In case you forgot what GOAT tennis looks like ...

Beckerserve

Legend
I totally agree and can hardly believe those thinking this is “boring.” There’s more talent and skill in the Becker-Sampras match than anything aside from Fed in today’s game. One point from them is more exciting than 500 million endless grinding rallies.
I think Nadal v Becker/sampras/federer would be great as contrast of styles is lovely. But have to be honest when i watch past matches i am more likely to watch Becker v Sampras or Federer v Sampras than Nadal v Djokovic. Tennis is an all part of court game and seeing the whole court used is nice to see. Dont see it any more.
 

Beckerserve

Legend
I do miss 90s tennis a lot on the men's side, with the depth and the variety in playing styles, match-ups and surface conditions. In the early to middle part of the decade especially, you could look at the ATP top 10 at a point in time and see players with numerous different playing styles in it.

And it's not just about who was competing in grand slam finals or semi-finals (I don't really care about the GOAT debate), far from it. The acid test from my perspective was that I found the matches during the earlier rounds of slams (when I was actually able to watch them) far more interesting and exciting in those days, and likewise the the regular ATP tour events below masters series / supers 9 level including those without any of the top ranked players present such as Estoril, Marseille, Den Bosch etc. Beyond the top 10, from my personal perspective there were many more 'interesting' / enjoyable players to follow on the tour in those days, including ones ranked outside the top 20, top 50, talented young prospects etc.

I knew far more 'diehard' tennis fans who cared about the ATP tour in general including the smaller events in those days (and also in the 00s). Nowadays most tennis fans I know only care about a small handful of big name players (and the repetitive GOAT debates) and are not interested in ATP tour events below masters series level (or in some cases below slam level).

I enjoyed this 1994 YEC final between Sampras and Becker, and final between them 2 years later in Hanover was absolutely 'huge', and felt just as big as a grand slam final.
I think most seasoned tennis observers would say tennis in the 90s was a better spectacle than recent years. Past 10 years or so tennis became about serve and forehand. The reason Nadal and Federer and Djokovic have stayed dominant so long is they actually have a bit of variety. We saw Nadal utterly confuse Thiem at FO in 2019 and Djokovic do it to medevev last month just by a bit of variety.
Back in the 90s players had whole arsenal of weapons to use. That lead to more upsets as so many players could have a good day and zone and be unplayable. Nowadays bar the big three zoning just means hitting 90mph plus. Predictable nonsense.
 

jussumman

Hall of Fame
I was impressed at first, but as I watched the video I began to understand their play patterns and it got boring.
Biased and perhaps unpopular opinion: Nadal vs Djokovic is much better than this.
Even more controversial opinion: Peak Djokodal would obliterate peak Sampras, especially Nadal.
Nadal on clay anyone no contest. Djokovic on grass or indoors against peak Sampras, just no.
 

jussumman

Hall of Fame
I was impressed at first, but as I watched the video I began to understand their play patterns and it got boring.
Biased and perhaps unpopular opinion: Nadal vs Djokovic is much better than this.
Even more controversial opinion: Peak Djokodal would obliterate peak Sampras, especially Nadal.
A lot of people feel constant backcourt play gets boring. The ATP has been challenged to make the courts not too fast (as earlier with quick points S&V/Aces) and not too slow (backcourt endless grind until first guy's arm starts to strain).
 

tonylg

Legend
@Sunny014 Truly GOAT response. Well said!
And interestingly, it seems to have been removed.

I always wondered why the return player didn't just lob the server when they came in after the volley ...
Because Sampras and Becker didn't smash like Djokovic. If you were lucky, you'd lose the point. There was always the possility they'd put a hole in your chest.

 

Villain

Professional
And interestingly, it seems to have been removed.



Because Sampras and Becker didn't smash like Djokovic. If you were lucky, you'd lose the point. There was always the possility they'd put a hole in your chest.

Alpha Male Smash.
 
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Crazy Finn

Professional
I think most seasoned tennis observers would say tennis in the 90s was a better spectacle than recent years. Past 10 years or so tennis became about serve and forehand. The reason Nadal and Federer and Djokovic have stayed dominant so long is they actually have a bit of variety. We saw Nadal utterly confuse Thiem at FO in 2019 and Djokovic do it to medevev last month just by a bit of variety.
Back in the 90s players had whole arsenal of weapons to use. That lead to more upsets as so many players could have a good day and zone and be unplayable. Nowadays bar the big three zoning just means hitting 90mph plus. Predictable nonsense.
Word.

