Match Stats/Report - Federer vs Sampras, Wimbledon fourth round, 2001

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Roger Federer beat Pete Sampras 7-6(7), 5-7, 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5 in the Wimbledon fourth round, 2001 on grass

Federer was 19 years old, seeded 15th and would go onto lose in the next round to Tim Henman. Sampras had won the title the previous 4 years and 7 of the last 8.

Federer won190 points, Sampras 180

Sampras serve-volleyed off all serves, Federer of vast majority off first serves and about half the time off seconds

Serve Stats
Federer...
- 1st serve percentage (113/181) 62%
- 1st serve points won (93/113) 82%
- 2nd serve points won (35/68) 51%
- Aces 25, Service Winners 1
- Double Faults 6
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (89/181) 49%

Sampras...
- 1st serve percentage (132/189) 70%
- 1st serve points won (101/132) 77%
- 2nd serve points won (26/57) 46%
- Aces 25 (1 second serve), Service Winners 3
- Double Faults 9
- Unreturned Serve Percentage (85/189) 45%

Serve Patterns
Federer served...
- to FH 37%
- to BH 55%
- to Body 7%

Sampras served...
- to FH 43%
- to BH 50%
- to Body 7%

Return Stats
Federer made...
- 95 (39 FH, 56 BH), including 1 return-approach
- 12 Winners (6 FH, 6 BH)
- 57 Errors, all forced...
- 57 Forced (22 FH, 35 BH)
- Return Rate (95/180) 53%

Sampras made...
- 86 (27 FH, 59 BH)
- 8 Winners (5 FH, 3 BH)
- 63 Errors, comprising...
- 7 Unforced (2 FH, 5 BH)
- 56 Forced (23 FH, 33 BH)
- Return Rate (86/175) 49%

Break Points
Federer 3/14 (7 games)
Sampras 2/11 (6 games)

Winners (including returns, excluding serves)
Federer 42 (19 FH, 10 BH, 6 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 6 BHV)
Sampras 41 (12 FH, 9 BH, 7 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 9 BHV, 3 OH)

Federer had 10 from serve-volley points
- 7 first 'volleys' (4 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 2 BHV)
- 3 second volleys (1 FHV, 2 BHV)

- 1 other FHV was a swinging shot

- 12 returns (6 FH, 6 BH), all passes
- FHs - 3 dtl, 2 inside-out and 1 inside-in
- BHs - 1 cc, 3 dtl, 1 inside-out and 1 inside-in

- regular FH passes - 3 cc (1 at net), 4 dtl and 1 inside-out
- regular BH passes - 2 cc and 1 longline
- regular FHs - 2 cc, 1 inside-out, 1 inside-in and 1 drop shot at net
- regular BH - 1 dtl

Sampras had 22 from serve-volley points
- 13 first 'volleys' (4 FHV, 7 BHV, 2 FH at net)
- 8 second 'volleys' (2 FHV, 1 FH1/2V, 2 BHV, 3 OH)
- 1 third volley (1 FHV)

- 8 returns (5 FH, 3 BH), all but 1 FH being passes
- FH passes - 1 cc, 1 dtl and 2 inside-in
- regular FH - 1 cc
- BH passes - 2 cc and 1 inside-in

- regular FH passes - 1 cc, 2 dtl, 1 inside-out at net and 1 lob
- regular BH passes - 2 cc and 3 dtl (1 not clean)
- regular BH - 1 dtl

Errors (excluding serves and returns)
Federer 48
- 12 Unforced (3 FH, 3 BH, 4 FHV, 2 BHV)
- 36 Forced (12 FH, 12 BH, 4 FHV, 6 BHV, 2 BH1/2V)... with 1 BH running-down-drop-volley at net
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 55

Sampras 50
- 20 Unforced (3 FH, 4 BH, 7 FHV, 4 BHV, 2 OH)... with1 BH pass attempt & 1 BH at net
- 30 Forced (4 FH, 11 BH, 5 FHV, 3 BHV, 7 BH1/2V)
- Unforced Error Forcefulness Index 54

(Note 1: All 1/2 volleys refer to such shots played at net. 1/2 volleys played from other parts of the court are included within relevant groundstroke numbers)

(Note 2: the Unforced Error Forcefulness Index is an indicator of how aggressive the average UE was. The numbers presented for these two matches are keyed on 4 categories - 20 defensive, 40 neutral, 50 attacking and 60 winner attempt)

Net Points & Serve-Volley
Federer was...
- 88/121 (73%) at net, including...
- 78/107 (73%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 58/77 (75%) off 1st serve and...
- 20/30 (67%) off 2nd serve
---
- 0/1 return-approaching

Sampras was...
- 103/160 (64%) at net, including...
- 99/152 (65%) serve-volleying, comprising...
- 74/105 (70%) off 1st serve and...
- 25/47 (53%) off 2nd serve
---
- 0/2 retreating

Match Report
Great, serve-dominated and net-heavy match that's very close. Sampras has the better serve, Federer returns exceptionally well and both are solid in forecourt. Federer has the better of action but match is sufficiently serve-dominated that it wouldn't necessarily guarantee a win, i.e. its a who-plays-big-points-better encounter, as Big Game matches on grass tend to be

