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View Full Version : who is better, old timers or modern player?


spadesss
02-01-2007, 09:51 AM
i think most people forget the equipement used between old timers and modern players when debating who is better.

for the old guys...
most rackets were made from wood and requires much more skill and talent to use. those guys still able to hit over 100mhp serves with them wooden rackets. some players can't do that consitently now with modern rackets. i think its hands down for the old timers on the skill department. they have to hit the sweetspot everytime to get a good pop. the rackets now have a bigger sweetspot and hitting off center is more forgiving. wooden rackets are heavier as well. the points last a lot longer so conditioning is important.

not to take anything away from the modern players.
they are great in their own ways, just a bit silly to compare who is better IF they played each other. i can't name another player besides Federer that can maybe used a wooden racket and hit the ball. i doubt Roddick can serve the way he does now with the wooden racket.

i think old timers are better but will get kill on a one to one as the racket technology heavily favors the modern game. one reason making it harder to play serve and volley.

its like modern planes dropping bombs on the cave man society.

drakulie
02-01-2007, 10:00 AM
Sampras and flipper during an exhibition were hitting serves in the 120's with wood racquets.

Modern players would smoke the older players.

gsquicksilver
02-01-2007, 10:03 AM
modern players are stronger, faster, and more fitter than older generation players. i don't believe they trained as hard off the court as they do nowadays with modern players.

chaognosis
02-01-2007, 10:29 AM
Modern players are unquestionably better athletes -- more is known now about training, diet, etc., to maximize athletic ability. But I think it is a fact that people today overrate the importance of pure athletic ability in being a great tennis player. Serena Williams, who was far from in great athletic condition, smoked the best athletes in the WTA at this year's Australian Open. Tennis smarts and the will to win are, in my opinion, more important than pure athletic ability, and the players of the past had these qualities in spades. Also, equipment does play a factor, and I think it favors the "old timers." Those heavy, wooden rackets with the tiny heads required far greater control in order to consistently hit good shots. People marvelled at Agassi's clean shots, and he was an amazing natural talent no doubt, but he benefitted to an extent from the oversize head. Tilden, Cochet, Perry, and Budge were, I think, better ball strikers than anyone from the last ten or twenty years. A worthy observation comes from E. Digby Baltzell, author of Sporting Gentlemen (1994), who notes that while there are probably more really good second-class players today than ever before, the Open Era also witnessed a decline in the number of true first-class players. He writes that virtually anyone who saw both Perry and Connors play, for example, would rate Perry above Connors.

Patterson, Vines, and Gonzales could probably serve as well as Sampras or Ivanisevic. Tilden, Budge, and Kramer were not far behind. Cochet, Perry, and Budge were all masters at taking the ball on the rise, long before Agassi. Gonzales, in an interview shortly before his death in the mid-1990s, said that Budge's backhand remained the best he'd ever seen--and he didn't even face Budge in his prime. Kramer followed the game astutely as player, tour promoter, commentator, and author, and he maintains that Vines at his best could beat anyone in history, and that Budge was the best ever for consistent play. He was even interviewed at Wimbledon in 2004, I believe, and said that Federer reminded him of Gonzales, but he would bet on either Vines or Budge to find a way to beat Federer. Ultimately, these questions cannot be definitively answered. I do think, however, that tennis fans are a bit short-sighted compared to fans of other sports. No student of baseball could seriously argue that Bonds, Rodriguez, and Pujols were better than Ruth, Cobb, or Williams, but tennis fans often make comparable arguments. It is important that we give credit to the pioneers of the game, who in many ways did more with less, and who helped make the game what it is today.

(For the record, Baltzell listed his "ten all-time champions" [c. 1994] as being Tilden, Cochet, Perry, Budge, Kramer, Gonzales, Laver, Newcombe, Borg, and McEnroe. I am sure now that Sampras and Federer would both have a place on his list, if he were alive today, perhaps replacing Gonzales and McEnroe, whom he never really liked anyway.)

urban
02-01-2007, 10:30 AM
There is an evolution in sport, no doubt. 'We are dwarfs on the shoulders of giants', philosophers in the middle ages used to say. Better equipment, better nutrition and training methods, the experience of older generations-all this gives the modern player advantages. Men are bigger and taller nowadays: in 1970 average men were 1,75, now they grow to maybe 1,82. In older time taler guys were not that good at ball sports or boxing. A Joe Louis, 1,85 high and a cruiser weight on todays standards, flattened lumbering Primo Carnera or Buddy Baer, who were 2,05. Today a Klitschko ist 2,03, but still fast (maybe with a class chin). In soccer, strikers like Pele, Best, Greaves or Mueller were around 1,70; now they are 1,90, and agile (Drogba, Adriano etc.). But despite having no coaches, trainers and entourage, the players of yesteryear could play with ther small sticks. I recently saw some clips of Laver-Rosewall matches out of the 60s. Despite the time difference of ca. 40-50 years, the standard was quite good, they were fast, had great court coverage, used the whole court, played agressively from inside the baseline, and made some shots out of impossible positions. The one shot-aeria, they executed better than today, is the volley and the half-volley, and they used the lob more and more clever than todays players.

chaognosis
02-01-2007, 10:40 AM
A question for urban, or anyone else: are you familiar with Al Laney's book Covering the Court? I have not read it, though I have seen it referenced now several times, with glowing comments. Bud Collins called him "perhaps the best of us all who've tried to put the game into words" in a 2001 book review. I am thinking of ordering a copy from Amazon, though I was wondering if you had any thoughts.

Also, any chance you've read Metzler's Tennis Styles and Stylists yet? It's written in an informal style, but it's a great read, and the author makes very interesting comparisons of the great players through 1969 at the end of the book. I think you'd enjoy it -- though you may find it too slanted toward American "power" tennis, even though it's written by an Australian!

vascoboy
02-01-2007, 10:44 AM
modern players, just watch clips on the older ones...i know...the equipment has changed the game,...but look at their strokes, serves,...i know it's romantic to say the olders played better but I don't believe so...i imagine future generations will be better than todays...

gsquicksilver
02-01-2007, 10:48 AM
i totally agree. modern players are better, their technique, strokes, mechanics have been perfected throughout the years. the old time players were the ones who started it all, but the modern era built on their strengths.

it's like comparing, what is better: the new lexus LS460 or the original lexus LS400?

chaognosis
02-01-2007, 10:52 AM
i totally agree. modern players are better, their technique, strokes, mechanics have been perfected throughout the years. the old time players were the ones who started it all, but the modern era built on their strengths.

it's like comparing, what is better: the new lexus LS460 or the original lexus LS400?

