The BBC board posts don't stay up on the link for long so I'll put them here for future reading.
To that person who talked about the serve as if it was not a tennis shot, you need to read your post again and then excuse yourself
Do you remember the US Open QF b/w Sampras and Agassi in 2001 where Sampras had 3 set points in the first set..0-40 on Andres serve and Agassi saved two with big serves and one when Pete put an easy forehand in the net?
The problem with people like you is that you have selective memory. Andre had 0-40 at the Wimbledon final and was unable to convert. Whether Pete hit three unreturnable 1st serves is irrelevant. After all, how did Andre get to three breakpoints in the 1st place?
He returned the serve well. He was simply unable to do the same on the breakpoints. If Andre was not making good use of his strength which is the early return he would never have gotten to 0-40 in the first place.
So how about we ask Andre to not take the return so early so Pete can get to the net to hit a volley instead of a half volley?! Laughable. Pete should not use one of his strengths: a big serve so that what? Fans like you can see a rally?
The mark of a great player is to make the difficult look easy. Do you know the mental strength and the supreme confidence in ones serving technique you need to have to save three consecutive breakpoints in a Wimbledon final against one of the greatest returtners of all time on a high after completing a career slam?
And you mention that like it's a bad thing Sampras did. I tell ya, there's just no pleasing some people. Really laughable.
The serve is the starting point of any tennis match. Why are baseliners like Agassi and Hewitt having sleepless nights trying to improve their serves? Without the first serve every and any tennis player is no tennis player at all. Agassi needs a big first serve or a well placed first serve to set up his ground strokes.
All of you that moan big servers seem to forget that you can have a big serve but if it's not well placed with the surface/balls/racquets of today, it will fly past you. Ask Philippoussis. It's amazing how Agassi fans seem to speak of Sampras's serve like it was the only thing that stopped Agassi from beating him. That's laughable.
Laver and Emerson being two who are in awe of Pete's game and accomplishment.
---Sande Clarkson, London
Andre has spectacular records against big servers. Ivanisevic, Krajicek, Phillipoussis, Dent, Becker, you name it. Agassi has a good record against them all. Why does he not have such a record against Sampras?
Because even when that serve is returned Sampras has an array of shots to punish Agassi with. I quote Agassi" The thing about big servers is that you can have a great serve and a good hold game or you can have a great serve and a great hold game.
Pete has a great serve and a great hold game" Pete Sampras beat Agassi when necessary because he was not intimidated by the power of Agassi's returns or shots. He knew he had the volleys to nullify the returns and he knew he had the pace on the forehand to move Agassi around and the slice on the backhand to keep the ball low.
The great Sampras just knew how to play Agassi and was simply the better tennis player. I advise Agassi fans or Sampras nay sayers to get over it. It's been done. The proof is in the pudding.
How silly to suggest that you cannot say who the greatest ever is by how much they've won, well, maybe not, but when this person has all the tennis shots, won the most slams, consistently top player for 6 years and retired beating the same man he beat to win his first slam in the same spot he won his first slam.
A tennis purist can't ask for more and those who have a problem with Sampras being called the best player ever due to the lack of a slam on clay need to start following cricket or fishing or some other sport. Why? If you keep watching tennis you WILL keep HEARING that Sampras is the best ever player.
The same way some of you think a lack of the French is his down fall is the same way a majority of tennis players/fans/reporters etc can't get over the fact that a single player in this modern age won 14 slams and stayed number 1 for 6 years. A fantasy surely?
Nope, it happened and the man to do it was the now legendary Sampras. Case closed. I think even having these arguments are an insult to Sampras's legacy. You argue about Sampras with names like Laver, Hoad, Tilden, Emerson, and Borg.
The greatness of Sampras is that he betters all the above I have mentioned and some of them have acknowledged it. Laver and Emerson being two who are in awe of Pete's game and accomplishment. You don't argue about Sampras with Agassi.
Thats a moot point. Sampras left Andre in his wake half a decade ago. Amandeep, I mentioned Borg's boring FO finals not to take away anything from him but simply to make whatever point I was making at the time. I forget what it was now and can't be bothered to read back. I bet if you read it in context you will see that your riposte was unnecessary
---Sande Clarkson, London
First of all, I'm not going into any "depth" debate, I think we had enough of it. There are some good and bad things in tennis. Well you are probably right about one thing Darius when you mention the "excess baggage" in the WTA.