Federer with 1 more winner, 2 fewer errors, +4% unreturned serves and 3 fewer double faults shows his leading slightly in all areas. Of quality, he's even further ahead with 12 UEs to Sampras 20 (Sampras does force 6 more errors)

Its still not enough to be comfortable. Not only does match go to 5 sets, but Sampras has two break points at 4-4 and on the first in particular, Fed has to play an outstanding point to win. Match could have gone either way, but Fed maximizes chances of it falling the way it ends up doing

If this is Federer's break out match, it bears much resemblance to Sampras' win over Ivan Lendl in 1990 US Open quarter-finals
- Sampras was going for his 5 title in a row here. Lendl was going for his 9th final in a row there
- Both matches going 5 sets
- Winner of both matches being 19 years old
- the composure of the winner standing out as much as their play itself

Not a hint of nerves from the young Federer. Short of Bjorn Borg, he conducts himself as coolly as anyone you'll see. Only after the last point does he fall to his knees and cries silently afterwards

Serve, Return & Serve-Volley
Sampras serve-volleys 100% of the time, Federer does so 89% off first serves and 48% off seconds

Both serve well, Sampras particularly so. He's remarkably served at 70% first serves in... a stat that would suggest he held back on the shot. In fact, if anything, he goes extra hard with it. There are small lulls (read: 'just' regular strong serving - especially in third set) but otherwise, he's bombing down first serves about as hard as he can. Second serves would make decent first serves too... the harder hit ones (which are sent down regularly) are roughly on par with even Federer's typical first serves

So why does Federer lead unreturned rates 49% to 45% and aces/service winners are dead even 25/1 despite Sampras serving 19 extra first serves? Because Federer returns superbly. This is possibly the best returning I've seen of Pete Sampras on grass, especially at Wimbledon. Other areas of Sampras' game (especially the return) may have declined from his heyday - but the serve is as strong as ever

Within the context of that scenario, Fed does just about everything that's possible with the return
- he gets healthy racquet on balls that look like certain aces
- he pokes back in play wide serves somehow
- he returns wide for winners and placement-based forcing returns... and he does it in all ways (swinging at the shot or blocking it or guiding it) of both sides (6 winners from each side) and in all directions (only winner he's missing is BH cc... and that forces the most most errors. Note Sampras' 7 BH1/2V FEs)
- stock is return is hard down the center. Regulation height returns are hard hit and he often gets the ball low. Its the kind of showing that could easily stump even good volleyers
- Stylistically, he's a hit... beautifully balanced and silkily moving into position of movement and clean hitting with effortless timing of the short swings (or even blocks) that's all he has time for

Sampras it has to be said does not return well, even though he's facing a strong serve himself as Fed's huge ace count indicates. Misses plenty of makeable returns and almost entirely hits down the center, with barely a wide return to be seen. He struggles against kick serves to the BH, even when Federer is staying back. These balls don't rise too high - about lower ribs at most - but he misses plenty and packs a weak punch when he can make it

Generally speaking, Sampras' return numbers tend to be misleading. The general context is he focuses on his service games and isn't overly hassled about return games, especially on fast surfaces. He looks for one break a set against strong servers... and how ineffective he is is overall becomes irrelevant as long as he can have that one good game (or conversely, wait for 1 bad service game) as long as he can keep holding

Here, he holds regularly, does create chances on return (as much by waiting for a few mistakes from Fed as his own strong returns)... but just doesn't seem to have the ability to threaten with the return. This is in line with my memory of his play in this period. Like Federer, he returns firmly down the center, getting fewer balls in low. He'd need Fed to muck up on the volley to make headway doing that
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Play - Volley & Pass
The volleying is shaped by the returning, which exists in context of serving being so strong that not many returns are made to begin with

Both players return firmly down center of court... typical first volley faced is about net high, maybe a bit higher or lower. The kind of balls which aren't forceful in themselves but also not easy to control due to pace and certainly not there to be putaway. Difficult low volleys to feet or low-ish ones well under net are not uncommon either

Federer is the more consistent (6 UEs to Pete's 14 in forecourt), but Sampras is the more decisive in punching balls to corners or away for winners. Fed's standard fluctuates in area. Initially, he he's about average in this area but as match goes on, strikes his volleys better and better, though not as decisively as Pete. Both have at least 1 very costly horror miss - Federer down break and set point, Federer misses a putaway FHV and later, Sampras loses his serve missing an equally easy OH. Its the 2nd OH UE for Pete in the match. How often do you see that? He also fails to hit winners with a couple more, which is highly unusual for him. They force hard errors instead, so no harm done, but still odd

He also has fewer FEs up front (12 to 15, sans a Fed running-down-drop-volley error), though with Sampras facing more balls with the potential to be so marked, that's not indicative of superiority on the difficult volley

