Federer/Sampras Year-End No. 1 Redux
by Richard Vach | October 1st, 2006, 11:30 pm

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.ADHEREL

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.

Blake Backs Talk with Action

James Blake walked the walk in Sunday’s Bangkok final, handily beating Ivan Ljubicic 6-3, 6-1, after talking the talk earlier in the week that U.S. men’s tennis was far from in the doldrums.

“Andy (Roddick) is just 24, playing great tennis…I’ve continued to improve, and there’s no sign of that stopping. I like the way American tennis is looking right now,” Blake said. “I think it’s a tough situation we’re in. American tennis fans are a little spoilt. Agassi, Courier, Sampras, Connors — that’s the best generation of tennis players from one country ever. They’re so used to having an American in a grand slam or masters final every time and it’s tough to compete with that.”

Roddick’s slide out of the Top 10 this summer sent U.S. fans and media into a panic, which part-time coach Jimmy Connors putting his foot up the former No. 1’s ass has only partially solved. At least it looks like both Roddick and Blake, unless they totally fall off the table, will qualify for the year-end Masters Cup — especially since Marcos Baghdatis is now unfortunately pulling from multiple tournaments with a shoulder injury.

Props to Ljubicic, who played an awful final in Bangkok, for not going to the shoulder injury card after having problems earlier in the week, and hope it’s nothing serious. Big serving takes a big injury toll on the shoulder — ask Joachim Johansson and Martin Verkerk. Remember last year when over half the Masters Cup field pulled with injuries or other maladies? Seems little has changed in 12 months after Shanghai officials asked the ATP to look into the rash of injuries.

The U.S. with two male representatives in the year-end Top 10, a feat only Spain will probably match, will be enough to take the heat off the U.S. men and fan it back toward the U.S. women — which will finish with no representatives in the Top 10 for the first time — ever.

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54 Comments for Federer/Sampras Year-End No. 1 Redux

anonymous Says:

My sympathies to you for having to deal with the 12 year old Fedtards’ hysteria. They tend to get their panties all in a twist if anyone so much as looks at their hero crosseyed. I would sleep with my lights on if I were you.

But now you know what us normal, even-keeled tennis fans have to deal with on various tennis boards with these crackbrained freak fanboys hell bent on destroying what’s left of the game of tennis by making everybody else loathe Federer thanks to their twisted, disturbed fandom and extreme insecurity.

Arnie Fritsch Says:

I think the shocking thing for Sampras fans is that, alto he WAS the greatest player who ever lived, that reign started to slip almost before his raquet got cold. To think that in 3 years after Sampras retiremnet it appears most likely that he (Sampras) is about to slip into 2nd greatest of all-time so quickly is the biggest shocker.

sunny Says:

Federer has two basic types of critics: those who were disappointed that he didn’t win the French Open this year because he lost his guts and those who were disappointed that he followed that loss with two further grand-slam crowns.

Now the former group of critics don’t know what to think and the latter group of critics desperately hope that he gets injured and lets other have a chance.

It’s like they don’t value the competition given to Federer by his colleagues. It looks boring when looking only at the scorelines. It looks like nirvana when one gets to actually see Federer win, which fortunately he does usually.

Brian Says:

Federer fans really get in a tizzy when you suggest Federer might not be the greatest thing since gatorade. I blame it on a tennis landscape that has little but Federer to get excited about, as well as many of the fans either being simply too young to remember or too caught up in the hype machine surrounding Federer to remember what tennis was like in the early to mid 90s.

Of course Federer is an amazing player, and the similarities between his own virtuosity and Sampras’ are at times uncanny, particularly if you pull out old tapes of Sampras from his peak and see the exact same stuff that wows the fans into talk of “God” from Federer. Fantastic stuff, yes! God? Not unless God tries to pass off the same miracles twice.

I find this rush to pick one over the other and proclaim some absolute “greatest” to be a curious sports media fetish that catches on with the fans who are eager for something to excite them about today’s tennis. Sports media in 2006 is much more sensational than it was 10 years ago, and likewise fans’ views and passions are amplified as well.

