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View Full Version : McEnroe is the real overall GOAT (or GOHG)


harryz
05-18-2009, 08:45 PM
I prefer GOHG (greatest of his generation), for what it's worth...

Anyway, I submit that McEnroe is the overall GOAT of the open era, becuase he was a complete tennis player. No, he never won the French and didn't win much on clay. He never won the Australian. And still, he was the greatest singles AND doubles player of his era, winning 7 major singles titles, 9 doubles titles and 1 mixed. That's 17 majors (no, not the mis-used "Grand Slams", but Majors). That makes him the most complete male player of the past two generations. Tennis is not just singles, and there has never been a better doubles player over the past 30 years, at least to my knowledge. Not to mention that Mac was still winning ATP doubles titles when he was old enough to be his opponents' father. No mean feat, there.

And for the record, I can't stand Mac's "personality." I just have tremendous respect for a player who can still match up, at 50, with just about anyone on the planet for a set of tennis on a medium to fast court. So, given his overall major title count, versatility, longevity, and talent, I'd have to put Mac at the top of the heap as candidate for overall GOAT or GOHG. What do you think?

harryz
05-18-2009, 08:50 PM
It took about two or three minutes. But I have given it some thought, especially in light of the continual arguments about Fed, Sampras, Nadal etc... as GOAT. Besides, what is your point?

TheNatural
05-18-2009, 09:04 PM
I prefer GOHG (greatest of his generation), for what it's worth...

Anyway, I submit that McEnroe is the overall GOAT of the open era, becuase he was a complete tennis player. No, he never won the French and didn't win much on clay. He never won the Australian. And still, he was the greatest singles AND doubles player of his era, winning 7 major singles titles, 9 doubles titles and 1 mixed. That's 17 majors (no, not the mis-used "Grand Slams", but Majors). That makes him the most complete male player of the past two generations. Tennis is not just singles, and there has never been a better doubles player over the past 30 years, at least to my knowledge. Not to mention that Mac was still winning ATP doubles titles when he was old enough to be his opponents' father. No mean feat, there.

And for the record, I can't stand Mac's "personality." I just have tremendous respect for a player who can still match up, at 50, with just about anyone on the planet for a set of tennis on a medium to fast court. So, given his overall major title count, versatility, longevity, and talent, I'd have to put Mac at the top of the heap as candidate for overall GOAT or GOHG. What do you think?

better doubles player (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Todd_Woodbridge)

luckyguy
05-18-2009, 09:07 PM
"greatest of his generation" should go to sampras..

TheNatural
05-18-2009, 09:08 PM
22 doubles majors> 10 doubles majors :oops:

harryz
05-18-2009, 09:24 PM
Anyone?

Woodbridge was a great doubles player, no doubt. Mac was the best combination singles and doubles player. There have been greater singles players, and maybe a better doubles player, but the question i posed was about a greater OVERALL player-- singles and doubles.

TheNatural
05-18-2009, 09:56 PM
Anyone?

Woodbridge was a great doubles player, no doubt. Mac was the best combination singles and doubles player. There have been greater singles players, and maybe a better doubles player, but the question i posed was about a greater OVERALL player-- singles and doubles.

Maybe he is the best overall player since I cant think of many top singles players who played much doubles in the last 30 years. How long is Mcenroe's generation'? Laver and that generation were all good at singles and doubles. Look at John Newcombe's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Newcombe) singles and doubles Majors.

jimbo333
05-19-2009, 01:06 AM
Not the GOAT, or the GOOP!!!

And Borg, Connors and Lendl were all better in his generation!!!

By the way I really liked him, he was an entertainer as well as a great tennis player, I really wish there was someone even similar to him today:)

harryz
05-19-2009, 07:13 AM
anywhere near McEnroe's level. All great, and Borg and Lendl did surpass Mac in singles. But overall?

thejoe
05-19-2009, 07:18 AM
22 doubles majors> 10 doubles majors :oops:

Yes, but 10 doubles majors and 7 singles majors>22 doubles majors. Why do you always use that stupid emoticon, as if you've shown somebody up? You haven't...

Arafel
05-19-2009, 07:24 AM
anywhere near McEnroe's level. All great, and Borg and Lendl did surpass Mac in singles. But overall?

Connors won a US Open doubles with Nastase, and he and Evert made the mixed final in 74 at the US.

It's not that Connors couldn't play doubles well, but that he didn't play it that often.

helloworld
05-19-2009, 07:28 AM
This is pathetic. Nobody cares about doubles majors. Otherwise, Todd Woodbridge would be the undisputed GOAT.

drakulie
05-19-2009, 07:40 AM
I prefer GOHG (greatest of his generation), for what it's worth...

Anyway, I submit that McEnroe is the overall GOAT of the open era, becuase he was a complete tennis player. No, he never won the French and didn't win much on clay. He never won the Australian. And still, he was the greatest singles AND doubles player of his era, winning 7 major singles titles, 9 doubles titles and 1 mixed. That's 17 majors (no, not the mis-used "Grand Slams", but Majors). That makes him the most complete male player of the past two generations. Tennis is not just singles, and there has never been a better doubles player over the past 30 years, at least to my knowledge. Not to mention that Mac was still winning ATP doubles titles when he was old enough to be his opponents' father. No mean feat, there.

