September 12, 2002

Is Pete Sampras the best ever? Please, give me a break. How can a guy be considered the best when he can't win on clay (no French Open)? That tells me that his game is limited. Pete is the Ben Affleck of tennis. A lot of ooh and ahh, but his range is limited. Sure he's an excellent serve-and-volleyer (which explains his many Wimbledon championships), but he is hardly the best. You have to give it to a player who has won all the Grand Slams. First choice: Rod Laver. (BTW, how can Agassi not be in the top eight?) Don't even get me started about the ridiculous claim of Steffi Graf being one of the greatest. [more inside]

posted by jacknose to tennis at 04:49 PM - 8 comments

Steffi's reign was lengthened by a German madman. He accomplished what he set out to accomplish when he knifed Monica Seles, a player that was consistently and soundly dominating Graf at the time. If Seles was not stabbed, she would have made Graf a mere memory, similar to the present Martina Hingis. Seles could have been one of the greats. Instead she had to sit out while Graf won more Grand Slams (Slams that Graf would NOT have won if Seles would have been playing.) And so Graf's legend (not to mention her stats and championships) grew in Monica's absence. Is this ever acknowledged? Nope. Bottom line: Give Agassi more respect; give Graf less. (And stop supporting Affleck movies.)

posted by jacknose at 04:56 PM on September 12, 2002

I agree, I don't think Pete's the best ever. This looks like some opportunistic piggy-backing on the US Open win. One could easily argue for Rod, though I've only read of his achievements (which I think may be the drawback here. Most fans today have probably never seen any of his matches). Other players (I've witnessed playing) who might qualify ahead of Pete include Borg, McEnroe, Connors and Lendl. As for Steffi Graf, she did achieve the single-season Grand Slam, so that certainly qualifies her as one of the greatest.

posted by worldcup2002 at 05:02 PM on September 12, 2002

Also, I'm miffed that Affleck was chosen to be Daredevil. That somehow feels wrong. I will have to watch that movie, though, because Jennifer Garner ("Alias") plays Elektra. Rowwwwwrrrr.

posted by worldcup2002 at 05:05 PM on September 12, 2002

That is wrong. We'll have to see that silly grin because the DD mask doesn't go down far enough. Now his friend Matt can act. But Ben is like that guy who acts in the high school play and is popular and uninhibited but can't act worth a lick. Steffi did win the Grand Slam. (Was that before Seles? I forget.) But she arrived on the scene at a good time: post-Evert and Navaritola. She had no backhand. Women's tennis was dull.

posted by jacknose at 05:25 PM on September 12, 2002

Given that Graf:

  • is one of only three players to have won a Grand Slam (well before Seles was hurt)
  • won 14 Grand Slam titles before Seles was hurt (note that Seles had two very good chances to win the Grand Slam but lost the fourth title each time to... Graf.)
  • is the third-winningest player of all time
it's really hard to believe anyone could seriously claim she's not one of the best of all time, regardless of whether or not her ultimate title total of 22 would have been reduced by 3 or 4 if Seles had not been stabbed. Would she have been third best instead of second had Seles stayed healthy? Maybe, maybe not, but it's still ludicrous to claim that she's anything less than the third or fourth best of all time.

posted by tieguy at 06:10 PM on September 12, 2002

Sure, I'll give her third or fourth best of all time. I'm sure after Serena and Venus, she will drop further down on the list. I'm not doubting her dominance at the time. She came to the scene at a good time. Would she have defeated Martina or Chris or Billy Jean in her prime (and with a wooden racket)? I'm not sure. Would she have been able to handle the current batch of ladies? Probably not. She almost always sliced her backhand or ran around it to hit her devastating forehand. Of course, when Seles came on to the scene she exposed this weakness that players, prior to the Seles-breed, were not able to. Nowadays, you have to be able to be brutal from both sides. (There's no time to be running around your backhand.) But you slay me with your research. Touche.

posted by jacknose at 06:21 PM on September 12, 2002

There is no way Venus will be better than Steffi in the long run. At least as long as her sis is playing.

posted by corpse at 06:51 PM on September 12, 2002

Laver was amazing and probably would have won many more Grand Slam titles had he been able to compete from 1963 to 1967 after he turned pro. However. When Laver won his Grand Slams, 3 of 4 of the Grand Slam tournaments were played on grass, and there were not legions of European clay court specialists priming their whole year toward the French. Current players run a much greater gauntlet on their way to a Grand Slam. In return for tons more money, they have to beat better players and survive a more grueling schedule. That Sampras was able to end the year at #1 six times in a row tells me he is one of the best if not the best ever. Having a checklist of tournaments a "greatest" player has to win doesn't work. Sampras never won the French but made the semis. Lendl, one of my favorite players ever, made it to the Wimbledon finals but never won. McEnroe never won the French, neither did Connors. Borg never won the US Open. All of them had other superior accomplishments that outweigh these flaws in their resumes.

posted by neuroshred at 03:36 PM on September 14, 2002

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