Was Pat Rafter a luckier Tim Henman?

NedStark

Rookie
While he was obviously better than Henman, Rafter did have a fair share of luck. He emerged in a vacuum caused by Becker's astronomical decline in 1997 (given how strong he was just a few months earlier), and by Krajicek's failure to carry on his 1996 Wimbledon tennis.
 

arvind13

Professional
Rafter was a better Henman, and Henman was good.

A better serve, a little more clutch, a good competitor. Henman was a bit up and down in terms of his level.

Rafter was both fortunate and unfortunate in his career timing. His peak was during the end of Pete's dominance, a bit unfortunate. A few years later there would be a more open field. But, the conditions were still good for his style of play, the courts were often relatively quick, grass was still fast grass, USO and AO hardcourts weren't slow, yet. Also, it's wasn't a poly string tour, yet.


actually i think poly strings would have made rafter's serve deadlier
 

Kemitak

Professional
When you don’t know how to violin good, but you feel your opinion is warranted on who is the better concert violinist, James Ehnes or Hilary Hahn, so you look at who sells more albums on iTunes.
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
A successful defense of his US Open title in the middle of the Sampras era ... that’s bad***.
As you may know Pistol pulled a quadriceps muscle at the start of the 3rd set, but even without that untimely injury I see the SF going either way. Pat was on a mission that HC season, had just evened the match and would go on to dispatch his compatriot Scud in 4 sets with a McEnroesque 5 UFEs.

Badass sounds about right. :cool:

i think a good reason for his return game was he didnt have to worry about changing grips for any of his strokes?
he must have been the last player to play that way :)
Others have talked about Edberg's virtually nonexistent grip change but you may be the first one I've seen that tied it to his underappreciated return as opposed to his S&V. A very pertinent observation that demands to be trumpeted until his name starts showing up more often in GROAT gabfests. (y)

Roddick's returning in Wim 04 final > any returning Ivanisevic has put on grass IMO. Broke fed 4 times and the only time fed's 1st serve win% has gone below 70% in a Wimbledon final.
Better returner than Goran in general.
That was at least half tongue in cheek, LOL. But since you're being serious, SGW%s do show A-Rod leading Goran by 1-2% on grass and hard so "in general" sounds about right, but I disagree Andy in the '04 Wimby final returned better than Goran ever did. @NedStark has already mentioned the '92 QF vs. Edberg but his performance vs. Pete was probably as good, and @slice serve ace noted in his '94 SF thread that Goran had "something like 14 return aces." Also while Goran (justly) gets props for that return game in the '98 final even more impressive is the fact that he managed to limit Pete friggin' Sampras to 12 aces only (and 45.8% URS, which as you know is somewhat low for Pete on grass) in a 5-setter.

Think the return equation works about the same way as the rest of the H2H between these two: A-Rod more consistent, Goran with a higher peak. The Croat just seemed to turn into a different player on grass, much like Boris indoors.

Well said of Edberg. Like most no 1s who managed to stay there for a while, he was really a complete player. You don't get to the final of RG in 89 and win 3 clay court titles without a ground game.
One of the ATG BHs, and a deceptively effective FH (as Pete for one attests in his book). Throw in arguably the best movement among all ATGs and you've got one hell of a ground package period, not just for a S&Ver.

Speaking of which I'd be interested to see pre-1991 service/return stats if anyone has 'em. Edberg did place 4th and 7th in SGW% in '91 and '92 respectively, but not after. And my eye test tells me Rafter's serve did have pack slightly more oomph so I doubt Stefan quite matched Pat's 7 years in the top 10, but it'd be nice to confirm how many.

Return is a trickier matter 'cause surface specialization used to be a real thing and dirtballers not named Agassi or Chang dominated the all-surface top 10 in the '90s, but Edberg did make the grade twice in '91 (7th) and '93 (10th). Of course this is where Stefan has Pat beat by a country mile, but I'm more interested in how he fared here in # of years vs. in the service department.

When you don’t know how to violin good, but you feel your opinion is warranted on who is the better concert violinist, James Ehnes or Hilary Hahn, so you look at who sells more albums on iTunes.
Though I get and dig what you're getting at, having heard these two dozens of times both live* and on CD I can say this analogy isn't the slam dunk you seem to think it is.

