Greatest forehand of all time! Not greatest ground game or greatest baseliner.

SamprasisGOAT

Professional
This thread is not about the greatest baseline game or greatest movement or the greatest ground strokes overall.

It’s about one shot.
The forehand.

Pete Sampras has the greatest forehand of all time.
Now that’s Not a sentence you here on these forums and I’m sure this will be a controversial thread but anyway back to petes forehand.
He’s got the greatest forehand of all times. It’s a fact. The human eye can judge it alone. Nothing else is needed really to make the judgment. He could do anything he wanted to do with it. Blast winners or dictate play. Go for it or be patient. The flatness, heaviness and adaptability is what makes it stand out.
Sampras copied lendls forehand stroke mechanics because Lendl was the player Sampras rooted for over McEnroe and Connors in the 80s as a kid. He also trained with Lendl in 1988 for a month.
Lendl and Sampras both had the pointed elbow preparation and that’s what gave them power and control on the forehand.
Basically Pete took lendls forehand and bettered it. Used it in a different way. With petes blood condition and his lack of stamina training/bad diet he used his forehand to hit clean winners instead of dictate points and moving his opponent around like Lendl did on clay. But Sampras and Lendl have forehands that were very similar in mechanics and technique. Sampras if he had the stamina and movement could easily have won the French open with his forehand alone. But he couldn’t move to well on clay and wasn’t fit enough.
Look at the agassi matches with Sampras. Agassi always went to petes backhand side because agassi knew the point was over if petes forehand was involved. A big compliment to Pete.
A shot to pieces Agassi in 2005 was out hitting a prime Federer forehand to forehand. Only 3 years earlier Sampras had blasted Andre off the court with his forehand.
Agassi had an overall better ground game then Sampras. But forehand to forehand Sampras clearly wins.
Many players have better overall ground games and baseline games then Sampras and would probably win most matches overall if Sampras always stayed back and rallied with them. That’s why Sampras wasn’t a pure baseliner and stuck to his serve and volley in most big matches.
Better baseliners and overall ground games were
Lendl
Djokovic
Federer
Nadal
Borg
Agassi
Connors
Wilander
hell even safin and Hewitt and Murray and wawrinka but none had a better forehand.
 
Last edited:

SamprasisGOAT

Professional
Dude was the most complete player since Laver. Awesome serve, great volleys, great groundies (and didn't even grow up with a one hander).
Wasn't called Sweet Pete for nothing.
Dude was the most complete player since Laver. Awesome serve, great volleys, great groundies (and didn't even grow up with a one hander).
Wasn't called Sweet Pete for nothing.
Is it just me or has Pete got a few more fans posting lately? I like it. How it should be. I think with Federer likely being passed in slams soon people are starting to see the bigger picture.
 

SaintPetros

Hall of Fame
Is it just me or has Pete got a few more fans posting lately? I like it. How it should be. I think with Federer likely being passed in slams soon people are starting to see the bigger picture.
I think there was an iron curtain that descended after Roger started dominating that made people scared to speak up, kinda like the PC culture we're currently experiencing.
With the slam count being so fragile in this generation I think that iron curtain is starting to lift.
 

BeatlesFan

Bionic Poster
Pete Sampras has the greatest forehand of all time.
I saw Pete and Andre both play as juniors. I saw 3 matches where they played against one another. I watched both of them practice at least 40 times each.

Andre's FH was in another dimension from Pete's. No comparison in accuracy or velocity. Andre's FH was superior in every capacity except the running FH.
 

SaintPetros

Hall of Fame
I saw Pete and Andre both play as juniors. I saw 3 matches where they played against one another. I watched both of them practice at least 40 times each.

Andre's FH was in another dimension from Pete's. No comparison in accuracy or velocity. Andre's FH was superior in every capacity except the running FH.
Big difference between juniors and pros. Darren Cahill used to watch Fed as a junior and said you could drive a truck through his backhand.
 
Last edited:

droliver

Professional
Sampras forehand was flashy, but nowhere near the best on tour. His pedestrian clay results make the case clearer then anything for that. It's ridiculous to assert that someone with a consensus candidate for best serve ever would also have the best forehand, and still struggle to post results on clay. Does not compute.

Sampras was good enough on serve, movement, and aggression to work around some (relative) inconsistency off the backcourt, but he did not have groundstrokes of the ages off either side. If you had given him an average ATP serve rather then the serve of the gods he had, he might not have been a top 30-40 player.
 
