Sampras 14 slams 12 yrs, Federer 9 slams 4 yrs

ta11geese3

Semi-Pro
As for the Nadal on grass... you guys are forgetting the days of ace, ace, unreturnable serve, put away volley, and game days are over. Well, for now, at least. At any rate, the grass is slower...
 
You're using ONE 5-set match to compare Fed v Sampras? Oh no :)

As for Sampras' prime that's precisely my point. He won all those titles facing real legends.

You're right about Wimbledon and Mcenroe/Edberg - I'll give you that. But he beat 6 different opponents in 7 finanls incl. Ivanisevic, Rafter and Agassi.
 

TGV

Rookie
Well you used NO matches vs Mac/Edberg (on grass) to bolster your claim that Sampras played legends so what if I used ONE match vs a 4-time defending champion at Wimbledon?
 

oberyn

Professional
ckthegreek said:
As for Sampras' prime that's precisely my point. He won all those titles facing real legends.
I keep saying it. I love Pete. However, people used to use the same "he has no competition" argument against him, as well. It's funny how much better your competition gets after you retire.

Pete's victims in GS finals between 1993 and 1997.

Wimbledon

Jim Courier (not a legendary grass court player)
Goran Ivanisevic
Boris Becker (10 years removed from his first Wimbledon title)
Cedric Pioline (The immortal Cedric Pioline)

Australian Open

Todd Martin (very nice career. Not HOF material)
Carlos Moya (on hard court, not on clay)

U.S. Open

Cedric Pioline (there's that name again)
Andre Agassi
Michael Chang

Sampras' one loss in a Slam Final during this period was to Andre Agassi at the Australian Open in 1995.

He was 9-1 in Slam Finals.

Federer's 9-1 Slam Finals run between 2003 and 2006.

Wimbledon

Mark Philippoussis
Andy Roddick
Andy Roddick
Rafael Nadal

U.S. Open

Lleyton Hewitt
Andre Agassi (This is a lot like Pete beating Boris Becker in 1995, the guy's 10 years removed from his first U.S. Open title)
Andy Roddick

Australian Open

Marat Safin
Marcos Baghdatis

Federer's lone loss is to Rafael Nadal at this year's French Open Final. Just like Sampras his only loss is to his strongest rival on that rival's strongest surface. (Agassi and rebound ace)
 
justineheninhoogenbandfan said:
Ken Rosewall in 1974 reached both the Wimbledon and U.S Open finals at age 39, taking out John Newcombe in both events, the great 7-time slam winner who was one of the 2 best at the time(Connors of course dominated that year). If Agassi being Federer's biggest competition at only one event in both 2004 and 2005(the U.S Open was the only event this was true) makes today a weak field, what would Ken Rosewall at 39 being in both the Wimbledon and U.S Open finals, and beating Newcombe one of dominant players of the early 70s in his prime in both, say about the 1974 field? I guess that would mean the field that year would have to be atrocious, yet I have heard nobody say that. So something about that logic does not fit.
It shows that tennis was more of a cat and mouse, tacticians game back then, which would allow an older player to win. The game is more athletic now. Also, Newcombe is no Federer. Balls didn't travel as fast back then and didn't force players to be as fast consequently.

Frankly it's apples and oranges here so you're analogy, while historically impressive, does not apply. What Rosewall did was impressive. I mention this "one event" because it's a fair assessment of the field. The US Open appeals to many types of players, unlike Rolan Garros.

The fact was that for the past two years, only an aging Agassi was talented enough to challenge Federer at the US Open. I'd rather you argue my point specifically rather than citing historical precedence which really doesn't compare.
 

oberyn

Professional
ckthegreek said:
He wasn't a 4-time defending champion. He was a 7-time defending champion.
7-time champion (overall titles). 4-time defending champion (consecutive titles). Not to be nit-picky or anything. . . ;)
 

oberyn

Professional
stormholloway said:
It shows that tennis was more of a cat and mouse,
Frankly it's apples and oranges here so you're analogy, while historically impressive, does not apply.
I think this is absolutely fascinating. I remember in the 90s when people were saying that Sampras didn't face any strong competition. Jimmy Connors' run at the 1991 U.S. Open was trotted out as evidence of this.

Connors dispatched a 39-year-old Ken Rosewall in 1974 at the U.S. Open final. Some people used it as evidence that this was a "weak" era.

Jim Courier (an Agassi contemporary) dispatched a 39-year-old Jimmy Connors in the 1991 U.S. Open semi-final. Some people used it as evidence that this was a "weak" era.

Roger Federer dispatched a 35-year-old Andre Agassi in the 2005 U.S. Open final. Some people are now using it as evidence that this is a "weak" era.

There really IS nothing new under the Sun. . .
 

BigboyDan

Semi-Pro
Actually, oberyn, you're correct. There are always certain years, especially in a transition from one tennis mini-era to another where the competion is weaker, your citations are true - we are in that time now. Also, the reverse is true, there are mini-eras when the competition is really strong...
 

TGV

Rookie
oberyn said:
I think this is absolutely fascinating. I remember in the 90s when people were saying that Sampras didn't face any strong competition. Jimmy Connors' run at the 1991 U.S. Open was trotted out as evidence of this. .
Props to your objectivity, oberyn. Here's the text from a Lendl tribute article (from around '99?) that accuses Sampras of having no competition compared to Lendl:
Ivan reached 19 grand slam signals finals, more than any other male player in the open era, he won 8 of them, but a closer look will reveal the fact that he lost 10 of those finals to 5 of the greatest champions in the open era, Borg, Connors, McEnroe, Willander and Becker. Pete Sampras, the greatest tennis player the game has seen so far, has a total of 12 grand slams, 7 of them were against players who not only were never number one, but players who never won a single grand slam tournament, of the remaining 5, three of them were against Andre Agassi. How many slams would Ivan have won if he had faced players of that caliber? Of the 19 Grand Slam finals, Ivan faced, players who were multiple slam winners and former number ones, 15 times.

http://www.1stserve.com/legacy.asp
 

BiGGieStuFF

Hall of Fame
Can't just look at who he beat IN the final. I think if you look at who had to beat to get to the final, the list is quite good.

