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noeledmonds
04-30-2007, 03:29 PM
I was wondering which year in tennis had the greatest competition and strength, in terms of the field of players. This is clearly a question it is hard to quantify with numbers as it is very hard to compare the strength of fields accross all the decades in which tennis has experienced much development and change. However I endevour to highlight years that stuck out to me as particularly tough.

Some contenders:

1968- The first open-era year of tennis. This combined the strength from the likes of Laver and Rosewall (from the professional tour) with the likes of Ash and Newcombe (from the amateur tour) made a tough field at all the grand slam events. This is reflected by each of the 3 main grand slams (AO was still amateur this year) being won by 3 different great champions (Rosewall the FO, Laver SW19, and Ash the USO). The depth on grass particualry has arguably never been greater than the early open-era years.

1981- I consider this year to be a cross over of champions. With Borg still near full strength (despite his abrupt retirment) and McEnroe hitting form this alone makes this a tough year. Consider that Connors was lurking and, although ageing, was still deadly. His improved serve made him very much a force to reckon with. Lendl, though still just 20, made a real impact winning 10 tournaments this year and pushing Borg to 5 sets at the FO. Wilander was also just appearing on the scene. An ageing Vilas still picked up several clay court titles and on the dirt reached many more finals.

1995- This year was the year I really believe both Agassi and Sampras hit their best form. Agassi complied a career best win-loss record of 72-10, Agassi also compiled a career best winning streak of 26 consecutive matches and spent much of the year at number 1 after winning an AO title on his debut at the event. Sampras won back to back Wimbledon-US Open titles for what was the second (and would be last) time of his career. Sampras also ended year number 1. The clay court season was dominated by a peak form Muster who took the FO with ease and compiled 12 tournaments over the year. With Agassi winning on rebound ace, Muster on clay, and Sampras on grass and deco-turf these champions are undoubtably some of the best ever on their respective surfaces. Becker proved he was still a force be winning the Masters Cup in straight sets against Chang.

edmondsm
04-30-2007, 04:18 PM
Those are good examples. 2003 was one of the more recent ones. A still vibrant Agassi wins the AO, Ferrero has a great year; wins FO and USO semi, Rog wins first Wimby, Roddick wins USO.

The year before was one of the weakest IMO. Johannson wins AO, Costa wins FO, Hewitt (a counterpunching Aussie) wins Wmbledon final 6-0,6-1,6-2....and old man Sampras marches easily to the USO title.

federerfanatic
04-30-2007, 04:46 PM
I think 1995 was very good since it was the year closest to having Sampras and Agassi both playing their best tennis for starters. However it was also the year Becker played by far the best full season of tennis he played out of any of the 1993-1997 years, most of which he showed some form of decline, but 1995 was the one he looked closest to his prime form. Muster was phenomenal and untouchable on clay that year, vs real competition unlike Nadal today, and was pretty good on the other surfaces too. Chang was very formidable this year. This was the first year Kafelnikov was a consistent top player, I dont value him that highly, but he still was a threat. Courier, Krajicek, and Stich were playing very well vs the top players, struggling in early rounds often which impacted their rankings, but always giving the top guys a real run, if not beating them. Enqvist looked like a good up and comer on the hard courts this season.

AndrewD
04-30-2007, 04:47 PM
Actually, I would consider 1981 and 1995 to be nowhere near the toughest years (certainly not in the same league as 68). By 1995 Agassi and Sampras were in stride but, although they hung around, Edberg, Becker, Courier (great players) were past their best. In 1981, Borg was fading out and Lendl hadn't emerged as a genuine contender so you only really had McEnroe and Connors. 1983-1989 were tougher years than any we saw through the 90's or up to present day.