And for the record, I can't stand Mac's "personality." I just have tremendous respect for a player who can still match up, at 50, with just about anyone on the planet for a set of tennis on a medium to fast court. So, given his overall major title count, versatility, longevity, and talent, I'd have to put Mac at the top of the heap as candidate for overall GOAT or GOHG. What do you think?


I whole-heartedly agree. I've actually mentioned this a few times. Mcernoe was a monster, and add to your list his devotion and accomplishment in Davis Cup!!

One of my 3 favorite players of all time.

TheNatural
05-19-2009, 07:56 AM
anywhere near McEnroe's level. All great, and Borg and Lendl did surpass Mac in singles. But overall?


Looks like Newcombe is the Greatest

Joseph L. Barrow
05-19-2009, 08:53 AM
Well, yes, in an assessment which combines singles and doubles, McEnroe has a strong case for #1. The majority of the "greatest of all time" talk that goes around on these forums seems to be solely within the context of singles, but this is another perfectly valid form of assessment.

jimbo333
05-19-2009, 09:59 AM
anywhere near McEnroe's level. All great, and Borg and Lendl did surpass Mac in singles. But overall?

Saying that Connors didn't play doubles is I have to say absolute rubbish mate!

He has 15 Doubles titles, including 2 Grand Slam (also 2 runners up):)

Doubles simply isn't anywhere near as important as singles, maybe unfairly, but definitely a fact!!!

TheNatural
05-19-2009, 10:13 AM
Yes, but 10 doubles majors and 7 singles majors>22 doubles majors. Why do you always use that stupid emoticon, as if you've shown somebody up? You haven't...

Before you make stupid suggestions read the thread properly. If you read his post you would see that he said McEnroe is the best doubles player in the last 30 years to his knowledge. He's obviously lacking knowledge or has very selective pro American knowledge as Woodbridge obviously is far better in doubles since he won 22 doubles majors compared to Mcenroes 10. :oops:


http://www.gigacrate.com/Blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/doh.gif

drakulie
05-19-2009, 10:23 AM
Before you make stupid suggestions


http://4gifs.com/gallery/d/557-1/forcegun.gif

TheNatural
05-19-2009, 10:37 AM
http://4gifs.com/gallery/d/557-1/forcegun.gif

BTW Your video was hilarious. You need a bigger racket and faster feet so you can actually reach the volleys :lol:

LuckyR
05-19-2009, 10:55 AM
Mac's greatest accomplishment was getting Borg to quit the game. As to Johnnie, he was a great player no doubt, but his stats (and success) would have been much lower if he would have played in an era where the Umpires had balls.

Leublu tennis
05-19-2009, 02:18 PM
McEnroe is a former player, right? There is a section for threads on former players. Mods may move this but why add to their burden.

Heyford Price
05-19-2009, 02:46 PM
I choose Laver

JoshDragon
05-19-2009, 05:17 PM
I prefer GOHG (greatest of his generation), for what it's worth...

Anyway, I submit that McEnroe is the overall GOAT of the open era, becuase he was a complete tennis player. No, he never won the French and didn't win much on clay. He never won the Australian. And still, he was the greatest singles AND doubles player of his era, winning 7 major singles titles, 9 doubles titles and 1 mixed. That's 17 majors (no, not the mis-used "Grand Slams", but Majors). That makes him the most complete male player of the past two generations. Tennis is not just singles, and there has never been a better doubles player over the past 30 years, at least to my knowledge. Not to mention that Mac was still winning ATP doubles titles when he was old enough to be his opponents' father. No mean feat, there.

And for the record, I can't stand Mac's "personality." I just have tremendous respect for a player who can still match up, at 50, with just about anyone on the planet for a set of tennis on a medium to fast court. So, given his overall major title count, versatility, longevity, and talent, I'd have to put Mac at the top of the heap as candidate for overall GOAT or GOHG. What do you think?

Not even close to it. Borg, Lendl, and probably Connors were all better players than him. They were much more accomplished in singles, which is really all that matters. There are so many guys that are better than him: Federer, Borg, Lendl, Nadal, Sampras, Agassi, Laver, Rosewall, Connors, Wilander, maybe even Pancho Gonzalez. McEnreoe doesn't even makes the top 10 list in GOAT singles players.

Tshooter
05-19-2009, 09:12 PM
"if he would have played in an era where the Umpires had balls."

It's not that they didn't have "balls" as you refer to it. They just didn't have the tools. If not for the three jerks: Nastase, Connors and JMac, they might still not have them.

That JMac is the GOAT doesn't merit serious discussion.

carpedm
05-19-2009, 09:58 PM
Woodbridge was an excellent doubles player and in the annuls of tennis history, probably the second best player in the open era. And while I don’t mind counting major titles as a barometer of greatness ( his 22 majors is certainly a staggering number ) I still believe McEnroe is a superior player.

At his best, John’s serve was considered the best in the sport. In fact, a match’s outcome largely hinged on his first serve percentage. That’s what Connors thought, that’s what Borg thought and that’s what Lendl and Wilander thought – it’s what anyone thought. The general consensus was before he blew a gasket in 85 matches were his to win or loose. In fact, most post-match interviews from the matches prior sounded the same - when asked how they thought they’d do against Mac they’d all same the same thing, “ It depends on how John serves.”
If his percentage was high, in all likelihood the match was his. And high was considered over 60%. This was the case in singles and it was especially the case in doubles, particularly if he was matched with a power volleyer like Peter Flemming and later on Michael Stich or Pete Sampras. His curling, deceptive serve was meant to force weak replies in any dynamic on a tennis court.

