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federerhoogenbandfan
04-21-2005, 02:43 PM
Who would you choices be for the ten greatest players of all time, per gender? These would be mine in order:


Men

1. Pancho Gonzales
2. Ken Rosewall
3. Rod Laver
4. Bjorn Borg
5. Pete Sampras
6. Bill Tilden
7. Don Budge
8. Ken Perry
9. Ivan Lendl
10. Jack Kramer

I predict by the end of 2006 Roger will be on this list, somewhere between #7 and #10.



Women

1. Steffi Graf.
2. Martina Navratilova
3. Margaret Court
4. Suzanne Lenglen
5. Maureen Connoly
6. Monica Seles
7. Helen Wills Moody
8. Chris Evert,
9. Billie Jean King
10. Serena Williams

Kevin Patrick
04-21-2005, 03:14 PM
Davey, what do you think Federer will have accomplished by the end of 2006?

I have no problem with your list(as far as the names go), but the rankings are purely subjective, there is no way to prove who should be #1. Though I think it's reasonable to instead have "tiers" for the greatest players. Tier one for example, IMO, would be Laver/Sampras/Borg.

It's hard to know where to place Pancho, he only won 2 majors(I think?) but dominated the pro circuit for a decade. He certainly belongs in the top 10.

Ken Rosewall was a great player but I definitely think you regard him a little too highly. Yes, he had great longevity & won majors close to 20 years apart, but I don't think he ever was clearly the best player in the world at any time in his career(even on the pro circuit) Connors also had longevity, but clearly was the best for a time.

Laver didn't have Rosewall's longevity(though he did win the Grand Slam at age 31, which is pretty remarkable considering how most greats are past their prime at that age) but was dominant. He gave some clinics to Rosewall in big matches as well(the '69 French Final)

Also, I've been fortunate enough to see some Laver/Rosewall/Newcombe matches recently from '69 to '74. When I watched Laver, he looked like he was playing a different sport (like Fed looks today) from his peers. He had so many weapons & so much ability. Rosewall was impressive as well, but nothing stood out to me like when I watched Laver. Laver had another gear that Rosewall did not possess, when Laver was "on" there was absolutely nothing his opponent could do.

It's surprising that Laver declined so quickly after his '69 campaign. But even though Rosewall was a top player a longer time, Laver won more overall titles after the age of 30 than Rosewall did. I believe he had a 44-29 advantage in that stat.

donnyz89
04-21-2005, 03:39 PM
u dont like americans? first of all... if federer isnt on the top 10 for men then y is serena there for women? Capriati or Davenport should be on there instead of Serena consider your list is mostly made of accomplished retired players.

if not where is federer? the way he dominates is uncanny... and no Agassi??? no Johnny Mac?

Kevin Patrick
04-21-2005, 03:53 PM
What the hell are you talking about? He has 5 americans on his men's list. If Federer's career ended today he would have "only" 4 slams & one year end #1 ranking. Not enough to be considered on the 10 best of all time, IMO.
If Serena retired today her record is certainly worthy of all time status(far more than capriati or davenport)

Jet Rink
04-21-2005, 04:02 PM
1. Laver
2. Sampras
3. Borg
4. McEnroe
5. Connors
6. Gonzales
7. Agassi
8. Wilander
9. Tilden
10. Budge

All played in "open" eras, at least partially, and won a significant number of Slams - but also on a multitude of surfaces. Accomodating for eras, I looked at guys that were dominant in their own era.

Just missing: Becker, Lendl, Kramer, Edberg, Emerson, Agassi.

Jet

gugafanatic
04-21-2005, 04:06 PM
I think you need to put Guga in that list, to win the FO 3 times is a remarkable accomplishment. By far the toughest slam to win, and greatest depth of players on clay.

Kevin Patrick
04-21-2005, 04:29 PM
It's always interesting to see where Connors/McEnroe/Lendl stand with fans when discussions like these start. They played around the same time, were close in age, but Lendl always seems a little slighted compared to other 2. He didn't have the personality of Connors or the genius of McEnroe. But to me, his accomplishments outweighed the other 2(even though I wasn't a fan of him when he played)
He remained more of a threat to win majors longer than the other 2. He made more GS finals & semifinals than anyone in the open era.

One the most impressive stats to me was his 8 straight US Open finals from '82 to '89. The game changed more in that decade than at any other time. In '82 there was wood & touch players. In '89 there was graphite & power players. Lendl was one of the best throughout all the changes.

Sampras made 8 US Open finals from '90 to '02, but the game didn't as drastically change in that time as it did from '80 to '90.

gts072
04-21-2005, 04:56 PM
I don't think Gonzales should be No. 1 and no Guga should not be on the list at all IMO. Winning 3 FOs is not that difficult considering the results of players in the past, Bjorn, Lendl, etc. I know Gustavo Kuerten is your favorite player, gugafanatic but this a list for the greatest of all time not the greatest on one surface.

ScottinTX
04-21-2005, 05:02 PM
Who would you choices be for the ten greatest players of all time, per gender? These would be mine in order:



Women

1. Steffi Graf.
2. Martina Navratilova
3. Margaret Court
4. Suzanne Lenglen
5. Maureen Connoly
6. Monica Seles
7. Helen Wills Moody
8. Chris Evert,
9. Billie Jean King
10. Serena Williams

I think you are ranking Evert a little low. She won 154 career titles, 18 slams, a record 125 match winning streak on clay (which will probably never be broken), the highest winning percentage for career of any player (90% of all matches played in career), reached the semifinals or better in the first 34 slams she played in her career from '71-'83, won at least one slam a year for thirteen years in a row, 17 years (72-89) never ranked lower than number 4. Too bad she skipped three French Open slams during that period of her unbeated streak on clay to play team tennis. Dumb dumb dumb.

gugafanatic
04-21-2005, 05:02 PM
GTS072, Bjorn and Lendl won the FO during a lesser period of clay specialists around. Guga won the French three times, and the depth of clay courters during this time was massive. Furthermore Guga is the only South American to win the end of years Masters cup (lisbon) on hard court and finish the yr world no 1. Furthermore he is one of the few players to have defeated both Sampras and Agassi in strights sets during a tournament (Lisbon). I think Guga deserves to be mentioned because he played during a tougher era, compared to those players present on the list.

spinbalz
04-21-2005, 05:45 PM
Pele
Maradona
platini
Cruyff
Beckenbauer
Di stefano
Puskas
Zidane
Eusebio
Garincha
and special line for Sir Bobby Charlton, and Yachine
:mrgreen:

Honestlybad
04-21-2005, 05:49 PM
Graf was incomplete - had no backhand. Not nr 1 material.

spinbalz
04-21-2005, 06:10 PM
According to the players who faced Graf, she had a great backhand, not by the variety, she only sliced it, but due to its consistency, she won a high % of backhands vs backhands rallies, it was a shot that totally neutralised her opponants, prevented them to attack her, and setted up the point to place her in a position to hit a forehand winner, and she very rarely missed a backhand.

What I will say is a paradox but her backhand forced her opponants to make unforced errors

What finally counts to define what is a great stroke is only the % of points that you can win with it, and not really how many winners you hit from it. Here is an exemple to give a clear idea of what I mean : at the professional level, every player will prefer to be able to win 6 points out of 10 with with 0 winners than to win 5 points out of 10 with 4 winners.

Won a Golden Grandslam (each slam events + olympic gold medal the same year) and not N°1 material? Please let's be serious.

Honestlybad
04-21-2005, 06:17 PM
I am being seious. She was an incomplete player. She was a great player obviously, just not the best.

fastdunn
04-21-2005, 06:32 PM
Sampras and Laver, the top 2 maybe trailing by Borg.

Then there is this Pancho Gonzales guy. There is this dubious period of having
both pro and amateur circuit (when was it ? Like 1950-1968???).

I've heard he was the king of the pro circuit from 1950-1961.
I could be wrong but Ken Rosewell and Gonzales could beat Laver easily
when Laver just turned pro in 1964(?,5?). Ken Rosewall and Gonzales
already pasted their prime at the time, right ?

I'm not sure about that period. I'm not sure about Roy Emerson and Laver's
gland slam titles won between 1950-1968.

If we exclude these confusing times, Gonzales and Sampras seem to be top
2 full time "professional" players in history, IMHO. If you include amateur era,
then the name of Laver should surface although he won fully professional gland
slam in 1969....

spinbalz
04-21-2005, 06:40 PM
I already explained you why her backhand is not a stroke that can let us call her incomplete, and anyway who were really more complete? Navratilova who was not a so great baseliner? Evert or seles who came at net only to shake hands? Court perhaps had a more rounded game but had not a forehand as devastating as Graf's forehand, so in a match between Graf and court, Graf would probably impose her forehand and win.

The other players mentioned on the list have a rightfull place in the top 10 but do not have a serious chance to deserve the N°1 spot.

Perhaps Hingis should be added on the list.

AAAA
04-21-2005, 06:50 PM
After those claycourt-hardcourt-grasscourt threads i've realised clay-court tennis is totally different from the other surfaces(hard, grass, indoor carpet) so to me the best are those players that can win slams on each side of the big divide. So i'm picking players like Laver, Borg, Agassi, Connors and Lendl. It's a big if, but if Federer wins the French I'd add him to the list aswell.

spinbalz
04-21-2005, 06:54 PM
AAAA, lendl never won Wimbledon!

AAAA
04-21-2005, 07:17 PM
AAAA, lendl never won Wimbledon!

Spinbalz, he didn't but he was in several US Open finals, winning a few of them, and he won the Aus Open as well.

From what I recall Borg didn't play any grass court warm-up tournaments between the French Open ending and Wimbledon beginning; he just practiced hitting with his coach and he remarkablely won the FO and Wimbledon back to back for 3 straight years.

When someone as exceptionally talented as Federer remarked how difficult it is to switch surfaces when he won 3 successive tournaments last year on three different surfaces(Wimbledon followed by a minor clay and then hard court tournament), what Borg achieved by winning a clay-court slam followed by a grass-court slam defies all realistic expectation.

spinbalz
04-21-2005, 07:27 PM
Totally agree about Borg.

What I meant about lendl is that he won clay but not on grass the surface that is at the extreme opposite, he won on hardcourts that I estimate between clay and grass, so he didn't won on all the spetcrum of surfaces. But his tennis accomplishments were truely great anyway.

prince
04-21-2005, 07:29 PM
I think you need to put Guga in that list, to win the FO 3 times is a remarkable accomplishment. By far the toughest slam to win, and greatest depth of players on clay.

Maybe if we change the topic to hundred greatest players of all time - then you can bring guga up.

Jet Rink
04-21-2005, 10:36 PM
Pele
Maradona
platini
Cruyff
Beckenbauer
Di stefano
Puskas
Zidane
Eusebio
Garincha
and special line for Sir Bobby Charlton, and Yachine
:mrgreen:

Very good. Post of the Year in my opinion. But you forgot Baggio and Maldini.

Jet

Jet Rink
04-21-2005, 10:39 PM
I am being seious. She was an incomplete player. She was a great player obviously, just not the best.

You're talking about Graf, yes? (yes).

She's Top Three at worst. Totally dominant player who won on all surfaces.

Jet

sandiegotennisboy
04-21-2005, 10:55 PM
im a young kid, so i cant fully appreciate the tennis greats from the past, but am very impressed with their accomplishments. i was born in the 80s, started being a tennis fanatic in the early 90s, and to me and most of my tennis peers.... (friends i played in high school with or just casual tennis players my age)...we would put Graf and Sampras on top of the list. i think its cool what the past players accomplished. But the game evolved to be tougher and more physically demanding. That's why I can't see anyone else as number 1 in the men's or womens other than the two I mentioned.