Either way, it takes some good tennis to beat out 7 people in a row to win a grand slam. Anyone who has done it has deserved it at that time and moment.
 

cuddles26

Banned
Neither Roger or Pete have competition to the level of the 80s competition. When comparing Roger's weaker competition, you should not compare to the Pete era, but to the mid 80s era. That is when competition was at a really high level, not in the Pete era.
 

cuddles26

Banned
oberyn said:
I keep saying it. I love Pete. However, people used to use the same "he has no competition" argument against him, as well. It's funny how much better your competition gets after you retire.

Pete's victims in GS finals between 1993 and 1997.

Wimbledon

Jim Courier (not a legendary grass court player)
Goran Ivanisevic
Boris Becker (10 years removed from his first Wimbledon title)
Cedric Pioline (The immortal Cedric Pioline)

Australian Open

Todd Martin (very nice career. Not HOF material)
Carlos Moya (on hard court, not on clay)

U.S. Open

Cedric Pioline (there's that name again)
Andre Agassi
Michael Chang

Sampras' one loss in a Slam Final during this period was to Andre Agassi at the Australian Open in 1995.

He was 9-1 in Slam Finals.

Federer's 9-1 Slam Finals run between 2003 and 2006.

Wimbledon

Mark Philippoussis
Andy Roddick
Andy Roddick
Rafael Nadal

U.S. Open

Lleyton Hewitt
Andre Agassi (This is a lot like Pete beating Boris Becker in 1995, the guy's 10 years removed from his first U.S. Open title)
Andy Roddick

Australian Open

Marat Safin
Marcos Baghdatis

Federer's lone loss is to Rafael Nadal at this year's French Open Final. Just like Sampras his only loss is to his strongest rival on that rival's strongest surface. (Agassi and rebound ace)
You are right, alot of those players are not even close to legends either so saying Pete beat only legends is plain false.

Pioline in two slam finals, Ivanisevic-2 finals- is still very tough on grass but he is no legend-he is even more a 1 shot wonder then Roddick, Moya on slam final on hard courts, Martin, Chang, no legends there, Courier on grass. Rafter in 1 Wimbledon final, is a 2-time U.S open winner but not really any better then todays top players, and didnt get past the 4th round of Wimbledon until the last 2 years of his career. That leaves Becker, as you said 10 years after his first Wimbledon title, so evaluating his age is moot to whether he was in his prime or not. Agassi in the 4 remaining slam finals was his hardest competition by far. Then again the first one of those was the middle one when Agassi went 0-3 in slam finals, including a loss to Gomez
in one and looked like a choker in big matches, and the last one was when both Pete and Andre were older players which is easier on Pete with his huge serve though.
 

oberyn

Professional
cuddles26 said:
Neither Roger or Pete have competition to the level of the 80s competition. When comparing Roger's weaker competition, you should not compare to the Pete era, but to the mid 80s era. That is when competition was at a really high level, not in the Pete era.
It's a bit of a circular argument, though. Look at the McEnroe, Connors, Lendl triumvirate.

Lendl started winning slams just as McEnroe and Connors stopped winning them.
Connors' last slam win was at the 1983 U.S. Open (over Lendl). The last slam final he reached was 1984 Wimbledon (he lost to McEnroe).

Lendl's first slam win was at the 1984 French Open (over McEnroe).

McEnroe's last slam win was at the 1984 U.S. Open (over Lendl). The last slam final he reached was 1985 U.S. OPen (he lost to Lendl)

During that time period, though, McEnroe had as dominant a year in 1984 as Federer has ever had.

Wilander and Lendl were pretty much exact contemporaries.

Wilander beat Lendl at the 1983 AO, 1985 FO, and 1988 U.S. Open
Lendl beat Wilander at the 1987 FO and 1987 USO.

Yet, Lendl reached 3 slam finals in 1986 and 1987, winnning 2 out of 3 each year. There were only 3 slams played in 1986 (the Australian Open was moved from December to January).

Wilander won 3/4 slams in 1988. He lost to Miloslav Mecir (they didn't call him the "Swede Killer" for nothing) in the quarters at Wimbledon.

All the records Fed's breaking in terms of consecutive semifinal or better appearances at slams in the Open Era belonged to Ivan Lendl during this period of "unparalleled competition" when, between 1985 and 1987 he made it to the semis or better at every slam except Wimbledon 1985.

When I say it's a circular argument, it's because people seem to be saying that because the competition was closer it means that these guys were better players. Those two things don't follow.

This just means that these guys beat each other more frequently. It might be true that they were better players than the guys competing against Federer today, but the fact that they traded majors back and forth doesn't say anything about the guys today.

It seems to create the logically inconsistent conclusion that, for Federer to prove his greatness, he must face better competition. In order for his competition to be judged as equivalent to the competition faced by the guys in the mid-80s, e.g., they need to win more championships. So, Fed needs to start losing to Nadal, Hewitt, Safin, and Roddick more frequently in slam and tournament finals. This will make him greater. LOL.
 

BigboyDan

Semi-Pro
Which is a better top ten?