Neither are bad on the tough, low volley but Sampras is down from his norm. Note the very high 7 BH1/2V errors. He makes about half that many. Generally, Sampras is as good a player of 1/2volleys as there has been. Not in this match. The balls he misses are anything but easy (not bullets to the feet but firm shots), but he at any rate is in the habit of not just making them, but even placing them as well as possible. Fed for his part is more impressive in coping with low volleys than in aggressively punishing regulation ones

Federer is significantly stronger on the pass and, unlike his Pete, makes a full effort all the time to chase balls. Some of his errors are hopeless shots on the full run out of a corner. The situation isn't often reversed since Fed doesn't volley into corners, but Sampras doesn't chase things in this way

It hasn't come out too well in numbers, but its Federer's BH pass that stands out - beautiful, clean hit shots. Sampras faces a handful on the BHV and copes admirably

No lobbing at all from Pete. A bit odd to see 0 OH winners from Fed... Sampras just doesn't go for the lob option, though he does hit 1 winner. Fed throws up lobs from very defensive positions. What do you have to lose doing so? He gets 2 UEs, including one that gives him a set

Play - Non-Serve-Volley Points
Federer wins 9/10 points staying back off first serves (as opposed to 58/77 at 75% serve-volleying) and 20/32 at 62.5% staying back off second serves (serve-volleying, its 20/30 at 67%)

He gets his fill of unreturned serves despite staying back. Note 7 return UEs from Sampras - and there are a couple of forced errors too. Sampras' struggles against 'high' BH returns (they're about stomach height)... just not good returning form Pete here

Even 2nd serves give Fed initiative on third ball and he looks to finish points early with FH or come to net quickly (in both cases, as often as not off third ball). Sampras whacks some point ending FHs of his own, almost always wide, deep cc, especially on run

Clear advantage to Federer from back and probably would be even without advantageous starting positions. He hits exceptionally cleanly. When he shanks a BH, it stands because virtually everything else comes out of the middle, including passes

Match Progression
1st set is just about even, Sampras is down 0-40 in game 4, having missed 3 volleys (1 UE, 2 FE - none of them easy, none of them too hard) but typically serves his way out to hold. Fed's taken to deuce twice and has to save 1 break point in one of those games. The game ends with Sampras missing a sitter BH pass - the only passing UE of the match

Firm returning from Sampras gives Fed a number of regulation/slightly under net volleys that he's not too convincing on, especially off second serves. He does low volley well though and takes to staying back of some second serves - usually blasting FHs off the third ball

Fed's clean BH passing shots give Sampras regular regulation/above average power balls to volley. He manages well

In tiebreak, Sampras is up 5-4 with 2 serves to come. A strong return draws a weak volley that Fed with clean BH longline pass
Sampras has the first set point against the Fed serve. The first serve is long but goes uncalled and Sampras can't make the return
At 7-7, Fed's return clips the tape, forcing Sampras to adjust his volley which he can only put back in play gently. Fed blasts that to force an error and bring up his second set point
On it, Fed faces a low return and expertly FHV inside-outs to force passing error

Second set is better. Sampras serves up a 2-first-serves storm but Fed returns reasonably comfortably and gives him under net and low-ish volleys. The Fed BH - both return and pass - are particularly good
Sampras also hits some beautifully angled sliced BH returns off wide serves. Both players handle low volleys well

Sampras the silent lets out a Venus Williams like yell as he whacks a smash and Federer the 1-handed fends it off with a 2-handed BH... 2 things you never see, on show in 1 point

Horrendous game from Fed to give up the set. 2 double faults and an error forcing Sampras FH cc leave him in a 0-40 hole down 3 set points. He save the first 3, but then misses a FH cc winner attempt and a very easy putaway FHV that was close to being an OH

Intensity drops a touch in the third. Sampras takes a bit off his serves (just a bit mind you) and Federer returns consistently. Fed meanwhile starts staying back more and more on his service points

Players trade breaks early. Sampras is broken half due to poor shots (missing regulation BHV and 2 double faults) and half due to Fed's 2 passing winners. Fed is broken on back of strong play from Sampras - 3 passing winners and an approach that forces passing error

Sampras is broken towards end from 40-15 up. Good low returns from Fed to reach break point, but a horror OH miss on it from Pete

Monster serving from Sampras in 4th set. His second serves are about as hard as Fed's first (which aren't exactly gentle) and certainly, his first serves make Fed's 1st look like a second serve. Shutting Fed out, Pete can only get a few chances on return himself

2 shots stand out. a perfect, very sharply angled BH cc passing winner and a FH1/2V winner off a running-down-drop-shot - both by Sampras

Couple of bad shots by Fed in tiebreak (missed BHV into open court and regulation third ball BH) - along with continued monster serving from Pete gives the tiebreak to the champion 7-2 and pushes match to decider

Strong serving from both in the decider. For Sampras, that's carrying on from 4th set, but Fed upping his serving leaves shuts out Sampras who can barely make a return

Against run of play, Sampras launches an assault in game 9 filled with strong returns, including widely placed ones. It brings home how rarely he returned anywhere other than down the center all match

