The Big 3 - Wilander Lendl and Agassi

tonylg

Hall of Fame
Much is made of today's Big 3 and the amount of slams they have won. Consider that they play in an era where because of court speed and bounce, balls and equipment, baseliners dominate tournaments that were often previously won by more attacking styles of tennis.

I believe that under current conditions, Edberg, Becker, Sampras and other attacking players would not have won a single slam and all of the above three would have completely dominated tennis, winning over a dozen slams each, Lendl possibly over 20.

I know most on this forum regard players like Sampras, Becker and Edberg as nothing more than servebots, so were the big 3 of Lendl, Wilander and Agassi robbed of the glory they deserved?
 

BGod

Legend
Becker definetly had way more variety than just serving. He wouldn't of won 2 Aussie Opens otherwise. Edberg too won 2 Slams at 3 events and made a French Final.

Attacking tennis is not impossible to win a Slam, it's just percentage tennis has become desirable for consistency. Guys like Becker/Sampras/Edberg would still win Slams they just wouldn't make SFs or better at 3 of 4 events or have streaks like the Big 4. Wawrinka for example is a bit of a feast/famine with his results and he's more aggressive albeit not the same degree of attacking he takes more chances.

As for Wilander/Lendl/Agassi, if he was focused I think Agassi would have more than 8 Slams in this era but not dominate since he lost a lot of matches he should have won. Lendl is the dicey one, he wouldn't beat Nadal on clay.
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
Lendl is the dicey one, he wouldn't beat Nadal on clay.
I didn't suggest he would. But given Lendl was within a whisker of winning Wimbledon on a fast, low bouncing court, with fast balls and no poly, how on earth would he not be winning it with the massive advantage of having all those things reversed?
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Serve bots? No, not really. Becker and Sampras were all court players who played more/mostly S&V on grass. They'd win their share of events, obviously doing better on the faster surfaces. Clearly the trend has been to slow the surfaces over the last 20 years or so.
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
Becker and Sampras were all court players who played more/mostly S&V on grass. They'd win their share of events, obviously doing better on the faster surfaces.
Which current slam would you say is played on a fast, low bouncing surface, with fast balls, without poly? It's the combination of those factors that would make it impossible for Becker and Sampras to win, particularly against someone like Wilander or Courier.
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
Which current slam would you say is played on a fast, low bouncing surface, with fast balls, without poly? It's the combination of those factors that would make it impossible for Becker and Sampras to win, particularly against someone like Wilander or Courier.
On grass? Becker and Sampras would still have the edge, even on today's grass. Courier was meh on grass; Wilander much better. Impossible to win is a stretch. Today's grass is slower than 20-40 years ago, but it's not red clay either.
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
On grass? Becker and Sampras would still have the edge, even on today's grass. Courier was meh on grass; Wilander much better. Impossible to win is a stretch. Today's grass is slower than 20-40 years ago, but it's not red clay either.
It's not just that the grass is slower. The bounce is insanely high. The balls are much, much slower. The baseliners have 100 square inch racquets and poly with ridiculous spin. Courier made a Wimbledon final with none of that. So did Lendl and Agassi actually won one.

An accurate analogy would be tie Usain Bolt's feet together and still expect him win a sprint race.
 

BTURNER

Legend
Either I don't know the definition of a serve-bot, or I don't remember these players, because they are not even close to what I see as a 'servebot'. Even Becker who was the most vulnerable of the three, when not serving well, had plenty of game with which to break serve. He had some solid groundies, a fine lob, and dropshot, great approach shots, lots of variety to his volleys.
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
Either I don't know the definition of a serve-bot, or I don't remember these players, because they are not even close to what I see as a 'servebot'. Even Becker who was the most vulnerable of the three, when not serving well, had plenty of game with which to break serve. He had some solid groundies, a fine lob, and dropshot, great approach shots, lots of variety to his volleys.
When the decision was made to change the courts and balls at Wimbledon, in order to save the game (from what, I don't know), 7 of the last 8 Wimbledons had been won by Pete Sampras. Earlier, 5 of 6 were won by Becker and Edberg.
 

