The Tennis Backhand................... -
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 09-29-2006, 10:34 PM Thread Starter
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The Tennis Backhand...................

September 29th, 2006

Record-crushing Federer Won’t Match Pete’s No. 1s

by Richard Vach

The year is not yet over, and Roger Federer has clinched his third straight year-end No. 1 ranking, putting yet another tennis record in his sights — the next record of greatness besides Pete Sampras’ 14 Grand Slam wins, and a record also held by the American.

If the Swiss dominates again in 2007, it would be four year-end top finishes, tying Ivan Lendl (1985-87,’89) and John McEnroe (1981-84). Jimmy Connors finished in the top spot five consecutive times (1974-78), and Sampras holds the all-time mark with six consecutive finishes (1993-98).

Can Federer do it, six year-end No. 1s in a row, in this Sega-tennis high-tech rocket era of injures?


And no disrespect.

Federer will top Sampras’ Slam mark, but the chances of him maintaining his dominance while staying uninjured for another three years is highly unlikely.

The way Federer wisely cares for his body between major events, resting after Slams (and tanking out of Masters Series events when he needs additional rest), it isn’t such a stretch to think that Sampras’ record of six year-ends in a row might not be out of reach. But Pete was a freak of nature who rarely succumbed to major injuries until his final years.

But health issues aside, who will be the next Rafael Nadal-type to step to the Swiss in 2007? There has to be some greater competition out there somewhere. Richard Gasquet? Marcos Baghdatis? Federer’s new buddy Tiger Woods switching sports? Can someone, for lack of a better term, get good?

David Nalbandian and Ivan Ljubicic have threatened over the last 12 months, but can’t seem to find that champion-type consistency. Former No. 1s Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt have battled with their confidence, while former-former No. 1s (seems like such a long time ago) Juan Carlos Ferrero and Carlos Moya have little left in the tank.

Speaking of rivals, or lack of, has Federer coasted somewhat over the last two years? Besides Nadal, have his challengers for the most part spun their wheels trying to find their own games, much less challenge his?

When it comes to the Roger vs. Pete debate, you also have to take into consideration the competition, or lack of, as Moya said earlier this week.

“Things were different in the ’90s,” the Spaniard reminisced. “There were quite a few great players like Sampras, (Boris) Becker, (Andre) Agassi, (Patrick) Rafter with virtually the same kind of skills. They were all in the same league. But today, there’s a big gap between the top two-three players and the rest. See Federer and Nadal. There is hardly anyone who can come close to them. (Sampras) was a class apart. Federer and Nadal are good, but not in his league.”

This from a player who played both Sampras and Federer. Actually, this from a player who beat Sampras, on hardcourt yet, at the Masters Cup. Then again, maybe you want to say the greatest player is the one you took out — then you can tell your kids, rather than telling them the greatest player was that Swiss guy you were 0-6 against.

Sampras himself concedes Federer his Slam record — of course throwing in the lack-of-competition jibe.

“It’s not a question of if he’ll break my record, but when he’ll break my record,” said Sampras of his 14-Slam mark. “I see a lot of good players out there facing him, but no great players.”

The 14 Slams, probably, but the six-consecutive year-end No. 1s? Let’s talk in around two years, if it’s still an issue.

To this point in time, no one even thought the Sampras year-end record could ever be touched. At the end of 1998, knowing that the all-time record sixth was in reach, and with Marcelo Rios breathing down his neck at No. 2 on the rankings, Sampras went on a European tear the likes that had not been seen before or since by a top American.

After the US Open in ‘98 Sampras played six events in eight weeks before the year-end championship — including Basel, Vienna, Lyon, Stuttgart-indoor, Paris-indoor, Stockholm — before reaching the semis at the year-end championship, finally clinching the year-end top rank when Rios withdrew after one match with injury. Talk about an effort.

Federer seems to be mowing down Sampras records left and right — but many of Pete’s accomplishments continue to amaze. Especially after the U.S. Davis Cup team was again bogged down in clay last week in Russia, the year 1996 was oft mentioned — the year Sampras almost single-handedly beat the Russians on clay in Moscow, winning two singles and the doubles to claim the U.S.’s last (and possibly for a long while) Davis Cup title.

For those already proclaiming Federer the all-time greatest (and there are more than a few), the Swiss has yet to equal Pete’s Slam mark, his year-end No. 1 mark, or win the Davis Cup. And for those wishing that Rog’s and Pete’s careers did more than barely overlap, don’t worry — Federer will still be going head-to-head against Sampras’ records for years to come.

Richard Vach, senior writer, can currently be seen on The Tennis Channel’s “Tennis Insiders: Super Insiders” episodes, and was recently awarded “Best Hard News” story for 2005 by the United States Tennis Writers Association.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-02-2006, 12:52 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Tennis Backhand...................

Here are some reply from article above.

October 1st, 2006

Federer/Sampras Year-End No. 1 Redux

by Richard Vach

If you’re ever lonely for death threats from 12-year-olds or e-mail in-boxes full of character-slandering abuse, just publicly question a record that world No. 1 Roger Federer possibly can’t achieve.