Rublev is a good poster child for this, with his game - but hardly the only one.
 

urban

Legend
Both some of the very best players on indoor carpet. I also recommend for sheer level of play, their 1996 Masters first round match at Hanover, that Boris won in two close sets. I agree with NonP, that Boris with his strong wrist had the better backhand return than Sampras. Especially his cross court backhand was a great shot, when he was on song. I would rate Lendl very high indoors; without wind and sun, his serve with the high toss worked much better, and he could avoid his main weakness on grass, the low backhand volley. He could go toe to toe with peak Boris on carpet. At the Madison Square Garden Masters, Lendl had often the upper hand, and i saw him winning a close 5 setter at Wembley 1985, by hitting some crucial topspin lobs (what here a poster saw as a good weapon).
 

Gizo

Hall of Fame
Yes Lendl's peak level indoors was also scarily good. His performances to destroy Connors and McEnroe (serving and passing very well and also looking assured and confident at the net) back to back at the 1982 Masters (and generally his performances under a roof throughout the whole of the 1982 season), throughout the entire 1986 Masters tournament, and to destroy Wilander in the 1987 Masters final, were all phenomenal.

At the 1986 Masters, he didn't face a single break point in the final against Becker, and I remember Moose Malloy posting stats that he only faced 1 break point throughout the entire tournament, in his RR match against Gomez. That's just incredible. And that's the only time that a player has won a 5 match, RR-format YEC tournament without dropping a set. He wasn't even taken to single a tiebreaker either.

The power levels in men's tennis including indoor men's tennis did noticeably increase in the 90s compared to the 80s, commentators talked about it quite a lot, and watching Becker play Sampras indoors in the 90s felt very different to him play Lendl indoors in the 80s. From the 80s, Becker's absolute 'god-mode' indoor performances was probably the 1989 Davis Cup final when he obliterated Edberg and Wilander with a 5 set doubles win sandwiched in-between - it's interesting to think that he was seriously considering retiring after that final at the age of just 22 as he was sick of the grind of the tennis circuit. I still enjoyed 90s indoor tennis a lot, but that noticeable power increase was probably why I enjoyed 80s indoor tennis even more.
 

Gizo

Hall of Fame
I think most seasoned tennis observers would say tennis in the 90s was a better spectacle than recent years. Past 10 years or so tennis became about serve and forehand. The reason Nadal and Federer and Djokovic have stayed dominant so long is they actually have a bit of variety. We saw Nadal utterly confuse Thiem at FO in 2019 and Djokovic do it to medevev last month just by a bit of variety.
Back in the 90s players had whole arsenal of weapons to use. That lead to more upsets as so many players could have a good day and zone and be unplayable. Nowadays bar the big three zoning just means hitting 90mph plus. Predictable nonsense.
Yes I can respect the brilliance of each the big 3 and I certainly don't dislike any of them (I just don't particularly care about the 'GOAT race'). My assessment of a particular era goes well beyond who is winning grand slam titles, with the quality players of occupying smaller ATP events, unseeded at majors and masters events etc also incredibly important. A lot of comparisons of depth and competition across eras (for both men's and women's tennis) that I've read over the years have only tended to focus on players ranked in the top 10 or just the players winning majors, which isn't really good enough IMO.

Serve-volleyers (though it must be said the prevalence of serve-volleyers noticeably decreased in the 90s compared to the 80s), all-court players, attacking baseliners, counter-punchers and grinders all could and did do well in the 90s (there were periods when each of those styles was represented in the top 10), there were far more matches between playing with noticeably different players styles, and far more 'interesting', 'unorthodox' and / or simply dangerous lower ranked players for the big guns to worry about. Also crucially in those days the established aristocracy had to genuinely worry about talented youngers snapping at their heels, beating them on the big stage and potentially overtaking them. As well as variety in the sport drastically decreasing, so has general 'creativity' as well. In those days I'd attend / watch tournaments spoilt for choice between following the top ranked players, the group of players behind them, the promising youngsters, the flashy and dangerous unseeded players etc.

