Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - Deep Tennis: Changing of the Guard
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Deep Tennis: Changing of the Guard 04/19/2007 - 10:08 AM

Sampras_2Here's my latest Deep Tennis Q & A column from over at No Mas. Click over there if you're also interested in a piece about how Roland Garros got its name, which my friend Dave wrote. I’ve always thought it was funny that the place, and the tournament, is a real person's first and last names. It would be like the U.S. Open being played at "Steve Tignor." Cool idea, huh? Anyway, here's my post, about a relatively unsung classic match.

“Steve, what’s the most important match that no one knows about?”

Well, tennis fans do know about this match, but it’s always been somewhat overlooked because it happened in a Grand Slam quarterfinal, rather than a final. The 1990 U.S. Open five-setter between Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl was a changing of the guard in the purest sense: on that afternoon, the era of one champion ended and another’s began. The two players were the best of the 80s and 90s, respectively, but their reigns didn’t overlap. Sampras’ rise was born from the demise of Lendl, right in front of our eyes in Louis Armstrong Stadium.

I only vaguely remember how the points went, but I know I’ve never been as shocked by a result. Even Guillermo Cañas beating Roger Federer twice in two weeks seemed more reasonable than Lendl losing a fifth set at the U.S. Open to this kid Sampras. For one thing, Lendl hadn’t lost before the final at the Open since 1981; his eight straight finals in Flushing is one of the sport’s most remarkable achievements. By 1990, he was the terminator of New York—it was his house. Second, that day Lendl lost the first two sets to Sampras, then came back to win the next two. Not only did Lendl never lose before the final of the Open, he couldn’t possibly lose a fifth set to a teenager after coming back from two sets down (Of course he had lost in five to 17-year-old Michael Chang the year before in Paris, but that seemed like a freak occurrence, an act of God never to be granted again.)

A third reason for my disbelief was that a college-tennis teammate of mine had competed against Sampras in high school in Southern California. Sampras played, briefly, for a rival school of his in Palos Verdes. Apparently there was a reward for anyone on my friend’s team who could peg the golden boy with a ball—the idea of beating him was too far-fetched, I guess. My friend knew Sampras was good (and resented him for it), but the idea that this local guy, who had never been a No. 1 U.S. junior or any kind of sure-shot pro, was going to be the person to end Lendl’s streak? Well, that was just ridiculous.

But we sat in a dorm room and watched it happen. My main memory is that, at the time, Sampras’ serve was simply shocking. It’s hard to remember after watching it for so many years just what an advance—in technique, in power, in accuracy, in smoothness—the Sampras serve represented. The serves he hit at the Open that year were unlike any I’d seen before. He started with the loosest, most easygoing motion you could imagine, and then the ball just exploded right into the corner of the service box. Lendl was nowhere near any of them; these weren’t just aces, they were blatant aces.

(Aside: After Sampras won the Open, I tried to have our tennis coach teach me how he generated so much power with so little effort. It came from how he laid his wrist back in the middle of his swing, our coach said. I tried it, and I got a lot more power on the ball, but I couldn't keep it anywhere near the service box.)

In Vince Spadea’s memoir from last year, he describes being in the front row at this match.

Pete was going for his shots with the fearlessness of a bear in the wild. He was 19 and throwing serves at Lendl like he was flinging rocks from a slingshot, not caring where they landed. In the fifth set, his serve started to click again, and he went up two breaks and finished off Lendl with two aces.

That was the other thing. Most big upsets in tennis happen at the wire, with the anxious, hyperventilating underdog holding off his nerves just long enough to edge out the favorite. Not Sampras. Like Spadea says, here was a 19-year-old nobody going up against Ivan Lendl, and not only did he win the fifth set, he won it going away—6-2—and fired two aces as an exclamation point. It was obvious: This was something new in tennis.

The big story of the 1990 Open until that day had been the comeback run of John McEnroe. U.S. fans were praying to see him reach the final so he could face the upstart Andre Agassi, who was trying for his first major title. But Sampras quickly and brutally dashed those hopes (as he would the hopes of so many opponents for years to come). He beat Johnny Mac with relative ease in the semifinals and blew a neon-clad Agassi off the court in the first of their three Open finals (all won by Pete). In the course of four days, Sampras had dethroned Lendl, stolen away the glorious final act of McEnroe’s career, and passed Agassi in the race to be the game’s Next Big Thing. As the skinny Palos Verdes kid hoisted the trophy—the friggin’ U.S. Open trophy—my friend and I stood in front of the TV (we were somehow too shocked to take this sitting down) and shook our heads in silence. Our looks were easy to translate: “WTF!

That was it for Lendl. The efficient and often dull excellence that he’d maintained through the 80s would be repeated by Sampras in the 90s. The American would reach eight U.S. Open finals of his own (winning five) and eventually break Lendl’s seemingly unbreakable record for most weeks spent at No. 1, with 270. Watching him do the impossible in the 1990 Open quarters, we should have known what was coming. Pete Sampras had ice in his veins right from the start.


 
49
Comments
 

Posted by steve 04/19/2007 at 10:11 AM

typepad did something weird to the last version of this post, so i had to delete it, along with people's comments. sorry.

it's a lot more readable now, and that pictre of smapras brings back memories of shock.

monte carlo post tomorrow i think

Posted by Brian 04/19/2007 at 02:49 PM

It's hard to read that great article and not think of the symmetry of Lendl-Sampras 1990 and Sampras-Safin in 2000. While I was watching the dis-mantling of Sampras in 2000, I kept thinking back to the Lendl match in 1990. I assumed it was a portend of things to come for Safin - again, a changing of the guard. Sorry to say it hasn't worked out as well for Marat - but the symmetry was there.

Posted by misael 04/19/2007 at 05:00 PM

But Lendl beat Sampras in their next meeting, and also won The Aussie Open in 91.

Posted by steve 04/19/2007 at 05:07 PM

yeah, lendl won one more slam, so that wasn't IT for him, but he had been shown the door of his house, so to speak.

and sampras didn't win another slam until 1993, so his dominance didn't begin that day. but this was still a turning point match for both guys.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 04/19/2007 at 05:18 PM

This is really a great series, Steve. It illustrates the risk, and fun, of predicting results at the highest level.

Posted by PrincePro 04/19/2007 at 06:16 PM

I remember that USO when a friend of mine told me he just signed this kid to a Ray-Ban contract.(replacing Lendl) I told him Agassi should have been his choice. Wrong!

Posted by JAG 04/19/2007 at 06:27 PM

Great piece, steve. Thanks!