John’s volley is John’s volley. There’s no point in rehashing a legend we all know so well. He protected his serve, he protected his partner’s serve and he challenge his opponents with it when they were serving. And while just covering half the court, he hands seemed that much better probably because he never seemed to bizarrely miss the occasional easy volley – something that would present itself in his singles play. But for the sake of efficiency, there really isn’t a lot more that can said about his netplay.

Despite this, there have been many great doubles players with amazing serves and incredible volleys. And I’m certainly not going to say Woodbridge lacked anything on the volley but what truly separate Mac from everyone else was his doubles ground game.

John’s ad court return was a thing of beauty. The mechanics are based on his numbers game – you had better hit an amazing serve because he was going to get it back into play. And he’d get more back in play then just about anyone. He could tag it for a winner, using his short strokes to hit flat laser beams to bisect his opponents or make them see what a down the line blast really looked like. Or he could chip it, roll it or slap at your feet better than anyone who ever played with a quartet on one court. Coming in behind John’s return meant you were definitely volleying and most likely you’d be volleying up. Or perhaps he chipped-n’-charged himself ( or did John’s special bunt-n’-run play ) in which case you’d mostly have to volley when you’re serving, volley up and have John McEnore at the net waiting for the ball. And he was not always nice when he was up there.

Of course John didn’t always have to go in because he had the most devastating passing shot in the modern era. With his feel, anticipation and stroke mechanics John could place that ball just about anywhere. And like a good thinker he’d set up his offense and make you figure out how to beat it. For the record, no one ever could. Take his forehand for instance, it was base on a severe dip cross-court to the Ad player’s left – one that so seemed to favor the continent forehand. It dropped so quickly beneath the net that it was either a an outright winner or the player had to volley up to John’s partner already planted in the forecourt. And it was slow too, a methodical, evil trajectory that players could only watch in pain.

Once that shot was established, that player had to take a step to their left and forward to try to cover leaving John to be able to slap it flat between the two. One that happens, the deuce court player has to cover the center more leaving it possible for John to crunch a winner up the line. And all of this could be executed with a flick of a wrist on a racket strung so loosely the ball seemed stay on it forever. So with three possible ways to hit a winner, John could not only threaten to just put a ball on his opponents toes he also had one of the evilest running topspin lops ever. There was no way to see it coming especially after establishing an offense that made his opponents put their tongues over the net as a counter-strategy.

Of course there’s a whole lot more to doubles than this but who out there could clearly out-move or out-anticipate Mac on the doubles court? And better court-sense and touch simply did not exist in his prime. Woodbridge was exemplary on the doubles court and did things amazingly well (so did Stolle, Roche, McMillian, Edberg, Kafelnikov, Laver, Newcombe, etc.), Mac just did more things – the total package of things on the doubles court - equally if not slightly better. (Note: for the record, it was hinted to me on many occasions that McEnroe performed more consistently on the doubles court than Laver but I’m too young to know that to be true or not.) And if you consider what John’s career would be like if he devoted it primarily to doubles like Woodbridge it’s a bit scary to think what his title count might have been – although we shouldn’t forget Woodbridge’s impressive runs at Wimbeldon. Hell, if McEnroe and Graf wanted to make a run at Wimbeldon this year they probably could do it ( saw her play that exhibition and she looked amazing).

Is John the greatest doubles player? My answer, he’s the best I’ve ever seen and I’m in my mid-30’s. But does this qualify him as the GOAT contender? Absolutely. McEnroe 84 could take at least 4 out of 10 matches against anyone in history especially on a neutral hard-court. That might be a bold statement but I’m not so young as to not know just how mentally strong and complete he was at his peak. The game could not be played more intuitively, intelligently or obstinately. And it certainly couldn’t be played more artistically. And when placed him on a court with four people, no matter what the dynamic, he immediately becomes the favorite. The same can’t be said for Sampras, Federer, Nadal, Agassi, Lendl, Connors, Borg and many more.

big ted
05-19-2009, 10:26 PM
1. mcenroe's '84 year is better than anybody elses in the open era, period.

2. his 7 gs titles came from the two most prestigious of the grand slam tournaments.

3. unlike woodbridge who dominated doubles, mcenroe dominated singles AND doubles during his time, like navratilova did.

4. lendl better than mcenroe ? lendl never won a wimbledon, the biggest tournament in tennis, mac won it 3x. lendl who ppl crowned the king of flushing meadows in the 80's won it 1x less than mcenroe! borg never won the us open.

although i dont think mcenroe is greatest of all time, i can see how original poster might come to conclusion..

vwfye
05-19-2009, 11:02 PM
My favorite statements from the past, slightly paraphrased:

"Who is the best doubles team in the world? John McEnroe and anyone..."

And Tennis magazine years ago when Mac was #1 said that he was a better doubles player than singles player...

wasn't that the year he won something like 91% of his singles matches?

GOAT? no such animal as the game evolves... One of the top ever? I'd go with that.