D

Deleted member 77403

Guest
Watch the 2007 Sampras vs prime Federer matches.

It’s obvious Sampras has the better forehand. So heavy
No it is not. Sampras has the better first and second serve, the better volleys, the better smash. Off the ground Federer has him beat off of both wings. And I am not sure why you are using an exhibition to compare them, that is a not real match. Federer's spin was only passed at the time by Nadal's for heaviness.
 

TheFifthSet

Legend
No it is not. Sampras has the better first and second serve, the better volleys, the better smash. Off the ground Federer has him beat off of both wings. And I am not sure why you are using an exhibition to compare them, that is a not real match. Federer's spin was only passed at the time by Nadal's for heaviness.
And even the smash is basically a wash as the difference between, say, the best smash ever and the third best (numbers I’m pulling out of my ass) is basically a couple of points a year.
 
D

Deleted member 77403

Guest
And even the smash is basically a wash as the difference between, say, the best smash ever and the third best (numbers I’m pulling out of my ass) is basically a couple of points a year.
Well I see arguments both ways, I personally give the smash to Sampras, but the forehand is certainly Federer's.
 

TheFifthSet

Legend
Well I see arguments both ways, I personally give the smash to Sampras, but the forehand is certainly Federer's.

Oh I hear you, I just mean once a player achieves a certain proficiency with the overhead the difference between them and the other great OH’s is paper-thin. It’s like the difference between a 90% and 89.5% ft shooter...both are basically automatic.
 
D

Deleted member 77403

Guest
Oh I hear you, I just mean once a player achieves a certain proficiency with the overhead the difference between them and the other great OH’s is paper-thin. It’s like the difference between a 90% and 89.5% ft shooter...both are basically automatic.
Point fully taken. I agree.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
Sampras and Lendl hit their forehands the only way they could using a 14-15oz stick. There wasn't an ATP forehand yet. Racquet technology hadn't evolved to the point of being able to hit an effective wristy forehand.
Fed was hitting his wristy FH fine with the PS 85 (obviously he was young and he wasn't physically developed). Granted he didn't pack lead tape onto it the way Pete did. I know someone who once held Pete's racket and he said the thing was like a club.
 

ChrisRF

Hall of Fame
Sampras' forehand is underrated (his whole ground game is actually). Greatest running forehand, maybe. But it's definitely not the greatest overall. That honour belongs to Federer or possibly Nadal
You think Nadal has the better forehand overall but Sampras the better running forehand? That’s strange, because Nadal’s most famous forehand shot is the running banana passing shot.

Just watch videos of peak Nadal turning defense into immediately winning the point with that shot (or even crosscourt with extreme use of his wrist). That’s the best running forehand of all time by a wide margin.

Look what Sampras did here (at 4:00):

It was the shot of the match, and I admit that back then I was stunned. But later Nadal hit that shot (and better ones) like 10 times in every match.
 

JoelSandwich

Hall of Fame
You think Nadal has the better forehand overall but Sampras the better running forehand? That’s strange, because Nadal’s most famous forehand shot is the running banana passing shot.

Just watch videos of peak Nadal turning defense into immediately winning the point with that shot (or even crosscourt with extreme use of his wrist). That’s the best running forehand of all time by a wide margin.

Look what Sampras did here (at 4:00):

It was the shot of the match, and I admit that back then I was stunned. But later Nadal hit that shot (and better ones) like 10 times in every match.
Equipment matters too
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
It really depends what you value. Federer and Nadal's forehands are a great example of two shots that are equally perfect for their player's game, but they both have strengths and weaknesses that the other doesn't.

Jack Kramer, Lew Hoad and Ellsworth Vines all regarded Pancho Segura's two-handed forehand as the greatest shot in tennis history.

My favourite forehand is Fernando Gonzalez's.
 

KINGROGER

G.O.A.T.
Watch the 2007 Sampras vs prime Federer matches.

It’s obvious Sampras has the better forehand. So heavy
Imagine peak Sampras with modern bazooka rackets???? Probably wins 10 Wimbledon’s and 8 USOs...

Federer had a slightly more solid BH and did better on clay only thanks to better fitness and ZERO clay court specialists outside of nadal in the finals where he got OWNED every time.

Plus PETE would NEVER lose a Wimbledon final to a grinder like Djokovic.. or claycourter Nadal ... he’d throw down a 2nd serve ace on those MP
 

SaintPetros

Hall of Fame
Imagine peak Sampras with modern bazooka rackets???? Probably wins 10 Wimbledon’s and 8 USOs...

