Would Sampras and the 90's players have actually made it as a pro in this era

Seth

Legend
I never got to see Pete play live, which is a major gap in my almost 50 year tennis journey. But I remember his first USO very well, along with a few matches before pretty much everything after that. I watched him grow up in front of the world, go through good times and some very tough ones too. For me, he stands at the pinnacle of tennis with only one or two others.

BUT .. the sport of tennis is currently in the toilet. The beautiful game that Sampras possessed has been neutered by slow courts and poly strings (cheatalon, as he called it). Wimbledon is now won by people who simply have no net game, an insult to Borg who worked so hard to do well there and Lendl who spent years trying to gain the skills players don't even need any more.

I don't partake in the whole "if xxxxxx was born in the 90s they'd play like .." because it's actually not a pleasant though to imagine Pistol Pete growing up to be a grinder who can't volley. That's not a champion like Sampras, that's a poly era vulture collecting trophies with only a subset of the skills of those who won them before possessed. Sampras was sublime at a sport that no longer exists.
Hall of Fame post.
 

Enga

Hall of Fame
To call it a "new level" is presumptuous. We will never know, because they are different eras, different times, the players cannot face each other. All we can do is watch the past through recordings and make assumptions. It's very obvious the game is different now.

My opinion is that the players from previous eras were very skilled. Possibly as skilled or more skilled than today's players. Especially in the 80's and 90's, there were some very well balanced players compared to now. More shot variety, more tactical options, and more viable court positioning.
 

Max G.

Legend
The key skills of tennis haven't changed. Flexibility, speed, hand-eye coordination, footwork, timing. Sampras learning tennis 20 years later would still have his fundamental talent, he'd probably have somewhat different strokes and I'm sure he'd still be extremely good.
 

thrust

Hall of Fame
So most informed people understand that the game has been taken to another level in the past 15 or so years. Obviously some years like 06 and 2010 were weak years, but the standard of the lower ranked players was a lot tougher. To me, 90's tennis is similar to the poker boom of 2003; A great opportunity to make a living playing, due to the weak players who were ranked lower than #15. Then all of a sudden, the field got stronger and everyone else simply caught on how to play tennis.

I think Sampras would have probably been able to become a pro in the mid 00's onwards, holding a solid ranking of around #25-40, which is pretty impressive, and I think Agassi could have sneaked a slam final if he had some easy draws. But what about everyone else, do you simply think the rest of the 90's legends would struggle to win challengers and make a living in today's game?
[/QUOT
TOTAL NONSENSE!
 

dnguyen

Hall of Fame
Pretty sure if Pete was currently playing in this era, then RF, Nadal, And Djoker won’t get get multiple grand slam titles.
 

mental midget

Hall of Fame
Only if you transported him from his time to this time. If he grew up learning on today's hard courts, he'd play as well as any of the other ATGs.

He'd probably win fewer slams than 14, but he'd still no doubt be an ATG.
no doubt. sampras was incredibly talented, explosive speed and power, great hands...his athletic talent would put him top 3-5 in any era in my opinion. his 90's game even on today's courts would be plenty good enough to make him highly-ranked and a threat at wimby, uso for sure. watch his 1990 match (at 19 years old) v agassi if you haven't seen it, just ridiculous.
 

ibbi

Legend
The field is deeper than ever because the game has been made easier (comparatively) than ever to play. In the old days when you actually needed to do a lot of work to accomplish anything with the racquet in your hand of course there was less depth.

Guys back then would have it so easy transitioning to the now considering all the help they get. The only ones who might struggle are the out and out serve and volley guys who would get passed for fun on the higher bouncing surfaces and with the new racquet tech.

The guys today might be generally bigger, stronger and fitter than ever before, but that's about the only advantage I see them having over the major players of days gone by. You put them out there with the old racquets, strings and courts, and half of them probably wouldn't be good enough to make a living in this sport.