*Hilary is indeed a sweetheart in person, just like you'd expect from her good-humored blogging. Have yet to meet James, not even for an autograph.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
That was at least half tongue in cheek, LOL. But since you're being serious, SGW%s do show A-Rod leading Goran by 1-2% on grass and hard so "in general" sounds about right, but I disagree Andy in the '04 Wimby final returned better than Goran ever did. @NedStark has already mentioned the '92 QF vs. Edberg but his performance vs. Pete was probably as good, and @slice serve ace noted in his '94 SF thread that Goran had "something like 14 return aces." Also while Goran (justly) gets props for that return game in the '98 final even more impressive is the fact that he managed to limit Pete friggin' Sampras to 12 aces only (and 45.8% URS, which as you know is somewhat low for Pete on grass) in a 5-setter.

Think the return equation works about the same way as the rest of the H2H between these two: A-Rod more consistent, Goran with a higher peak. The Croat just seemed to turn into a different player on grass, much like Boris indoors.
I haven't seen the 92 Wim QF b/w Goran and Edberg yet. But I have seen the Becker Goran 1994 Wim SF. Good returning from Goran, but not as impressive as some of those match reports or that 14 return winners make it look. Becker wasn't placing those 2nd serves well. Some of them were just asking to be hit. Obviously the DFs at inopportune moments didn't help Becker either with holding. The only time in the match where Becker looked like his old self was the 2nd set.


41.5% URS by Todd Martin vs Sampras in 1994 Wim semi serving at around 56%

41.22% URS by Tim Henman vs Sampras in 1998 semi serving at 52.6%

37.1% URS by Tim Henman vs Sampras in 1999 semi serving at around 51%

For good returning (not necessarily great) I don't think 45% URS for ~56% first serves is even somewhat low. Its on par. Unless of course Pete's serve was cooking by even his standards (ex: Wimbledon 99 final)

I don't think Goran's peak returning on grass was better than Roddick's. Peak serving? For sure.
Even on grass, those streaks of inconstencies on return/groundstrokes/volleys were there for Goran. Never entirely dependable. Its for ok for return since he had to only string some return games together. But not necessarily groundstrokes/volleys.

Roddick vs Ancic in Wim 2004 SF:
34/112 serves unreturned = 30.36%
And this is with Ancic SnVing quite a bit, which normally increases unreturned serve% due to pressure (of course increase return winners as well)

Roddick vs Federer in Wim 2004 F:
46/154 serves unreturned = 29.87%. ~ 30%

For reference,
Hewitt vs Federer in Wim 2004 QF:
44/125 serves unreturned = 35.2%

Granted Federer served clearly better in the Hewitt match, but not by a huge amount.
 
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Crocodile

Legend
I think the problem Tim Henman had as a serve and volley player was that his serve was too flat, so the balls come back to him too quickly. Par Rafter had this big kicker that allowed him better net position for his first volley. Both were great players in their own right.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
I think the problem Tim Henman had as a serve and volley player was that his serve was too flat, so the balls come back to him too quickly. Par Rafter had this big kicker that allowed him better net position for his first volley. Both were great players in their own right.
I think the problem for Tim Henman is that he was trying to execute Big Boy Tennis, but little Tim was not a big boy.
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
I hate to sound like a broken record but Stefan has gotta be the most underappreciated returner of the OE.
Yeah, anyone with a backhand as good as his is usually a prodigious returner

A successful defense of his US Open title in the middle of the Sampras era ... that’s bad***.
He had a very good chance of going back-to-back-to-back in 1999 too... made the final in Cincinnati, but tore his shoulder in the first round of the USO

The kicker wasn't as effective on grass, it stayed too low, and so incoming Rafter had to volley more from his toes.
I agree up to a point, but this is often pointed to as a reason for his lesser serving performances at Wimbledon in 2000 and 2001 when I think his 1999 shoulder reconstruction probably had more to do with it

I don’t think grass hampered his serve too much and I reckon without that injury, he wins at least one title at SW19
 
One of the ATG BHs, and a deceptively effective FH (as Pete for one attests in his book). Throw in arguably the best movement among all ATGs and you've got one hell of a ground package period, not just for a S&Ver.
It escapes me too why Edberg's BH doesn't come up for discussion more often than it does. Might be that S&V obscures other aspects of his game. But as for his movement, I don't know that I'd rank it above Borg, Sampras or Nadal.
 

CHillTennis

Rookie
Watching these two serve & volleyers from the past, I cannot say that Pat was such a superior player or he had a more complete game from Tim. In fact, I think that Henman had a better forehand and was equally good at the net. So, Pat went ont winning two slams and reaching two wimbledon finals while Tim made six semifinals. Do you think Rafter just had easier draws and on his path he met the "right" opponents or he made the extra step and found another gear in the clutch moments?
I can see the similarities, but really, Rafter was considerably better.

