4 Most Important Tournaments Each Year

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by noeledmonds, May 28, 2007.

  1. noeledmonds

    noeledmonds Professional

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    There are currently 4 tournaments (the 4 grand slam events) that are considered more significant than any other events. However it is well known that this has not always been the case. Before the Australian Open’s move to Melbourne (and conversion to rebound-ace) in 1988 it was considered a 2nd tier event. Before the open-era (pre-1968 ) it becomes far more complicated as amateurs and professionals competed in different events. This situation is made worse by the fact that many professionals competed in pro tour events more than in tournament events. The information on pro tour events is also incomplete. However it should be possible to complete a list of the 4 most important tournaments for each year back to at least the beginning of the open-era and possibly beyond. If we bear in mind that top amateurs who turned professional normally struggled at the start of their professional career it seems fairest to take the top 4 professional events as most important events of the year.

    Although this is by no means a perfect comparison of achievements, once the top 4 events of each year have been established it should be easier to compare achievements across the years for different players.

    I do not pretend to have the knowledge to compile such a list of tournaments myself, but with the help from the vast knowledge on this board it should be possible to put forward a reasonably accurate list. I have filled in the more obvious choices and attempted the rest. Any help would be much appreciated.

    1988-2007: Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open
    1975-1987: French Open, Wimbledon, U.S Open, Wembley Championship
    1972-1975: French Open, Wimbledon, U.S Open, U.S Pro Tennis Championship
    1968-1971: French Open, Wimbledon, U.S Open, Wembley Championship
    Pre 1968: U.S Pro, Wembley Pro, French Pro Championship, Wimbledon Pro
     
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  2. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    urban made some posts about this in this thread:

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=117660&page=2

    here are some comments:

    you can see the draws for some of these events at www.itftennis.com
     
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  3. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Here were the winners of those events:

    1968
    RG-Rosewall
    Wimbledon-Laver
    US-Ashe
    LA Open-Laver
    1970
    Sydney-Laver
    Wimbledon-Newcombe
    US-Rosewall
    LA Open-Laver
    1971
    Australian Open-Rosewall
    Italian Open-Laver
    Wimbledon-Newcombe
    US-Smith

    in this thread SgtJohn counts some of these events as masters series type events, which at the very least they were:

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=118045

    there is so much in laver's resume that is amazing, not just the calendar slam. he beat the best on the biggest stages so many times, even well past his prime.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2007
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  4. LttlElvis

    LttlElvis Professional

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    Noeledmonds,

    That's a pretty interesting list. Before 1988, it was really hard to name what was the 4th most important tournament.

    One tournament I always thought big was the WCT Finals in Dallas during the 70s and early 80s. I guess this shouldn't be included because it wasn't a 128 man tourney, but it was a huge tennis event. I actually liked it more than the season ending Masters Finals in Madison Square Garden.

    I think the Italian Open could possibly have some consideration for a top 4 in the late 70s and early 80s.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2007
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  5. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    Honestly, I had forgotten that there ever was a Wembley Championships. Even though I watched and followed tennis during 1983 to 1987, I could not tell you who won those events. But I can name for you who won the Australian during that same time period. Same thing with the women and the comparison of the importance of the Family Circle Cup and the French Open. I know that the FCC got better draws as a clay court event than the French during the late 70's, but I could not tell you the winners of exact years, whereas I can with the French winners. Even though I did watch both tournaments on television during that time.

    Various top players skipped the French and Australian, sometimes for legitimate reasons like a need for a break from the tour or the political struggle between King's World Team Tennis and the European spring clay events. And I don't blame anyone for looking to put any of these events into their proper context during those times. But, to me, the grand slam is and always has been the same grand slam.

    I suppose I tend to give more credit to those who supported all 4 during the lean years than most. When I hear someone like McEnroe (or Evert with the French, etc.) talk about having missed so many opportunities to add to his grand slam resume because he skipped so many Australians, I don't really have a lot of sympathy. Sometimes the top players lacked some foresight when deciding which tournaments to back. Their decisions may have been the right choices at the time. But they all knew which ones were the biggest ones in historical terms.
     