Maybe there's a reason people declare Fed as one of the best of all time already. Just based on his accomplishments so far....in the field of players he's against, in my opinion, he's up there, even w/o the most slams ever.

Northerly
04-21-2005, 11:04 PM
If I recall correctly Graf hammered the nail into Navratilova's coffin in the 1988 Wimbledon final with a topspin back hand winner!!!

Mahboob Khan
04-21-2005, 11:04 PM
Also rank Lew Hoad somewhere. (it is quite difficult to compare the current with old champions because of changed technique, better tactics, new/improved equipment etc., better conditioning systems).

I reckon after 6 years, Roger Federer should be number 1 on this list (provided he stays healthy and motivated enough).

remilard
04-21-2005, 11:09 PM
Considering BJK beat a 7.0 male player and modern women can't beat a 5.5 I think she should be ranked higher.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist)

Yours!05
04-21-2005, 11:57 PM
Also rank Lew Hoad somewhere. (it is quite difficult to compare the current with old champions because of changed technique, better tactics, new/improved equipment etc., better conditioning systems).
Hoad is almost always forgotten, perhaps because, unlike the other Ausssies, he didn't retire to the U.S., but to Spain. In the view of many, the most Complete Player ever.
During his quarter-century career as a professional, Pancho Gonzalez faced a vast array of first-rate players, and the one he considered the most devastating was Lewis Alan Hoad.
"When Lew's game was at its peak nobody could touch him," said Gonzalez, who cited Hoad as his toughest foe during his years of head-to-head one-night-stand pro tours. - International Tennis Hall of Fame
http://www.tennisfame.org/enshrinees/lew_hoad.html

laurie
04-22-2005, 01:56 AM
Thats interesting. Sampras has mentioned Hoad more than once.
This is too difficult. I can't make up a list and try to sell that to people here on this message board. There are too many people I haven't seen play from the past.
So, I have to say its always surprising when someone like the author of this thread telling us who the best of all time is.

However, I started a thread a couple months back on the best players you've seen. I always think thats a more realistic argument and less antagonistic.

crosscourt
04-22-2005, 03:12 AM
I agree with Mahboob. Whenever this topic comes up at my club, the greybeards say "You think Laver was good? You should have seen Hoad."

More generally, from my experince watching tennis since the early '70s, the most remarkable thing in tennis was what Borg did at Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the mid-70's. I hear so much rubbish talked about Borg's game, about it being one-dimensional or negative. Borg had a huge serve at Wimbledon, and could serve and volley. He didn't do it at the French. Why would he, he had other ways to win. He was a superb athlete with a very well worked out game, and marvellous ground strokes. The pressure on him was hysterical at times. If you like a statistical approach over a qualitative approach, or if you weren't born in the sixties, you could say Sampras was the best in the last 30 years. I understand why.

After Borg and Sampras there are Lendl, Mcenroe, Agassi, Wilander, Becker. Agassi won all four majors. Wilander won on clay, grass and hard courts. Lendl on clay and hard. I put those combinations ahead of grass and hard court.

cc

Camilio Pascual
04-22-2005, 04:31 AM
Women

1. Steffi Graf.
2. Martina Navratilova
3. Margaret Court
4. Suzanne Lenglen
5. Maureen Connoly
6. Monica Seles
7. Helen Wills Moody
8. Chris Evert,
9. Billie Jean King
10. Serena Williams

Amazed by your omission of Connors,
amazed at my agreement with the Top 10 women. I'd re-order the Top 3 to this:
1. Martina Navratilova
2. Chris Evert
3. Maureen Connolly
(9 Majors titles in 11 tries, probably the greatest tennis player of all time, career-ending accident leaves her as one of the great mysteries, I think she had 30 - 35 Majors in her)

Northerly
04-22-2005, 05:04 AM
Chris Evert ahead of Graf? LOL

johnmcc516
04-22-2005, 05:16 AM
I am being seious. She was an incomplete player. She was a great player obviously, just not the best.

If Grafs accomplishments on the circuit are not good enough for number 1, then no ones are.

Camilio Pascual
04-22-2005, 05:49 AM
Chris Evert ahead of Graf? LOL

The WTA was very weak in Graf's prime and her biggest potential rival got stabbed. Look at who Evert and Navratilova had to play 80 times - each other. Evert lost 43 of those matches and still is the only tennis player with a career record of 90%.

Northerly
04-22-2005, 07:17 AM
If it wasn't for Graf, Evert and Navratilova would have still be 1 and 2 for several more years. Graf bumped them both right out of the game, so it's a bit rich to say that the tour was "very weak in Graf's prime" because Graf was beating both of them and still in alot of ways still on the way up.

Winning each of the 4 Grand Slams at least 4 times, and on 4 different surfaces has to put her at number 1.

Look at the most contrasting surfaces: Graf won more French Opens and Wimbledons combined than either of them.

And then there's the record number of weeks at No 1........

federerhoogenbandfan
04-22-2005, 08:25 AM
Davey, what do you think Federer will have accomplished by the end of 2006?

I think he will have 8 majors, including 1 French Open title, and 4 Wimbledons.
That is why I will have him in the top 10, if he fulfills my expectations for the end of 2006. Not totally unrealistic at all.

Camilio Pascual
04-22-2005, 09:12 AM
Graf bumped them both right out of the game, so it's a bit rich to say that the tour was "very weak in Graf's prime" because Graf was beating both of them and still in alot of ways still on the way up.


After being beaten 6 times in a row, Graf did manage to beat a 32 year old Evert for the first of 7 times to garner a whopping 7-6 head to head edge. She was 9-9 against Navratilova, including 2-2 the last four times, losing to her when she was 35 and 37. Sounds like age, not Graf, is what bumped them out of the game.
The tour was very weak during Graf's tenure and in the late 80's, Evert and Navratilova were still able to be #2 and #3 in the world at 30+ years of age.
Sure, there are arguments to be made for Steffi as GOAT and I've posted about her winning each Majors 4 times myself. Let's just keep the arguments honest.

scoot
04-22-2005, 09:14 AM
Graf's record (in my mind) always will have an asterick b/c of the Seles stabbing by Graf's #1 fan. Seles had won like 7 of the last 10 slams at the time.

spirit
04-22-2005, 10:24 AM
1. Laver
2. Sampras
3. Borg
4. McEnroe
5. Connors
6. Gonzales
7. Agassi
8. Wilander
9. Tilden
10. Budge

All played in "open" eras, at least partially, and won a significant number of Slams - but also on a multitude of surfaces. Accomodating for eras, I looked at guys that were dominant in their own era.

Just missing: Becker, Lendl, Kramer, Edberg, Emerson, Agassi.

Jet

Tilden played in an "Open" era? Wasn't he playing in the 1920 and 30s? Was tennis in an "Open" era at that time?

Anyway, I love this discussion. Gives me imput for my GOAT tournament that I am planning. What I really need is some specifics on the games of all these greats, so I can imagine what match ups between them are likely to be like.

For example, Gonzalez I understand was a really big server and a net player. Imagine him playing with the modern graphite racquet after having enough time to adjust his game to it (more open stance shots perhaps, maybe change in grip). What would a match between him and Sampras be like, both men in their primes? What about between him and McEnroe, again both men in their primes? What would he and Borg do to each other. Wonderful to imagine. I never saw Gonzalez play except in some short video clips. But what I saw looked good. They say he had killer instinct on the court.

But then again, there is Laver (left off your list). What were the specifics of his game? Big server? Big forehand? All court? Two times winning all 4 slams in a single year. WOW! Who will ever match that? Federer might be able to get one year like that.

Richard Parnell
04-22-2005, 11:01 AM
I would agree with Mahboob Khan about Lew Hoad being in there.His backhand is considered as one of the best of all time (his wrist was as big as a forearm).I was lucky enough to be taught tennis by Lew (I live next to his tennis ranch) and his back was his real problem and curtailed a career that could have continued on for quite some time.
My 2 cents anyway, good weekend everyone
Richard

Rabbit
04-22-2005, 11:49 AM
I read somewhere that a visitor to Hoad's tennis ranch had a Kramer Autograph and let Hoad hit with it. The article said that Hoad's ball striking skills and ability with the wood frame were not diminished in the least. They were amazed at how much work he could put on a ball with a wood frame.

Kevin Patrick
04-22-2005, 12:05 PM
spirit,
you should check out Steve Flink's book "Greatest matches of the 20th Century" Great descriptions of all the greats, their strengths/weaknesses, etc.

I recently watched some Laver matches from '69(the year of his 2nd Calendar Grand Slam) I was amazed at how "low percentage" he played compared to say McEnroe/Sampras/Federer. It seemed like he was just teeing off on everything(& they kept going in!) He consistently S&Ved but had great topspin drives off both wings. He reminded me of how Korda played, great strokes, flashy shotmaker(both lefties) I think he would have done fine in the modern game(but would have to be more conservative when necessary)

In Tilden's time, there was no pro tour so the best players were amateurs. I'm not sure about specific times, but I think the pro/amateur split became an issue in the 40s.

Jet Rink
04-22-2005, 12:21 PM
Tilden played in an "Open" era? Wasn't he playing in the 1920 and 30s? Was tennis in an "Open" era at that time?

But then again, there is Laver (left off your list). What were the specifics of his game? Big server? Big forehand? All court? Two times winning all 4 slams in a single year. WOW! Who will ever match that? Federer might be able to get one year like that.

I put Laver No. 1 on my list...

As far as "open," regarding the old timers, there wasn't the major split in the 20's between amateurs and professionals. Therefore - in direct contrast to the 60's, say, all, if not a significant majority of the top players were indeed able to regularly face off.

Tilden's sort of like Babe Ruth anyway - a towering figure that deserves a top spot due to his dominance and pioneering.

I love these debates too. It gets everyone thinking about the heritage of this great sport.

Hoad - I hit regularly with a guy that trained under Lew in Australia, as a boy. Amazin' stories.

Jet

federerhoogenbandfan
04-22-2005, 01:03 PM
I dont agree with those of you saying Evert and Navratilova had it much harder than Graf because they had each other, while Graf had nobody since Seles was stabbed. I understand that as a broad view, but not upon closer analogy.

First of all a player can be there, it is a personal accessment what point in their career they were at. Lets say Graf slam winning period was 87-96 where she won 21 of her 22, Navratilova 78-87 where she won 17 of her 18, and Evert 74-86 where she won all of her 18. One could say Navratilova was playing 87-94, 8 of those 10 years; Evert 87-89, 3 of those 10; Seles 89-92, early 93, late 95, 96, 5.5 of those 10. Of course though we all know those players were not among their prime all those years.

Well I dont neccessarily think Evert and Navratilova were both in their primes all those years, either won majors. No way was Navratilova in her prime yet between 74-77 when she won 7 majors, nor were King or Court any longer,73 was probably the last year of their long primes when one evaluates King's play at times in 74 and Court's in 75(she came back after 74 off and played until 77). So Evert faced no all-time great in their prime during 74-77. Some would argue Navratilova was in her prime in 78-79 when she won two Wimbledons. I would disagree, that is the year she first became a real champion, but there was still a huge difference between her those years and 82-86, she still was a bit pudgy, and her weaponary still could not be deemed similar to the 80s. She also would go into another slump in 80-early 81 and suffer a series of bad losses, and motivation depletions, given that 5 different players(she was 1 of them)won majors in 80-81 it is hard to believe her failure to win in 7 straight majors until the final of 81 was simply due to the strength of opposition. So I dont think her prime really started until 82. Austin was very good yet she didnt even play the French or Australian in 79-80, and started suffering health problems as early as 81. So Evert did not face an all-time great in her prime, in my mind, until 82.