He beat Pete Sampras at the US Open in 1998.

By comparison, Henman had one win against Pete Sampras for his entire career.

Rafter, also beat Agassi at the 1997 US Open.

I would say that he wins this one pretty easily.
 
I can see the similarities, but really, Rafter was considerably better.

He beat Pete Sampras at the US Open in 1998.

By comparison, Henman had one win against Pete Sampras for his entire career.

Rafter, also beat Agassi at the 1997 US Open.

I would say that he wins this one pretty easily.
Just looking at USO 98 alone and OP's point about easier draws for Rafter, Rafter beat Goran and Sampras en route to the final. And beat Scud in the final. It was Scud that Henman lost to.

At the Canadian Open '98, Rafter beat Henman (!) en route to the final where he beat Krajicek. Krajicek had been on a tear in that tournament, beating an in form Agassi (who had himself beaten Sampras in the QF) in the semis. It was a pretty tough tournament and Rafter came through.

At Cincinnati, he beat Sampras so his US Open win over Sampras was no fluke (though Sampras getting hobbled by the end of the 3rd set did help).

Not only was Rafter mentally very strong, unlike Henman, he was also tactically brilliant. And this is not wisdom reflected in hindsight, commentators used to allude to this as well back then during matches.

Yes, if you apply TT style stroke beauty evaluation to decide, it may appear as if not much separated Henman from Rafter. But Rafter made the most and then some of his game which cannot be said of Henman. Like I said earlier, Henman came across as kinda complaining at times. It was of a piece with the English cricket team of the time too, constantly underachieving and moaning with only the gritty Alec Stewart carrying them to a modicum of respectability.
 

CHillTennis

Rookie
And the grass was actually slowed down after 1998. It was slower from 1999 onwards. The extreme fast grass in 1998 and before did not really suit Rafter's kick serves well.
That's interesting. Maybe this is the reason why he made the Wimbledon finals from 2000-01.

The grass would have been slower during those years, than it was in the 90s.
 
That's interesting. Maybe this is the reason why he made the Wimbledon finals from 2000-01.

The grass would have been slower during those years, than it was in the 90s.
99 was the first year when the bounce on Wimbledon felt like hard court - hard and firm and even high at times. Not USO high but not skidding through quite as much as before. I don't think it's a coincidence that Kuerten made the Wimbledon QF that year. And yes, the higher bounce suited Rafter's kick serve and he made a SF that year followed by two finals.
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
99 was the first year when the bounce on Wimbledon felt like hard court - hard and firm and even high at times. Not USO high but not skidding through quite as much as before. I don't think it's a coincidence that Kuerten made the Wimbledon QF that year. And yes, the higher bounce suited Rafter's kick serve and he made a SF that year followed by two finals.
I heard Rafter give an interview once where he attributed his later-career success at Wimbledon to working on his footwork. Early in his career he hated moving on grass - found it even harder than clay.

No doubt the firming up of the court also helped him - perhaps with his serve, but definitely with his return game. Variability of bounce was never something he coped with well.
 

NonP

Hall of Fame
I haven't seen the 92 Wim QF b/w Goran and Edberg yet. But I have seen the Becker Goran 1994 Wim SF. Good returning from Goran, but not as impressive as some of those match reports or that 14 return winners make it look. Becker wasn't placing those 2nd serves well. Some of them were just asking to be hit. Obviously the DFs at inopportune moments didn't help Becker either with holding. The only time in the match where Becker looked like his old self was the 2nd set.


41.5% URS by Todd Martin vs Sampras in 1994 Wim semi serving at around 56%

41.22% URS by Tim Henman vs Sampras in 1998 semi serving at 52.6%

37.1% URS by Tim Henman vs Sampras in 1999 semi serving at around 51%

For good returning (not necessarily great) I don't think 45% URS for ~56% first serves is even somewhat low. Its on par. Unless of course Pete's serve was cooking by even his standards (ex: Wimbledon 99 final)

I don't think Goran's peak returning on grass was better than Roddick's. Peak serving? For sure.
Even on grass, those streaks of inconstencies on return/groundstrokes/volleys were there for Goran. Never entirely dependable. Its for ok for return since he had to only string some return games together. But not necessarily groundstrokes/volleys.

