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Old 01-25-2013, 12:51 AM   #55
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Originally Posted by krosero View Post
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.
Yes, Pete's "slams only matter" attitude got even more pronounced as he got older, in 2000-2002 period Sampras won 2 slams and made 4 slam finals overall (3 in a row at USO), Lendl by comparison made 2 slam finals winning one in the same period while being ranked higher, having better winning %, performing better in non-slam tourneys etc. so their career trends continued into their "twilight" years.

Originally Posted by krosero View Post
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.
This is where it gets a bit harder to compare, an all-out serve and volley affair like Fed-Sampras is bound to have less UFEs, IIRC (I didn't watch that match in a while) Sampras-Lendl USO match had much more baseline points, longer average rally length etc.

Originally Posted by krosero View Post
Whether or not that's true, they're comparable victories.

Originally Posted by krosero View Post
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."
Oh no doubt, if Sampras continued the level he showed against Fed I would have given him an excellent chance to win the whole tourney.

Same with Lendl, I always disagree when the topic is about slams Pete took away from Agassi (slams which Dre would have won if Pete wasn't in the field) and people mention 1990 USO, IMO without Sampras Lendl would have won that USO, he was still doing very well against Agassi at the time (and Agassi was still known to be a bit of a choker).

Originally Posted by krosero View Post
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.
I agree that individual matches should be evaluated but the decline in general and potential level of play also plays a role, I'm not one of the people who believe that as players age it's merely their consistency in playing their best tennis that is worse, I think their best level also loses a lot of its potency.

For example I do think Sampras played his at the time best tennis he was capable of against Fed in 2001 but his best tennis of 2001 wasn't his best tennis of 1993 and 1994 for example.

Sure, he served great against Fed but the memory gets muddled over the years and people forget how quick Sampras was in his peak days (that's one of his most underrated attributes), Fed IMO in addition to returning Pete's serve well also exposed how much his movement declined from his peak years.

Last edited by zagor; 01-25-2013 at 12:53 AM.
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