As for Agassi, are you kidding? If that guy with a game antithetical to the style of the 90s accomplished as much as he did then, and if he had the late career success into the 21st century when his body started to fail him that he did, if he came into the game now he'd probably be more successful than ever!
 

flanker2000fr

Hall of Fame
I'm convinced this post was made to sir up controversy. These are talented people and anyone would have done well in any other era because they would have learned to work with the conditions as they matured.
That. They would have adjusted their games to the new racquets and strings technology, probably playing with more spin overall and coming less often to the net, and benefited from the current training method and medical advances. But given their ball striking abilities, athleticism, champions' mentality, the likes of Sampras and Agassi would easlily have made it in the top 5, and be multiple slams winners. Not saying Sampras would have ended with 14 or Agassi with 8, but they would have won several of them. Same too goes for 80's top players, by the way. They would have adjusted to the playing conditions, and at the highest level tennis is a mental game.
 

blablavla

G.O.A.T.
Yeah cuz we all know Sampras adapted to that clay like a champ........
perhaps there are reasons why?
how many folks were able to win Wimbledon in the 90s from baseline?
how many folks were able to win RG

perhaps there are reasons why there were surface specialists?

without poly, with heavier and flexier frames, on faster grass and HC you might be better off with attacking the net.
on clay, you need to win from baseline.

today one can win everything from baseline.
hmm, why Sampras couldn't adjust to clay like a champ?
 

GabeT

G.O.A.T.
Trolling aside does anyone think that the mental and psychological commitment (in terms of training etc...) has increased over time and so would represent a hurdle Sampras did not have to deal with?
 

Antónis

Professional
Sampras or any other great from the 90's or any past eras would still be great today, but they would also have to adapt their games for today conditions
If we stay with Sampras alone, he probably would stick with his former double hander (Agassi himself told it was better than his forehand...), but he would also benefit from current tech evolution, specialty these new strings, but also new rackets (he would probably play with something bigger than his beloved PS St. Vincent, I'd say in the 90 - 95 range) and medical and conditioning evolution.

Being has talented and has mentally strong, and such a great athlete the way he was, with a bigger and more powerful racquet and strings improving his baseline game (he already had one of the biggest forehands of all time, we can only imagine the player he could be with a good double hander - and I don't mean a top DHB like Nole, just a good level - or at least, a better one hander), and making his serve even better, I cannot see why he would not be at least a top 5 player, and multiple grand slam winner, even on today's slower conditions

He would probably be more of an all court player, s & v'ing on 1st. serves at times (much like Fed does, and the way he did on early 90's), dominating the baseline rallys with that big forehand, and finishing lots of points at the net - a more athletic but less wizardly RF
 

Zara

Legend
I never got to see Pete play live, which is a major gap in my almost 50 year tennis journey. But I remember his first USO very well, along with a few matches before pretty much everything after that. I watched him grow up in front of the world, go through good times and some very tough ones too. For me, he stands at the pinnacle of tennis with only one or two others.

BUT .. the sport of tennis is currently in the toilet. The beautiful game that Sampras possessed has been neutered by slow courts and poly strings (cheatalon, as he called it). Wimbledon is now won by people who simply have no net game, an insult to Borg who worked so hard to do well there and Lendl who spent years trying to gain the skills players don't even need any more.

I don't partake in the whole "if xxxxxx was born in the 90s they'd play like .." because it's actually not a pleasant though to imagine Pistol Pete growing up to be a grinder who can't volley. That's not a champion like Sampras, that's a poly era vulture collecting trophies with only a subset of the skills of those who won them before possessed. Sampras was sublime at a sport that no longer exists.
I always regret. Pete was in Atalanta and I was so close but still couldn't go.

Should have really gone to the 2002 USO at all cost. I am left with pure regrets because Pete was all I could think of back in those days.
 

Antónis

Professional
I always regret. Pete was in Atalanta and I was so close but still couldn't go.

Should have really gone to the 2002 USO at all cost. I am left with pure regrets because Pete was all I could think of back in those days.
I saw him live once, in 2000, @ Masters (equivalent to current Nitto ATP Finals) in Lisbon, against Spanish Alex Corretja
Never seen any player with such a quality serve ever, and I've seen a bunch of big servers live (Federer, Raonic, Opelka, to name a few...). Not the fastest. Not the heaviest, but close. But the variety, placement and disguise were absolutely top notch. And probably one of the best looking serve motions ever.
 
Last edited:

Tommy Haas

Hall of Fame
Yes, the standard has got better. Sampras v Djokovic in 90's conditions ends in a W for Djokovic 9/10, the only time Sampras would win is if Djokovic retired.
Pete's biggest weapon, his serve would be totally neutralized by Djoko. Even Isner has a hard time acing Djoko. Though even when Sampras didn't outright ace someone, he'd put the ball away at the net on the next shot, but Djoko is so good at placing his returns. I think it'll depend on grass speed more than racket tech.
 
Top