Fed holds firm under extreme pressure. He gets a strong return to his feet down break point that he's able to FH1/2V deep. Sampras whacks the pass and Fed's upto putting away the second BHV, which was tricky in that it was hard hit. Facing break point again, Fed elects to stay back (wise given how Sampras was returning in the game) off a second serve, whacks a FH inside-in that he follows to net off third ball to draw the passing error. And goes on to hold

Fed breaks to end the match. Couple of volleying UEs from Sampras - his last one had been Game 7, Set 4 and it was the only 1 he'd made in that 4th set - and couple of return passing winners from Fed

Summing up, a very high quality and explosive match. Federer has slightly better of both serve-return complex and play but not enough to be confident of result going against him via who-plays-the-big-points-better.
Sampras serves as well as he could hope - and Federer returns as well as possible against it. Sampras does well against a challenging volleys on the whole but has odd lapses missing easy ones and isn't overly impressive on the low ones
Federer's serve is slickly placed and though made to look pedestrian next to Sampras' bombs, powerful too. Sampras is patchy on the return and Federer very consistent though short of deadly on the volley

Result could have gone either way. Federer coming out ahead is most fitting result. On top of high playing quality, his keeping his cool and maintaining standard of play at such an age, on such an occasion and against such a player is very impressive

Stats for '93 final between Sampras and Jim Courier - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/ind...mpras-vs-courier-wimbledon-final-1993.676323/
Stats for '03 final between Federer and Mark Philippoussis - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/ind...vs-philippoussis-wimbledon-final-2003.665136/
Stats for '90 US Open quarter between Sampras and Ivan Lendl - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/ind...s-vs-lendl-us-open-quarter-final-1990.624080/
 

FD3S

Hall of Fame
... Sampras is broken towards end from 40-15 up. Good low returns from Fed to reach break point, but a horror OH miss on it from Pete...
For those of you that haven't seen it, he's not exaggerating in the slightest. Point is below at the 10:54 mark and it's right up there with Roddick's miss in the 09 tiebreak, if not marginally worse considering Sampras was substantially better in the forecourt.

 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
So why does Federer lead unreturned rates 49% to 45% and aces/service winners are dead even 25/1 despite Sampras serving 19 extra first serves? Because Federer returns superbly. This is possibly the best returning I've seen of Pete Sampras on grass, especially at Wimbledon.
Spot on, this is always the thing I've harped on about this match, not necessarily the result (a post prime vs pre prime that came down to a coinflip, an iconic match, but not a result worthy of further analysis).

I was only in HS when this match happened but I watched the whole thing and had that exact same conclusion then, I'd never seen someone that comfortable and almost reading the unreadable Sampras serve. And Sampras served pretty damn well that day even if he wasn't at his ferocious best like we saw in his glory days.

I think Sampras' return being a bit down from even his 98-00 days, much less his peak, settled Federer in a lot. His serve wasn't nearly as big as it would become (Federer was a twig physically in 2001). Henman returned Federer's serve quite a bit better and thus managed to poke more holes in Federer's game and mental game.

But this match lends credence to the idea that peak Federer will pretty much always win the serve+return balance on grass (i.e. his serving numbers will be better than your's even if you serve better), and thus statistically he would be the favorite against anyone. Federer's return and movement/balance are his true outlier strengths on grass without even considering his FH, variety, slice, touch, and serve, all of which are great to GOAT level. Of course given the grass slowdown those latter attributes were highlighted more than the former, which would come through more in an old fashioned S&V shootout.
 

metsman

G.O.A.T.
For those of you that haven't seen it, he's not exaggerating in the slightest. Point is below at the 10:54 mark and it's right up there with Roddick's miss in the 09 tiebreak, if not marginally worse considering Sampras was substantially better in the forecourt.

Yeah that miss is much worse than Roddick's. Pretty much a utterly trivial putaway Pete got too overeager on. Roddick's volley should have been made no doubt but it's not entirely straightforward to stick a very high BH volley on a ball hit with some weird spin on it.
 
I have only watched two Sampras WB matches ever. This one and the Agassi one from 1999.

In 1999 Sampras had a bomb to hit on every second or third ball in play and backed it up with humongous serve.

Here Federer's BH asked too many questions and made it really difficult for Sampras to keep together the pressure consistently.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
And Sampras served pretty damn well that day even if he wasn't at his ferocious best like we saw in his glory days.
I've recently statt-ed a bunch of 'best glory days' Sampras serve showings at Wimbledon. Just the serve alone, I think this is up there with them

Even if strength of serve were a tad down, its more than compensated for by his serving at 70%, (which puts bygone year numbers to shade). And he's doing his '2-first-serve' bit for much of the match too

He's a bit off on the low volleys (relative to glory days), but serve alone? This is as good as anything he's put out

Court is probably more comfortable for returning than the older Wimbledons. Awhile ago I looked at '00 and '01 Wimby semis between Agassi and Pat Rafter back to back, and noted -

