PDA

View Full Version : How do you figure the GOAT?


clymb420
06-09-2009, 03:54 PM
The various GOAT polls have made me wonder just what is the formula for GOAT...

Comparing eras is a silly prospect no matter what the sport. It's like putting a 350 lb current-day defensive lineman against a 225 lb offensive lineman from the '50s (or even the '70s). The old-timey O-lineman wouldn't last...or should I say, his QB wouldn't last. Today's tennis athlete and equipment has evolved to the point that #50 in the world right now (keeping equipment the same relative to the era) would put a regular thumping on Tilden, Perry, Budge, Kramer, Gonzalez, or Rosewall. If you don't agree with this then I'd advise advise you to go out and play with your peers using a wood racket. I'd also suggest that you compare contemporary Track and Field World Records to those of eras 30-50-70 years ago. Today's athlete is superior no matter the sport.

When we compare eras in a sport like Track and Field, where the athletes are obviously evolving, what other variable are you gonna use to compare but the of number and variety of championships won. This is why Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis will be debated on until the next sprinter-jumper comes along. The "most complete" tennis players from different eras is decided by how they competed on, and won championships on all surfaces in their own era...what else can you do?

Lets say we're gonna try to figure out GOAT. How else can you boil it down but to use these two variables, or filters: total number of Majors won and variety of surfaces those majors were won on (and if and how much more value a grand slam is in relation to a calendar slam).

One way is to start with the "club" for only guys who've won 10 or more majors. That club only consists of 6 guys: Tilden, Laver, Bjorg, Emerson, Sampras and Federer. Now how are you gonna narrow that down but to add the filter of greatest number of surfaces on which those slams were won...now we are down to Laver, Emerson, and Federer...the ONLY to have won more than 10 and on all surfaces. Now you have to decide what is more important...total number of slams won relative to if a "calendar slam" is better than a "career slam" (taking into account here my opinion that those guys wouldn't have their grand slams if Fed in his prime played with them in the early '60s). Sampras is NOT EVEN in this debate when structured this way. Laver has the edge if grand slam is cooler than career slam...which it should be. But if we increase the number of majors and just go by surfaces won on during career, Laver (11) falls out before Emerson (12) does. So we're stuck with this group of three...Fed, Laver and Emerson.

OR you could go by total number of slams won as your first variable (which is how it seems to be done lately)...two guys at 14...now how else are you gonna narrow it down but to add the filter of number of surfaces won on...now we are down to only Fed.

OR you could start with the group of guys who've won on all 5 surfaces, this club also including six: Aggasi, Budge, Laver, Emerson, Perry and Federer. How else are you gonna narrow this one down but to increase the number of total majors won...Budge drops-out first with 6, then Agassi and Perry at 8, next Laver at 11, and then its just Emerson and Federer with 12 and 14 respectively. 14 > 12, so it comes down to Federer.

We can't really start with Grand Slams won because there are only two guys with them and one of those guys has only 6 majors total. So, maybe we could say one Grand (calendar) Slam equals one extra major applied to your total and a Career Slam equals one-half a major applied to your total majors. If you do this, Federer still gets the nod by a major as of right now.

IMO it comes down between Federer, Laver and Emerson because of all the variables and filters involved above: total majors, and career slam versus grand slam (and I haven't even applied Fed's 20 straight major semi-finals). I put a higher value on the completeness of a champion of all surfaces more so than just greatest total. Even before last weekend I put Federer over Sampras because of his three previous FO finals and one semi. Either way you boil it down, Federer is the only guy in all conversations and for that reason I'd fill him in as the GOAT...with pencil. When he get's his 15th slam I'll feel confident enough to write him in with pen.

What do ya'll think? What other filters could you apply (without getting into doubles and such)? Who is your GOAT?

urban
06-09-2009, 08:34 PM
Good reasoning. Two reservations: One should reserve the term Grand Slam for the real Grand Slam, not the other way around. And you have to bring in years for Nr.1. Emerson was never the World Champion depite all his amateur majors. Gonzales was Nr. 1 for 7-8 years, but only won 2 amateur majors. In terms of most tournaments won, Laver leads with 198 titles ahead of Tilden, Lendl, Connors and Rosewall (all way over 100 titles). The older pros played more events and matches than the pros today. A fairer measure stick is a concept of 4 most important or 9 most important events in a given year.

AndrewTas
06-10-2009, 12:04 AM
So many arguments have come out since Sunday when Federer won the French as who is the GOAT and how to define it?

I was thinking today that you cannot really pick just one because of the different eras in tennis but then thought about what the era's were. In men's tennis I think that there are four.

1. The early era (1877-1914)
2. First professional era (1918-1947)
3. The Kramer professionals era (1948-1973)
4. The true open era (1974-now)

1. The early era had players such as the Dohertys, Brookes, Wilding and McLoughlin. Each of these champions may have claim to the greatest player of the time and apart from Brookes (and not many other players) none played into the next era. The game was still developing and it was still a club sport.

2. The first professional era was where some of the top amateurs of the day (Tilden, Vines, Cochet, Budge, Perry, Riggs et al) turned professional but after reaching the summit of the amateur career. The pro game was still developing and the game in general was becoming more open.