I think if Federer were born 10 years earlier alongside Sampras neither he nor Sampras would stand out separately in the discussion of “greatest of all time” because they would have traded slams and cut each others totals in half. And think about it, if that happened we’d currently be talking about Roddick challenging for the title of the greatest of all time with probably 5 slams or so.

edeliza palmones Says:

let us just wait what the next three years will hold for Roger. The future is not ours to predict. It doesn’t make sense predicting that Roger won’t be able to match Sampras’ record of 6 consecutive years as year end No. 1. True, it is difficult to achieve but let us not make negative prophecies because if there is anyone in the ATP circuit right now who can do it, it’s Roger and who knows he just might surprise us. It is not impossible at all. Personally, barring injuries and any untoward incident I think Roger Federer can extend his dominance fo another three years (or more).

Bonitto Says:

But edeliza isn’t it what the writer was trying to say, why get so hot in the collar, all you Federer fans are crazy, his shit can’t eat and he ha s weakness too.

raj Says:

8 grand slam titles in 3 years? Even Tiger woods has never done it, and may never. Laver never did it. Nor did Borg or Sampras. In no individual sport has anyone ever dominated like this. Fed is 227-15 in singles play since the start of 2004. Sampras got beaten a heck of a lot more often, including on grass and hard courts.

As for competition, when someone is so good, obviously you will not see others winning grand slam titles. Its impossible to separate the two hypothesis – 1) there aren’t that many great players today, or 2) Fed is just so far above everyone, that the Beckers and Edbergs of today can’t win anything because Fed is so good.

One more point. Sampras only faced Agassi at his peak. Becker and Edberg were way past their prime by 92-93. Lendl and wilander were done earlier. In fact, Lendl probably faced the maximum number of great players at their peak.

Elwin Says:

´Richard Vach, Tennis Backhander.´ it says

/with all respect/…Must be the worst backhand I´ve ever seen

Aurele Says:

I don’t understand what the big hype about Sampras is. If he was such a good player, why was he so miserable on clay (24-13 at the French, with just one SF). He had mainly two shots – first serve, second serve. Once someone got them back, he was at a disadvantage even to rookies. If he had such a great backhand, forehand, etc, then why so miserable on clay?

Fed is clearly the second best player on clay today. Sampras was never even a top 20 on clay. And Nadal is no ordinary clay courter – he may be as good as borg was on clay. Fed would have clearly destroyed players like Wilander and Courier on clay, and won the french open by now if he was playing in that era. Even today, fed destroys all the other clay court specialists ON CLAY – like Moya, Coria, Robredo, gaudio, etc.

And Fed is clearly the top player on grass and hard courts. When was the last time you had a player who was top on two surfaces, and second best on the third? Lendl (second best on grass), and Borg (second best on hard). sampras was too one-dimensional.

If you really examine the stats objectively, Borg and Lendl were greater players than Sampras. Fed is getting there.

joe Says:

“I don’t understand what the big hype about Sampras is. If he was such a good player, why was he so miserable on clay (24-13 at the French, with just one SF). He had mainly two shots – first serve, second serve.”

you dont understand. he had the best running forehand of anyone anywhere.

Seraphim Says:

Great post Sunny.

Mariel Says:

Disingenuous. Obviously, a harsh trait to lay on anybody, but that’s how you have been, Mr. Vach. I have a feeling kamret, er your mom, did not read the same article we are talking about. How could she or you say, you were “merely” stating that it is impossible to stay #1 for 6 straight years due to the brutal nature of the game. It looks like you haven’t saved one after all.
If you go back to your article, the discussion on injuries is trifling. The notable line there is that Sampras is a freak of nature, that is why he escaped injuries. Quite some reasoning there, isn’t it? Why can’t we say Federer could be a “freak of nature”, too? No, that would be a statistical improbability besides unAmerican of us to say, right?
The injuries angle is actually a red-herring. The main thesis and the bulk of your article, really, is that Federer is not a great #1 because of a lack of competition. I hope you see that this does not bolster your conclusion that he can’t keep on winning for another 3 years! And you couldn’t be more wrong about the state of competition. Somebody already mentioned that the Safins, Hewitts, Roddicks & Blakes would have been seen and treated in the same light as the Beckers, Edbergs, Agassi & Courier had there been no Federer. The reason why you can’t come to the right prognosis, is that you haven’t diagnosed the condition correctly. I can see why you are not in the medical field anymore.

You know when people swear they are honest but are not really upfront? When you said “no disrespect”, you actually meant to disrespect. Fess up and don’t get around it.

allcourt Says:

My sympathies for what you have to endure when you dare to mention a simple opinion that Fed fanantics find objectionable. :)

The only reason why I think that you may be wrong about Fed’s not breaking Sampras’s 6-years-at-#1 record is that he has been very careful about pacing himself (a good thing); also, the injuries are so universal (afflicting all players) that he may be able to stay, as he would wish, below par in the injury race and, therefore, ahead in the points race for several years. (Note how his one major injury occurred near the end of the regular season last year, not early enough to prevent him from amassing enough points to secure the #1 spot for 2005.)