To fall back on my earlier analogy, then, would you also be willing to rank Shaquille O'Neal over Wilt Chamberlain? Tim Duncan over Bill Russell? How about LaDainian Tomlinson over Jim Brown or Walter Payton? Tom Brady over Johnny Unitas or Joe Montana? And of course, Barry Bonds over Babe Ruth or Ted Williams?! Again, I think tennis fans seem to be much more short-sighted than fans of other sports, which is sad, because tennis has such a rich history, and there are very few people who know very much about it.

urban
02-01-2007, 10:55 AM
Chaognosis, no, i haven't read the books of Metzler and Al Laney, but i will try to get them. Today its far easier to get these old copies, thanks to the internet. Earlier, at least in Europe, one had to go to Shaftesbury-Road in London, to get some old tennis books. Laney alonside Allison Danzig, was rated as one of the great US writers. I have a book of Herbert Warren Wind, who could also write well. My favourite writer, regarding style of prose, was Rex Bellamy of The Times. I know Baltzell's book, which You mentioned. Its an interesting read, although he is very much in favour of the old amateur ideal and critical of the pro game. And ironically some of the old gentlemen, like Tilden and Perry, were not always that gentleman-like, and almost all tried to make a living out of tennis, by turning pro.

Mountain Ghost
02-01-2007, 11:13 AM
If you’re keeping score, a modern player would win. If you’re awarding style and grace points, except for a few exceptions, I think a number of the older players could win the dance contest.

MG

spadesss
02-01-2007, 11:32 AM
it would be great if pete and fed play exhibition match with wooden rackets and then get a few old timers to join in. it would be interesting to see how well pete and fed would play.

ferocious4hand
02-01-2007, 01:38 PM
And of course, Barry Bonds over Babe Ruth or Ted Williams?!

Bond's is far more superior than Ruth or Williams...the guy's juiced!

BlankenshipBabaganoosh
02-01-2007, 02:23 PM
old timers had grace, the new players have only power except gasquet.

drakulie
02-01-2007, 02:42 PM
To fall back on my earlier analogy, then, would you also be willing to rank Shaquille O'Neal over Wilt Chamberlain? Tim Duncan over Bill Russell? How about LaDainian Tomlinson over Jim Brown or Walter Payton? Tom Brady over Johnny Unitas or Joe Montana? And of course, Barry Bonds over Babe Ruth or Ted Williams?! Again, I think tennis fans seem to be much more short-sighted than fans of other sports, which is sad, because tennis has such a rich history, and there are very few people who know very much about it.

I disagree with your analogy. I am actually surprised you used this. This "argument" does not hold water because all those players you mentioned played for a "TEAM".

What makes tennis special and unique from these sports is everything that happens between the lines is between two people. Not 22, or 18, or 12, etc.

A tennis player is solely responsible for what happens between the lines.

AndrewD
02-01-2007, 02:50 PM
Sampras and flipper during an exhibition were hitting serves in the 120's with wood racquets.
Modern players would smoke the older players.

And their second serves - the key to how fast you hit the first one-, just how fast were they and how much spin did they manage to put on the ball?

ANSWER: they wouldn't have been any faster or carried any more spin than those hit by old timers like Newcombe, Smith, Ashe or any of the game's other big servers.

Modern players do not have a mortgage on talent. Sure, they are better trained than their forebears but they sure as hell aren't better players.

It just seems as though too many people confuse 'different' with 'better' and assume that anything new must be of a higher quality. That's just a load of rubbish. People who believe that are concentrating on the secondary aspects of sport - the equipment and the technique- while ignoring the simple fact that what makes a player great is not something which can be taught or bought. It's an attitude and, in sport, it is everything.

chaognosis
02-01-2007, 02:57 PM
I disagree with your analogy. I am actually surprised you used this. This "argument" does not hold water because all those players you mentioned played for a "TEAM".

What makes tennis special and unique from these sports is everything that happens between the lines is between two people. Not 22, or 18, or 12, etc.

A tennis player is solely responsible for what happens between the lines.

You pick on a technicality, but I don't see how this undermines my argument in the least. The same arguments about the evolution of tennis players can be applied to batters in baseball, quarterbacks in football, etc. (that's why I compared only basketball/football players with others of the same position). You can easily make the case that coaching, technology, training, fitness, the physical advancement of humans, etc., makes a modern player in any sport superior to an "old timer." But this is simply not true. Serious students of baseball, a game whose history is more studied and better understood, generally do not buy this line of thinking. Tennis fans rather seem content to live in a state of blissful ignorance, believing that every year the game they're seeing is better than the year before. Many experts believe, in fact, that all the developments of the modern game have actually caused players to deteriorate, because they all employ the same strategies, and do not have the tactical minds of a Tilden, Gonzales, or Laver (I would strongly agree with this, BTW). I grant that it is tough to compare eras, but from what I have seen, read, and studied, it seems clear to me that the players of the 1930s, '50s, and '60s were in many ways more skilled than the players of today. It is simply the culture of tennis fans, that they for the most part have excruciatingly short-term memories.

chaognosis
02-01-2007, 03:08 PM
I would like to add on to my last post, just to qualify that not all players today are "less skilled" than those of the past. Sampras in many ways was a throwback to the Big Game players of the 1950s, especially Kramer, whose pinpoint-accurate serve, aggressive net play, and exceptional forehand were the foundations of his game. Federer plays more of an all-court power game, like some of the great Aussies, especially Hoad. And the short-term memory of fans is by no means a new phenomenon. Tilden, Vines, Perry, Budge, Kramer, Gonzales, Hoad, Laver, Borg, McEnroe, Sampras, and Federer were each hailed in his day as the best ever. Sometimes these observations turn out to be better founded than others. Vines and Hoad, for example, despite their brilliance "between the lines," ultimately did not have the consistency or longevity to justify their praise -- I myself have fallen victim to the comments of writers of their day, but in my sober moments I cannot justify ranking Hoad above Rosewall or even Newcombe, or Vines above Perry. Federer, I think has the consistency these other "critical darlings" lacked. In the last three years he has earned his place close to the pinnacle of the sport, though I think his dominance is not quite at the level of Budge in 1937-39.

drakulie
02-01-2007, 03:08 PM
I don't go by the assumption that every year players are better. Tennis is very similar to fashion in the sense that every 10-20 years the "pendulum" is swung back, and forth again.

There was a very long era of S & V tennis, then one player started playing baseline and that changed the current "fashion", then it went back again, and so-forth.

However, each time it comes back around, the players are better than their predecessors.

For example, we are now seeing Federer playing the beautiful all-court game that Laver played 40years ago. However, he is better. etc, etc, etc,

People tend to think baseline play was started by Connors/Borg. It wasn't. There were lots of "old-timers" that primarily played baseline. However, Borg/Connors "upped" the ante.

Moose Malloy
02-01-2007, 03:24 PM
Philippoussis was clocked serving with a wood racquet that was 84 sq inches, far bigger than those used by Borg or Laver.

No doubt the really big servers would serve big with wood as well, but everyone else? Philippoussis & Sampras are truly rare physical talents who have incredible strength. I would like to see Davydenko, Nadal, Nalbandian serve with wood racquets(actually I heard nalbandian served with a wood racquet in an exo with clerc & vilas with wood racquets recently. I think he was serving around 60 mph, doublefaulting most of the time, heard he looked completely clueless)

and like andrew said, what about 2nd serves? what about 1st serve percentages, esp over a 5 setter? I don't think todays players would be quite so confident on the serve, with wood it is extremely difficult to hit kick serves.

and we're just talking about serves, groundstrokes of today are simply impossible with wood, returning a 120 mph serve with a 65 sq inch racquet is something that even 'talented' players of today may have difficulty with.

chaognosis, the reason tennis players are so ignorant compared to other sports fans is that other sports don't have equipment dictating so much of the evolution of the sport.

baseball has used the same basic equipment for 100 years.

it amazes me that so many don't notice that the game was basically the same, pace wise, from budge to laver to borg/mcenroe over some 60 years & than suddenly everyone hit harder once wood was scrapped.

and then the pace picked up even more with larger graphite racquets, then the string changes of recent years.