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  6. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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    In much of the 80s the Masters, Dallas WCT and the Key Biscane tournaments were bigger than the Australian and certainly Wembley.
     
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  7. SgtJohn

    SgtJohn Rookie

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    Hi everyone!
    The idea of the "True Slams" is one that has been interesting me for a while. I'm currently working on a big file for the whole 1877-2007 period listing the 4 true slams and the 9 "Super 9" events for all year. The work is not finished (takes a lot of time), but here are some "preview" results for the "true slams":

    1983-2007: AO, RG, Wimbledon, US Open (IMO the AO was a big one from 1983, when the top3 (Lendl, Mac, Mats) was there for the first time since 1971. It seems hard to dismiss Wimlander's and Edberg's doubles as they were perceived as big victories at the time)

    (except 1986 (no AO): Wimbledon, US open, RG, Boca West (with its 128-draw and best-of-5 matches))

    1975, 1977-1982: RG, Wim, USO+Masters

    1974, 1976,:RG, Wim, USO+Philadelphia (128-draw, very good field)

    1973: RG, USO, Rome (128-draw, excellent field), Masters
    (year of the Wimbledon boycott)

    1972:Wim, USO, Dallas WCT Finals, PSW Los Angeles

    1971:Wim, USO, Rome (128-draw), Australian Open (one of the rare good fields there)

    1970:Wim, USO, PSW Los Angeles, Philadelphia

    1969: AO, RG, Wim, USO

    1968: RG, Wim, USO, PSW Los Angeles

    Pro Era, 1946-1967: noeledmonds is right about the big three, Wembley, US Pro, French Pro, but there was only one Wimbledon pro in 1967. Before, you have to give the nod each year to a fourth tournament, but there was no tradition so which tournament it is changes quite often. I can give you my list if some of you are interested.

    Pre-war Era, 1925-1945:
    RG, Wim, US Champ's, Davis Cup (it's not a "classic" format, but it was too significant at the time to be 'forgotten' in any "true slams" list.)

    Before: Many changes throughout the years
    Wimbledon and the US Champs were always majors when they existed, Davis Cup too.
    Other majors include the Irish Champ's (before WW1), the British Covered Tournament or the Prince's Championships. Again, I could provide details, if people are interested in tennis "archaeology".

    With these majors, here is a list of title leaders, as of today (II might change my mind on some details...):

    Gonzales: 26
    Rosewall: 23
    Laver: 22
    L Doherty: 19
    Tilden: 18
    Sampras: 14
    Borg, Perry, Budge: 13
    Lendl: 11
    Federer:10

    As you see, Laver is third, but if you consider "second-echelon" , or "Super 9" event, he won an astounding number, between 40 and 45!

    Sorry I have no more time to elaborate, but if you think of any remark, don't hesitate, this could be useful to me!

    Jonathan
     
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  8. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

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    VERY impressive work, Jonathan... I'm anxious to see the final results!

    I'm most interested in your stats for the pre-WWI period. I have a few books from that era but none are very reference-oriented - mostly just the early history of the sport and bios of the first stars, but with very few tournament results outside of Wimbledon. Mind if I ask your sources? I know many consider Doherty the finest of the pre-WWI players, but I'm surprised to see he amassed so many more important titles than any of his near contemporaries. Where might Brookes and Wilding fall on your list, for example?

