More talented: Sampras or Mcenroe?

BorgTheGOAT

Professional
No way to properly measure talent. For me the most talented guy would be the one who relatively to his training efforts achieved the most ( as this would mean, that he most relied on his natural ability). So if all players in the world had began playing tennis at the same age, put in the exact same amount of training and under equally good coaches etc. (adding way more parameters here), then the one who would come out winning the most would be the most talented. As this is not possible we can only go by eye measure and in my opinion Sampras is way more talented than Mac. Mac was actually quite one dimensional, his baseline game was not very good. There are a lot of players who are sometimes falsely viewed as unbelievable talented (e.g. Safin, Mac, Nalbandian and the least understandable: the constant worshipping of Rios). I think as a rule of thumb, one can assume, that the most successful are usually as well among the most talented.
 

KG1965

Legend
In terms of achievements this is not even a debate. but in terms of raw talent and ability is sampras better, mcenroe better, or both about even?
What's the talent ?

Who has more talent Federer or Gasquet (without physique) or Ferrer (who arrives top 5 with a top 100 game) or Leconte (who played from standstill) or a fat player who arrives in the top 30?
 

arvind13

Professional
let me phrase it in a way that makes it easier to answer: Who would win 1984 mcenroe vs 1995 sampras on 90s wimbledon grass using late 80s, early 90s racquet technology. these years were chosen because both men were arguably at their peaks during those years
 

flanker2000fr

Professional
let me phrase it in a way that makes it easier to answer: Who would win 1984 mcenroe vs 1995 sampras on 90s wimbledon grass using late 80s, early 90s racquet technology. these years were chosen because both men were arguably at their peaks during those years
Within those parameters, probably Sampras. Too much power for Mac to handle effectively, especially on Sampras' serve.
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
i think mcenroe was more talented.. if sampras lived macs turbulent lifestyle I don't think he would have won half as many GS tourneys as he did..
 

JetFlyr

Rookie
Sampras was the better athlete, but McEnroe had better hands and talent. I also think McEnroe had the better tennis I.Q., but Sampras was able to compensate due to his size and athletic ability.
Serve: Sampras
Return: McEnroe due to his success in doubles
Volley: McEnroe
Overhead: Sampras
Forehand: Sampras by far
Backhand: McEnroe (barely)
Foot speed: Sampras (except closing the net, then McEnroe)
Work ethic: Sampras
Entertainment: McEnroe
 

TheRed

Professional
Sampras was the better athlete, but McEnroe had better hands and talent. I also think McEnroe had the better tennis I.Q., but Sampras was able to compensate due to his size and athletic ability.
Serve: Sampras
Return: McEnroe due to his success in doubles
Volley: McEnroe
Overhead: Sampras
Forehand: Sampras by far
Backhand: McEnroe (barely)
Foot speed: Sampras (except closing the net, then McEnroe)
Work ethic: Sampras
Entertainment: McEnroe
I agree for the most part but too many people forget that Sampras was not that big. Because he played a power game and had a big serve in the midst of the power revolution, we think of him as the same size as Krajicek, Stich and Ivanesevic. Sampras was only 6 ft and in photos next the Federer, he's clearly shorter. But yes, he was more like a good athlete who ended up playing tennis as opposed to McEnroe who looked like a slow pasty white guy that produced magic on the court. Clearly, that's not totally true because you don't become the number 1 player in the world without being a pretty good athlete.
 

mental midget

Hall of Fame
I agree for the most part but too many people forget that Sampras was not that big. Because he played a power game and had a big serve in the midst of the power revolution, we think of him as the same size as Krajicek, Stich and Ivanesevic. Sampras was only 6 ft and in photos next the Federer, he's clearly shorter. But yes, he was more like a good athlete who ended up playing tennis as opposed to McEnroe who looked like a slow pasty white guy that produced magic on the court. Clearly, that's not totally true because you don't become the number 1 player in the world without being a pretty good athlete.
yeah maybe just a shade over 6', but long arms and very strong. so explosive, his movement doesn't always get top billing but he really was like a big cat on court.

respectfully disagree on mac as 'slow white guy,' he was quite fast around the court. i think his technique on groundies was so simple that it made him look less athletic than he really was, the way he kind of bunted the ball around.
 

TheRed

Professional
yeah maybe just a shade over 6', but long arms and very strong. so explosive, his movement doesn't always get top billing but he really was like a big cat on court.

respectfully disagree on mac as 'slow white guy,' he was quite fast around the court. i think his technique on groundies was so simple that it made him look less athletic than he really was, the way he kind of bunted the ball around.
I agree 100% .I didn't mean mac was actually slow. He just looked like a not very athletic guy but he was. And yeah, Sampras was very fast.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
Sampras was the better athlete, but McEnroe had better hands and talent. I also think McEnroe had the better tennis I.Q., but Sampras was able to compensate due to his size and athletic ability.
Serve: Sampras
Return: McEnroe due to his success in doubles
Volley: McEnroe
Overhead: Sampras
Forehand: Sampras by far
Backhand: McEnroe (barely)
Foot speed: Sampras (except closing the net, then McEnroe)
Work ethic: Sampras
Entertainment: McEnroe
Both were great talents so I wouldn't necessarily call Sampras the better athlete.

