Rafter or Edberg? Who was better?

arvind13

Semi-Pro
I know edberg's achievements are more. But I'm asking who would have won most of the encounters if they had faced each other during their prime, divided evenly between the three surfaces, hard, grass, and clay.
 

THUNDERVOLLEY

G.O.A.T.
Edberg. His serve and volley talents were more versatile and tactical than the very textbook way Rafter approached the game. Rafter was no slouch overall as a player, but prime vs. prime, and it is difficult to see Edberg falling to him--ever.
 

TennisLBC

Professional
Edberg. His serve and volley talents were more versatile and tactical than the very textbook way Rafter approached the game. Rafter was no slouch overall as a player, but prime vs. prime, and it is difficult to see Edberg falling to him--ever.
+1

But I agree with @travlerajm that the match would be close. Rafter was relentless when it came to owning the net.
 

BorgTheGOAT

Professional
Rafter gets underrated here. His volleys were on par and his serve was better than Edbergs. Edberg had the better ground game but not by much his forehand was pretty mediocre. He had slightly better returns and passing shots, but Rafter was the better athlete.
 

SaintPetros

Professional
Edberg. More effective serve and volley combo and better net coverage/overall movement.
Pat would rep though and have nothing to be ashamed of after a series against Stefan.
 

Cashman

Professional
Meanwhile, in the real world, Edberg and Rafter played 3 times in 1995. Edberg won all of them.
Probably not a great source of comparison. In 1995 Edberg was geriatric, and Rafter spent most of the season battling the wrist injury that would keep him out for all of 1996.

Rafter and Cash share a lot of similarities, and I imagine the former would give Edberg at least as much trouble as Cash did when he was fit.

Would still pick Edberg, but it would be a lot closer than people think.
 

andreh

Professional
Rafter and Cash share a lot of similarities, and I imagine the former would give Edberg at least as much trouble as Cash did when he was fit.
Cash - Edberg: 2-8. Unlike with Rafter, their best years did coincide.

Probably not a great source of comparison. In 1995 Edberg was geriatric, and Rafter spent most of the season battling the wrist injury that would keep him out for all of 1996.
Maybe it can serve as a kind of proxy, though. Both when they were equally not in their primes vs. when they were. 1995 was Edberg worst year on tour when he slipped below 30 in rankings.

Anyway, my point is, I believe Edberg was better than both, to a point where asking 'who was better' is pointless. They were all great player to watch, though.
 

Cashman

Professional
Cash - Edberg: 2-8. Unlike with Rafter, their best years did coincide.
Again, the overall head to head is a bit meaningless because of how badly Cash’s career was affected by injuries.

When both were fit and in form, their rivalry was extremely competitive.

Maybe it can serve as a kind of proxy, though. Both when they were equally not in their primes vs. when they were.
That’s not really how it works.
 

Navdeep Srivastava

Hall of Fame
I know people is saying Edberg but Rafter of 2000 and 2001 wimbledon final will beat Edberg most of the time in Wimbledon may be barring 1988.
 

andreh

Professional
That’s not really how it works.
Comparing primes vs. primes that didn't overlap - also not really how it works. Both arguments are merely conjecture. All we really have are the matches they actually played.
 
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hoodjem

G.O.A.T.
They met three times in 1995, twice on clay and once on hard court. Hard court was Rafter's best surface, grass probably his second best. Grass was Edberg's best surface, hard court his second best. This year is post-prime Edberg versus pre-prime Rafter.
So let's call it even.

Edberg won all three matches.
 
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California

Rookie
Meanwhile, in the real world, Edberg and Rafter played 3 times in 1995. Edberg won all of them.
Right, remind them of the facts..

Edberg, Rafter had only one advantage and that is that he served harder. Otherwise it is all Edberg, much better returns, better mover, much better topspin backhand. I am a big Rafter fan, he is my 2nd favorite player behind Edberg, but Edberg was clearly better.

People really underestimate Edberg's returns, look up the official stats, he was a very good returner and made opponents play, he didn't give them many errors. Yes, his forehand looked odd, but he didn't miss it a lot. We all know about the backhand!
 
I know people is saying Edberg but Rafter of 2000 and 2001 wimbledon final will beat Edberg most of the time in Wimbledon may be barring 1988.
Really? What makes you think that. I do not see Rafter beating peak Becker in the finals of wimbledon as Edberg did in both 88 and 90. And what does Rafter do better than Edberg. Volleys, no. Groundstrokes, no, he might have a better forehand but Edberg has a way better backhand. Serve, no. Return of serve, hell no.
 

Navdeep Srivastava

Hall of Fame
Becker was like Safin, in how many theoretical matches you will see Safin lossing AO final 2002, tell me if I make thread about replaying 2002 AO final how many will say Safin will loose again, but believe me Safin will again find a way to screw himself
only time Becker was in form was 1989 final, his fitness was not at best in other finals.
Last if Rafter can break Goran and Sampras serve when they were on fire he can surely break Edberg number of times.
Remember there is a reason Edberg used to struggle against anybody who can return his serve like Chang, Agassi, Courier and even old Connors.
Of all the past atgs from 1980 Edberg will struggle big time in modern era.
 