This isn't coming only from me, but I actually heard that one of the commentators in the US Open was saying that it was probably the last chance Capriati could have won (OK first luggage out), Seles for instance was a great player before the incident, thanks for the great time, but something died in her that day (second luggage out), Pierce, two Grand Slams, FO (in front of her public, still not accepted by the french a bit like Rusedzki) and the first real powerplay, hasn't won a tournament since (third luggage out), Davenport wasn't winning against the top anymore and said she wanted to stop , etc.
Sampras actually did the right decision to stop at his glory and not play another Wimbledon; it's actually quite an achievement of Agassi and Navratilova to play at a competitive level today.
If I may start a top ten ranking based purely on fighting spirit (taking into account physical size) it would be: Sanchez-Vicario, Hénin-Hardenne, Seles, Graf, Clijsters, Evert, Hingis, Capriati, Navratilova and Sabatini.
On the men's side I would choose (same criteria): McEnroe, Muster, Agassi, Chang, Sampras, Bruguera, Courier, Hewitt, Lendl, Kafelnikov. To be perfectly clear it's not the best of all times but those who where a joy to watch because they where going for every ball and showing an irresistible urge to win.
One side note: Tedi, please stop using CAPS, no one wants to read through that nonsense. No one can deny that Sampras was the best in his lifetime, but stop with that TOUrette's SYNdrome style of writing.
---Grizzly "Free Silje", Brussels, Belgium
Thought I'd wade in with my two pence even if it's been covered over and over again further down the page. Lyle from Vancouver and Tedi from NYC, you guys would be Sampras fans am I right? Or maybe just anti-Agassi?
Either way you are biased in your view of Sampras just as I am biased towards Agassi as a long-time fan. We could sit here all day and debate the fact that Pete's won 14 slams and Andre's won 'only' 8 or the fact that Pete was year-ending world number 1 for six or seven years in a row whilst Andre held rank as the oldest-ever world number 1.
We could go on about how Pete was superior at the US Open four times and at Wimbledon twice (I wonder what the outcome of that 93' quarter final might have been had Agassi's dodgy wrist held out for a 3-set comeback instead of just the two?) and Andre was superior at the French Open once and the Aussie Open twice.
The two of them (Sampras and Agassi) by themselves have managed many many great achievements FOR themselves, surely they achieved even more TOGETHER for the game of tennis
We could talk about Andre's superior number of Master's titles to Pete's (and everybody else's!) We could say that Pete's won a record number of Wimbledon's and Andre has won all four Grand slams at least once in his career!
And figured in two or more finals at each of these events. We could discuss how both have been through the extremes...Pete battling through vomit and flu one minute, and emotional distress at his coach being terminally ill the next and still go on to win...and Andre digging one almighty hole for himself that bore down to the deep places of the ATP rankings at number 147, before hauling his arse back out (and up!)again to also go on and win.
We could spend the next ka-jillion years debating the subject and all the while we'd be avoiding the simple fact that whilst the two of them by themselves have managed many many great achievements FOR themselves, surely they achieved even more TOGETHER for the game of tennis.
There was a period during 1995 where if there was one, there was the other...whether it was off-court in the world of advertising or on-court at pretty much every single tournament final put before them(except Wimbledon where Boris Becker stopped what surely would have been one hum-dinger of a final!)
We can judge all we want as respective fans of both players but at the end of the day they provided so much more than just titles, records and the ability to stick two fingers up in the face of defeat.
They provided tennis with a spectacle that we may not see again... Right, enuff said...I'll leave it there and hope I made some sense! (The web-site comments box is wickedly small!)
Oh yeah, on another note....who says that the Aussie Open is no good? Not prestigious enough? I'd say that playing in the height of an Australian summer with the temp at 37oc and running around on a hard rebound ace surface for all hours of the day would make it one of the most desired. So what if it's in Melbourne as a pose to London, NYC or Paris. That's just geography!
