Why was Sampras considered the GOAT after Wimbledon 2000?

Djokovic2011

Bionic Poster
I distinctly remember there being a lot of talk at the time among various tennis commentators and broadcasters that Sampras was arguably the greatest ever after surpassing Emerson's record that year but tbh looking back I'm not too sure why. The other day I was having a discussion with another poster in the General Pro Player forum about Laver's career and how much a player would need to win in order to be considered greater than him and he replied "probably around 20 Slams". If this is the case then why did so many people believe Pete was the GOAT when he "only" had 13 Slams and hadn't even won all 4? Was it simply because he'd just won the sport's holy grail for a seventh time or did the American sports media get more than a little carried away? I certainly recall Laver's name being mentioned a lot back then but if 19/20 majors is the benchmark to be regarded as the greatest ever, it does seem rather strange that Sampras was thought to be above him despite having so fewer major titles.

Thoughts please.
 
N

Navdeep Srivastava

Guest
American media what else? Sampras is my favourite (djokovic second favourite) but Pancho and Laver both are better than Sampras.
 

pat200

Semi-Pro
19/20 was never the benchmark, that's just what some random dude on the forums said.

He was considered as potentially greatest ever because he'd broken the biggest records - number of Slams - and also because he stayed dominant for so long, with weeks/years at #1.
exactly hahahah OP you made me laugh so hard lol
 

Mainad

Bionic Poster
I'm guessing most people back then, including Sampras, thought surpassing 13 Slam titles (and especially 7 Wimbledon titles) in the open era would be a feat not to be matched for many years to come, if ever. Who would have guessed at that time that a certain Swiss and a certain Mallorcan would come along in short order to do exactly that and even go one better by both winning the CGS and now a certain Serbian coming hot on everybody's heels too!

I bet Sampras often wishes he hadn't been quite so hasty to retire when he did!! ;)
 

Booger

Hall of Fame
If the courts had been like they are now, we'd probably be talking about Carlos Moya or Yevgeny Kafelnikov as potential GOATs.
 

wangs78

Hall of Fame
People have short memories. Commentators were pretty quick in suggesting Nadal was potential GOAT and now Djokovic is the flavor of the week. Granted both of these guys deserve to be in the discussion of top 5 players of all time, but I don't think they are THE GOAT.

Sampras had a decent argument with 14 Slams in the modern era (most) and his GS final record of 14-4. The guy was a CLOSER. I will say though that he lost 2 of his last 3 Slam finals, so had he pushed for 3-4 years his record likely would have deteriorated, as Fed's has in recent years.
 

WarrenMP

Professional
We like to make that one person the greatest ever. The fact is Federer, Sampras, Nadal and Djokovic are the best. They each brought something different to the game. They transformed tennis into a sport that draws a diverse group of tennis fans. Adding Serena and Venus in the mix, you have the future generating included all colors and backgrounds. Frankly, I flip flop between who is my favorite; however, I do like all the greats. They made tennis fun to watch. Sampras is the only one that cross paths with Federer. Currently, Djokovic has the baton and I wonder who will be the person to take it from him.
 

Legendkillar

New User
Well he won 13 Slams in just under a 10 year period. On top of that accumulated a record number of weeks as number 1 in the world and YE number 1 too. At the time it was only really Borg who he was being measured against as the GOAT based on raw stats. Plus the future hadn't happened yet. Forward 14 months from that point and he had lost to Safin, Federer and Hewitt at the Slams. The rest as they say is history...
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
I distinctly remember there being a lot of talk at the time among various tennis commentators and broadcasters that Sampras was arguably the greatest ever after surpassing Emerson's record that year but tbh looking back I'm not too sure why. The other day I was having a discussion with another poster in the General Pro Player forum about Laver's career and how much a player would need to win in order to be considered greater than him and he replied "probably around 20 Slams". If this is the case then why did so many people believe Pete was the GOAT when he "only" had 13 Slams and hadn't even won all 4? Was it simply because he'd just won the sport's holy grail for a seventh time or did the American sports media get more than a little carried away? I certainly recall Laver's name being mentioned a lot back then but if 19/20 majors is the benchmark to be regarded as the greatest ever, it does seem rather strange that Sampras was thought to be above him despite having so fewer major titles.

