No1e > Sampras or just about?

Discussion in 'Pro Tennis (Mens)' started by Mastoor, Mar 23, 2016.

?

Do you still consider Sampras higher than No1e on the list of all time greats?

  1. Yes

  2. No

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  1. Mastoor

    Mastoor Masters Champion

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    Here are the reasons why Sampras should not be ahead of No1e on the list of greatest tennis players of all times.



    1. The difference in both numbers of Masters won and work ethics



    While Sampras has 3 Slams more than No1e, No1e has 16 Masters titles more than Sampras. That’s huge imbalance that should be looked at in depth.



    To understand this and also to have a hint what was typical for stars of the era scroll down to tables which graphically show his achievement at Slams and Masters which is called “Singles performance timeline”:



    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pete_Sampras_career_statistics



    You can notice that his effort was focused around certain big tournaments at the beginning of the season and those at the very end of it, but in between it was largely Wimbledon and US Open. There are several points to be made about it:



    - Because of this he didn’t win more Masters than Slams (every other star did, save Becker and Edberg, see below)

    - Because of this he most certainly had more rest than players would have today when they are obliged to play every big tournament, which in turn means all that rest helped him win more slams than he would win without so much rest

    - Players today are not allowed to skip biggest tournaments or to tank matches early in the tournament when they want like Sampras did throughout his career.

    - Not showing up in tournaments or going out early, wasn’t typical for Sampras only, other stars did the same at the time (Becker, Edberg, Wilander, …)



    So basically, from today’s point of view, Sampras and the tennis stars of his era were almost cheaters skipping many important tournaments or not playing on their normal level to give themselves more rest so they can have better results in those tournaments they chose to focus on. This is what Becker admits in his biography when he says his focus was on Wimbledon and hardly any other tournament he played was important to him. Quite contrast to the player from Becker’s team who won 14 of last 18 big tournaments while playing finals in the rest and skipping only 1 when he was injured.



    2. Difference in competition (rivals) and weight of achievements



    As everyone knows, Sampras’s principle rival was the second most achieved player of the era, Agassi. Neither Agassi, nor any other rival in the era could compare to Novak’s principal rivals, Federer and Nadal, (Agassi even admitted this in his biography “Open” and in half joke, he also admitted several times in some interviews, he would be scared to face Novak.)



    It seems to me that 14 slams in competition with no players like Federer and Nadal, don’t really weigh as much as 11 against Federer and Nadal. Likewise with all the other achievements of Sampras where he has slight advantage, like 6 times ITF World Champion to No1e’s 5, 6 times ATP Champion to No1e’s 4, Sampras’s 64 career titles to No1e’s 62 so far.



    3. Surfaces


    No1e’s clearly more achieved on 2 of 3 surfaces – hard and clay courts.


    On hard courts No1e won 48 titles to Sampras’s 41. They currently have the same number of matches won on hard courts 473, while No1e has the all time record percentage of matches won on the surface 84.2% (473-89)


    On clay courts No1e won 16 titles to Sampras’s 3. Also 79.6% matches won by No1e on clay160-41 and I must underline in the competition with the best clay court player ever.


    Sampras leads grass court comparison 10-3 while he also won balance of his titles on carpet which is obsolete surface now.



    4. Big titles


    In this category they compare total players’ achievement in terms of big titles won and that is all slams, masters and end of year (WTF)



    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_...r_Finals_and_Masters_Series_singles_champions



    Here you can see the list lead by Big 3 all with over 40 such titles and counting while Sampras and Agassi had 30 and 27 respectively.



    5. Playing Top 10



    One of the implications of the Sampras era as described above is that Sampras didn’t have to face Top 10 opponents as frequently as Big 3 players had, especially not as frequently as No1e.



    No1e has 165 wins against top tenners to Sampras’s 124. This means that even though No1e is far from the end of his career, he already won 1/3 more of all the Sampras’s top 10 wins. Amazing, isn’t it?



    There is also a list of most Top 10 wins in a season and here is the top of the list:



    31 Serbia Novak Djokovic 2015

    24 Serbia Novak Djokovic 2012

    24 Spain Rafael Nadal 2013

    24 Serbia Novak Djokovic 2013

    21 Serbia Novak Djokovic 2011

    19 Switzerland Roger Federer 2006

    19 Serbia Novak Djokovic 2014



    Only Big 3! Sampras and Agassi are nowhere on the list. This speaks volume of the eras and competitions.


    People often overlook this feature of No1e’s achievements. No1e played against by far stronger competition than anyone ever had because no other player played so many matches against top 10 players (except Federer who is 6 years older). As I said No1e had 165 top 10 wins so far while McEnroe and Connors had 166 combined. Borg had only 63 wins, more than a hundred less than No1e.





    6. The dominance



    I already mentioned that No1e had 14 titles in last 18 big tournaments he played. Sampras has never been as dominant.