On the other hand was Evert in her prime after 81? Starting in 82 she began to post troubling(for her)results in a collective manner, meaning two matches of the same type, indicating not an accident result of some sort. For example she would lose twice in a row to Jaeger on clay, her favorite surface, in the spring of 82. Jaeger was good, but would Evert in her prime lose twice in a row to her, in straight sets, on clay? Then you have a 6-3, 6-3 loss in an Italian Open final, in 84, to Manueal Maleeva, then an up and coming player then, who in many career meetings as a future consistent top-tenner would never beat Graf or Seles, and only took a set apiece of either of them. You also have a 6-0, 6-2 loss to Navratilova on clay, followed by a 6-3, 6-1 loss to Navratilova on clay, again back to back matches. Sorry but it is hard to believe, and yes I have seen her on clay, that Navratilova was ever that astonishing on clay to explain these back to back showings against Evert, if Evert was still in the extended peak of her career.

It could be argued Evert and Navratilova were never truly in their primes together, that Evert's prime finished just as Navratilova's was starting.

Graf atleast had 3.1/4 years facing Seles in her prime(90-early 93)and it is not her fault the tragedy took place, and there is no gaurantee Graf would not have been able to make the rivalry more competitive. Seles actually never beat Graf on a surface other than rebound ace or clay, Graf was going through a bit of a struggle with her own game in the early 90s and failed to reach the two U.S open finals or the two year-end finals to face Seles. Navratilova was obviously past her prime by 91-94 despite having success including a couple wins over Graf and Seles. Many would argue Navratilova was past her prime by 87-89. I am not sure it is any more clear she wasnt in her prime those years as Evert 82-84 however. In 89 she managed to make the finals of Wimbledon, U.S open, and the year-end Championships, smoking everybody except Graf. Her only losses that year were all believable in her prime, three to Graf, one to Sukova(who beat her in her prime), and one to Sabatini on clay (perfectly believable when Gaby has wins over Graf and Seles on clay). In 88 her results were dissapointing, yet in 87 she made the finals of all 4 slams, beating Graf in straight sets to win Wimbledon and the U.S open, and taking Graf to 3 sets in a French Open final, a surface(clay)she generally would be considered an underdog to other all timers. I cant believe she could do that against Graf "past her prime".

So in all I have every reason to believe Graf faced either Seles or Navratilova in their prime for as long a period as Evert and Navratilova faced each other in their primes, if not longer. One other thing you might want to do, when looking at the four years Graf did not have to face pre-stabbing Seles is to imagine if Navratilova or Evert were missing between 83-86. Would either of them have surpassed Graf's slam count of 22?

Evert: In 83 she was sick at Wimbledon, where she was dismissed by Kathy Jordan easily, and she skipped the 83 Australian. In 84 she lost 6-3, 6-1 in the French Open final to Navratilova, but given her 6-3, 6-3 to Maleeva in the Italian final, and Mandilikova taking Navratilova to 3 sets the previous round, it is hard not to speculate somebody else would have been able to take her out had Navratilova not been there. At best she has 3 possable additional slams-83 U.S open, 84 Wimbledon, 84 U.S open. In 85 she lost in the U.S open semis to Mandilikova who beat Navratilova in the final as well so she likely does not beat her on a different day, and by now Mandilikova and Sukova were challenging her more regularly, still she won the 85 French. In 86 she wins the French, but loses in Wimbledon semis to Mandilikova, and U.S open semis to Sukova. She avoids playing Graf who beat her in straight sets to win Hilton Head on clay early in the year. I would guess she gains 1 additional slam in 85. In 86 she would gain none with Navratilova gone, if she is lucky she avoids meeting Graf in the 86 French with the draw rearranged and gets to keep her 1(Mandilikova had an amazing come from behind to beat Graf in 86 French quarters when Graf came into event on 4-event win streak on clay including wins over Evert and Navratilova). The best she does is equal Graf at 22, had Navratilova not played in 83-86, perhaps not even that.


Navratilova-Well she wins 6 of 8 slams in 83-84, and the two she losses she is upset by Horvath and Sukova. One is likely a huge choke, or an inspired playing-out-of-her-mind Horvath. The other is a moderate top player, who never won a slam in a long career as contender, but was a bit of a nemisis for Navratilova in big matches(Sukova)always playing her tough and sometimes beating her in those matches througout her career. I dont see Evert being gone changing a thing in 83-84. 85 she loses the French to Evert, and U.S open to Mandilikova, U.S open does not change, but she probably wins the French with Evert gone. 86 there is no Australian and she loses French to Evert, with draw rearranged who knows what happens, Mandilikova beat Graf in the quarters so could have a hot day, and Graf came into the event on 4-event win streak on clay including wins over Evert and Navratilova. She gains even less than Evert, 1 or 2 wins had Evert not played from 83-86.

Evert might equal Graf's 22 had Navratilova not played the same period Seles did not, but that is it. Navratilova would not have even done that, since she dominated Evert that period anyway, and only lost 2 possable slams at her expense.

federerhoogenbandfan
04-22-2005, 01:13 PM
The general field was even weaker when Navratilova and Evert were on top, than when Graf was. Mandilikova from 81-86, and Goolagong from 74-80, could be put at the same level of Sanchez Vicario of 88-96. Players like Sabatini and Novotna, were noteable players througout the whole period of 88/89-96, and were easily superior to other Navratilova-era contenders like Shriver and company. If one adds an Austin who was there only brief amount of that time, one could add a Capriati or Pierce for the later period. Shriver for example was not nearly at the same level as those players. Sabatini generally kicked Shriver left and right when they played in the late 80s, even though Shriver was still in her prime(she could not beat Graf in the 88 year-end semis and reach Wimbledon semis in both 88 and 89 when she is a player with only 1 career slam final had she not been). Bettina Bunge, Sylvia Hanika, Claudia Khode-Kilsch? These were some of the regulars of the top 10 during the Navratilova dominance. The weakest of the regular top tenners of the Graf era are superior to those players without problem.

federerhoogenbandfan
04-22-2005, 01:23 PM
After being beaten 6 times in a row, Graf did manage to beat a 32 year old Evert for the first of 7 times to garner a whopping 7-6 head to head edge. She was 9-9 against Navratilova, including 2-2 the last four times, losing to her when she was 35 and 37. Sounds like age, not Graf, is what bumped them out of the game. The tour was very weak during Graf's tenure and in the late 80's, Evert and Navratilova were still able to be #2 and #3 in the world at 30+ years of age. Sure, there are arguments to be made for Steffi as GOAT and I've posted about her winning each Majors 4 times myself. Let's just keep the arguments honest.

Well Evert's last win over Graf was when Graf was barely 16, and Graf was not exactly a teen sensation the same way Seles or Hingis were. So Evert likewise has never beaten Graf in her prime either. You point out Navratilova and Graf were 2-2 between Martina being ages 34-36(that was her age at the time of the two wins, not 35 and 37), but you ignore Graf's 4-0 against Navratilova in 88-89, so really her head to head against an over 30 Graf is 6-2, which indicates little in Graf's favor since Martina was older by then, but it also is not the embarassment against Graf as you make it out to be.

I should also add in 86, when Navratilova who did not win 2 slams in the same year until 82 at age 25, was still in her prime beyond much doubt that year. Graf almost certainly was not. Graf clobbered Martina 6-3, 6-2
to win the German Open, and had 3 match points against Martina at the U.S open.

So an older Navratilova gave a strong Steffi some trouble, but a still green Steffi gave some grief to a strong Navratilova just as well.

Kevin Patrick
04-22-2005, 01:33 PM
davey,
The Goolagong-Evert rivalry was a very big deal from '75 to '77. I think you underestimate Goolagong, she might not be in your definition of "all-time great" but she was a lot better than Sanchez-Vicario & a better rival for Evert than Sanchez was for Graf.

Generally, I have no problem with your list, but how can Seles be ranked higher than Evert in your opinion?

spirit
04-22-2005, 01:35 PM
I put Laver No. 1 on my list...

As far as "open," regarding the old timers, there wasn't the major split in the 20's between amateurs and professionals. Therefore - in direct contrast to the 60's, say, all, if not a significant majority of the top players were indeed able to regularly face off.

Tilden's sort of like Babe Ruth anyway - a towering figure that deserves a top spot due to his dominance and pioneering.

I love these debates too. It gets everyone thinking about the heritage of this great sport.

Hoad - I hit regularly with a guy that trained under Lew in Australia, as a boy. Amazin' stories.

Jet

yes you did put Laver #1. I missed that. Reading too fast. Glad you told me how Open tennis was in those early days. I was under the mistaken impression that the Open era started in 1968. But the "closed" era really was in between two Open eras. Nice to be corrected on that.

spirit
04-22-2005, 01:39 PM
spirit,
you should check out Steve Flink's book "Greatest matches of the 20th Century" Great descriptions of all the greats, their strengths/weaknesses, etc.

I recently watched some Laver matches from '69(the year of his 2nd Calendar Grand Slam) I was amazed at how "low percentage" he played compared to say McEnroe/Sampras/Federer. It seemed like he was just teeing off on everything(& they kept going in!) He consistently S&Ved but had great topspin drives off both wings. He reminded me of how Korda played, great strokes, flashy shotmaker(both lefties) I think he would have done fine in the modern game(but would have to be more conservative when necessary)

In Tilden's time, there was no pro tour so the best players were amateurs. I'm not sure about specific times, but I think the pro/amateur split became an issue in the 40s.

I will definitely get a copy of Steve Flink's book. Thanks for the tip, and info on pro/amateur tennis.

federerhoogenbandfan
04-22-2005, 01:45 PM
davey,
The Goolagong-Evert rivalry was a very big deal from '75 to '77. I think you underestimate Goolagong, she might not be in your definition of "all-time great" but she was a lot better than Sanchez-Vicario & a better rival for Evert than Sanchez was for Graf.

Generally, I have no problem with your list, but how can Seles be ranked higher than Evert in your opinion?

Kevin, Goolagong won 4 of her slams at Australian Opens, a slam many of the top players did not attend. 3 of her 4 slams were at other venues, an average of 1 per slam at the other 3. For that reason I think of her as more of a 4-slam winner sort of player than a 7, just as Sanchez and Mandilikova were.

I agree she is far more talented than Sanchez Vicario, but she is also less consistent, more prone to early loses to no-names, less hard working, and less determined and hungry day in day out to suceed.

Seles above Evert? Well I agree that is a contentious choice on my part, and I did not expect many to agree. However Seles dominated the game for
2 years in a way that leads one to think she was a more dominating kind of player than Evert ever was. That is why I rated her higher, just as I rated Connoly higher than some women who had many more slam titles after having her career cut short prematurely.

federerhoogenbandfan
04-22-2005, 01:48 PM
I think you need to put Guga in that list, to win the FO 3 times is a remarkable accomplishment. By far the toughest slam to win, and greatest depth of players on clay.

A player with only 3 slam titles, who has never been past the quarters of a slam on any surface other than clay. That is top ten all time worthy? If Guga was indeed a top ten all-time, Roger Federer would be #1 all-time.

federerhoogenbandfan
04-22-2005, 01:51 PM
Ken Rosewall was a great player but I definitely think you regard him a little too highly. Yes, he had great longevity & won majors close to 20 years apart, but I don't think he ever was clearly the best player in the world at any time in his career(even on the pro circuit) Connors also had longevity, but clearly was the best for a time.

Actually I thought there was a period on the pro circuit that Rosewall was indeed established as clearly the best, for about 3 or 4 years. If I am indeed mistaken, you are right I have him far too high, despite his longevity, and greatness in the sport. The information I gathered indicated he was clearly the best for a 3 or 4 year period, quite dominant for that span of time. I was thinking along those terms as I did my rankings.