Hate to do this, but somebody's got to point out the facts. Not unusual but true. Mike Havant is actually right about Grizzly writing (and forgetting within a space of just 3 forum pages) about how interesting the current women's game is, and the lack of depth in the men's.
Case of grave amnesia. Presumably Grizzly's dream of having new blood in the women's game is while this new blood labour to get themselves up to scratch, and with the top American players wished off to retirement, the Belgian duo would dominate the entire season by practically walking over the present old but non-contenders anyway?
What an absolutely terrifying tennis future to contemplate! I enjoy watching all the top players play, but for comparison, if the previous finals were uninspiring, the present ones are simply excruciating.
---Darius L, Singapore
WTA IS interesting. Anybody who says it isn't does not watch the WTA. Some players are out right now so it seems boring. Imagine the ATP with Roddick, Federer, Fererro, Safin out?! It will still be interesting but lack a certain something.
Of course, the ATP has more top level players than the WTA but the WTA is no slouch. It's a diff ball game. I love women's tennis. We have the Williamses, the Belgians, Davenport, Seles, Capriati, Dementieva (who I love to watch), Sharapova(who is very exciting to watch), Myskina, Hantuchova, Zvonereva, Schnyder, Dokic, Petrova, Mauresmo, Rubin and some up and coming exciting players like, Safina, Harkleroad, Danilidou etc.
You've got to watch it to understand. I believe the women should be paid equally because it's about the draw. What you bring in, not about how many sets you play. So, when Agassi is cruising in the 1st round of the Oz open, should he be paid less than Schuettler who may play a 5 setter? No, because people go to watch Agassi.
In that vein, its absolute nonsense to suggest that when the crowds flock in to see the star female players, the money the organisers make from that, should be used to pay the men's higher wage simply because they are playing 5 setters. No way. That's unjust.
Men are men. Women are women. God created us differently. Men are physically stronger and all that childish talk of Navratilova and muscles means nothing. She is still a woman with female hormones, etc. It's not about muscle.
In fact, muscle is a detriment to playing tennis rather than a help. If you see Venus or Serena hitting power shots, it's because of perfect timing. That Serena is muscled means it's just the way she is. That she can move so well carrying all that muscle shows what a supreme athlete she is. Equal pay and both tours are interesting in their own way.
Hewitt is of no interest to me. He belongs in the lower regions of the top 25 and only because of his never say die attitude. On tennis talent/skills he should be ranked lower. So, his recent rant is irrelevant.
I love watching Fererro play and that's the only reason I watched the Rotterdam final. I NEVER watch Hewitt. His game leaves me inconsolable. The most unattractive game on the tour and there's just nothing to it.
---Sande Clarkson, London
In fact I said if Laver had the opportunity to play an all surfaces he would have won on all four surfaces...therefore he would have been the greatest, BUT I suppose it depends on how you judge greatness. The amount you win or how you win, on what surface you win.
Borg never won the Australian or US open (please correct me if I'm wrong,), Wilander, Lendl never won Wimbledon, Becker, Connors, McEnroe, Sampras never won the French. Surely to be seen as the greatest you can't ignore the fact that these guys never mastered (at the highest level) a certain type of playing surface.
Agassi has...that's all I'm saying!! Sampras was a genius with a racket no-one can deny it but not winning the French is a huge hole on his trophy mantlepiece.
Somebody here made a comment criticizing Bjorn Borg for the 'boring' tennis at the French open. Is this guy for real?
If Borg played for 4 hours and ended up winning easily in straight sets, don't hate the player, hate the game. Had he tried to knock off quick points against the likes of Vilas, he would probably have ended up losing.
If anything, the fact that he could consistently come up on top in long, gruelling rallies for that length of time, speaks to the mental toughness of the Swede. The serve and volleyers - Becker, McEnroe, Sampras - were never able to tune their aggressive games down to the tone required to make success on the slow clay likely. Compare that to Borg, who would switch to one touch tennis in a matter of weeks when Wimbledon and the grass court season came around! If anybody can claim the spot of greatest player ever away from Sampras, it is Bjorn Borg, king of the clay and the grass.