Roddick vs Ancic in Wim 2004 SF:
34/112 serves unreturned = 30.36%
And this is with Ancic SnVing quite a bit, which normally increases unreturned serve% due to pressure (of course increase return winners as well)

Roddick vs Federer in Wim 2004 F:
46/154 serves unreturned = 29.87%. ~ 30%

For reference,
Hewitt vs Federer in Wim 2004 QF:
44/125 serves unreturned = 35.2%

Granted Federer served clearly better in the Hewitt match, but not by a huge amount.
Of course I meant 45% being kinda low on grass for Pistol only, pretty much anyone else would be happy with such a "low" %, LOL. In fact apart from those 3 you mentioned I see only 2 matches in my collection where Pete didn't post at least 45% (unrounded) at SW19, both from '93: the QF vs. Dre (41.6%) and the SF vs. Boris (41.7%). Which makes sense once you realize he was battling a shoulder injury and probably needed to save himself for the final (50.8%), after which Jim said "faced two serves today."

And get this: Goran also limited Pete in the '95 SF to "only" 44.8%, despite Pete connecting 63.0% on 1st serves which as you know was a good % for him that year when he struggled with his 1st-serve % all year long. That's just below Fed's 45.0% in the '01 showdown, and while Pete did get more 1st serves in (69.8%) that day it's safe to say he was more dangerous in '95. Not too shabby, no?

We should also keep in mind players S&Ved more often in the '90s even compared to Ancic, so the URS %s would normally favor Goran's opponents vs. A-Rod's.

If you're saying Andy was the superior returner overall you won't get much argument from me. I just think Goran's infamous inconsistency is wildly exaggerated due to his volatile persona. You might remember me pointing out (in a reply to you, no less) that while Goran did hit an unfortunate 16 DFs in his '98 SF he also did a much better job returning Krajicek's serve, especially on 2nd. And nobody can tell me with a straight face Rick was off that day. On paper it may look like Goran almost choked the match away, but the reality is that he took care of business on return and that's why he won vs. Krajicek and almost over his nemesis in the final. You really don't make 4 Wimbledon finals in the Sampras era if your return is that inconsistent.

It escapes me too why Edberg's BH doesn't come up for discussion more often than it does. Might be that S&V obscures other aspects of his game. But as for his movement, I don't know that I'd rank it above Borg, Sampras or Nadal.
As @Cashman said the Edberg BH hasn't exactly lacked for love and respect, at least among tennis fanatics. It's really his return that's an orphan by comparison.

As for his movement @encylopedia made a case way back for Stefan as the GMOAT which I've yet to see convincingly refuted: the likes of Borg, Pete, Fed, Rafa and Novak may be without peer going forward or side to side, but nobody was as equally at home in all directions/positions as Edberg. Naturally I was skeptical at first, but after studying more of his matches I came to accept it wholeheartedly. Notice how well he's moving here 14 years after retirement:


That and his drop shots/volleys floored me as much as Kafelnikov's extra pounds (it's hard to tell in this grainy clip but I watched the thing live and Yevgeny's weight gain was eye-popping to say the least), if not even more so. I seriously doubt any of the Big 3 including Fed will be moving better than the 44-year-old-Stefan here, even if they manage to stick around that long with no time off.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
Of course I meant 45% being kinda low on grass for Pistol only, pretty much anyone else would be happy with such a "low" %, LOL. In fact apart from those 3 you mentioned I see only 2 matches in my collection where Pete didn't post at least 45% (unrounded) at SW19, both from '93: the QF vs. Dre (41.6%) and the SF vs. Boris (41.7%). Which makes sense once you realize he was battling a shoulder injury and probably needed to save himself for the final (50.8%), after which Jim said "faced two serves today."

And get this: Goran also limited Pete in the '95 SF to "only" 44.8%, despite Pete connecting 63.0% on 1st serves which as you know was a good % for him that year when he struggled with his 1st-serve % all year long. That's just below Fed's 45.0% in the '01 showdown, and while Pete did get more 1st serves in (69.8%) that day it's safe to say he was more dangerous in '95. Not too shabby, no?

We should also keep in mind players S&Ved more often in the '90s even compared to Ancic, so the URS %s would normally favor Goran's opponents vs. A-Rod's.

