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View Full Version : Knee-Jerk "GOAT talk" then and now


CyBorg
04-18-2009, 03:06 PM
Near the end of the Tanner-Borg Wimbledon final, in the final game, the commentator of the particular tv station exclaims that Borg is "serving to become the greatest of all time."

This made me laugh. People never change and we never learn from our mistakes. So little perspective, and such short memories.

A young player dominates, appears invincible and we are so quick to assume that he'll probably never lose ever again.

I can see why many probably felt this way about Borg. He was playing for his fourth consecutive Wimbledon final. Surely, he'll win the US Open and seal the deal, right? Or perhaps he doesn't even have to?

The Federer situation should teach us something. He was "the greatest player of all time" just a couple of years ago and now his legacy is in some doubt.

Ah, greatness is fleeting. You hear me, Nadal fans? You'll know soon.

pc1
04-18-2009, 04:12 PM
Near the end of the Tanner-Borg Wimbledon final, in the final game, the commentator of the particular tv station exclaims that Borg is "serving to become the greatest of all time."

This made me laugh. People never change and we never learn from our mistakes. So little perspective, and such short memories.

A young player dominates, appears invincible and we are so quick to assume that he'll probably never lose ever again.

I can see why many probably felt this way about Borg. He was playing for his fourth consecutive Wimbledon final. Surely, he'll win the US Open and seal the deal, right? Or perhaps he doesn't even have to?

The Federer situation should teach us something. He was "the greatest player of all time" just a couple of years ago and now his legacy is in some doubt.

Ah, greatness is fleeting. You hear me, Nadal fans? You'll know soon.

Cyborg,

I've been saying that for years. Already Nadal fans are calling him the GOAT and while it may be possible in the future it's not even close to the time to saying that. First pass a few players like Federer because you can say you're the GOAT. For goodness sake, Nadal's just become number one in 2008.

After Laver won the Grand Slam for the second time in 1969, someone congratulated him and called him in so many words the GOAT. That may have been reasonable. The Borg statement wasn't ridiculous because Borg had been doing amazing things since the early 1970's.

It's always the case. I am always shocked how quickly people called another player the GOAT in tennis and frankly in many sports.

To be a GOAT it means that you have to be THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME.
It means you're better than anyone that ever played tennis. It can't happen every couple of years. We've had more people being called GOATS than the entire population of the Earth and that's impossible.

To me, so far there has only been a few potential GOATS. They are in chronologically order Bill Tilden, Pancho Gonzalez, Ken Rosewall, Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg. All of them with fantastic records, all top major tournament winners and were clearly number one in their day. There are other possibilities but I just mention the above for now.

Federer's career isn't over yet so he's in the mix but he doesn't nearly have the records of the others above yet. Nadal may be but let's get real. If you compare him or Federer to Ken Rosewall you lose big time as of now. Rosewall had at least 130 tournament victories, 23 Pro and regular majors and was number one for years. He defeated Don Budge, he defeated Rod Laver and even defeated Vitas Gerulaitis in the late 1970's.

Does anyone really expect Federer to match that? I don't but I cannot rule it out because Federer's great but it's highly doubtful.

That's why these guys are the ones people consider to be possible GOATS. They accomplished a lot.

jimbo333
04-18-2009, 04:19 PM
I wouldn't put Borg, in the same class as Laver or Rosewall when talking GOAT. I'd put him at the same level as Federer and Sampras:):)

CyBorg
04-18-2009, 05:59 PM
Cyborg,

I've been saying that for years. Already Nadal fans are calling him the GOAT and while it may be possible in the future it's not even close to the time to saying that. First pass a few players like Federer because you can say you're the GOAT. For goodness sake, Nadal's just become number one in 2008.

After Laver won the Grand Slam for the second time in 1969, someone congratulated him and called him in so many words the GOAT. That may have been reasonable. The Borg statement wasn't ridiculous because Borg had been doing amazing things since the early 1970's.

It's always the case. I am always shocked how quickly people called another player the GOAT in tennis and frankly in many sports.