1985:

1 Lendl, Ivan (TCH)
2 McEnroe, John (USA)
3 Wilander, Mats (SWE)
4 Connors, Jimmy (USA)
5 Edberg, Stefan (SWE)
6 Becker, Boris (GER)
7 Noah, Yannick (FRA)
8 Järryd, Anders (SWE)
9 Mecir, Miloslav (TCH)

1990:

1 Edberg, Stefan (SWE)
2 Becker, Boris (GER)
3 Lendl, Ivan (TCH)
4 Agassi, Andre (USA)
5 Sampras, Pete (USA)
6 Gomez, Andres (ECU)
7 Muster, Thomas (AUT)
8 Sanchez, Emilio (ESP)
9 Ivanisevic, Goran (YUG)
10 Gilbert, Brad (USA)

1995:

1 SAMPRAS, PETE
2 AGASSI, ANDRE
3 MUSTER, THOMAS
4 BECKER, BORIS
5 CHANG, MICHAEL
6 KAFELNIKOV, YEVGENY
7 ENQVIST, THOMAS
8 COURIER, JIM
9 FERREIRA, WAYNE
10 IVANISEVIC, GORAN

2000:

1 Kuerten, Gustavo
2 Safin, Marat
3 Sampras, Pete
4 Norman, Magnus
5 Kafelnikov, Yevgeny
6 Agassi, Andre
7 Hewitt, Lleyton
8 Corretja, Alex
9 Enqvist, Thomas
10 Henman, Tim

2005:

1 Federer, Roger
2 Nadal, Rafael
3 Roddick, Andy
4 Hewitt, Lleyton
5 Davydenko, Nikolay
6 Nalbandian, David
7 Agassi, Andre
8 Coria, Guillermo
9 Ljubicic, Ivan
10 Gaudio, Gaston
 

oberyn

Professional
BigboyDan said:
Which is a better top ten?
Sigh. We're looking at the 1985, 1990, 1995, and 2000 lists in terms of the complete career accomplishments of the players. Most of whom are no longer even on the circuit. Not entirely fair to the guys in 2005, is it?

To try to put this in perspective, I will label their slams, etc. AT THE TIME OF THE RESPECTIVE END-OF-YEAR RANKINGS.

1985:

1 Lendl, Ivan (TCH) -- 2 slams (1 FO, 1 USO)
2 McEnroe, John (USA) 7 slams (3 Wimbledon, 4 USO)
3 Wilander, Mats (SWE) 3 slams (2 AO, 1 FO)
4 Connors, Jimmy (USA) 8 slams (1 AO, 2 Wimbledon, 5 USO)
5 Edberg, Stefan (SWE) 1 slam (1 AO)
6 Becker, Boris (GER) 1 slam (1 Wimbledon)
7 Noah, Yannick (FRA) 1 slam (1 FO)
8 Järryd, Anders (SWE) 0 slams
9 Mecir, Miloslav (TCH) 0 slams (didn't make first finals appearance until following year)
total = 23 slams by 7 players.

1990:

1 Edberg, Stefan (SWE) 4 slams (2 AO, 2 Wimbledon)
2 Becker, Boris (GER) 4 slams (3 Wimbledon, 1 USO)
3 Lendl, Ivan (TCH) 8 slams (2 AO, 3 FO, 3 USO)
4 Agassi, Andre (USA) 0 slams
5 Sampras, Pete (USA) 1 slam (1 USO)
6 Gomez, Andres (ECU) 1 slam (1 FO)
7 Muster, Thomas (AUT) 0 slams
8 Sanchez, Emilio (ESP) 0 slams
9 Ivanisevic, Goran (YUG) 0 slams
10 Gilbert, Brad (USA) 0 slams

total = 18 slams by 5 players

1995:

1 SAMPRAS, PETE 7 slams (1 AO, 3 Wimbledon, 3 USO)
2 AGASSI, ANDRE 3 slams (1 AO, 1 Wimbledon, 1 USO)
3 MUSTER, THOMAS 1 slam (1 FO)
4 BECKER, BORIS 5 slams (1 AO, 3 Wimbledon, 1 USO)
5 CHANG, MICHAEL 1 slam (1 FO)
6 KAFELNIKOV, YEVGENY 0 slams
7 ENQVIST, THOMAS 0 slams
8 COURIER, JIM 4 slams (2 AO, 2 FO)
9 FERREIRA, WAYNE 0 slams
10 IVANISEVIC, GORAN 0 slams

total = 21 slams by 6 players

2000:

1 Kuerten, Gustavo 2 slams (2 FO)
2 Safin, Marat 1 slam (1 USO)
3 Sampras, Pete 13 slams (2 AO, 7 Wimbledon, 4 USO)
4 Norman, Magnus 0 slams
5 Kafelnikov, Yevgeny 2 slams (1 FO, 1 AO)
6 Agassi, Andre 6 slams (2 AO, 1 FO, 1 Wimbledon, 2 USO)
7 Hewitt, Lleyton 0 slams
8 Corretja, Alex 0 slams
9 Enqvist, Thomas 0 slams
10 Henman, Tim 0 slams

total = 24 slams by 5 players

2005:

1 Federer, Roger 6 slams (1 AO, 3 Wimbledon, 2 USO)
2 Nadal, Rafael 1 slam (1 FO)
3 Roddick, Andy 1 slam (1 USO)
4 Hewitt, Lleyton 2 slams (1 Wimbledon, 1 USO)
5 Davydenko, Nikolay 0 slams
6 Nalbandian, David 0 slams
7 Agassi, Andre 8 slams (4 AO, 1 FO, 1 Wimbledon, 2 USO)
8 Coria, Guillermo 0 slams
9 Ljubicic, Ivan 0 slams
10 Gaudio, Gaston 1 slam (1 FO)

total = 19 slams by 6 players (change it to 21 by 7 players if Safin weren't a complete flake)

I think that people take a snapshot of one of these years, like 1985, and go "Look at all the hall-of-famers" without recognizing that these guys were not all at identical points in their career. Some were on the upswing, others were on the downswing. 10 years from now we might look at 2006 the same way and say "Look, Federer had to compete against all those hall-of-fame caliber players."
 