Posted by Paul 04/19/2007 at 06:35 PM

I think the symmetry between that match and the fourth round match between Sampras and Federer at Wimbledon in 2001 is even better to make than Sampras and Safin. Sampras got 7 titles in eight years, the grass of Wimbledon was his home until Federer came. Just like Lendl, Sampras won another slam (US 2002) after that defeat, but the reign of his house was over. His dominance was taken over by Federer, although it took two years for Federer to win a slam.

Posted by Sanja 04/19/2007 at 07:19 PM

I love these write ups also.

I was watching American Idol one day and my Dad walked into the room - looked at Sanjaya and said "Deadringer for Pete Sampras" - which I thought was weird but then I thought you know - he's right. That old picture really accentuates it.

Posted by ndk 04/19/2007 at 09:19 PM

Interesting that Pete was in a sense "dethroned" by Safin (at least temporarily)exactly 10 years later at the 2000 USO and again at the 2001 USO by Hewitt...

Posted by ndk 04/19/2007 at 09:57 PM

forgot to add- 2001 Fed Wimbly win is a great comparison

Posted by jerry otw 04/19/2007 at 10:52 PM

How 'bout this for a parallel:

"[Harvest] put me squarely in the center of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore, so I headed for the ditch." (maybe not exact quote)

Is Marat Safin the Neil Young of the tennis world?

vamos Marat!

Posted by jerry otw 04/19/2007 at 10:52 PM

(sorry; that was just a joke)

Posted by steve 04/19/2007 at 10:53 PM

wow, paul, that's pretty scarily symmetrical with fed/sampras. it's funny when sports works that way. i guess you could go back 10 years to borg/mcenroe at the open in 1980 to see the same thing

Posted by Sam 04/19/2007 at 11:22 PM

Steve: Great piece. At the time, I didn't see much of the Sampras-Lendl match, but was amazed by his demolitions of Mac and Agassi.

Paul: You're right on about the Fed/Sampras symmetry.

Posted by David 04/20/2007 at 09:35 AM

Actually Lendl never won another slam after Pistol Pete shot him down in the quarters of the '90 Open. He finished runner-up at the '91 Aussie (losing to Becker) and was a factor at slams for the next couple of years, but he didn't have a moment like Pete's '02 U.S.O. win.

Posted by JR 04/20/2007 at 11:25 AM

The Pete-Roger analogy struck a chord with me since I watched their match last night (one of several birthday DVDs). Roger seemed to feel that way too. Although he appeared remarkably calm and comfortable throughout his first Centre Court appearance, after match point he fell to the ground as though he had won the tournament, and at courtside he wiped away a few tears. Roger also outserved Pete in all but the velocity department—he had more aces, fewer doubles and got more returns in play.

Posted by Sam 04/20/2007 at 12:36 PM

JR: I recently picked up that DVD. TMF is the best I've ever seen at just getting the return back into play. He won't hurt you with the return like Agassi, but he can often hit the return in a way such that the point starts neutral. Interesting about his outserving Pete.

Posted by remain anonymous 04/20/2007 at 01:21 PM

JR..
Roger did not outserve Pete or out ace him in 01 Wimbledon. Sampras had 26 aces to Federer's 25 that day. And in 6 yrs since then I've only seen Fed reach 20 on very few occasions. In 5 set marathons with Nadal(Rome), Safin(Aus Open) and Nalbandian(Masters), he never got 2 the 20 ace mark.

As far as Roger's return, it s behind Andre's, although it doesn't haven't 2 be as lethal cuz Roger has a better all around game behind it. But (as this month in Tennis Mag noted) "Roger can float returns back, and take control of the point".

Andre never had that luxury. He could do it vs baseliners such as Courier, Muster, Kuerten etc., but certainly not net rushers like Becker, Sampras and Rafter. Also Agassi was far more aggressive going after the 2nd serve(thus putting pressure on his opp 1st delivery). Just my opinion.

Posted by remain anonymous 04/20/2007 at 01:36 PM

Stev that was a wel written piece.
HAIL THE KING!!!!! Sampras was THE nicest.... ever!!!!

I can remeber parts of that match(as I was young when it happened). Didn't Pete have a sore toe/foot going into the 5th, and many thought the mentally "soft" Sampras would wilt.

Sampras was coming of age, and Lendl was entering the twighlight of his. At 30 most players(excl. Connors, Agassi, Rosewall and very few others) are on the downside, but Lendl, he had just lost the #1 spot 2 Edberg 2-3 weeks prior.

But as far as the Pete serve.... amazing. The classic motion was flawless. Like Steve said BLATANT aces. Although he could hit at over 130mph, his placement was the best ever. I mean not just hitting it hard, but hard on the lines. Like a pitcher throwing 95mph. Down the middle U'll eventually get hit, but when U throw 95 on the corener at the knees, it's different story. Add 2 that his variety(Pete could hit aces from 100-130+mph), slices, spins, kickers, flat etc.

And all of this with the most deceptive delivery in history. And if that's not enough, he could do it under pressure time and time again. In tie breaks, break point down, on a 2nd serve. It was demoralizing and Sampras knew he it. I recall him saying it in an interview, how he knew aces crushed his opp mentally.

That one swing, would kill momentum, crush hopes and shatter dreams.

Hail the greatest player 2 ever hoist a racquet.

Posted by Sam 04/20/2007 at 01:48 PM

Regarding Pete's serve, I read a while back that his amazing shoulder flexibility was a key component.

One of the things that impressed me about Sampras was his ability to come up with huge second serves under pressure.

Posted by RedEric 04/20/2007 at 03:44 PM

I remember having the same sort of reaction to Sampras' serve in the '90 USO as I did to Becker's in '85 at Wimbledon. Just sort of, "How is that even possible?".

Posted by Arthur 04/20/2007 at 04:00 PM

Lendl didn't win any more Grand Slam events after the Australian Open in 1990. In 1991 he made it to the AO final but lost to Becker. It was a complete changing of the guards. Also, the fact that Agassi would make it to the final but didn't beat Pete was portentious of their respective dominance throughout the 90s.

Posted by Suresh 04/20/2007 at 04:07 PM

Steve, Nice post.

I have the video of the match between 1990 U.S. Open quarters between Lendl and Pete and yes Pete wqas hitting the lines and at one point one of the commentators seemed to verbalize for the viewers what Lendsl was saying - something like "how many times will Pete hit the lines".

Lendl's serve looked slow by comparison to Pete's. Compared to Lendl, Pete opened up the court a tad better.