I much preferred men's tennis in the 00s compared to past decade as well, with the players born in the first half of the 80s in largely in their primes, quite a few players born in the late 70s doing very well through to the middle to latter part of the decade, and players born in the latter half of the 80s showing promise, breaking through and making huge waves (absolutely seismic in Nadal's case of course). Of course early on there was Goran's fairytale 2001 Wimbledon win, Sampras's 2002 US Open title, a lot of brilliance from Agassi, Costa's performances at RG in both 2002 and 2003 etc. I found a player like Olivier Mutis (I watched him play Srichaphan at Wimbledon and Roddick at RG live), who never even broke into the ATP top 70 far more interesting to watch than a typical active ATP player. Speaking of Srichaphan, I'd rather watch him warm up / train than many active players outside the big 3. OK a bit of an exaggeration there but an overwhelmingly more entertaining player compared to the modern day norm.

And I repeat it's nothing to be with being a Djokovic (or Nadal) 'hater' or anything. If I look back to the first major that Djokovic won at the 2008 AO, I thought that there were many, many more interesting players at the bottom half of the seeding scale or unseeded altogether to follow, compared to the 2020 and 2021 AO events when things were absolutely sparse in comparison.
 
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Beckerserve

Legend
Yes I can respect the brilliance of each the big 3 and I certainly don't dislike any of them (I just don't particularly care about the 'GOAT race'). My assessment of a particular era goes well beyond who is winning grand slam titles, with the quality players of occupying smaller ATP events, unseeded at majors and masters events etc also incredibly important. A lot of comparisons of depth and competition across eras (for both men's and women's tennis) that I've read over the years have only tended to focus on players ranked in the top 10 or just the players winning majors, which isn't really good enough IMO.

Serve-volleyers (though it must be said the prevalence of serve-volleyers noticeably decreased in the 90s compared to the 80s), all-court players, attacking baseliners, counter-punchers and grinders all could and did do well in the 90s (there were periods when each of those styles was represented in the top 10), there were far more matches between playing with noticeably different players styles, and far more 'interesting', 'unorthodox' and / or simply dangerous lower ranked players for the big guns to worry about. Also crucially in those days the established aristocracy had to genuinely worry about talented youngers snapping at their heels, beating them on the big stage and potentially overtaking them. As well as variety in the sport drastically decreasing, so has general 'creativity' as well. In those days I'd attend / watch tournaments spoilt for choice between following the top ranked players, the group of players behind them, the promising youngsters, the flashy and dangerous unseeded players etc.

I much preferred men's tennis in the 00s compared to past decade as well, with the players born in the first half of the 80s in largely in their primes, quite a few players born in the late 70s doing very well through to the middle to latter part of the decade, and players born in the latter half of the 80s showing promise, breaking through and making huge waves (absolutely seismic in Nadal's case of course). Of course early on there was Goran's fairytale 2001 Wimbledon win, Sampras's 2002 US Open title, a lot of brilliance from Agassi, Costa's performances at RG in both 2002 and 2003 etc. I found a player like Olivier Mutis (I watched him play Srichaphan at Wimbledon and Roddick at RG live), who never even broke into the ATP top 70 far more interesting to watch than a typical active ATP player. Speaking of Srichaphan, I'd rather watch him warm up / train than many active players outside the big 3. OK a bit of an exaggeration there but an overwhelmingly more entertaining player compared to the modern day norm.

And I repeat it's nothing to be with being a Djokovic (or Nadal) 'hater' or anything. If I look back to the first major that Djokovic won at the 2008 AO, I thought that there were many, many more interesting players at the bottom half of the seeding scale or unseeded altogether to follow, compared to the 2020 and 2021 AO events when things were absolutely sparse in comparison.
Agree with much of that. Tennis is suffering like many sports and society in general with young people being rather lifeless and without ambition. Instagram followers means more than winning titles.
 

tonylg

Legend
Speaking of Srichaphan, I'd rather watch him warm up / train than many active players outside the big 3. OK a bit of an exaggeration there but an overwhelmingly more entertaining player compared to the modern day norm.
He was a joy to watch. Of course most on here think he was nothing because he didn't win a slam, but I'd walk straight past most slam winners to watch Paradorn play.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
You can't get emotionally attached to players before your time, obviously.
Not so sure about that. I think it's more about the quality of the matches, how they look now and if we can see the whole matches. For instance, peak Kramer and Pancho were well before my time, but the reason I don't watch their matches now is because the footage is so rare and so short. Even going back to the Borg era, watching is so inferior because of the lesser quality of the tapes. It kept getting better. The biggest attraction to "now" for me was the switch to high def TV, which pulled me back into tennis again in 2013, because that's the first time we had it.

