Could Hewitt return prime Sampras's serve better than Agassi?

dmt

Hall of Fame
Could Hewitt return prime Sampras's serve better than Agassi?

Hewitt did have a 5-4 winning record over Sampras. And while Sampras was in his prime in 1999, he was inconsistent in 2000 and 2001.

Could Hewitt return prime Sampras's serve better than Agassi? If so, why? I have heard from some older fans that Andre was perhaps too agressive on the first serve return while Hewitt's greater flexibility and agility would allow him to return better.

Better does not mean Hewitt would necessarily win the match itself. We are purely talking about returning serve effectively, and chances of breaking prime Sampras's serve.
 
Could Hewitt return prime Sampras's serve better than Agassi?

Hewitt did have a 5-4 winning record over Sampras. And while Sampras was in his prime in 1999, he was inconsistent in 2000 and 2001.

Could Hewitt return prime Sampras's serve better than Agassi? If so, why? I have heard from some older fans that Andre was perhaps too agressive on the first serve return while Hewitt's greater flexibility and agility would allow him to return better.

Better does not mean Hewitt would necessarily win the match itself. We are purely talking about returning serve effectively, and chances of breaking prime Sampras's serve.
Yes
Agassi wasn't very good at returning the first serve of Sampras. Players that were not as good as Agassi were much better at returning the serve of Sampras and put him under a lot of pressure, like Wayne Ferreira . The Sampras Ferreira h2h is 7-6 with 6-6 on fast surfaces (Sampras won easily their only match on clay)


Agassi was not focused on returning as many first serves as possible. He got aced a lot. I don't know if it has been broken, but the record of most aces in a match used to be Joachim Johansson vs Agassi in Australian Open 2005
 

BorgTheGOAT

Hall of Fame
Yes
Agassi wasn't very good at returning the first serve of Sampras. Players that were not as good as Agassi were much better at returning the serve of Sampras and put him under a lot of pressure, like Wayne Ferreira . The Sampras Ferreira h2h is 7-6 with 6-6 on fast surfaces (Sampras won easily their only match on clay)


Agassi was not focused on returning as many first serves as possible. He got aced a lot. I don't know if it has been broken, but the record of most aces in a match used to be Joachim Johansson vs Agassi in Australian Open 2005
Has been broken several times but your point still stands that Agassi got aced a lot. Other than Johansson, of the top of my head Philippoussies got 46 aces against him at Wimbledon 2003, Sampras himself hit his personal career best of 37 aces against Agassi in AO SF 2000 and Rafter (not necessarily known for hitting high numbers of aces) got 22 and 30 aces respectively in their encounters at AO and Wimbledon 2001.
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
Hewitt seemed to read the Sampras serve unnusually well, he made his second serve look pedestrian at times.
 

Bambooman

Semi-Pro
Has been broken several times but your point still stands that Agassi got aced a lot. Other than Johansson, of the top of my head Philippoussies got 46 aces against him at Wimbledon 2003, Sampras himself hit his personal career best of 37 aces against Agassi in AO SF 2000 and Rafter (not necessarily known for hitting high numbers of aces) got 22 and 30 aces respectively in their encounters at AO and Wimbledon 2001.
I think Ivanesivic aced Agassi around 39 times in the '92 final. The stat was something like Goran had more aces in the match than Agassi had in the whole tournament.
 

Heuristic

Hall of Fame
Agassi has a very high "aced against" record, but so did Hewitt.

Hewitt had a better defensive return, Agassi a better offensive return.
 
Hewitt is someone that was majorly unlucky with the trend of the game towards more baseline only play, and slowed down courts. You see how when Federer played an all court game, Hewitt had success vs him. Granted Federer wasn't fully prime for nearly all of that, but even so. Then when Federer began playing more exclusively at the baseline, Hewitt could do virtually nothing to hurt him. He also began doing worse vs Roddick, although he still had some success. He just didn't have enough firepower to hit through another top baseliner, who played similarily good defense and could hang in rallies. Especialy with the slowed down conditions, with faster conditions he could take the ball early and be able to hit winners more, but not with the slower courts. He did not have the explosive power to hit through on that. He needed players who were at the top to be coming in sometimes to thrive.
 

GameSetR

Rookie
It goes both ways. Hewitt was hurt by the shift away from S&V, I agree, but he also benefitted from facing faded versions of these guys.

Pete can be humble and say that Hewitt always gives him trouble, and yeah, Hewitt probably always would give a good account of himself against Pete. However, prime Sampras, prime Edberg, and prime McEnroe are three S&V guys who would basically hand Hewitt his ***.

Also, I think Hewitt is a guy who would peak early regardless of era, because he was so dependent on his speed and intensity.