Imagine if baseball allowed metal bats, even without steroids, the stats would go through the roof.

drakulie
02-01-2007, 03:34 PM
Moose, in actuality many "old-timers" and "respected tennis writers/coaches/players", state that Tilden hit 163 mph serves. And that he along with Gonzalez and many others FREQUENTLY hit 100+ mph forehands. I will remind you that they played with wood.

These are feats that have NEVER been seen in the modern game, with the "new technology". Players do not "frequently" hit 100+ mph forehands. And even Roddick with his "juiced up" Babolat, and "juiced up radar gun has been unable to come anywhere near 163 mph.

How were players with a "65 square inch" wood racquet able to retunr 163 mphs serves? How were they able to frequently hit 100+ mph forehands, and get returns from their opponents?

So which is it? Did they, or didn't they?

NoBadMojo
02-01-2007, 03:44 PM
We've done this before as I have done wood exhibition matches. I can serve pretty much the same with my first serve as far as ball speed, placement, kick etc, but it takes significantly more effort to do so than with my current frames. the HUGE diference is on second serves....they are so much easier to be effective with using a modern frame. This also makes it strategically a better choice to go for a bigger first serve as we could more easily hit a reliable second serve with a modern frame..better players often hit their second serves with every bit the headspeed of their first, it's just that you put more spin on the second serve and that is MUCH harder to do with a 65 inch wooden frame.
The differences are numerous.....it isnt possible for one advanced player to compete with a wooden frame against someone of the same level using their regular frame....we tried that as well and it was a total lopsided mismatch tryng it both ways
Also the service returns have gotten so much better comparatively speaking to how much the serves have advanced
I'm a 5.0 and used to be significantly better and play all court T.
It really is impossible to compare how one player would do against another from another era because if the old timer were playing today, he would be using different gear and different technique, have more training tools, etc
I would say however, that back then, there were far more real athletes playing tennis than there are now as pro tennis players to me mostly seem more trained than athletic..it's more a fitness grind than a true hand/eye fast twich athletic endeavor and the game reminds me more cycling these days than tennis with a few exceptions. of course todays players are stronger and fitter, have better equipment, better chemicals :), better trainers, better training tools, etc.

chaognosis
02-01-2007, 03:45 PM
Moose, I see your point about tennis being an especially technology-dependent sport. I do think, however, that all of the arguments about coaching, training, fitness, and the physical advancement of humans, that people make about today's tennis players, could be applied just as easily to baseball players. If one were being consistent, anyway, which most people are not. And there have been some technological changes in baseball. Though I do not know so much about the game, I do know that gloves were substantially redesigned at some point, and also balls themselves have been subject to a great deal of evolution. Wasn't there a new ball introduced shortly before the home run explosion in the late 1990s? My main point is that while these developments have occurred in other sports, to some extent, their fans nevertheless appreciate the historical importance and greatness of past heroes. Ruth usually comes out on top of baseball G.O.A.T. polls, even among casual fans. Where are Tilden and Budge on most tennis polls today? It is sometimes hard to find a fan who has even heard of them, much less one who has a firm knowledge of their accomplishments. This is sad, I think, because Tilden was at least as great a figure in tennis as Ruth was in baseball, and what Budge achieved in the late 1930s was, and is, simply unparalleled.

EricW
02-01-2007, 03:46 PM
The thing I don't understand about comparing players of today and people back then was, they didn't have good technique... watch their serves are they don't maximize everything like people do now, i'm sure if roddick used wood for the last 20 years he could still serve the fastest in history, as long as everyone else used wood...

Frank Silbermann
02-01-2007, 07:46 PM
The thing I don't understand about comparing players of today and people back then was, they didn't have good technique... watch their serves are they don't maximize everything like people do now, i'm sure if roddick used wood for the last 20 years he could still serve the fastest in history, as long as everyone else used wood... The foot-fault rules were different then. Until maybe twenty years ago (I'm not sure when they made the change), until you made contact you were required to have at least one foot touching the ground behind the baseline and the other foot was not allowed to pass over the baseline.

I'm not sure why they changed the rule; perhaps it was difficult to be consistent between linesmen in calling footfaults.

Frank Silbermann
02-01-2007, 07:51 PM
Modern players are unquestionably better athletes -- more is known now about training, diet, etc., to maximize athletic ability. Also, there is much better treatment of injuries (including arthroscopic surgery) to repair the damage when players overtrain. In the old days, anyone who tried to train or play like today's players would have had his career ended by the first stress injury.

Trinity TC
02-02-2007, 10:56 AM
The foot-fault rules were different then. Until maybe twenty years ago (I'm not sure when they made the change), until you made contact you were required to have at least one foot touching the ground behind the baseline and the other foot was not allowed to pass over the baseline.

I'm not sure why they changed the rule; perhaps it was difficult to be consistent between linesmen in calling footfaults.
Off the top of my head, I believe it was 1961. It was partially because the application of the foot-fault rule varied from tournament to tournament which hindered the serve and volleyers. I believe some early TV broadcasts in the US used to talk less about the game itself and more about who was cheating by foot-faulting so that was cleared up with the rule change.

There was also a lot of tinkering with the rules in the pro game back in the early 60s in an effort to make it more fan friendly back then. A few I remember were the VASSS (Van Alen Simplified Scoring System), the One serve rule and a rule change where the server had to serve from behind a small line about a foot behind the baseline.

The Gorilla
02-02-2007, 11:06 AM
Moose, I see your point about tennis being an especially technology-dependent sport. I do think, however, that all of the arguments about coaching, training, fitness, and the physical advancement of humans, that people make about today's tennis players, could be applied just as easily to baseball players. If one were being consistent, anyway, which most people are not. And there have been some technological changes in baseball. Though I do not know so much about the game, I do know that gloves were substantially redesigned at some point, and also balls themselves have been subject to a great deal of evolution. Wasn't there a new ball introduced shortly before the home run explosion in the late 1990s? My main point is that while these developments have occurred in other sports, to some extent, their fans nevertheless appreciate the historical importance and greatness of past heroes. Ruth usually comes out on top of baseball G.O.A.T. polls, even among casual fans. Where are Tilden and Budge on most tennis polls today? It is sometimes hard to find a fan who has even heard of them, much less one who has a firm knowledge of their accomplishments. This is sad, I think, because Tilden was at least as great a figure in tennis as Ruth was in baseball, and what Budge achieved in the late 1930s was, and is, simply unparalleled.



tilden was a paedophile, so understandably he has been airbrushed out of tennis history.

chaognosis
02-02-2007, 11:31 AM
tilden was a paedophile, so understandably he has been airbrushed out of tennis history.