Kevin Patrick
04-22-2005, 02:18 PM
Don't be fooled by Goolagong's Aussie titles, she was a great all surface player & matched up very well with the best players of her time(you should check her head-to-heads). She was only 19 & a relative unknown when she beat Court & King back-to-back(both in straight sets, both still great players) to win Wimbledon in '71. She gave Evert a lot of trouble from '75 to '76 beating her, I believe 5 times in a row. Their rivalry received a lot of attention in '76(Goolagong was on the cover of SI when she seemed to have the "indomitable" Evert's number)
Plus she left the tour to have a baby & was able to return to win Wimbledon in 1980(beating Evert)
I'm not saying she deserves to be mentioned in a top 10 list of the greatest players, but I can't see how she's in the same level as a Sanchez-Vicario, accomplishments wise. Plus if you're undervaluing her career based on Australian Open success, you should do the same to Court, she won half of her majors there.

federerhoogenbandfan
04-22-2005, 02:42 PM
Don't be fooled by Goolagong's Aussie titles, she was a great all surface player & matched up very well with the best players of her time(you should check her head-to-heads). She was only 19 & a relative unknown when she beat Court & King back-to-back(both in straight sets, both still great players) to win Wimbledon in '71. She gave Evert a lot of trouble from '75 to '76 beating her, I believe 5 times in a row. Their rivalry received a lot of attention in '76(Goolagong was on the cover of SI when she seemed to have the "indomitable" Evert's number)
Plus she left the tour to have a baby & was able to return to win Wimbledon in 1980(beating Evert)
I'm not saying she deserves to be mentioned in a top 10 list of the greatest players, but I can't see how she's in the same level as a Sanchez-Vicario, accomplishments wise. Plus if you're undervaluing her career based on Australian Open success, you should do the same to Court, she won half of her majors there.


Fair enough. I could be underestimating her ability as a player. Her head to head with top players also could be a bit misleading though, since as I mentioned she seemed susceptable to bad losses to journeywoman in early rounds more than other players of her greatness, and she also had trouble coming up big in big finals particularly at the U.S open, and to a lesser extent Wimbedon her two impressive titles notwithstanding(she lost 7 straight finals at the U.S open and Wimbledon between her 71 and 80 titles).

I did look at her Aussies a bit differently than Court, since Court was able to prove more so than Goolagong that she could alot of majors at other slams.

Sanchez Vicario probably would not have been able to do the equilavent on clay of beating King and Court back to back to win Wimbledon as Goolagong did in 71 though; for example she wouldnt ever be able to beat Seles and Graf back to back to win the French I dont think. She also would never reach 4 straight U.S open finals, or win 4 straight Australians had the field been depleted by loss of importance today as it was then. So probably I am undervaluing Goolagong a bit, to put her on par with Sanchez Vicario, Mandilikova I still think is though.

JohnThomas1
04-22-2005, 05:39 PM
Some random opinions and musings

Lendl didn't win Wimbledon but have a look at his record there. Semi's and finals abound. His problem was that his very best grass game vs Edberg/Becker/Cash/s very best grass game could not quite win. These guys were natural serve volleyers while Ivan was robotic and inflexible, but mainly really compared to them. Their best clay game would be devoured by Ivan and his very finest hard court tennis beats them all in my opinion. On topic as well, Borg didn't win the US, Mac the French, Connors too, Wilander Wimbledon, Sampras French etc. Wimbledon may be the most prestigous but the French was if anything harder to win for most. Lendl's record at Wimbledon is vastly superior to most if not all of the above at the others.

When looking at Wilander i cannot find a way to rate him above Lendl, Connors, Borg or Mac. When all is taken in he ranks just below them but still very highly. When the others weren't quite at their best, Wilander cleaned up. He never really had off days and whoever played him knew if they didn't play superbly they wouldn't win. Much like Hewitt.

Borgs Wimbledon and French records are simply astonishing. To win so many times on such different surfaces is almost inconcievable. Admittedly their wasn't as many grass threats as say in the mid and later 80's but still in all. Tho he won many times on hardcourts just one win in the US would have eased him even higher. Like Lendl at the W tho, he did perform well there many times.

Davis Cup should i think enter discussions. Becker has close to the finest singles record ever in live rubbers. He was nigh well unbeatable in a live singles rubber no matter what. While still an unrounded kid he hammered Wilander and Edberg in a final.

If Seles wasn't stabbed she would surely be number one. She was closing in on total domination of Graf when stabbed. Graf may well have rebounded to rechallenge, she was stale and struggling on many fronts. Seles had her measure however, and i for one think Graf is top 5 at the very worst. At the moment it looks like she might get the William's gals on longevity.


Mandlikova could have been anything with less fraility. She could rise to the heights of anyone, but didn't get there often enough and was quite often dismal. With any ofr her higher rated opponents heads and hearts aboard she might well have been even better than Evert and Martina. If only. Her career performances were at the 85 US where she beat Evert and Martina back to back, simply playing too good. There was nothing she couldn't do except perform consistently and justify her talent. Leconte was similar to a lesser extent.

Agassi deserves marks for winning on all four slam surfaces in the modern day. He has something all the modern day male players don't.

Fed is vary hard to rank at the moment. Many will want him number one, many will want him held back until he has been around longer. Nobody could argue he isn't the potential number one, and possibly in the near future. He might just be the most argued player at present. As far as his best tennis against everyone elses - he might already be the greatest ever. He has the talent to be a master of every surface. His big test will be the French Open battle of attrition. His weapons are more easily blunted there, and many can give him a good battle on clay whereas only Safin seems to be able to elsewhere at the moment. He could still easily succeed on clay tho. This year will be very interesting since he failed to win the AO. He will be very hungry.

Guga can't be included on the strength of the 3 FO's. Considering his talents he has been an underacheiver away from clay for mine. Injury or other he has been almost invisible for some time. He showed what he can do last year on clay yes, i thought he would have taken it further to a possible title after beating Fed tho.



John

hyperwarrior
04-22-2005, 06:54 PM
Who would you choices be for the ten greatest players of all time, per gender? These would be mine in order:


Men

1. Pancho Gonzales
2. Ken Rosewall
3. Rod Laver
4. Bjorn Borg
5. Pete Sampras
6. Bill Tilden
7. Don Budge
8. Ken Perry
9. Ivan Lendl
10. Jack Kramer

I predict by the end of 2006 Roger will be on this list, somewhere between #7 and #10.



Women

1. Steffi Graf.
2. Martina Navratilova
3. Margaret Court
4. Suzanne Lenglen
5. Maureen Connoly
6. Monica Seles
7. Helen Wills Moody
8. Chris Evert,
9. Billie Jean King
10. Serena Williams


Pardon my ignorance, but why Pancho is first on your personal list?

Yours!05
04-22-2005, 07:37 PM
...I was lucky enough to be taught tennis by Lew (I live next to his tennis ranch)...
Richard
...I love these debates too. It gets everyone thinking about the heritage of this great sport.
Hoad - I hit regularly with a guy that trained under Lew in Australia, as a boy. Amazin' stories.
Jet
Richard and Jet -
How about sharing some of your impressions and stories with us?
I saw Lew play a few times in Australia when I was young and can still remember being stunned into silence by what I saw.
On this board now, where there are quite a few experts of all ages, and many fans, about all I ever see is Gonzales, Laver, Rosewall on the best lists from the Kramer Pro era, and then one, or all of them, take an automatic entry into the GOAT 10 being discussed.
I didn't intend to be one of Lew's champions on this board, but it is evident to me that he is slipping into a grossly unjust obscurity.
As Crosscourt quoted: Whenever this topic comes up at my club, the greybeards say "You think Laver was good? You should have seen Hoad."

If "the heritage of this great sport" is to be protected, then one of its legends deserves to be more often remembered and celebrated.

Hops
04-22-2005, 11:27 PM
[QUOTE=Kevin Patrick]

[Lendl] made more GS finals & semifinals than anyone in the open era.

Connors has the most SF.

http://www.tennis28.com/slams/semifinals_openera.html

JohnThomas1
04-23-2005, 02:46 AM
Kev may have meant combined.

AndrewD
04-23-2005, 02:48 AM
Its really nice to see people bringing up the name of Lew Hoad. Too often forgotten by those who didn't see him (even here in Australia) and a player who definately suffered due to injury and entering the pro tour (Gonzalez suffered even more so in terms of major titles but had longevity, something Hoad's back wouldnt allow him). However, if you read the opinions of Hoad's contemporaries you aren't left with much doubt as to his greatness. Every one of the Aussie players, including Laver (2 grand slams) and Emerson (second most major titles) say he was the best they ever saw and opinions like that carry a great deal of weight.

Recently a few people at our club were chatting to Mal Anderson (former US Open winner) and Trevor Laver (Rod's brother) and asked them who was the best they'd seen. Both said, 'Lew Hoad first, daylight second'. Trevor politely suggested his brother was 'pretty handy' as well . Talk about understated LOL.

Interestingly, they both felt that Pete Sampras was the best player they'd seen in the last 20 years. Not the most talented but, day in, day out the best. They also mentioned a top 10, in no order, but the only ones I can recall are Laver, Hoad, Sampras, McEnroe, Connors, Borg, Gonzalez and that they rated Connors higher than Borg or McEnroe.

Also, if anyone has read 'A Handful of Summers' by Gordon Forbes ( a player on the circuit in the 50's and 60's) he wrote, in comparing Hoad and Laver,

"At his best, I truly swear that he was unbeatable. Unplayable. Some players do this, and others that. Lew Hoad did everything. Select, if you like, the best tennis match ever played, and you will find quite unquestionably that Hoad played in it. And then brushed it aside with an understatement. Rod Laver is a carbon coply of the original Hoad. Only lefthanded and without the full majesty. The mighty power".

urban
04-23-2005, 04:42 AM
The question of the greatest player ist a matter of personal choice. I want to make some notes on behalf of the professional tours in the fifties and sexties. I refer to the book of Joe McCauley: The History of Professional Tennis, who compiled a complete record of the pro tours from the twenties to 1968.
First: Laver was a great professional champion as well as amateur champion. Indeed, he was beaten initially by Rosewall, when he turnd pro in 1963 (like all other former amateurs, who had to adjust to the different format and conditions of pro tennis), but only for half a year. He finished 1963 with one of the best rookie records in history as number 2 behind Rosewall. In 1964 he ranked alongside Rosewall, both had 7 tournament wins, but Laver won the two most prestigous tournaments (Wembley, US Pro) and had a 12:3 personal record vs. Rosewall. 1965-1970 Laver was clearly Nr. 1 and won by far the most tournaments and money on the pro tour, including 4 Wembley, tournaments, 5 US Pros. In 1967 he won between 18 tournaments a sort of Pro Grand Slam, which means all the big pro tourneys (Wembley, US Pro, the Wimbledon Pro, French Pro,Madsion Square Garden Pro, Forst Hills Pro). In all he won over 150 tournamnts in his career, alone 45 in open competition, when he was over 30 years of age. Laver was not a pure grass court specialist. In 1969 he won the two biggest hard court tourneys outside the grand slam (South Africa, Boston). In 1962 he had the best clay court record of all time (better than Muster in 1995), 1971 he beat French champion Kodes in Rome, even 1974 he beat a 'good' clay-court player named Borg on clay in Houston.
Second: Gonzales was pro champion from 1954-1960. As great as he was, he was a specialist for fast courts and the one-on-one-series on indoor courts in the US. The fresh amateur champions he faced (Trabert, Rosewall, Hoad) had no experience on indoor courts. In the tournaments in Europe he was not as dominant, so he never won the Roland Garros Pro in the fifties vs. Rosewall or Trabert.
Third: Hoad was a mythical player in the fifties, he almost won the grand slam as amateur in 1956, but he never won a big pro tournament. He always lost the finals to Gonzales and Rosewall, so you cannot rank him above Rosewall.
Fourth: Rosewall was undisputed pro champion 1960 to 1963. He had extraordinary longlivety, but he never was as dominant as Laver in 1962, 1967 and 1969. All these truly great players were hampered by the segregation in amateurs and pros up to 1968 and would have won many more mayors in their respective careers.

federerhoogenbandfan
04-23-2005, 07:41 AM
Pardon my ignorance, but why Pancho is first on your personal list?