I could easily go back to different decades each night, according to my mood, but it's so much more unpleasant to go way back and view the old stuff.
 

InsideOut900

Hall of Fame
Not so sure about that. I think it's more about the quality of the matches, how they look now and if we can see the whole matches. For instance, peak Kramer and Pancho were well before my time, but the reason I don't watch their matches now is because the footage is so rare and so short. Even going back to the Borg era, watching is so inferior because of the lesser quality of the tapes. It kept getting better. The biggest attraction to "now" for me was the switch to high def TV, which pulled me back into tennis again in 2013, because that's the first time we had it.

I could easily go back to different decades each night, according to my mood, but it's so much more unpleasant to go way back and view the old stuff.
Footage quality and availability was a factor for me as well, however, more and more quality tapes surfaced on the internet the past couple years, and I still have a hard time watching tennis the more you go back due to the style of play not appealing to me.

And getting attached to a retired player retrospectively is pretty hard, I can mentally simulate which player I would have liked the most out of each crop of players, but since there are no memories associated with watching certain matches, viewing an older match it's just entertainment for me, nothing more, nothing less.
 
Footage quality and availability was a factor for me as well, however, more and more quality tapes surfaced on the internet the past couple years, and I still have a hard time watching tennis the more you go back due to the style of play not appealing to me.

And getting attached to a retired player retrospectively is pretty hard, I can mentally simulate which player I would have liked the most out of each crop of players, but since there are no memories associated with watching certain matches, viewing an older match it's just entertainment for me, nothing more, nothing less.
Well said, I like how smoothly you word the feel.

Of course, you can't get invested in past matches the way you do when watching live, but they can still be emotionally appealing in a different way, like a captivating story unravelling before you as you watch through the footage. I'm definitely attached to dramatic big matches like Edberg-Lendl 1985 AO SF or Sampras-Corretja 1996 USO QF, they tell a great story with an ultimately pleasing result.
 

InsideOut900

Hall of Fame
Of course, you can't get invested in past matches the way you do when watching live, but they can still be emotionally appealing in a different way, like a captivating story unravelling before you as you watch through the footage. I'm definitely attached to dramatic big matches like Edberg-Lendl 1985 AO SF or Sampras-Corretja 1996 USO QF, they tell a great story with an ultimately pleasing result.
It's always about the context, the string of events surrounding a match. You can appreciate something in a vacuum, but never get the real thing unless it's experienced live.

Like the Corretja match you mentioned. Unless someone fully understands who Pete was and what he meant for the game as a fighter/clutch player, it's hard to see past the "guy who was about to collapse won a match" narrative. You can appreciate the moment, but never experience the same thing that Sampras fans did back in the day.

Or like with the recent AO.
Controversy aside, watching my favourite struggle round after round just so he wins the last 2 matches in emphatic fashion. How am I going to tell someone about a feel like that if they decide to watch the matches 20 years from now?

You can perhaps build the narrative from scratch by watching more and more of something, but it takes some time and effort that not everyone wants to dedicate or simply don't feel like it's worth the time.
 
Respect to these guys !
How would these guys defeat Nadal and Djokovic ?? I don't see anything in their game that would hurt Nadal & Djokovic ..
Seeing as no court at Masters or higher level today plays at a speed comparable to the one in this match, you really can't evaluate that. And remember they are hitting super FLAT on a fast surface and still not missing much so that would be very hard to deal with for sure.
 