Roy Says:

So many fail to sort out tennis facts. Federer is an exceptional player, but he only faces baseliners who are less than he at the baseline, and few, if any, who can really play all court and volley well at the net. An all-court player who can serve and volley would limit the shots Federer would get and give him trouble. If Blake was skilled at serve and volley, he might well have beaten Federer at the last US Open. Federer has yet to meet a skilled all court player (Agassi was a skilled baseliner).

kenem Says:

Many of the above posts show respect for facts and even logic. The rest sound like spoons banging on highchairs. But all have overlooked a serious state of affairs. Consider: Sampras won his 14 slams in 12 years (1990-2002), Federer won his 9 slams in 3 years (2003-2006). That means Sampras won his slams at an average rate of about 1.2 slams per year; Federer won his at a cool 3 slams per year. The difference those numbers represent for the long haul is huge. They carry over into every phase of Federer’s accumulations of records, including years at #1.

» Don’t Fight the Fed Says:

[…] 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. […]

» Federer and the Fed Says:

[…] 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. […]

Brian Says:

The problem with using stats to determine “greatness” is that the stats don’t tell the whole story. Does anyone honestly think for a minute that if Sampras were playing right now instead of Federer he would not have won the same amount of slams from 2003-2006? Look who Federer beat – a cakewalk for Sampras in his peak.

This is why I say that this concept of “greatest of all time” is a ridiculous sports media fetish. Why are we not talking about tennis greats throughout history? Does it really boil down to simple comparisons of stats, and if so how is it fair to someone like Laver, or even say, Pancho Gonzalez, who might have approached things differently had they known historical greatness was going to be dictated solely by numbers?

Can we not just talk about the greats from each era and not try to make impossible, endlessly debatable comparisons?

stats, not lies Says:

Statistics are the only objective basis upon which greatness can me measured. The improvements in the professioanlism of players along with the increase in the sport’s global spread mean that this generation’s player’s records are more difficult than those before and also that future generation’s records will be considered even more difficult.

All this heated discussion is only because Federer is not a U.S. citizen unlike Sampras.

TejuZ Says:

You seem to be contradicting yourself in your statements, Mr Vach. First you say that Competition for Federer is far less that what Sampras faced. Then in that case Federer should be easily maintaining his No 1 ranking for the next ‘n’ years till the competition stiffens (which you anyway dont see happening). Instead you also say that he wouldnt match the Sampras’ record.. Regarding injuries, hmmm future is always unpredictable, anything can happen anytime. But chances of that happening is slim.. else why do you think Federer has remained injury free(barring minor injuries) for the last 8 years running. So to think that to change for next 3 years is what i call ‘wishful thinking’ on your part.
And yes.. the Beckers and Edbergs of this generation wouldnt be called great just cuz they would not have enuf Grand Slam titles to prove it. Federer doesnt give them a chance… n i guess the results wud have been the same if he had played during the Sampras era. The one thing about Federer is that he figures his oppenents out pretty early and beat them at their own game.. no wonder he won 3 Grand Slams without a coach in 2004 when we was a 22 yr old(not a mean achievement at all).

4 the recored Says:

brian so you think that sampras would have beaten hewitt, but he didnt when the plyed in the us open did he.

did he beat safin in the us final, no he didnt. and we are talking about safin in the aus final, safin best slam and pete’s worse hard court slam.

would he have beaten fliper, he almost lost to him untill fliper got heart in wimbeldon, 1/4 was it???!!!!

I will give this pete I belive would have beaten nadal with out any problems in wimbeldon and I belive also at the franch has nadal doesnt know how to returne good 1 serven and pete had 2 of those.

the thing is the fed has peoblems with differnet players then pete had, and usulley he doesnt have any problems.

so I do blive that pete could have lost to hewitt, safin, fed, nalbandian, bgdhadis of this world, why?????? because of their returene of serve and passing shot, that almost nobody had in pett’s time.

agassi is not great returner like the us madia tries to sell, how many times he gets acesd a lot, even nadal pot 18 aces pass him, I dont think in his life nadal served so mant aces,

and pim pim, 51 aces,

and fed last year us final 17 aces.

