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GameSampras
04-27-2009, 05:09 PM
Would Hoad of been a GOAT candidate in your opinion. Pancho mentioned that Hoad was the best he ever played against and that even Pancho playing at his best may not have been enough to beat Lew.

egn
04-27-2009, 05:48 PM
I don't think so. Various accounts have said Hoad was very inconsistent and only wanted to beat the best. Kramer brought it up when he was interviewed about Hoad. Said Hoad beat who he wanted to beat, mostly the ones at the top, but did not take the little guys as serious.

380pistol
04-27-2009, 09:45 PM
I don't think so. Various accounts have said Hoad was very inconsistent and only wanted to beat the best. Kramer brought it up when he was interviewed about Hoad. Said Hoad beat who he wanted to beat, mostly the ones at the top, but did not take the little guys as serious.

Enough said. He beat "Who he wanted o beat". When another says of you that you can "choose" who you wanna beat, and it's often the best wahat does that say?? Inconsistent, couldn't have been that inconsistent when some accounts having him taking 30+ consecutive sets from Laver after Rod turned pro.

Back injuries hurt his career, but easily one of the best.

Carlo Giovanni Colussi
04-28-2009, 05:18 AM
Enough said. He beat "Who he wanted o beat". When another says of you that you can "choose" who you wanna beat, and it's often the best wahat does that say?? Inconsistent, couldn't have been that inconsistent when some accounts having him taking 30+ consecutive sets from Laver after Rod turned pro.
Back injuries hurt his career, but easily one of the best.

Those accounts are wrong because Hoad lost his 1st set against Laver, he lost the second set in their 4th match, and so on ...
In the 1963 Austral(asi)an tour many sources indicates that Hoad beat Laver 8 matches to 0 but only 6 matches are detailed as follows (I'm not sure that the 2 other matches have ever been played) :

January 5
Sydney
MS L Hoad d. R Laver 68 64 63 86
January 11
Brisbane
MS L Hoad d. R Laver 64 62 86
January 14
Burnie
MS L Hoad d. R Laver 62 63
January 15
Hobart
MS L Hoad d. R Laver 64 16 61
January 18
Melbourne
MS L Hoad d. R Laver 64 62 36 26 63
January 24
Adelaide
MS L Hoad d. R Laver 64 63 911 46 62

Then Hoad and Laver didn't meet until the Los Angeles tournament in mid-June 1963 when Rocket recorded his first win from Hoady. Since Laver has led their win-loss record.
Hoad was sort of inconsistent because in many occasions his concentration waned and he could be out of his own match and as told before he preferred to play great against the very best : if he had to face Gonzales or Rosewall there was a chance that he concentrated hard but it is true that he didn't care much when he met the old Segura. And in his old days Hoad could beat Laver sometimes but often lost to Barthès for instance (in 1966 Hoad met Barthès 11 times losing 8 matches).
In the 1959 World Pro tour which was held from February to May the final standings were as follows :
1) Gonzales 47 matches won, 15 lost, 2) Hoad 42-20, 3) Cooper 21-40, 4) Anderson 13-48
but in this tour Hoad led Gonzales 15-13 in direct meetings. However Gonzales was undefeated by the others beating Cooper 14-0 and Anderson 20-0 while Hoad was beaten 7 times by Cooper and Anderson (if my memory is good : twice by Cooper and 5 times by Anderson).
This is a good example showing that Hoad preferred to really play the great opponents. Had he been more motivated when he faced Cooper and Anderson he would have won that tour.

So not only physical injuries but also mental "injuries" (concentration and motivation often missing) prevented Hoad to be possibly the greatest player of the 1958-1968 era.

Another example : in 1957 he slightly dominated Kramer in H2H meetings whereas Kramer was too old and injured. Sure Kramer's game annoyed Hoad but Lew didn't care much about the old great while against Rosewall in the European-East and Far East-South African and Australian tours that year, Hoad tried his best and it is reported that in their 1957 encounters, Hoad led until mid-December before Rosewall had a very slight edge only in their very last meetings in late December.