    EDIT: One more quick question while I think of it. If you're willing to include Davis Cup in the totals, shouldn't you also incorporate the head-to-head tours among the pros? At least in the early part of the "pro era," these tours seemed to be more important than any of the actual pro tournaments - indeed, their results were far more widely known. Kramer may not have won anywhere near as many significant titles as Gonzales, but he did dominate the series format for a while... and while I think the series format had some obvious flaws (almost always favoring the reigning champ over the new contender), it was still the heart of pro tennis for many years.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2007
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  9. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Interesting project, Sgt John, and quite ambitious. In the 1946-67 pro era, its not easy tho chose a fourth important pro tournament. Even the 3 so called pro majors were not always that significant. As Chaog said, one could include in some way the pro head to head tours. And i found it always difficult, to completely ignore the amateur circuit. All the great players of that era had distinctive amateur and pro careers. And the exploits of Kramer, Sedgman, Trabert, Hoad or Laver (even of the often very underrated Emerson) on the amateur circuit deserve some recognition. I was considering, to rank the respective amateur Wimbledon under the four major tournaments of each year, to do the amateurs some right. I know its problematic, because some rank the pros categorically over all amateurs of the era, but in some years like 1952 or 56, that is imo debatable.
     
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  10. noeledmonds

    noeledmonds Professional

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    Thanks a lot Moose, Jonathan, Urban and others for your contributions.

    Jonathan, are your 4 "true slams" based on the depth of field or the prestige of the tournament? Your efforts are clearly a considerable improvement from my slap dash effort; but I feel without this subtler distinction there will still be ambiguity. For example in 1977 Vilas won the French Open over a relatively weak field (with the likes of Borg, Connors and Orantes absent). However the event was still viewed as a very prestigious event despite the depleted field. Also is the reason that the Australian Open appears amongst the top 4 in 1969 and 1971 due to the fact that the Australians had much domination on the world scene back then and they all played their biggest national event?
     
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  11. Serve 'em hard

    Serve 'em hard Banned

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    What's with this obscure "Wembley" jazz?
     
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  12. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Well, just by looking at the draws, they had great fields those years, esp in comparison to '70,'72 etc.

    In 1970 there was some dispute that prevented the top ranked Aussies from playing the Australian Open. Laver wasn't allowed to defend his title. That's another "what-if" with Laver, even after the open era began he was banned from several majors due to disputes between various tours.

    SgtJohn's work shows how many big non-slam titles he won in the open era.
     
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  13. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    do you have the list of winners of all these events(or at least some) during this time? or do you know where I can find them? thanks!
     
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  14. noeledmonds

    noeledmonds Professional

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    Last edited: May 29, 2007
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  15. SgtJohn

    SgtJohn Rookie

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    Hi chaognosis, thank you for your comment!

    The question about pro tours that you evoke is one that give me nightmares...Many years, there was a clear-cut "tour champions" who didn't play any tournament and a "tournament champion" (cf Vines-Perry in 1937, Segura-Kramer in the early 50s, etc) so it's very hard to decide between them. After much thought, I decided to use the tour results as a way to rank players (I try to put together a top 5 for each year), but not to count them as "true slams". Players in tour were the most popular, or the ones who were friends with the promoter, not at all the best ones (for example Gonzales in 1953 didn't play the big tour with Kramer though he was at least number 2, and probably even number 1, but we won't ever know because they didn't play each other that year). What I mean is the pro tours were the contrary of what I see as a sport event: more of a commercial event. I don't dismiss them as a way to compare some players, but I don't consider them prestigious events.
    The Davis Cup is different, even though it's also mainly head-to-head.Every country has a chance to compete, and usually the 2 best players in the country end up playing the singles. Then it's a much more "fair" event in my opinion, which gives a good chance to a large set of players to compete.
    I'm conscious of the subjective aspect of my method, there is for sure personal feeling involved, that's why there won't ever be any 'definitive ' list in tennis history...