agassi can make a winner of a returne, but it in or out, he doesnt pot enoght ball in play, unlike fed, who is the most diffecult player to ace.

that is the big differnce.

and remeber if fed would see a serve and volley player the heart him and he cant pass him from the baise or think that the best tactic in to come in, he will do it, that is why he is all court player.

that is what he did to sampras in 2001 wimbeldon, he beat him serve and volling, and see all the serve stats fed wines more high % of 2 serve points and his 1 serve is gust as afactive as petes on grass, just that pete served aces and fed openets pot a hand of the ball but dont pot it back in court.

he also serve and vollyed his way to his firest grand slam wimbeldon in 2003. and he will do it again if he sees he have to.

again there is no problem with the article saying that fed want be no1 for 6 years its opinion, I dont agree but you ca give it, the problem with the article is that you try to pot fed recored and slams in that article, by backing opinion of who moya!!!!!!!!

and day after said something else, the fed was the beater player, and most of the players that played both saying that fed is beater player.


so you want fed to lose to them so they will have more salm and then his achvments will be beater, this is your point.

4 the recored Says:




critic Says:

mariel has put it very well: it is your reasoning (why federer will probably not get six consecutive year-end nr. 1’s and therefore not be the greatest) that put many fans of, not even the statement itself. One: Injuries. I agree, chances of injuries are high, even for fed. Two: He won’t be the greatest because his competition is bad. I disagree. You, Mr. Vach, failed to elaborate on the statement. Furthermore, bad competition should equal longer reign, not shorter while injuries lose their importance.
So much for the article itself.

Your reaction to all the responses was lame, and pathetic. Making fun of questionable postings the way you did puts you right in the same corner as their writers. Pointing at spelling mistakes: Did you really need to? Probably, you don’t know that maybe half of the readers here don’t have English as mother tongue. And while we’re at it: Check grammar yourself on your articles.
Belittling a guy who calls Sampras “Peter”: Come on, nothing better to say? Keep to the facts, give us reasons for your statements concerning tennis. Spare us the rubbish. You no longer merit respect.

JDC Says:

The comment that Fed will have difficulty ending six consecutive years at #1 is not a ridiculous statement. Whether or not you agree, it is not ridiculous. You can argue it either way w/o looking like an idiot.

I disagree w/ Brian that Sampras, if he played at his peak today, would win the same number of slams as Fed has. Sampras was amazing at turning it on for the big matches, but he was never very good at motivating himself for lesser opponents in early rounds. Today’s tour offers much more talent between 15 and 200 in the rankings. It also has many more surface specialists. For these two reasons, he would have lost more often in earlier rounds. As a result, he would not win more slams now than he did in his day … he might even win less.

Bonitto Says:

What a bunch of jackass most of you all are, just because you all think you are right and you dont like what anybody else has to say, but guess what mormons these are only your opinions and the write his entitled to his, so please get off your high asses and let others have their say.

clayton Says:

Rich Vach is one of those American Sampras-ophiles who is putting in whatever digs he can at Federer since Feds is so clearly better than Sampras.

More competition in the ’90s my ass. Let’s look a little more closely at the years Sampras finished at #1. Becker and Courier were in severe decline by the mid ’90s, Rafter was not good until ’97, Muster was not a threat off of clay, Ivanisevic had nothing but a serve, and Agassi was AWOL pretty much every year but ’95.

It’s also disingenuous to look only at whether a player finishes as year-end #1 without also asking, how dominant a #1 that player was. Compared to Feds, Sampras nickeled-and-dimed his way to his year-end #1’s. From ’95-’98, basically he won Wimbledon and patched the rest of his year together with a couple of other titles. Federer wins Wimbledon and he wins everything else too.

Don’t think Sampras isn’t pissed that Federer is eclipsing him either. Sampras is an egomaniac who was obsessed with his legacy even when he was playing. He wanted people to think of him as a Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods type dominant athlete, which he never was. His allies in the media like this Vach guy do what they can to help him.

Polaris Says:

This is a delayed response to Brian’s post, and nothing personal, but Andy Roddick will never be included in any discussion about great tennis players. He is simply not at that level. His American Express ads run consistenly deeper into Slam tournament fortnights than he does, and no amount of Jimmy Connors gimmickry will push him to that next level. To mention his name alongside Federer and Sampras is like revving a Ford Mustang at a stoplight alongside a Ferrari and a Porsche. It just doesn’t equate.