And you can see that Hoad sort of "psyched up" against Laver when Rocket turned pro whereas against lesser players Hoad could lose (Hoad was beaten by Ayala at the French 1961, by Davies I think at the French 1962, ...) because he wasn't as motivated.

Becker was a little the same as Hoad. For instance Becker always beat Lendl in Slam finals or semis (he only lost to Lendl in a Slam event at the US Open 1992 in the R of 16) but Becker could lost to players such as Doohan, Masur or Gilbert in Slam events while Lendl didn't. If Becker hadn't "despised" lesser players he would have been the king of the 1985-1989 era instead of Lendl.

urban
04-28-2009, 05:36 AM
Hoad is one of the greatest myths of tennis history. On the basis of 'oral history', told by his peers and fellow players, he seemed to be the heroes hero, bigger than life, talented without limits, unbeatable. But on pure written records alone, he was sort af an 'almost' player, who was great for the one big match, but not as good as tournament player. He almost won the GS in 1956, losing the very last match to Rosewall, almost beat prime Gonzales for the pro title, before ultimately losing out. He was never consistent. Just one astounding example: In July 1957 he demolished Cooper at Wimbie in one of the best displays of all time, but one week later at the pro Forest Hills and Los Angeles he lost 14 of 16 matches to the top pros, even to ageing Dinny Pails and Segura. His pro record is clearly inferior to the records of Gonzales, his 'twin' Rosewall and Laver. And i don't buy, that it was always the bad back, that prevented him from winning. Only in 1959 maybe (with a bit good will) he reached the top of the pros, when he won Forest Hills over Gonzales, but it was anything but a clear domination.
My own (humble) explanation is, that he had stamina and concentration problems like Boris Becker later in the 90s, and couldn't pace himself properly for longer tournaments. Like Becker, Hoad invested to much power and gazolin in the quarters and semis, to reach a final. In the final he often was flat. Often he beat Gonzales at Paris or elsewhere in matches of the tournament, only to lose out in the final quite tamely to Rosewall. I think, that way he reached 7 or 8 big pro finals, and ultimately lost them all. For one big match, say in a DC rubber, Hoad - like Becker - was certainly one of the best all time.

pc1
04-28-2009, 05:38 AM
Hoad wasn't motivated against many players but he could be tremendous if he was inspired. Many feel if he was on his game that Hoad was the greatest ever. I'm not 100% convinced of that but I do believe it's possible.

I am not sure if Becker would have dominated if he concentrated all the time. His strokes weren't as grooved as a Lendl's or a Wilander's so I would tend to think he may still have had his share of bad losses but still he should have had a better record than he actually had. Also Boris was very vulnerable on clay. I don't know if he ever won a clay court tournament.

Now if you asked me if Nastase could have dominated at his peak if he had the concentration of a Rosewall, I would say yes.

Besides Lendl, it's also interesting to note that Becker also dominated his other great rival Edberg in their head to head rivalry. Becker certainly had a great presence when he walked onto the court.

krosero
04-28-2009, 07:36 AM
My own (humble) explanation is, that he had stamina and concentration problems like Boris Becker later in the 90s, and couldn't pace himself properly for longer tournaments. Like Becker, Hoad invested to much power and gazolin in the quarters and semis, to reach a final. Do you mean that Hoad might peak too early in a tournament and spend all his energy with great displays of power? Or do you mean that because his concentration was poor against lesser players, he ended up in long struggles before the final?

I've seen both things happen to Becker, I don't know much specifically about Hoad.

krosero
04-28-2009, 08:20 AM
Becker was a little the same as Hoad. For instance Becker always beat Lendl in Slam finals or semis (he only lost to Lendl in a Slam event at the US Open 1992 in the R of 16) but Becker could lost to players such as Doohan, Masur or Gilbert in Slam events while Lendl didn't. If Becker hadn't "despised" lesser players he would have been the king of the 1985-1989 era instead of Lendl.Very interesting, considering how Becker was compared to Hoad when he first won Wimbledon, even down to his looks.