To be a GOAT it means that you have to be THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME.
It means you're better than anyone that ever played tennis. It can't happen every couple of years. We've had more people being called GOATS than the entire population of the Earth and that's impossible.

To me, so far there has only been a few potential GOATS. They are in chronologically order Bill Tilden, Pancho Gonzalez, Ken Rosewall, Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg. All of them with fantastic records, all top major tournament winners and were clearly number one in their day. There are other possibilities but I just mention the above for now.

Federer's career isn't over yet so he's in the mix but he doesn't nearly have the records of the others above yet. Nadal may be but let's get real. If you compare him or Federer to Ken Rosewall you lose big time as of now. Rosewall had at least 130 tournament victories, 23 Pro and regular majors and was number one for years. He defeated Don Budge, he defeated Rod Laver and even defeated Vitas Gerulaitis in the late 1970's.

Does anyone really expect Federer to match that? I don't but I cannot rule it out because Federer's great but it's highly doubtful.

That's why these guys are the ones people consider to be possible GOATS. They accomplished a lot.

I was ready to put Federer ahead of Borg in 2007. I knew that he just needed some longevity, perhaps another Wimbledon. Another dominant year would have probably sealed it.

But never ever was he close to Laver.

SgtJohn
04-20-2009, 03:38 AM
If you compare him or Federer to Ken Rosewall you lose big time as of now. Rosewall had at least 130 tournament victories, 23 Pro and regular majors and was number one for years. He defeated Don Budge, he defeated Rod Laver and even defeated Vitas Gerulaitis in the late 1970's.

Does anyone really expect Federer to match that? I don't but I cannot rule it out because Federer's great but it's highly doubtful.

That's why these guys are the ones people consider to be possible GOATS. They accomplished a lot.

Hi pc1,

I don't disagree with your analysis, and I don't think Federer is currently on the GOAT short-list...
But following your remarks, I have to say that in such historical studies, you really have to take account the evolution of longevity throughout the years. Rosewall had an exceptionally long career for his era, and for any era really, but still, in his time players peaked around 28 or 29 and could easily stay top 10 contenders up to 35...
Conversely, a player reaching a Grand Slam final at 35 might not have seemed extraordinary in the 30s, but when Agassi did it in 2005, it really was.

So these factors have to be taken into account, and then I would never have thought Federer had to win 23 Majors to equal Rosewall, far from it, or would have to be at the top 7 years in a row to equal Laver...

Jonathan

pc1
04-20-2009, 04:25 AM
Hi pc1,

I don't disagree with your analysis, and I don't think Federer is currently on the GOAT short-list...
But following your remarks, I have to say that in such historical studies, you really have to take account the evolution of longevity throughout the years. Rosewall had an exceptionally long career for his era, and for any era really, but still, in his time players peaked around 28 or 29 and could easily stay top 10 contenders up to 35...
Conversely, a player reaching a Grand Slam final at 35 might not have seemed extraordinary in the 30s, but when Agassi did it in 2005, it really was.

So these factors have to be taken into account, and then I would never have thought Federer had to win 23 Majors to equal Rosewall, far from it, or would have to be at the top 7 years in a row to equal Laver...

Jonathan

Jonathan,

I didn't say Federer was on the short list. I just said since he was active that it is possible (although very doubtful) that he could have years of invincibility and has a chance to be up there with Rosewall.

Already he has a few things in his favor, he has several years of near invincibility and 13 majors. I do not think he is close to Rosewall and I doubt he will ever reach Rosewall but since he is still active I will not rule it out.

I used Muscles as an example of how hard it is to be considered the GOAT. As super as Federer has been, he's not even close to reaching Rosewall's accomplishments.

Gaucho Behrend
05-04-2009, 06:23 AM
Knee jerk reactions makes the world go around and Cyborg, the average Nadal fan thinks he invented topspin.

tudwell
05-04-2009, 08:57 AM
I stumbled upon this gem (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kg1zgLWo6nI) not too long ago. I was surprised that at the 2004 U.S. Open, in which Federer was gunning for only his fourth major title and had been ranked number one for only 7 months, he was being hailed as possibly the greatest player ever. I could certainly understand that kind of praise in 07, even 06, but 04? Ridiculous. And from John McEnroe, too.