---Amandeep Kalsi, Nicaragua
Grizzly - I have read your piece again and the only point to it seems to be the denigrating of the men's game. What were the catalyst to bring up Goran (definitely not boring - the Wimbledon final in 2001 was one of the most entertaining ever) and the Dutchman?
I haven't seen their names mentioned in this forum for a long time. I am glad, however, that you recognised in your latest email that there is a need for a new force to burst onto the ladies scene. I would wager that the vast majority of fans welcome the healthy state of the men's game and would love for the current complete domination of Justine and Kim in the ladies to be challenged. Finally, have a drink on me mate - any offence caused was not intended.
To Lyle from Vancouver - your picky criticism of Andre Agassi doesn't make much sense in the wider scope of things. Agassi has won both Wimbledon and the US Open while Sampras was in the same tournament. It's hardly Agassi's fault if Sampras couldn't make it through the rounds, now, is it?
His achievement in winning titles on at all the grand slams is unmatched in modern times, by Sampras and anyone else. As for the supposed lack of weight the Australian Open carries, you're talking about a bygone era. For the last fifteen years or so, the players have taken it just as seriously as any other major.
If anything, the Australian and the US Open are the two biggest slams - because the surface doesn't give the obvious advantage to any one style of play. The common belief that Wimbledon is the biggest of them all is based purely on historical and emotional reasoning - not scientific or practical ones.
Andre Agassi, though not the player Sampras was, is an all-time great and should be recognized as one.
---Amandeep Kalsi, Nicaragua
Well, this debate on who's the best ever is heating up! If you like a player you tend to see their achievements through rose-tinted glasses. Here's another aspect: how much does the player rely on a huge serve to win matches?
I think its unfair to compare modern players with those of twenty years ago and more. If you hit an unreturnable serve, it is just that, unreturnable. Remember Agassi's three break points in the 1999 Wimbledon final?
Now all I'm saying is that its much harder to win on a fast court if you (for height reasons) don't have a big serve but your game is based around the return - such as Agassi and Connors. Sampras was a great player but a lot of his success was the serve-ditto Ivanisevic and many others. The sheer numbers of titles won is not always the true test of achievement or skill.
A "minor" detail maybe on the Sampras/Agassi topic :
1999 - Agassi was on a high, just won the FO to complete his unique "career slam" (but which was preceded TWICE in terms of winning on ALL modern surfaces though not ALL titles, by Wilander and Connors who each won on ALL surfaces on 3 slams) .
Agassi is #1 coming in to Wimbledon - Sampras "walked on water" in the Finals - no matter what Agassi did or could have been expected to do as a former grass court champion himself-- Agassi's own words on Sampras' performance.
From then on - and this is in the DECLINING years of Sampras - Sampras pretty much had Agassi by the throat through the hardcourt season leading up to the USO where it was clearly Sampras' USO to LOSE.
What happens? Sampras tweaks his back or hip during practice , withdraws, and it's coast is as clear for Andre OR any player with arguably the BEST USO champ since Connors and McEnroe out of contention - four previous times a proven champ and as likely as anything to have added his fifth USO as EARLY as 1999.
Imagine what Sampras might have done (IFS being just IFS) to follow a possible win in 1999 to precede the following PROOFS of ABILITY to reach the finals three ADDITIONAL times until 2002!!
And that's from a PROVEN champ on hardcourts of many years. we might never have seen the two-year low period, loss of confidence, but even IF he would never have won another slam -- that would still have become the 14th and fifth USO -- right there.
Result over-all in slam hauls?
SAME as they stand now -- 14! And likely again at Agassi's EXPENSE! Just like it was in Wimbledon 1999, and the hardcourt season lead up to the USO.
Pattern remains the same.
Sampras trumps Agassi at their best.
---Tedi, New York
Reality - matches are played in physical actuality, and become memories. Records result from those realities. Pictures encapsulate what those records reflected in those realities.
The reality is that the records created by Sampras, beyond and against Agassi stands as the greatest single achievement by a male player in history.