Not to make this thread about Becker, but don't you think Lendl would have beaten Becker at the 1986 USO if Mecir had not? You list some other players that Becker underestimated, but Mecir may have been one of them; and Mecir was certainly one of those players that Lendl would not lose to in Slams.

And we're not even speaking of the French Open because Becker and Lendl never got close to meeting, but I just feel that their H2H is skewed because Lendl consistently made finals everywhere and was good on all surfaces. On grass -- Becker's best surface and Lendl's worst -- it was Lendl who was good enough to make those 3 Wimbledon meetings happen. If Lendl had remained mediocre on grass, then those meetings don't take place, and the H2H in Slams drops to 2-1 in Becker's favor. More irony: if Becker had been a little better on clay to meet Lendl at RG once, I'd still give that meeting to Lendl. Throw in the 86 USO and Lendl might have led 3-2 in Slams: and we've done this by making Becker a better, more consistent player on all surfaces, and Lendl worse.

But have Becker and Lendl meet in a single old-style tour over the course of a year, I think most people would take Lendl. In such a tour the less consistent and/or adaptable player must lose out.

If the question is whether Hoad would have been the dominant player of his generation without injuries or other liabilities like inconsistency, I don't know enough about him to say. But I might agree with PC1 that I don't see Becker taking away Lendl's dominant years even if he had concentrated better. Eventually, yes, he would overtake Lendl (he was the younger player); and his record in the 90s would improve; but I'm not really sure that their current H2H shows anything other than that.

pc1
04-28-2009, 08:57 AM
Very interesting, considering how Becker was compared to Hoad when he first won Wimbledon, even down to his looks.

Not to make this thread about Becker, but don't you think Lendl would have beaten Becker at the 1986 USO if Mecir had not? You list some other players that Becker underestimated, but Mecir may have been one of them; and Mecir was certainly one of those players that Lendl would not lose to in Slams.

And we're not even speaking of the French Open because Becker and Lendl never got close to meeting, but I just feel that their H2H is skewed because Lendl consistently made finals everywhere and was good on all surfaces. On grass -- Becker's best surface and Lendl's worst -- it was Lendl who was good enough to make those 3 Wimbledon meetings happen. If Lendl had remained mediocre on grass, then those meetings don't take place, and the H2H in Slams drops to 2-1 in Becker's favor. More irony: if Becker had been a little better on clay to meet Lendl at RG once, I'd still give that meeting to Lendl. Throw in the 86 USO and Lendl might have led 3-2 in Slams: and we've done this by making Becker a better, more consistent player on all surfaces, and Lendl worse.

But have Becker and Lendl meet in a single old-style tour over the course of a year, I think most people would take Lendl. In such a tour the less consistent and/or adaptable player must lose out.

If the question is whether Hoad would have been the dominant player of his generation without injuries or other liabilities like inconsistency, I don't know enough about him to say. But I might agree with PC1 that I don't see Becker taking away Lendl's dominant years even if he had concentrated better. Eventually, yes, he would overtake Lendl (he was the younger player); and his record in the 90s would improve; but I'm not really sure that their current H2H shows anything other than that.

Becker was a little the same as Hoad. For instance Becker always beat Lendl in Slam finals or semis (he only lost to Lendl in a Slam event at the US Open 1992 in the R of 16) but Becker could lost to players such as Doohan, Masur or Gilbert in Slam events while Lendl didn't. If Becker hadn't "despised" lesser players he would have been the king of the 1985-1989 era instead of Lendl.


Krosero, Urban and Carlo,

While I sort of see a SLIGHT comparison between Becker and Hoad, I never got the impression that Becker when he was on his game was among the greats. Becker wasn't that fast, his second serve (according to Sampras) could be vulnerable and his groundstrokes weren't that consistent. His volley was good but never on the level of an Edberg. What Becker had, like Hoad was great overwhelming power but I never thought he was unstoppable when he was on like what people thought of Hoad, Laver, McEnroe and some others.

I agree with you Krosero that Becker would probably lose an old style tour to Lendl by a good margin even if Becker's concentration never waivered.