CEvertFan
05-19-2009, 11:10 PM
If one can fault Sampras or Federer for not winning the French as a reason for them not being considered the GOAT, then the same criteria has to be used for McEnroe too. John was a brilliant player but his "prime" was short for a top player and he didn't win as many Grand Slam singles titles as some of the others in his generation and he never won the Australian or the French - at least Federer and Sampras have won 3 of the 4 and even though Borg never won the AO or the US Open his 4 consecutive FOs (and a record 6 overall for the men) along with his 5 consecutive Wimbledons puts him in a different class than McEnroe. Doubles is a completely different game and shouldn't be used to bolster someone's singles ranking but there's no denying that Mac was also a brilliant doubles player as well as a brilliant singles player. Also, having the best one season record in the Open era for the men doesn't translate to an entire career.


Don't get me wrong, I really like McEnroe and think he was brilliant in his prime, but he definitely underachieved and at the end of the day it's results that really count, not just talent.

pc1
05-20-2009, 07:25 AM
There's really nothing you can point to for John McEnroe being the GOAT, at least in singles. He didn't win enough majors, enough tournaments and while he had a number of great years, it was quite enough.

The only thing you can possibly point to for John McEnroe in his tennis record is that in his 1984 season, in which he was 82-3, that he may have been the GOAT for that one year and that no one ever surpassed his level for one year. I don't necessarily think that that argument is true but it is a reasonable argument for his GOAT status for one year.

You can also argue that in pure talent that John McEnroe may have been the greatest ever. A number of people including Arthur Ashe thought that.

harryz
05-20-2009, 09:10 AM
I never suggested that, and never would. Nor would he, having acknowledged Sampras, Fed and Nadal's greatness explicitly.

My point in starting this thread was to consider him as the OVERALL GOHG. Tennis is NOT just singles. In fact, more people play doubles recreationally than singles. Mac was pretty unique among modern players in his succes as both a singles and doubles player, and this makes him a more complete player than virtually anybody, no matter what they can do on a singles court, it seems to me. I'd be the first to agree that his singles career has been bettered and eclipsed, but not his overall success.

carpedm
05-20-2009, 09:14 AM
Although he played well for a consistent period of time, many believed McEnroe still didn't live up to his potential despite winning more tournaments than any other male player ( 155+; no one can say he didn't win enough). And perhaps it's that short-coming that keeps him from being the absolute GOAT -- just as much as his doubles play puts him in the discussion. But he'll always have tragedy - to get so close to absolute greatness, to touch it on occasions in a way few have and then implode upon yourself must be such a crazy existence. It's not the blind pursuit of a title -- if McEnroe had kept it together for forty seconds he would have won the French and a lot of people think that would complete change this conversation -- but there were many players chasing an elusive slam and some ever got 'em. But Mac had something ridiculously special with his game and then completely lost it. And no one went through that from such a high level. Not Lendl, Connors, Borg, Sampras, Wilander and many more who had ample opportunity to go after their Moby Dick. So was he the greatest? I still think he belongs in the conversation but it wasn't age, technology or the tour that got to McEnroe ( although they eventually did like everyone else ), it was McEnroe who got to McEnroe. And that's a tragedy, perhaps even the greatest one.

DunlopDood
05-20-2009, 12:01 PM
Guy had the ugliest playing style ever (terrible technique), those forehands and backhands were an absolute pain to watch. That kind of pusher stuff just wouldn't cut it in the modern game (post 80's). He was a guy that played the game entirely on feel which made him so good at the net and not too bad with the serve. Other than that I can't say his game was as pleasing to the eye as say Arthur Ashe's or Rod Laver's, two guys with nice strokes beautiful movement and great net play. That childish attitude on court also made him kinda annoying. All in all Mcenroe wasn't even the best in that era let alone all time.

CyBorg
05-20-2009, 12:04 PM
Guy had the ugliest playing style ever (terrible technique), those forehands and backhands were an absolute pain to watch. That kind of pusher stuff just wouldn't cut it in the modern game (post 80's). He was a guy that played the game entirely on feel which made him so good at the net and not too bad with the serve. Other than that I can't say his game was as pleasing to the eye as say Arthur Ashe's or Rod Laver's, two guys with nice strokes beautiful movement and great net play. That childish attitude on court also made him kinda annoying. All in all Mcenroe wasn't even the best in that era let alone all time.

He was the best player in tennis in 1981, 1983 and 1984. A pretty lengthy stretch.

He is also one of the more successful senior tour players.

BTURNER
05-20-2009, 01:15 PM
Where you put Mac, depends more than most such rankings on how you rate doubles and success at a variety of surfaces. the OP presumes doubles expertise in any GOAT discussion and demotes success on varieties of surface to get this conclusion. I won't quibble about including doubles but the man should have gotten to at least a couple of finals at RG clay or won some Italians or SOMETHING. He does need some more results on slower surfaces IMO for GOAT.

Carpedm, you "ode to McEnroe" post just doesn't quite gel with my memory. I recall a lot more errors on those service returns, volleys and groundies than you do. He was bold, creative and dangerous at all times, but those high risks he took, had consequences that you don't mention. Normally his s/v game dug him out of the trouble, his errors put him in. Certainly this is true in his doubles game.

Arafel
05-20-2009, 02:52 PM
He was the best player in tennis in 1981, 1983 and 1984. A pretty lengthy stretch.