A few pictures symbolize what Sampras was all about -- the GREATEST. (Hope pasting these pics from BBCsportstennis' own galleries is OK, to make the point and to encourage people to remember what 'greatest' looked like where Agassi will never come close to such a demonstration of)
---Tedi, New York
Hopefully, those that would like to support Agassi's claims as being "better" or "greater" than Sampras because Sampras lacks the FO, and whatever else reasons people have thrown in all these many years regarding the topic AGAINST Sampras, don't think that counterarguments are not necessarily aimed at trying to diminish Agassi's position and career which is in fact one of the greatest careers.
The reality is that the records created by Sampras, beyond and against Agassi stands as the greatest single achievement by a male player in history
---Tedi, New York
The problem is that Sampras has created a swath over men's tennis with such supremacy , breadth, consistent excellence and has done that while undergoing AND passing through so many tests that AGASSI , among others, can not be conceived to have survived unscathed -- much less to even come to just half of what Sampras actually accomplished.
Putting the shoe in the other foot - WHAT would Agassi REALLY have done HAD Sampras not been around to stop him for SIX of the slams they met in? ANY of those - FOUR USO meetings, 2 Wimbledons were conceivably well within Agassi's grasp HAD SAMPRAS not been better! And we would be talking about Andre Agassi with 14 slams today.
BUT WHY DID AGASSI have NONE of those? And WHY did Agassi manage to sustain mere WEEKS as number one compared to Sampras' YEARS - while the opponents that surrounded them both were the SAME tough players they each had to protect their positions from?
There is no question - NOT the Lavers nor the Borgs, nor the McEnroes, NOT the Agassis, Kuertens, Safins, Hewitts and Federers have either accomplished OR shown the promise.
No matter how powerful or "hot" they have been, especially the young ones today - to create a career AGAINST such tough, varied, and consistently difficult fields that Sampras RULED OVER for years and years!
NO ONE could possibly suggest that Rod Laver would SURVIVE the field Sampras played and STILL win 11 grand slams, or even to win ONE TRUE grand slam!
NOR might Borg have survived SIX years of FO opponents of the likes that HIS era never had the kind of breadth or "modern" fitness levels (muster was an example as well as Lendl) that was already WELL IN PLACE by the time Sampras reached the FO quarters.
NO ONE can possibly suggest that EVEN the so-called "future of tennis" players today - with their huge racquets, their SLOWED DOWN surfaces (even including Wimbledon SINCE 2000) their imposing physiques, etc, etc, etc, - would DARE to WISH upon themselves the kind of distresses that were the challenges TO SAMPRAS against which HE accomplished what he accomplished!
GIVE us ONE player from all of history that could have possibly COMBINED both the athletic artistry that Sampras displayed WHILE at the same time showing the kind of fierce competitiveness and consistency he showed through his courageous accomplishments
Against a backdrop of such difficult opponents that could easily have done as much damage to players of any era as other era players would do to THEM.
And ALL ABOVE THAT -- SAMPRAS achieved the greatest singles career of any man in the history of tennis.
MERE PARTS of his career are the equivalent of the MEAT and POTATOS of any other player who would easily be called "one of the greatest".
IN SAMPRAS was combined the most nearly perfect player ever seen and he saw to it that within HIS own limitations, which were STILL in good standing against the BEST "specialties" of many others.
Especially clay courters and baseliners, what he created, the combination of the 14 slams, the greatest dominance on ANY surface (make that at least 2 surfaces) by ANY one man in ANY era since Bill Tilden at the USO Grass courts, topped off by the most difficult 6 consecutive year dominance.
PLUS having done that with TWO SIMULTANEOUSLY playing World Championships (no longer in effect)AND a personal record of having the FEWEST opponents that could dominate HIM and one simply must acknowledge, grudgingly or not, that Pete Sampras IS the greatest male tennis player that has ever existed. And it will be EXTREMELY difficult, if not impossible to match that career.
The "talent" was there, and long acknowledged by the greatest players (including the curious fascination of Emerson and Laver WITH Sampras but HARDLY ever with Agassi -- why?) and it was a talent that did not stop at JUST "being talented" -- but actually created a career the heights of which has never really been seen , and might very well be very, very difficult to come around again.
I would say that those that never really liked or admired him while he was at it -- it's their LOSS.
It was like the rarest, most valuable gem, right under their noses - and they found it "boring" and consequently found many arguments against appreciating it when it was there.
---Tedi, New York