"The conditions appear to be significantly slower than the previous year. Balls are typically hit hip/stomach high as opposed to knee/thigh height last year. Rafter's kick serve is rising to Agassi's shoulder at least and sometimes, higher. Rafter doesn't slice much - might be he was more confident in his groundies this year, but possibly because the slices aren't staying as low {Note: he'd sliced constantly in '00, rarely driving}. Players aren't rushed to skidding balls in playing their groundstrokes like last year


A difference you see in Federer's returning from Courier, Becker and Agassi (matches I've done recently) is to the heavy ball in swing zone, usually second serves. They come down hard (of course), and in the older matches, the returners struggle to time the ball, sometimes barely getting ball to net. looks like the serve is just too heavy

You don't see that with Federer here. If he can reach it comfortably, he invariably times it sweetly. Same thing with '03 and '04 finals with Philippoussis and Roddick

Court would presumably also be more worn in the older matches I looked at (all finals and semis) and prone to less consistent pace and bounce compared to this fourth round

my take on this -
- Sampras serves as well as he ever has in this match (in other words, no question of Fed returning relatively comfortably due to decline in Sampras' serving)
- Court and conditions a bit better for returning than older years a factor in Fed's return showing

I think Sampras' return being a bit down from even his 98-00 days, much less his peak, settled Federer in a lot.
Probably

My memory of Sampras of this period he was returning poorly. His second round match was a horror show
Even at his best, he's a very difficult guy to assess the return for. Good chunk of the time he's not particularly trying

Then all of a sudden, he picks a game to start blazing returns on. Or suddenly gets very consistent in putting ball in play in tiebreaks

0 aces for Fed in the tiebreaks. Sampras has 3 and 1 service winner
Unreturned rates for tiebreaks - Fed 4/12 @ 33%, Sampras 6/13 @ 46%

Here I got the feeling he wasn't capable of doing much even if he was fully keyed in. Finally in a game late in 5th set he goes all out blasting returns - hits a couple of winners and gives Fed a bunch of 1/2volleys to deal with, has 2 break points

He may have underestimated Federer and though regulation firm returning was enough and sooner or later, Fed would start missing volleys
Otherwise, why not just blaze away all the time on the return? Whatever you do, you'll lose most games... so might as well blaze, so that when that 1 game comes along when returns land in, you'll probably break

But he struggles to return even conservatively, let alone blazing returns. Very good serving from Federer - worth 35%-low 40% unreturned rate against even good returning. 49% wouldn't be possible with some below average returning to help

I have only watched two Sampras WB matches ever. This one and the Agassi one from 1999.

In 1999 Sampras had a bomb to hit on every second or third ball in play and backed it up with humongous serve.
That one's here - https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/ind...ampras-vs-agassi-wimbledon-final-1999.677163/

A bit overrated, in my opinion. Considerable scope for better returning and Agassi's a bit off too
Sampras had declined some by then, so the match stood out as exceptional from his norm around the period

the '95 final with Becker was as close to perfect as you can get

 
The conditions appear to be significantly slower than the previous year. Balls are typically hit hip/stomach high as opposed to knee/thigh height last year. Rafter's kick serve is rising to Agassi's shoulder at least and sometimes, higher. Rafter doesn't slice much - might be he was more confident in his groundies this year, but possibly because the slices aren't staying as low {Note: he'd sliced constantly in '00, rarely driving}. Players aren't rushed to skidding balls in playing their groundstrokes like last year
Do you think there was a significant change in 2nd week grass bounce around mid 2000s? 2006 and 2007 finals feel different in the way the ball bounces. 2008 is quite similar to 2006 but still slightly higher.

2007 however was bouncing really high and there were more bounces than usual. Maybe the open stadium had something to do with it?
 

JasonZ

Professional
this match was decided by one call, the federer first serve in the first set tiebreak, which saved a set point, but was long.

however, i am sure pwak federer would win at least 6 out of 10 maches against peak sampras on geass.

in this match sampras was serving 70 % first serves in, much much higher than in any of his finals. so hid biggest weapon was clearly better than in all his finals. still federer handled it well. that means he would cause sampras much more problems if sampras was between 50% - 62 %, which he did in his finals.
 

mental midget

Hall of Fame
Spot on, this is always the thing I've harped on about this match, not necessarily the result (a post prime vs pre prime that came down to a coinflip, an iconic match, but not a result worthy of further analysis).

I was only in HS when this match happened but I watched the whole thing and had that exact same conclusion then, I'd never seen someone that comfortable and almost reading the unreadable Sampras serve. And Sampras served pretty damn well that day even if he wasn't at his ferocious best like we saw in his glory days.

I think Sampras' return being a bit down from even his 98-00 days, much less his peak, settled Federer in a lot. His serve wasn't nearly as big as it would become (Federer was a twig physically in 2001). Henman returned Federer's serve quite a bit better and thus managed to poke more holes in Federer's game and mental game.