And Budge was an impeccable human being, but he is even less known today than Tilden. If anything, Tilden is better known now because of his dubious late-life, off-court behavior. Most biographers, BTW, paint a not-too-condemning portrait of Big Bill, and seem to make the case that his crimes are more harshly remembered than perhaps they should be. There is no excusing the offense, no question, but it also does not erase what he did for the sport, either on the court or off it. Tennis would almost certainly not exist today, the way we know it, without Tilden's influence.

VGP
02-02-2007, 01:58 PM
When are you guys gonna get it?

Sampras and Federer ARE old-timers. Old-timers reincarnate.

They idolize players of the past and employ their styles of strokes, and more importantly, tried and true classic tennis tactics. They take consultation of past greats and kept the traditions alive.

The classics never die.

Yours!05
02-02-2007, 02:51 PM
This has to be the best of the many threads on this subject. Be great if someone with a comprehensive collection of old clips could upload them to a "sharing" *cough* site.
Equipment technology has thrown up a veritable dross of boring second class players who have little appeal except to fankids and hinder true appreciation of the game.

@VGP
Hope they aren't the last.

alwaysatnet
02-11-2007, 02:34 PM
I think the modern players would have to be considered superior to the old timers strictly on physical differences alone. Today's players are bigger,fitter,better trained and better coached. It takes nothing away from the players who competed before tennis became such a big business,relatively speaking, but you can't ignore all the resources and training that today's players have access to that the old timers didn't. It's pretty useless comparing eras but without doubt today's players have all the technical advantages.

wilsun
02-12-2007, 09:43 AM
I think most of the players of the past would beat most of the players of today. What if the players of the past had the equipment of today, no contest. I would like to believe this anyway because I think the players of the past had respect and dignity for the way the game should be played.Wearing clean all white clothes, trying to respect the opponent and the referee, shaking hands at the end, even the crowd being quiet during the match. All of these things make me long for the old days. I do not like the fans yelling between points and the players screaming during points. One more thing the only player who would beat anyone of any time in tennis past to present with any equipment is Rodger Federer The best tennis player ever!!!

slice bh compliment
02-12-2007, 09:51 AM
Excellent idea for a thread. Some excellent points made already. I'm looking forward to it developing....and reading more. I just wish I had some video to share.

There is a TW Forum member whose screen name is OldGuysRule. Anyone know him/remember his name?
I wonder what his thoughts are on this topic.;)

spadesss
02-12-2007, 10:52 AM
is it safe to say that wooden rackets are tougher to learn, play and master???
i never touched one so i am assuming and asking those who have to give their perspective.

i figured todays' rackets have some many specs for players to choose from or tailor made to some of them even.
did any of the old timer's ever "tailor" made their rackets the way modern players currently do?

Sagittar
02-12-2007, 04:25 PM
today players are better , especially fitness related ...

Frank Silbermann
02-13-2007, 03:30 AM
is it safe to say that wooden rackets are tougher to learn, play and master???
i never touched one so i am assuming and asking those who have to give their perspective.

i figured todays' rackets have some many specs for players to choose from or tailor made to some of them even.
did any of the old timer's ever "tailor" made their rackets the way modern players currently do? You could vary the weight from, say, 12 ounces to 16. You could have a racquet that was head-light or evenly balanced.

Because wood is much more flexible than graphite, to get any sort of power in the racquet (i.e., stiffness comparable to the Prince POG) you needed _lots_ of wood, i.e., a very heavy racquet. Baseliners were advised to use the heaviest racquet they could swing, though serve-and-volleyers often used lighter racquets at the expense of their groundstrokes.

Heavy topspin with a heavy racquet was too tiring to rely on in a five set match with no tie-breakers, and the tiny sweetspot would result in lots of mis-hits. That's why players were forced to use good form and correct grips. Today coaches, in contrast, must learn to teach bad form and incorrect grips (i.e., hitting off the back foot with a semi-western grip) because that's what wins.

Note that before WWI there _were_ lots of heavy-topspin western grip players from the concrete-court world of California, but with heavy wooden racquets they could not lift the balls well enough on grass or endure the long points on clay.

vudal
02-16-2007, 09:31 PM
Todays 5.0 rating would be equal to the mens level back then.

VGP
02-17-2007, 04:36 AM
Todays 5.0 rating would be equal to the mens level back then.

That may be true in a basic level, but to say it so gruffly sounds disrespectful to me.

Some people try and convince themselves of this, like NTRP level 5.0 is a magic number or something. Like thinking, "Wow, I'm a 5.0. I've arrived. I coulda, shoulda, woulda gone pro. I'd sure kick some serious ***."

That doesn't mean that "today's 5.0" would be a tennis great back in the day.

What I (and others) conclude is that you really can't compare eras. You can't transport a current 5.0 level player back in time to play Don Budge, Bill Tilden, or Suzanne Lenglen. You can't ressurect Henri Cochet, Maurice McLoughlin or Maureen Connoly, or make younger a Rod Laver, Jack Kramer, or Margaret Court to see how a current 5.0 would really stack up against a player from the past brought here and now.

The issues of equipment, training, surfaces, environment, AND rules all come into play. We've all benefited by learning from the past. I just don't want to see people disrespect the past.

To entertain the idea, if we could transport people.....I think the initial shock would be there. The "old-timer" would probably be initially surprised or overwhelmed. Whether they'd be able to adjust within a set, match, month or year (if they could change equipment and adjust to the surfaces) would be interesting to see. Given time and adjustment, I think we'd see that the great players would still be great and a 5.0 would still be a nameless hack.

drakulie
02-17-2007, 07:10 AM
Well I saw a solid 5.0-5.5 player who is ranked in the top 10 here in Florida for 5.0's get his *** whooped by a guy who was a profiessional in the early 70's.

He got beat up very-very badly.

Kaptain Karl
02-17-2007, 07:20 AM
Good stuff, VGP. I *am* a 5.0 ... and I have yet to take a *set* off my 5.5 drilling partner. (And he isn't nearly as "dedicated" to working-out and striving to improve as I am...!) He's just plain better.

I don't think I could get four games off Cliff Drysdale ... who I assume still plays for fun and exercise. (And he was never one of the "Greats" during "his day.")

Many players today have no idea how much greater the Degree of Difficulty is when trying to break into the next level. (Many forget how Federer wasn't by any means "great" when he went Pro....)

- KK

Nick Irons
02-17-2007, 07:27 AM
chaognosis

I am enjoying your take on tennis in this forum. I have to concur; it is a grave generalization to claim 'today's player's' would smoke 'the older guy's'.

Believing that mindset shows how narrowminded one can be. The legends of the game are legends of the game for a reason. Not because of modern medicine, not because of modern racquets, but because of thier skill on the court, the sheer atheleticism and their outright game.

I'd put money on all things being equal, that yesterday's legends would be legends in todays game as well and todays Paul Goldsteins being yesterdays Paul Goldsteins.

heycal
02-17-2007, 09:16 AM
I don't think I could get four games off Cliff Drysdale ... who I assume still plays for fun and exercise. (And he was never one of the "Greats" during "his day.")

Haven't read the rest of the thread, but quick question -- Kaptain Karl versus Chris Everett: Who wins and why, and what's the score in a best of 3?