Rabbit
05-04-2009, 09:20 AM
Near the end of the Tanner-Borg Wimbledon final, in the final game, the commentator of the particular tv station exclaims that Borg is "serving to become the greatest of all time."

This made me laugh. People never change and we never learn from our mistakes. So little perspective, and such short memories.

A young player dominates, appears invincible and we are so quick to assume that he'll probably never lose ever again.

I can see why many probably felt this way about Borg. He was playing for his fourth consecutive Wimbledon final. Surely, he'll win the US Open and seal the deal, right? Or perhaps he doesn't even have to?

The Federer situation should teach us something. He was "the greatest player of all time" just a couple of years ago and now his legacy is in some doubt.

Ah, greatness is fleeting. You hear me, Nadal fans? You'll know soon.

Yep, I just posted the same type thing on another thread prior to reading yours. What irritates me most is the ever decreasing amount of time for today's champion to become yesterday's news. Already folks are crticizing everthing from Federer's racquet choice to his backhand. The guy won 13 majors and these are the same folks who were discounting Sampras, Laver, and Borg for not "having decent competition". It is mind boggling.

Cyborg,

To me, so far there has only been a few potential GOATS. They are in chronologically order Bill Tilden, Pancho Gonzalez, Ken Rosewall, Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg. All of them with fantastic records, all top major tournament winners and were clearly number one in their day. There are other possibilities but I just mention the above for now.

Yep, and the more I read and see, the more I think Pancho Gonzalez in a stable professional environment like we have today would have been a hands down best ever. But, that didn't happen because professional tennis isn't like other sports; i.e. baseball. It is relatively new professionally speaking and the powers that control it don't protect it as well as other sports. Nonetheless, your point is well taken and heartedly agreed with.


Federer's career isn't over yet so he's in the mix but he doesn't nearly have the records of the others above yet. Nadal may be but let's get real. If you compare him or Federer to Ken Rosewall you lose big time as of now. Rosewall had at least 130 tournament victories, 23 Pro and regular majors and was number one for years. He defeated Don Budge, he defeated Rod Laver and even defeated Vitas Gerulaitis in the late 1970's.


Talk about bridging the gap. Rosewall has been touted, by some pundits, as the greatest ever due to his longevity. I can't argue against it as I am a very big fan of his game and his play. It is amazing to me how Rosewall, Connors, and Agassi all have the same lengthy careers and were all known for not-so-great serves but great service returns. They all hit with relatively flat stroke production, and all were "smaller" than the other guys on tour. Certainly all had differing views of the game, but each was as tough on court and all three played in an era where there was a more dominant player. Rosewall had Laver, Connors had Borg, and Agassi had Sampras. But each of these players, IMO, are probably the reason their chief named rival had such a good/great/outstanding career.

pc1
05-04-2009, 01:11 PM
Yep, I just posted the same type thing on another thread prior to reading yours. What irritates me most is the ever decreasing amount of time for today's champion to become yesterday's news. Already folks are crticizing everthing from Federer's racquet choice to his backhand. The guy won 13 majors and these are the same folks who were discounting Sampras, Laver, and Borg for not "having decent competition". It is mind boggling.



Yep, and the more I read and see, the more I think Pancho Gonzalez in a stable professional environment like we have today would have been a hands down best ever. But, that didn't happen because professional tennis isn't like other sports; i.e. baseball. It is relatively new professionally speaking and the powers that control it don't protect it as well as other sports. Nonetheless, your point is well taken and heartedly agreed with.



Talk about bridging the gap. Rosewall has been touted, by some pundits, as the greatest ever due to his longevity. I can't argue against it as I am a very big fan of his game and his play. It is amazing to me how Rosewall, Connors, and Agassi all have the same lengthy careers and were all known for not-so-great serves but great service returns. They all hit with relatively flat stroke production, and all were "smaller" than the other guys on tour. Certainly all had differing views of the game, but each was as tough on court and all three played in an era where there was a more dominant player. Rosewall had Laver, Connors had Borg, and Agassi had Sampras. But each of these players, IMO, are probably the reason their chief named rival had such a good/great/outstanding career.