Gizo

Hall of Fame
Agree with much of that. Tennis is suffering like many sports and society in general with young people being rather lifeless and without ambition. Instagram followers means more than winning titles.
I said on another thread recently (which I think was deleted though it was one that was randomly bumped after a long time) that men's tennis in recent times has kind of resembled women's tennis in previous generations, with the top players more often than not cruising through to the latter rounds of majors (I know Djokovic dropped plenty of sets at the last AO but that was an exception to the rule), the first week of majors being pretty predictable and dull with very few early round matches capturing the imagination. Obviously it's not as extreme as that, but it has been getting there.

Of course it's possible for us to simultaneously appreciate the brilliance Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, and also criticise the standard of the chasing pack, the weakness of 'Next Gen', the lack of overall depth in the sport etc. It's like how on the women's side I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated Evert, Navratilova, Graf, Mandlikova etc in the 80s, but knew that there was very little depth outside the top 10, and could simultaneously enjoy an Evert-Navratilova tournament final while thinking that the overall standard of the earlier rounds was very poor.

In my opinion (and others might strongly disagree), there is absolutely no way that there is more depth in the ATP 100 nowadays than there was 20 years ago in 2001 for example or 30 years ago in 1991.
 

Gizo

Hall of Fame
He was a joy to watch. Of course most on here think he was nothing because he didn't win a slam, but I'd walk straight past most slam winners to watch Paradorn play.
Agreed. I was very glad that I saw him play live, a real treat. Obviously the win against Agassi at Wimbledon in 2002 and the match against Federer at Basel in 2006 really stand out, and he was the opponent for Nadal's first grand slam match on a show court, but he produced plenty of entertainment with his shot-making ability and athleticism.

In the 90s and 00s for example, I could name a long, long list of players that never came close to winning a slam, and that also didn't win a masters series / super 9 title, that I thoroughly enjoyed watching, from Srichaphan, to Arazi, to El Aynaoui, to Alami (definitely a fan of Moroccan tennis in those days) to Stoltenberg, to Draper, to Meligeni, to Horna, to Boetsch, to Navarro, to Lapentti, to Ilie, to Karbacher etc. They IMO added a whole lot of excitement, joy and entertainment to the tour and to tournament draws, and I was very interested in following their progress and matches together of course with those of the higher ranked players / main title contenders such as Sampras, Agassi, Becker, Federer, Nadal etc.

Of course we all have different preferences regarding the types of players and styles that we enjoy, but it does seem apparent to me that increasingly bland 'academy tennis' has become more of the norm over time, with variety, flair, wizardry, 'uniqueness' etc all continuing to take a huge hit.
 
It's always about the context, the string of events surrounding a match. You can appreciate something in a vacuum, but never get the real thing unless it's experienced live.

Like the Corretja match you mentioned. Unless someone fully understands who Pete was and what he meant for the game as a fighter/clutch player, it's hard to see past the "guy who was about to collapse won a match" narrative. You can appreciate the moment, but never experience the same thing that Sampras fans did back in the day.

Or like with the recent AO.
Controversy aside, watching my favourite struggle round after round just so he wins the last 2 matches in emphatic fashion. How am I going to tell someone about a feel like that if they decide to watch the matches 20 years from now?

You can perhaps build the narrative from scratch by watching more and more of something, but it takes some time and effort that not everyone wants to dedicate or simply don't feel like it's worth the time.
Well, we have a repository of tennis knowledge to learn context from.
Sampras had a reputation to uphold, and those were the matches it was built on, but that time he was in a bigger hole than ever before since his rise to #1 in early 1993, on the verge of recording a slamless season straight in the middle of his prime and likely missing YE#1 (and even he did somehow grab it if Chang and others would falter, it would've been duly considered the weakest YE#1 ever and dismissed as such), so it was a special challenge to overcome, with physical weakness to boot, and that PETE delivered once again despite everything utterly cemented his place as the absolute clutch boss. That's a great narrative to behold... unlike the next one, because
this
recent
AO
was more like 'significantly injured' Djokovic flagellating flawed failures across the net, again and again and again and oh look he's not that injured any more, here comes showing the latest cheapstreaker how useless he really is. Played quite well in the final, no denying that. If you hail this as a showing of mental strength, better shoot me on the spot if screw-it-up-then-heroically-overcome-exaggerated-obstacles becomes the norm.
 