Vicky Says:

Roger Federer is far greater than Sampras.The later hugely depended on his big serve while Federer is an allrounder.I have no doubt in my mind that one day he will break every record held by Samparas.This Federer-Sampras debate is absolutely useless.

Mohammad Says:

Nobody cares about how long you have been No. 1 or how many years you have been No. 1. Sampras never broke Connors record of 160 consecutive weeks at No. 1 or his 109 titles record. The second record will also be hard for Federer to break. So does this means that Sampras or Federer is inferior to Connors, no. As much as ATP would like us to look at other records also, in the end only the Grand Slams count

dibs Says:

Polaris Says:
This is a delayed response to Brian’s post, and nothing personal, but Andy Roddick will never be included in any discussion about great tennis players. He is simply not at that level.

I agree about Roddick but think it also applies to MOST tennis players. In the last year so many young players have been tipped to reach the Top 10 soon there’s no room for Federer, Davydenko, Ljubicic, Nalbandian etc. In the UK Murray is constantly referred to as a ‘tennis genius’ perhaps we simply try to label players as ‘great’ too soon.

This reminded me that Roddick himself has stated that he regards himself as a ‘good’ player who would like to be a ‘great’ player. He clearly doesn’t see himself in that category, perhaps fans take media comments far more personally and seriously than some of the players!!

Writing Articles » Blog Archive » Wednesday letters Says:

[…] Tennis-X.com, MI - Oct 1, 2006… proper evidence and I am sick of the idiotoc and juvenile writing of Richard … Yes for the most part So reading all the comments from this article makes me … Continue… […]

Brian Says:

Oh the reactions to my post are funny.

When I said if Sampras were playing now I meant if he were in his prime now just as Federer is. If Sampras were 25 right now he’d have destroyed the field for the last 3 years just as Federer has. Why can’t people stand the fact that someone thinks both Federer and Sampras are about equal – two of tennis’ all time greats. It’s a compliment.

Brian Says:

Polaris you are reinforcing exactly what I was saying about Roddick. Take Federer out of the equation and Roddick has probably 5 slams right now and *is* considered a great player. What does that tell you about today’s competition apart from Federer and maybe Nadal (if he lives up to his potential off clay)?

Nick Says:


Nadal has no potential outside of clay. Through the luck of draw, he has had minor successes outside of clay. BUt that’s it. even on clay, he is not going to be able to last long.

As for Sampras and Federer, yes, saying that Fed is only as good as Sampras is definitely an insult for Fed. Its also stupid, because anyone who had eyes and any understanding of the game can see how much more complete a player Fed is. Henman just said that after losing to Fed. Agassi has said several times that Fed is much tougher to beat than Pete. Agassi is probably the best guy to judge the two (sampras and fed), since he has played both more than 10 times each, and beaten and lost to both several times, at his and their peaks.

So all you sampras nuts, shut up, since you cannot be a better judge of this debate than Agassi. He says Fed is better than Sampras, and that seals it. Stats support it. So shut up. Just because Sampras is american you nuts are siding with him. If Sampras had been French, you would have torn him apart by now.

GopiB Says:

The hype that US media piles on its players is simply out of this world. If you know the “World Series” is played between two US leagues you know what I mean.

The endless drum beat about Connors being the only one to win the US open on each of the surfaces! Connors is an absolute great, no doubt. But the record is downright dubious. How many players even had a chance to play US open on grass, on clay? Sampras, Agassi, Federer only played on the latest deco turf. So how can you brag that Connors was the only one to win the US open on Clay?

The year end #1 is very similar. Pete’s fans fanatically cling to this one (dubious) record as possibly the only one that Roger may not pass.

Why is this dubious? Let’s look at 2003. Roger was #2 at year end. But not for long. Just in the first two weeks in 2004 he became #1 and stayed there. Just for missing out by two weeks at the end of 2003, you ding Roger this “distinction” of year ending #1. Had Roger become #1 two weeks earlier, you’d have counted 2003 for Roger! But that’s really absurd as Roger wasn’t #1 most of 2003. This year ending this is purely arbitrary. What really matters is how long have you stayed at #1. And how many total weeks at #1.

Take 1995 for example. Pete was only #2 for MOST of that year, even until 30th Oct. Yet he managed to close the yeat at #1. So he gets that 1995 to his credit. It somewhat like the delegates for US Presidential election. If you get one extra vote, you get all the delegates from that state. Actually it’s worse than that.