    While No1e won 10 big titles last year 3 Slams, 6 Masters + WTF, Sampras record was 6 big titles in 1994: two slams, 3 masters + WTF.


    Sampras also had some seasons when he won 2 slams and couple of other big titles, but no his season could compare to No1e’s 2011 either when No1e won 3 slams and 5 masters titles.


    This means both Nole’s 2011 and 2015 were better than Sampras’s most achieved season, 1994.




    Summary


    Here is the list of Sampras’s achievements that are yet to be matched by No1e and the difference between them as of today 23.3.2016

    1. 286 total weeks at #1 ( No1e 191, lacking 95 weeks)
    2. 112 consecutive weeks at #1 ( No1e 90, lacking 12 weeks)
    3. 14 slams (No1e 11 slams)
    4. 6 times ITF World Champion (No1e 5)
    5. 6 times ATP Champion (No1e 4)
    6. 64 career titles (No1e 62)
    7. 7 Wimbledon titles (No1e 3)




    Data used from


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ATP_number_1_ranked_singles_players

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_...men's_singles#Playing_top_10_ranked_opponents

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pete_Sampras_career_statistics



    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_...r_Finals_and_Masters_Series_singles_champions
     
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  2. britbox

    britbox Multiple Major Winner

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    Interesting post @Mastoor - it's a tough call but as it stands right now I'm still seeing the Pistol marginally higher, but also have Novak passing him before he's done.

    There was a similar discussion on one of the GOAT/Best Players of all time threads where the Pistol and Nadal were compared.

    Moxie put together a good argument for ranking Nadal higher. I had the Pistol shading it but was wavering. The career grand slam was a big thing in Nadal's favour, but I felt Sampras dominance over an extended period was also a difference maker. I thought about it some more after and probably would edge toward Nadal now, but it's a bit of a wash.

    Nole doesn't have the career grand slam, but he does have that period of sustained dominance in his favour. I know Pete doesn't have the career grand slam, so if Nole wins in Paris, he jumps him IMO. Does he jump Nadal too? Maybe... maybe not. A Career GS and 2 majors (13 in total) probably would, given he ticks pretty much all the other boxes.
     
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  3. Federberg

    Federberg Multiple Major Winner

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    Novak has been more dominant, but Pete was in an era of greater surface variation. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I think surface homogeneity is helping this era a little too much. That's not to say I don't think Novak can prosper in a more varied environment, I would just like to see the proof
     
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  4. Ricardo

    Ricardo Masters Champion

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    you know there is no way to prove it, like a question that simply cannot be answered. What's done is done, Sampras has still achieved more and must be given the edge as the greater player. IMO though, Novak would beat Sampras in his prime more often than not. Notice Sampras never beat Agassi at AO or RG, the chance is that he would be thrashed by Novak on anything slow or medium, and Novak would still be a tough out for Pete at USO. On grass depending on if its the fast ones like before, Novak may or may not win.... overall, he simply has too much 'range' for Pete, who's more 1 dimensional in comparison.
     
  5. Federberg

    Federberg Multiple Major Winner

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    Yup I know that. But opinions were asked for and I gave mine :)
     
  6. Ricardo

    Ricardo Masters Champion

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    if career grand slam is any measuring stick, Novak far surpasses Pete in that aspect already. He made what like 4 finals at RG while Pete never got past the semi's. \
     
  7. britbox

    britbox Multiple Major Winner

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    Yeah, but he hasn't clinched the deal (yet)
     
  8. Ricardo

    Ricardo Masters Champion

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    Put simply, a guy getting to final is better (in terms of achievement) than another who made a semi. Cant be black and white, otherwise we are all as good as Berdych or Ferrer in grand slams.
     
  9. britbox

    britbox Multiple Major Winner

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    Yeah, and the guy winning them has a better argument than finalists, so right now it's 14-11... Winning a career grand slam doesn't include lost finals and I already know Novak is the better clay courter... but if he takes RG then he's on 12 and has the Career GS... it moves him past Pete IMO, but some others won't agree until he hits 14 GS Titles.
     
  10. Twisted

    Twisted Major Winner

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    Compelling argument set forth by Mastoor. But my opinion is more inline with BB right now. Sampras is still ahead because 3 slams is the biggest stat. MS events are nice but they are not slams or anything close to them. Nole will probably have the MS record by close to 10 over Rafa and may have more than 15 extra than Roger when all is said and done but that won't make him a greater player. Winning more slams, especially at least 1 RG, and keeping the #1 as long as possible will move him further up the list. If Nole wins RG this year I'd probably put him ahead of the Pistol too, because both a career slam and non-calendar year slam are big (the latter is something Fed and Rafa never did so he'd have that on them too).
     
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  11. Ricardo

    Ricardo Masters Champion

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    so Pete has the edge. makes me think, if it wasn't for Nadal, Novak would be sitting on 3 or 4 RG and well past Sampras already while Fed would have 4 or 5 RG and would've bagged 24 slams which would make it untouchable. For Novak his nightmare should be over at RG, Rafa is burning himself out day by day so it's his time to win it.
     