    About the pre-WW1 era, L. Doherty is clearly the dominant player. The 1880's were dominated by W Renshaw, but he played very few events, focusing on Wimbledon. The 1890s were not dominated by anyone, there was a group of very good players (Pim, Baddeley, Eaves, Mahony). The 1900s were the Dohertys' time.
    Wildng was the best player in the 1910s. Following my count, he won 9 'slams'. Not more, because there were other excellent tennismen: Arthur Gore, Brookes, McLoughlin, James Parke, who were able to beat him. What's impressive with Wilding is the numbers of tournament he swept every year: he won an incredible career total of 92 tournaments! This makes him by far the biggest achiever in this domain for the pre-WW1 era.

    My source about pre-WW1 tennis is this page, the data were compiled by elegos7, so I publicly thank him for the hard work, as he patiently compiled this from the Times Digital Archive. There are even Ladies' Tennis results:

    http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=7083116&postcount=327
    http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=7083116&postcount=328
    http://www.wtaworld.com/showpost.php?p=7083116&postcount=329

    He later sent me an xls file, but it includes grossly the same data, with just more details for some years...

    I hope it helps!
    Jonathan


    EDIT: The links don't seem to work too well, here's an alternative address:

    http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=90372&page=22

    The interesting posts are around the middle of the page.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2007
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  16. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    noeledmonds, thanks for the links

    can you post the list of the 4th event of those years? also I've counted 12 wins for Gonzales from the Wembley, US Pro, what were the other 14 'major' events he won in your opinion?
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2007
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  17. SgtJohn

    SgtJohn Rookie

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    I agree, on the whole. As I said, my method is to select big tournaments for a year, and rank players for this year. Clearly in 1952 Sedgman will be in the top 5, I'd say number 3 after Gonzales and Segura. In 1956, Hoad would be in the top 5 too. Probably Trabert in 1955 or Newcombe in 1967 too. Then the exploits of the great amateurs are not ignored. Still, it's hard to rank the amateur tournaments above the pros because for this we have to judge, not the winner of the event, but the overall field, and I think that most of the top-tenners, probably between 8 and 10 at any time between 1946 and 1968 , were pros. Then I would always rank Wembley et al. above the amateur slams....
     
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  18. SgtJohn

    SgtJohn Rookie

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    Hi noeledmonds,

    I think you found my weakness ;-)
    This 'prestige vs field' thing will never be resolved and my way is too try and have a fair mix of the two, but of course, I repeat it, my lists cannot be objective and never will be, for this reason. For the pre-Open era, I have very few information about the fields of the tournaments, al lI have is lists of winners and runner-ups, so it's mainly a problem for the Open Era.
    Usually, Roland Garros featured very good players from 1973 on, with the exception of Connors, and Borg missed the 1977 RG only, then I consider there is a tradition in the mid 70s that the French is a 'big one', so I won't dismiss a single year because the field was a little weak, otherwise, I could as well dismiss some US Open in the 90s because Sampras was injured, and so on...Plus, there isn't such a big tournament featuring Borg, Connors and Vilas in 1977, except Wimbledon and the Masters, but these are already in my slam list, so the question is: if the French's field was too weak, what would replace it in the list?
    Plus, I tend to give the nod to big fields.This was not much the case in the past (there were plenty of 4-man tournaments), but in the Open Era, the big fields were always very prestigious. That's why Philly 74&76, Rome 71&73 became Slams in my list, as they were 128-fields...

    Jonathan
     
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  19. SgtJohn

    SgtJohn Rookie

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    Noeledmonds provided the links with the Wembley, French Pro and US Pro results.
    Here are some big events I use as fourth pro event:

    US Pro Indoors:
    50: Gonzales
    51 Kramer
    52 Gonzales
    53 Kramer

    Berlin World Pro Championship
    52 Gonzales

    US Pro Hard Court
    54, 55 Gonzales

    Scarborough Pro
    55 Gonzales
    New York MSG Pro
    54 Gonzales

    Forest Hills Tournament of Champions:
    56,57,58 Gonzales
    59 Hoad

    Los Angeles Pro:
    60 Rosewall

    Geneva Golden Trophy
    61 Gonzales
    62, 63 Rosewall

    US Pro Indoors
    64 Gonzales
    65 Laver

    Forest Hils Pro
    66 Laver

    Wimbledon Pro
    67 Laver

    These are the most prestigious, I don't give the complete list , because it's time to go to bed ;-).
    I'll give you the missing ones if you're interested. For this era there are not only pro events: in the late 40s and 50s there were very few pro events, mostly tours, so it was impossible to find 4 prestigious tournaments. If there were only 2 big pro events, the 2 other were then the best amateur events, usually the Davis Cup or Forest Hills (which was more significant than Wimbledon in the 50s). For example, both of Gonzales's Forest Hills wins count in my list, as in 1948-1949 there were hardly any pro events, let alone 4 very big ones. I think with this info plus the list above, you can gather Pancho's 26 wins ;-)

    Good night!
    Jonathan
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2007
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  20. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    urban, I was just reading an article on Gonzales by Clerici that was published 1967, in it he mentioned that Pancho beat Laver 10-8 in the 5th in the '66Wembley final, but in that wikepedia link, they say Laver beat Rosewall in the final that year, do you know what event they mean in that article?
     
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  21. SgtJohn

    SgtJohn Rookie

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    Hi Moose,

    Laver won the 'classic 'Wembley Event (the 'pro major'). Gonzales beat him in the Wembley BBC II Invitational, a 4-man event, held at the same venue.

    Good night!
    Jon
     
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  22. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Hi John. what sources do you use for these pre open era events? do you have the Sutter & McCauley books? do they have scores/draws? how large were some of these draws?

    I was a bit surprised by Rosewall having more major titles than Laver, do you know how many of the pre open era events on your list he won did he beat Laver at?

    thanks!

    According to the ATP & ITF sites Rome & Philadelphia had 84-90 player fields, not 128.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2007
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  23. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Moose, the pro events pre open had mostly 8-12 men fields, some were 4 men events, like the Wembley BB2 event in 1966, where Gonzales beat Laver in 3 sets. The pro majors like Boston, Wembley London pro or Paris had mostly 16-20 fields. The pros at that time were the creme de la creme of the say 100 world class players at that time, who remained to the greater part shamateurs. The problem with the 4 pro majors of that time is to select a fourth pro event of each year: events like Berlin or Scarborough were nomally not top flight, in years with only few pro events like in the early 50s, you have simply no other pro event. In other years there were more than 5-6 important pro events, in the 60s the pro played mostly a series of 20 important, at least 8 men events. In those years is difficult to select 4, its better or easier to chose 6 most important events. In 1963 for instance, events like Cannes (Laver), Kitzbühel (Laver), Rome (Rosewall) were on one class behind the 3 majors, if you chose one you change the long term haul of a respective player. Outside Wembley (unofficial pro world champs), US pro (not always with good fields, see around 1960) Paris (on different surfaces, often a bit in the shadow of Wembley), there were other events, like Forest Hills (when played), the US pro indoor, Madison Square Garden, Cannes, Johannesburg, later Newport, which had the most recognition by the pros over the years. I think, Sgt John has rescognized these in his thoughtful analysis. As i said in earlier posts, that 4 most important concept is attractive, but it is full of arbitrary decisions. If you make a summary, you get to a range of numbers, ca. 20 for Rosewall and Laver (here the arbitrary chosing of an events makes differences), ca. 15 imo for Gonzales. And its only the pro scene: imo the amateurs wins, especially at Wimbledon, of Kramer, Sedgman Hoad, Trabert or Laver deserve some recognition.
     
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  24. SgtJohn

    SgtJohn Rookie

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    Urban is right about the pro era draws, that were mostly very small, I'dl like to add something about it.
    I think that's one reason why three players from this era (Gonzalez, Rosewall, Laver), totally dominate my title leaders ranking: these three plus the next 5 best pros always met each other in these very exclusive tournaments, they knew each other's game perfectly, due to the long tours they played together, and then it made the "upset factor' totally disappear: Laver lost early in Slams in 1970 against opponents he didn't know so well, but he almost never lost that year against Rosewall or Newcombe...That's why big draws are difficult: you'll probably meet top 5 players in the late rounds AND you have to deal with 'unknown' , potentially tough, opponents in the early ones... The pros' small draws have been bothering me because I'm aware that some players are privileged in my rankings for this reason....
     