Andres
04-30-2007, 07:55 PM
Hewitt (a counterpunching Aussie) wins Wmbledon final 6-0, 6-1, 6-2
I don't know what Wimbledon final you saw on 2002, but the real one, with Hewitt beating Nalbandian, ended 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 ;)

CEvertFan
04-30-2007, 10:23 PM
For the men I would say late 80's and for the women I would say mid to late 70's because you had Court, King, Evert, Navratilova, Austin, Goolagong, Wade and a few others in there all playing at the same time.

federerfanatic
04-30-2007, 10:34 PM
Actually, I would consider 1981 and 1995 to be nowhere near the toughest years (certainly not in the same league as 68). By 1995 Agassi and Sampras were in stride but, although they hung around, Edberg, Becker, Courier (great players) were past their best. In 1981, Borg was fading out and Lendl hadn't emerged as a genuine contender so you only really had McEnroe and Connors. 1983-1989 were tougher years than any we saw through the 90's or up to present day.

I agree Edberg and Courier were clearly past their best by 1995. Although I think Becker was past absolute prime by 1995, I still think he was still a formidable force at the top echelon of the game at that point though. I suspect Agassi and Sampras did too re Becker, although while they would be too polite to say so I doubt they felt the same way about Edberg and Courier.

In 1981 Borg won the French Open, and lost the Wimbledon and U.S Open final to McEnroe in 4 sets. Some pretty good "fading out". :p I dont know how you can say you only had Connors and McEnroe when Borg was clearly over Connors on the pecking order that year.

suwanee4712
04-30-2007, 10:40 PM
For the men I would say late 80's and for the women I would say mid to late 70's because you had Court, King, Evert, Navratilova, Austin, Goolagong, Wade and a few others in there all playing at the same time.


I like 1980 and 1981. Thinking back on it, Wimbledon 1980 might have been the strongest slam ever with so many great 4R, QF, SF, and F matches.

Hana had Evonne within 5 points of defeat in the 4th round, and Evonne wins the whole tournament. Jaeger upsets Wade. King takes Martina to 10-8 in the 3rd in a tense titanic battle of wills. Chris beats Martina in the semis in 3 sets. And Tracy plays one of the great matches of her life but loses to Evonne in the other semi. Lots of all time greats in a packed draw.

CEvertFan
04-30-2007, 11:32 PM
I like 1980 and 1981. Thinking back on it, Wimbledon 1980 might have been the strongest slam ever with so many great 4R, QF, SF, and F matches.

Hana had Evonne within 5 points of defeat in the 4th round, and Evonne wins the whole tournament. Jaeger upsets Wade. King takes Martina to 10-8 in the 3rd in a tense titanic battle of wills. Chris beats Martina in the semis in 3 sets. And Tracy plays one of the great matches of her life but loses to Evonne in the other semi. Lots of all time greats in a packed draw.

The good old days!!

andreh
05-01-2007, 01:49 AM
I's suggest the years circa 1985-1992. These years saw several player that are genreally considered to be the very best in history compete at the same time.

Lendl, Becker, Edberg, Wilander, all in the prime. Connors and McEnroe were still around, but past their prime. Sampras, Agassi and Courier were there at the end of this period, but not yet quite in their prime. The number of what can only be called superplayers active at the same time in this period is yet to be surpassed.

I'm quite sure history will view this as a golden age of tennis.

noeledmonds
05-01-2007, 09:24 AM
Those are good examples. 2003 was one of the more recent ones. A still vibrant Agassi wins the AO, Ferrero has a great year; wins FO and USO semi, Rog wins first Wimby, Roddick wins USO.

The year before was one of the weakest IMO. Johannson wins AO, Costa wins FO, Hewitt (a counterpunching Aussie) wins Wmbledon final 6-0,6-1,6-2....and old man Sampras marches easily to the USO title.

2003 was a very poor year for competition. You pointed out the year before was very weak and the field does not change very much over a year. Agassi is a great AO champion, but this was his last grand slam title, and he had a remarkably easy draw that year winning with ease. Ferrero was a one slam wonder who although good at his prime was a bit of a flash in the pan. Federer discovered form for what was really the first time, and Roddick has failed to win a slam before or since. IMO 2001-2003 are the weakest years in modern tennis history. With Agassi and Sampras fading, and Federer not yet estabilshed this is when the 2nd tier champions (such as Roddick and Hewitt) dominated more. The clay court field was slightly better, but after Kuerten's success Ferrero was the only deserving champion and he was weak in comparison with many earlier champions. Champions such as Gauidio and Costa are weak in comparison to players such as Rios who failed to win a single slam in the '90s.