Thoughts please.
First, in my view, you can't fairly or logically compare amateur, pro and open major titles with each other. In my view, open major titles are much more difficult to win and deserve more status and prestige than amateur and pro majors. Although, for good or bad, Sampras' run at the major record served to focus public attention on those events and further elevate their status higher than ever before compared to the rest of the circuit. Since then, the ATP point allocation system seems to have brought some sanity back to the relative importance of the major titles. Second, as KG1965 has pointed out, you really can't even compare the French Open and Australian Open before about 1990 with Wimbledon and the U.S. Open because the former majors did not consistently include all of the best players. Third, many of the greatest players of all time, including Laver, were banned from playing the traditional majors for most of their careers. Accordingly, you do a disservice to some of the greatest players in the history of the game by limiting your analysis of "benchmarks" to major titles.

Having said that, there always seems to be an element of presentism in commercial media even among those who you would expect to know better (for commercial reasons and for lack of being well informed in the subject), as well as in the minds of the public. However, in addition to Sampras' extraordinary peak level of play, by the year 2000, Sampras had won a record 7 titles of the most prestigious event in the game, 4 (and later 5, an open era record), of the second most prestigious event in the game, and by that time he had finished #1 for a record 6 straight years, all in the open era. Based on his level of play and his record, in my view, there was, and is, a colorable case for Sampras as the GOAT.
 
Last edited:

KG1965

Legend
In the final years of the last century, I recall that Sampras was for many media the GOAT in front of Laver , Borg and Mac .

I think I also know the reasons .

Abstract: IMHO Sampras was great player and I also started to cheer for him in the early years of his career .
He was an undeniable talent and has had an extraordinary career .

For most of the media Sampras had become the GOAT for 5 reasons mainly :
1 ) played a very nice tennis, with a great technique and a great class , he was nice to see
2 ) he had ruled uninterrupted for several years
3 ) he had annihilated their opponents in the most popular tournament ( W )
4 ) he had won for so many years in the second most important tournament (USO )
5 ) had won the slam record ( 14 ) surpassing Roy Emerson .

I try to go into the point by point .
 
Last edited:

KG1965

Legend
Point 1)
After a few years the same media realized that other players in the past have had a more memorable or unique or revolutionary game (among them surely Laver , Connors , Borg and Mac).

Point 2)
Covering statistics (maybe not in possession at that time .... ) we realized that Pete was No. 1 for so many years ... but with numbers that sometimes were not number one .
This is due to the fact that in the second-level events ( no- slam ) did not make good things .
And this has a significant weight in the final judgment .
 

KG1965

Legend
Points 3 ) and 4 ) there are no discussions.
For me (and for all) was the best player I've played at Wimbledon and the US Open for many years (after arrived Federer who has done great things but perhaps not better ... same great things ) , while others have made great achievents at Wimbledon ( Borg for example but not to the USO ) or the USO ( Connors for example but not equal in W ) .

So in the two tournaments universally relevant and historical nobody did better than Pete .
 

KG1965

Legend
The Point 5 ) is uninteresting because the 14 slam of Pete are a huge accomplishment , very significant ... not a true record because before 1968 it was impossible that Laver , Rosewall , Pancho and Kramer could do it , and after not interested because if no one was interested Borg, he would not withdraw to 11 , and why Connors would not always skipped Melbourne and many years the RG .
 
  • Like
Reactions: pc1

pc1

G.O.A.T.
Eventually every number one player, if they are number one for a while and has decent accomplishments is talked about as the GOAT. I think Federer was spoken of as the possible GOAT while he only had 3 or 4 majors.

In the Open Era alone, Laver, Connors, Borg, McEnroe, Sampras, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have been called the GOAT. I am surprised I never read Lendl being called the GOAT but I guess that was because Lendl wasn't that popular among the media.
 
  • Like
Reactions: PDJ

KG1965

Legend
My opinion of Sampras ... is twice .

If we takes the peak , that are the two most important tournaments ... Sampras is in Mt. Rushmore with Federer , Laver and Tilden .