Rabbit, a lot of nice comments. A lot of people have said that Gonzalez wouldn't be competitive today and I don't understand why people would say that. The guy was a monster in his day and I think he would be a monster today. It's not as though Gonzalez was 4'10" tall with no muscles. He was 6'3 1/2" tall, was a very good and smooth mover and very very strong. He may very well have had the greatest serve ever and with today's racket technology I can only see it as a virtually unbreakable serve today as it was in the past. I'm not sure who could compare physically to Gonzalez in today's game.

Rosewall is one of my favorite players to watch but beside his longevity, I think he was a very dominant player in his best years. He won the Pro Grand Slam in 1963 and probably was by far the best player in the world for a good portion of the early 1960's.

Good comparisons between Rosewall, Connors and Agassi.

GameSampras
05-04-2009, 01:16 PM
Nadal has been an assassin up until this point. still... If you think Nadal is going to keep this level for 5 or 6 more years youre crazy. Feds play is already declining by 28 and he was more dominant than Nadal has been overall. I highly doubt Nadal can make it past 25 or so until serious burnout or injuries get the best of Nadal.


What Nadal has accomplished is quite a bit but 6 slams and already being considered some GOAT at 22 years of age isnt enough to warrant that title.. yet.


Fed was on his way to Rod Laver status though just 2-3 years ago. No doubt about. The game is so physical today though, of course players arent going to have the longevity of a Laver or Connors. Its much more taxing on the human body

Rabbit
05-04-2009, 01:57 PM
...and we haven't seen who is up and coming in the next 2 years....

there may be some kid out there today who has Nads' number...

Borgforever
05-04-2009, 02:37 PM
Yes. I agree with everybody here, Rabbit as usual, GameSampras and pc1 of course.

And I also think that what Rabbit says about Gonzales could very well be true. Pancho could dominate any kind of game-style principally on every surface, literally, for ages. True, he was his best on faster surfaces, on American-soil predominantly, but every great player has place or two they excel the brightest. Pancho's era was so unfair, forgotten and fast-suface-dominated compared to ours now but he was very adaptable. The Kramer-disaster and his thunderous return proves that to me.

Of the two matches I have of him on tape from 1969 and 1970 respectively he's an absolute great that doesn't look a year above 26 in his skills, nerve and power.

Beating a superb Laver at Madison Square Garden in a marvellous five-setter (at 42!) and crushing Pasarell's seven matchpoints to dust at R1 at Wimby the year before under a blasting sun. Truly a competitors competitor, easily in the invincible class as Borg, Laver (and probably Tilden and Rosewall IMO) who also had this aura of rock-solid important-point strength even against the greatest of opponents when they also turned in a clear peak perf...

AndrewD
05-04-2009, 03:31 PM
Yep, and the more I read and see, the more I think Pancho Gonzalez in a stable professional environment like we have today would have been a hands down best ever.

Rabbit,

There is also the question of Hoad. I don't recall any player being so highly touted by so many of their fellow players. The greats and the not-so-great of his era - across all nationalities - talk about him with absolute reverence. There seems little doubt, in their minds, that he was the best ever - no qualifications necessary. Sadly, his career didn't last into the tennis boom of the 1970s. As a result, he was ignored or overlooked by the media and audience (American) which has dominated all tennis discussions since then.

I've asked Mal Anderson about it several times and his answer is always the same. 'Gorgo', he says, was great on the boards (what he calls indoor courts) and on the grass but not so great on the slower stuff. Hoad was great on everything. Gonzalez was day-in-and-day-out consistent, Hoad wasn't - but Hoad had so much more game that could go 'off', Gonzalez had less in his game so there was less that could go wrong or right.

How do you argue with someone like that? Or with Cooper, Trabert, Stolle, Forbes, Hartwig, Laver, Rosewall, Segal, Emerson, Newcombe, etc? Their opinions must (and do) carry so much more weight than our own, the media's or anyone who wasn't able to share a court with the guy.