3. The Kramer professionals era started after Kramer became professional and then started his tour. Some of the previous era's players (Tilden, Budge and Parker) were still playing but were not in the same level as the Kramer and Gonzales. Segura though was a different story and he crossed between the two eras. Kramer recruited all the best amateurs of the era and in the early stages of a players career (compared to the pros of the last era). Sedgman, McGregor, Rosewall, Hoad, Anderson, Cooper, Buchholz, Laver and others were all recruited before 1962. Later in the decade two new pro groups (WCT and NTL) took over but in a way they were just different kinds of Kramer pro groups. The last true major won by a contract professional who had been signed up before the open era (pre-April 1968) began was Newcombe's 1973 US Open win. After then (apart from Rosewall's Wimbledon and US Open runs in 1974 and Newcombe's Australian Open win in 1975) none of these pre-open professionals did much of note.

4. The true open era. After the boycotts and bans of Wimbledon of 1972 and 1973, 1974 started a era where new players changed the game. Not only did Connors and Borg win the majors that year but they had developed their new type of power game sufficiently to dominate the sport. I still think we are in this period now and new equipment and training techniques has just improved the game since.

So who do I think is the greatest of each period?

1. The early era (1877-1914): Wilding
2. First professional era (1918-1947): Tilden
3. The Kramer professionals era (1948-1973): Laver
4. The true open era (1974-now): Federer

There is no GOAT

SgtJohn
06-10-2009, 01:34 AM
IMO it comes down between Federer, Laver and Emerson because of all the variables and filters involved above: total majors, and career slam versus grand slam (and I haven't even applied Fed's 20 straight major semi-finals).

Hi clymb,

-Hugh Lawrence Doherty
-J.D. Budge
-Jack Kramer
-Ricardo Gonzales
-Ken Rosewall
-Bjorn Borg

I suggest you have a good read about these guys, and then we can talk. They definitely belong in the discussion (and have a read about Emerson too, to see why he does NOT belong in this discussion).

Criteria for a GOAT discussion, IMHO:
-achievements in Major tournaments (not only the amateur, then open, 'Grand Slam tournaments', see many posts about this on the forum).
-rankings (necessarily subjective, EVEN after 1973).

Other criteria that can be used, but mediocre to compare eras:
-number of tournaments won.
-head-to-head.
-win/loss records.
-surfaces.
-'consecutive' achievements.

Jon

urban
06-10-2009, 05:29 AM
I agree very much with Andrew Tas' periodisation of tennis eras. The two World Wars were important cuts in the game itself, in the style of play and even in the clothing (see pre WWII long white flannels, afterwards shorts and shirts). And it is completely right, that the real open era began in 1974, when the political struggles between promoters and pressure groups eventually softened up a bit (they did not go away of course). And the old pros, whose careers spanned the amateur/pro and open eras, were supplanted by new faces like Connors and Borg, who were completely open players. And as a outer sign of change, the players began to wear coloured clothes. Each era spans ca. 25 years, so some day we should make a new cut, because it gets considerably harder to compare say a Borg from the late 70s with a Federer or Nadal now. The equipment change around 1982/3 was a very important divider, too.

hoodjem
06-10-2009, 05:36 AM
One way is to start with the "club" for only guys who've won 10 or more majors. That club only consists of 6 guys: Tilden, Laver, Bjorg, Emerson, Sampras and Federer.

1. Longevity--Rosewall
2. Years as world no. 1--Gonzales
3. Most consecutive slams: 6--Budge

hoodjem
06-10-2009, 05:38 AM
Now how are you gonna narrow that down but to add the filter of greatest number of surfaces on which those slams were won... But if we increase the number of majors and just go by surfaces won on during career

OR you could go by total number of slams won as your first variable (which is how it seems to be done lately)...now how else are you gonna narrow it down but to add the filter of number of surfaces won on...

4. Present era--weak field (i.e. Fed , Rafa, the rest one-dimensional)
5. Present slams--slow grass/fast clay/hardcourt--not much difference

hoodjem
06-10-2009, 06:05 AM
Now you have to decide what is more important...total number of slams won relative to if a "calendar slam" is better than a "career slam" . . . if grand slam is cooler than career slam...which it should be.

6. Not just "cooler", let's try much more difficult: it has to do with logic, with a career slam one may have 40-60 chances to win each of the four tournaments in a 10-15 year career; with a true Grand Slam one has the single chance to win all four out of exactly four chances. (A single match failure or stumble and one must start all over again the following year.)

For this second reason a career slam has been achieved more often, and properly should be awarded lesser status, as you say.



P.S. Four-in-a-row slams (e.g. Navratilova's as touted by Yonex) are certainly memorable and a very significant achievement. Encourages me to place martina right up there with Steffi.

GS
06-10-2009, 06:39 AM
Hey, who's the LAMB? That would be Vince Spadea, prize-holder of 21 consecutive first round ATP tour losses. No wonder he hates to sign autographs....
This is a record that may never be broken!
I keep wondering what LAMB means. Loser At Major Bombs?