If you're saying Andy was the superior returner overall you won't get much argument from me. I just think Goran's infamous inconsistency is wildly exaggerated due to his volatile persona. You might remember me pointing out (in a reply to you, no less) that while Goran did hit an unfortunate 16 DFs in his '98 SF he also did a much better job returning Krajicek's serve, especially on 2nd. And nobody can tell me with a straight face Rick was off that day. On paper it may look like Goran almost choked the match away, but the reality is that he took care of business on return and that's why he won vs. Krajicek and almost over his nemesis in the final. You really don't make 4 Wimbledon finals in the Sampras era if your return is that inconsistent.
1. Yeah, I meant by Sampras' standards at Wimbledon grass only.

2. Ancic SnVed on 94/112 serves in that Wim 04 semi vs Roddick as per TA. That's high. For Roddick to keep him and Federer both at around 30% serves URS is pretty good.

3. How many of those URS stats do we have ?
QF+SF of 92, QF of 96, QF-F of 93-95, 96-00 and 4R of 2001? Out of 25 matches?

Apart from Goran, there were 21 matches.

I have 15 of those 21

8 of those 15 have ~45% or below: 93 QF Agassi, 93 SF Becker, 94 SF Todd Martin, 96 QF Krajicek, 97 SF Woodbridge,98 SF Henman, 99 SF Henman, 01 4R Federer (even leaving out Agassi of Wim 99 final with 46.23% URS)

Wim 92 QF: def > 50% URS: https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/sampras-stich-1992-wimbledon-qf-stats.327265/
Wim 93 QF: 51/124 = 41.1% http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/19930701-M-Wimbledon-QF-Andre_Agassi-Pete_Sampras.html
Wim 93 SF: 43/103 = 41.75% http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/19930703-M-Wimbledon-SF-Pete_Sampras-Boris_Becker.html
Wim 93 F: 61/120 = 50.83% http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/19930704-M-Wimbledon-F-Jim_Courier-Pete_Sampras.html
Wim 94 SF: 49/118 = 41.52% 1994 Wimbledon SF: Todd Martin vs Pete Sampras Detailed Stats | Tennis Abstract
Wim 94 F: 54/101 = 53.47% http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/19940703-M-Wimbledon-F-Pete_Sampras-Goran_Ivanisevic.html
Wim 95 SF: 69/154 = 44.8% https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/stats-for-1995-w-sf-sampras-ivanisevic.193512/post-5403132
Wim 95 F: 55/105 = 52.38% http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/19950709-M-Wimbledon-F-Pete_Sampras-Boris_Becker.html
Wim 96 QF: 45/100 = 45% https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/boxscore-stats-for-krajicek-sampras-1996-w.268546/
Wim 97 SF: 33/89 = 37.07% http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/19970704-M-Wimbledon-SF-Pete_Sampras-Todd_Woodbridge.html
Wim 97 F: 45/76 = 59.21% http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/19970706-M-Wimbledon-F-Cedric_Pioline-Pete_Sampras.html
Wim 98 SF: 46/114 = 40.35% http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/19980622-M-Wimbledon-SF-Tim_Henman-Pete_Sampras.html
Wim 98 F: 71/155 = 45.8% http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/19980705-M-Wimbledon-F-Goran_Ivanisevic-Pete_Sampras.html
Wim 99 SF: 43/116 = 37.1% http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/19990703-M-Wimbledon-SF-Tim_Henman-Pete_Sampras.html
Wim 99 F: 43/93 = 46.23% http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/19990704-M-Wimbledon-F-Pete_Sampras-Andre_Agassi.html
Wim 00 SF: 44/76 = 57.89% http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/20000708-M-Wimbledon-SF-Pete_Sampras-Vladimir_Voltchkov.html
Wim 00 F: 57/108 = 52.78% http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/20000709-M-Wimbledon-F-Patrick_Rafter-Pete_Sampras.html
Wim 01 4R: 85/189 = 44.97% http://www.tennisabstract.com/charting/20010702-M-Wimbledon-R16-Roger_Federer-Pete_Sampras.html
 