I don't think that Pete's serves reached the 130 mph in that match though.

2. As far as Federer's return is concerned, yes he floats and blocks it back when he needs to. Agassi maybe better in 'striking' tha ball, but Federer probably puts more pressure on the server by getting more balls back.


Posted by Suresh 04/20/2007 at 04:15 PM

Roger did better than Sampras in most of the stats in their only meeting.

Of course, Sampras had more aces though and a higher serving percentage, but Federer won a greater percentage of points both on first and second serve.

Federer Sampras
Aces 25 26
Double Faults 6 9
1st Serve Percentage 62%(113/181) 69% (132/189)
1st Serve Points Won 82%(93/113) 76% (101/132)
2nd Serve Points Won 51%(35/68) 45% (26/57)
Break Points Saved 81%(9/11) 78% (11/14)
Service Games Played 29 29

Statistics on Return
1st Return Points Won 23% (31/132) 17% (20/113)
2nd Return Points Won 54% (31/57) 48% (33/68)
Break Points Won 21% (3/14) 18% (2/11)
Return Games Played 29 29

Statistics on Points
Total Service Points Won 70% (128/181) 67% (127/189)
Total Return Points Won 32% (62/189) 29% (53/181)
Total Points Won 51% (190/370) 48% (180/370

Posted by Suresh 04/20/2007 at 04:29 PM

1. Becker hated playing Agassi. While Pete was able to win a high percentage of points on the first serve, Becker won more than 80% points on first serve only once against Agassi!

Of course stats for the first 6 matches are not available and this is from what is available on www.atptennis.com.

2. Rafter too suffers similarly like Becker, in their 15 matches only once did Rafter win more than 80% on first serve and .

Pete on the other hand in 34 matches against Agassi won more than 80% points on first serve a whopping 17 times, even winning 100% points on first serve once in '96 on carpet in Germany. (Again stats for their first four matches are not available).

Agassi did better against the other big servers as the first serve made a difference, Pete's first serve always posed problems to Agassi.

Posted by steve 04/20/2007 at 04:34 PM

suresh, i remember after the match everyone was blown away by the fact that sampras was reaching 125 mph.

Posted by Suresh 04/20/2007 at 05:37 PM

Steve, yes, you are correct.

Pete raised the bar definitely in that match. I am not sure he reached the 130 mph though.

Lendl unless pressed by a volleyer generally preferred to blast the ball from the baseline and I thought he tried to play percentage tennis in that he kept away from the lines. He generally avoided taking the initiative to work the angles.

Sampras exhibited that aspect of the game too - even on his groundies, he hit close to the lines, and he had Lendl flummoxed, of course not to mention his serve which made the Lendl serve look innocuous.

Posted by Suresh 04/20/2007 at 05:58 PM

oops..this got cut.

I remember that people were talking about the Sampras allcourt game and how he brought all aspects of the game together. In that match Sampras was taking the initiative and Lendl was more like 'reacting' - Sampras seemed to be dictating play.

As far as the match not getting the attention it deserves, I don't know why..is it because of the fact that Lendl himself had less of an aura to him ? Or maybe because as you said it was the quarters and not the finals.

Or perhaps because Sampras went about his on court exploits without indulging in histrionics.

At the same time, I think tennis fans are aware of it and Sampras' fluidity won him compliments from different quarters.
He seemed to generate power playing in a languid style which was to be the hallmark of his career.

If the Lendl-Sampras match is compared to say McEnroe dethroning Borg at Wimbledon, then the latter obviously had more drama than the former only because of the character , flavor, histrionics etc. that the protagonists lent to the match.

Posted by remain anonymous 04/20/2007 at 10:39 PM

Ah suresh let me clear a few things up. Sampras did not hit 130mph in his 1990 US Open QF vs Lendl, I was referring 2 his serve in general.

In that 4th set tie break vs Federer, Sampras hit a serve 136mph, and in his last match vs Agassi he was up to 133mph. So if Sampras was serving 120mph in 1990 and from 1997 onwards could get into the low-mid 130's... that shows evolution of the game.

Hhhhhmmm Federer (3/14) on break pts, and Sampras (2/11).
Now this was Sampras who....
-won ZERO titles that yr(1st time since '89)
-went 2 Wim w/o a title(1st time since '89)
-started the yr #3 and finshed #13
-was taken two 5 sets by Barry Cowan 2 rds earlier
-didn't qualify 4 Yr End Masters (1st time since '89)

Now Federer had 2 breaks one (if I'm not mistaken when Sampras missed an overhead), and in the last game of the match when Sampras missed 2 volleys that he(93-00) out away in his sleep.

Also in Sampras' 7 Wim finals totalling 26 sets he only allowed 22 bk chances. Yet he gave up 14 Roger in only 5 sets. Is Roger that much better of a returner than Agassi, Courier and Rafter??? No.

But in Roger's 04 Wim win over Roddick he gave up 14 bk chances, while Sampras @ 30 got 11 in 5 sets.

Also from 93-00 @ Wim Sampras was only pushed to 5 sets 4 times. Agassi(when he was the def. champ), Goran twice(w/ 38 and 32 aces respectively) and Korda(who never broke Pete's serve during their match). And in 01 he went to 5 sets twice in 3 rds?!?
Not the same Pete.

Posted by M Patel 04/22/2007 at 01:07 AM

To remain anonymous (the author of the previous post): of course,Sampras in 2001 was on the decline. So was Lendl in 1990. That is natural when there is a changing of the guard-that is precisely the reason why a changing of guard occurs. There is no need to quote elaborate statistics to prove this.
As far who is a better returner, Agassi or Federer - players have far less aces against Federer than Agassi because Federer reaches so many more serve with his racket than Agassi, who could be aced by big servers. I bet if Federer had played more matches with Pete, we would have seen how much better he handled Pete's serves compared to Agassi. Federer can read serves like no body else and discern patterns in service motion. I bet he would have had success against Sampras as well, though of course no one has the variety Sampras had on his serve.

Posted by remain anonymous 04/22/2007 at 05:01 PM

mpatel I agree Sampras '01 and Lendl '90 were both on the decline, but Sampras was further gone than Lendl. As U can see in previous posts how bad Sampras was.

