-bounding topspun enoungh* to get him out of his decidedly, lawn-mower on a string...mindset, his most comfortable "flow" if you will. And Ferreira's merely reliable, solid, and totally *non-threatening* bakchand...made it all the easier. He didn't care if you were faster than him, in this matchup it really didn't matter. Ferreira wasn't going to be able to run down shots corner to corner ALL day long...*because that's what it'd take.* Agassi saw Ferreira as his Thai-clinch, plumb, heaven-sent. He could rag-doll him all day from this position, and it was very much pleasurable to him. We all love to dominate when the matchup suits. Really a player's maturity and growth as a player, however, is marked by their ability to keep-up the good stamina and will power...when things just aren't going your way today, and for *very good* reason. When you accept that these are the best in the world, and sometimes it just takes a little something more...this is where ESTP's often fail. The *most* naturally confident in the *unproblematic* matchups, see Rios/Hingis...but allow themselves to wilt too easily, "take their ball and go home" if will is a tag that often follows them, when things don't go their way. You have to really give Agassi credit for finding all the humility in the world to recognize where he was *weak,* and *go down* as that 1-of-a-kind, *inspiring* "legend" as a result. He didn't have to look inside, but he did. Philipoussis, also an ESTP, didn't.