In this case, Pete Sampras’ six consecutive years ending the ATP Rankings at No. 1.

Federer is half way there after already clinching this year’s top spot. He is, by the estimate of most, on his way to the title of best-ever in men’s tennis.

Still — and here’s where Federer fans’ veins started popping and keyboards were thrown against walls — it was proposed, nay, prognosticated, that the smooth Swiss would not match Sampras’ six in a row, that it was too difficult to maintain in this age of major injury and the rise of opponents such as Rafael Nadal. And pointing to Carlos Moya’s comments that in his opinion, Sampras had tougher competition in the ’90s than Federer does now.

Apparently, even as a big fan of the Swiss, one can’t venture an opinion other than that Federer is a god among men who will break every record imaginably then ascend to the Popehood.

Commenter Siva Natarajan says: “I also think this is an article in poor taste trying to put down Federer’s achievements and potential.”

Only you and the entire Fed Army.

arsh says: “You just simply think Roger is not as great as Peter, but this is not an appropriate reason to predict his decompose, or that’s just your wish maybe.”

Lot of problems with this statement, as I think Rog would have dominated Pete had they played in the same era. All I touched on was Rog not in my opinion reaching the six in a row — and his competition being less than Pete’s. Also not sure Sampras has ever been called “Peter” by anyone other than his mother, nor is he to the point of decomposing.

JCF says: “I’m saving a copy of this article for 3 years time. Richard Vash should retire as a Senior Writer and consider a career in comedy. This is great stuff Richard, keep it up!”

Don’t stop at one article, start a scrapbook. But seriously — no, seriously, you can start a scrapbook if you want. In three years if Rog is looking at six year-ends in a row, dinner is on me. It certainly won’t be for lack of talent on Federer’s part, but today’s tour is an out-of-control injury factory where they don’t regulate technology like other major sports — yet they still try to get the players to compete on an incremental basis.

tequilaandchili says: “yeah, Mr. Vach, why you don’t dedicate some time of your life to cook and sale tortillas in the streets of LA instead of trying to put down Roger’s achievements down.”

You gotta like arguments that start with “Yeah…” like “Yeah, Mr. Doodoohead, stop talking about Roger that way because he is great and you’re not as you’re just jealous because he is great!!!!!!!” And putting down the tortilla guy in L.A. ain’t cool. Those guys do you right for like $3 bucks a pop.

joeseph o brien says: “I don’t know why i bother reading this site anymore. Your views are one sided, and arent backed up by proper evidence and I am sick of the idiotoc and juvenile writing of Richard Vach.”

We agree. You should stop reading this site. And spelling stuff.

John says: “I think you’re just grasping at straws trying to bring Federer down to earth when clearly he’s so far a class above the rest. Since no current player has matched up to him (except Nadal, and that’s open for debate)you’re trying to resurrect the ghost of Pete Sampras in the hopes of giving federer a credible adversary.”

Thank God, a voice of reason. That pretty much hit it on the head. Federer is a class above the rest, and I was grasping at straws, one of the few straws left, I’m saying one of the few records he won’t get is Sampras’ six in a row.

Joy Parker says: “Wow, the Federer fanz are out in full force. Pete was the best in his era! Roger is the best at the moment…Will he break Pete’s records???? Maybe. Does it kill Sampras fans that that is a possibility??? Yes for the most part…So reading all the comments from this article makes me smile because I know what the Federer fans are going through.”

No Joy, you don’t — you don’t know what Venkat is going through:

Venkat says: “Federer is more than a player, he is a genius and you better appreciate his greatness…Finally, Fed is such a good person off the court that none of us would like to see him injured. You saying that Fed might not be able to break Pete’s record of year-end No. 1’s on the basis of injury sounds selfish to me.”

That was pretty selfish wasn’t it, pointing out that with the runaway injuries on tour, it’s unlikely anyone could sweep six straight years of No. 1. I should have listened to anonymously yours who said: “The crazy Fedtards will hunt you down and kill you.”

These were just the blog message responses, you should have seen the e-mails.

One completely insane poster, kamret, commented: “I think the article was a good one. I don’t understand why so many people (probably a lot of teenagers whose knowledge of tennis cannot come anywhere close to an author who has been a fan and analyst of the game for several decades) on this board are criticizing the article and the author. Rich Vach never said that he thought Sampras was greater than Federer, or vice-versa. Instead, all he said was that in this new era of brutal tennis, it would be almost impossible to stay #1 for 6 straight years without getting injured. I totally agree with him.”

Thanks Mom, er, kamret. Like I say, if I can just reach THAT ONE READER, save THAT ONE LIFE, then my years in medical school were not wasted.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-03-2006, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Tennis Backhand...................

Here are some more........................

October 2nd, 2006

Federer and the Fed

by Sean Randall

My colleague Mr. Vach sure got into hot water forecasting that Roger Federer would not match Pete’s six straight years at No. 1. And judging by the comments, the Federphiles were not amused. Having roamed around the internet a bit, it’s crystal clear when talking about the greatest tennis player one has to tread very cautiously as to not incite the many Federer faithful.