Actually it was based on his record in the pro ranks, where all the best players played from 50-68. He won a load of pro slams between 51-60.

Upon some closer examination though, I think I should not have ranked him 1.
He never won the French pro, and he only won the London pro and U.S pro in the same year once, even though one or the other was cancelled several years.

Rosewall on the other hand has won both the London pro and U.S pro in the same year 4 times, won the French, London, and U.S pro in the same year once, a sort of slam sweep, and even excluding any post-67 pro titles, has won the same number of pro slams as Gonzales, that is in addition to all hsi incredable accomplishments at the traditional slams. I would actually change Rosewall to the best of all time, and drop Gonzales to 3 or 4.

I agree on Hoad. I have seen his matches on tape, and he probably played the best tennis ever when he was on. However due to a back injury early in his pro career he lost a head to head tour with the indomitable Gonzales, he probably would have won, and never won a major pro title. He only won 4 traditional slams as an amateur. I just felt I couldnt put him in the top 10 since he didnt have the luck with health, other factors to accomplish enough.
I could understand people disagreeing with my philosophy on him though. Like I said I agree when he played well I have never seen anything better.

JohnThomas1
04-23-2005, 07:54 AM
Food for thought

I have an Ellsworth Vines book in which he ranks his top ten since Budge. He took this very seriously. Connors and Borg were not considered as they were still achieving strongly. I notice that the majority of raters from this era rated Budge ahead of Kramer and Kramer ahead of Pancho. It is almost carved in stone. Here are his ratings

1. Budge
2. Kramer
3. Pancho
4. Laver
5. Segura
6. Riggs
7. Rosewall
8. Hoad
9. Sedgman
10. Trabert

Northerly
04-23-2005, 08:01 AM
This so called "asterix" over Graf's career is incredibly unfair and very shortsighted. It wasn't Graf's fault that Seles was stabbed. And it assumes that Graf would have been incapable of mounting a serious resurgence or that Seles wouldn't have come back to the field through injury, illness etc. You cannot simply assume that Graf would not have lifted her game the 5% required, or that Seles would have necessarily maintained her level.

Seles was ravaged by injury when she returned - and this had nothing to do with the stabbing. It could have easily happened in 1993 or 94 too!

Recall that Navratilova had a period where she dominated Evert, but then Evert turned things back around.

And it's not like Seles was beating Graf 2 and 2 each time they met. On arguably Seles best surface - clay - Graf took her to 10-8 in the third in the French Open.

On arguably Seles worst surface she was decimated by Graf 6-2 6-1 in the Wimby final!

scoot
04-23-2005, 08:30 AM
I agree that Graf may have eventually found a way to challenge Seles for slams (other than wimby) and the #1 ranking, but who knows how long that would have taken? All indications at the time of the stabbing is it would have taken quite a bit longer. The way Seles dismantled Graf in the AO final of 93 after Graf played an unbelievable 1st set is a pretty good indication that Seles had the upperhand. Her serve was improving and she was adding more to her game. I think for sure Seles would have won more than her share (half) of the slams Graf collected in her absence in the rest of 93-96 given the way she had been dominating the slams just prior to the Hamburg stabbing (7 out of previous 10 slams).

As for the notion that injuries hurt Seles in her comeback after the stabbing, that is true. But to discount the impact that the stabbing had on her psyche (requiring 2.5 years just to step on a tennis court competitively & years of therapy) is unfair. There is no question the stabbing ruined her mentally - before the stabbing she was lean & tough as nails mentally. After the stabbing, she turned to food to cope, became fat, and fragile in tough matches.

There is no comparison.

federerhoogenbandfan
04-23-2005, 08:37 AM
There were 15 slams played from 93-96, after the stabbing incident. If what Seles would have won is only "atleast half" according to you, that would mean 8 I assume you mean, which means Graf winning 7, since nobody else would have won any slams with both of them playing. Graf would still have 18, the same number as Evert and Navratilova, or 19 if she won a slam in 99 anyway since she contended at both the French and Wimbledon in 99. Also had Seles played from 93-96 we would be saying Graf had tougher competition than Evert or Navratilova, since as I already mentioned they were not really among their peaks at the same time anyway.

In order for Graf to be a level altogether below Evert and Navratilova Seles would have had to have won three quarters of 93-96 slams to reduce Graf's count to 15 or so. Then again also had Seles been there and Graf less dominanting, she may have been smarter as far as not overplaying feeling the pressure to hold up the tour on her own, and been healthy to continue playing well and contending through 99 and 2000, which she wasnt as it was.

The 93 Australian was the most lopsided win Seles had over Graf in a grand slam, but it is Graf's worst surface by far, worse than clay, and Seles best by far, better than clay. Looking at that one match as the best indicator is if somebody chose the 92 Wimbledon final where Seles was humiliated as the best indicator, but then again that was on grass, which favors Graf the most.

federerhoogenbandfan
04-23-2005, 08:53 AM
Food for thought

I have an Ellsworth Vines book in which he ranks his top ten since Budge. He took this very seriously. Connors and Borg were not considered as they were still achieving strongly. I notice that the majority of raters from this era rated Budge ahead of Kramer and Kramer ahead of Pancho. It is almost carved in stone. Here are his ratings

1. Budge
2. Kramer
3. Pancho
4. Laver
5. Segura
6. Riggs
7. Rosewall
8. Hoad
9. Sedgman
10. Trabert


Segura and Riggs ahead of Rosewall, Hoad, or even Sedgman and Trabert? What was this guy smoking, and yes I am aware Segura was a tough player on the pro circuit, and even gave Gonzales fits from time to time, but still.....Also isnt #4 on that group a little low for Laver.

Richard Parnell
04-23-2005, 10:16 AM
I have read above that Lew Hoad never won a major.I think that you will find that he won Wimbledon in 58 and 59.I believe he also won the doubles.
All the best,
Richard

scoot
04-23-2005, 11:35 AM
The 93 Australian was the most lopsided win Seles had over Graf in a grand slam, but it is Graf's worst surface by far, worse than clay, and Seles best by far, better than clay.

Its a bit much to say rebound ace is Graf's worst surface "by far." She may have not have won as many AOs as wimby's but she still won, what 4? Steffi was amazing on all surfaces; its splitting hairs trying to identify what was her worst surface. When she was playing well she was just as deadly on rebound ace as on clay. Look at how she totally crushed ASV in the '94 final 6-0 6-2. That was one of the most dominating grand slam finals ever. I saw that match, Graf was absolutely on fire - and the surface sure wasn't hurting her there. (she was hitting topspin backhands for winners in that final!) In truth, you wont find a player as effective on all surfaces as Graf was.

At the same rate, it is splitting hairs identifying whether clay or rebound ace was monica's best surface before the stabbing. She was great on both of them (and did win 3 RGs and 3 AOs in a row each).

joesixtoe
04-23-2005, 11:45 AM
you cant really determine who is the best of all time, you can only determine who is the best of their own era. here is why, in every sport you grow up adapting and learning the game the way it is played at the time. say babe ruth plays baseball these days, he wouldnt have been out of shape. so if laver or conners plays now, they would have adapted to the game. same as in vice versa. so you cant really say who is better.

federerhoogenbandfan
04-23-2005, 12:24 PM
I think rebound ace was Graf's worst surface since her slice backhand and slice serve sat up more on the surface. Also she had problems with the heat. She won 4, but she was lucky to win in 1990 when almost nobody of note showed up, Sabatini and Garrison both lost, and Sukova should have beaten her in the semis but choked.

As for Monica I thinks he liked the high bounce, she timed it extremely well, she also seemed to like the atmosphere. Look at how easily she went through her opponents at the 92 and 93 Australian compared to the 92 French. There is no comparision.

scoot
04-23-2005, 12:27 PM
It's still splitting hairs. You find 1 example, I can find another. Monica had just as dominating a FO in '91 as she had an AO in 93. Also, Monica's AO 91 was difficult (ala her RG of 92).

federerhoogenbandfan
04-23-2005, 12:30 PM
Fair enough. I always felt Graf liked even clay obviously more than rebound ace, and Seles rebound ace even more than clay. It is just my opinion though. The only surface either was suspect was Monica on grass, but she did make the final in 92 somehow.

federerhoogenbandfan
04-23-2005, 12:33 PM
Well I remember the 91 French and I was not impressed with the level of tennis. Sabatini struggled the whole tournament, and was lucky to even get to the semis to play Monica(Novotna choked in the quarters). Capriati, Mary Joe Fernandez, and even Steffi Graf, were quite sluggish that tournament, I think Mary Joe and Steffi both lost 6-0 sets to Sanchez Vicario who while great on clay is far too defensive to do something like that unless the tennis is shaky. Seles and Sanchez Vicario were the only top players playing well.

On the other hand the 92 Australian and 93 Australian I recall the level being quite optimum, unlike the lackluster 91 French Open tennis.

scoot
04-23-2005, 12:37 PM
This is all true. My point, is it's splitting hairs b/c each tournament had its own variables (who was playing well, who was sluggish, the draw, etc.). We only saw the beginning of it - the infancy snapshot of seles & we will never know what would have happened. Its a shame b/c as tennis fans we were robbed. Honestly, it was the dramatic Graf-Seles matches that got me hooked on tennis in the first place. (& I was a diehard graf fan up till the stabbing)

federerhoogenbandfan
04-23-2005, 12:40 PM
Well the two most interesting things to me would have been:

1)Whether Graf could have challenged Seles more on hard courts and clay, meaning winning a few of the slams on those surfaces or not.

2)Whether Seles could have mastered grass enough to win a Wimbledon title or two in her career.

Also it would have been interesting to see how, and how long, Seles would have dealt with the new generation from 97 on if Graf still went down with injuries. I think she would have mopped the floor with Hingis. It would have been interesting to see how she would have fared against Venus, Serena, Davenport, perhaps continuing after that.....

Womens tennis was bad for awhile because there was no distinct rivalry.
Sanchez Vicario is not a real rival to Graf IMO, more of a challenger. Davenport and Hingis were not dominant enough to meet in enough big matches when they had their rivalry, and were the two top players for a period. The Williams had too many strange inter issue to be enjoyable. Henin owns Clijsters nowadays, it was a joke of a rivalry when they met in 3 straight slam finals, with only one being close after Henin choked twice during the match. Graf-Seles in the early 90s was the last recognizable rivalry for fans.

scoot
04-23-2005, 12:44 PM
I totally agree about seles wrt hingis. I dont think she would have let her fitness go the way she did if she were not stabbed, & a lean monica would have had her way with hingis (maybe after a match or 2 of getting used to hingis' style & anticipation).

I think Davenport & the Williams would have been a struggle for seles even had she not been stabbed. I think the head to heads would have been closer but she would have lost more than she won to them.

federerhoogenbandfan
04-23-2005, 12:46 PM
Well Davenport didnt move that well, Seles wasnt the best mover neccessarily, but she was still a very good mover. I think that could have played a role. Also Davenport , while mentaly tough to some extent, does not quite have the do-or-die hunger that Seles or the Williams have.

federerhoogenbandfan
04-23-2005, 12:52 PM
By the way did you used to post on CNN/SI message boards?

scoot
04-23-2005, 12:55 PM
yes, did you?

lagranwilly
04-23-2005, 01:07 PM
Without any order:
Pete Sampras,Boris Becker,John Mc Enroe,Bjorn Borg,Jimmy Connors,Guillermo Vilas,Roger Federer,Rod Laver,Andre Agassi,Ivan Lendl

federerhoogenbandfan
04-23-2005, 01:41 PM
Yeah I used to be david-r.

scoot
04-23-2005, 01:47 PM
ah LOL! I used to be scootad. de ja vu!

federerhoogenbandfan
04-23-2005, 01:51 PM
That is what I thought.