BiGGieStuFF

Hall of Fame
BigboyDan said:
Which is a better top ten?

1985:

1 Lendl, Ivan (TCH)
2 McEnroe, John (USA)
3 Wilander, Mats (SWE)
4 Connors, Jimmy (USA)
5 Edberg, Stefan (SWE)
6 Becker, Boris (GER)
7 Noah, Yannick (FRA)
8 Järryd, Anders (SWE)
9 Mecir, Miloslav (TCH)

1990:

1 Edberg, Stefan (SWE)
2 Becker, Boris (GER)
3 Lendl, Ivan (TCH)
4 Agassi, Andre (USA)
5 Sampras, Pete (USA)
6 Gomez, Andres (ECU)
7 Muster, Thomas (AUT)
8 Sanchez, Emilio (ESP)
9 Ivanisevic, Goran (YUG)
10 Gilbert, Brad (USA)

1995:

1 SAMPRAS, PETE
2 AGASSI, ANDRE
3 MUSTER, THOMAS
4 BECKER, BORIS
5 CHANG, MICHAEL
6 KAFELNIKOV, YEVGENY
7 ENQVIST, THOMAS
8 COURIER, JIM
9 FERREIRA, WAYNE
10 IVANISEVIC, GORAN

2000:

1 Kuerten, Gustavo
2 Safin, Marat
3 Sampras, Pete
4 Norman, Magnus
5 Kafelnikov, Yevgeny
6 Agassi, Andre
7 Hewitt, Lleyton
8 Corretja, Alex
9 Enqvist, Thomas
10 Henman, Tim

2005:

1 Federer, Roger
2 Nadal, Rafael
3 Roddick, Andy
4 Hewitt, Lleyton
5 Davydenko, Nikolay
6 Nalbandian, David
7 Agassi, Andre
8 Coria, Guillermo
9 Ljubicic, Ivan
10 Gaudio, Gaston
I'll take 1990 but that's just me though
 

BigboyDan

Semi-Pro
I'll take 1985-1995 as the best 10 year-era, definitely the toughest in terms of Top Ten player competition on all surfaces. Also, all those dudes played Davis Cup and did 30 exhibitions every year...
 

oberyn

Professional
BigboyDan said:
I'll take 1985-1995 as the best 10 year-era, definitely the toughest in terms of Top Ten player competition on all surfaces. Also, all those dudes played Davis Cup and did 30 exhibitions every year...
Here's my point: It's not a valid comparison.

The 1985-1995 guys are all known quantities. We know what they accomplished and what they did not. Look at where a lot of those guys in 1985 stood in 1985. Look at where a lot of those guys in 1995 stood in 1995. If you could have predicted then that they'd go on to have the careers they did, I wish you'd have found a way to let me know, because I could have made a ton of money betting on them.

Similarly, if you know what's going to happen here on in with the 2005 crop, LET ME KNOW ASAP. Send me an e-mail. I want to retire early.

Seriously, the 2000 and 2005 guys are, for the most part, (Sampras and Agassi being the exceptions [Kuerten, too, unfortunately]) still in the midst of their careers.

People are doing the same thing to Tiger Woods in golf when they compare his competition to the competition faced by Jack Nicklaus. They're looking at the careers of guys who have already painted their entire career canvases and comparing it to guys who are still in the midst of painting theirs.
 
Neither Roger or Pete have competition to the level of the 80s competition. When comparing Roger's weaker competition, you should not compare to the Pete era, but to the mid 80s era. That is when competition was at a really high level, not in the Pete era.
I agree. And Laver's competition may be the strongest in the open era. He faced more hall of famers en route to his 1969 calendar slam than Sampras or Federer faced in several years of winning slams.

Lendl started winning slams just as McEnroe and Connors stopped winning them.
Connors' last slam win was at the 1983 U.S. Open (over Lendl). The last slam final he reached was 1984 Wimbledon (he lost to McEnroe).

Lendl's first slam win was at the 1984 French Open (over McEnroe).

McEnroe's last slam win was at the 1984 U.S. Open (over Lendl). The last slam final he reached was 1985 U.S. OPen (he lost to Lendl)
This is misleading. Lendl was a top 3 player from '81 to '83. He even set the prize money record in 1982(winning 15 titles I think), so he was a formidable opponent well before winning the '84 French. And he was conssitently in slam finals/semifinals.

Plus look at the rest of the 80s, you had Becker, Edberg, Wilander, Lendl, Cash(even Mac & Connors sometimes) playing each other consistently in slam semis & finals. Now we have Davydenko & Youzhny in slam semis.

It seems to create the logically inconsistent conclusion that, for Federer to prove his greatness, he must face better competition. In order for his competition to be judged as equivalent to the competition faced by the guys in the mid-80s, e.g., they need to win more championships. So, Fed needs to start losing to Nadal, Hewitt, Safin, and Roddick more frequently in slam and tournament finals. This will make him greater. LOL.
I just find it odd that Federer has played so few 5 setters in his career. Lendl, Laver, Borg, Mac, Sampras, Connors, Agassi, Wilander, you name the player-throughout their stints at #1, through almost all their slam wins, they had 5 setters. Even Mac in '84(best win % in open era) got pushed to 5 sets by Connors at the open, just a few months after destroying him at Wimbledon.