Yours!05
02-17-2007, 10:57 AM
Haven't read the rest of the thread, but quick question -- Kaptain Karl versus Chris Everett: Who wins and why, and what's the score in a best of 3?Way to draw the wrong crowd into this 5-star thread.:shock: :roll:

Kaptain Karl
02-17-2007, 11:24 AM
heycal - I'm not taking that bait....

I'd like to see the *reverse* of what people keep hypothesizing. Put Nadal against Mac ... on a hard court ... with woodies ... for one "Pro set." That would give us (some) idea of how much the equipment really matters....

But others are right; all this speculating is fun ... but kinda silly.

- KK

The Gorilla
02-17-2007, 11:33 AM
heycal - I'm not taking that bait....

I'd like to see the *reverse* of what people keep hypothesizing. Put Nadal against Mac ... on a hard court ... with woodies ... for one "Pro set." That would give us (some) idea of how much the equipment really matters....

But others are right; all this speculating is fun ... but kinda silly.

- KK



mcenroe beat borg on hard courts.

Nick Irons
02-17-2007, 12:08 PM
heycal - I'm not taking that bait....

I'd like to see the *reverse* of what people keep hypothesizing. Put Nadal against Mac ... on a hard court ... with woodies ... for one "Pro set." That would give us (some) idea of how much the equipment really matters....

But others are right; all this speculating is fun ... but kinda silly.

- KK

There are obvious exceptions and I don't think anyone is saying it is an absolute rule.

Now, Nadal is a freak of nature and admittedly, Mac isn't the physical specimen of Rafa but he had a serve and volley game that was just stupid. Your basing your thoughts on physical appearance.

I mean, Mac beat Goran Ivanisevic, Richard Krajicek and Boris Becker in 1992. That's the beauty of the game, it isn't about just crushing the rock and over powering people; see Roddick and Nadal for that theory.

Roger isn't the biggest guy on the block.

Kaptain Karl
02-17-2007, 12:15 PM
Nick, I don't know what you think I'm thinking.... I don't understand what you have posted ^^^.

- KK

heycal
02-17-2007, 02:12 PM
heycal - I'm not taking that bait....

I'd like to see the *reverse* of what people keep hypothesizing. Put Nadal against Mac ... on a hard court ... with woodies ... for one "Pro set." That would give us (some) idea of how much the equipment really matters....

But others are right; all this speculating is fun ... but kinda silly.

Well, you don't need to answer if you don't want to, but I don't think of it as "bait" but rather a legitimate question. You introduced the topic of how you would fare against an old male pro in his 60's, so it made me wonder how you think you would fare against a former female pro your own age. I picked Everett partly because I asked my own 5.0 buddy this same question awhile back, and was surprised to hear him say he thought he would lose 1-6,1-6 or so.

I know it's all silly speculation, but I find these questions more interesting when one of the potential players -- like you -- can speculate themselves about how would they do in such a match-up, instead of wondering about Nadal v. McEnroe since neither is here with us to take part in the discussion.

Nick Irons
02-17-2007, 02:30 PM
Nick, I don't know what you think I'm thinking.... I don't understand what you have posted ^^^.

- KK

Maybe clarifying yourself may help ? Are you suggesting Mac or Nadal wins ?

Rabbit
02-18-2007, 07:45 AM
The "athletes today are bigger & stronger argument"

The guys playing today are undoubtably bigger and stronger than those of the 70s. Back then, there wasn't one guy who was over 6 feet. As of right now, there are two guys in the top ten under 6', Davydenko and Robredo. Davydenko is listed at 5'10" but given the "stretch" factor most pros use, he may be 5'10" in heels.

And, the bigger argument doesn't hold too much water with me. Not when you consider that on paper, Ivo Karlovic should own a player like Oliver Rochus. Karlovic is I think the current tallest player on tour at 6'10". Rochus lists himself at 5'5", but I'd be really suprsied if he was over 5'3". Rochus is 2 - 0 against Karlovic and one of those wins was on grass!

Back in the 80s, Tennis magazine did an article on the very topic of how big is optimal in tennis. They arrived at the conclusion that Jose-Luis Clerc had the optimal build and height for tennis. Clerc was 6'1" and weiged 176 pounds. I remember this really well because Cliff Drysdale made reference to it most every time he commentated on a Clerc match. If you look at today's top 10, you'll see that 6'1 +/- and inch is about where the majority are:

Roger Federer 6'1"
Rafael Nadal 6'1"
Nikolay Davydenko 5'10"
Andy Roddick 6'2"
Fernando Gonzalez 6'
James Blake 6'1"
Tommy Robredo 5'11"
Ivan Ljubici 6'4"
Mario Ancic 6'5"
Tommy Haas 6'2"

Given that list, I don't think that the bigger/stronger argument is all that valid. The population of the world is getting taller, so it makes sense that athletes would get taller too. I just don't see that big a jump in height from the 80s.

Stronger. Tennis is really not as much a game of strength as it is speed and timing. Players need speed to get in position to hit the next ball and they need to have excellent timing to hit the ball as well as they do. Agassi experimented with strength training to bulk up. Cliff Drysdale said that he thought it hindered Agassi's stroke and there was much talk/debate about it back then. Tennis players of today basically use high rep work in the weight room to build strength, not bulk strength.

Today's athletes are in better shape argument

I think this is simply refuted. Today's points are by and large shorter than the points of yesteryear. That, combined with the advent of the tiebreak pretty much disprove that today's athletes are more fit. Ivan Lendl said it best when he compared the players of today versus his era. He said that today's players were more like sprinters where in his day, they were more like marathon runners. If you look back to the clay court matches between Borg & Vilas when one point had 50 - 75 hits of the ball, all side to side, you'll see that they did much more running than today's players. Likewise on grass, in the days of wood, there were more and longer rallies on the grass than today.
Now, this is not to say that the older guys were in better shape. No, they were conditioned for a different game. They played longer points and swung heavier rackets. I think that today's players are in great shape. I'm only saying that the guys back then were in as good a condition as the guys today. Any one competing on a world class level is going to be supremely conditioned or supremely talented.

Today's 5.0 is the equivalent of a pro from <insert year here>

Guys, if you need an NTRP rating, you do not qualify as a pro. The only reason for an NTRP rating is to handicap your competitive level. A pro from any era competes for a living. Ergo, he's on his own. I have had the great and distinct pleasure of playing a set of doubles against several world class players. (I had to pay for this, mind you.) The game they play bears no resemblance to what you and I do.
One of the players was Gene Mayer who had a career high ranking of 4 in the world. I was ranted 5.0 at the time we played doubles. Mayer was really nice about the whole thing. Toward the end of the set, I asked him to hit a couple of balls at me with "everything". He wasn't feeling too good, but he agreed. I served and came in, and basically the balls were un-volleyable. He hit them at me and they were on me so fast with so much spin that while I could put a racket on them (he hit them at me), if they went over, it was just pure dumb luck.
In short, anyone with an NTRP level is going to be a cupcake compared to a pro. We don't want to believe this, but it's true. That's why we have day jobs.
I also got a chance to play 16 points in a round robin against a kid who is now on the Junior Davis Cup team. It was pretty much the same story.

Point of this whole exercise is that guys who do this for a living play a game with which we are not familiar.