He is also one of the more successful senior tour players.

Not so sure about 83, but 81 and 84 yes. Connors and McEnroe split the big two in 83, with McEnroe winning Wimbledon and Connors winning the US. Both made the quarters of Paris. Connors beat McEnroe at Queens in the final, McEnroe beat Connors in the Wembley tournament. Connors went 2-2 vs. Lendl that year and 1-2 vs McEnroe, while McEnroe went 3-2 vs Lendl.

I guess McEnroe maybe gets the edge for winning more tournaments (6-4) than Connors, but it's close.

Datacipher
05-20-2009, 03:57 PM
Before you make stupid suggestions read the thread properly. If you read his post you would see that he said McEnroe is the best doubles player in the last 30 years to his knowledge. He's obviously lacking knowledge or has very selective pro American knowledge as Woodbridge obviously is far better in doubles since he won 22 doubles majors compared to Mcenroes 10. :oops:


Actually, it's you who lack knowledge. Woodbridge himself once acknowledged Mcenroe as the best doubles player ever. Interestingly it was Mcenroe who suggested to Woodforde that he and Woodbridge should play together seriously.

pmerk34
05-20-2009, 04:15 PM
Although he played well for a consistent period of time, many believed McEnroe still didn't live up to his potential despite winning more tournaments than any other male player ( 155+; no one can say he didn't win enough). And perhaps it's that short-coming that keeps him from being the absolute GOAT -- just as much as his doubles play puts him in the discussion. But he'll always have tragedy - to get so close to absolute greatness, to touch it on occasions in a way few have and then implode upon yourself must be such a crazy existence. It's not the blind pursuit of a title -- if McEnroe had kept it together for forty seconds he would have won the French and a lot of people think that would complete change this conversation -- but there were many players chasing an elusive slam and some ever got 'em. But Mac had something ridiculously special with his game and then completely lost it. And no one went through that from such a high level. Not Lendl, Connors, Borg, Sampras, Wilander and many more who had ample opportunity to go after their Moby Dick. So was he the greatest? I still think he belongs in the conversation but it wasn't age, technology or the tour that got to McEnroe ( although they eventually did like everyone else ), it was McEnroe who got to McEnroe. And that's a tragedy, perhaps even the greatest one.

McEnroe's game was based on lightening quickness as well. In the fall of 1984 he pulled a hamstring which never fully recovered and he permanently lost that extra half step.

pc1
05-20-2009, 07:25 PM
I never suggested that, and never would. Nor would he, having acknowledged Sampras, Fed and Nadal's greatness explicitly.

My point in starting this thread was to consider him as the OVERALL GOHG. Tennis is NOT just singles. In fact, more people play doubles recreationally than singles. Mac was pretty unique among modern players in his succes as both a singles and doubles player, and this makes him a more complete player than virtually anybody, no matter what they can do on a singles court, it seems to me. I'd be the first to agree that his singles career has been bettered and eclipsed, but not his overall success.

I see your point if you include doubles. In fact, in doubles I think he's clearly the Greatest of his generation. He may be the GOAT in doubles. The guy won a doubles tournament a few years ago!!

Young Pete
05-21-2009, 12:02 AM
I prefer GOHG (greatest of his generation), for what it's worth...

Anyway, I submit that McEnroe is the overall GOAT of the open era, becuase he was a complete tennis player. No, he never won the French and didn't win much on clay. He never won the Australian. And still, he was the greatest singles AND doubles player of his era, winning 7 major singles titles, 9 doubles titles and 1 mixed. That's 17 majors (no, not the mis-used "Grand Slams", but Majors). That makes him the most complete male player of the past two generations. Tennis is not just singles, and there has never been a better doubles player over the past 30 years, at least to my knowledge. Not to mention that Mac was still winning ATP doubles titles when he was old enough to be his opponents' father. No mean feat, there.

And for the record, I can't stand Mac's "personality." I just have tremendous respect for a player who can still match up, at 50, with just about anyone on the planet for a set of tennis on a medium to fast court. So, given his overall major title count, versatility, longevity, and talent, I'd have to put Mac at the top of the heap as candidate for overall GOAT or GOHG. What do you think?


hey harryz i got a pioneer 3 from you a long time ago was wondering if u still have the ps taiwan email me...

Tennis Dunce
05-22-2009, 09:02 AM
From a mere offensive, attacking style of play...Mac was indeed a juggernaut. But, I hardly doubt he had an impressive history breaking his opponents serve.

If I was a world-class pro, in my dreams of course, I wouldn't be scared serving against John and that ugly defensive game of his. He netted so many balls with that no-switch grip.

Just my opinion of course, and I love Mac.

carpedm
07-08-2010, 02:26 PM
This is a fun old post to reread.

McEnroe’s return was a little weird. At his best ( 1979, 1981 or 1984 ) I found him to be second best return of serve in the business. I know, I know - crazy talk.

He had a way of squeezing his opponent’s serve better than anyone in history. If you didn’t get your first serve in, life would suck for you and he’d let you know it. And this wasn’t like any other chip-and-charger, there really wasn’t a single type of second serve that gave Mac a problem ( unlike the forehand returns in the deuce court for Edberg, Cash and Rafter ). A second delivery was easily pounced upon by Mac no matter where it landed in the box.