Unless we count the peak , but the entire career , Sampras is behind Federer, Laver , Tilden and others who have won more or who most revolutionized tennis.

In defined I think ... Pete is in the 10 all time , IMHO .
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: pc1
Too much hype based on too simple a formula: total number of slams.

(Mary Carillo and Patrick M. Did a really good job of pushing this notion.)
It is very simplistic. So is Serena Williams the greatest player EVER overall now, men and women combined? If you apply that logic of "number of slams" or "number of majors", one could make that argument. Of course it is highly flawed. The topic is inherently very subjective, by both "objective" and subjective measures.
 
  • Like
Reactions: pc1

pc1

G.O.A.T.
Too much hype based on too simple a formula: total number of slams.

(Mary Carillo and Patrick M. Did a really good job of pushing this notion.)
It is very simplistic. So is Serena Williams the greatest player EVER overall now, men and women combined? If you apply that logic of "number of slams" or "number of majors", one could make that argument. Of course it is highly flawed. The topic is inherently very subjective, by both "objective" and subjective measures.
To even get some sort an inkling about who the greatest is there are so many factors to take into account, just one of them is majors won.
 

Phoenix1983

G.O.A.T.
It's strange because there wasn't logical consistency in what commentators said.

First, they said that Sampras was the GOAT because he'd won the most slams.

However, shouldn't that mean he was overtaking the previous record holder, Roy Emerson, to become GOAT? Well, no - nobody ever claimed (even at that point) that Emerson was GOAT. Instead, Sampras was seen as somehow being nebulously "above" Laver and Borg, primarily.

Now, I am a huge Sampras fan, and I think he deserves a place in the top 5, and probably top 3, all-time. But he was never the GOAT. He never surpassed Laver.
 

KG1965

Legend
Maximum respect for the posters but the problem posed by Djokovic2011 is not Sampras is the GOAT ? Or a GOAT Contender , but :
Why was Sampras Considered the GOAT after Wimbledon 2000 ? .. And now, Pete is considered less ?
Because he lost the shirs-star ?

IMHO, because ...
- we realized that Emerson's record was a non - record
- he was greatest to W & USO, but not in Level 2 tournaments
- he dominated six years of tennis but not really excellent numbers.

The question is ( dropping Federer , Nadal and Djokovic who came after ) , because no one considers Sampras GOAT until 2000 ?
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
It's strange because there wasn't logical consistency in what commentators said.

First, they said that Sampras was the GOAT because he'd won the most slams.

However, shouldn't that mean he was overtaking the previous record holder, Roy Emerson, to become GOAT? Well, no - nobody ever claimed (even at that point) that Emerson was GOAT. Instead, Sampras was seen as somehow being nebulously "above" Laver and Borg, primarily.

Now, I am a huge Sampras fan, and I think he deserves a place in the top 5, and probably top 3, all-time. But he was never the GOAT. He never surpassed Laver.
What made Sampras' major title count so astonishing was that he broke the all time record, accomplished on the amateur circuit, in the open era. The only one to come close to that record before Sampras was Borg.
 

wangs78

Hall of Fame
In the modern period (1970s onward), I would say Fed is unequivocally the GOAT. At the moment, not only does he have the most impressive resume, but he arguably is the most loved champion ever who has increased tennis' fan base significantly during his career. None of his challengers (based on stats) such as Nadal, Djokovic or Sampras come close in this aspect. So while Fed is the modern GOAT in my book, Laver would be the honorary GOAT as he was the greatest during an era that is just too different from the modern era to be comparable.
 

KG1965

Legend
I wanted to make a further consideration that could help in reasoning .
In 1985 many media / newspapers expressed this concept : McEnroe is the best ever?
Having played a fantastic tennis in 84 and having dethroned the legendary Borg no one could think that Mac could beat "Emerson record" , but most argued that
playing too well he was the best alltime( what is now called GOAT ) .

Mac in 2015 hardly falls within 7/8 all time , even I can not add it in the 10 (neither true that in the meantime arrived Sampras & Fedalovic ) .