But this match lends credence to the idea that peak Federer will pretty much always win the serve+return balance on grass (i.e. his serving numbers will be better than your's even if you serve better), and thus statistically he would be the favorite against anyone. Federer's return and movement/balance are his true outlier strengths on grass without even considering his FH, variety, slice, touch, and serve, all of which are great to GOAT level. Of course given the grass slowdown those latter attributes were highlighted more than the former, which would come through more in an old fashioned S&V shootout.
isner made a comment recently after his miami match with federer, saying essentially how nobody talks about how many seemingly unreturnable serves federer manages to get back into play. you could tell he thought it was “special,” he had this “you guys don’t get it” way of talking about it.
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
this match was decided by one call, the federer first serve in the first set tiebreak, which saved a set point, but was long.

however, i am sure pwak federer would win at least 6 out of 10 maches against peak sampras on geass.

in this match sampras was serving 70 % first serves in, much much higher than in any of his finals. so hid biggest weapon was clearly better than in all his finals. still federer handled it well. that means he would cause sampras much more problems if sampras was between 50% - 62 %, which he did in his finals.
Pete's 14.3% of return games won in '01 was his worst at Wimbledon by far since 1991 (yes, even worse than in '96 - his previous low of 20.5% actually came in '98), while this un-"pwak" Fed's 49.2% of serves unreturned in this match remains among his very best (he usually fails to clear 40% on any surface, let alone approach 50%) - better, in fact, than in any of his finals except a rare 51.4% in '17 vs. a hobbling Cilic. So either Fed himself was serving the lights out or Pete's return had gone down the toilet by then. Doesn't support your facile narrative of baby Fed besting GOATing Pistol, does it?

Ah but it's unwise to base a whole matchup on a single match, you say? (Funny how that truism somehow doesn't apply to this one, huh.) Well, in their respective title runs at SW19 your boy did manage to beat Pistol 28.3% to 23.6% in return games (I'll set aside the issue of court slowdown which I know is mostly bunk anyway - for me the prevalence of S&V in the '90s is a bigger issue) while barely losing the service comparison 94.3% to 95.5%. So game set match Federer, right? Not so fast: in the finals where these two would presumably meet most often, not only did Pete best Fed a stunning 96.9% to 91.1% in the service department - yes, Pistol held serve more often in the finals than in the earlier rounds, which I doubt anyone else has ever pulled off at Wimbledon - he also won the return matchup 18.3% to 17.9%. Even if you treat the '09 final as something of a one-off - though I must say I've always found this defense odd (after all nobody stopped Fed from denying Roddick perhaps his career-best serving performance), nor would it help much as removing the '09 final would still put Fed at a merely decent 21.0% - it's mitigated by Fed's virtual walkover in '17, so there's absolutely no reason to trust the result of that literal one-off in '01 over those of these finals spanning a total 15 years where both players gave their best.

And it's an indisputable fact that service stats have been creeping up across the board since the '90s, no doubt due in large part to the extra spin made possible by the bigger racquets/poly. Pretty sure Pistol in this era would've averaged more than 57.8% on 1st serve and bettered 63.6% (in '00 vs. Rafter) at least in a few finals, definitely surer than you are about how this matchup would go.

But I'll take a wild guess and assume you won't let any of these cold hard facts get in the way of your 100% objective analysis. If you keep spouting the same nonsense about Agassi vs. big servers by ignoring time and again the corrected numbers showing otherwise why should anyone expect you to face reality this time?
 

JasonZ

Professional
Pete's 14.3% of return games won in '01 was his worst at Wimbledon by far since 1991 (yes, even worse than in '96 - his previous low of 20.5% actually came in '98), while this un-"pwak" Fed's 49.2% of serves unreturned in this match remains among his very best (he usually fails to clear 40% on any surface, let alone approach 50%) - better, in fact, than in any of his finals except a rare 51.4% in '17 vs. a hobbling Cilic. So either Fed himself was serving the lights out or Pete's return had gone down the toilet by then. Doesn't support your facile narrative of baby Fed besting GOATing Pistol, does it?

Ah but it's unwise to base a whole matchup on a single match, you say? (Funny how that truism somehow doesn't apply to this one, huh.) Well, in their respective title runs at SW19 your boy did manage to beat Pistol 28.3% to 23.6% in return games (I'll set aside the issue of court slowdown which I know is mostly bunk anyway - for me the prevalence of S&V in the '90s is a bigger issue) while barely losing the service comparison 94.3% to 95.5%. So game set match Federer, right? Not so fast: in the finals where these two would presumably meet most often, not only did Pete best Fed a stunning 96.9% to 91.1% in the service department - yes, Pistol held serve more often in the finals than in the earlier rounds, which I doubt anyone else has ever pulled off at Wimbledon - he also won the return matchup 18.3% to 17.9%. Even if you treat the '09 final as something of a one-off - though I must say I've always found this defense odd (after all nobody stopped Fed from denying Roddick perhaps his career-best serving performance), nor would it help much as removing the '09 final would still put Fed at a merely decent 21.0% - it's mitigated by Fed's virtual walkover in '17, so there's absolutely no reason to trust the result of that literal one-off in '01 over those of these finals spanning a total 15 years where both players gave their best.

And it's an indisputable fact that service stats have been creeping up across the board since the '90s, no doubt due in large part to the extra spin made possible by the bigger racquets/poly. Pretty sure Pistol in this era would've averaged more than 57.8% on 1st serve and bettered 63.6% (in '00 vs. Rafter) at least in a few finals, definitely surer than you are about how this matchup would go.

