What held Rafter back?

Frankc

Professional
Had a great career - how many Open trophies was it? Amazing athlete ... amazing match ups with Agassi.
Enjoy their semi matches At W - what athleticism and the contrast in styles will remind you of how unidimensional today's play is.
Oh, I just checked the thread and I am supposed to be critical and negative... Hmmm - nothing to see there...
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
i think he did the most with what he got
he seemed to be kind of a late bloomer tho...
maybe he could have squeaked out a wimbledon,
but sampras was too tough and i didnt see the goran match so...
 

galain

Hall of Fame
Bad shoulder and wrist mainly.

Pat is unlucky not to have few more majors in his bag. He had Agassi on the ropes at the AO when he had his electrolyte issue and wound up cramping. Next match would have been Clement in the final and he had to have been a favourite to win that.

Gave Sampras a big scare at Wimby and of course, his match with Goran could have so easily gone his way.

Aussie hero mate - I don't know many of us Aussies who didn't love him.
 

McLovin

Legend
I remember hearing an announcer years ago (Stolle, maybe?) talk about how serve & volleyers traditionally are 'late bloomers' as there is a mental hurdle they have to get over. Essentially, their attitude is "I'm coming to the net 100 times. If you pass me 51 of those times, you win. If not, I win".

I realize it's not as simple as that (as you'd have to take into account missed volleys, passing shots into the net, etc), but you get the idea: A S&V game takes time to develop as you must get used to getting passed a crap-ton of times. Playing a game where you hold at 40-30, but that '30' against you came from your opponent ripping passing shots by you, is much more defeating than holding at 40-30, and the '30' came from a long rally where you missed a forehand by 2 inches or you hit a short ball & your opponent hit a winner.

And to truly be a "serve & volleyer" (ala Edberg, McEnroe, or Rafter), you have to be committed to that play when you're serving down 4-5, 0-30, and that belief takes time.

So Rafter spent his first 6-7 years languishing in the top 60 (w/ a brief surge into the top 25), then found his stride around age 25. Remember: this was a time when careers normally ended around age 29-30, so he was already in the last 1/3 of his career, and a S&V game is very taxing on the body. As others said, he just couldn't recover from those shoulder problems.

It really was a bummer he didn't bloom earlier as he & Edberg were two of my favorite players. I miss that style of play, especially when matched up against an Agassi or Chang type of player.
 

Frankc

Professional
All makes sense, no doubt - heard that from other voices...

That makes Stefan Edberg's career even more astounding and athletic. Succeeded as a S&V attacker from 19 or so until the end of his career - long career. I do remember that Tony Pickard (sp?) stated that on first sight, the young Edberg's athleticism struck him clearly.
Savored the '92 Edberg/Chang USO semi last night - both at the height of their powers - Edberg's athleticism is blinding, time and time again...
 

golden chicken

Hall of Fame
One of the things that struck me about Rafter was that his volleys and slices didn't really penetrate through the court, especially compared to Sampras.
 
I don't think Rafter thinks to himself "what held me back?". He had a very good career. He won 2 US Opens in the Sampras Agassi era. Many would not have predicted Rafter would do this. I don't think he underachieved. I believe he is happy with the career he had.
 
His groundstrokes were just ok, nothing special. His return of serve was not that good. Really he just had amazing volleys, great athleticsm, and a pretty good but not dominant serve. And a lot of scrap and fight. He did well for the talents he did have.
 

flanker2000fr

Hall of Fame
His groundstrokes were just ok, nothing special. His return of serve was not that good. Really he just had amazing volleys, great athleticsm, and a pretty good but not dominant serve. And a lot of scrap and fight. He did well for the talents he did have.
This summarizes it pretty well.

If one wanted to be even more succinct, to the question "What held Rafter back", the one word answer would be: Sampras.

He was a player who had the same style of game as Rafter, but better in almost every sector.
 

NicoMK

Professional
As others said just above, his ground game was not good enough. I didn't say it was bad (he was a pro player), just not good enough. He was a master volleyer and a top notch server too. Injuries didn't help.

Having said that, he had a really amazing career: two GS, twice a Wimbledon finalist, Davis Cup winner maybe? I can't remember.

And apparently a nice dude. Our paths crossed on some occasions during a tournament where I worked as a stringer and he was very cool.
 
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