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