At his best, he was also able to get the ball back in play more than anyone this side of Jimmy Connors. That, plus his ability to play tough on big points, meaning when he had to make the return, he’d make the return - all this made him one of the greatest returners ever.

However, when he wasn’t playing well or after his peak, man his return was frustrating. That consistency I eluded to seemed to suddenly abandon him, leaving him with a most unreliable swing. At his worst, it was very hit or miss - more often a miss past 1989. And the misses were oh, so dramatic.

But for Mac, playing well began and ended with his serve. If it was humming, his return was snappier, his concentration sharper, his volleys meaner. If John served at 50% ( an OK day ), he’d get broken an average of once a set but he’d also post up one or two breaks - meaning a 6-4 win for him. If he was at 60%, a 6-3 or 6-2 set. If he was over 65%, he didn’t lose - period.

All of those are pretty good numbers - if on an OK day he’s holding 80% of his games, and he’s got you because you’re only holding 70% of yours. But on a great day, he’s holding 90% of his games and you’re going to see your numbers go down to 60 to 65%.

Pretty good math because for McEnroe to win, he didn’t have to serve amazing, although for him to return well he’d, have to serve well.

This compared to Sampras with his ridiculous serve numbers: if he had a bad day he’d beat you 6-3, 6-4, but if he had a good day, he’d still beat you 6-3, 6-4 ( yes, that’s a quote from Agassi ). Great to watch, but a completely different way to win the game.

But without digressing too far, McEnroe’s return game was dodgie at times and therefore I concede the point that it plays against him just as easily as it helps him. But as Harry states, his total game is what makes him a candidate for GOAT and that’s an interesting thought.

I still conclude that Mac is still NOT the greatest singles player ever. He didn’t win enough, he wasn’t consistent enough and he didn’t prepare for the future enough. But in singles, I’d stack 84 McEnroe up against anyone, from any time period. And if a man or woman were to choose a partner to share the court with, I firmly believe it would be McEnroe they’d want to see there.

So is he the greatest singles player ever, NO. Is he the greatest tennis player ever, maybe.

borg number one
07-08-2010, 02:32 PM
Mac's greatest accomplishment was getting Borg to quit the game. As to Johnnie, he was a great player no doubt, but his stats (and success) would have been much lower if he would have played in an era where the Umpires had balls.

That was not one of McEnroe's accomplishments. McEnroe did not get Borg to "quit the Game". Neither of them would agree with that view. Their head to head 7-7 (Borg's worst), on ONLY fast surfaces, no clay. That's a common misconception, but Borg has spoken to that many times. Borg actually thought that he was the better player, not surprisingly, so no, it wasn't as if McEnroe made him quit. McEnroe was imploring Borg to remain on the Tour. Anyway, the 1981-1982 period was a wild one, with Borg lobbying for a reduced schedule and a focus on slams. McEnroe lost #1 to Connors in 1982, and McEnroe actually had a losing head to head versus both Connors and Lendl in 1981.

Limpinhitter
07-08-2010, 02:37 PM
anywhere near McEnroe's level. All great, and Borg and Lendl did surpass Mac in singles. But overall?

McEnroe was massively talented, but, his career was basically cut short by his cocaine use. He was also notoriously disdainful of training. He was the best in the world for about 3 1/2 years. If he had stayed clean, and stayed fit, he probably would have put Lendl's run back about 2-3 years. He may have improved his level of play in that time. He may have even won a grand slam. But, he didn't, and he didn't.

On an absolute basis, I can think of about 7-8 players who were/are better than Mac at his best. JMHO, of course. As for combined singles and doubles, Mac was among the best, but, I'd proffer Ken Rosewall, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, John Newcombe and Tony Roche as arguably equally worthy of that title.

carpedm
07-08-2010, 02:41 PM
I agree. I don't know why people say that about Borg and Mac. I think the first person I ever heard say that on a broadcast level was Bud Collins. And I remember being a kid at the time, it was one of my first memories of hyperbole.

Borg took Borg out of the game. I agree that Mac was his a huge challenge, but he seemed to get bored or weary of rising up to them year after year. And when you consider all that he achieved before he was twenty-six, you can't blame him.

statto
07-08-2010, 02:45 PM
Woodbridge was an excellent doubles player and in the annuls of tennis history, probably the second best player in the open era. And while I don’t mind counting major titles as a barometer of greatness ( his 22 majors is certainly a staggering number ) I still believe McEnroe is a superior player.

At his best, John’s serve was considered the best in the sport. In fact, a match’s outcome largely hinged on his first serve percentage. That’s what Connors thought, that’s what Borg thought and that’s what Lendl and Wilander thought – it’s what anyone thought. The general consensus was before he blew a gasket in 85 matches were his to win or loose. In fact, most post-match interviews from the matches prior sounded the same - when asked how they thought they’d do against Mac they’d all same the same thing, “ It depends on how John serves.”
If his percentage was high, in all likelihood the match was his. And high was considered over 60%. This was the case in singles and it was especially the case in doubles, particularly if he was matched with a power volleyer like Peter Flemming and later on Michael Stich or Pete Sampras. His curling, deceptive serve was meant to force weak replies in any dynamic on a tennis court.