But he seems to have tarnished his star
 

Phoenix1983

G.O.A.T.
I wanted to make a further consideration that could help in reasoning .
In 1985 many media / newspapers expressed this concept : McEnroe is the best ever?
Having played a fantastic tennis in 84 and having dethroned the legendary Borg no one could think that Mac could beat "Emerson record" , but most argued that
playing too well he was the best alltime( what is now called GOAT ) .

Mac in 2015 hardly falls within 7/8 all time , even I can not add it in the 10 (neither true that in the meantime arrived Sampras & Fedalovic ) .

But he seems to have tarnished his star
Well, the GOAT debate is now more based on stats than it was previously.

I think that McEnroe would still probably be ranked in the top 3 all time (and by many, No 1) if we're talking about "best at peak".
 

KG1965

Legend
Well, the GOAT debate is now more based on stats than it was previously.

I think that McEnroe would still probably be ranked in the top 3 all time (and by many, No 1) if we're talking about "best at peak".
Think even I , like you , Phoenix .

I do not know whether it is better to attribute the GOAT , the GOAT candidates or the all time ranking based on statistics or to collect the peak years as a Mac .

However it is clear that come out different rankings .
 

RafaelHurts

New User
Most arguments over who is the GOAT insist that someone so deemed have been great on all major tennis surfaces -- grass, clay and paved.

I think that to be the GOAT a player has to show he could be great with wood rackets or with graphite rackets but with both. Otherwise, he's just a racket-technology specialist.

Under this rule, I would say that Pete Sampras is the greatest player of all time and always will be. He won the Boys 18 National championships with using a wood racket, and later in his career won all sorts of major tournaments using graphite rackets.

Today's players, in contrast, have never proven they would be any good with wood rackets.
 

TupeloDanger

Professional
The pre-open wood racquet era has nothing whatsoever in common with the accomplishments of the open-era wood racquet days. This is because the number of people competing for the major titles seriously went from dozens to millions. Using Slam totals to measure anyone from this era is silly, since nobody from that era really cared about building up a resume that way. Most good players skipped the Australian entirely.

Those days, in turn, have nothing whatsoever to do with the post-wooden (i.e., "graphite") racquet, pre-2002 era. This is because the additional power enabled by technology allowed a certain skillset (power serving and S&V) to absolutely dominate the faster courts, while a completely different skillset (baseline consistency) completely dominated slow courts. Since two of four majors were typically pretty fast (Wimbledon and the U.S. Open), one was slow (the French), and one couldn't decide what it wanted to be (Aussie), fast court specialists had an advantage if they could stay near the top of the game, as Pete did. It was also an era when nobody much cared about the total number of career Slams anyone had (until Pete). Slow court specialists routinely skipped or tanked Wimbledon entirely, and fast courters often did the same at the French. Yannick Noah skipped Wimbledon almost every year because he didn't like grass or England.

And those days, then, have nothing whatsoever to do with the post-2002 era of homogenized surfaces and technologically-mandatory power baselining. With all four slams playing by and large the same, it's an era when counting Slams against EACH OTHER makes perfect sense. When one style of play works best at every one of the game's biggest tournaments, the guy who wins them has an obvious and unassailable claim as top banana within the era. But those same factors mean that being slightly better than the rest of the field all but guarantees dominance in terms of Slam trophies in a way it never could before 2002. Thus, it makes no sense to compare Federer's slam totals to Sampras's, while it does make a kind of sense to compare them to Djokovic's and Nadal's.

I'll let the historians debate who the GOAT of the pre-open era is. Pancho Gonzalez has a claim, I guess.
Laver and Borg probably have the strongest claims to GOAT in the open, wood-racquet era.
Sampras probably has the best claim to GOAT of the graphite, pre-2002 era.
And Federer has it for post-2002, though he's got a couple guys in pursuit.

Comparing those various greatests of their times (GOTT's, I guess) to one another, or any other players from cross-era, is just wankery. The levels of competition, and kinds of competition, and things any one player could possibly hope to achieve vary too greatly from era to era.

But that's why I'd probably call those three or four guys the top of any sane GOAT list that tries to cross boundaries. Djokovic's extra slam vs Borg is less than meaningless. He's not chasing Borg, who for all intents and purposes played an entirely different sport, with different goals. He's chasing Federer and Nadal only. And only the guy who comes out on top can reasonably be considered a peer to Sampras, Laver, and Borg.
 