TheNatural
04-23-2005, 03:48 PM
I totally agree about seles wrt hingis. I dont think she would have let her fitness go the way she did if she were not stabbed, & a lean monica would have had her way with hingis (maybe after a match or 2 of getting used to hingis' style & anticipation).

I think Davenport & the Williams would have been a struggle for seles even had she not been stabbed. I think the head to heads would have been closer but she would have lost more than she won to them.


Hingis totally dominated Seles throughout her career. Hingis wasn't exactly a fitness freak herself. If both Seles and Hingis had been fitter, I think the same results would have occured.

http://www.monica-seles.com/en/headtohead.asp

..so she had over 20 matches to get used to Hingis's style, and lost most of them.

spirit
04-23-2005, 05:07 PM
The question of the greatest player ist a matter of personal choice. I want to make some notes on behalf of the professional tours in the fifties and sexties. I refer to the book of Joe McCauley: The History of Professional Tennis, who compiled a complete record of the pro tours from the twenties to 1968. ...


Urban has truly given us some good information. We many not all agree with him, but the information is detailed and interesting. I'll have to read the McCauley book.

Coria
04-23-2005, 05:21 PM
To not have Agassi--who has the greatest groundstrokes in the history of the sport is ridiculous. He's won all four majors, 8 overall, has won 60 professional tournaments and won a Gold Medal. Plus, what he has done past age 30. He's better than Lendl, Connors, McEnroe, Rosewall and some others. He's top five of all time in my book.

JohnThomas1
04-23-2005, 05:28 PM
Hoad - 2-time Wimbledon winner (1956-57); won Australian, French and Wimbledon titles in 1956, but missed capturing Grand Slam at Forest Hills when beaten by Ken Rosewall in 4-set final.

Fedfan, Vines played most of those. Take a look at how guys like Kramer, Budge, Pancho etc rated Riggs and Segura. These are the guys that directly played many of these players we are trying to rate and are very well qualified to give an opinion. Segura and Riggs are two of the most underrated players ever.

Northerly
04-23-2005, 06:47 PM
You guys have shown that the *asterix* has so many complications and ifs and buts.

That's why the majority of people who compare the all time greats simply have to go with runs on the board.

Interesting point about Rebound being Graf's worst surface. I believe if it were not for injury/illness Graf would have likely won 6 or 7 Aussie Opens (and maybe another Slam in 95 and 96 when she missed the Aussie Open). I think clay was her worst surface for the record.

federerhoogenbandfan
04-24-2005, 12:56 PM
Fedfan, Vines played most of those. Take a look at how guys like Kramer, Budge, Pancho etc rated Riggs and Segura. These are the guys that directly played many of these players we are trying to rate and are very well qualified to give an opinion. Segura and Riggs are two of the most underrated players ever.

I am sorry but I am not going to base all my opinions on what a few former champions say. If I had proof they all felt that way, I might, but there could just as easily be other champions who disagree with them. Everybody has an opinion, and even the true insiders dont have the same one often. I have seen Riggs and Segura play on tapes against these people, and I am aware of their combined amateur/pro record. I dont see how they can be rated as among the top few players of that time period.

I agree Riggs is underrated, but not because I think he is an all-time great, just that most dont seem to even recognize him as 3-time slam winner caliber, which is about all he is, just as the guy who as an old man lost to Billie Jean Kean in that overhyped cheese-gender fest.

JRoss
04-26-2005, 01:34 PM
Great thread; thanks to all.

I came of age during the late 50’s, so the players of that era will always be special to me. Pancho is my all-time favorite (along with Roger), but Rosewall, Laver and Hoad were all wonderful. Hoad was truly awesome; I’m sure he would have been near the top of all lists if back problems had not effectively cut short his career in his mid-20s.

What makes this discussion particularly fascinating is all the “what ifs”—what if Monica was not stabbed, what if Hoad, Mo Connolly and Tracy Austin had full, healthy careers (Tracy would certainly have cut in to Chris and Martina’s slam totals), what if open tennis had arrived 20 years earlier (Pancho might have the all-time slam record).

It’s also interesting that all of the greats had weaknesses in their resumes—Borg never won the USO, Mac and Pete never won the FO, Lendl never won Wimbledon. Even Laver’s record is a bit suspect. Compared with most of the greats, he was something of a late bloomer. I think it is doubtful that he would have won any of his first 6 slams if they were “open.” In support of this, consider the following account (from a lengthy article making the case that Pancho was the GOAT) of his introduction to the pros (the year after his first Grand Slam, when he was 24-25 and Hoad and Rosewall were about 30):

"Contracted to play Hoad 13 best-of-five set matches, Laver won the first set of the first match, but was unable to win another. It doesn't take a mathematical genius to work out that this meant that Hoad won 39 consecutive sets from Laver. . . . Hoad at that time had virtually retired from the game, was suffering with a chronically bad back, and had had only three weeks to practice before the match. . . . It rather makes nonsense of Laver's first grand slam."

"Dave Anderson adds another brush stroke to the thoroughness of Laver's introduction to the pro tour, talking about how Laver reacted after being trounced by Ken Rosewall in his next match: "Laver was thrashed [by] and rated Hoad as 'the best I've ever played against.' The next day he lost to Rosewall. 'I thought Lew was good, Laver said . . ., 'but Kenny is twice as good as Lew. . . . If I'm going to beat [Rosewall] consistently, I've got to learn how to play tennis all over again.'"

Of course, “what if” all slams were open after 1962? It’s likely that Rod would have won many of them.

Kevin Patrick
04-26-2005, 02:06 PM
Hoad really is an interesting case. If he won that US Open final in '56, I'm sure his name would come up more in these types of discussion. All the "Calendar Grand Slam" winners are still given their due today.

urban
04-26-2005, 02:15 PM
This board is interesting, because all contributors have good knowledge of tennis history. I dont want that records of past players should be diminished, especially in the era of the old pro and amateur circuits, which is often overlooked. I statet before, that Laver was beaten on the introduction as pro in 1963 by Rosewall and Hoad. Indead Laver lost to Hoad the first 8 matches in the beginnig of 1963 and nevertheless ended 1963 as number 2 behind Rosewall. But that was the fate of all great amateur champions, who later became pro champions. Look at Pancho himself who was initially badly beaten by Kramer 96-27 in 1950. I nevertheless rank Pancho above Kramer, who concentrated alone on the one-on-one tours. Hoad by his own account in his autobiography won his first 2 matches as a pro in 1957 and lost the following 16 matches to Trabert, Rosewall, Segura e.o. He made a great effort leading on the championship tour against Gonzales in 1958, because he had 6 month of pro tennis under his belt and they startet in Australia on grass; later they played indoors in US and the tide changed in favor of Gonzales 50-37. I will say, that all former amateurs had to adjust to the different format - one-on-one, indoor play etc.- of the old pro circuit. A propos Laver: He had the all time best season as amateur in 1962 (Grand Slam and 21 titles, 9 clay court titles in Europe alone), as a Kramer pro in 1967 (18 Titels, all significant pro tourneys) and in open competition in 1969 (Grand Slam, 18 titels on clay, hard, indoor and grass). I think that is a pretty good, solid resume without any dubious aspects. And a lot for Federer to emulate.

katarddx
04-26-2005, 02:26 PM
Graf was incomplete - had no backhand. Not nr 1 material.

......Well, this is absolutely unbeliavable!!!!!!!!

fastdunn
04-26-2005, 03:14 PM
OK, Laver was corbon copy of Hoad. And then Sampras reportedly copied
Laver and also studied Hoad. And then whom does Federer mold his game after ?
Is he on his own ? I've heard Sampras was only *one* of his idols...

federerhoogenbandfan
04-26-2005, 03:22 PM
It is interesting to read that Laver ended 63 as the #2 rated pro behind Rosewall, because I read Hoad, and to an extent Gonzales, regularly beat him that year. Was he really the second-best practically or just the #2 on some flawed computer system ala Hingis #1 rank for several years?

Misiti99
04-26-2005, 03:41 PM
here's my list...Just Men because i don't know women enough...but two seperate lists here and i want to stir up some controversey....Top Ten Most Talented Players of all time...and Top 10 Best Clay Courters of all Time..since we're in the French Open season....Here we go:

Most Talented : Best Clay Courters:
1. Roger Federer 1. Gustavo Kuerten
2. Pete Sampras 2. Bjorn Borg
3. Andre Agassi 3. Ivan Lendl
4. Marcelo Rios 4. Mats Wilander
5. Marat Safin 5. Jim Courier
6. Rod Laver 6. Sergi Bruguerra
7. John McEnroe 7. Thomas Muster
8. Gustavo Kuerten 8. Carlos Moya
9. Ivan Lendl 9. Marcelo Rios
10. Rafael Nadal 10. Juan-Carlos Ferrero

Misiti99
04-26-2005, 03:42 PM
Most Talented : Best Clay Courters:
1. Roger Federer 1. Gustavo Kuerten
2. Pete Sampras 2. Bjorn Borg
3. Andre Agassi 3. Ivan Lendl
4. Marcelo Rios 4. Mats Wilander
5. Marat Safin 5. Jim Courier
6. Rod Laver 6. Sergi Bruguerra
7. John McEnroe 7. Thomas Muster
8. Gustavo Kuerten 8. Carlos Moya
9. Ivan Lendl 9. Marcelo Rios
10. Rafael Nadal 10. Juan-Carlos Ferrero

federerhoogenbandfan
04-26-2005, 03:45 PM
What makes Kuerten better on clay than Borg for you, or even Lendl and Wilander for that matter?

JRoss
04-26-2005, 03:52 PM
Urban—
I did not mean to diminish Rod at all. I think your point about the transition from amateur to pros in those days is significant. Pro tennis was cut throat; if you didn’t win often, your career was over; and the best played the best, and nothing but the best, time and time again. I’m sure that made the survivors better players. Imagine if the top half-dozen players today played only each other, and had to retire if they lost too often—it would certainly concentrate Safin’s mind.
I also wonder if the incredible longevity of Gonzales and Rosewall—each excelling into their 40’s—was due to the arrival of open tennis. They played so long in obscurity; then when open tennis finally arrived they had a fresh incentive to continue (not to mention the money).

shacked
04-26-2005, 04:08 PM
Most Talented : Best Clay Courters:
1. Roger Federer 1. Gustavo Kuerten
2. Pete Sampras 2. Bjorn Borg
3. Andre Agassi 3. Ivan Lendl
4. Marcelo Rios 4. Mats Wilander
5. Marat Safin 5. Jim Courier
6. Rod Laver 6. Sergi Bruguerra
7. John McEnroe 7. Thomas Muster
8. Gustavo Kuerten 8. Carlos Moya
9. Ivan Lendl 9. Marcelo Rios
10. Rafael Nadal 10. Juan-Carlos Ferrero

I believe you forgot Vilas!...He's probably still running down balls

gugafanatic
04-26-2005, 04:48 PM
What makes Kuerten better on clay than Borg for you, or even Lendl and Wilander for that matter?

Guga epitomises the great quality of clay-court tennis. The two other guys are before my era soo I wont comment, but to become Trichampion of RG and to win the FO being unseeded deserves uttermost respect. Furthermore Guga's wins at RG came at a time during a plethora of talented clay-courter such as: Berasategui, Mantilla, Muster, Moya, Corretja, Ferrero, Medvedev etc. Furthermore hes languid flowing groundstrokes are probably far superior to look at and effective when compared to Bjorg and Lendl. I remember when he won RG in 97, a tall skinny dude who loved surfing and such a bubbly character always with a smile on hes face. He always stood out from the rest due to hes funky attire and headbands, hes backhand was just soo unique at the time.