BTURNER

Legend
When the decision was made to change the courts and balls at Wimbledon, in order to save the game (from what, I don't know), 7 of the last 8 Wimbledons had been won by Pete Sampras. Earlier, 5 of 6 were won by Becker and Edberg.
From which we can conclude that aggressive tennis is well rewarded. That would include hitting aggressive serves, volleys, returns, passing shots etc represented effective tactics. Its means physical strength keen reactions and agility factor into the equation as well. Their ability to respond to big serves, volleys etc in their return game matters as well. There is so much more to their games, than that big cannonball.
 

arvind13

Professional
Which current slam would you say is played on a fast, low bouncing surface, with fast balls, without poly? It's the combination of those factors that would make it impossible for Becker and Sampras to win, particularly against someone like Wilander or Courier.
if sampras or becker played with modern day racquets with poly-gut mix of strings on a fast low bouncing surface with fast balls they would do fine against wilander or courier. remember sampras beat agassi at us open 2002 in four sets when agassi was playing with poly strings. difference was us open courts were much faster in 2002 than today and the balls used were much faster
 

jrepac

Hall of Fame
It's not just that the grass is slower. The bounce is insanely high. The balls are much, much slower. The baseliners have 100 square inch racquets and poly with ridiculous spin. Courier made a Wimbledon final with none of that. So did Lendl and Agassi actually won one.

An accurate analogy would be tie Usain Bolt's feet together and still expect him win a sprint race.
yes, the bounce is higher, but the ball still moves faster than on other surfaces. And, they'd have access to the same equipment. I don't see Courier suddenly having an edge over Sampras on grass....nor Agassi for that matter. I think it would be more beneficial to Andre, given his propensity to take the ball early. He did very well on rebound ace...better than other hard courts, as it was rather medium speed with a higher bounce than decoturf.
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
if sampras or becker played with modern day racquets with poly-gut mix of strings on a fast low bouncing surface with fast balls they would do fine against wilander or courier
Name a player today who plays like Sampras, Becker or Edberg who is "doing fine".

The closest is Federer, who played last year's Wimbledon final more like Kuerten than Sampras or Becker.
 

arvind13

Professional
Name a player today who plays like Sampras, Becker or Edberg who is "doing fine".

The closest is Federer, who played last year's Wimbledon final more like Kuerten than Sampras or Becker.
There is nobody who plays like sampras or becker or edberg today. and we don't have fast low bouncing surfaces or fast balls either. sampras of 1995 if given a modern racquet with poly-gut combination strings played on a fast low bouncing surface with fast balls he would do fine. There are no fast surfaces or fast balls today.
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
sampras of 1995 if given a modern racquet with poly-gut combination strings played on a fast low bouncing surface with fast balls he would do fine. There are no fast surfaces or fast balls today.
I agree with both those statements.

Do you think that on very slow high bouncing courts, with very slow balls and baseliners armed with 100 square inch racquet and full poly .. that Sampras and Becker would dominate like they did?

I think you could change any one of those things and those ATGs could still win, but all those factors together? No way.
 

BorgCash

Legend
Much is made of today's Big 3 and the amount of slams they have won. Consider that they play in an era where because of court speed and bounce, balls and equipment, baseliners dominate tournaments that were often previously won by more attacking styles of tennis.

I believe that under current conditions, Edberg, Becker, Sampras and other attacking players would not have won a single slam and all of the above three would have completely dominated tennis, winning over a dozen slams each, Lendl possibly over 20.

I know most on this forum regard players like Sampras, Becker and Edberg as nothing more than servebots, so were the big 3 of Lendl, Wilander and Agassi robbed of the glory they deserved?
Edberg and Becker were not servebots.
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
You mean why the officials slow the game by changing courts and balls?
I know why, the uneducated observer with low tennis IQ sees a long rally and goes ooohh, aaahh, that's incredible .. and matches are longer = more money.

But all the geniuses saying that it saved us from servebots .. it robbed us of tennis like that of Sampras, Becker and Edberg.
 

BorgCash

Legend
I know why, the uneducated observer with low tennis IQ sees a long rally and goes ooohh, aaahh, that's incredible .. and matches are longer = more money.

But all the geniuses saying that it saved us from servebots .. it robbed us of tennis like that of Sampras, Becker and Edberg.
You're right. I could name servebots such names like Ivanishevich, Karlovich and so on. But not these magnifical players you named. And we lost that brilliant tennis we have in the 80's.
 