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That and his drop shots/volleys floored me as much as Kafelnikov's extra pounds (it's hard to tell in this grainy clip but I watched the thing live and Yevgeny's weight gain was eye-popping to say the least), if not even more so. I seriously doubt any of the Big 3 including Fed will be moving better than the 44-year-old-Stefan here, even if they manage to stick around that long with no time off.
This is unusually lacking in objectivity coming from you. Fed is nearly 40 ALREADY and is STILL playing tour level tennis. In four more years, he won't be good enough to move as well as Stefan did against Potatonikov? Not seeing it. I also don't think Djokovic's movement is going to decline steeply in his 40s. It's possible with Nadal as he has put immense strain on himself to keep playing and he may loosen up and let go completely after he's done. And by that yardstick, Connors was still able to make a semi at the USO at 39 and he did that with a lot of hustling and chasing down impossible balls, not by rushing kamikaze to the net. So I don't think how well Edberg was moving in there goes very far. It looks that way because (a) his arch rival Becker got really fat as did Lendl and both lost the ability to move the way they could (b) Sampras let go after retirement and has looked very unflattering in recent exo appearances (though he was still decent enough in the Fed exos in 2007/08) and (c) Agassi suffered terrible injuries by the time he was done and again, couldn't keep up his movement (besides which, movement wasn't his strongest suit anyway). So in comparison to all of them, Edberg still looks fresh as a daisy and ageless.

I give that Edberg is extremely organized and smooth. Still not convinced his raw speed compares to Borg, Sampras or Nadal. Sampras himself was brilliant both moving forwards/backwards and sprinting across the baseline to make running forehands. So it's not like Sampras was overspecialised in one kind of movement (an argument which could plausibly be made for Borg and Nadal). And Sampras had a certain basketball-like elasticity that I never saw in Edberg. Edberg is like the 80s version of, well, Federer. It's Fedberg for a reason (except of course that Fed chose more and more to stay back than to keep coming in as Edberg did). But in smoothness, effortlessness and sheer elegance, they are most like each other.
 

mikej

Hall of Fame
I saw both of them many times and Rafter was head and shoulders above Heman in every department (not sure of their head2head). Went to quite a few UK tour events and saw Tim to lose to absolute nobodies.
yep, little comparison, one had a better serve / better volleys / more aggressive movement / wasn’t just a factor in grass - Rafter was the best S&Ver I’ve seen in my lifetime, not easy to successfully S&V in his era at the turn of the century facing modern groundies, and he took down back-to-back USOs anyway

I’d say Rafter : Henman as Djokovic : someone like Nalbandian or Davydenko - one of each pair simply took a similar game style to the highest level
 

NedStark

Rookie
I heard Rafter give an interview once where he attributed his later-career success at Wimbledon to working on his footwork. Early in his career he hated moving on grass - found it even harder than clay.

No doubt the firming up of the court also helped him - perhaps with his serve, but definitely with his return game. Variability of bounce was never something he coped with well.
It's not surprising that Rafter's indoor performance really stinks, for a serve-and-volleyer.
 

BGod

Legend
Ummmm, no.

Rafter was clearly a better player and in terms of his Slams he could have won more, specifically 01 Wimbledon and 01 AO. So to me Rafter played hard and won more or less what he deserved to win (again, I as a fan would have felt better him getting 2 more but not like he was robbed).

Now Henman meanwhile in contrast, I don't think he underachieved because even with Sampras in his way I don't see him winning those finals against Agassi and Ivanisevic and certainly his only 5 setter at Wimbledon he likely gets decimated by Rafter. Funny enough he may have had his best shot in a Final at the 2004 USO if he somehow slid past Fed but that's just fantasy obviously. Rafter won his 2 Slams because he was the best player and was inches away from more in other runs. Henman would have had to rely on sheer luck to win 1.
 
Ummmm, no.

Rafter was clearly a better player and in terms of his Slams he could have won more, specifically 01 Wimbledon and 01 AO. So to me Rafter played hard and won more or less what he deserved to win (again, I as a fan would have felt better him getting 2 more but not like he was robbed).

Now Henman meanwhile in contrast, I don't think he underachieved because even with Sampras in his way I don't see him winning those finals against Agassi and Ivanisevic and certainly his only 5 setter at Wimbledon he likely gets decimated by Rafter. Funny enough he may have had his best shot in a Final at the 2004 USO if he somehow slid past Fed but that's just fantasy obviously. Rafter won his 2 Slams because he was the best player and was inches away from more in other runs. Henman would have had to rely on sheer luck to win 1.
Funnily enough, Henman did beat Rafter at Wimbledon in 98. 4 sets. It's a beautiful match, a volleying classic.


Whatever they changed about the grass or the balls, it wasn't in 98. So Rafter wasn't ready yet to do well at Wimby as he would starting 99.
 

abmk

Bionic Poster
Rafter had a better serve, athleticism at the net (leading to better net play) and mental strength

Henman had better fh, bh and return. A better all around player so to speak.

An example of : Couple of areas where you are really good trumps more all around play.
 
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