A lot harder to counter the same kind of shots when you lose even a tiny bit of speed. So I think that explains why he peaked in the early 00s.
 
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NatF

Bionic Poster
Hewitt is someone that was majorly unlucky with the trend of the game towards more baseline only play, and slowed down courts. You see how when Federer played an all court game, Hewitt had success vs him. Granted Federer wasn't fully prime for nearly all of that, but even so. Then when Federer began playing more exclusively at the baseline, Hewitt could do virtually nothing to hurt him. He also began doing worse vs Roddick, although he still had some success. He just didn't have enough firepower to hit through another top baseliner, who played similarily good defense and could hang in rallies. Especialy with the slowed down conditions, with faster conditions he could take the ball early and be able to hit winners more, but not with the slower courts. He did not have the explosive power to hit through on that. He needed players who were at the top to be coming in sometimes to thrive.
Hewitt actually went nearly even with Federer in baseline rallies in slam matches in 04-05 (besides the USO final). Biggest difference between them was the serve and Federer having a get out of jail free card in the forehand.
 

NedStark

Semi-Pro
It goes both ways. Hewitt was hurt by the shift away from S&V, I agree, but he also benefitted from facing faded versions of these guys.

Pete can be humble and say that Hewitt always gives him trouble, and yeah, Hewitt probably always would give a good account of himself against Pete. However, prime Sampras, prime Edberg, and prime McEnroe are three S&V guys who would basically hand Hewitt his ***.

Also, I think Hewitt is a guy who would peak early regardless of era, because he was so dependent on his speed and intensity.

A lot harder to counter the same kind of shots when you lose even a tiny bit of speed. So I think that explains why he peaked in the early 00s.
We could say that the early 2000s conditions, which were already slowed down a lot compared to the early/mid-1990s, were ideal for Hewitt in that they were fast enough for him to use/redirect pace but not too fast that he could not chase down the balls.

By the way, up until 2001/2002, Queens grass was slower than Wimbledon grass.
 
He never won a title on carpet even though the surface existed during his prime from 2000 to 2005, but he was very good on grass. It's a bit weird. Could carpet have been faster than grass back then?
 

goldengate14

Professional
Hewitt may hsve been able to get more serves back but nobody had a more damaging return than Agassi when he got his racket on the ball. agassi loved playing serve volleyers except Sampras and that was because Sampras could beat him from the baseline and so Agassi was never as sure what he would get from Sampras on 2nd serve and nobody varied and disguised the 1st serve better than Sampras which kept Agassi off balance. Hewitt never faced prime Sampras as by time Hewitt emerged Sampras was slower getting into the net behind his serve which meant he was volleying from below his knees more than in his prime
 
Ah...Rusty the racist. I'll never forget his unconscionable comment to the chair umpire regarding a linesman's race (and how "they" were ganging up on paw, widdle Rusty). An arrogant little scumbag who deserved to have his ears pinned back - Jon Gruden in tennis shorts.

P.S. good service return, but an asshole's asshole
 

FD3S

Hall of Fame
While he'd be able to deal with the serve better than Agassi did because he'd gamble a lot less, Hewitt IMO would fare a lot worse against a peak Sampras overall simply because peak Sampras (much like peak Federer) was a ferocious all courter that could beat your brains in from either the baseline or the net. In contrast, the Sampras that Hewitt got to play most of the time had switched to constant net rushing, something that his game was very well equipped to defend against given the quality of his defensive/neutralizing returns, passing shots and lobs.
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
agassi always stood so close to the baseline to return mabey he should
have varied it a bit but it wasnt his style
 

Blahovic

Rookie
I ultimately think that, when you're a dominant server, playing a returner who just keeps getting the ball solidly back in play is more annoying than anything else.

I say this as a relatively big server at the amateur level -- there's nothing worse than being accustomed to getting free points and/or very easy first balls, and simply not getting them. The success of Djokovic/Murray (and, in a different way, Nadal) shows this at the top level.
 

JasonZ

Professional
everyone returned sampras serve better than agassi, except maybe cedric pioline. i think 50 % of aces sampras has hit in his career was against agassi. most OVERRATED return in history. by the way, sampras serve is also overrated.
 
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NedStark

Semi-Pro
Hewitt actually went nearly even with Federer in baseline rallies in slam matches in 04-05 (besides the USO final). Biggest difference between them was the serve and Federer having a get out of jail free card in the forehand.
He bulked up like 15lb in 2004 to increase power, but at the expense of his pace.
 
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NAS

Hall of Fame
everyone returned sampras serve better than agassi, except maybe cedric pioline. i think 50 % of aces sampras has hit in his career was against agassi. most OVERRATED return in history. by the way, sampras serve is also overrated.
Going to say the same, Agassi was overrated returner.
On pure returning skill, Hewitt was better, in today age Novak
 
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