And I agree with you Urban that Hoad, while great may be more of a myth than anything else. I have read that Hoad didn't exactly had the greatest topspin backhand. Yes it was dangerous and he could hit a lot of winners with it but he could always make a ton of errors with it. It was not a natural shot with him apparently, unlike Rosewall and Laver.

That being written, Hoad apparently had every shot and virtually every shot could hurt you.

Yet in reading Rosewall's comments, I got the impression he thought Laver was better than anyone when he was on his game.

In reading about Hoad, yes I understand he went for ridiculous winners and when he was "on" he was great but the thought has occurred to me that that is the case with a lot of us. In a great player goes for his shots, he or she is going to have days where they seem unbeatable. Sometimes I do wonder if Hoad was like that.

urban
04-28-2009, 09:06 AM
I think it is a combination of both, lack of stamina and lack of concentration. Becker even in his prime often had this habit, to play tight, long matches at Wimbledon or USO against lesser players like Rostagno or Wheaton. Sampras could get through early rounds without much of an effort, by focussing on his serve. Becker also had the big serve, but his concentration could waver. Also, Hoad and Becker didn't have the stamina of a Nadal, Becker or Laver (or even McEnroe in 1980) to survive two or three tough matches in succession.

pc1
04-28-2009, 09:09 AM
I think it is a combination of both, lack of stamina and lack of concentration. Becker even in his prime often had this habit, to play tight, long matches at Wimbledon or USO against lesser players like Rostagno or Wheaton. Sampras could get through early rounds without much of an effort, by focussing on his serve. Becker also had the big serve, but his concentration could waver. Also, Hoad and Becker didn't have the stamina of a Nadal, Becker or Laver (or even McEnroe in 1980) to survive two or three tough matches in succession.

Excellent point. The other thing I forgot to mention about Hoad that that perhaps he had to play that reckless style because his strokes weren't consistent enough to win if he played safe against a Rosewall, Kramer or Laver.

Moose Malloy
04-28-2009, 10:26 AM
While I sort of see a SLIGHT comparison between Becker and Hoad, I never got the impression that Becker when he was on his game was among the greats.

Becker ranks pretty high in the amount of winners per game in some matches that krosero & I counted in this thread(we've done many more since)

http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=198319

I think it is a combination of both, lack of stamina and lack of concentration. Becker even in his prime often had this habit, to play tight, long matches at Wimbledon or USO against lesser players like Rostagno or Wheaton. Sampras could get through early rounds without much of an effort, by focussing on his serve. Becker also had the big serve, but his concentration could waver. Also, Hoad and Becker didn't have the stamina of a Nadal, Borg or Laver (or even McEnroe in 1980) to survive two or three tough matches in succession.

surprised by this comment. To me, it seemed like it was a trademark of Becker's to be able to survive 2 or 3 tough matches in succession(just look up the draws at the majors he won. almost every major he won he had multiple 4 or 5 setters en route to the title. the only time I recall tough matches hurting him in the later rounds of a major was '91 Wimbledon. but that was more an issue with the rain affected schedule - he had to play 6 matches in 7 days) It sounds like you are describing Sampras more than Becker, anytime Sampras had to play 2 five setters in the early rounds he was tapped out physically. With Becker it seemed like he was just getting his game into form after a 5 setter.

Becker had a tremendous 5 set record, I don't recall him ever looking tired(at least physically), & I don't recall his stamina being criticized back then(though I do recall the criticism of mental lapses)

And Becker wasn't exactly unique in having tough matches, looking at the draws in the 80s, Edberg, Wilander, Mac, Lendl played quite a few 5 setters in the early rounds of some of the majors they won. Playing your way into form at a major used to be a lot more common(it seems only in recent years is it common that the top players are consistently making the semis/finals of majors without losing a set)

I think too many here love to make player analogies. Everyone is different(& Becker was so much taller than Hoad it seems like a strange analogy. Even by today's standards, Becker was a really big guy)

pc1
04-28-2009, 10:36 AM
Moose,

Fascinating article about winners per game. Great analysis and very informative.