Federer had a slightly more solid BH and did better on clay only thanks to better fitness and ZERO clay court specialists outside of nadal in the finals where he got OWNED every time.

Plus PETE would NEVER lose a Wimbledon final to a grinder like Djokovic.. or claycourter Nadal ... he’d throw down a 2nd serve ace on those MP
'greed...hell PETE would throw down a THIRD serve ace on the FIRST match point and LOL about it.
 
Imagine peak Sampras with modern bazooka rackets???? Probably wins 10 Wimbledon’s and 8 USOs...

Federer had a slightly more solid BH and did better on clay only thanks to better fitness and ZERO clay court specialists outside of nadal in the finals where he got OWNED every time.

Plus PETE would NEVER lose a Wimbledon final to a grinder like Djokovic.. or claycourter Nadal ... he’d throw down a 2nd serve ace on those MP
Not slightly more solid, he could take several Nadal forehands in a row, on clay, with that backhand. Sampras' shot wasn't even close to as good as his.
 

SamprasisGOAT

Professional
Not slightly more solid, he could take several Nadal forehands in a row, on clay, with that backhand. Sampras' shot wasn't even close to as good as his.
I agree Sampras backhand was weak. His stamina nowhere near the stamina of the great baseliners. His defence and court coverage not as good. His footwork and movement especially on clay was no where near either but his forehand was the greatest. So was his 2nd serve, overhead, mental strength
 

ChrisRF

Hall of Fame
Equipment matters too
Of course, I mention this regularly in my own posts. But Nadal did it much more often than anyone else in his era, so he is outstanding against players with the same equipment as well. And he was much better defensive than Sampras (who was mainly an offensive player) with much better footwork, so his running forehand is naturally much better as well. Otherwise Sampras would also be better on clay.

Also it is almost beyond belief that anyone in history can eclipse Nadal’s running forehand even with the same equipment. But to imagine that would be someone who was happy when he didn’t have to rallye from the baseline is impossible.

The "normal" first-strike attacking forehand from Sampras could be similarly good as Nadal’s with the same equipment though.
 

Pantera

Banned
'greed. Pete pioneered a lot of the shots that Fed would later master, like the hop forehand off the short ball leading into the net.
Sorry there is not a single shot Federer hits better than peak Sampras at his best. If in doubt ask Agassi who said many years ago that while Federer was far more consistent and able to play his best for longer periods, in terms of absolute best levels Sampras did everything that bit better than Federer.

The Sampras FH, when it was on, was the best FH in tennis by a distance.
 

Pantera

Banned
I agree Sampras backhand was weak. His stamina nowhere near the stamina of the great baseliners. His defence and court coverage not as good. His footwork and movement especially on clay was no where near either but his forehand was the greatest. So was his 2nd serve, overhead, mental strength
Sampras on clay could beat anyone, its just he could often lose to anyone as well. Sampras though would never on any surface have a h2h like 1-6 or 0-6. Guy was just too good for that.
 

SaintPetros

Hall of Fame
Sorry there is not a single shot Federer hits better than peak Sampras at his best. If in doubt ask Agassi who said many years ago that while Federer was far more consistent and able to play his best for longer periods, in terms of absolute best levels Sampras did everything that bit better than Federer.

The Sampras FH, when it was on, was the best FH in tennis by a distance.
I didn't know Agassi said this about Pete. Do you have the quote by chance?
 
Sampras on clay could beat anyone, its just he could often lose to anyone as well. Sampras though would never on any surface have a h2h like 1-6 or 0-6. Guy was just too good for that.
Yeah, he wouldn't because he didn't get to most any clay court player worth the name 6 times on clay. Try harder next time.
 

daddy

Legend
What's the point of this thread when everyone agrees ? I mean the nick alone, 'Pistol Pete' ...
 

mogo

Semi-Pro
You think Nadal has the better forehand overall but Sampras the better running forehand? That’s strange, because Nadal’s most famous forehand shot is the running banana passing shot.

Just watch videos of peak Nadal turning defense into immediately winning the point with that shot (or even crosscourt with extreme use of his wrist). That’s the best running forehand of all time by a wide margin.

Look what Sampras did here (at 4:00):

It was the shot of the match, and I admit that back then I was stunned. But later Nadal hit that shot (and better ones) like 10 times in every match.
Love watching PETE do his thing!!!! He went for the lines on first and second serves. Would be interesting to see how much, if any his win percentage and serve percentage would be if Hawk Eye was around back then.
 
Top