I am amazed by what Federer is doing, but part of me really wonders about his competition. Is he really that much better than every other great player of the open era, that he almost never plays a 5 setter?

It used to be a rule through the 80s/90s that whoever wins a slam, any slam, almost always has to win a 5 setter along the way. Those times are gone, I guess.

10 years from now we might look at 2006 the same way and say "Look, Federer had to compete against all those hall-of-fame caliber players."
I'm not optimistic that Davydenko, Kiefer, Bjorkman(3 of Fed's SF opponents in slams this year) will be hall of famers. When Lendl was playing Edberg or Wilander in a slam semi in the mid-80s, it seemed pretty likely that they would make it.

Also, a good way to compare those ranking lists, isn't just slam titles by those players, but their win/loss & slam performances of those years. For example the #3 in 1985 won the French Open, finals in Australia, made the semis of the US Open. The current #3 lost in the 3rd round of Wimbledon & the 1st round of the US Open. And he never faced Federer is a slam, so you can't argue that Federer is preventing him from having a HOF career.
 

BigboyDan

Semi-Pro
Oberyn, your point is made. But, I am comparing 1985 players to what they accomplished up through the end of1985; I was there, I remember. All the #1-#7 1985 year-end Top Ten players were known for what they were at the time; Edberg was seen as the heir to McEnroe, and Becker (who, shocked the world with that 1985 Wimbledon win) was seen as the heir to Lendl.

I'm just saying that if you go back and feel for what tennis was at the end of 1985, it would not mirror what I felt at the end of 2005 - now it's just Federer, and Nadal (on clay).
 

oberyn

Professional
Moose Malloy said:
This is misleading. Lendl was a top 3 player from '81 to '83. He even set the prize money record in 1982(winning 15 titles I think), so he was a formidable opponent well before winning the '84 French. And he was conssitently in slam finals/semifinals.
And was viewed as big-time choker. He was the guy who could win in Cincinnati but not in Flushing.

Plus look at the rest of the 80s, you had Becker, Edberg, Wilander, Lendl, Cash(even Mac & Connors sometimes) playing each other consistently in slam semis & finals. Now we have Davydenko & Youzhny in slam semis.
What does this tell us? It was a given during this time period that the top 4 were, pretty much, going to be playing each other in the semis. Does the fact that this is no longer the case mean that player 2-4 are worse than their 80s counterparts, or that players from 5 on down are a lot better than
their 80s counterparts? It cuts both ways.

I just find it odd that Federer has played so few 5 setters in his career. Lendl, Laver, Borg, Mac, Sampras, Connors, Agassi, Wilander, you name the player-throughout their stints at #1, through almost all their slam wins, they had 5 setters. Even Mac in '84(best win % in open era) got pushed to 5 sets by Connors at the open, just a few months after destroying him at Wimbledon.
See the paragraph I wrote above. You can't use one to argue the relative strength or weakness of the other.

I am amazed by what Federer is doing, but part of me really wonders about his competition. Is he really that much better than every other great player of the open era, that he almost never plays a 5 setter?
Excellent question. But, as I said, looking at the comparative parity of a different era isn't where we'll find the answer. It's why it's impossible to compare eras.

Has this era somehow produced the greatest player ever or has this era somehow seen an overall dilution in talent?

Did the 80s somehow give us a bizarre confluence of equally matched all-time greats all of whom are as good as Federer and Sampras? Or was the 80s a case of a handful of guys beating up on a collection of stiffs at minor tournaments and then trading slams back and forth?

There is no way to really know the answer.


I'm not optimistic that Davydenko, Kiefer, Bjorkman(3 of Fed's SF opponents in slams this year) will be hall of famers. When Lendl was playing Edberg or Wilander in a slam semi in the mid-80s, it seemed pretty likely that they would make it.
How about Federer playing Roddick and Nadal. Federer has personally beat Roddick 3 times in slam finals. He's beaten Hewitt, Safin, and Nadal in 1 final each. Take him out of the mix, and give those wins to those players.

You've then got a bunch of players in their early to mid 20s:

Nadal: 3 slams
Roddick: 4 slams
Hewitt: 3 slams
Safin: 3 slams

The current #3 lost in the 3rd round of Wimbledon & the 1st round of the US Open. And he never faced Federer is a slam, so you can't argue that Federer is preventing him from having a HOF career.
Once again, there are two ways to look at this. Look at how many slams in the 80s went exactly according to seed (or very, very close). There were several, even at the French. It begs the question: Does the #3 losing early and often at slams mean that he's that much worse than his counterpart 20 years ago, or does it mean that the guys he's playing are that much better than their counterparts 20 years ago?

Just food for thought. . .
 

oberyn

Professional
BigboyDan said:
I'm just saying that if you go back and feel for what tennis was at the end of 1985, it would not mirror what I felt at the end of 2005 - now it's just Federer, and Nadal (on clay).
That's certainly fair.
 

The tennis guy

Hall of Fame
BigboyDan said:
I'm just saying that if you go back and feel for what tennis was at the end of 1985, it would not mirror what I felt at the end of 2005 - now it's just Federer, and Nadal (on clay).
Maybe it is because you are older, and don't feel the same even if everything is the same.
 