Last edited:

TupeloDanger

Professional
Under this rule, I would say that Pete Sampras is the greatest player of all time and always will be. He won the Boys 18 National championships with using a wood racket, and later in his career won all sorts of major tournaments using graphite rackets.
I have no idea where people come up with this stuff.

 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
Think even I , like you , Phoenix .

I do not know whether it is better to attribute the GOAT , the GOAT candidates or the all time ranking based on statistics or to collect the peak years as a Mac .

However it is clear that come out different rankings .
In my view, the most useful role of statistics is that they are an indication of how high a peak is/was and how long it lasted.
 

Noveson

Hall of Fame
People have short memories. Commentators were pretty quick in suggesting Nadal was potential GOAT and now Djokovic is the flavor of the week. Granted both of these guys deserve to be in the discussion of top 5 players of all time, but I don't think they are THE GOAT.

Sampras had a decent argument with 14 Slams in the modern era (most) and his GS final record of 14-4. The guy was a CLOSER. I will say though that he lost 2 of his last 3 Slam finals, so had he pushed for 3-4 years his record likely would have deteriorated, as Fed's has in recent years.
How was saying Nadal was a potential GOAT due to short memory? He clearly was. He had a great record against the actual GOAT, and at some point it looked like he could pass 17 slams. Not predicting his quick downfall doesn't mean you have a short memory.
 

KG1965

Legend
How was saying Nadal was a potential GOAT due to short memory? He clearly was. He had a great record against the actual GOAT, and at some point it looked like he could pass 17 slams. Not predicting his quick downfall doesn't mean you have a short memory.
What you claim is true .
There was a relatively short period as Nadal was talk in terms of GOAT because it was much better than Federer and was about to reach its records .

Then injured.
 
L

Laurie

Guest
You're not fooling anyone. That's a pic of Sampras beating Agassi in the 90' USO.
Hi Limphitter. I have no idea where that photo came from but in 1990 Sampras wore Sergio Tacchini so this photo is not from the US Open. Also Sampras looks about 16 in that photo to me. I have also seen videos of him on youtube using a Donnay graphite racquet in 1988. This is an interesting photo to find out when and where it was actually taken.
 
L

Laurie

Guest
Not sure Sampras really has a credible argument for being the greatest of all time, but he's top 5 for me.
I agree. Sampras is my favourite player and had the most shots, which Federer followed up quickly and very well. However, due to the fact that the media come up with a new greatest every six months, I don't take the greatest tag seriously at all. I think a top five and top 10 is more appropriate.

I think the same in other sports. In football, you have Pele, Maradona, Charlton, Puskas, Di Stefano, Platini, Cruyff, recently Messi and the Portugese Ronaldo. How the hell do you determine who is the one above everyone else in that group of names?

Also cricket, who's the greatest batsmen? Some may point to guys with the most runs as in the modern game players play more matches than ever. But then people and ex players watching cricket for a long time will point to Viv Richards who could destroy an attack in a way no other player could but he has no where near the amount of test runs of players post 2000.
 

xFedal

Legend
Too much hype based on too simple a formula: total number of slams.

(Mary Carillo and Patrick M. Did a really good job of pushing this notion.)
But Pete had most YEC. Most Weeks at No.1 ... Most YE#1.... Most Slams so he Pete had all the stats the back him up....
 
N

nowhereman

Guest
I distinctly remember there being a lot of talk at the time among various tennis commentators and broadcasters that Sampras was arguably the greatest ever after surpassing Emerson's record that year but tbh looking back I'm not too sure why. The other day I was having a discussion with another poster in the General Pro Player forum about Laver's career and how much a player would need to win in order to be considered greater than him and he replied "probably around 20 Slams". If this is the case then why did so many people believe Pete was the GOAT when he "only" had 13 Slams and hadn't even won all 4? Was it simply because he'd just won the sport's holy grail for a seventh time or did the American sports media get more than a little carried away? I certainly recall Laver's name being mentioned a lot back then but if 19/20 majors is the benchmark to be regarded as the greatest ever, it does seem rather strange that Sampras was thought to be above him despite having so fewer major titles.