Misiti99
04-26-2005, 10:03 PM
3 time champion that guga is ...in a time when there were dozens of spaniards..south americans...and agassi to deal with....what did borg and lendl and wilander have to deal with besides each other...and Mcenroe the serve and vollyer????

JohnThomas1
04-27-2005, 01:12 AM
Obviously you have never heard of Vilas. Noah was ok too, beating both Wilander and Lendl for a title. Clerk, Gomez and plenty more.

federerhoogenbandfan
04-27-2005, 08:22 AM
Borg faced Vilas, Panatta, Nastase, on clay. He by far had tougher competition than Kuerten.

Kuerten's biggest three rivals on clay were Moya, Rios, and Ferrero. His three French Open titles were 97, 2000, 2001. Moya was not even in the top 10 in 2000 and 2001, probably his two worst years, so was only a top player 1 of those 3 years. Rios was not a top player anymore by 2000 and 2001, he was a top tenner alot of 96-99, so again only a top player 1 of those 3 years. Ferrero was not yet a top tenner in 2000, and not even on the tour in 97, so he too was only a top player 1 of those 3 years. Rios, Moya, and Ferrero are not at the level of Borg's top rivals on clay to begin with, or when Lendl, Wilander, and a couple others faced off against each other either.

Muster and Bruguera were both far below their level of 91-96 from 97 onwards on clay. Brugera took advantage of a very weak draw to make the final in 97, in one of the worst quality French Opens in history.

There is no comparision between Borg and Kuerten on clay, Borg is far superior IMO. Wilander and Lendl are also a cut above, they also have 3 titles but a far better overall record, and definitely faced tougher top opposition than Kuerten did.

35ft6
04-27-2005, 09:15 AM
There is no comparision between Borg and Kuerten on clay, Borg is far superior IMO. Wilander and Lendl are also a cut above, they also have 3 titles but a far better overall record, and definitely faced tougher top opposition than Kuerten did. I disagree with this. One might be able to say this about grass, that the competition was tougher 25 years ago, if for no other reason than that there were more grass court tournaments then therefor more players who honed and possessed the skills needed on grass, but as far as the clay court game goes, I think today's field is way tougher.

Clay is a very very physical game. Today's players are taller, stronger, quicker, and their shots consistently have way more sting. Back in the day, Lendl was always cited as the state of art player in terms of physical conditioning, but now half the top 100 equals or surpasses him.

I have a match on VHS of Lendl playing Mecir in the French Open semis, and there's just no comparison. Today's clay court game destroys the clay court game of the late 70's and early 80's.

Yeah, at their best I might put my money on Kuertan over Borg or Lendl. But aside from that, I'm not sure if he should be considered to be as great as above poster does.

Kevin Patrick
04-27-2005, 09:49 AM
35ft6,
anyway I can get a copy of that Lendl-Mecir match? willing to pay/trade. I have a large collection of matches from the 80s to today.

federerhoogenbandfan
04-27-2005, 12:33 PM
Of course tennis from the 70s and 80s does not look as good. They were playing with less technology, lesser resources, less coaching developments, etc....
Swimmers and track stars in the 70s and 80s are all much slower than today's journeyman and journeywomen who dont even make finals, it doesnt mean they are lesser obviously. I am talking about how they were in their own times, and Borg, Lendl, and Wilander were all greater in their own times on clay than Kuerten. Kuerten
born 25 years earlier would not have done well against Borg.

35ft6
04-27-2005, 08:17 PM
I am talking about how they were in their own times, and Borg, Lendl, and Wilander were all greater in their own times on clay than Kuerten. By this standard, yeah, Borg and Lendl are greater, but not so sure about Wilander. They both won 3 Frenchies, so I give the slight edge of greatness to Guga, who had to dispose of a much more dangerous field in order to hold the winner's trophy.Kuerten born 25 years earlier would not have done well against Borg. This is what makes these types of comparisons both fun and frustrating. On one hand, you're talking about judging them solely on the basis of how great they were in their time, and I 66% agreed with you on those terms, but then you end it by saying that 25 years earlier Kuerten couldn't hang with Borg. So you're trying to have it both ways. How would Borg do if he had to go 25 years into the future into Guga's time?

If we're talking about displacing one or the other from their respective eras, I'll take Guga over Borg.

drakulie
04-28-2005, 05:17 AM
1. Mcenroe
2. Laver
3. Borg
4. Sampras
5. Agassi
6. Connors
7. Lendl
8. Rosewall
9. Tilden
10. Navratilova

Rickson
04-28-2005, 06:19 AM
Federer is the best player ever and he'd beat any of the top 10, from anyone's list.

AndrewD
04-28-2005, 06:31 AM
I think something we haven't mentioned so far is the amount of influence a great player in one generation has one the players that follow him.

If it hadn't been for Borg, no Guga, Wilander, etc, etc
If it hadn't been for Lendl no power baseliners (list to long to mention)
If it hadn't been for Kramer, no Hoad, Laver, Gonzalez, Newcombe, McEnroe
If it hadn't been for Laver and McEnroe, no Sampras
If it hadn't been for Vilas, no Guga or South American explosion
If it hadn't been for Tilden, no Kramer
etc,
etc.

The greatest, of all time or on one particular surface, is always in some way a copy of a past 'great'. So when we do finally arrive at this mythical player, the 'best of all time', he won't just be some freak occurance. He will be an amalgam, of sorts, formed by everything that has come before him.

spirit
04-28-2005, 11:53 AM
...I refer to the book of Joe McCauley: The History of Professional Tennis, who compiled a complete record of the pro tours from the twenties to 1968.
...

I'm tried to find a copy of this book but got no hits on Borders/Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Do I have the title and author correct? Anybody know where I can find a copy?

federerhoogenbandfan
04-28-2005, 12:02 PM
By this standard, yeah, Borg and Lendl are greater, but not so sure about Wilander. They both won 3 Frenchies, so I give the slight edge of greatness to Guga, who had to dispose of a much more dangerous field in order to hold the winner's trophy. This is what makes these types of comparisons both fun and frustrating. On one hand, you're talking about judging them solely on the basis of how great they were in their time, and I 66% agreed with you on those terms, but then you end it by saying that 25 years earlier Kuerten couldn't hang with Borg. So you're trying to have it both ways. How would Borg do if he had to go 25 years into the future into Guga's time?

If we're talking about displacing one or the other from their respective eras, I'll take Guga over Borg.

No I am not wanting it both ways. If I felt Kuerten would have taken Borg I would still put Borg ahead, based on his dominance in his time. That sort of thing comes into my factoring more strongly, as the dominance and accomplishment gets closer(Borg only slightly more dominant than Sampras at Wimbledon, but Pete would have had him for lunch in their primes together so I would put Pete above on grass).

I dont think putting Kuerten back 25 years, or Borg ahead 25, would make a difference. Borg I would favor highly either way, way too consistent, too strong defensively, too tough mentaly. Kuerten has faced nothing like a Borg or Wilander on clay, or even Lendl, players who didnt have the most power(Lendl had more power than the other two though), but who could keep points going over 30 shots regularly, and were so hard to hit winners past, and who made very few errors in point construction, and had such an animalistic hunger to win.

scoot
04-28-2005, 12:07 PM
I disagree. I dont believe Borg ever had to face anyone who hit the cover off the ball with quite the sting that Guga did when he came on the scene winning RG in '97. There is no defending that kind of raw aggression even on clay.

federerhoogenbandfan
04-28-2005, 12:35 PM
Nobody was hitting the ball as hard as todays players in the late 70s and early 80s because it was almost impossable, they were playing with wooden raquets. Kuerten and company would not have been able to hit groundstrokes that hard had they played back then. If you look at tapes Evert and Austin didnt hit the ball nearly as hard on clay as todays top clay court women, would they have been outclassed on clay by the current group of women though?

scoot
04-28-2005, 12:47 PM
Thats true. I agree that give guga a wooden racquet and ask him to play Borg in the late 70s on clay and I'd give Borg the edge.

However, give Borg a current racket (e.g. graphite) in his 20s and ask him to play 1997 Guga on clay and I'd give Guga the edge.

federerhoogenbandfan
04-28-2005, 12:50 PM
Maybe so. Even with the modern raquets Kuerten would be a superior power hitter to Borg probably, and that is a more prominent part of the modern game than the former, not to so it was ever irrelevant then, or it is the entirety of the game now; just it is far more of a principal factor today with the new raquets.

urban
04-28-2005, 12:51 PM
The book of Joe McCauley, The History of Professional Tennis (with forewords by Tony Trabert and Bud Collins), Windsor 2000, you can get it on the webside of 'thetennisgallery.co.uk' in London, Wimbledon. Another good statistical book about the pre-open-era and early open era, which are not or partly false representated on the webside of ATP and in most other books is : Michel Sutter: Vanqueurs-Winners 1946-1991(with foreword by Arthur Ashe), Paris 1991. He compiled the records of pre-open tournaments on the basis of the famous french journal 'L'Equipe'. His Ranking of first ten (purely on numbers): 1. Laver 142 titels, 2. J. Drobny 133, 3. Connors 111, 4. Rosewall 107, 5. Emerson 106, 6. Lendl 99, 7. McEnroe 80, 8. Nastase 78, 9. Patty 76, 10. Gonzales 74. As I said its purely on numbers, but it gives credit to the often forgotten greats form that era.

spirit
04-28-2005, 01:18 PM
The book of Joe McCauley, The History of Professional Tennis (with forewords by Tony Trabert and Bud Collins), Windsor 2000, you can get it on the webside of 'thetennisgallery.co.uk' in London, Wimbledon. Another good statistical book about the pre-open-era and early open era, which are not or partly false representated on the webside of ATP and in most other books is : Michel Sutter: Vanqueurs-Winners 1946-1991(with foreword by Arthur Ashe), Paris 1991. He compiled the records of pre-open tournaments on the basis of the famous french journal 'L'Equipe'. His Ranking of first ten (purely on numbers): 1. Laver 142 titels, 2. J. Drobny 133, 3. Connors 111, 4. Rosewall 107, 5. Emerson 106, 6. Lendl 99, 7. McEnroe 80, 8. Nastase 78, 9. Patty 76, 10. Gonzales 74. As I said its purely on numbers, but it gives credit to the often forgotten greats form that era.

Thanks Urban. I found the book at that site and have ordered a copy.

rlbjr
04-28-2005, 05:39 PM
1-Sampras Even Laver agrees with this. 6yrs #1, 14 GS.
2-Borg Fr/Wim back to back 5yrs? never happen again, versatile, quit yng
3-Laver No explanation necessary
4-Connors Career titles, GS, match wins, longevity
5-McEnroe
6-Rosewall
7-Lendl Ahead of AA, 8 cons US Finals, 8 slams, more yrs #1 more wins
8-Agassi Career Slam, but to inconsistent through the career
9-Gonzales Pure offense, intimidation. Longevity
10-Emerson 12 slams are 12 slams no matter what. Only one other did it.

That's my list. Budge, Perry, Hoadall get Honorable mention. There was a guy named Joe Hunt, won Forrest Hills in 1943 over Kramer, Killed in the military in 1945, that both Budge and Kramer say was the best player of his era. Killed young so we can't know, but may well have been on this list.

Women

Steffi
Martina
Chrissie
Court
King
Seles
Little Mo
Suzanne Lenglen
Althea Gibson
There was one american woman in Lenglen's era who's name escapes me, but deserves inclusion.