There can be many scenarios where you are only #2 or #3 all year, but vault to #1 at end of year either by diong well in master’s cup, or the #1 or #2 not playing well in the last tournament – or worse – not playing at all because of injury. Suddenly you get year ending honors that you don’t deserve.

Isn’t this simply bogus? You are not #1 for most of the year, but get credit as year ending #1.

I give credit to Pete’s 286 weeks at #1 and Connors’ 160 weeks straight at #1. There records show the consistency of domination. These are the only legitimate #1 records.

George Says:

Another point in this fan war is this. How many of Roger’s fans in this war of words are Swiss? How many are American? That should settle the debate.

Further, what if Pete was Greek and Roger American? Would we even be remembering Pete today? Do you remember Lendl? Ofcourse, we do now. He’s an all American.

What about that lefty Laver? Even after missing out on so many of his prime years, he has two grandslams. He’s the only one to have even a single grandslam. But who do we compare Roger with? Yes, (in our folly) it has to be an American. Even though that American hasn’t reached a single French final, let alone winning, let alone winning all four in a row, let alone a grand slam!!!

Nick Says:


That is one of the best posts. The mere concept of the so called “year end no 1” is ridiculous – doesn’t mean anything.

Fed is on pace to beat Connors 160 weeks in a row as no 1 – and connors did it in an era with much less competition – the quality of players ranked 10-100 is MUCH higher today than 30 years ago.

Pete was a great player, just nowhere near the greatest. His name should figure in the “top 10 players ever” debate, but not in the “greatest player ever” debate. Borg was greater than Sampras.

just for info – looking at just a couple of statistics distorts information. Sampras reached 7 wimbledon finals, won all 7, so we are talking about all this (also because he is american). Becker also reached 7 wimbledon finals, but won only 3 -why? because he had to face edberg at his peak on grass, so he lost two finals to edberg (which Pete would also have lost), and one to Stich in 91 because of a thigh injury. The other one was to Pete in 93, when becker was past his prime and Pete was in his prime. so switch becker and sampras, and you might get becker winning 7 wimbledons and sampras 3.

what a freak of luck sampras was!

nick Says:

EVERY single player on the tour, past and present, says that Fed is a more “complete” player than Sampras. Then, after winning 9 slams including 8 in 3 years, why does anyone doubt that Fed at his peak would beat Sampras at his peak?

Just because Sampras was American? Well, Agassi was half Iranian, is that why you guys don’t respect him that much? Even Bruguera, with NO game whatsoever (Nadal would whack him 6-0 6-0 on clay), beat the heck out of sampras on clay. So much for the “greatest player ever”.

GopiB Says:

Richard Vach deserves credit for writing very provocative articles. Whether there is merit to his point is what all this discussion is about. It’s definitely a fun outlet for tennis fans.

One thing Mr. Vach will notice, though. The tide has turned. Gone are the days when Americans are forced to rout for Americans only. American fans, as fans in the rest of the world can – are free to cheer for players they like and enjoy.

Sports is all about entertainment. Just like movies. No one complains when you go see a foreign film. Or even rave about it. You could even get an Oscar if it is very good.

That has not been the case with sports. If Roddick is playing Federer at the US open, unless you wear Swiss bandana (I didn’t see too many of those) you are to cheer for Roddick only. That includes the commentators and USTA officials too. If an American is playing at the same time that Federer is, then USA network covers the American match. It’s just as simple and blatant as it gets.

What if you are an American and a Federer fan.
There is no worse thing than see USA network cover some other match.

You are a consumer too. You are watching the commercials on USA, you are guzzling down the same beer. How could they totally ignore you?

I cannot imagine worse marketing than is practised here. Why not market the best players on ATP tour. This way fans don’t go into mourning when no American ends up in semis. Make the fans appreciate good tennis, regardless who plays it. And that is by marketing the best tennis.

USTA and USA network, please note. ATP tour is a professional tour. Maket and cover the best tennis that is available. Reserve the patriotism for Davis Cup.

nick Says:

Vach, Randall, where are you – no more Fed bashing articles? What, cat got your tongue?

Jose Brito Says:

Michael Chang (another American) just stuck his head up his ass again. He said ” Fed is up there with the greatest” – what a redundant comment. its like saying – federer can play tennis. Then he said “things would have been different for him if he had played in Pete’s era (sic)”. Well, why doesn’t he say that things would have been different for Pete if he had Federer around?? Just because Sampras is American? Then he says – there are no true serve and volleyers around. Does he know why? Doesn’t he know that racquet technology along with fitter players, coupled with the slower and bouncier grass at wimbledon, has made serve and volley impossible to play? I don’t care if mcenroe or becker were around – serve and volleyers just can’t survive with today’s technology. If pete had been playing today, he would have won 4 slam titles, not 14. The baseliners are just too strong!