Navdeep Srivastava

Hall of Fame
ofcourse it is my personal reasoning , I beleive on whole Edberg was a better player and very clutch, inspite of having loosing records against Courier, Becker he manages to snatch slam when mattered.
I am only talking about Rafter 2000 and 2001 wimbledon finals player.
 
ofcourse it is my personal reasoning , I beleive on whole Edberg was a better player and very clutch, inspite of having loosing records against Courier, Becker he manages to snatch slam when mattered.
I am only talking about Rafter 2000 and 2001 wimbledon finals player.
Rafter choked in the 2000 final (the 2nd set tiebreak anyway) against a subpar Sampras, and could not even beat a way past his prime Ivanisevic in the 2001 final. Sorry I disagree.
 

California

Rookie
Becker was like Safin, in how many theoretical matches you will see Safin lossing AO final 2002, tell me if I make thread about replaying 2002 AO final how many will say Safin will loose again, but believe me Safin will again find a way to screw himself
only time Becker was in form was 1989 final, his fitness was not at best in other finals.
Last if Rafter can break Goran and Sampras serve when they were on fire he can surely break Edberg number of times.
Remember there is a reason Edberg used to struggle against anybody who can return his serve like Chang, Agassi, Courier and even old Connors.
Of all the past atgs from 1980 Edberg will struggle big time in modern era.
Edberg did struggle later in his career against big returners who could step into the court and pummel his kick serve, guys like Agassi and Courier. Problem with your reasoning is Rafter isn't that guy! His return was relatively poor, and hot and cold, didn't make enough returns and liked to slice return off the backhand. Edberg would eat this up. It is all about matchups. Rafter isn't a tough matchup for Edberg, Agassi is, especially after Edberg had back issues and lost sting and action off his serve.
 
Edberg did struggle later in his career against big returners who could step into the court and pummel his kick serve, guys like Agassi and Courier. Problem with your reasoning is Rafter isn't that guy! His return was relatively poor, and hot and cold, didn't make enough returns and liked to slice return off the backhand. Edberg would eat this up. It is all about matchups. Rafter isn't a tough matchup for Edberg, Agassi is, especially after Edberg had back issues and lost sting and action off his serve.
Yeah Rafter would be a cakewalk match up for Edberg but the reasons you stated. Although Rafter might have been just as tough a match up for Agassi as Edberg was. It is all about the match ups.
 

BorgTheGOAT

Professional
Edberg did struggle later in his career against big returners who could step into the court and pummel his kick serve, guys like Agassi and Courier. Problem with your reasoning is Rafter isn't that guy! His return was relatively poor, and hot and cold, didn't make enough returns and liked to slice return off the backhand. Edberg would eat this up. It is all about matchups. Rafter isn't a tough matchup for Edberg, Agassi is, especially after Edberg had back issues and lost sting and action off his serve.
Rafters return and ground game gets underrated here.
 

Cashman

Professional
Career return games won by overall ranking and by percentage.

Rafter #157 overall at 22.52% Edberg #18 overall at 30.31%
If Rafter is your second favourite player, you should really know better than to quote his career stats as being indicative of his ability. The guy spent about 75% of his career playing injured, off injured, or recovering form after injury.
 

BorgTheGOAT

Professional
Career return games won by overall ranking and by percentage.

Rafter #157 overall at 22.52% Edberg #18 overall at 30.31%
Rafter started his career in 1990 but only really broke through in 1997. Once he hit his prime he was plagued with injuries. Overall career stats are not very telling in his case. Would maybe make more sense to list his return games won in his prime 1997-2001.
 
In this comparison, we can go by the head to head imo. Yes, I know Rafter hadn't hit his peak, but Edberg was **** in 1995 and would retire the next year. The only singles title he won through 95 and 96 was Doha and the only other ATP level final he made in 95 was Washington.

He STILL beat Rafter both times they met which happened to be in 95. And they didn't even play on grass.

I cannot think of any one department where Rafter was comprehensively better than Edberg barring athleticism. Which could simply be a function of Rafter arriving later. But Rafter did not have the better serve. And his volleys weren't better either imo. Edberg's backhand volley was simply outstanding. Edberg also had a better topspin backhand, it's not even comparable. Edberg's forehand was a weakness but since Rafter didn't have a great forehand either, he wouldn't gain an advantage there.

On HC, I would still give a chance to Rafter to make it close. On clay, Edberg was better (remember he actually made a RG final). On grass too, I would back Edberg to beat him. Not without difficulty, but still the clearly better player.
 