Players of today are better because they've trained more

There are two ways of looking at this IMO. I can agree and say that since Agassi benefited from doing nothing but tennis from age 6(?) and living at a tennis academy that yes, it's true.
However, you could also say that had Rod Laver benefited from the same environment he would have been as trained and thereby the equal of any player today.
Today's players may or may not be better trained. I really don't know. I think that today's players are a homogenous product of Academy tennis and that we've seen nothing but baseline bashing for the last decade or so. The difference in styles in the game that once made it a joy to watch have vanished.
Is all hope lost for us old farts who miss a baseliner against a serve and vollyer? No! To tell you the truth, I've seen more sojourns to the net lately and heard more about players wanting to move forward than I have in a long time. Players are doing this because of Federer. There's such a gap between them and him that they realize there needs to be a change in tactic. Federer has become the benchmark.
There is a poser in all this as Federer, since achieving the top spot, come to net less and less. But, if this motivates the guys under him to come to net, then all is not lost and maybe the pendulum is swinging away from the style that Nick Bollitieri invented.



OK, so what does this all mean? Well, IMO, if you could transport Roger Federer to the 50s and give him the same access as Rod Laver, it would mean that Rod Laver would have some stiff competition. It also means that if you could transport Rod Laver to the 80s and let him grow up at Nick Bollitieri's, he'd be giving Roger Federer fits as well.

Robert Landsdrop and Nick Bollitieri have both said that what a kid has to have to be a great or to have the potential to be a great is the timing. That is the one thing that can't be taught. You can take a kid and train him physically until he's in shape. You can teach him technique and drill him 4 - 6 hours a day on court until he has muscle memory enough to execute. You can coach him until he understands how to construct a point and find weaknesses. (This doesn't explain why Andy Roddick continues to HIT CROSSCOURT APPROACH SHOTS, but that is another thread.) But! you cannot teach timing. The great coaches agree that this is an innate ability that the great players have.

In short, many things about the game change, but the eyes and hands for tennis is really what counts.

NoBadMojo
02-18-2007, 09:04 AM
I think if we were to break this down into two compartments, that may be a fair perspective

-Are todays' athletes better than the athletes in general from days gone by<not tennis specific>

and

-Are todays tennis players better athletes, than tennis players of days gone by
-----------------------------------

-Are todays' athletes better than the athletes in general <not tennis specific> from days gone by

Absolutely, and I dont think that is even arguable. Bigger, faster, stronger, quicker more athletic better hand/eye, better training aids, better medicine chests ;), etc and etc

I consider basketball and ice hockey to be the two sports best showcasing athletic ablity. What hoopsters and hockey players are able to do these days causes my jaw to drop. One Example: To witness a 6'4' hockey guy traveling at a very high rate of speed on 4" razor blades knock down a hot pass with the stick blade, kick the puck with his left foot over to his right side while cranking up a wicked slapshot all in one seemingly seemless motion, all the while being mindful of where his teammates are, where the goalies is, and being aware there is some 6'5 goon lurking wanting to take his head off is the ultimate in sports multitasking to me.

-Are todays tennis players better athletes, than tennis players of days gone by

I really dont think so, if you remove the conditioning/training element from the equation

Just compare how the games are played now versus then (assuming we are talking the pros. Back then almost everyone had to learn to play serve/volley to some degree as to have anysort of chance at W you had to. it wasnt possible to ralley back then on the grass and you had to end the points quickly by hitting winners or forcing shots, and what better way to do that than serve/volley.
Also many of the shots are totally missing from a game which at the pro level has pretty much turned into a fitness grind and one dimensional basline bashing..it's getting a litle bit like cycling in that fitness sems to be playing a bigger role than athletic ability.
Approach shots? who hits those these days? well Roddick does, but look how lame those are. The crossover footwork required to hit a good sliced approach shot is an athletic move and it's pretty much missing from the game now. Passing shots? lol....with nobody being at net, those days are also fairly gone. I think folks may agree that it takes more athletic ability to be able to hit ALL of the shots than some of the shots. There would be many more examples I am sure. I am aware that equip,ent plays a big roll, but the only element i see which is 'better' now versus then is the ball speed is huge from the backcourt. how much of that is gear related is pointless to discuss i think

From my experiences having learned to play in the wood era and then teaching in the wood era, and now teaching a smal bit now, and still playing, i can tell you that i got presented with many more athletic lessons back then, compared to what i get presented with now. Playingwise still being able to hang with the youngins' to a fair degree, but having to go home, ice down, hot tub, then take a nap after ;), i can also say that my opinion is that there were far more good athletes playing tennis back then, compared to now. Why? I suspect it is because guys like me (there were many of us) played many of the sports rather than specializing in one and we came to tennis having played other sports...one sport improves your atheltisism in another...a 12 foot jumper is similar in many ways to a serve.. a shortstop thowing someone out at first can be very similar to a xcourt forehand, thorwing a football has similarities to a service motion, etc. Nowadays, kids seem to specialize...then of course there is being online. we didnt have online..we came home from school, changed clothes, and met at our field of dreams everyday and played some sort of ball sometimes even when it got too dark..didnt matter what kind..we loved them all. also it is obvious that back then with tennis attracting far more people of all walks of life, that with many more people playing, many more of them would be athletic.

Kaptain Karl
02-18-2007, 02:36 PM
You introduced the topic of how you would fare against an old male pro in his 60's, so it made me wonder how you think you would fare against a female former pro your own age.[I fixed "former female" to "female former pro...."]

Okay ... I grew-up in Alabama and we Juniors were all "a-buzz" about that skinny girl from Florida ... who was able to severely psychologically damage the better boys in the District by dismantling them at the game. (I saw it happen in Birmingham one year.)

The problem was ... the boy was trying to blast her off the court (much like HS and College players today would in the same (comparative) situation.) As a spectator, I was sure I could at least make the sets "interesting" by using more shot variety and *not* trying to over-power her.

Remember, she practiced regularly with her older brother ... who was a highly ranked older Junior. No teenage boy was gonna blow her off the court.

Chris' serve has never been very strong ... and still isn't all that great today. I think I'd win on a Hard Court. I don't have that confidence on Clay.
____________

Maybe clarifying yourself may help ? Are you suggesting Mac or Nadal wins ?Okay. I think Nadal would still win, but it wouldn't be a masacre. [Remember, this is with woodies on a Hard court.]
____________

I was just reviewing some things in Rod Laver's How to Play Championship Tennis (1968 printing). On pp 100-101 there's a picture of the OZ '61 DC team (Fraser, Laver, Fletcher, Hopman, Hewitt, Stolle and Emerson). The chapter addresses conditioning; something Hopman was known for.... Anyway, Laver's comment on the pic includes, "Note how strong each one of these players is in the legs."

... Which is kinda funny. Of the six players (Hopman was the Coach.) only Fletcher and Hewitt have quads which look at all comparable to most of the Top 50 players' legs of today. (And Stolle's calves are clearly impressive.

None of the rest of the guys' legs are "notable" IMO.

Advancements in training technique and technology have certainly "built" stronger athletes in Tennis today. But to say they're "better" tennis players? I cannot support that....