But I'll take a wild guess and assume you won't let any of these cold hard facts get in the way of your 100% objective analysis. If you keep spouting the same nonsense about Agassi vs. big servers by ignoring time and again the corrected numbers showing otherwise why should anyone expect you to face reality this time?
you guessed right. i will not change my opinion, i say peak federer wins 6 out of 10 against peak sampras on 90s grass.
 
you guessed right. i will not change my opinion, i say peak federer wins 6 out of 10 against peak sampras on 90s grass.
I fully admit I haven't watched much of Sampras, but Federer will put back enough balls on return.Once the ball are in play he has a decent edge.

And on Service, even one of the greatest returner ever has too much trouble trying to break him. Federer service will be protected.
He will have his chances in Sampras serves.

50-50 I say because winning 4 points on return or a TB against Sampras,who is mentally so strong will be difficult.

@NonP I also like how you forgot to mention that Federer's serving numbers are down because he played on a slower grass and against GOAT returners like Djokodal.

And how playing against the likes of Pioline and return giants like Ivansievic in finals didn't help his numbers.
And one bad return performance against Roddick in his best serving form isn't that much of an issue.
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
you guessed right. i will not change my opinion, i say peak federer wins 6 out of 10 against peak sampras on 90s grass.
Well, at least you went from "I am sure" to "i say." That's progress.

No beef with your opinion itself, BTW. I disagree but it's certainly not an indefensible one. Just saying your logic doesn't pass muster. Didn't mean to single you out 'cause everyone's "analysis" in this thread is frankly regurgitated crap, but I did wanna point out that Pete's return itself is an underrated weapon and those #s especially from the finals prove it.

I fully admit I haven't watched much of Sampras, but Federer will put back enough balls on return.Once the ball are in play he has a decent edge.

And on Service, even one of the greatest returner ever has too much trouble trying to break him. Federer service will be protected.
He will have his chances in Sampras serves.

50-50 I say because winning 4 points on return or a TB against Sampras,who is mentally so strong will be difficult.

@NonP I also like how you forgot to mention that Federer's serving numbers are down because he played on a slower grass and against GOAT returners like Djokodal.

And how playing against the likes of Pioline and return giants like Ivansievic in finals didn't help his numbers.
And one bad return performance against Roddick in his best serving form isn't that much of an issue.
1st off, those numbers are only from Pete's and Fed's title runs. Novak has zero relevance in my analysis.

2nd, your passing off Nadal as a "GOAT returner" is comical. Follow the 2nd link in my OP and check Rafa's #s on grass if you're skeptical. (I hope I don't need to spell out the difference between a great return and a great return game.)

3rd, I've already said Fed's return % would've been 21.0% without the '09 final, but if you wanna go that route then why are we also including the '17 final vs. an injured Cilic or assuming that '05 Roddick or '06 Nadal was all that much tougher on grass than '97 Pioline who had a sensational win over Stich in the SF or Ivanisevic whose serve alone made him more dangerous on any type of grass than Rafa or even Andy?

And last but not least, the slow-grass canard is a popular red herring that refuses to die. Like I said service stats have been going up across the board since the '90s, yes even at Wimbledon/on grass, and net stats from the '90s-'10s strongly suggest that, contrary to received wisdom, S&V/net rushing at least on 1st serves is still a viable tactic on grass. (You also neglect to consider the other side of the coin, namely that S&V made it virtually impossible to win a high % of return games on grass back then, but that's for a more in-depth discussion.)
 

Spencer Gore

Hall of Fame
I was at this match. The change of grass completely changed the nature of Wimbledon. This match was just one of the first examples to prove it.

It would be fair to talk of a Wimbledon of fast grass pre-2001 and a Wimbledon of slow grass from 2001 onwards as almost two different tournaments.
 

JasonZ

Professional
I was at this match. The change of grass completely changed the nature of Wimbledon. This match was just one of the first examples to prove it.

It would be fair to talk of a Wimbledon of fast grass pre-2001 and a Wimbledon of slow grass from 2001 onwards as almost two different tournaments.
how was grass slow in 2001, when ivanisevic won it with a record number of aces hit? and the 2 finalists and 3 semifinalists have been pure serve and volley players?
 

Spencer Gore

Hall of Fame
how was grass slow in 2001, when ivanisevic won it with a record number of aces hit? and the 2 finalists and 3 semifinalists have been pure serve and volley players?
The record number of aces at Wimbledon by a player is Isner's total from 2018. Are you saying 2018 grass was faster than 2000?
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
how was grass slow in 2001, when ivanisevic won it with a record number of aces hit? and the 2 finalists and 3 semifinalists have been pure serve and volley players?
It's a documented fact that 2001 was the first Wimbledon with the new 100% ryegrass:


And like you said 3 of the 4 SFists were S&Vers/net rushers. Maybe this "slow" grass ain't as slow as they make it out to be, eh?

