Who's Better, Roger Federer Or Pete Sampras?
Tennis, Pete Sampras

Sampras vs. Federer: No contest, or closer than you think?

12/14/09 in Tennis   |   sportsgnork   |   44 respect

We all know what happened this year in tennis on the court or at least if you watched any tennis during the summer, so I will spare you the details. 

Now that Roger Federer has surpassed Pete Sampras for the most Men's singles Grand Slam titles, almost all his critics(including yours truly)have shut their mouths about Federer's place in tennis' history.  I clapped after he won the French and even though the jacket he wore at Wimbeldon still irks me, I clapped then too.  I figured the comparison between Sampras and Federer was a no contest.  

Come on, Federer does the feat in half the time and with such dominance it is mind boggling.  Case closed!!!  NOT SO FAST, MY FRIENDS!  

After some research, Sampras' record is more impressive than Federer's.  Here is why. 

1. Sampras took 12 tennis seasons to break the previous record.  During these 12 tennis seasons, there were 17 different Grand Slam Champions. 
2. Sampras owned his main rival, Andre Agassi.  Self-Explanatory.
3. Sampras lost 4 Grand Slam finals to four different players.  All former GS winners.  Overall GS final record is 14 - 4.

Federer's GS final record is 15 - 6.  He has gone to more GS finals than Sampras, but has lost 5 times to the same man, his main rival Rafael Nadal and once to Del Potro.  Federer is 2 - 5 against Nadal in GS Finals.  Sampras is 4 -1 against Agassi.  Only 6 men won Grand Slams since Federer won his first. 

The main point I am making is that if you compare the time lines of each in relation to the competition at the time, Sampras had it tougher.  Is this Federer's fault?  Of course not!  He simply came along at a time where he really is only being challenged by a handful of players as opposed to a large number like Sampras was. 

This comparison is really apples to oranges, but just some food for thought.
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12/17/09   |   tennis207

If Roger were American then we would have called him a greater player than Sampras back in 2004.

If Sampras were Greek, we would be talking about how one dimensional he was (serve), how he was not even a factor on clay, how he had no competition (Chang was his longest #2, and the inconsistent Agassi was no threat to Sampras), let alone comparing him with Roger.

12/15/09   |   andrewmorrison1981   |   2 respect

Why do Federer haters always write these articles where they conveniently leave out important facts? For instance, one of the main reasons Federer has so many Grand Slam final losses to Nadal is because Federer is the second best clay courter of his era. Meanwhile, Sampras never even made the final of the French Open, let alone win one. Also, just because you think the men's tour was more impressive or competitive during Sampras' heyday doesn't make it so. That's like your opinion, man. I've been a long time tennis fan, and I think the tour is deeper and more athletic than it's ever been. I'm not saying I'm right or you're wrong, it's just silly to conclude that because federer has dominated so thoroughly and Sampras didn't that Federer has had it easier. You could just as easily conclude that he's the more dominating player. If you don't think Federer is the greatest, then that's your opinion. Just don't manipulate facts because you want to take the guy down a peg. I mean, c'mon! He's won 15 majors and has reached a grand slam final 22 consecutive times. Oh, and by the way, he's number 1 in the world...again. Like they say in the NFL, "You are what your record says your are." I propose that Federer is what his record says he is: The greatest of all time.

12/15/09   |   jtrain11   |   188 respect

I don't think there is an argument here.  It's Federer by a landslide.  Sampras is great but RF is the greatest.

12/14/09   |   kams12   |   4 respect

I do agree that Federer works his way into tournaments, but I think that you're giving Sampras a bit too much here.  Sampras lost a lot of first round and second rounds, way before he won 12 grand slams.  He lost because he wasn't as consistent as Federer, not because he had to play higher ranked players. Go to atpworldtour.com and look through his past results.  I was a big fan of 90's tennis, but I never thought Sampras dominated, I just thought he was slightly better than those around him, especially at Wimbledon.  Also, it's tough for people to compare the Sampras-Agassi rivalry with Federer-Nadal.  People always use this as the crux of their argument.  However, there are notable differences between the two.  Agassi's game fit nicely with Sampras's.  He hit a flat ball, didn't have a ton of reach on his returns, and couldn't really get the ball low consistently.  Furthermore, he came and went half the time in the 90's with his meth days.  Nadal's game is built to beat Federer's, and he just so happens to be the next best player in the world, so they will play quite often.  Furthermore, Nadal is there every point and every match.  I do agree we are comparing apples to oranges.

12/14/09   |   kams12   |   4 respect

If you look at Sampras's first and second round losses, there are so many losses that are two people outside the top hunded, and at least outside the top 50.  Even if you say Federer has it easier because he gets to play qualifiers right away, how often does he lose to people outside the top 5?  Maybe a handful of times over the last 6 years?  Julien Benneteau was the first I can remember since like 2004 (I'm sure there are a couple more...but none than I can think of off the top of my head).  Sampras probably lost to more than that in 1 year.  Patrick Mcenroe was commentating a match earlier this year and they were going through streaks of great players, and Mcenroe commented on how of the great players, Sampras didn't put together any long streaks of victories because he would often lose to nobodys.  I'm not saying that Sampras isn't a great player because he did step up it up 14 times, but I just think Federer is the more consistent performer.

12/14/09   |   bryan_marshall   |   1 respect

I have seen this argument over a hundred times, yet it is impossible to prove either way. I will say this, though - the depth of the top 16 in men's tennis in 2009 isunparalleled since I  started watching tennis in 1989. And Roger Federer, no longer in his prime and no longer with an aura of invincibility, made it to all 4 GS Finals, won 2 of them, and lost 2 of them in 5 sets. And at the end of the 2008 season and beginning of 2009 (which of course included the Australian Open loss to Nadal) Federer had some major back problems.

12/14/09   |   kams12   |   4 respect

If you go by your reasoning, Sampras edged Agassi in their Grand Slam head to head, so that must mean that Federer's competition is much harder because he is losing to Nadal consistently.  Sampras lost a lot early in tournaments to nobodys, that must mean that because Federer doesn't lose to anybody but the very top people, he must be better than Sampras.  Sampras never won the French Open because he wasn't a complete or good enough player to win, so Federer is better.  The list could go on and on.  It's all very subjective. 

12/14/09   |   kams12   |   4 respect

Your argument only takes into account one piece of the evidence.  Arnold Palmer played at a time when there were more major winnders than the era Tiger Woods is playing in.  That must mean that Arnold Palmer is as good as Tiger Woods.  Just some food for thought.  I know what your argument means, but it's too narrow to have any real significance. 

12/14/09   |   Dream_Machine   |   13144 respect

In 5-10 More Years,

Federer > Sampras... Case Closed.

That's The Only Difference Here. This Guy Is Not Done.

12/14/09   |   skirchner77   |   30 respect

Sampras was the hreatest player and Johnny Mack was the best entertainer in tennis.