Thoughts please.
As usual, it was probably just media hype. Pete had broken the slam record, and slams are the biggest tournaments, after all. So seeing him do this was seen as a GOAT-worthy achievement, just like with Federer when he broke the record himself. Whoever has this record is usually hailed as the greatest, as proven by people hyping up Djokovic to win 18. 18 is the benchmark because that's the current record, which is why people will think Djokovic will be GOAT if he breaks the record.

Another part of it I think is because Laver's achievements extend beyond slams. As a pro, he was banned from playing the slams, so he "only" won 11, which was still behind Emerson's 12. Most people only see and/or care about this number since, as I said before, it's the most important stat. People don't take into account the fact that the tour was strucutured much differently back in Laver's day and the fact that he had many important achievements and records out side of slams, those achievements which IMO, are the things that make him much greater than Sampras.

But at the end of the day, all is this is just subjective. That poster you talked to was just stating his/her opinion, just like the rest of us in all of these GOAT arguments. Just because he/she thinks 20 is the benchmark, doesn't actually mean it's true. Otherwise, why do people consider Federer or even Nadal to be the GOAT? Because everyone values different things and has their own subjective tastes.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
Hi Limphitter. I have no idea where that photo came from but in 1990 Sampras wore Sergio Tacchini so this photo is not from the US Open. Also Sampras looks about 16 in that photo to me. I have also seen videos of him on youtube using a Donnay graphite racquet in 1988. This is an interesting photo to find out when and where it was actually taken.
Laurie, I was being facetious.
 

Gary Duane

G.O.A.T.
I distinctly remember there being a lot of talk at the time among various tennis commentators and broadcasters that Sampras was arguably the greatest ever after surpassing Emerson's record that year but tbh looking back I'm not too sure why. The other day I was having a discussion with another poster in the General Pro Player forum about Laver's career and how much a player would need to win in order to be considered greater than him and he replied "probably around 20 Slams". If this is the case then why did so many people believe Pete was the GOAT when he "only" had 13 Slams and hadn't even won all 4? Was it simply because he'd just won the sport's holy grail for a seventh time or did the American sports media get more than a little carried away? I certainly recall Laver's name being mentioned a lot back then but if 19/20 majors is the benchmark to be regarded as the greatest ever, it does seem rather strange that Sampras was thought to be above him despite having so fewer major titles.

Thoughts please.
Amazing hype, similar to what is happening now with Novak. Recency bias...
 

Noleberic123

G.O.A.T.
1. Laver
2. Federer
3. Gonzalez *I go back and forth between him and Federer
4. Sampras
5. Tilden/Djokovic/Nadal/Borg/Rosewall

Can't pick between the guys at 5.
No wonder you rarely get involved in Djokovic vs Federer GOAT discussions :D
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
No wonder you rarely get involved in Djokovic vs Federer GOAT discussions :D
I'm not so fussed on GOAT discussions, mostly just fair evaluation of achievements and opponents. But yeah I don't think Federer is the GOAT - Nadal stopped him, and Djokovic too the last couple of years.
 

wangs78

Hall of Fame
How was saying Nadal was a potential GOAT due to short memory? He clearly was. He had a great record against the actual GOAT, and at some point it looked like he could pass 17 slams. Not predicting his quick downfall doesn't mean you have a short memory.
Not sure I follow your query. Yes, Nadal was dominant for several years and ppl started to question Fed's "GOATness" despite Fed still having quite the lead in the title count. People tend to remember the last year or two and make snap judgments (everyone from posters on this board to TV commentators do this). Last year, when Fed was having that inspired run through Wimbledon and the USO, while Nadal was nowhere to be found, people once again felt reaffirmed in believing that Fed was the GOAT. To state the obvious, the debate is an ever-evolving one, and will only settle down when all of the players in question are retired. And by then, you could have another young gun on track to tear up some records and will receive laudatory commentary from all over.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
I'm not so fussed on GOAT discussions, mostly just fair evaluation of achievements and opponents. But yeah I don't think Federer is the GOAT - Nadal stopped him, and Djokovic too the last couple of years.
I agree with you that fair evaluations of achievements and opponents are super important.
 
Top