In 1990 Lendl won in Aus Open and was a SF @ Wim(losing 2 champ Edberg). He was #3 in Flushing, after losing the #1 spot 2 Edberg 2-3 weeks prior, all of this and he didn't even play in French Open. In 91 he was in F of Aus Open(beating #1 Edberg in SF) and SF in Flushing(losing in SF 2 on fire Edberg). Sampras was losing 2 the likes of George Bastl and not getting out 1st week of slams. I concur Lendle was not in his mid 80's peak form but far better than Sampras '01(outside for his run in New York).

Now as far Agassi/Federer, I believe Dre has the better return. If U just stick them at the baseline and say return serves Agassi is better. Federer has better all around game, more weapons in his arsenal which allows him 2 do more damge after he gets the ball back. Cuz Andre is not as rounded or skilled in Federer in that dept. he has 2 more with the "return" which he does. I mean Nadal isn't a monster server, and in 06 French F, and again in Monte Carlo 2day Fed ghad lots of trouble returning Rafa's serve on theslow red dirt, where I don't think peak Andre would've struggled nearly as much.

Now I've read many things regarding Federer handling Sampras serve, but with no evidence. It's not just limiting aces, but breakiing serve. And I feel Sampras with his serve, and everything coming in behind it, he's extremely difficult 2 break, and I don't see Roger having more success than anyone(namely strong returners like Agassi, Courier and Rafter) Pete faced.

Many praised Roger Federer 4 limiting Philippoussis to 14 aces in 03 Wimbledon F. But consider this......

Federer 03 Wim vs Rafter 98 US Open F (Both vs P'sis)
*Roger played a 48th rk P'sis

Federer.... aced 14 times in 3 sets(4.67 a set)
Rafter.. aced 5 times in 4 sets(1.25 a set)

Federer.... broke P'sis 2 times in 3 sets(0.67 a set)
Rafter... broke P'sis 6 times in 4 sets(1.50 a set)

Federer.... amassed 5 break chances in 3 sets(1.67 a set)
Rafter....amassed 20 break chances in 4 sets(5.00 a set)

Federer.... 22% ret. 1st serves
Rafter... 35% ret. 1st serves

Federer.... 56% ret. 2nd serves
Rafter....64% ret. 2nd serves

As U can see in every major category return category Rafter was significantly better. Now since I've heard "look how Roger handled P'sis so he could deal with Pete." But Rafter dealt with P'sis BETTER than Roger, so let's see Rafter vs Pete....

97 Davis Cup Sampras 6-7,6-1,6-1,6-4
Pete served 14 aces, and didn't surrender a bk pt, 2nd set didn't lose a pt on serve

97 Grand Slam Cup F Sampras 6-2,6-4,7-5
Pete held @ love 1st 6 games, lost 3 pts on serve in 1st 2 sets, and was never broken

97 Yr End Champ RR Sampras 6-4,6-1
Pete never faced a bk pt

98 Cininnati F Rafter 1-6,7-6,6-4
Pete served 20 aces and was broken only once

99 Cininnati F Sampras 7-6,6-3
Pete served 12 aces and was broken only once, surrendering 2 bk pts

00 Wimbledon F Sampras 6-7,7-6,6-4,6-2
Pete served 27 aces, never broken, surrendered only 2 bk chances, held @ love 9 or 10 times(this despite 12 double faults), and did this on one leg!!!

01 Indian Wells SF Sampras 4-6,7-6,6-4
Pete broken only once, and gave up just 2 bk chamces

01 US Open 4th Sampras 6-3,6-2,6-7,6-4
Sampras served 20 aces, never broken, and gave up just 2 bk chances


As U can see in the majority of their matches during Rafter's peak(97-01) he had myriads of problems with the Sampras serve. And he had a flat out better return day than Roger vs P'sis, and Rafter played a better version.


"I think I'm more confused now" -Rafter when asked if he had better idea of how 2 deal with the Sampras serve after 97 Grand Slam Cup F, seeing that he had no success a week earlier in Davis Cup

"Nah mate. We could've played 'til midnight and I don't think I'd have had anymore success returning his serve" -Rafter after 2000 Wimbledon final, when asked if the oncoming darkness(due 2 rain delays) was the result of his inability 2 return Pete's serve


I know Federer has dealt with Roddick's serve more comfortably than others, but outside of speed on the 1st deliery Sampras' is better everywhere. And in 02 US Open QF, Sampras limited A-Rod to 8 aces, and broke him 4 times in that 98 min demolition.

And although in the 94 Wim F, Goran aced Sampras 16 times in 1st set, Sampras broke 3 times during match, while Roger(on what many deemed as great return day) broke P'sis twice. And Sampras amassed 5 or 6 bk chances in the opening set vs Goran(more than Roger had "that day" vs P'sis), and 11 on the day.

And just 2 touch on the Federer vs Agassi -return wise. If U compare Federer (01 Wim vs Sampras) and Agassi(93 Wim vs Sampras). Agassi was broke more and surrendered less aces.

So It's difficult 4 me 2 see where/how Roger would pose significantly more problems returning Pete's serve than others. Just my opinion.

Posted by M Patel 04/22/2007 at 10:55 PM

Anonymous, regarding your first example, Fed played P'poussis on grass and Rafter played him on hard courts. It is more easy to serve aces on grass than hard courts.
But anyways, the most unique thing about Tennis is the idea of head to head. There is a mathematical principle called 'Transitivity of inequalities'. According to this, for any 3 numbers a,b and c, if a>b and b>c then always, a>c. This principle does not apply to Tennis at all. For instance, Federer beats Blake and Blake beats Nadal but this does not mean Federer beats Nadal. Because, Tennis is all about match-ups. One players weapons may be totally neutralized by one opponent but might be effective against another. All theoretical arguements may not hold up in reality. But in general, with the new racket technology of today, when most players get sufficient pop on their returns, it is more likely that Sampras's serve would have been returned more often than in the 90s. Again, since more players have bigger serves now than in the 90s, constant exposure to these big serves means that the returns in general are superior to the ones in the 90s. Sampras would have been a totally different animal if he had to play tennis in this decade rather than the last and (in my opinion) less successful but more complete as a player.

Posted by Todd Scott 04/22/2007 at 11:19 PM

Great article.

Posted by haole1 04/22/2007 at 11:27 PM

yep

Posted by remain anonymous 04/23/2007 at 12:33 AM

M Patel there certain things I don't understand.....

U say "'Transitivity of inequalities'. According to this, for any 3 numbers a,b and c, if a>b and b>c then always, a>c. This principle does not apply to Tennis at all."

Which I agree with. But then U say....

" I bet if Federer had played more matches with Pete, we would have seen how much better he handled Pete's serves compared to Agassi. Federer can read serves like no body else and discern patterns in service motion. I bet he would have had success against Sampras as well, though of course no one has the variety Sampras had on his serve."