- KK

Trinity TC
02-18-2007, 07:48 PM
Okay ... I grew-up in Alabama and we Juniors were all "a-buzz" about that skinny girl from Florida ... who was able to severely psychologically damage the better boys in the District by dismantling them at the game. (I saw it happen in Birmingham one year.)

The problem was ... the boy was trying to blast her off the court (much like HS and College players today would in the same (comparative) situation.) As a spectator, I was sure I could at least make the sets "interesting" by using more shot variety and *not* trying to over-power her.

- KK

I remember Chris beat Sam Vuille in a match back in 1971 or thereabouts when they were both juniors. Sam later went on to play at Alabama.

joeyscl
02-19-2007, 07:32 PM
I'd say that today's tennis players are bigger, taller, stronger, giving them an slight edge. Also the topspin vs the flat shots in the old days favour the modern players (i think). I really don't think people have "evolved" or "devolved" in the natural-athletic-ability-department (aka: talent). I'd say the new timers have an edge.

but again, as to who have more talent, I'd say that hasn't changed.

BeckerFan
02-19-2007, 08:16 PM
The differences in equipment truly render this question unanswerable. In terms of skill, I would favor the 'old timers.' Because they relied less on topspin, they were more accurate. And while there are more 'big men' in the game today, not all the players of the past were puny guys. Jack Kramer and Pancho Gonzales were roughly the equivalent of Sampras or Federer. Even then, size isn't everything. Little Olivier Rochus can push Federer to the limit on occasion--imagine what Rod Laver could do.

As for speed and overall athleticism, I think the advancement of humans is grossly overstated. The runners and jumpers at the forefront of these individual skills are always breaking records, but does this mean tennis players have seen the same development? Fitness and training have improved, I'll give you that. But short of Borg I've never seen footage of a tennis player move better than Fred Perry, even in those wide trousers he wore. The old timers deserve more credit than they get.

35ft6
02-20-2007, 12:58 AM
I think old timers may have had more skill and definitely better point construction, but that doesn't mean they were "better" in any way. There are probably many point guards in college who have more skill than Lebron James, but who's the better basketball player?

35ft6
02-20-2007, 01:03 AM
As for speed and overall athleticism, I think the advancement of humans is grossly overstated. The runners and jumpers at the forefront of these individual skills are always breaking records, but does this mean tennis players have seen the same development? Fitness and training have improved, I'll give you that. But short of Borg I've never seen footage of a tennis player move better than Fred Perry, even in those wide trousers he wore. The old timers deserve more credit than they get. I heard there was some guy from the 1890's who had a 76 inch vertical. Come on. If you really don't see the improvement in overall athleticism in the ATP over the past 25 years...

BeckerFan
02-20-2007, 06:58 AM
Reports like that are often exaggerated--similar to Bill Tilden's 161 mph serve (sometimes said to be 163 mph) in 1931--but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about what I've seen with my own two eyes. I definitely think the game is faster today, and the ball hit harder on average. As I said, though, I think it has more to do with training, fitness, and technology than some miraculous improvement in the human species in just a few decades. Evolution takes much longer than that. I am certain that if you transplanted a young Bill Tilden or Fred Perry into modern times and gave them a chance to grow up with today's advantages, they would still turn out to be among the greatest (and most athletic) players in the world.

slice bh compliment
02-20-2007, 07:08 AM
What it is, Beckerfan.....BTW, I've always liked Becker, too.

Good point about F. Perry. When I saw Kings of the Court..the footage of Perry was greatness. Over and over, the way he'd crack a running BH drive and use his left foot right after as a recovery step looked a lot like Boris, only effortless. What a great mover.

His FH ... not as big. But big for the 30s and 40s, I'm sure.

BeckerFan
02-20-2007, 08:57 AM
What it is, Beckerfan.....BTW, I've always liked Becker, too.

Good point about F. Perry. When I saw Kings of the Court..the footage of Perry was greatness. Over and over, the way he'd crack a running BH drive and use his left foot right after as a recovery step looked a lot like Boris, only effortless. What a great mover.

His FH ... not as big. But big for the 30s and 40s, I'm sure.

From what I've seen, Perry's forehand was deceptive. Like everything, he played it with a continental grip, but most of the action was in the wrist. He literally flicked it on the rise and generated remarkable pace. According to most of the old timers, it was Perry's great put-away shot. In the video, Perry hits those perfect backhands while running side-to-side on the baseline, and he goes to the forehand more often when he's charging the net. I've read that Perry had formidable volleys, too, but his favorite play seems to have been that running wrist-flick forehand while approaching the net. One of the all-time strokes I'd love to be able to see in person.

urban
02-20-2007, 09:09 AM
I dont know this video, but one British production, commented by Perry himself from around 1990. He divides the best players in pre (Tilden)and post (Laver) WW II. Perry said, that he modelled his forehand on the rise after Cochet, who was the first to use this tactic to good effect against Tilden.Perry was a very physical player, who trained with the Arsenal football club. He was also a bit tricky and cocky, who tried to intimidate his opponents.Its sad, that because of the amateur-pro-split Perry and Vines didnt face each other 34-36, when both were at their peak. Perry was over the hill, when he turned pro in 37. But in that 34-36 period, he would have had the physical advantage over Vines, who was a bit frail, and had to retire sometimes in hard Davis Cup ties.

heycal
02-20-2007, 09:10 AM
[I fixed "former female" to "female former pro...."]

Okay ... I grew-up in Alabama and we Juniors were all "a-buzz" about that skinny girl from Florida ... who was able to severely psychologically damage the better boys in the District by dismantling them at the game. (I saw it happen in Birmingham one year.)

The problem was ... the boy was trying to blast her off the court (much like HS and College players today would in the same (comparative) situation.) As a spectator, I was sure I could at least make the sets "interesting" by using more shot variety and *not* trying to over-power her.

Remember, she practiced regularly with her older brother ... who was a highly ranked older Junior. No teenage boy was gonna blow her off the court.

Chris' serve has never been very strong ... and still isn't all that great today. I think I'd win on a Hard Court. I don't have that confidence on Clay.
____________

Okay. I think Nadal would still win, but it wouldn't be a masacre. [Remember, this is with woodies on a Hard court.]



I wonder what Ms. Evert would have to say about your prediction of a hard court triumph. Maybe TW could sponsor a match-up between you two to settle this...

Also, you think Nadal would beat McEnroe on hard court using wood racquets? Really?

chaognosis
02-20-2007, 10:00 AM
chaognosis

I am enjoying your take on tennis in this forum. I have to concur; it is a grave generalization to claim 'today's player's' would smoke 'the older guy's'.

Believing that mindset shows how narrowminded one can be. The legends of the game are legends of the game for a reason. Not because of modern medicine, not because of modern racquets, but because of thier skill on the court, the sheer atheleticism and their outright game.

I'd put money on all things being equal, that yesterday's legends would be legends in todays game as well and todays Paul Goldsteins being yesterdays Paul Goldsteins.

Great post Nick. I agree, and thank you!

