Originally Posted by pc1
Lendl was at the decline phase of his career in 1990 but he was 54-12 for the year winning five tournaments. It still was an excellent win for Sampras at the US Open.
Originally Posted by zagor
Winning % and number of titles matter little when it comes to slam performances, as I said for me it was the same as Fed's win over Sampras at Wimbledon, a solid win but nothing special.
Lendl was always consistent throughout the year, whereas Sampras by 2001 really cared about nothing but the Slams. So comparing their overall season record is misleading here. It makes it seem like beating Lendl in 1990 was a greater achievement than beating Sampras in '01. Really they were very comparable wins.
Sampras d. Lendl in 5 sets, just like Federer d. Sampras in '01. Sampras made 57 unforced errors against Lendl, and 22 against Federer. That is more or less comparable, because the first match took place at the USO where you would expect more UE's than on grass. But if anything it's arguable that Sampras put up a better performance in the '01 match than he did to beat Lendl in 1990.
Whether or not that's true, they're comparable victories.
If Sampras had gotten past Federer he would have faced Henman, Ivanisevic and Rafter, three men whom he had repeatedly beaten at Wimbledon. He had a great chance to win there and continue his streak; he'd won the last four Wimbledons.
If Lendl had gotten past Sampras in '90, he would have faced McEnroe and Agassi -- again, a great chance for Lendl to continue his great run at the USO (Lendl was not defending champion in '90 but he still owned that tournament as much as anyone did back then).
So in a lot of ways Lendl at the USO in 1990, and Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001, were comparable "scalps."
This raises the whole issue of how wins should be evaluated. Let's say you beat a great champion who's had a fantastic year but you did it on a day when that champion was genuinely having a bad day. At another Slam you beat a lower-ranked player whose record for the year is not great (he never has great overall seasons), but you did it on a day when that lower-ranked player was playing lights out, up at the level of the greatest champions. Maybe the lower-ranked player can only reach that level on that one day, but to my mind a victory over him should be worth at least as much as the victory over the off-form alltime great, and probably should be worth more.
Sampras in '01 was no longer having great seasons and could only bring his top level at the Slams -- and even then, only certain Slams -- but when he did, a victory over him was worth a great deal.
I just think that the match itself should be evaluated, if possible
. In older eras when the match is no longer on video and there are no longer any stats for it, you have no choice but to look at the overall season in order to infer how a champion played in a certain match (for example you would argue: X champion had a great year in 1927, so a victory over him at the 1927 Wimbledon was truly impressive. Or: this other champion was very much on the decline by 1948, so the victory over him at Forest Hills is not so impressive). But today we don't need to go the indirect route to evaluate a victory: the encounter itself can be evaluated on its own terms.