Agassi v Rafter a more entertaining rivalry than Agassi v Sampras?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Cuculain, Jan 21, 2011.

  1. Cuculain

    Cuculain New User

    Nov 9, 2010
    Dublin Ireland.
    Everyone always talks about the Agassi v Sampras rivalry, but I always felt that for some reason Agassi rarely played his best tennis against Sampras, he seemed to have a mental block against him. Also Sampras heavy serving game was never the most entertaining to watch.

    the matches between Agassi and Rafter however were always very exciting and their two Wimbledon semis in particular were fantastic matches. I know the head to head for them is 10-5 to Agassi , but does anyone else feel that Agassi's matches with Rafter often brought out the best in him?
  2. Gemini

    Gemini Hall of Fame

    Mar 1, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    I'd agree with that to an existent. Agassi's matches with Rafter allowed him to showcase his skills more completely than when he played Sampras.
  3. BrooklynNY

    BrooklynNY Hall of Fame

    Sep 9, 2010
    Yeah, that's due to Rafter having 1/16th of the weaponry that Sampras possesses, therefore allowing Agassi to 'showcase' his skills.

    I don't agree with the OP's idea of him having a mental block or not playing his best tennis whenever they play. That sounds like a Fed-diehard's excuse for his h2h with Nadal. Nadal's game doesn't allow Fed to do what he wants when he wants all the time, Same as Sampras to Agassi. They both have unique games which are based on dictating and dominating.
  4. vive le beau jeu !

    vive le beau jeu ! G.O.A.T.

    Mar 4, 2006
    Ometepe, Pink Granite, Queyras, Kerguelen (...)
    they had some great matches. these 5 setters at W 2000/2001 and at the AO 2001 (too bad rafter couldn't play at 100% at the end, but still... it was an entertaining match !) were really great.
    and i also liked USO 1997. i know it was the "flop" year for agassi, but i think he didn't play bad in this particular match...
  5. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

    Aug 12, 2007
    Agreed. I would think that Agassi could go out there and tweak his game.
  6. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Nov 12, 2009
    Cwmbran, Wales
    I agree. Agassi vs. Rafter matches were always very entertaining, with their 2000 Wimbledon, 2001 Australian Open and 2001 Wimbledon semi finals being classics.

    With Agassi vs. Sampras, I was disappointed by Agassi's flatness when playing Sampras in most of their big matches, and they rarely both played great in the same match. I think Agassi had an inferiority complex when playing him because it disturbed Agassi that Sampras didn't seem to need inspiration to play his best tennis. Still, Agassi did win all 3 of their slam matches at the Australian Open and French Open, so it's not all bad for him.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2011
  7. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

    Apr 13, 2004
    You're absolutely correct. Sampras simply didn't allow Agassi to play his best tennis. If we were really to buy such a premise, then if Agassi could not play his best tennis against such a rival, over all those matches, because of a "mental" block...well...not much of a champion then is he?
  8. Devilito

    Devilito Hall of Fame

    Jun 10, 2009
    Andre liked to dominate from the baseline. He wasn’t comfortable unless he was dictating points. Andre didn’t like to run around a lot, he played his best staying on the baseline and making others run side to side. One thing people always seem to forget was that Petros had great groundstrokes. Not always the most consistent, but on fast courts he could turn a defense into offence better than anyone and really put pressure on baseliners better than anybody. Rafter had a great service game but he couldn’t put the pressure on Andre like Petros could.
  9. BrooklynNY

    BrooklynNY Hall of Fame

    Sep 9, 2010
    I think its just a matter of 1 player being able to take another out of their comfort zone, and one not really possessing obvious threats and roadblocks(IE: breaking a huge serve)

    I like Rafter, but his game is more crafty, whereas Sampras is more like "this is my game, here I come, either come up with the magic or you will eventually be overtaken"

    Crafty players sometimes allow too much leeway and potential for their opponents to dominate them. For instance, Look at Murray against some of the more dominating, game imposing, top players, who dictate the pace of play, which on a good day can sometimes be 'unplayable'.(Sampras, Nadal)
  10. Jack Romeo

    Jack Romeo Professional

    Mar 11, 2004
    in agassi's book, he says that he felt his matches with rafter were more exciting compared to his matches with pete. he explains that pete would play sort of hit-or-miss and not seem to be really into the match but because of his serve, he would keep the score close. then he would suddenly raise his game near the end of a set. just like that, andre would fall behind even if he had not yet gotten a good feel of the match. in contrast, rafter played well from start to finish, so it forced andre to play well himself. he felt that the quality of play from both of them was higher overall from start to finish. they had a good contrast in styles and the rallies were more enjoyable.

    actually, i was sort of surprised to read that from his book because i remember his matches with rafter at wimbledon. he lost 5 setters to patrick in 2000 and 2001. in both instances, he was criticized in his post match conferences for lacking graciousness.
  11. yellow ball

    yellow ball New User

    Jan 5, 2010
    Agree !! Agassi vs. Rafter matches were epic !!
  12. Tagg

    Tagg New User

    Dec 4, 2012
    agassi versus rafter in the wimbledon SFs were superb

    sampras was just good for agassi. unless it was on clay or very slow hardcourt like canada, australian open or miami, sampras just demolished him

    and that was in the later part of the 90s. in the mid 90s sampras went toe to toe with agassi on the baseline

    rafter didn't have the big serve, so he had to work for everything when S and Ving

    agassi loved playing becker, read his serve perfectly. and of course he beat goran at wimbledon 92, and had the positive head versus rafter overall

    but with sampras, forget it. agassi was firmly second best
  13. Sabratha

    Sabratha Talk Tennis Guru

    Jun 6, 2012
    I enjoyed the matches between these two.
  14. World Beater

    World Beater Hall of Fame

    Sep 22, 2007

    preferred agassi - rafter.

    but agassi - sampras for the other intangibles.
  15. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

    Feb 11, 2011
    I would say agassi was hurt a little by his era. the fast courts were not perfect for him and I also think that despite his good return S&V players did not suit him all that well because he was not the quickest guy and had flat strokes (top is harder to volley because it dips more).

    I think with his early and hard striking he could have done very well against some of the topspin grinders today. fed is not a good matchup for him but I think guys like rafa or murray would suit him well.
  16. Sabratha

    Sabratha Talk Tennis Guru

    Jun 6, 2012
    He could beat Djokovic too.
  17. Laurie

    Laurie Guest

    I haven't read Agassi's book but I wouldn't be surprised:

    1. Agassi has a 10-5 advantage over Rafter although Rafter won some big matches at Wimbledon and US Open.

    2. Rafter had to come up with lots of schemes to win, that in essence would be more enjoyable for Agassi to play than someone who can potentially be destructive to you at any moment with winners off the serve, volley or groundstroke.

    If I was a player at that level, I would prefer to play Rafter than Sampras for fairly obvious reasons.

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