urban
05-01-2007, 11:19 AM
Not bad choices. I think, we had a similar thread some time ago about strongest fields. For me, the criteria of strong competition is a field of ca. 6 real strong contenders for the Nr.1 position. If i look back into tennis history, there seem 4 periods of particular strong competition (although some of these periods were marred by political circumstances):
The 30s (1932-37) had great and very good players like Perry, Vines, Budge, von Cramm, Crawford, Riggs. Problem was, that the amateur-pro-split didn't allow wonderful rivalries like Vines-Perry in 1934-36 or Vines-Budge in 37.
In the late 1950s (1957-59) the pro field was particularly strong with Gonzales, Hoad, Rosewall, Sedgman, Tabert and Segura playing for the top. Often its said, that Gonzales dominated the tour, that is not quite true, because people like Hoad and Sedgman challenged him severely and even were top rated in some circles.Sad, that the pros couldn't bring their game to the majors and DC.
In the late 60s and early 70s (1968-1973), the older, but still brilliant pros like Laver, Rosewall, Gimeno, the long time amateurs Emerson or Stolle, had to compete with hungry and strong younger stars like Newcombe, Roche, Ashe, Okker, Smith, Kodes, the rising Nastase, with the upcoming Connors and Borg on the horizon. There was a supporting cast of good floaters, too, like Drysdale, Ralston, Riessen, Taylor, Pilic and others. Problem was the promotional war between different pro groups in all years except 1969, which resulted in depleted fields in many majors of the early 70s and no clearcut rankings in thattime frame.
Late 80s and early 90 (1986-1992) had a strong group of players, with solid Lendl the Nr. 1 for most of the time, specialist challengers like Wilander, Becker and Edberg, rising stars like Sampras, Agassi, Courier, and dangerous talents like Cash, Mecir and Leconte, with old Mac still looming in the backround.

lenbo01
05-02-2007, 08:52 AM
how about 1990-92, look at the list of GS finalists

Agassi
Courier
Sampras
Lendl
Stich
Becker
Edberg
Ivanisevic

TheNatural
05-03-2007, 05:54 AM
Dont know which single year. But the Sampras Era:

http://www.boston.com/sports/other_sports/tennis/articles/2007/05/02/sampras_back_in_the_running/

"
As much as he admires Federer, Sampras feels that his own road to No. 1 and staying there was bumpier. Rafael Nadal appears to be Federer's lone obstacle. Sampras was battling Agassi, Courier, Martin, Korda, Michael Chang, Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Richard Krajicek, Pat Rafter, Goran Ivanisevic, and Michael Stich in their primes as well as aging Ivan Lendl and McEnroe."

CEvertFan
05-06-2007, 04:34 PM
Dont know which single year. But the Sampras Era:

http://www.boston.com/sports/other_sports/tennis/articles/2007/05/02/sampras_back_in_the_running/

"
As much as he admires Federer, Sampras feels that his own road to No. 1 and staying there was bumpier. Rafael Nadal appears to be Federer's lone obstacle. Sampras was battling Agassi, Courier, Martin, Korda, Michael Chang, Stefan Edberg, Boris Becker, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Richard Krajicek, Pat Rafter, Goran Ivanisevic, and Michael Stich in their primes as well as aging Ivan Lendl and McEnroe."

I would have to agree somewhat.

Chang was surprisingly competetive with Pete and their series stands at 12-8 in Sampras' favor. Sampras has winning records over the past their prime Lendl and McEnroe with the series standing at 5-3 in Pete's favor against Lendl and 3-0 over McEnroe. Pete's rivalry with Agassi stands at 20-14 in Pete's favor. Pete dominated Courier with their series standing at 16-4 in Pete's favor. Sampras also dominated Martin with their series standing at 18-4 in Pete's favor. Pete's record over Korda is 12-5 in Pete's favor. Edberg was competetive with Sampras and their series stands at 8-6 in Pete's favor. The Sampras-Becker rivalry stands at 12-7 in Pete's favor. Pete easily dominated Kafelnikov with their series standing at 11-2 in Pete's favor. Krajicek actually has a winning record over Pete with the series standing at 6-4 in Richard's favor (that was a surprise). Pete has a winning record over Rafter with the series standing at 12-4 in Pete's favor. Pete's record over Ivanisevic stands at 12-6 in Pete's favor. Last but not least is Stich who also has a winning record over Pete with the series standing at 5-4 in Stich's favor.