Once again, there are two ways to look at this. Look at how many slams in the 80s went exactly according to seed (or very, very close). There were several, even at the French. It begs the question: Does the #3 losing early and often at slams mean that he's that much worse than his counterpart 20 years ago, or does it mean that the guys he's playing are that much better than their counterparts 20 years ago?

Just food for thought. . .
This is a bit of a stretch. Regardless of the #100 opponent being better than the #100 was 20 years ago, I think its safe to say that Ljubicic would not have a Mats Wilander like career had he played 20 years ago. or played in any era. His effort at the US Open this year was pathetic, it had nothing to do with him playing such a great player in the 1st round. Losing in the 1st round of a slam today is not the equivalent of making a slam semi 20 years ago, regardless of improved depth, technology, whatever.

You seem to say both sides of the argument, but what do you think?
You can't use depth as an argument for why todays top 10 players aren't as consistent as 20 years ago, because you have Federer who's more consistent than anyone since Lendl. And Nadal who's playing at a higher level(points wise) than many #1's in the 90s. If those guys can be consistent, why can't #3-5 be more consistent?

And was viewed as big-time choker. He was the guy who could win in Cincinnati but not in Flushing.
Perhaps, but the guy had beaten the #1's before he won slams, so it wasn't a given that he would lose to them in slam finals. Lendl beat world #1 McEnroe 6 or 7 straight times(including a win the US Open semis) in '81/'82. You shouldn't use him in any of your arguments, its not like he's david nalbandian or something.

here's a chart about how top 4 seeds fared in all slams of the open era:

http://www.tennis28.com/charts/topfourseeds_sf.GIF

How about Federer playing Roddick and Nadal. Federer has personally beat Roddick 3 times in slam finals. He's beaten Hewitt, Safin, and Nadal in 1 final each. Take him out of the mix, and give those wins to those players.
Roddick, Nadal, Hewitt, & Safin are all hall of fame players. But Hewitt & Safin are pretty much done so they aren't factors in evaluating Federer's current competition.

Like I said before, I'm not otimistic that current top tenners Davydendo, Ljubicic, Robredo, Stepanek will be in the hall of fame. And they wouldn't be in any era, it would have been tough for them to even be top ten 15-20 years ago. You might feel differently though.
 

oberyn

Professional
Moose Malloy said:
Losing in the 1st round of a slam today is not the equivalent of making a slam semi 20 years ago, regardless of improved depth, technology, whatever.
I'm not saying it's equivalent. Improved depth does mean, however, that it's harder to make it through the earlier rounds not playing at or near your best.

You seem to say both sides of the argument, but what do you think?
No, I'm saying that it's impossible to compare eras for that reason. I do think think that a look at the past 2 years and the rankings is a bit of a "fluky" situation. There's no way that Roddick, Hewitt, and Safin shouldn't all be in the top 10. Come on. That would make the rankings look a whole lot different.

It's a little bit like 1997.

1. Sampras
2. Rafter
3. Chang
4. Bjorkman
5. Kafelnikov
6. Rusedski
7. Moya
8. Bruguera
9. Muster
10. Rios

I am not ashamed to admit that my feeling at the end of 1997 was "what the heck is this"? Sampras had just gone on another run when he won 3 out of 4 slams played: 1996 U.S. Open; 1997 Australian Open; 1997 Wimbledon.

Michael Chang was what he was. I'd heard of Pat Rafter, but, to be honest, thought he was a one-slam wonder. I thought Kafelnikov was a flake. Rusedski? Please. I thought Moya was too inconsistent. I thought Bruguera was done. I thought Muster was done. Rios was barely a blip on my radar screen. I was wondering what happened to Agassi, Ivanisevic, and Kracijek?

You can't use depth as an argument for why todays top 10 players aren't as consistent as 20 years ago, because you have Federer who's more consistent than anyone since Lendl. And Nadal who's playing at a higher level(points wise) than many #1's in the 90s. If those guys can be consistent, why can't #3-5 be more consistent?
Actually, I think depth is an argument that can be used, for the reasons stated above.

More depth equals fewer top seeds making it through on a consistent basis. Less talent at the top also equals fewer top seeds making it through on a consistent basis.

Did the chicken or the egg come first?

I just hear the "they were giants in those days" argument trotted out in so many different sports, that I'm somewhat suspicious of it. Particularly in the context of tennis where I remember hearing that same argument used in reference to the eras which are now being held up as the "gold standard".

To be fair, even in the 80s: McEnroe had his Chris Lewis; Lendl had his Pernfors; Becker had his Curren; and Wilander had his Leconte.
 

BigboyDan

Semi-Pro
Well, there were great players in all sports during the 1980's, there just were; a convergence of Baby Bommers meeting social changes and needs... though, Federer and Nadal, of course, would be great in any era...
 

oberyn

Professional
BigboyDan said:
Well, there were great players in all sports during the 1980's, there just were; a convergence of Baby Bommers meeting social changes and needs... though, Federer and Nadal, of course, would be great in any era...
And people who remembered the preceding era, thought those guys were a whole lot better. Again, "just because they were". No one thought Lendl and Wilander were the equal of Connors and Borg. No one thought Connors and Borg were the equal of Laver and Rosewall. Do you see where I'm going here?

You should hear my grandparents' generation talking about athletes of the
40s and 50s.

It's the whole: "Rocky Marciano punched hard enough to stop a charging rhino"; "Mickey Mantle (all 200 pounds of him soaking wet) hit a ball 900 feet during spring training in Arizona"; "Sugar Ray Robinson threw 8 jabs in half a second"; and "The Air Force timed a Bob Feller fastball at 110 mph".

I just hate hearing an era I actually remember referred to in those terms.

In sports where performance is measured objectively (how fast, how far, how high), performances have steadily improved.