Why do americans and american players continue to say – oh, there is less competition today. what a bunch of sore losers, with their panties all tied up in a bunch.

It is impossible for competition today to be any less than 10 years ago. If at all, there is more competition today. Tennis is actively played in over 100 countries, there are more people playing today then 10 years ago. Players are fitter, there is more access to coaching through academies, there’s more money in the sport so more people are making it a career, world population is higher, so more people to select from – then how the heck can anyone say that competition is lower?

A phenomenal guy called Fed showed up, wiped everyone off the face of the court – that’s why nobody else is winning that much. Unless tennis as a sport was in decline (quite the contrary), Fed faces MORE competition today than Pete faced 10 years ago.


Nick Says:

Tiger Woods said this yesterday on Jay Leno – “winning 6 tour titles in a row in 2006 was tougher than it was in 1999-00, since the competition has gotten tougher – due to technology, players are driving longer. they are fitter and training harder”.

Same thing has happened in tennis. The Sampras of 1999 would not win today. Competition is tougher for Fed than it was for Sampras. THat is natural, its bound to happen. So stop saying the opposite, as its stupid.

GopiB Says:

If want to know how much tennis changes over time – the speed, the power – see the video of Lendl vs Borg match on YouTube.

More players around the world are playing tennis as economies are growing. Unless the sport is in decline (prize money going down, tournaments being canceled), over time competition only increases. If anything, tennis is booming around the world. See where the master’s cup is being hosted now.

Against this backdrop, to say that there is more competition in 90s than now is not based on facts.

What about the competition in 80s, when Connors, Borg, McEnroe, Lendl, Wilander, Becker were competing. Did Sampras face that kind of competition? No one ever said that Sampras had less competition than Lendl had in the 80s.

When Sampras was 26 yrs old with some 8 slams, no one ever predicted that injuries will stop him from breaking Emerson’s record of 12 slams,
or breaking Lendl’s record of 4 year end #1s.

Why now?

TejuZ Says:

Does this mean that Federer will never be called the greatest even if he dominates the same way for next 7 years just because he didnt face serve and volley players like Becker, Edberg etc .. ha ha .. arent we playing down his achievments here.

Shouldnt we say Sampras was lucky he wasnt playing in 80’s when the competition was really stiff between first Connors, Borg, Mc’Enroe, and later on Lendl, Wilander, Becker, Edberg splitting titles between them.

I can see Federer beating them all with his game, but Sampras would have had a tougher time out there.

Federer can play on any surface .. that makes him the greatest. He never looks out of sorts.

GopiB Says:

Let’s take the three 10 year periods:

There were 8 multiple GS winners. Borg, Mac, Krieck, Wilander, Connors, Lendl, Edbgerg, Becker

There were 10 multiple GS winners: Kafelnikov, Agassi, Sampras, Rafter, Kuerten, Becker, Bruguera, Courier, Edberg, Becker, Lendl

00-06 (partial)
There are 7 multiple GS winners so far: Federer, Nadal, Safin, Agassi, Roddick, Hewitt, Sampras, Kuerten

What can you say about competition in each era?
Well, Federer equalled/dominated all the other 6 in his era so far. So did Sampras in his era, and Lendl in the previous decade.

See the transition of decades – Sampras beat Lendl at US Open and Federer beat Sampras at Wimbledon.

During 80s,
Borg, Connors, McEnroe, Lendl, and Wilander had the others (strong #2s) nipping at their heels.
Being #1 was a big deal. One GS wouldn’t have cut it.

During 00s,
Federer has more than a strong #2 – even beating him more often than not. At Wimbledon his #1 spot was in threat. Fed has to win multiple GSs and masters titles to stay on top of Nadal.

On the other hand, during 90s,
You will find that there were many #2s during Sampras’ reign as #1, but none consistently staying there and challenging him for the top spot. Sampras often stayed at #1 just with one GS and may be one Masters.

What does this say about competition? It doesn’t prove competition reduces over time.

Peter Says:

What all the stats say is that Sampras was lucky, very lucky.

Also, the EXTENT to which fed dominates today is unprecendented, inspite of GREATER competition than in the 90s.