Which is somewhat using science same "Transitive Property". Federer can read other serves, therefore he can do it wit Sampras. That's a contradiction 2 me.

Many including urself have said Roger has been able 2 do this this player, so he can do it 2 Sampras. Maybe not U, in those exact terms, but U say....

"As far who is a better returner, Agassi or Federer - players have far less aces against Federer than Agassi because Federer reaches so many more serve with his racket than Agassi, who could be aced by big servers. I bet if Federer had played more matches with Pete, we would have seen how much better he handled Pete's serves compared to Agassi."

Which again uses the same premise I gave regarding Federer/Rafter vs P'sis.

As far as racquet technolgy, I don't buy into that 2 much and here's why:

Sampras' last match was in 2002, not 2 long ago. He also handled Roddick easily in an ex, when ARod went 2 US Open F, and had match pts on Fed in '06 Masters. Now yes players 2day cn get more pop on their returns 2day. But Sampras 2day would not be using a powerless Wilson Pro Staff, thus giving more on his serve,

Also former player Justin Gimelstob, who practises 3 times a week with Pete(so he says) in an articled marveled at the things Sampras could do, in terms of spin and tourqing balls, with the modern say frames and strings.

Also players have bigger servers 2day but that's just evolution. In 1990 Pete was toppin out in the low 120's on his serve, but from 97 onwards and into his last match he was in the 130's. That's like saying Borg would struugle cuz his retrn could not handle the power of 2day. 70's Borg ..yes. But if Borg(with the same natural ability) was raised in this era, he'd be able 2 handle the serves just fine.

And I don't see how Sampras would be totally different animal if he played 2day. If he was born in 81(ten yrs later) and Pete Fischer got a hold him at a young age he's still be rushing the net. He did it as jr and got his brains beat out and didn't change.

Also Pete less successful 2day U say. How???
-With Nadal, Roddick, Hewitt, Grandpa Bjorkman and Grosjean beating him @ Wim???? No Becker, Goran, Agassi, Rafter
-No Bruguera, Courier, Kafelnikov, Musters on clay. Likely just a one match showdown with Nadal on clay
-Or would Blake, Davydenko, Roddick, 30 yr old Henman, broke back 35 yr old Agassi beat him in Flushing???
-Kiefer, Baghdatis, Gonzalez, Robredo, Davydenko instead of Courier, Becker and Agassi down under???

Oh Pete would kill these guys 2day.


And "more complete" u also say...
Mac said he had the best "serve and volley combo in history", Wilander said "he never saw anyone with such a big serve who could volley so well, that possessed the groundstrokes Pete had" and Edberg said "I've seen many great player, but I've never seen anyone who'd mastered all the shot's as perfectly as Pete".


Imagine someone who had.....
-The best serve in history
-A forehand that could go up against the best ever(running forehand best ever by a considerable margin)
-Backhand that's very adeuquate
-Volley that's top 5 or 6 in open era(behind Mac, Edberg, Rafter and Cash), half volley may be best ever, or at least open era w/ Mac, best overhead, great anicipation
-A great athlete, deceptively quick
-A lethal forehand return, and backhand that can be chipped/sliced deep and come in behind or blocked low

L believe all these attributes belong 2 Peter the Great!!!

Posted by NiloyM 04/23/2007 at 06:51 AM

Remain anonymous - after all that Federer is a better player

Posted by jojo 04/23/2007 at 11:18 AM

The frustrating thing about rooting for someone who was plaaying Pete, was the fact tht his serve was pedictable. It was well-disguised, but he ALWAYS went down the middle on his second serve when he was down break point......and nobody ever cheated that way. It was amazing how consistent he was at hitting the ball with spin just inside the line on his second serve, but you had to take that serve away from him to have a chance. it seemed like nobody realized that until Marat Safin in the 2000 open, and then Leighton Hewitt the next year.

Posted by jojo 04/23/2007 at 11:22 AM

The frustrating thing about rooting for someone who was plaaying Pete, was the fact tht his serve was pedictable. It was well-disguised, but he ALWAYS went down the middle on his second serve when he was down break point......and nobody ever cheated that way. It was amazing how consistent he was at hitting the ball with spin just inside the line on his second serve, but you had to take that serve away from him to have a chance. it seemed like nobody realized that until Marat Safin in the 2000 open, and then Leighton Hewitt the next year.

Posted by Suresh 04/23/2007 at 11:50 AM

Ahh Mr. no name -

1. "Sampras did not hit 130mph in his 1990 US Open QF vs Lendl, I was referring 2 his serve in general."

That is fine. My point was also to show how the game evolved and I was referring strictly to the Lendl-Pete 1990 match.

The evolution of the game is the reason why many players adapt - Agassi switched racquet in the mid 90's if I remember correctly to add more pop to his game.

2. If you want to discuss the match between pete and Federer, I have the compete video of the match. Yes, Pete missed those sitters, but before that (I have to check exactly when) Federer himself missed a few sitters.

Also, I remember how Sampras switched and served to Federer's forehand as he was returning well on his backhand. The commentator also mentioned this..again I have to check exactly when this happened.

3. Sampras did not play badly, yes he could have played better, but so too Federer. Sampras by his own admission played a 'decent' match, and his poor record coming into the Wimbledon match is not a true reflection of his standard of play in this particular match.

4. Your quote "Also from 93-00 @ Wim Sampras was only pushed to 5 sets 4 times. Agassi(when he was the def. champ), Goran twice(w/ 38 and 32 aces respectively) and Korda(who never broke Pete's serve during their match). And in 01 he went to 5 sets twice in 3 rds?!?
Not the same Pete"

You are cherry picking matches to suit stats.

On the other consider this - in his first four Wimbledon wins, Pete dropped 14 sets. And Federer dropped 5 sets. Now if the sets that Pete dropped against players like Becker, Agassi are excluded, Pete still dropped 'more' sets than Federer did in his first four Wimbledon wins.

Posted by Suresh 04/23/2007 at 12:25 PM

One more thing. If Gimelstob marvels at Pete's game, it is justified and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

There is a difference between 'marvelling' at a player's game and 'comparing'.

Also, often times, saying Federer is better also does not mean that Sampras is being disrespected.

1. Players who have played both Pete and Federer in their prime like Agassi, Henman, Bjorkmann etc. say that Federer is better as he has a more complete game than Sampras .

a) On checking stats - and more specifically of matches between Agassi-Pete and Agassi-Federer, Sampras' reliance on his serve is reflected.

b) Also, it is worth noting Agassi's success against players like Krajicek, Ferreira and Stich for example while Pete struggled against them .