California

Rookie
If Rafter is your second favourite player, you should really know better than to quote his career stats as being indicative of his ability. The guy spent about 75% of his career playing injured, off injured, or recovering form after injury.
He definitely was my 2nd favorite player, but stats are stats, injured or not. My point was and is, he wasn't a great returner. Great serve, great volley, very athletic, and great fighter. Didn't have great groundies and his return game didn't allow him to break enough. Shame he didn't win Wimbledon, the losses to Goran and Pete were gutting.

Edberg too had injuries, he retired for the Aussie Open final he was winning before he got hurt, he should have won that slam. Had back problems at times too as well as shoulder issues. The question posed was who was better? It is clearly Edberg. More slams, more titles, better overall strokes and game. Head to head advantage, not much question in this comparison.
 

Cashman

Professional
stats are stats
Said no statistician ever.

The question posed was who was better? It is clearly Edberg. More slams, more titles, better overall strokes and game. Head to head advantage, not much question in this comparison.
It is a more nuanced answer than that when you talk about a player as compromised by injury as Rafter.

Unfortunately that brief period between his return from wrist surgery in 1997 and his shoulder injury at the 1999 USO was the only time we got to see him at full capacity.
 
Rafter gets underrated here. His volleys were on par and his serve was better than Edbergs. Edberg had the better ground game but not by much his forehand was pretty mediocre. He had slightly better returns and passing shots, but Rafter was the better athlete.
Edberg was by far the better athlete and his volleys were clearly better than Rafters. Edberg's second serve was also better.
 

JasonZ

Semi-Pro
Becker was like Safin, in how many theoretical matches you will see Safin lossing AO final 2002, tell me if I make thread about replaying 2002 AO final how many will say Safin will loose again, but believe me Safin will again find a way to screw himself
only time Becker was in form was 1989 final, his fitness was not at best in other finals.
Last if Rafter can break Goran and Sampras serve when they were on fire he can surely break Edberg number of times.
Remember there is a reason Edberg used to struggle against anybody who can return his serve like Chang, Agassi, Courier and even old Connors.
Of all the past atgs from 1980 Edberg will struggle big time in modern era.
Rafter could not break Sampras serve in the wimby final 2000 and also not at us open 2001.

Edberg won his titles when there were no two handed backhands. No Courier, no Ivanisevic. And Agassi was so stupid to not play in wimbledon till 1991. Edbergs serve was very attackable for two handed backhands.
 

BorgTheGOAT

Professional
Edberg was by far the better athlete and his volleys were clearly better than Rafters. Edberg's second serve was also better.
His volleys were not better IMO let alone clearly. I watched a lot of Rafter matches, US Open against Sampras, all his slam matches against Agassi his final against Goran etc. In all these matches his volleys are among the best I have ever seen. He has the total package, forehand, backhand, touch volley, backhand overhead, great reflexes. You can even watch his matches against Edberg in 95. Rafters volleys are on par with the very best (i.e. Mac and Edberg).
 
Rafter could not break Sampras serve in the wimby final 2000 and also not at us open 2001.

Edberg won his titles when there were no two handed backhands. No Courier, no Ivanisevic. And Agassi was so stupid to not play in wimbledon till 1991. Edbergs serve was very attackable for two handed backhands.
There were plenty of two-handed backhands in the 80s and 90s. Ever heard of guys like Connors, Mecir, Wilander and about 10.000 other Swedish guys?
 

JasonZ

Semi-Pro
There were plenty of two-handed backhands in the 80s and 90s. Ever heard of guys like Connors, Mecir, Wilander and about 10.000 other Swedish guys?
Connors was old and Wilander not that good on grass. Prime Edberg lost to Ivanisevic. It was in 5 but Goran was clearly better, next year he lost to Courier in 4.
 

Winners or Errors

Hall of Fame
Huge Rafter fan, and also huge Edberg fan. We don't know what Rafter would have done, were it not for his terrible shoulders. Edberg's back held out longer, and therefore he was able to maintain his form much longer than Rafter. Still, if I had to choose one of them to win a match, I'd pick Edberg. Yes, his forehand was a weakness, but he literally had no other big flaws in his game and it stood up to some very tough competition in the late 80s and early-mid 90s. Rafter, we'll never know if he could have continued and/or gotten better. Just too injured after his flash at #1.
 

ed70

Semi-Pro
Without looking at statistics i felt Edberg was all round slightly better, watched them both serve volleying at wimbledon, Edbergs first volley following in his serve was very impressive, great footwork.
 
His volleys were not better IMO let alone clearly. I watched a lot of Rafter matches, US Open against Sampras, all his slam matches against Agassi his final against Goran etc. In all these matches his volleys are among the best I have ever seen. He has the total package, forehand, backhand, touch volley, backhand overhead, great reflexes. You can even watch his matches against Edberg in 95. Rafters volleys are on par with the very best (i.e. Mac and Edberg).
Still lost three times. Rafter was really good, I just cannot see him being on par with Edberg volley-wise. But there's probably some statistic somewhere to to prove the succes rate of their first volleys.
 
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