I would have to say that for but a few of those players who were competetive with Sampras (Edberg, Chang, Stich, Krajicek, Agassi and possibly Becker) he basically owned the rest of those players you mentioned during his career.

tennus
05-11-2007, 12:13 AM
I was wondering which year in tennis had the greatest competition and strength, in terms of the field of players. This is clearly a question it is hard to quantify with numbers as it is very hard to compare the strength of fields accross all the decades in which tennis has experienced much development and change. However I endevour to highlight years that stuck out to me as particularly tough.

Some contenders:

1968- The first open-era year of tennis. This combined the strength from the likes of Laver and Rosewall (from the professional tour) with the likes of Ash and Newcombe (from the amateur tour) made a tough field at all the grand slam events. This is reflected by each of the 3 main grand slams (AO was still amateur this year) being won by 3 different great champions (Rosewall the FO, Laver SW19, and Ash the USO). The depth on grass particualry has arguably never been greater than the early open-era years.

1981- I consider this year to be a cross over of champions. With Borg still near full strength (despite his abrupt retirment) and McEnroe hitting form this alone makes this a tough year. Consider that Connors was lurking and, although ageing, was still deadly. His improved serve made him very much a force to reckon with. Lendl, though still just 20, made a real impact winning 10 tournaments this year and pushing Borg to 5 sets at the FO. Wilander was also just appearing on the scene. An ageing Vilas still picked up several clay court titles and on the dirt reached many more finals.

1995- This year was the year I really believe both Agassi and Sampras hit their best form. Agassi complied a career best win-loss record of 72-10, Agassi also compiled a career best winning streak of 26 consecutive matches and spent much of the year at number 1 after winning an AO title on his debut at the event. Sampras won back to back Wimbledon-US Open titles for what was the second (and would be last) time of his career. Sampras also ended year number 1. The clay court season was dominated by a peak form Muster who took the FO with ease and compiled 12 tournaments over the year. With Agassi winning on rebound ace, Muster on clay, and Sampras on grass and deco-turf these champions are undoubtably some of the best ever on their respective surfaces. Becker proved he was still a force be winning the Masters Cup in straight sets against Chang.

Interesting debate, most promising juniors don't go on to the next level. Here is an old post of mine citing 1999 as a big exception. :) http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=94551

rajeshafrica
07-14-2008, 11:57 AM
It will be difficult to judge the year. But I thought that 1992 Wimbeldon had an excellent field in the Quarters. Mcenroe, Becker, Sampras, Edberg, Goran,Agassi,Stich, and Guy Forget. A quarter final line up consisting of Four Defending champs and three players wo will go on to win wimbeldon in the future. And the last man in the Quarters Guy Forget was no mean grass court player. I remember no one among my tennis palying circle could guess the winner. As the man every one least expected to win Agassi won it in the end.

WillAlwaysLoveYouTennis
07-14-2008, 12:22 PM
My first thought was '89 or '91, or right around those times '89-'92. Still had some of the "befores" still playing in good form, plus a strong set of others Becker, Sampras, Edberg, Courier, Lendl and so many good, strong players on tour and making each event winner a real toss-up.

CyBorg
07-14-2008, 01:29 PM
Mid-to-late 80s come to mind. It's amazing that Mecir never won a grand slam title, but you look at the guys that did and realize that there weren't any gimmees. I also think that Mac not winning a major in those years is telling. He was still an excellent player, past prime or not, but simply wasn't good enough to make a grand slam final.

msunderland71
07-15-2008, 02:41 AM
Can the ELO ratings be used to pick the strongest year, perhaps adding the totals of the top 10 or 20 players? (using their ratings during the year in question would be best, rather than peak ELO)

Cenc
07-15-2008, 03:33 AM
1995, 1998, 1999 i guess