Question - why did Pete struggle against them and Agassi did not? Surely the data(number of matches) is large enough to say that this is not an aberration.

a) Once in the rally, chances are Agassi would win against Stich, Ferreira etc. Against Pete, Agassi could not get into one often enough.

Check out the percentage of points won on 'first serve' - Pete had more success on 'first serve' against Agassi than players like Becker, Stich, Ferreira etc had against Agassi.

Pete's first serve was slightly better than the other players mentioned.

b) On the other hand, why did Pete struggle against the above mentioned players?

When both Pete and 'his opponent' faced big serves, the return was not their strong point, and Pete's superior serve made little difference as he himself was at the receiving end of a big serve.

c) Almost similar playing styles - in that the idea was to end points quickly and produce shots/volleys etc.


2. Now, I understand it is a matchup issue, and Federer has his matchup issues against someone like Nadal, Nalbandian, or Canaas.

But Sampras does not bring to the table aspects of the game that a Nadal or Canaas would bring.

As I see it, the Sampras serve was something that would pose problems to Federer and of course his volleying style.
Federer himself could take recourse to serve and volley tennis if need be.


3. Another glaring thing -

I don't mean to take Sampras' serve away or for that matter denigrate his achievements but consider the following -

a) Is it any coincidence that Agassi beat Pete at French Open and Aus Open 3 times but lost in Wimbledon and U.S. Open 6 times?

What Agassi said after the U.S. Open when asked to compare Pete and Federer's game is very well complemented by the following -

Agassi's performance against Pete on slower surfaces AND.
Stats which show percentage points won by Pete on first serve and second serve.

b) Agreed, Agassi was an aggresive returner on second serve. But obviously the serve/surface did make a difference.

c) Sampras' resume - one semi final appearance at F.O. and 2 wins at A.O. I would ask why?
-------------------------------------------------------------

Finally, lest it be assumed that I am disrespecting Sampras or his game - definitely not.

Yes, every top player would probably have his weak point - I am only referring to open era players and that too post Laver.

Posted by remain anonymous 04/23/2007 at 01:22 PM

Ah suresh.... got a q-tip..good. Now Listen clearly.

I don't either Sampras or Federer played their best match that day. But if U look 2 rds earlier Sampras was pushed to 5 sets by Barry Cowan. Cowan is nothing more than a 1.5hr workout 4 peak Sampras.

Now as 4 Federer he hit 25 aces that day, how often has he reached the 20 mark since, not a lot, very few. Federer's bakhad was steadier "that day" than it has been numerous times b/w 05-07, 've posted the #'s and U know they are bad. And he attacked the net and volleyed "that day" as well as he ever has. More so than U pointed ou vs Roddick. The only time he's ben that effective at net was 06 Rome F.

As fore cherry picking.
Pete @ Wimbledon
93-00... 4 five setters in 54 matches(2 the players I mentioned)
01-02... 3 five setter in 5 match span
Now what does that tell U suresh????
..oh... my apologies U won't answer i 4got!!

And as far as ur # of set losses
Wim QF-SF-F
Sampras vs..... Agassi, Becker, Courier, MArtin, Rafter, Ivanisevic, Henman, P'sis
Federer vs.... Roddick, Hewitt, Grosjean, Schalken, 48th rk P'sis, Gonzalez, Bjorkman, Ancic
Enough said!!!

Don't make me Wim crown 4 crown, trust me it's not a good look 4 Roger!!!

Posted by remain anonymous 04/23/2007 at 01:44 PM

Now suresh I'll run through the rest of ur other post.

Henman, Bjorkman and Agassi said Roger. And Agassi had 2 chances(CNN & AP) and DID NOT say Roger agin.

Yet Haas, Guga, Moya, Kafelnikov, Enqvist and Ferrero all say Sampras.
Guga said Sampras was "much better".
Kafelnikov "couldn't imagine anyone being better than Pete. Not even Roger"
Wilander was the same as Kafelnikov.
Laver said Pete was the greatest ever in 94(if I'm not mistaken)and reitterated the same thing in 2000. Citing Billie Jean King 2 say "If aver says that Pete's the best, then Pete's the best".

U say "When both Pete and 'his opponent' faced big serves, the return was not their strong point, and Pete's superior serve made little difference as he himself was at the receiving end of a big serve."

Oh really....
12-7 vs Becker, 12-6 vs Goran, 7-3 vs P'sis, 9-1 vs Rusedski, 18-4 vs Todd Martin
And Pete vs Becker, Goran, P'sis, Rusedski, Martin and ur 2 favorites Stich & Krajicek in slams.... 22-5
Oh the problems!!!

U say "Check out the percentage of points won on 'first serve' - Pete had more success on 'first serve' against Agassi than players like Becker, Stich, Ferreira etc had against Agassi."

Yeah but take Courier, Muster and even Kafelnikov. And look how both Sampras & Dre fared there. And U accuse me of cherry picking quotes. Ur cherry picking players.
I see U haven't changed... haha!!!

U again....
"3. Another glaring thing -

I don't mean to take Sampras' serve away or for that matter denigrate his achievements but consider the following -

a) Is it any coincidence that Agassi beat Pete at French Open and Aus Open 3 times but lost in Wimbledon and U.S. Open 6 times?"

Hhhmmm Agassi was better claycourter than Sampras period. On Rebound Ace, the 1st time his coach attracted cancer, and in 00 he tore his hip flexor in the 1st, and was out 4 a month after. but I injuries only effect Federer when he sprains his ankle, the wins all 3 RR matches at Masters, double bagels Gaudio(the only one in his life), but then loses 2 Nalbandian. It was the ankle...rriiigggghhttt!!!!!!!


And.....
"What Agassi said after the U.S. Open when asked to compare Pete and Federer's game is very well complemented by the following -

Agassi's performance against Pete on slower surfaces AND.
Stats which show percentage points won by Pete on first serve and second serve."

Agassi said "there's a place U can go with Pete, and if U can get there U can play the match on ur terms. There is no such place vs Roger"

That place he was refferring 2 was high and away on the backhand side. Well 35 yr old broke back Andre drew 4 win 25 unf from Federer. Care 2 post what he did 10 yrs earlier, #1 in the world, great physical condition vs Pete in 95 final???? Didn't think so.