John’s volley is John’s volley. There’s no point in rehashing a legend we all know so well. He protected his serve, he protected his partner’s serve and he challenge his opponents with it when they were serving. And while just covering half the court, he hands seemed that much better probably because he never seemed to bizarrely miss the occasional easy volley – something that would present itself in his singles play. But for the sake of efficiency, there really isn’t a lot more that can said about his netplay.

Despite this, there have been many great doubles players with amazing serves and incredible volleys. And I’m certainly not going to say Woodbridge lacked anything on the volley but what truly separate Mac from everyone else was his doubles ground game.

John’s ad court return was a thing of beauty. The mechanics are based on his numbers game – you had better hit an amazing serve because he was going to get it back into play. And he’d get more back in play then just about anyone. He could tag it for a winner, using his short strokes to hit flat laser beams to bisect his opponents or make them see what a down the line blast really looked like. Or he could chip it, roll it or slap at your feet better than anyone who ever played with a quartet on one court. Coming in behind John’s return meant you were definitely volleying and most likely you’d be volleying up. Or perhaps he chipped-n’-charged himself ( or did John’s special bunt-n’-run play ) in which case you’d mostly have to volley when you’re serving, volley up and have John McEnore at the net waiting for the ball. And he was not always nice when he was up there.

Of course John didn’t always have to go in because he had the most devastating passing shot in the modern era. With his feel, anticipation and stroke mechanics John could place that ball just about anywhere. And like a good thinker he’d set up his offense and make you figure out how to beat it. For the record, no one ever could. Take his forehand for instance, it was base on a severe dip cross-court to the Ad player’s left – one that so seemed to favor the continent forehand. It dropped so quickly beneath the net that it was either a an outright winner or the player had to volley up to John’s partner already planted in the forecourt. And it was slow too, a methodical, evil trajectory that players could only watch in pain.

Once that shot was established, that player had to take a step to their left and forward to try to cover leaving John to be able to slap it flat between the two. One that happens, the deuce court player has to cover the center more leaving it possible for John to crunch a winner up the line. And all of this could be executed with a flick of a wrist on a racket strung so loosely the ball seemed stay on it forever. So with three possible ways to hit a winner, John could not only threaten to just put a ball on his opponents toes he also had one of the evilest running topspin lops ever. There was no way to see it coming especially after establishing an offense that made his opponents put their tongues over the net as a counter-strategy.

Of course there’s a whole lot more to doubles than this but who out there could clearly out-move or out-anticipate Mac on the doubles court? And better court-sense and touch simply did not exist in his prime. Woodbridge was exemplary on the doubles court and did things amazingly well (so did Stolle, Roche, McMillian, Edberg, Kafelnikov, Laver, Newcombe, etc.), Mac just did more things – the total package of things on the doubles court - equally if not slightly better. (Note: for the record, it was hinted to me on many occasions that McEnroe performed more consistently on the doubles court than Laver but I’m too young to know that to be true or not.) And if you consider what John’s career would be like if he devoted it primarily to doubles like Woodbridge it’s a bit scary to think what his title count might have been – although we shouldn’t forget Woodbridge’s impressive runs at Wimbeldon. Hell, if McEnroe and Graf wanted to make a run at Wimbeldon this year they probably could do it ( saw her play that exhibition and she looked amazing).

Is John the greatest doubles player? My answer, he’s the best I’ve ever seen and I’m in my mid-30’s. But does this qualify him as the GOAT contender? Absolutely. McEnroe 84 could take at least 4 out of 10 matches against anyone in history especially on a neutral hard-court. That might be a bold statement but I’m not so young as to not know just how mentally strong and complete he was at his peak. The game could not be played more intuitively, intelligently or obstinately. And it certainly couldn’t be played more artistically. And when placed him on a court with four people, no matter what the dynamic, he immediately becomes the favorite. The same can’t be said for Sampras, Federer, Nadal, Agassi, Lendl, Connors, Borg and many more.

I know I'm quoting this a year after it was posted, but it's such a good post it deserves it (especially the last paragraph). :)

Seriously, that last paragraph is the most beautiful thing I've read here.

carpedm
07-08-2010, 02:45 PM
Well said LimpinHitter - and while I don't necessarily agree with Emmerson, Rosewald or Roche ( loved them all tho ), any conversation that mentions Laver or Newcombe ( who is very underrated ) is a good thing.

Limpinhitter
07-08-2010, 02:48 PM
Well said LimpinHitter - and while I don't necessarily agree with Emmerson, Rosewald or Roche ( loved them all tho ), any conversation that mentions Laver or Newcombe ( who is very underrated ) is a good thing.

Well, having seen them all play live, Laver and Roche were a cut above the rest in terms of their best level of play. Emerson was one of the greatest pure athletes in tennis history, and Rosewall was probably second only to Borg in consistency and mental toughness. You can ask Rod and Newk about "Muscles" toughness.

hoodjem
07-08-2010, 03:25 PM
Anyone?

Woodbridge was a great doubles player, no doubt. Mac was the best combination singles and doubles player. There have been greater singles players, and maybe a better doubles player, but the question i posed was about a greater OVERALL player-- singles and doubles.For pure doubles play, it's hard to beat the Woodies. For both maybe Mac, or Newk or Emmo.