urban
04-28-2009, 08:34 PM
Moose, i refered more to Becker's 90s performance, when i talked about his lack of stamina. Yes, in 1985 he obviously had the toughest route to the final (along with Ted Schroeder in 1949), but came through. But in 91, he came out flat against Stich in the final after surviving some tough matches (against Wheaton in the semis i think). In 93 he lost tamely to Sampras in semis, after a tough five setter with Stich. In 95 in had tight matches with Pioline and Agassi, and after the first set had nothing left against Sampras in final. Becker had an astounding DC record, when he had to play only one or two singles matches; often he didn't play the third day, when playing doubles. He didn't train properly after his partnership with Bob Brett under his coaches Smid and some Austrian, whose name i forgot.
Sampras, not the most durable player himself, was better in pacing himself. At Wimbledon, it was one of his biggest assets, to go through the early rounds with minimum effort, relying on his great serve. At RG however, several hard clay matches in succession always were his downfall.

Carlo Giovanni Colussi
04-29-2009, 12:08 AM
Hello everyone,

just a slight correction : Hoad didn't "ultimately lost them all" as urban stated about major events but won 1 major in his whole career, the Forest Hills Pro tourney in 1959 which was possibly the greatest event that year.
Hoad is a myth for the persons who think of him as a possible contender in a GOAT discussion but he isn't such a myth when one talks about his peak level on a given big match (I agree with urban on that point).
pc1, even circa 1972 when Rosewall was so laudatory about Laver, Ken also praised Hoad (see World of Tennis). Your impression that he would think Laver perhaps superior is probably due to the fact that in 1972 Laver was still the best player on a given match and Ken's greatest opponent (according to jeffreyneave, Laver and Rosewall were still the top dogs in 1970 and 1971 : it is debatable but jeffrey's argument has sense) before Smith and Nastase ultimately took the lead in mid-1972, while Hoad was virtually retired since 1967-1968.

About Lendl it is clear that he was pretty better than Becker on clay and so globally Lendl was better than Becker because the ex-Czech won on clay while Becker lost early on clay (except a few exceptions) while on fast courts Becker was globally better but, unlike Becker on slow surfaces, Lendl was strong enough to reach the finals and even to win sometimes on quick courts.
However I disagree that Lendl on fast or medium courts would have clearly dominated Becker on a long tour (unless Becker injured as Hoad in 1958 ) because Lendl was impressed by Becker and some other players. In his young days Lendl was impressed by Borg and Connors (he beat for the first time Connors in August 1982 at Cincinatti before collapsing at Flushing). Lendl feared Noah's physical and muscular strength though the French's strokes were no match to Lendl (Noah except a serve and a smash had almost no strokes : no backhand, no volley as long as he played with his wooden racket (I think he gave it up in 1982), etc...). And Lendl was also impressed by Becker's power and presence. So I'm not so certain, as some of you, that Lendl would have won easily a long tour against Becker.

Sure Lendl easily handled Mecir in the US Open 1986 and Australian Open 1989 finals but would have been the case if he had met on those occasions the Mecir who beat him at Key Biscayne 1987 ? Then I think Lendl would have had some problems. I don't know if Lendl would have beaten Becker at the US Open 1986 but I would give Lendl the edge, based on Lendl's performance at the Masters 3 months later.

Though pc1 had listed all Becker's weaknesses I am still very impressed by Becker's performances in late 1996 when he beat twice Sampras in 3 meetings on indoor court (once at Stuttgart, once in the round-robin match at the Masters) and Becker almost beat Sampras in the Masters final. Sampras was especially laudatory about Becker and probably thought Becker's last performances superior to Agassi's in 1995 on such surface. And a few days after Becker crushed Ivanisevic 63 64 64 (and Henman) in the Grand Slam Cup. I think that the very best Sampras (summer 1999) would have beaten the very best Becker on fast indoor courts but I'm not sure that the Agassi of 1995 (it is possible that the best Agassi's ever was the one who played at the Australian-Indian Wells-Miami in the early 2000's) would have defeated Becker at the Australian 1996 or at the last indoor events of 1996.
I was also very impressed by Becker's victory at the Australian 1991 over Lendl when both players reached a very high level or in his 1989 Davis Cup wins from Edberg and Wilander.
So on medium or fast courts Becker could be very great and not so far from a Sampras for instance.