Beckerserve

Legend
I said on another thread recently (which I think was deleted though it was one that was randomly bumped after a long time) that men's tennis in recent times has kind of resembled women's tennis in previous generations, with the top players more often than not cruising through to the latter rounds of majors (I know Djokovic dropped plenty of sets at the last AO but that was an exception to the rule), the first week of majors being pretty predictable and dull with very few early round matches capturing the imagination. Obviously it's not as extreme as that, but it has been getting there.

Of course it's possible for us to simultaneously appreciate the brilliance Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, and also criticise the standard of the chasing pack, the weakness of 'Next Gen', the lack of overall depth in the sport etc. It's like how on the women's side I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated Evert, Navratilova, Graf, Mandlikova etc in the 80s, but knew that there was very little depth outside the top 10, and could simultaneously enjoy an Evert-Navratilova tournament final while thinking that the overall standard of the earlier rounds was very poor.

In my opinion (and others might strongly disagree), there is absolutely no way that there is more depth in the ATP 100 nowadays than there was 20 years ago in 2001 for example or 30 years ago in 1991.
Absolutely spot on every word.
 

aldeayeah

Legend
That serve Becker hits to win 1st set was his best serve and he should have hit that v sampras 80 pct of the time.
This was brilliant tennis and better than today lets be honest. And they hit harder!!
It was certainly a good serve, but Pete also guessed wrong and wrongfooted himself on that point
 

Jason Swerve

Professional
I like how they used to talk a little more at the net instead of just saying nice match.
I'd assume because they knew each other from previous finals. The other guy didn't vanish off the face of the Earth after Final #1, to get replaced by some other journeyer, who'd get replaced by some other journeyer, who'd get replaced by some other journeyer, like what happens now (sans Djokovic, Nadal).
 
I like how they used to talk a little more at the net instead of just saying nice match.
Wasn't necessarily a norm. And Sampras wasn't a happy handshak-er when he lost anyway. Today, Djoko is generally cool when he loses. Even crossed the net to hug Murray when the latter won his first slam. Fedal usually sulk when they lose. Nadal is usually over by it by the time of presentation, for Fed it takes a bit longer.
 

Swingmaster

Hall of Fame
Wasn't necessarily a norm. And Sampras wasn't a happy handshak-er when he lost anyway. Today, Djoko is generally cool when he loses. Even crossed the net to hug Murray when the latter won his first slam. Fedal usually sulk when they lose. Nadal is usually over by it by the time of presentation, for Fed it takes a bit longer.
Call me cynical, but Djokovic always looks like he’s being fake gracious. But still, it’s better than not being gracious.
 
Call me cynical, but Djokovic always looks like he’s being fake gracious. But still, it’s better than not being gracious.
Yeah, I just think you owe the courtesy of a smile to your opponent ESPECIALLY if you fought out a tough match. Else just dispense with the tradition of handshakes. It's not like a mandatory thing in cricket, for instance, and players in opposing teams often make no bones of their dislike for each other. But you have this pretend gentleman tradition in tennis so might as well live up to it for those few moments in front of the cameras.
 

Swingmaster

Hall of Fame
Yeah, I just think you owe the courtesy of a smile to your opponent ESPECIALLY if you fought out a tough match. Else just dispense with the tradition of handshakes. It's not like a mandatory thing in cricket, for instance, and players in opposing teams often make no bones of their dislike for each other. But you have this pretend gentleman tradition in tennis so might as well live up to it for those few moments in front of the cameras.
They always show the handshakes when they show the day’s highlights on TV, even if the highlights are really short. People want to see the handshakes. I always need to see them for some reason. It was smart of Djoker to decide that, no matter what, he’s going to be a good sport at the net. Nadal always give that one eyebrow raised, half smile and shrug that conveys the exact same thing every time, “Hey man, what can I say, you were better than me today.” Djoker usually has a lot to say and it appears to be very flattering stuff. Sampras, in the video, seems to be saying something with some substance. That doesn’t happen very often. But then again, players do see each other again in the locker room, huh?
 