ChrisG

Rookie
I’m a baseliner who believes Agassi is the GOAT, but I fully agree that we lost some beautiful attacking tennis from the likes of Edberg or Becker or even a Leconte haha. What a joy to watch, so much skills and variety involved, it’s a shame we don’t see it anymore.
However, I also remember a time when watching Wimbledon was very painful, so many matches with barely 2 rallies, I can understand the will to slow things down. It could have been done differently, now it’s unbalanced but the other way.
 

ChrisG

Rookie
I believe that talent adapts to his environment (see Agassi winning Wimbledon against the bigger server alive at that time), so I don’t think things would have dramatically changed for the 80-90’s players. Maybe a bit more challenge if surfaces were more even as today, but clay is still slower than grass etc...
 

arvind13

Professional
I agree with both those statements.

Do you think that on very slow high bouncing courts, with very slow balls and baseliners armed with 100 square inch racquet and full poly .. that Sampras and Becker would dominate like they did?

I think you could change any one of those things and those ATGs could still win, but all those factors together? No way.
ya i agree. sampras could have still won a few slams because he was pretty good from the baseline as well, becker maybe one or two, edberg none
 

mxmx

Professional
I agree with both those statements.

Do you think that on very slow high bouncing courts, with very slow balls and baseliners armed with 100 square inch racquet and full poly .. that Sampras and Becker would dominate like they did?

I think you could change any one of those things and those ATGs could still win, but all those factors together? No way.
The factors today that would subdue parts of the games of Sampras/Becker/Agassi would only make the other parts of their games stronger. Slower balls and bigger rackets would have benifitted Sampras' opponents, but also Sampras in other areas.

It's not about conditions or rackets. Its about who they were. They would have been greater than most no matter the conditions.
 

mxmx

Professional
I’m a baseliner who believes Agassi is the GOAT, but I fully agree that we lost some beautiful attacking tennis from the likes of Edberg or Becker or even a Leconte haha. What a joy to watch, so much skills and variety involved, it’s a shame we don’t see it anymore.
However, I also remember a time when watching Wimbledon was very painful, so many matches with barely 2 rallies, I can understand the will to slow things down. It could have been done differently, now it’s unbalanced but the other way.
Agassi to me is also underrated. If it was not for Sampras he would have been much greater stats wise.
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
It's not about conditions or rackets. Its about who they were. They would have been greater than most no matter the conditions.
Agassi would have cleaned up, but I can't agree that Sampras, Becker and Edberg would have. If so, we'd see players playing that game today. As well as Wilander, Lendl and Agassi, players like Courier, Muster and Bruguera would have been dominating the late rounds of all the slams, as happens today.
 

mxmx

Professional
Agassi would have cleaned up, but I can't agree that Sampras, Becker and Edberg would have. If so, we'd see players playing that game today. As well as Wilander, Lendl and Agassi, players like Courier, Muster and Bruguera would have been dominating the late rounds of all the slams, as happens today.
What I am saying is that because they are naturally talented off the charts, they'd have adapted quicker to most toward a game that would win them matches in any era. If that meant upping their topspin baseline or whatever, they'd get it done. Whether their game at the time would still win matches or not immediately - perhaps. But quickly adapt their approach to the game as a whole? sure...
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
What I am saying is that because they are naturally talented off the charts, they'd have adapted quicker to most toward a game that would win them matches in any era. If that meant upping their topspin baseline or whatever, they'd get it done. Whether their game at the time would still win matches or not immediately - perhaps. But quickly adapt their approach to the game as a whole? sure...
They all wanted to win the French (okay, maybe Sampras didn't care) and couldn't. Lendl was at the time the most dominant player in the history of tennis, after Laver. He spent 10 years trying to win Wimbledon. He employed Tony Roche, trained on grass, even skipping the French to concentrate on grass. He couldn't adapt.

I hear this "talented players adapt" thing all the time, but see precious little to back it up and an awful lot that suggests it's simply not true. They improve on their weaknesses, sure .. but they don't become greats at a game which frankly, is completely foreign to them.
 

mxmx

Professional
They all wanted to win the French (okay, maybe Sampras didn't care) and couldn't. Lendl was at the time the most dominant player in the history of tennis, after Laver. He spent 10 years trying to win Wimbledon. He employed Tony Roche, trained on grass, even skipping the French to concentrate on grass. He couldn't adapt.