Just 4 fun another classi from U "Sampras didn't employ the down and away backhand, he preffered the safer 'loopy' top spin backhand"

Haha!!!! Read what Steve Flink said about how often, damaging and effective that shot(down the line bh) was in that 95 F. Flink said "it was an avenue he would explore time and time again during that match"

And we know Courier had a lethal inside out forehand, but his forehand on the run was suspect. Meaning a righty with a down the line bh, could expose him. Agassi who possessed one of the best 2 handed backhands ever, was 5-7 vs JC. Sampras and his "loopy" backhand 16-4.

Posted by Ready2go 04/23/2007 at 02:14 PM

I think an earlier change in the guard occurred between Borg and McEnroe too. What I remember--although the exact facts need confirmation: Their great historic Wimbledon match won by Borg was his fifth, but McEnroe later beat Borg at the Open and then again at the next Wimbledon and not long after Borg retired. Borg never did win the U.S. Open--Johny Mc's turf.

Posted by remain anonymous 04/23/2007 at 02:29 PM

Now Kapernikus...er...uh.. I mean Shanka...er ..Suresh, notice how I man up and answer/respond 2 all ur posts. Let's see if U can do the same. 4-1 odds U won't but I'll humor myself.

*NOTE: Rest of posters please 4give the copy/paste.

Suresh here we go. Brace urself!!!!!


I. FEDERER'S RETURN

From Tennis Magazine this month...
"Have you noticed how often top players chip their returns to get the ball back into play? Few pros serve and volley now, which means they can safely float their returns back and work to gain control of the point. That’s what makes Roger Federer’s return so lethal against huge servers like Andy Roddick. You should do the same when returning serve. I see too many rec players trying to nail hard returns down the line. Give yourself more margin for error by hitting most of your returns crosscourt. This also gives you more time to get back to the center of the court."

Hhhmmmm how effective would this be vs a net rusher like Sampras???

II. COMPETTION LEVEL
U say....
"Anonymous - your argument about Sampras facing better competition is subjective."

Let's take a look shall we....
Ljubicic, I. ........27yrs old, 6 titles, 279-186, no masters, 1 slam SF,(pro '98)
Roddick, A. .......24yrs old, 21 titles, 355-112, 4 masters, 1 slam, 3 slam F, (pro '00)
Davydenko, N. ..25yrs old, 10 titles, 201-157, 1 masters, 1 slam SF, (pro '99)
Nalbandian, D. ..24yrs old, 5 titles, 212-103,masters cup, 1 slam F, 2 slam SF,(pro '00)
Blake, J. .......... 27yrs old, 8 titles, 187-124, 0 masters, 2 slam QF, (pro '99)
Robredo, T. ......24yrs old, 4 titles, 241-150, 1 masters, 2 slam QF, (pro '98)
Gonzalez, F. ....26yrs old, 7 titles, 230-127, 0 masters, 3 slam QF,(pro '99)
Baghdatis, M. ...21yrs old, 1 title , 50-33, 0 masters, 1 slam F & SF, (pro '03)

Grosjean, S.....28yrs old, 3 titles, 308-204, 1 masters, slam 4SF, 5QF(pro '96)
Kiefer, N.........29yrs old, 6 titles, 310-226, 0 masters (pro '95)
Stepanek, R....28yrs old, 1 title, 151-113, 0 masters (pro '96)
Ferrer, D........ 24yrs old, 2 titles, 141-117, 0 masters (pro '00)
Gaudio, G.......28yrs old, 8 titles, 263-173, 0 masters, 1 slam title (pro '96)

Now outside of Nadal these guys heve been pro 4 a combined over 100yrs and have won a combined 82 titles.

Now look who thes players have lost 2 in slams the last 2-3 yrs.

Roddick..... J. Johannson, Mueller, Baghdatis(rk 54 hhmm..), A. Martin, Murray-on grass(rk 44 but A-Rod is 2nd best on grass 2day), Acasuso, Mutis
Blake....... Sheuttler, Koubek, Monfils, Wawrinka, Grosjean, Mirnyi, Robredo, Hernych
Nalbandian.......... Young Baghdatis(rk 54 again huh??), Sheuttler, Hanescu, Gaudio, Coutlet, Verdasco,T. Johannsson, Youzny, Schrichaphan
Ljubicic....... young Baghdatis(twice rk 54 and 155 oh my!), Kuerten(04 passed his prime ahem), Kutsenko, Koubek, Puerta, Novak, Vicente, Ondruska and more like Tursunov, Lee, Myrni
Davydenko....... Patience, Puerta, Falla, Bjorkman, Verkerk, Childs, Schrichphan, Beck
Ancic.......... Ferrer, Lopez, Nadal(03 Wim a great grasscourter??), Djokovich, Rochus
Stepanek......... Canas, Benneteau, Grosjean, Votlchkov, Bjorkman(06 Wim at age 34!!!), Murray(rk 312 what?!?), Kiefer..... (Hingis must be oh so proud!!)
Robredo.......... Baghdatis('05 rk 155 Wow!!), Gaudio, Djokovic, Verasco(twice), Beck, Youhzny(won THREE games DAMN!!)


Look at the top top 10 the last 12-18 months.....
Ljubicic... 30 slam appearances 26 times gone out in 1st 2 rds!!!!!!
Blake.... 20 slam appearances and 15 times gone out in in 1st 3 rds!!!!
Robredo.....25 slam appearances and 13 times gone out in 1st 2 rds!!!!!!
Davydenko.....24 slam appearances and 17 losses in 1st 2 rds!!!!!
Gonzalez, Nalbandian are not much better.

Federer is NOT the reason for this!!!!!!! Baghdatis after 06 Aus Open F did nothing. Yet he was top 8 in US Open, and top 10 for most of the yr. Was that due to Federer as well.

Since Federer became #1 in Feb 04 these players have habited the top 10...
Nadal, Safin, Roddick and Hewitt.
Then Blake, Davydenko, Nalbandian, Gaudio, Robredo, Niemenen, Ancic, Kiefer, Gonzalez, Stepanek, Ferrer, Grosjean(a perennial Wim SFist 03-06). These are not great players at all, and they pail in comparison of those in the 90's and 80's.


And now Sampras competition...........