In sports where performance is not measured objectively, people's opinions seem to work in reverse. Players in the 90s are better than the players today. Players in the 80s were better than the players in the 90s. And so on and so forth.

It might be true, but there's no way to determine it and I'm dubious that a lot of sports fans don't simply remember things more and more fondly as the years go by. Just my humble opinion.

For a variety of reasons, athletes are bigger, faster, stronger. This is why comparisons between different eras don't work.
 
BigboyDan said:
Please.

In 1996 Sampras had much better competition at the age of 25 - there are only, what, seven (as of 2006 US Open) current players with Slam wins (Federer at 25)?

Federer, Hewitt, Safin, Nadal, Roddick, Gaudio, and Agassi? (Costa retired this past April.)

How many Slam singles titles were held by then current players in 1996? Sampras, Agassi, Wilander, Noah, Chang, Courier, Becker, Cash, Edberg, Krajiek, Stich, Kafelnikov, Brugera, and Muster?

And Lendl, McEnroe, Connors, and Gomez had just retired two/three years earlier... and, Patrick Rafter would win the US Open in 97 and 98, as well.
If there were no Sampras dominating in the 90's, Roger would have more slam champions competing with him. Totally invalid comparison.
 

Mick

Legend
AJK1 said:
I thik Feds will end up with about 20 GS titles. It will never be surpassed.
i think one day he will win the french open/roland garros too. his ground strokes are too good to not win that grand slam title.
 
Moose Malloy said:
Roddick, Nadal, Hewitt, & Safin are all hall of fame players. But Hewitt & Safin are pretty much done so they aren't factors in evaluating Federer's current competition.
Even if Hewitt and Safin are done they were big factors near the top in both 2004 and 2005 when Federer won 5 slams. Also it is a bit early to say they are done for sure IMO. Hewitt has had alot of injury problems this year, and it is the first year he has played as a married man. Things might improve for him next year. Safin has also dealt with alot of injury problems, and showed signs of resurgernce at the U.S Open. We might see better things from both of them next year.

As you mention people like Nalbandian, Ljubicic, and Davydenko are mental flakes, it would not be too hard for Hewitt and Safin to return the top 5 if they really apply themselves and stay healthy. I atleast remain hopeful on them still recovering and having a couple more good years left.
 
Moose Malloy said:
I agree. And Laver's competition may be the strongest in the open era. He faced more hall of famers en route to his 1969 calendar slam than Sampras or Federer faced in several years of winning slams.
Yeah I agree on Laver. Looking at the scores and the threatening players he beat in winning the grand slam in 1969, the number of lost sets and tough situations he came out of, it truly was a phenomenal feat. He also accomplished his own biggest personal hurdle-by beating Rosewall in the French Open final, convincingly actually, which would be close to the equivalent of what Federer would have to do vs Nadal today.
 

Bassus

Rookie
I was a Sampras fan when he played, and now Federer is my favorite, so its great to see them linked.


The big difference as I see it is that Federer should have won the French Open by now, whereas Sampras not winning it was not a surprise. Sampras had the problem of his own game dropping on clay, as well as the game of others rising on it. With Federer, he certainly has to contend with players who peak on clay, but his own game really doesn't fall any, or at least not much.

To Federer's credit, though, he has certainly dominated tennis during the last 3 years more than Sampras did in any similar stretch of time.
 

wimble10

Semi-Pro
Mick said:
i think one day he will win the french open/roland garros too. his ground strokes are too good to not win that grand slam title.
He might be the best player ever to never win the French. He has to do it soon or it will be too late. His game isn't suited to win it. Nadal would have to crack. It seems like clay levels the field more, so a player like Youzhny could give Fed a lot more trouble on clay than at AO..
 
S

shwayguy

Guest
Pistol_Pete said:
Fed and Pete are both great players. Fed has an advantage because he wears Nike's dri-fit whereas Pete's sweat would soak through his cotton shirt and shorts.
...probably the most clever post in this entire thread.
 

Bassus

Rookie
wimble10 said:
He might be the best player ever to never win the French. He has to do it soon or it will be too late. His game isn't suited to win it. Nadal would have to crack. It seems like clay levels the field more, so a player like Youzhny could give Fed a lot more trouble on clay than at AO..

Federer's game is suited just fine to clay. He's the second best on clay at the moment, and he wasted three straight years (2002-2004) with poor efforts there, after having made the quarterfinals in 2001 as a 19 yr old. If not for Nadal, he'd likely have two French Opens.

I am doubtful that he'll win the French as well, but I think it will be due to wasted opportunities up to this point, and if he doesn't win in the next three yrs or so, then to age. It won't be due to a game ill-suited to clay, as he moves well on it.
 
I think choking away the Rome final to Nadal will be a match that haunts him. That would have been huge psychologicaly for his rivalry with Nadal on clay. It will be much harder for him to ever beat Nadal on clay, especialy in a big match like a French Open final, because he did not win that match.

Nadal knows he faced down pretty much the best Fed could dish out on clay, and Fed knows on that day he still could not seal the deal.
 

Jack the Hack

Hall of Fame
wimble10 said:
Federer might be the best player ever to never win the French. He has to do it soon or it will be too late. His game isn't suited to win it.
Curious comment. What about Federer's game does not suit his ability to win the French?

Federer has a career record of 86-33 on clay (a 72.3% winning percentage), and has won 5 career titles on the dirt - including 3 Masters Series titles. This year, he also made the Masters Series finals in Monte Carlo and Rome, and of course, the French final... where he was two sets away from winning the title. What makes you think he doesn't compete well on clay?
 