I hear this "talented players adapt" thing all the time, but see precious little to back it up and an awful lot that suggests it's simply not true. They improve on their weaknesses, sure .. but they don't become greats at a game which frankly, is completely foreign to them.
Well, I don't buy that only Agassi (who was owned by Sampras) would have thrived, yet Sampras wouldn't do the same. You are totally forgetting Sampras' serve and that he too had a great ground game.
 

ChrisG

Rookie
Well, I don't buy that only Agassi (who was owned by Sampras) would have thrived, yet Sampras wouldn't do the same. You are totally forgetting Sampras' serve and that he too had a great ground game.
Sampras had a very solid ground game, I remember some incredible tennis from the baseline against Agassi and Chang at Hong Kong (its one of my more vivid tennis memory, don’t know why haha), I think he would have have been a great player in this era too
 

arvind13

Professional
They all wanted to win the French (okay, maybe Sampras didn't care) and couldn't. Lendl was at the time the most dominant player in the history of tennis, after Laver. He spent 10 years trying to win Wimbledon. He employed Tony Roche, trained on grass, even skipping the French to concentrate on grass. He couldn't adapt.

I hear this "talented players adapt" thing all the time, but see precious little to back it up and an awful lot that suggests it's simply not true. They improve on their weaknesses, sure .. but they don't become greats at a game which frankly, is completely foreign to them.
in the same vein, transport nadal to 90s conditions with 90s racquets, surfaces and balls and he wouldn't have adapted. he would win french open. thats it. and i don't think he would be as dominant on clay as he is in the modern game, because there were more clay court specialists back then. federer on the other hand is versatile enough to adapt and change his game better than nadal and djokovic. not saying he would be as successful in 90s, but he would do better than djokovic and nadal imo
 

ChrisRF

Hall of Fame
It's not about conditions or rackets. Its about who they were. They would have been greater than most no matter the conditions.
That statement, in a such a general form, is completely wrong IMO. I would say the fundamental opposite is true: Almost every player who is very successful is kind of lucky that his style is the right one for the conditions his era. Often you cannot even plan this, because you learn the basics over a decade before playing at pro level, and then everything can have changed.

Also being at the top in tennis is mostly about talent, and such things as practicing, working hard, adapting etc. only gives you the last few percentages.

And if we look at how tennis was played in different decades, it is almost a different sport. Look at someone like McEnroe. He was possibly the most talented touch player of all time, but he could never adapt to becoming a dominant baseline basher only because he would have been born into another era.

Nadal and Djokovic on the other hand are lucky that they didn’t have to play with wooden racquets on fast surfaces.

Being talented for one of those two styles is such a fundamental difference that we really can almost talk about having talent for 2 different sports. No one can dominate in the empire of the other one. If this wouldn’t be true, there would still be serve&volley at Wimbledon. As great as Becker and Edberg were, the weren’t players who only emerge every 3 decades or so.

And the racquets are the main factor. Let them play with modern racquets and Djokovic would be the favourite against Sampras everywhere IMO, even on 90s grass.
 

THUNDERVOLLEY

G.O.A.T.
From which we can conclude that aggressive tennis is well rewarded. That would include hitting aggressive serves, volleys, returns, passing shots etc represented effective tactics. Its means physical strength keen reactions and agility factor into the equation as well. Their ability to respond to big serves, volleys etc in their return game matters as well. There is so much more to their games, than that big cannonball.
Quoted for truth.
 
Agassi would have cleaned up, but I can't agree that Sampras, Becker and Edberg would have. If so, we'd see players playing that game today. As well as Wilander, Lendl and Agassi, players like Courier, Muster and Bruguera would have been dominating the late rounds of all the slams, as happens today.
There is no era Agassi cleans up in. He simply isn't good enough.
 

GuyForget

New User
well technically he did in 99-00, but dont think he'd have won the US if Pete hadnt been injured, and he had weak competition in Medvedev +Martin. I love the Agassi of 95 tho, and W92
 
well technically he did in 99-00, but dont think he'd have won the US if Pete hadnt been injured, and he had weak competition in Medvedev +Martin. I love the Agassi of 95 tho, and W92
3 majors in 2 years is not cleaning up. It is doing well, but not close to cleaning up. And even in 99 when he won 2 slams and ended the year #1 for the only time I think he won only 4 tournaments total, didn't win the YEC or Miami, went out early in Australia, and was 1-4 vs Pete. And agreed he wouldn't have even won the U.S Open or ended the year #1 had Sampras been able to play the Open but I digress.
 
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