Why do these morons still continue to hype up sampras and play down Fed, Lendl, Borg, Laver? because they are american. A bloody world series there is between two regional teams – talk about arrogance.

I wonder where the sampras supporters are now. Hiding? I guess so. When presented with hard data, Sampras fans generally tend to disappear, since it disproves their incorrect notions.

Aleman Says:

I don’t know about the whole American world Series part, but let’s look at the year 1993. That’s the first year Sampras really won multiple slams and became year-end Number 1. What happened to his competitors that year? Edberg lost to Novacek, of all players, in the very first round of the U.S. Open. Becker lost that same year to Magnus Larsson in the 4th round. Courier lost to Pioline in that tournament, early on. Sampras went on to dominate the next 5 years. Tell me this – did Edberg’s, Becker’s or Courier’s game really rise all that consistently, after 1993???? Sure, there were moments, but not consistent moments. The only player from 1993-1998 that challenged Pete consistently was Agassi – and Agassi was someone who Fed has beaten NINE TIMES IN A ROW since the end of 2003, something that Pete never managed to do. So Fed is, without a doubt, the better player than Pete.

Bonitto Says:

You know Aleman and company, you have just prove Richard gase for him, this is the weakest era in tennis, and let me ask one question, where ans who is Roger Federer competition today in tennis???

wushu dragon Says:

uuuummmmm…. i’m really confused….
aren’t we actually lucky that within our lifetimes we have actually seen two successive champions who are being talked about as “The Greatest of All Time”?

Aleman Says:

My point was, sure, everyone talks about how there were several multiple-grand-slam winners playing during Sampras’s reign as number 1, meaning from 1993-1998. Sure, the multiple-slam champions may have been PLAYING at that time (Edberg, Becker, Courier), but that doesn’t mean they were at their CONSISTENT PEAK from 1993-98. The only good run, outside of Agassi, during that time was Becker from Wimbledon 1995 to Australian Open 1996, but he pretty much went downhill after that. So my point is, maybe the competition was a little tougher for Sampras in 1993-98 than it is for Federer now, but a lot of those great champions lost early in Slams during those years too.

Aleman Says:

I mean, Stefan Edberg losing to KAREL NOVACEK, of all people, in the first round of the US Open in 1993, after he won the title in 1991 and 1992?? Please, folks. Becker losing to Richey Reneberg in the first round of the U.S. Open in 1994, after losing in the 4th round to Magnus Larsson in 1993? Becker losing to Patrick McEnroe in the first round of the Australian Open in 1995? Let’s not get too hell-bent on Sampras’s 1993-98 competition, without overlooking some of these early round exits from the greats. Just because they have the tag “multiple-grand-slam champion” doesn’t mean they performed so great when Pete was number 1.

GopiB Says:

As to “lack of competition”, let’s see the following illuminating stats:

Here is a look at how Federer compares to the other players who have finished No. 1 for three straight years. I picked their most dominating year out of the three(Most titles -Full Stats are on the ATP site).

2006: 87-5, 11 titles (3 G.S.)

Pete Sampras
1994: 77-12, 10 titles (2 G.S.)

Ivan Lendl
1985: 84-7, 11 titles (1 G.S.)

John McEnroe
1984: 82-3, 13 titles (2 G.S.)

Jimmy Connors
1976: 90-7, 12 titles (1 G.S.)

If Federer has less competition now(87-5 so far), then McEnroe had much lesser competition in 1984 (phenomenal 82-3 record) which we all know couldn’t be any farther than reality.

So what does the above stats tell. McEnroe, Federer, Connors, and Lendl, in that order dominated their opposition much more than Sampras did during his best year.

Or if you are a Sampras fan denying inconvenient facts, then you could extend your argument to include McEnroe, Connors, and Lendl – NONE OF THEM HAD THE TOUGH COMPETITION THAT SAMPRAS FACED DURING HIS TIME.

Aleman Says:

I’m not saying that Sampras had lack of competition at all…or that it was greater or less competition than Fed has today. I am just saying, based on my previous post, that just because there were more players dubbed “multiple grand slam champions” during Sampras’s reign at #1, doesn’t mean they always performed great. They definitely did not, and in fact some were toward the end of their prime.

Alex Says:

pete was a better all-around athlete than roger, just watch some tapes. if they met up in their primes they would split 5-5 (pete would overwhelm and pressure federer with his athletic prowess and net game, while federer would overwhelm pete with hish shot making) No question pete was better athlete physically. roger has more refined skills but thats about it in their degree of differences.

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