One more thing:

The record number of aces at Wimbledon by a player is Isner's total from 2018. Are you saying 2018 grass was faster than 2000?
I seriously doubt there's much of a difference. Also Isner's record is due to his marathon 5-setter vs. Anderson in the SF. If you go by aces per service point Goran was even better in '01:


Ditto '01 Goran vs. '15 Karlovic through the 4th round:


Now you know why so many connoisseurs consider Goran's 1st serve the single greatest weapon in tennis history. :cool:
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
Do you think there was a significant change in 2nd week grass bounce around mid 2000s? 2006 and 2007 finals feel different in the way the ball bounces. 2008 is quite similar to 2006 but still slightly higher.

2007 however was bouncing really high and there were more bounces than usual. Maybe the open stadium had something to do with it?
I don't have enough matches from early rounds to judge conclusively, but I would think so

More broadly, it would be true regardless of period... the more action the court sees, the more trodden the grass gets, the less green on the court there is... the slower (and more variable of pace and bounce) it gets

For serve and return purposes, I imagine it was more true during times when there was more serve-volleying because the service box areas would get more beaten by net rushers. Agassi commented about how in second week, his kick serves would grip and take off whereas in first week, they'd skid through

In '06, Nadal served 18 aces to Agassi in 3 sets in 3rd round (not sure if that was played on center court)
In the final, he managed 9 to Federer in 4 sets

There are lots of possible reasons for that beside state of court. Agassi was particularly stiff of movement, Federer particularly swift. Against Agassi, Nadal played for aces/service winners whereas against Federer, he aimed for weak BH returns he could command. It is at least, suggestive


So I don't think there was a particularly big shift between bounce across 1st and 2nd week in the mid 2000s particularly... it always gets higher as court gets worn

In general, I think changes in bounce from year to year at Wimbledon have been small compared to the hard court Slams. The difference between the fastest and slowest Aus and US Opens are considerable and obvious. Wimbledon less so... they're not big on change there
 
Summing up, a very high quality and explosive match. Federer has slightly better of both serve-return complex and play but not enough to be confident of result going against him via who-plays-the-big-points-better.
Sampras serves as well as he could hope - and Federer returns as well as possible against it. Sampras does well against a challenging volleys on the whole but has odd lapses missing easy ones and isn't overly impressive on the low ones
Federer's serve is slickly placed and though made to look pedestrian next to Sampras' bombs, powerful too. Sampras is patchy on the return and Federer very consistent though short of deadly on the volley

Result could have gone either way. Federer coming out ahead is most fitting result. On top of high playing quality, his keeping his cool and maintaining standard of play at such an age, on such an occasion and against such a player is very impressive

As much as I dislike Big 3 lovefest, I dislike Sampras lovefest from trolls even more. Some people need to read this before talking about how Sampras was turning up only to collect pay checks.
 

NedStark

Semi-Pro
Yeah that miss is much worse than Roddick's. Pretty much a utterly trivial putaway Pete got too overeager on. Roddick's volley should have been made no doubt but it's not entirely straightforward to stick a very high BH volley on a ball hit with some weird spin on it.
Two very bad volleys to give Fed the break in that 3rd set. The one before that overhead was very bad as well since Fed passing shot went directly to Sampras' covered range and never dipped below the net.
 

PMChambers

Hall of Fame
I found it an enjoyable match. But this was no where near peak Pete as many like to state.
In 2nd round.
P Sampras / B Cowen {Who? Wildcard}
6-3, 6-2, 6{5}-7{7},4-6 & 6-3.
5-setters to WC isn't peak Sampras at Wimbledon. Or anywhere near it.
 

mike danny

Bionic Poster
I found it an enjoyable match. But this was no where near peak Pete as many like to state.
In 2nd round.
P Sampras / B Cowen {Who? Wildcard}
6-3, 6-2, 6{5}-7{7},4-6 & 6-3.
5-setters to WC isn't peak Sampras at Wimbledon. Or anywhere near it.
No one said it was peak Sampras. But he was certainly closer to his best than Federer.
 

Rafa4LifeEver

Hall of Fame
For those of you that haven't seen it, he's not exaggerating in the slightest. Point is below at the 10:54 mark and it's right up there with Roddick's miss in the 09 tiebreak, if not marginally worse considering Sampras was substantially better in the forecourt.

The only time roger converted a 40-15 on match point
 

Milanez82

Hall of Fame
I found it an enjoyable match. But this was no where near peak Pete as many like to state.
In 2nd round.
P Sampras / B Cowen {Who? Wildcard}
6-3, 6-2, 6{5}-7{7},4-6 & 6-3.
5-setters to WC isn't peak Sampras at Wimbledon. Or anywhere near it.
This was just waiting to happen. In 2000 he was due to be sent packing home but then he had the fortune of one of the easiest draws ever.
 

NedStark

Semi-Pro
No one said it was peak Sampras. But he was certainly closer to his best than Federer.
Not just peak, but any version of prime Sampras would have never let a first-week match go five after leading 2-0. In fact, ever since Wimbledon 1993, he had never played a five-set match in the first week of W prior to that match.
 
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