Swinging Simian
02-20-2007, 11:10 AM
Who is better, old timers or modern players? Depends on which players you're talking about. For anyone ever called a legend to be doubted is rather odd. In actuality there are only a handful of modern active players who are legends in the making. Hell maybe there might be only one (Fed), and even he fell to tears upon meeting a Legend (AO last year trophy ceremony). If Modern players are better than the old ones then it is only because they have built upon what the old timers have already shown. However to say that the old Timers would get smoked is just plain talking out of your @ss. Don't forget that "modern" players hire old timers to be their coaches for a reason.

BeckerFan
02-20-2007, 01:32 PM
Good post, Simian. (Funny that I can say that without being insulting.) I would agree that there is only one legend in the making at present; Federer will most certainly become legend, even if he never picks up a racquet again after today. The game changes, technology changes, training changes, fitness changes, etc., etc.--what doesn't change is that every generation a tiny fraction of players rises head and shoulders above the rest, and will be remembered when all the rest are forgotten. When almost all of today's pros have long since disappeared from memory, tennis fans will still be talking about Bill Tilden and Rod Laver. That alone proves who is greater than whom.

heycal
02-20-2007, 01:36 PM
When almost all of today's pros have long since disappeared from memory, tennis fans will still be talking about Bill Tilden and Rod Laver. That alone proves who is greater than whom.

It actually proves nothing of the sort, but your point is taken.

BeckerFan
02-20-2007, 01:52 PM
What is greatness aside from the capacity to be remembered? I think it is a much more useful definition than 'who could beat whom,' which is trivial and cannot be tested when comparing players across time. Statistics and records help, but they are not quite the same either. According to almost any source, Lew Hoad is a 'greater' player than Roy Emerson, despite the fact that he achieved far less. In his short career, Hoad impressed his contemporaries enough that they still talk about him, glowingly, decades later. Emerson, despite holding the record number of Grand Slam titles for 34 years, is rarely talked about by comparison. The passage of time only makes these disparities grow. In the endless 'Sampras vs. Federer' discussions, fans today romanticize the 'great' players of Sampras's generation--but who will give a damn about Goran Ivanisevic, Richard Krajicek, or even Michael Chang in 10, 25 or 50 years? These second-class players will be swept away from memory by time, while Tilden, Budge, Laver, etc., will always stand. They are immovable, the mountains of tennis. They have stood the test of time, which is the ONLY test that matters, and therefore they are indisputably great.

heycal
02-20-2007, 03:31 PM
What is greatness aside from the capacity to be remembered? I think it is a much more useful definition than 'who could beat whom,' which is trivial and cannot be tested when comparing players across time. Statistics and records help, but they are not quite the same either. According to almost any source, Lew Hoad is a 'greater' player than Roy Emerson, despite the fact that he achieved far less. In his short career, Hoad impressed his contemporaries enough that they still talk about him, glowingly, decades later. Emerson, despite holding the record number of Grand Slam titles for 34 years, is rarely talked about by comparison. The passage of time only makes these disparities grow. In the endless 'Sampras vs. Federer' discussions, fans today romanticize the 'great' players of Sampras's generation--but who will give a damn about Goran Ivanisevic, Richard Krajicek, or even Michael Chang in 10, 25 or 50 years? These second-class players will be swept away from memory by time, while Tilden, Budge, Laver, etc., will always stand. They are immovable, the mountains of tennis. They have stood the test of time, which is the ONLY test that matters, and therefore they are indisputably great.

Excellent argument, Beckerfan. I almost buy it, but in the end, I think greatness in tennis can only be defined as the ability to play tennis better than other people, not how well-remembered someone is, particularly since other things besides talent may effect how well someone is remembered such as personality, the times, style of play, off-court behavior, etc. To imply that player X could beat player Y simply because he is more famous years later is a bit of a leap, which is why I said being remembered isn't proof of anything.

I generally avoid these debates because the answers are unknowable, and celebrity/name recognition down the road isn't any more indicative than number of grand slams when it comes to the question of whether Tilden would beat Sampras in a fantasy tennis match or whoever you want to match up. For all we know, Emerson would wipe the floor with both of them.

35ft6
02-20-2007, 05:35 PM
^ There's greatness in the context of historical significance, and then there's greatness in terms of who would flat out win. Of course, the second context is subjective because of technology evolving, and the subsequent evolution of technique that causes, but I think the former context is even more subjective. Tilden might be terrified by the speed and ferocity of the modern game. It used to be considered a gentleman's passtime for IMO too long, but now it's looking more and more like a real sport.

Yours!05
02-20-2007, 06:11 PM
What is greatness aside from the capacity to be remembered? I think it is a much more useful definition than 'who could beat whom,' which is trivial and cannot be tested when comparing players across time. Statistics and records help, but they are not quite the same either. According to almost any source, Lew Hoad is a 'greater' player than Roy Emerson, despite the fact that he achieved far less. In his short career, Hoad impressed his contemporaries enough that they still talk about him, glowingly, decades later. Emerson, despite holding the record number of Grand Slam titles for 34 years, is rarely talked about by comparison. The passage of time only makes these disparities grow. In the endless 'Sampras vs. Federer' discussions, fans today romanticize the 'great' players of Sampras's generation--but who will give a damn about Goran Ivanisevic, Richard Krajicek, or even Michael Chang in 10, 25 or 50 years? These second-class players will be swept away from memory by time, while Tilden, Budge, Laver, etc., will always stand. They are immovable, the mountains of tennis. They have stood the test of time, which is the ONLY test that matters, and therefore they are indisputably great.Should be stickied BeckerFan.

ohlori
02-28-2007, 03:51 AM
Judge players in the context of their time.
Roddick would be no better than Roscoe Tanner 30 years ago.

vudal
02-28-2007, 02:15 PM
Bottom line is that technique is different today than it was then. You can generate more power and spin with the style today than the old days. You can give Roger or Nadal a wooden raquet and sure they can play almost the same as they do with their normal racquets. anyone that disagrees is stupid.

slice bh compliment
02-28-2007, 05:31 PM
..You can give Roger or Nadal a wooden raquet and sure they can play almost the same as they do with their normal racquets. anyone that disagrees is stupid.

Hi, I am stupid.

vudal
02-28-2007, 07:33 PM
Hi, I am stupid.

you said it yourself

slice bh compliment
02-28-2007, 07:38 PM
dude, you're hilarious. I knew you'd say that.








And that, under your breath. Good one, vudal.

Kaptain Karl
02-28-2007, 08:35 PM
You can give Roger or Nadal a wooden raquet and sure they can play almost the same as they do with their normal racquets.One of the most inaccurate comments I've seen on TT.... Sheesh!

Okay, cutting you some slack, you are under 20, right?

- KK

alwaysatnet
03-01-2007, 10:32 AM
I'm almost positive,actually I AM positve,judging from that post,that guy has never used wood. That's like saying you could give one of the Blue Angels a world war I biplane, and they would fly almost the same as they do in their jets. If there was a Hall of Fame for misinformed posts that one would make it unanimously first time up for vote.

SamprasFOREVER
03-01-2007, 10:54 AM
Old timers.

vudal
03-01-2007, 06:48 PM
I'll beat all of you sorry players in a sec with a wooden bat. I'll even give you the doubles alley.

Duzza
03-01-2007, 08:02 PM
I'm with stupid.