They always show the handshakes when they show the day’s highlights on TV, even if the highlights are really short. People want to see the handshakes. I always need to see them for some reason. It was smart of Djoker to decide that, no matter what, he’s going to be a good sport at the net. Nadal always give that one eyebrow raised, half smile and shrug that conveys the exact same thing every time, “Hey man, what can I say, you were better than me today.” Djoker usually has a lot to say and it appears to be very flattering stuff. Sampras, in the video, seems to be saying something with some substance. That doesn’t happen very often. But then again, players do see each other again in the locker room, huh?
I think Sampras had genuine regard for Becker. After losing to Becker at Stuttgart '96, Sampras said Becker was the best indoor player he had ever played. There's not too many that Sampras would praise so lavishly.
 

tonylg

Legend
I think it also has a lot to do with their style of play. They were both Alpha males who didn't wait for errors, they both were out there to win the match by taking it out of the hands of their opponent.

No returning from 5m behind the baseline, no retreating back to the baseline when there was a chance to attack. You can't get away with that kind of cowardly tennis on fast courts.

That breeds respect of a kind that players like Simon just can't understand.
 

Gizo

Hall of Fame
On the subject of Becker, while he didn't win a title on clay (though he reached 5 big tournament finals across Monte-Carlo, Rome and Hamburg and 3 RG semi-finals), I thought he was a lot of fun and very enjoyable to watch on the surface.

I'm listing a series of big matches that he lost here, but I thought that his 1989 RG semi-final against Edberg and his 3 Monte-Carlo finals against Mancini, Bruguera and Muster were all incredibly high quality matches, with plenty of brilliance from him as well despite those results all ultimately going against him.

In terms of big matches that he won on clay, his performances to demolish Edberg in the 1988 Davis Cup final and Chang in their 1991 RG QF (the reports that he 'bullied' Chang from the baseline were very accurate). I wish I could have seen his Davis Cup wins vs. Emilio Sanchez and Chesnokov on the surface - on a side note his phenomenal Davis Cup record (he's arguably the greatest Davis Cup player of the professional era) definitely significantly enhances his legacy.

He often played noticeably differently on carpet compared to grass for example (his matches vs. Lendl at Wimbledon and the Masters in the 80s were very different stylistically), and along that theme I thought that his ground-strokes / baseline game often held up well on clay. He was able to display his full repertoire of shots (including his drop shots), cover every part of the court etc on the surface. Like Sampras, for large portions of his career he most definitely wasn't a pure serve-volleyer (it's easy to label him as one just by watching his matches at Wimbledon), and very much fit in the 'all-courter' category. As the 90s progressed he then became more aggressive and more of an out and out serve-volleyer across the board - he played very differently vs. Bruguera in the 1991 Monte-Carlo final compared to vs. Muster in the 1995 final.
 

urban

Legend
Agree with most points on Becker. His main problem on clay was imo, that he was a bit slow, especially in the sideway running. He often camped a bit in the backhand corner, but not the backhand was the problem, which was quite solid, but the wide forehand, when the ball was hit deep to the other side. He often hit the wide forehand, when forced to run, a bit late, and it became inconsistent. He liked to play Chang, even on clay, because Chang always hit quite short, so that Boris could step in. I think, he would have a great chance in 1989 at RG, when he would have played Chang in the final. On the contrary, Agassi hit deeper into his forehand corner, wo that he got those problems with late hit forehands. Sampras' problem on clay, was his inability to hit more controlled topspin. His flat groundies on both flanks had little margin for error over the net, and his backhand could break down, when he hit it outside his comfort zone.
 

arvind13

Professional
He was a joy to watch. Of course most on here think he was nothing because he didn't win a slam, but I'd walk straight past most slam winners to watch Paradorn play.
same with dustin brown. even though he's a journeyman he has more touch and skill than most in the top 20 and would rather watch him than djokovic or wawrinka
 

Gizo

Hall of Fame
same with dustin brown. even though he's a journeyman he has more touch and skill than most in the top 20 and would rather watch him than djokovic or wawrinka
Another player that I'm delighted to have seen play live, and on multiple occasions, including against Hewitt at Wimbledon in 2013 and Lu 2 years later (with him then of course beating Nadal in the next round). Some of his volleys and diving volleys against Hewitt in particular were amazing. When I entered the grounds in 2015 with my outer court ground pass, that Brown-Lu match was literally the one I wanted to plan my time around.
 
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