The Williams sisters and Federer just haven't earned all time status yet. Probably when they are done, but not yet.

spirit
04-28-2005, 06:17 PM
1-Sampras Even Laver agrees with this. 6yrs #1, 14 GS.
2-Borg Fr/Wim back to back 5yrs? never happen again, versatile, quit yng
3-Laver No explanation necessary
4-Connors Career titles, GS, match wins, longevity
5-McEnroe
6-Rosewall
7-Lendl Ahead of AA, 8 cons US Finals, 8 slams, more yrs #1 more wins
8-Agassi Career Slam, but to inconsistent through the career
9-Gonzales Pure offense, intimidation. Longevity
10-Emerson 12 slams are 12 slams no matter what. Only one other did it.

That's my list. Budge, Perry, Hoadall get Honorable mention. There was a guy named Joe Hunt, won Forrest Hills in 1943 over Kramer, Killed in the military in 1945, that both Budge and Kramer say was the best player of his era. Killed young so we can't know, but may well have been on this list.

Women

Steffi
Martina
Chrissie
Court
King
Seles
Little Mo
Suzanne Lenglen
Althea Gibson
There was one american woman in Lenglen's era who's name escapes me, but deserves inclusion.

The Williams sisters and Federer just haven't earned all time status yet. Probably when they are done, but not yet.

Nice lists. I can see some good thought went into this. I'm surprised that you are putting Gonzalez so low. He makes the top 5 on most lists I've seen. Is the trait "pure offense" one that helps him make the list or one that puts him down to 9th? I think that the fact that he was closed to the slams during his prime is just a tragedy for the history of tennis. We will never know exactly just how good he really was. But I've never seen anyone who knows anything about tennis and its history who doubts that he truly was one of the greats of all time, just as you do, since he is on your list.

federerhoogenbandfan
04-29-2005, 09:24 AM
Personaly I have a hard time putting Conners higher than possably the low end of the top 10(I actually didnt even put him in my top ten)since he had such a long streak of winning scant few slams in the midst of his prime. If he were able to win both Wimbledon and the U.S open in 82, over McEnroe and Lendl, when he is a player that went years like 75 and 77 winning no majors, his prime obviously was still active in 82, so atleast from 74-82 was his prime. He won no slams between the 78 U.S open and 82 Wimbledon, a long drought for an all-timer. Also he won only 2 slams between his 74 3-slam year and his 82 Wimbledon title, again a scant collection in such a long span for an all-timer.

Agassi has somewhat of a similar problem to me, going the 95 Australian until the 99 French Open without winning a slam, and from the 92 Wimbledon to 99 French only 2 slams. He did have a major slump during some of these periods though, some would say that is a knock against him, but I think it is telling Conners was near the very top so long either without winning any slams, or winning such a pety amount.

rlbjr
04-29-2005, 10:17 AM
I have Gonzales on the list because of his longevity and because I think his game would hold up in todays game were he born in 1980. I have him lower on the list because he played so long ago and because he really didn't accomplish anything unusual or great in the game. Just a truly terrific player.

The other older players on my list each accomplished feats or, in the case of Rosewall overcame shortcommings.

Agassi is there because he is showing longevity and because of his career slam, something only five players in history have done. I also think his slam total would be above ten had his career not coincided with Sampras.

rlbjr
04-29-2005, 10:24 AM
Unless you were around and playing in the mid seventies, it is hard to understand just how big an impact Connors had on tennis. He was the "Brash Basher From Belleville". The first true power baseliner. He demolished the old guard with ground power. He won the US Open on grass, Clay and Hard. He should/would have won the Grand Slam one year but was banned from the French because of World Team Tennis. He and Chris Evert are the reason the two handed backhand is now universal. He won more singles titles than anyone ever has, something like 117. Later in his career he was able to transform his game into a net charging, shorten the point style to lengthen his career. Had he won the Slam or won a few more majors we would be looking seriously at him as best of all time. He deserves to be high on the list.

Camilio Pascual
04-29-2005, 10:29 AM
I have Gonzales on the list because of his longevity and because I think his game would hold up in todays game were he born in 1980.

Even though Pancho is my all time favourite male player, I think his S&V style game would translate poorly to the modern game.
I like your women's list, especially with Little Mo on it. She had a huge ground game, the Chris Evert of her times.

UpTheT
04-29-2005, 11:41 AM
Even though Pancho is my all time favourite male player, I think his S&V style game would translate poorly to the modern game.
I like your women's list, especially with Little Mo on it. She had a huge ground game, the Chris Evert of her times.


If Edberg were playing today-- His serve and volley game would dominate the tour.
Perfect example is Todd Martin Tim Henman-- The were/are able to produce with a serve and volley game and they both are light years behind Edberg.

Camilio Pascual
04-29-2005, 11:51 AM
If Edberg were playing today-- His serve and volley game would dominate the tour.

I doubt that because he was at #1 only 72 weeks when S&V was a much more successful style and he did not dominate the tour then.
The demise of S&V is why Andre is still playing and Pete isn't.

UpTheT
04-29-2005, 12:06 PM
I doubt that because he was at #1 only 72 weeks when S&V was a much more successful style and he did not dominate the tour then.
The demise of S&V is why Andre is still playing and Pete isn't.

Todays Tour and Andre are two different things. Pete is not on tour because Pete is not as pure an athelete as Andre-- not to mention Pete's lack of desire to compete toward the end.

I think Edberg was better at the serve and volley game than Petes-- Pete had a better serve obviously but the best overall serve and volley tech would be Edberg.

federerhoogenbandfan
04-30-2005, 06:52 AM
Unless you were around and playing in the mid seventies, it is hard to understand just how big an impact Connors had on tennis. He was the "Brash Basher From Belleville". The first true power baseliner. He demolished the old guard with ground power.

You are right he dominated the very old gaurd in his greatest year ever, as in 39 year old Ken Rosewall to win 2 of his 3 slams, the very very old gaurd. People say I overrated Graf dominating an old Navratilova and Evert, LOL!

JohnThomas1
05-02-2005, 04:48 AM
Camilio Pascual - "The demise of S&V is why Andre is still playing and Pete isn't."


Pete won his last tournament, that being the US Open so he wasn't exactly forced out of tennis due to his game not being competitive anymore :)

JRoss
05-02-2005, 04:25 PM
Camillo:
I don't know Pancho's record on clay, but he was a semi-finalist at the French at age 40. It wasn't the tournament it is today, but like Henman, Rafter and Edberg, he could play on anything.

sandy mayer
05-16-2005, 05:36 PM
It's always interesting to see where Connors/McEnroe/Lendl stand with fans when discussions like these start. They played around the same time, were close in age, but Lendl always seems a little slighted compared to other 2. He didn't have the personality of Connors or the genius of McEnroe. But to me, his accomplishments outweighed the other 2(even though I wasn't a fan of him when he played)
He remained more of a threat to win majors longer than the other 2. He made more GS finals & semifinals than anyone in the open era.

One the most impressive stats to me was his 8 straight US Open finals from '82 to '89. The game changed more in that decade than at any other time. In '82 there was wood & touch players. In '89 there was graphite & power players. Lendl was one of the best throughout all the changes.

Sampras made 8 US Open finals from '90 to '02, but the game didn't as drastically change in that time as it did from '80 to '90.

Interesting. I think in the wooden racket era Connors and McEnroe both reached greater levels than Lendl, but the graphite era would have certainly given peak Lendl the edge over peak Connors because of Lendl's far greater firepower on the serve. There was actually an 8 year age gap between them which I think was a big factor in why their rivalry became so one-sided in favour of Lendl from 1985 onwards. McEnroe was similar in age and largely due to ill-discipline got overtaken by Lendl from 1985 onwards, but I think his 1984 form with graphite actually surpassed in performance the heights Lendl reached in 1985-1987. Lendl was a great underrated champion, one of the greats of the open era. He could play on all surfaces. It's a myth he couldn't play on grass. And he's one of the few open era champions to dominate for 3 years or more (along with Connors, Borg, McEnroe and Sampras). I would in the end prefer the careers of Connors and McEnroe because they won Wimbledon and Lendl didn't and also won more US Opens than him. In my view Wimbledon is the greatest tournament to win, followed by the US Open and then the French. Lendl is well behind Connors and McEnroe in the biggest 2, though in terms of overall achievement and dominance there's very little to choose.

spirit
08-29-2005, 07:15 AM
Finally recieved my copy of McCAuley's book (was out of stock for a while) and have finished reading it. Not all that readable, writing style leaves something to be desired, and is mostly a recitation of tennis match scores year my year, but fascinating none the less.

After finishing the book, to me Gonzalez still stands as a contender for GOAT, but so does Laver. As far as Kramer having a winning record over Gonzalez (mentioned somewhere in this thread), Gonzalez was only 20 at the time, and they were nine years apart in age, but Kramer did win their only pro tour series of matches in 1949, 96-29. But Gonzalez was a rookie to the pro tour that year, and just about any rookie to the pro tour was badly beaten at first. Kramer was never dominant on the pro tour after that, and Gonzalez went on to win a record 8 US pro singles championships.

And this from the International Tennis Hall of Fame site:

By the time Rosewall and Laver were reaching their zeniths during the mid- and late-1960's, the aging Gonzalez hung on as a dangerous foe, still capable of defeating all. In 1964, his last serious bid for his ninth U.S. Pro title, he lost final to Laver in four hard sets. Yet there was much more glory ahead. In 1968, at 40, he beat second-seeded Tony Roche (Wimbledon finalist) to reach the quarters of the initial U.S. Open. A year later, this grandfather (literally) electrified Wimbledon by overcoming Charlie Pasarel in the tournament's longest match, 112 games, a first-rounder that consumed 5 hours, 12 minutes, a major tourney record that stood until 1992, eclipsed by 14 minutes by Michael Chang and Stefan Edberg at the U.S. Open.

The marathon with Pasarell began one afternoon and concluded on the next after darkness intervened. In winning, 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9, Gonzalez saved seven match points in the fifth set.

Later that year, he [Gonzalez] beat John Newcombe, Rosewall, Stan Smith and Arthur Ashe, 6-0, 6-2, 6-4, in succession to win $12,500, second-highest prize of the year, and the title at a rich tournament at Las Vegas. Early in 1970, in the opener of a series of $10,000 winner-take-all challenge matches leading to a grand final, he toppled Laver. The Aussie, just off his second Grand Slam year (and the eventual winner of this tournament), was clearly No. 1 in the world, but Pancho warmed a crowd of 14,761 at New York's Madison Square Garden with a 7-5, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory.

Now can anyone tell me what the dispute was between Kramer and Gonzalez towards the end of Gonzalez's pro career? Was it strictly money?

urban
08-29-2005, 09:08 AM
Spirit, I had recommended McCauley's book, because it's - together with a French book by Michel Sutter - the only book, which gives solid statistical records of the pre open pro era. You don't find it in the ATP webside or elsewhere. I may not be the best prose, but it's interesting nevertheless. On 'Tennis Server' Ray Bowers does a nice series on the pro game before WWII. It's interesting, that in 1937-38 Ellsworth Vines had the better of Fred Perry at least on US indoor courts. Maybe Vines today is the most underrated player of this era. Gonzales was certainly one of the best all time, especially on fast indoor and grass courts. If i read the book right, Kramer after beating Gonzales in 1950, played few tournaments and concentrated on his head-to-head-series vs. Segura in 1951 and Sedgman 1953. While he was 'official' world champion, the true master in 1952 may have been Segura, who beat Gonzales for the US pro title. Gonzales 'officially' took over the mantle of pro king in 1954.His feud with Kramer developed in that time, and escalated later, when Kramer brought up and subsided contenders like Trabert and Hoad. They got by far the greater percentage of the prize money. On the other hand, Gonzales obviously was a loner, who tried to intimidate people and was not well liked by his peers.