“Walking to the net, I’m certain that I’ve lose to the better man, the Everest of the generation. I pity the young players who will have to contend with him. I feel for the man who is fated to play Agassi to his Sampras. Though I don’t mention Pete by name, I have him uppermost in my mind when I tell reports: It’s real simple. Most players have weaknesses. Federer has none.”
Since I was ‘let go’ at my previous job and will start my tennis coaching career only on Monday, it gives me some time to make up to you for the period when I wasn’t blogging much. I found the above excerpt from Andre Agassi’s new and controversial book at Men’s Tennis Forum. It seems like the Agassi book will be a stimulating read, and hopefully I will get my hands on it soon. The quote from Agassi’s book apparently pertains to the 2005 US Open final, where Roger beat Agassi in four sets. If you read the comments of the poster who started the thread, you will see that he also refers to their meeting in 2004, where Roger won in five sets. But of course as a Sampras fan, he conveniently leaves out the fact that there was a gale force wind blowing that day, which is the ultimate equalizer.
He also says that in the 2005 final Agassi was 35 years old and that he had played three five set matches to get to the final, and still gave Roger a run for his money. But again he fails to mention that if a player gets through close matches like that, they often become very confident. It just goes to show that people will always change the facts in a subtle way to make the player they support look like the best. I don’t need to change any facts to show that Roger is better than Sampras. Anyone with half a brain can see that. And if you don’t have half a brain, then I’ll point out to you that Roger has won more grand slam titles than Sampras, as well as the career grand slam which Sampras couldn’t manage. And on top of that Roger is not finished with his career.
You will also see that this genius of a poster made the thread title so that it makes Roger look bad again. Now this post of mine is not about debunking some clueless Sampras fanboy, but the things he wrote gives me a good place to start at. Again he conveniently leaves out the fact that more than half of the meetings between Roger and Rafa have been on Rafa’s favorite surface, just because of the fact that Rafa is not good enough to make it far enough outside of clay to meet Roger on a regular basis. We saw it again this year at the US Open, where Rafa was crushed 2, 2 and 2 by Delpo in the semi’s, while Roger kept his end of the bargain again by being in the final for the sixth consecutive year. If Sampras and Agassi had met more then half of the time on clay as well, I guarantee you Agassi would have led the rivalry as well, but only five of their thirty-four matches was on clay.
Again, jealous haters will take things out of proportion and twist the facts to suppress their jealousy, but in the end they can’t deny the facts and it eats them up inside. Roger is the most complete player in history. Sampras was always known as the complete player, but when Roger came along he gave a new meaning to that word. Firstly Roger has a much better backhand than Sampras had, and his return game is better as well. Roger also has more variety to his game, which is why he has done so much better than Sampras on clay. Roger has many different ways to beat an opponent, while Sampras relied heavily on his serve to overpower opponents. Moreover, Roger is in another class than Pete when it comes to base line play, although it must be said that Sampras was a slightly better net player.
To come back to the Federer/Nadal rivalry, I’m not gonna deny that Rafa has gotten under Roger’s skin on several occasions. But again you must take into account the effect of losing many heart breaking matches to a player because it was played on their favorite surface, and it happened to be Roger’s worst surface. That is not exactly going to help your confidence against a player. Add to that the fact that Rafa is left handed, and his game is almost perfectly suited to exploit Roger’s weaker side with the highest bouncing forehand in history, and you can start to understand why the head-to-head is 13-7 in the favor of the Spaniard. Another thing one must take into account, is the fact that many of Rafa’s wins against Roger came during Roger’s slump during 2008.
Now it is Rafa who is in the slump, and we shall see how the head-to-head meetings go now. I have a feeling if they had met recently that Roger may have gotten some more wins back over Rafa. Still, you have to hand it to Rafa for being able to get under Roger’s skin. There is something about the way he never gives up and is not afraid of Roger that made Roger uncomfortable. So in the end my conclusion is that Roger is indeed the most complete player of all time. Physically, mentally and talent wise he pretty much has it all. I don’t know enough about Laver and he played in too much of a different era for me to compare him with Roger. But I think Sampras is an ideal measuring stick for this, and it is clear that Roger has the edge.