And I'm not so sure that the very best McEnroe (among the examples cited before) would have beaten the very best Becker on fast courts : this is a great interrogation for me because unfortunately their peaks didn't occur at the same time. Mac was clearly superior to Boris in technical terms (volley, quickness, ...) but Becker was pretty more powerful. I can't compare those respective advantages.

pc1
04-29-2009, 03:06 AM
And I'm not so sure that the very best McEnroe (among the examples cited before) would have beaten the very best Becker on fast courts : this is a great interrogation for me because unfortunately their peaks didn't occur at the same time. Mac was clearly superior to Boris in technical terms (volley, quickness, ...) but Becker was pretty more powerful. I can't compare those respective advantages.

It's very possible Becker could have blown the best Mac away with his power. Like you wrote Carlo, it's hard to compare. I do think McEnroe in 1984 defeats the best Becker but it's debatable. Unless my memory fails me (quite possible) I remember McEnroe that year taking Lendl's first serve a few times on the rise and approaching the net. I was amazed since it's one thing to take the much weaker Jimmy Connors first serve but the much more powerful Lendl first serve, well I was stunned! McEnroe's reflexes that year seemed to allow him to easily handle powerful groundstrokes like Connors and Lendl and many powerful first serves.

But I will admit to you Carlo, McEnroe didn't play anyone that year that had the overall pure power of Boris Becker.

krosero
04-29-2009, 06:54 AM
Sure Lendl easily handled Mecir in the US Open 1986 and Australian Open 1989 finals but would have been the case if he had met on those occasions the Mecir who beat him at Key Biscayne 1987 ? Then I think Lendl would have had some problems. It's true that Mecir played a great match at Key Biscayne (the only time he ever won any sets from Lendl). But Lendl played a bad match. I thought he was more passive than he had been in their USO final. And Lendl was in a bad patch, still looking for his first title of the year. He was having problems with his BH and his serve (4 aces, 7 df's according to the New York Times), and his concentration.

pc1
04-29-2009, 07:16 AM
It's true that Mecir played a great match at Key Biscayne (the only time he ever won any sets from Lendl). But Lendl played a bad match. I thought he was more passive than he had been in their USO final. And Lendl was in a bad patch, still looking for his first title of the year. He was having problems with his BH and his serve (4 aces, 7 df's according to the New York Times), and his concentration.

I saw a bit of that Lendl-Mecir match in Key Biscayne and I agree with you that Lendl wasn't at his best. But I do that Carlo is correct that a Mecir in top form would gave Lendl problems. I think Mecir was intimidated by Lendl and very rarely played his best against him. Nerves would often get to Mecir.

However I think that in a long tour with Becker, the consistency of Lendl would eventually prevail over Becker. Lendl was almost always good, very rarely did he give a poor performance.

krosero
04-29-2009, 07:22 AM
It's very possible Becker could have blown the best Mac away with his power. I have the hardest time seeing this myself. McEnroe's serve was always powerful, though its power could be said to be almost the last of its strengths. McEnroe at his best is going to hold serve reliably against Becker. That alone would prevent the kind of cascading effect that takes place in a blowout, when a player achieves a break or two, or achieves some kind of of psychological edge (if he didn't bring it already at the start of the match), and starts to hit with absolute freedom. I just can't see that kind of dominance over 1984 McEnroe. His serve was too good and he put too much pressure on his opponent's serve, for the opponent to ever breathe so freely at any point.

On the other hand, Becker himself applied pressure on the return not by coming in (so much), but by going for return winners. So basically you've got two great servers who will only get broken rarely, but who will feel pressed often on their serves. It would be a long war with the winner getting the key break after several attempts.

