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View Full Version : Tennis at the garden. Some History


urban
03-11-2008, 06:02 AM
The MSG was always a great place not only for boxing, but for professional tennis as well. In the old days of pro tennis, the long mano-a-mano tours started always at the Garden. Tilden and Vines played there the opening match of their World Series in 1934. Tilden won the match, Vines the whole tour. Perry and Budge also had great matches at the Garden. Famous was the opening match between holder Riggs and new pro Kramer end 1947 before a sellout crowd in the middle of a blizzard. Riggs, more accostumed to the indoor conditions, won, but lost the series. Kramer and Gonzales had big matches also there. In 1963, Laver won one of the first matches against Rosewall on the Garden court. in 1966, MSG became the venue of a rich pro tournament, which Rosewall in 1966 and Laver in 1967, 68 and 69 won. In 69, there was also an open tournament, won by Gimeno over Ashe. In 1970 and 71, MSG was the main venue for the - for the time incredibly - rich Classic-Series of 10000 $ winner-take-all-matches. In 1970, Gonzales beat Laver in the opening match befor a big crowd, but Laver retaliated and won the sf there over Gonzales in straight and Rosewall in the final in straight sets. In 1971, Laver won all 13 matches against all comers (for a record 160000 $), including wins over Rosewall, Ashe, Ralston and Okker at the Garden. Since 1977, MSG became the venue of the Masters Cup, leading to all the great matches between Connors and Borg, Connors and Vilas, Mac and Ashe, Borg and Lendl, Lendl and Gerulaitis, Lendl and Becker or Edberg. It was a shame, that in 1989 the venue was given up, due to political reasons, because Germany with Becker got the nod, first at Frankfurt, later at Hannover. That was virtually the end for mens tennis at the Garden, while the women remained a little longer there. The best womens match probably was the Seles-Sabatini five-setter in 1990.

A.J. Sim
03-11-2008, 06:16 AM
That was a very informative post; thank you. It would be great if they could bring the Master's Cup back to MSG. Or maybe put some US Open matches in MSG (highly unlikely and never going to happen). MSG is still one of the greatest arenas in the world.

robkat
03-11-2008, 06:28 AM
Great post. As a kid growing up on New York, I remember MSG used to be the Mecca of Tennis.

Moose Malloy
03-11-2008, 01:45 PM
In 1970, Gonzales beat Laver in the opening match befor a big crowd, but Laver retaliated and won the sf there over Gonzales in straight and Rosewall in the final in straight sets.

It's funny how so many today in the media & otherwise just mention that Gonzales beat Laver at MSG in a 'winner take all' match soon after Laver won the GS, but don't mention that Laver beat him a few days later(which I only learned from you a few years ago) Was either of the matches they played that week really 'winner take all?' I assume Laver got more money for winning the final than Pancho did for winning their match earlier in the week, correct?

Since 1977, MSG became the venue of the Masters Cup, leading to all the great matches between Connors and Borg, Connors and Vilas, Mac and Ashe, Borg and Lendl, Lendl and Gerulaitis, Lendl and Becker or Edberg. It was a shame, that in 1989 the venue was given up, due to political reasons, because Germany with Becker got the nod, first at Frankfurt, later at Hannover

As much as I enjoyed the Masters at MSG, there were a lot of small crowds early in the week(esp since RR matches started at 5 pm or something, how could anyone in NY be expected get there so early?)

When it moved to Germany, it was packed for all matches, & had great atmosphere. Ditto Shanghai in recent years. MSG was only a great place for the 'big' matches (matches with Borg, Mac, Connors & the finals) but it looked like a lower tier event when Edberg or Wilander were playing their early matches. By 1989, the Masters in MSG was definitely losing luster.

I like the idea of switching locations for the Masters Cup year to year, I'm sure MSG would be a good place to hold it once every few years, but not as a longterm venue.

stormholloway
03-11-2008, 01:58 PM
I disagree. Paris has a masters and a major. New York needs to have the masters held there.

Moving the tournament all the time doesn't allow the tournament to have an identity. The Masters ends up being this roaming vagabond of a tournament.

urban
03-11-2008, 10:26 PM
Moose, as a German and a long time tennis and boxing fan, i was always in awe for the Garden aura. The Masters at Germany was a bit a manufactored thing, it depended alone on Becker. The move was caused by the big impact of Becker and the influence of his manager Tiriac on both the German Federation and the ATP. The ITF invented the artificial Grand Slam Cup at Munich, then there were Super 9 events at Hamburg (the traditional champs) and Stuttgart. The result was an overkill of tennis exposure in Germany.It died promptly, after Becker retired. Now, they have difficulty, to beware even the tradtional Hamburg Champs as Masters event.

Leublu tennis
03-12-2008, 01:45 AM
I disagree. Paris has a masters and a major. New York needs to have the masters held there.

Moving the tournament all the time doesn't allow the tournament to have an identity. The Masters ends up being this roaming vagabond of a tournament.
I agree with both your points.