I'm going to just concentrate stuff aside from strokes.

Thing is that I think of talent as not only realized ability but also potential. Henri Leconte had incredible power potential everywhere but he didn't do it consistently. Connors had great power except on serve but he did it consistently.

One talent that is perhaps the greatest talent is the ability to repeat strokes and maintain a super high level. Guys like Connors, McEnroe and Sampras could do this. Obviously guys like Nadal, Djokovic and Federer can also. Stan Wawrinka doesn't do it consistently as well as the previous ones I mentioned but when he plays well he is incredible with great power potential everywhere.

Power and I guess this may include serve but Sampras has clearly more power on the forehand groundies and serve.
However McEnroe takes the ball earlier than Sampras and has more disguise on his strokes including serve.
Foot speed-I'd go with Sampras but McEnroe was pretty quick and I think his footwork was a little better
Stamina-McEnroe is better but Sampras was masterful in winning long matches.
Reflexes-McEnroe by a bit since his net play may have been unsurpassed but Sampras has fast reflexes too. McEnroe was also excellent at taking the return early.
Versatility-Both are very versatile but I would say McEnroe was a little more so.
 

WestboroChe

Hall of Fame
An interesting question. By talent I think you mean natural untrained ability or aptitude. Without having seen either of these guys play very early in their development it’s impossible to say. However I’ll just say that Pete probably had more for the following reasons:

Mental toughness - I always come back to that match against Courier in the Aussie open when his coach had suddenly become ill and Pete was literally throwing up on the court because he was so upset and somehow managed to win anyway. That’s just insane ability to focus. I know Mac had that amazing tie break against Borg but did he do it with all that stuff going on in the background? No. Advantage Pete.

Ground strokes - Pete had powerful consistent groundstrokes and we all know about his running forehand. Macs were obviously decent as he was able to become a legend. But they were just shots that he had to hit before he could get to the net and kill you with his amazing quickness and hands. Ad Pete.

Serve - this is obviously close as Mac is the archetypical S&V and he served as well as anyone. But Pete’s serve was bigger and even more consistent and his second serve was just unworldly. Ad Pete.

Mac totally wins on entertainment value. And I don’t mean his antics. His style of play was just so fun to watch. I sometimes pull up old matches of him on YouTube and still love watching them. I never watch Pete’s old matches. He just never wowed me even though he was so effing good.
 

WestboroChe

Hall of Fame
yeah maybe just a shade over 6', but long arms and very strong. so explosive, his movement doesn't always get top billing but he really was like a big cat on court.

respectfully disagree on mac as 'slow white guy,' he was quite fast around the court. i think his technique on groundies was so simple that it made him look less athletic than he really was, the way he kind of bunted the ball around.
One of the reasons I love watching Mac is because he had that sort of doughy every-guy look to him. It was like your annoying older brother somehow became a tennis champion.

I don’t get the impression that he was committed to fitness early on and after his zenith in 1984 you saw guys like Lendl and Wilander sort of surpass him. He must have done something right though because he played tennis at a very high level right up into his 50s.
 

dgold44

G.O.A.T.
MAC more talent but Sampras more athletic and better career as others said.

I am sure MAC in his 60's could crush any 5.0 with ease
 

mrmike

Semi-Pro
Imagine if you could clone Mac's touch and tennis IQ with Sampras power and athletic ability? Oh wait, that would be Fed :) Maybe not the power part, but pretty close.
 

WestboroChe

Hall of Fame
Imagine if you could clone Mac's touch and tennis IQ with Sampras power and athletic ability? Oh wait, that would be Fed :) Maybe not the power part, but pretty close.
Fed has Pete’s mental toughness and what is probably the best forehand ever (macs assessment). That’s enough.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
This is similar to a definition of talent that I would use.

Talent— innate, natural, untrained aptitude
Skill— practiced, taught, learned, trained, developed ability
I tend to think of talent as untapped potential. Some may have natural untrained aptitude but the full potential may not be as great as another if both practiced equally.

They say Henri Cochet was a natural as a player but the general consensus is that he had a serve that couldn't break an egg! A player like Tilden wasn't perhaps a natural but perhaps his potential was much greater than Cochet.
 

hoodjem

G.O.A.T.
I tend to think of talent as untapped potential. Some may have natural untrained aptitude but the full potential may not be as great as another if both practiced equally.

They say Henri Cochet was a natural as a player but the general consensus is that he had a serve that couldn't break an egg! A player like Tilden wasn't perhaps a natural but perhaps his potential was much greater than Cochet.
Sounds good.

Talent = untapped (innate, natural) potential
Skill = tapped and developed ability
 
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metsman

G.O.A.T.
Mac had slightly better hands and more natural creativity but Sampras wins all other areas. Both are top 5 talents in history, arguably #2 and #3.
 

serpentsrace

New User
I think McEnroe definitely. Sampras had more power on the serve and more power overall, but for racquet skills and art and all other areas McEnroe comes out ahead.
 

arvind13

Professional
Both Sampras and mcenroe are more talented than Hyeon Chung, Borna Coric, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Nick Kyrgios, Rublev,

#nextgen :p
 
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