That's how their Davis Cup marathon went. In that match I think both men are playing a level or two below the very best I ever saw from them, but I think all the evidence is right there that McEnroe could handle Becker's power -- in the sense that he could stay with it and not be overpowered. He was up two sets to one. But he was 28 then, and after five hours of play, and a mandatory break following the third set, he never quite regained his fire. Becker did not lift his game in the last two sets, he just had a stamina that McEnroe in 1987 did not have.

They played other close matches in 1986-87. At Stratton McEnroe choked away some match points on his serve. At the AT&T Challenge Becker won something like 7-5 in the third and in my old memories of that match, McEnroe was serving aces late in the third set with impunity.

krosero
04-29-2009, 07:25 AM
Lendl was almost always good, very rarely did he give a poor performance.Very true, which is why I was so surprised recently when I saw the Key Biscayne final. I had seen great highlights on the web (they got taken down somehow), but those did not give any sense of Lendl's bad patches.

I have no problem with the best Mecir giving the best Lendl problems, but the edge would have to go to Lendl.

crabgrass
04-29-2009, 07:36 AM
Very interesting, considering how Becker was compared to Hoad when he first won Wimbledon, even down to his looks.

Not to make this thread about Becker, but don't you think Lendl would have beaten Becker at the 1986 USO if Mecir had not? You list some other players that Becker underestimated, but Mecir may have been one of them; and Mecir was certainly one of those players that Lendl would not lose to in Slams.

And we're not even speaking of the French Open because Becker and Lendl never got close to meeting, but I just feel that their H2H is skewed because Lendl consistently made finals everywhere and was good on all surfaces. On grass -- Becker's best surface and Lendl's worst -- it was Lendl who was good enough to make those 3 Wimbledon meetings happen. If Lendl had remained mediocre on grass, then those meetings don't take place, and the H2H in Slams drops to 2-1 in Becker's favor. More irony: if Becker had been a little better on clay to meet Lendl at RG once, I'd still give that meeting to Lendl. Throw in the 86 USO and Lendl might have led 3-2 in Slams: and we've done this by making Becker a better, more consistent player on all surfaces, and Lendl worse.

But have Becker and Lendl meet in a single old-style tour over the course of a year, I think most people would take Lendl. In such a tour the less consistent and/or adaptable player must lose out.

If the question is whether Hoad would have been the dominant player of his generation without injuries or other liabilities like inconsistency, I don't know enough about him to say. But I might agree with PC1 that I don't see Becker taking away Lendl's dominant years even if he had concentrated better. Eventually, yes, he would overtake Lendl (he was the younger player); and his record in the 90s would improve; but I'm not really sure that their current H2H shows anything other than that.

good post, agree with pretty much everything.
overall head to head btw was 11-10 in lendls favour and while not slams lendl did have some important wins over becker in big matches, 2 end of year masters finals in 85 and 86, both in straight sets.

krosero
04-29-2009, 08:43 AM
Unless my memory fails me (quite possible) I remember McEnroe that year taking Lendl's first serve a few times on the rise and approaching the net. I was amazed since it's one thing to take the much weaker Jimmy Connors first serve but the much more powerful Lendl first serve, well I was stunned! Yes, at least in the USO final and maybe in other places (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?p=2533342#post2533342b).

I mention this just because I saw it a few days ago. During the AO final of '97, one of the announcers (Garry Wilkinson) was talking about McEnroe's defeat of Becker in the '92 AO, which went in straight sets. He recalled that every time Becker missed his first serve, McEnroe would come in, and in that way he destroyed Becker (I think that was his word). I've never seen the match but that was his comment.

Now I know that Becker was prone to having bad matches. He had 57 ue's according to one source. But a player can be in a bad patch, and suddenly find his old form -- or appear to find it -- when he comes across someone who is a good matchup for him (often someone he's dominated before). If Becker's power was really a bad matchup for McEnroe as some say (I don't think you're saying it because you've picked the best Mac over the best Becker, but it's a common opinion on this board), I have a hard time seeing how a 32-year-old McEnroe managed a wipeout of Becker -- and managed to do it by getting so aggressive on the bigger man's serve.

