Originally Posted by NonP
Did you at least follow that last link? To wit, for all the talk about the courts slowing down and players returning better than ever, %s of service games held have actually increased overall since the 1990s. I haven't crunched and compiled the numbers for other stats, but a cursory look told me the 1st-serve %, # of aces and just about every other service stat have seen an uptick. Simply put the whole talking point about the return of serve revolutionizing the game is largely a myth, and I explain why in those posts I linked.
And this disconnect becomes clearer when you go further back. Stats for the previous decades are harder to come by, but it's almost certain that the old-timers got fewer freebies than their '90s successors, let alone today's players, as even the best servers back then generally had a lower % of their serves unreturned than their more recent counterparts by about 10 percentage points (give or take a few). And that was when more players were eager to follow their serves to the net, which forced their opponent to take more risks on their returns. The truth of the matter is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, there has arguably never been an easier time than now in which to hold serve.
Put him in the 2000s and Pete probably wins a slightly higher % of service games. Also you seem unaware that it's really in the return game where the legends distinguish themselves from the one-time Slammers or lesser players. There's actually not much in the service department that separates Pete and the likes of Roddick, Goran, Karlovic, Krajicek, Arthurs, Philippoussis and Johansson, who often post higher numbers. But look at the return stats and you see a big gulp, as you see in this case: over 27% of return games won on average for Pete and 21-22% for Roddick in their respective best years (if we're talking about the very best year the gap widens even more, since Pete won over 29% in '94). And then there's the fact that Pete faced higher-ranked opponents more often, though I personally think this oft-cited factor is minor in most comparisons.
I do suggest that you browse and study the ATP stats carefully, as they confirm what careful observers (including a few here like krosero and Moose) have been saying for years but still remain mostly unknown to the casual fans. And frankly at this point there's no more excuse for remaining ignorant and buying the media tripe. (Not talking about you in particular, BTW. Just making a general point.)
I read that last link, and I found that your arguments unconvincing. With higher hold % in the 2000s, you can only deduce that players have gotten better at holding serves (IMO due to a combination of better serves and much better baseline games, despite the advances in return games). I'll give you a couple of counter examples - Nadal and Djokovic 2.0. Neither possess GOAT-like serves, but their hold %s are GOAT-esque. Also, there is not a single player in the top 10 today that has their serve as the major weapon.
which brings us to Roddick.. despite his relatively poor baseline/net game, he has surpassed Pete in hold %. what does that tell you about his serve as a stand alone shot? Put him in a situation where the conditions were faster, poorer returners and poorer baseline games (90s), and you have a more lethal version of Roddick.