As far as I'm concerned, those people who strive so desperately to establish a definitive 'greatest of all time' are doing nothing more than revealing that they don't understand competition or sport in general. Amongst the very elite there is no 'greatest', just a best on the day.

pc1
05-04-2009, 03:48 PM
AndrewD,

It's really incredible the respect people have for Hoad. The other players were truly in awe of his talent and shotmaking ability. Gonzalez once said that if there was a Davis Cup for the universe (or something to that effect) and he had to pick someone to represent the Earth, Gonzalez would have picked Lew Hoad. Gonzalez said Hoad was the best player he ever played. I'm seen clips of him playing and to say they are impressive is an understatement.

JoshDragon
05-04-2009, 10:08 PM
Nadal has been an assassin up until this point. still... If you think Nadal is going to keep this level for 5 or 6 more years youre crazy. Feds play is already declining by 28 and he was more dominant than Nadal has been overall. I highly doubt Nadal can make it past 25 or so until serious burnout or injuries get the best of Nadal.


What Nadal has accomplished is quite a bit but 6 slams and already being considered some GOAT at 22 years of age isnt enough to warrant that title.. yet.


Fed was on his way to Rod Laver status though just 2-3 years ago. No doubt about. The game is so physical today though, of course players arent going to have the longevity of a Laver or Connors. Its much more taxing on the human body

I agree with you, although it's hard to say that Nadal, hasn't been as dominant overall because he is five years younger than Fed and as you said, Federer's playing level has been lessening and he is approaching the end of his career. By the time Nadal, is 27 who knows what he will have accomplished.

grafselesfan
05-04-2009, 11:05 PM
...and we haven't seen who is up and coming in the next 2 years....

there may be some kid out there today who has Nads' number...

While that is certainly possible keep in mind there were signs of Nadal having Fed's number even back when he was a teenager. He was beating Federer on hard courts pretty regularly at ages 17 and 18, was one game in the 2005 Miami final from starting off 3-0 vs Federer on hard courts before his 19th birthday. On clay Federer already found Nadal at 18 virtually unbeatable for him.

Rabbit
05-05-2009, 04:46 AM
Rabbit,

There is also the question of Hoad. I don't recall any player being so highly touted by so many of their fellow players. The greats and the not-so-great of his era - across all nationalities - talk about him with absolute reverence. There seems little doubt, in their minds, that he was the best ever - no qualifications necessary. Sadly, his career didn't last into the tennis boom of the 1970s. As a result, he was ignored or overlooked by the media and audience (American) which has dominated all tennis discussions since then.

I've asked Mal Anderson about it several times and his answer is always the same. 'Gorgo', he says, was great on the boards (what he calls indoor courts) and on the grass but not so great on the slower stuff. Hoad was great on everything. Gonzalez was day-in-and-day-out consistent, Hoad wasn't - but Hoad had so much more game that could go 'off', Gonzalez had less in his game so there was less that could go wrong or right.

How do you argue with someone like that? Or with Cooper, Trabert, Stolle, Forbes, Hartwig, Laver, Rosewall, Segal, Emerson, Newcombe, etc? Their opinions must (and do) carry so much more weight than our own, the media's or anyone who wasn't able to share a court with the guy.

As far as I'm concerned, those people who strive so desperately to establish a definitive 'greatest of all time' are doing nothing more than revealing that they don't understand competition or sport in general. Amongst the very elite there is no 'greatest', just a best on the day.

AndrewD,

It's really incredible the respect people have for Hoad. The other players were truly in awe of his talent and shotmaking ability. Gonzalez once said that if there was a Davis Cup for the universe (or something to that effect) and he had to pick someone to represent the Earth, Gonzalez would have picked Lew Hoad. Gonzalez said Hoad was the best player he ever played. I'm seen clips of him playing and to say they are impressive is an understatement.

Great points. I either read or saw an interview with Gonzalez in which he said the player who gave him the most trouble and could beat him routinely was Hoad. I had occassion to have dinner with Owen Davidson and Ross Case. I asked them who they thought the greatest was. Davidson didn't hesitate and said "Hoad". He went on to say that Hoad could do anything, but that he liked to "tip a few" which held him back.