Gizo
07-08-2010, 03:31 PM
Not so sure about 83, but 81 and 84 yes. Connors and McEnroe split the big two in 83, with McEnroe winning Wimbledon and Connors winning the US. Both made the quarters of Paris. Connors beat McEnroe at Queens in the final, McEnroe beat Connors in the Wembley tournament. Connors went 2-2 vs. Lendl that year and 1-2 vs McEnroe, while McEnroe went 3-2 vs Lendl.

I guess McEnroe maybe gets the edge for winning more tournaments (6-4) than Connors, but it's close.

I know that this was posted over a year ago, but I really don't see how it's close at all between McEnroe and Connors in 1983. For me Mac was the clear no. 1 player that year.

McEnroe won 7 titles to Connors's 4. He won the 2 biggest non-slam events, the Masters and the WCT finals in Dallas. Therefore Mac won 3 out of the 6 biggest tournaments in 1983, while Connors won 1. Mac also won big titles at Wembley, Philadelphia and Forest Hills which were 3 of the most important tournaments on the circuit at the time.

Connors won the US Open and Queen's, plus 2 relatively mickey mouse titles at Memphis and Vegas.

pmerk34
07-08-2010, 03:35 PM
I know that this was posted over a year ago, but I really don't see how it's close at all between McEnroe and Connors in 1983. For me Mac was the clear no. 1 player that year.

McEnroe won 7 titles to Connors's 4. He won the 2 biggest non-slam events, the Masters and the WCT finals in Dallas. Therefore Mac won 3 out of the 6 biggest tournaments in 1983, while Connors won 1. Mac also won big titles at Wembley, Philadelphia and Forest Hills which were 3 of the most important tournaments on the circuit at the time.

Connors won the US Open and Queen's, plus 2 relatively mickey mouse titles at Memphis and Vegas.

Most posters here are too young and have no clue except to count SLAMS. They think the Nabisco Masters was a snack.

Mac also won a little tournament called Wimbledon in 1983.

Gizo
07-08-2010, 03:52 PM
Most posters here are too young and have no clue except to count SLAMS. They think the Nabisco Masters was a snack.

Mac also won a little tournament called Wimbledon in 1983.

Mac's semi-final victory over Lendl at Wimbledon in 1983 is one of the highest quality grass court matches that I've ever seen. Lendl played a lot better than the rather one sided scoreline suggests, although Mac was in the zone that day and was hitting plenty of winners from the baseline as well. I think that Mac's performance that day was at worst almost as good as his one against Connors in the Wimby final a year later.

pmerk34
07-08-2010, 03:57 PM
Mac's semi-final victory over Lendl at Wimbledon in 1983 is one of the highest quality grass court matches that I've ever seen. Lendl played a lot better than the rather one sided scoreline suggests, although Mac was in the zone that day and was hitting plenty of winners from the baseline as well. I think that Mac's performance that day was at worst almost as good as his one against Connors in the Wimby final a year later.

Correct Mac was very very good in that Semi.

borg number one
07-08-2010, 05:51 PM
Correct Mac was very very good in that Semi.

Here's a clip from that match. McEnroe is in impeccable form here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMA-ZJrf6iY

McEnroe won that in straight sets. McEnroe was really loving that Dunlop Max200G, that he picked one day from his brother Patrick during a practice session. That graphite frame really fit his Game well at the time and gave him a nice power boost as the switch to graphite was on. Great displays at both the '83 and '84 Wimbledon tourneys.

drakulie
07-08-2010, 07:24 PM
^^^great vid.

I loved watching Mcenroe play. I swear, his hands were so soft he could volley an egg and not break it. That volley at 2:40 is just sick. Great, GREAT touch.

pmerk34
07-08-2010, 07:48 PM
Here's a clip from that match. McEnroe is in impeccable form here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMA-ZJrf6iY

McEnroe won that in straight sets. McEnroe was really loving that Dunlop Max200G, that he picked one day from his brother Patrick during a practice session. That graphite frame really fit his Game well at the time and gave him a nice power boost as the switch to graphite was on. Great displays at both the '83 and '84 Wimbledon tourneys.

He clearly was a better and more deadly player with the 200G.

harryz
07-13-2010, 09:56 PM
First time in DC indoors against Orantes in about 1977 or so, before Mac had won the Orange Bowl as a junior, over Noah. Orantes beat him in 3 sets. Second time was at the Washington Star tournament on har-tru. Still can't forget those hands....

1984 was an amazing year for him. Incredible to think that Fed has had two or three like it....

timnz
07-13-2010, 10:14 PM
McEnroe only dominated Lendl in 1984. I'll give McEnroe 1980 and 1983 as well.

Lendl clearly better in 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989 (and head to head better in 3-0 to Lendl in 1981 as well), 1990, 1991, 1992 (McEnroe's last full year playing was 1992).

Lendl was marginally better on indoor carpet (9 season end masters cup finals in a row!), a lot better on clay, somewhat better on hard court, and inferior on grass. On his worst surface (grass) he had a far better record than McEnroe did on his worst surface (clay). Lendl went to the Wimbledon Semi's 7 times (2 times went onto the finals) and to the Australian Open final once when it was played on grass, McEnroe had 1 final at the French. Lendl won many more titles in his career and made around 150 finals all up.

hawk eye
07-16-2010, 12:15 PM
Mc Enroe's volleying in that vid is something today only an in form Fish could pull off.