Moose Malloy
04-29-2009, 12:05 PM
Moose, i refered more to Becker's 90s performance, when i talked about his lack of stamina. Yes, in 1985 he obviously had the toughest route to the final (along with Ted Schroeder in 1949), but came through. But in 91, he came out flat against Stich in the final after surviving some tough matches (against Wheaton in the semis i think). In 93 he lost tamely to Sampras in semis, after a tough five setter with Stich. In 95 in had tight matches with Pioline and Agassi, and after the first set had nothing left against Sampras in final.

Well, he won both the '91 & '96 AO's after having some very long matches in the early rounds(longest ever match in AO history vs Camporese in '91 plus back to back 5 setters in '96), so his stamina must have been pretty good.

It's true that Mecir played a great match at Key Biscayne (the only time he ever won any sets from Lendl).

That's not exactly true. They twice played at the Antwerp European Community Championships(imo this event should be included in players head to heads, it was a big event in the 80s, 32 player draws, with great fields. certainly seems more significant to me than the Pepsi Grand Slam)

1987 Final - Lendl d Mecir 57, 61, 64, 63(this was after Mecir destroyed Wilander in one of the best matches I've ever seen him play. Donald Dell said that it seemed 'only a matter of time' before Mecir became #1. Mats was lucky he didn't face this Mecir at the USO that year. Lendl defeated Cash in the semis btw)

1989 Final - Lendl d Mecir 62, 62, 16, 64

Carlo(or AndrewTas), do you have complete draws for any of these events?

urban
04-29-2009, 12:16 PM
At AO 1991, Becker was still trained by Bob Brett, as i said, and in 1996, Bollettieri had brought him back into better shape. Becker relished on playing tough five setters, he loved the fire of the battle, and won many on his guts, but still stamina was never his greatest asset.

krosero
04-29-2009, 01:53 PM
That's not exactly true. They twice played at the Antwerp European Community Championships(imo this event should be included in players head to heads, it was a big event in the 80s, 32 player draws, with great fields. certainly seems more significant to me than the Pepsi Grand Slam)

1987 Final - Lendl d Mecir 57, 61, 64, 63(this was after Mecir destroyed Wilander in one of the best matches I've ever seen him play. Donald Dell said that it seemed 'only a matter of time' before Mecir became #1. Mats was lucky he didn't face this Mecir at the USO that year. Lendl defeated Cash in the semis btw)

1989 Final - Lendl d Mecir 62, 62, 16, 64Antwerp, now that's a blast from the past. I'd forgotten all about that event.

Considering Mecir's form against Wilander in '87, maybe that final against Lendl, or the one in '89, comes close to something like the best of Mecir against the best of Lendl. So many of their other matches featured poor performances by one or the other.

Carlo Giovanni Colussi
04-30-2009, 04:29 AM
It's very possible Becker could have blown the best Mac away with his power. Like you wrote Carlo, it's hard to compare. I do think McEnroe in 1984 defeats the best Becker but it's debatable. Unless my memory fails me (quite possible) I remember McEnroe that year taking Lendl's first serve a few times on the rise and approaching the net. I was amazed since it's one thing to take the much weaker Jimmy Connors first serve but the much more powerful Lendl first serve, well I was stunned! McEnroe's reflexes that year seemed to allow him to easily handle powerful groundstrokes like Connors and Lendl and many powerful first serves.

But I will admit to you Carlo, McEnroe didn't play anyone that year that had the overall pure power of Boris Becker.

However Mac was still able to rival Becker in the second half of 1985 though Mac had declined (Mac had beaten Becker in Milan in March or April but Boris was a baby compared to his post-Garros 85 career). Just after Wimby 1985 they played an exhib that Becker won closely (I don't have the score) and at the Antwerp-ECC Champs (not an ATP-Grand Prix-WCT tourney at the time) Mac took his revenge. But unfortunately it's very hard to compare their peak forms because they weren't in the same years.

Carlo Giovanni Colussi
04-30-2009, 04:35 AM
(Carlo or AndrewTas), do you have complete draws for any of these events?

No sorry I haven't any