My take – a cautious one at that – is simply that Pete remains the greatest until either a) Roger gets to 14 Slams, b) Roger wins the calendar Slam, or c) Roger hits an ace after wiping vomit off his sleeve in the fifth set of a Slam. Whichever comes first, subject to change, of course

I know Roger has got to nine Slam wins quicker than Pete did (though remember Borg won 11 in just 25!) and Roger has excelled on clay, but at the end of the day Pete still has 14 and Roger still has nine. Plus, Pete going six straight years at No. 1 is pretty incredible, while Roger is just halfway to that point. Can Fed get six straight? Wouldn’t shock me, especially if he does get to 14 slams and beyond, which I think he’ll do.

Roger also needs to look at figuring out a way to win the Davis Cup (Pete won that) for Switzerland and finally getting gold medal to complete his resume – assuming he wins the French of course.

So is Fed on his way to being greatest ever? Um, yeah.
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 10-21-2006, 09:40 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Tennis Backhand...................

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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-28-2006, 11:41 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Tennis Backhand...................

Timeless Sampras ponders quitting on a high

Before winning this year's US Open, an achievement as remarkable as anything in his long career, Pete Sampras had signalled that he intended playing for another year. Now he faces a dilemma. Should he quit, having proved everybody wrong by winning his 14th slam after more than two barren years, or should he push on in order perhaps to gain an eighth Wimbledon title and erase the ugly memories of this year's second-round defeat?

Late on Sunday evening, with the lights of Manhattan twinkling in the distance, he returned to the centre court of the Arthur Ashe Stadium where a few hours earlier he had thrown his arms around his greatest rival, Andre Agassi, having beaten him 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 for a victory Sampras described as the one that would "take the cake".

Dressed in his baggy shorts and flip-flops, he taped yet another television interview, this time for a morning show in his adopted home city of Los Angeles. Weariness still lined his face, but finally he was at ease with himself, the warm glow of success bathing his body once again after 26 months without kissing a tournament trophy, and this having won 63 between 1990 and Wimbledon 2000.

Before the start of the final his eyes had darted around the vast and steepling Arthur Ashe Stadium in which he had never won the title before, as if he knew, win or lose, that this might be the last of the big time. His wife Bridgette, expecting their first child, and his sister Stella gazed down, as did his longtime coach Paul Annacone who, following a brief but amicable split, had returned to his side after Wimbledon. Sampras had won the first of his five US Open titles 12 years previously against Agassi at Flushing Meadows when they were 19 and 20 respectively. After this win the circle seemed complete.

Sampras knew it too, but after finally rediscovering something of his former glory - and for two sets he was imperious - the voices in his head were whispering again of further successes.

"I still want to play. I love to play," he said. "But to beat a rival like Andre at the US Open is a storybook ending. It might be nice to stop ... but ... " A huge grin lit his face, and the laughter was immediate. "But I still want to compete. I'll see where I am in a couple of months, where my heart's at and my mind. Right now it's hard to talk. My head is spinning."

But pushed a little further, as is the way at such times, Sampras underlined that this victory had probably meant more to him than clinching his record 13th grand slam victory at Wimbledon two years ago. "So much of what I was going through this year was mental, and I got down on myself extremely quick. To get through and believe in myself at a very tough time means a lot. More than anything, probably."

New Yorkers could empathise with him, and they could also feel sorry for Agassi, who has always been their favourite. They roared on his fightback in the third set as Sampras visibly flagged, and strained to lift Agassi in the crucial fourth game of the fourth set which stretched to seven deuces before Sampras crucially held his serve for 2-2. "It was a massive game," said Sampras. "The momentum had switched in the third set, and I managed to squeak it out. It was a huge turning point."

This was the 34th meeting between the two Americans, and Sampras's 20th win. "I've needed Andre over the course of my career, like John McEnroe needed Bjorn Borg. He pushed me. He forced me to add things to my game. He's the only guy who has been able to do that. He's the best I've played."

The rivalry cannot last for much longer, they both know that. "It's hard to say what the future is going to hold for us," said Sampras. "Five years ago we were dominating. This could be it for us, but maybe next year we'll do it again." It seems unlikely. Agassi's urge to continue may be greater; only time will tell. "Pete has given a lot to the game, so I think he's getting his just support right now," said Agassi. "The difference is people thought I'd been at the end of my career for the last eight years."

If this was to be their last meeting at this level, then it was both a reflection of their relative merits and of their comparative standing: Sampras, the greatest server in the modern game; Agassi the greatest returner. Sampras has his record 14 slams, Agassi has the distinction of winning all four, including the French Open, which Sampras will never win.

But this was Sampras's finest hour, and should he decide to retire before the end of the year nobody, on this occasion, would be the least surprised. Which is not to say he will.

Pistol Pete's 14 slam dunks

1990: US Open

1993: Wimbledon, US Open

1994: Australian Open, Wimbledon

1995: Wimbledon, US Open

1996: US Open

1997: Australian Open, Wimbledon

1998: Wimbledon

1999: Wimbledon

2000: Wimbledon

2002: US Open

By Guardian Unlimited © Copyright Guardian Newspapers 2006
Published: 9/10/2002
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