Federer's game is suited to win on the moons of Jupiter. He can play on anything. Probably the most complete player of all time (Borg's gotta be there too).
 

ctbmar

Semi-Pro
Sampras may have said that his opponents in his era were much tougher, but did Sampras have to withstand the support of a hostile crowd for his opponent at the US open? Being American, Sampras will have equal support at US open if he plays a fellow American eg. Agassi while other times Sampras would have the crowd support as well. It's not easy for Federer to overcome his opponents with all the New York crowd cheering for Blake, Agassi, Roddick and other Americans on route to his 3 victories at the US open. So different champions had to face different kinds of adversities in their careers.
 

Bassus

Rookie
justineheninhoogenbandfan said:
I think choking away the Rome final to Nadal will be a match that haunts him. That would have been huge psychologicaly for his rivalry with Nadal on clay. It will be much harder for him to ever beat Nadal on clay, especialy in a big match like a French Open final, because he did not win that match.

Nadal knows he faced down pretty much the best Fed could dish out on clay, and Fed knows on that day he still could not seal the deal.

I agree. I think if he had won in Rome, he would have been in a better place mentally at Roland Garros, and would not have faded so quickly once he blew that service game early in the second when he was up 40-0. Maybe then he wins the second set, and then the match.
 

wimble10

Semi-Pro
Jack the Hack said:
Curious comment. What about Federer's game does not suit his ability to win the French?

Federer has a career record of 86-33 on clay (a 72.3% winning percentage), and has won 5 career titles on the dirt - including 3 Masters Series titles. This year, he also made the Masters Series finals in Monte Carlo and Rome, and of course, the French final... where he was two sets away from winning the title. What makes you think he doesn't compete well on clay?
1) Nadal
2) 72.3% winning percentage is good, but not if you want to win the FO.

The FO eluded Sampras for similar reasons, who reached the semis with a weaker clay court game than Federer's. It has to do mainly with the number of hits in a rally. Fed likes to pounce on his opponents early in the rally, but he can't do this at RG, so he gets tired and frustrated. It would be nice, though, to see him win at RG. Wimbledon and FO are so close together and it seems he's content with winning one of these per year..
 

callitout

Professional
travlerajm said:
I think what jumps out at me as an edge to Sampras is the 5-set record through age 25:
Sampras: 21-7
Federer: 9-10
What jumps out at me is that Fed is on a pace to have a 3rd consecutive year with a better winning percentage than Pete had in his best year.
 

0d1n

Hall of Fame
Oberyn said it all, and backed it up with stats/facts and others said it all and backed it up with stats/facts (while disagreeing). How is this possible?? I’ll tell you how…if you absolutely want to prove a point, you will be “selective” about your stats/facts and prove your point of view (at least to somebody who doesn’t think differently and has some other stats/facts to back him up). You see where I’m going with this? This comparison is NOT objective; it is subjective because of the different eras the two players played in.
If it matters to anybody, I agree with Oberyn, I find his opinions reasonable, logical and well documented.
Answering to the “who’s the better player question?” I will say this:
- If Roger wins 13 GS’s Pete will be the better because of the stats (unless Roger wins all 4 GS’s next year …which will cause even more debate)
- If Roger wins 14 GS’s Roger will be better because I say so (no …actually because Roger IS "Pete + better ground game and better movement on clay"…he is an upgraded, enhanced Pete…who was born in Switzerland and not the US …GOT IT ? :mrgreen: )
- If Roger wins 15 or more, then it’s no contest …is it? :cool:
Let the flame war continue :).
 

ATPballkid

Professional
AJK1 said:
Seems to me Federer is going to surpass Sampras much quicker?
Monica Seles won 8 Grand Slams as well as 3 straight WTA Championships) in less than 3 years (May 1990-Jan1993) as a 19 year old tennis phenom. I don't think anybody can ever duplicate this phenomenal achievement.
 

Jack the Hack

Hall of Fame
wimble10 said:
1) Nadal
2) 72.3% winning percentage is good, but not if you want to win the FO.

The FO eluded Sampras for similar reasons, who reached the semis with a weaker clay court game than Federer's. It has to do mainly with the number of hits in a rally. Fed likes to pounce on his opponents early in the rally, but he can't do this at RG, so he gets tired and frustrated. It would be nice, though, to see him win at RG. Wimbledon and FO are so close together and it seems he's content with winning one of these per year..
First off, Nadal has nothing to do with Federer’s playing style and whether it works on clay.

Second, when you say that Federer’s 72.3% winning percentage on clay is not good enough to win the French Open, I think you aren’t doing your homework. Here are the career records on clay for all of the French Open Champions in the past 10 years:

Nadal: 139-21 (86.9%)
Ferrero: 168-54 (75.7%)
Agassi: 152-57 (72.7%)
Moya: 324-130 (71.4%)
Kuerten: 229-95 (70.7%)
Gaudio: 263-111 (70.3%)
Costa: 292-146 (66.7%)
Kafelnikov: 142-109 (56.6%)

As you can see, Federer’s career 72.3% winning percentage on clay ranks him ahead of all the recent French Open champions except Nadal, Ferrero, and Agassi. Also, his record on clay since 2004 is 47-7, which is an 87% winning percentage… the same as Nadal’s career percentage on clay.

I don’t buy into your “number of hits in a rally” theory as it doesn’t stand up to the facts. Federer is an excellent clay court player who's record compares with all of the great clay court specialists in the past decade. The only reason that people do not associate him with excellence on clay is because of his tremendous success on all of the other surfaces. Barring any injuries, he will be a serious French Open contender for the next 4-5 years.
 
Top