Up to '96
Becker .... 2 slams(3 slam F), 6 masters, 2 Yr Ends,(2 Yr End F)
Courier .... 4 slams(3 slam F), 5 masters,(2 Yr End F)
Muster ......1 slam, 8 masters, 44 careeer titles, 2 claycourt streaks
Stich ......... 1 slam(2 slam F), 2 masters, 1 Yr End
Bruguera .... 2 slams(1 slam F), 2 masters


97 onwards
Rafter .... 2 slams(2 slam F), 2 masters
Kuerten ..... 3 slams, 5 masters, 1 Yr End
Kafelnikov ..2 slams(1 slam F), (1 Yr End F)
Moya ......1 slam(1 slam F), (1 Yr End F)

Both eras
Agassi ...... 8 slams(7 slam F), 17 masters, 1 Yr End(4 Yr End F)
Ivanisevic .... 1 slam(3 slam F), 2 masters

We can throw in
Edberg ...... 2 slams(2 slam F), 3 masters, (1 Yr End F)


And let's not 4get
Chang ...... (2 slam F), 7 masters
Enqvist ...... (1 slam F), 3 masters
Rios ........ (1 slam F), 5 masters
Krajicek .... 1 slam, 2 masters
Medvedev ...(1 slam F), 3 masters

*NOTE: Just 4 fun. U say....
""Anonymous - your argument about Sampras facing better competition is subjective. When Sampras was playing, people held the same view about the competition faced by Sampras as opposed to that faced by McEnroe, and hence it was their reasoning why Sampras dominated his era."

So when they say the 80's is better than 90's(which I've said is conceivable), U use it . But the 90's being better than 2day, now it becomes subjective. Hhhmmm why?? That's right cuz Federer plays 2day.


III. SAMPRAS vs. FEDERER (TO DATE)

At the exact same point in their careers Sampras 9 slams, Federer 10.

But Agassi had 3, Becker 2, Edberg 2-3, Courier 4, Bruguera 2, Kafelnikov, Krajicek, Stich and Muster all with one.

2day Safin 2(1 came b/w Pete's 13th and 14th), Hewitt 2(both b/w Pete's 13th and 14th), Nadal 2 and Roddick 1. Who else Ferrero(who's MIA), Gaudio???

Explain this. Sampras put up gaudy #'s in a better era. But of course the #'s don't support that do they??? Maybe in ur world, but facts are facts.

IV. FRENCH OPEN- PETE AND ROGER

Now French...Pete(born '71), and Roger(born '81)

Sampras 92 vs Federer 02
Pete... lost QF 2 Agassi(who played, and was favoured in previous 2 French Finals).
Federer... 1st Arazi

Sampras 93 vs Federer 03
Pete... lost QF 2 Bruguera(who won 2 titles and 19 straight @ RG), Roger... went down in 1st rd 2 Horna...who???

Sampras 94 vs Federer 04
Pete... lost in QF 2 Courier(who played in 3 previous French F, winning 2).
TMF... lost Bo Jackson hipped, past his prime immobile Kuerten.

Samrpas 95 vs Federer 05
Sampras... lost in 1st rd in 5 sets, over 2days.
Fed... lost 2 Nadal in SF, beating who along the way??? Exactly.

Sampras 96 vs Federer 06
Pete... lost in SF 2 Kafelnikov (who won title that yr) beatin Martin, Bruguera and Coourier.
Fed... lost in F beating who 2 get there???

Someone said Sampras lost in 1st 2 rds of French 7 of 13 times he played. But.....
Federer has in 8 French appearances 3 losses in 1st rd, an one in 3rd.

Sampras has beaten Agassi, Muster, Kafelnikov, Courier and Bruguera all French champs on clay. And Roger has beaten who??? Coria, Gaudio. Federer gets the nod on clay IMO, but let's not blow it out of proprtion now. U wanted the results there they are.


V. PETE/ROGER vs. ANDRE

As suresh himself noted, why did 35 yr old Dre have such success "negating" Federer's superb "rounded game" while the 25 yr old peak version had much less success vs Pete's "simple" game.
No response...why????

Suresh I'm anxiously waiting. 4-1 odds B, prove me wrong!!!!
There's more but I don't know if U'll acknowledge these like a man.


Posted by Ready2go--Part II 04/23/2007 at 02:45 PM

More on the McEnroe/Borg change-over:

McEnroe won the '79 Open, then went to Wimbledon and lost to Borg (his fifth and last Wimbledon) in that historic match. But at the '80 Open, McEnroe beat Borg, then beat him again at the next '81 Wimbledon, and again at the next Open in '81. McEnroe lost to Connors in the '82 Wimbledon, but won in '83 and '84. McEnroe won the Open again in '84. After '80 Open, Borg was done at Wimbledon and never did win an Open.

Posted by remain anonymous 04/23/2007 at 03:03 PM

Oh Shanka... sorry...Suresh

U said "All great posts/views. Nick's was great and very well put too."


Well Nick said on 4-23-2007 1:03 PM

"The truth is though, he's gotten a lot of help from his contemporaries (the 24 year old & up crowd) being a cut below what their rankings say they are. Roger's current Top Ten contemporaries are Roddick, Robredo, Gonzalez, Haas, Blake & Ljubicic. In this group I count 1 Grand Slam Trophy (Roddick USO). Of the rest, only 1 one other has even been to a Grand Slam Final (Gonzalez AO this year, at age 26). None of the others have been close. When know that a requirement to stay at the top in tennis is about mentally mastering the big occasions. So if we laud Fedrerer for mentally mastering as many big occasions as he has (and we should), I offer that it's because so many of his age group on the tour have been unable to do the same. He's much the best of that mediocre group."

This from Steve Tignor's "Rafa Wins Round One"

Any thoughts???


Posted by JohnofAustria 04/23/2007 at 05:10 PM

Great column - only recently discovered it - I did not see the Sampras/Lendl quarterfinal of 1990 because I wasn't paying attention to it. My focus that year was on every McEnroe match as he made a beautiful run to the semis. I was never a McEnroe fan but knew he was getting late in his career so I wanted to see him make one more run. I was shocked to hear Pete won over Lendl, but figured it was one of those flukes. Then, two days later, I sat down to enjoy McEnroe continue his run and, instead, I watched this kid grab Mac by the throat and cooly never let go. I thought it was a very crafty McEnroe I was watching as he tried one thing after another to dislodge Pete's hold on the match. As McEnroe said afterward "I threw everything at him and he stayed as cool as a cucumber". When I turned off the TV that day I had the same thought about what I had just seen and I KNEW Sampras would beat Agassi the next day. Since that time I have always regretted not paying attention to the Sampras/Lendl match, because I agree it was the "changing of the guard".

Posted by remain anonymous 04/26/2007 at 02:59 PM

suresh 4-1 odds, and I was right!!!!!!!


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