  12. Mastoor

    Mastoor Masters Champion

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    Thank you all for your comments. I can't discuss all right now, due to lack of time at the moment, so I'll just say something about surface variety.

    To compare different eras, we need to understand that those past champions went to some sort of semi retirement once they turned 24, 25 or 26. At that point they would chose just some tournaments where they would give their best effort, while for the rest they would even skip the tournaments or they would get out early, probably tanking.

    Sampras selection of tournaments was AO, IW, KB, W, CI, USO, Stutgart, Paris, End of year. That's only 8 big tournaments a year in which he couldn't have as big variety of surfaces as Big 3 have today playing compulsory 13 big tournaments. You can't have bigger variety of surfaces in 8 tournaments of the 90s than on 13 big tournaments of today, therefore it is bigger variety nowdays when the tournaments are compulsory,

    One more point about eras comparison, people are under wrong impression that superstars of past and present had similar mind set and work ethics, but it is just not true. While Sampras played seriously only up to 8 big tournaments a year past the age of 25, Federer played with his best effort in 12 big tournaments in 2014 when he was 33yo (all but Rome and Madrid) plus he won Davis Cup that year. Huge difference. Today no one follows Sampras, not even No1e who says Sampras was his idol, they all copy Federer as much as they can.
     
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  13. Twisted

    Twisted Major Winner

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    ^ All true except even in the 8 big tournaments there was more variety. The difference between AO and USO was bigger back then even though they still play different enough today. And we don't even need to talk about the difference in grass or indoors which used to be played on super fast carpet. The homogenization of the surfaces and playing styles have benefited all the top guys of this era.
     
  14. Federberg

    Federberg Multiple Major Winner

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    Well.. Mastoor raises an interesting point. Talking about the mindset of players of yore. I won't include Sampras in this, but it seems to me, the likes of Connors and Borg and Mac weren't chasing the largest number of slam wins, so for my money it's a bit unfair to compare them with the guys who came after them. And I'm not even talking about the Australian Open which most of them didn't even bother with. This whole thing is a fairly new construct which is why I always have a problem with comparing eras. Apples and oranges to me. If anything I would rather just look at the number of titles won. At least that remains consistent through time!
     
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  15. Denis

    Denis Masters Champion

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    It's close already, I'm sure Novak will take away any doubt in the years to come. Starting with this years RG.

    Oh, and thanks for the OP Mastoor. Were you a Sampras fan in the past?
     
  16. britbox

    britbox Multiple Major Winner

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    Yeah, they chased the money rather than events... although Borg said he would go to Australia at the end of the year if the Calendar Year Grand Slam was on... it never was as he couldn't get the US Open.

    Connors also said he would go to Australia to try and prevent Borg from doing the Grand Slam if that situation arose.

    I think they know the historical importance of the AO even if they didn't chase it... The YEC was more significant toward the end of the year. Different times... Different Priorities. It was only when Lendl and the Swedes started going in the early 80s that the others started following them down there... and it's importance ramped up again when they changed the time of year and then moved to a far superior venue.
     
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  17. brokenshoelace

    brokenshoelace Masters Champion

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    I think Novak is a better player and will pass him but as of today, Sampras ranks higher on an all time list. Calm down Mastoor, you have a habit of being impatient in crowning Novak and counting your eggs before they hatch. He'll do plenty more winning, so we can revisit that conversation then.
     
  18. Mastoor

    Mastoor Masters Champion

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    In my last post I tried to explain that when we compare past players with Big 3, despite the myth they had better variety of surfaces in past, Big 3 played on more different surfaces. That is because in past they played around 1/3 less big tournaments than stars of today who play practically every big tournament. But I was suppose to finish comparing Sampras and No1e which is the topic here.

    If we compare specifically Sampras and No1e we see that they both won WTF which is one surface, then they won the same 3 slams but No1e was much more successful at Roland Garros which neither of the two won. The biggest difference is in masters again. Sampras won 5 different masters, while No1e won 8 of them (all but Cincinnati).
     
  19. Mastoor

    Mastoor Masters Champion

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    Hi BS, how's going over there?

    Yes and no. People are unlikely to go beyond comparing absolute numbers of slams, so 14 > 11. Or even if they want to go further in looking up, they will rarely go beyond number of weeks at #1 which is again in Sampras favour.

    But then, I think there is more pride that No1e can find in his achievements in Big 3 competition than Sampras will find in his one.
     
  20. EdbergsGhost

    EdbergsGhost Masters Champion

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    I still have Sampras ahead of Djokovic (and Nadal) for the time being. I am pretty confident that Novak will have passed the Pistol by the time he hangs up his sneakers. If there were a way to manipulate time and pit two peak players against each other, it would be to see Pete serving to Novak. :yes:
     
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