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  25. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Yes, Sgt John, all these results deserve deep analysis in its historical context. The old pro tour with its elite concept was a complete different inviroment to the amateur scene with its big draws. That is one reason, amost all former amateurs had problems in their first hear to adjust to the new format. On the other hand, Laver and Rosewall showed their class also in the early stages of the open era, when they, although over 30, pretty much dominated the majors with big drwas against younger foes like Newcombe and Ashe, who won some, but not consistently. The factor of the unknown players is certainly right, but i think, the main factor of Laver's decline in the majors since 1970, was his focus on winning as much money as possible. After his Grand Slam in 69,, he went for the big bucks, and played way too much in lucrative events, which made him vulnerable in the majors, if he even played them. The players he lost to (Taylor, Ralston) were fellow pros, whom he knew pretty well.
     
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  26. SgtJohn

    SgtJohn Rookie

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    Urban,
    I agree that in the early 50s there were hardly any pro event, that's why amateur tournaments often count in my 'big four'. Kramer's Davis cup and Forest hills victories count, as well as Gonzalez's. I admit that there is much debate for the 50s. Some years I counted the Australian Pro, Berlin World Pro, or Scarborough in my list, and maybe they should be replaced by amateur Wimbledon or Davis cup as these pro events maybe can't qualify as 'majors'. There are clearly arbitrary decisions involved, this list is just my point of view, I'd be happy if people proposed alternate "True Slams" counts...

    But as from the late 50s it's not hard at all to find a fourth pro major: the Forest Hills Tournament of Champions ('56-'59), the Geneva Gold Trophy (early 60s), the Masters Pro Round Robin in Los Angeles, the US Pro Indoors in Philadelphia, the New York MSG Pro or the last year the Wimbledon Pro, were all widely recognized as prestigious events, with big prize money, and almost every time the field was perfect, with the whole top 8 or top 16...

    About the amateurs, as I said I recognize the most prominent amateur events from the late 40s and early 50s as majors, but none after that. It's a cruel sitution for us tennis fans, because we are accustomed to consider Sedgman's, Trabert's, Hoad's, Laver's accomplishments in such prestigious venues as Wimbledon as historical exploits, but sadly a realistic look at the draws can't let us call these events majors. The very best amateurs (Sedgman in '52, Hoad in '56, Trabert in '55, Laver in '62) were probably already top 5 in a pro-am combined ranking, but their foes in the amateur Slams were too much below them to be called actual competition. Of course you know this, but the Open Era record of Emerson, 12-times Slam titlist, speaks volumes....
    The comparison might be rude, and I'm voluntarily a little provocative, but I would liken Laver's '62 exploits to Davydenko's Paris victory last year: a solid top-tenner easily crushing lesser players while the big guns (Fed, Nadal, Roddick) are not there....Nobody would call this a major...

    John
     
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  27. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    I don't know how many threads we've got to have before it starts getting through to people that the Australian Open was a second tier event ONLY from 1976 to 1982. Time and time again the winners and finalists from 83 to 87 are recounted and each time it is shown that the best players in the world, bar Connors, played the event. Hell, there's even a current thread with all that information in it - if you're even slightly interested in genuine tennis history. From 83 to 87, the only ones who considered it a second tier event are those people who haven't the vaguest idea what they're talking about.

    1988-2007: Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open
    1983-1987: Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, U.S Open
    1976-1982: French Open (not if you count the women), Wimbledon, U.S. Open
    1968-1975: Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, U.S Open,
    Pre 1968: Wimbledon, Davis Cup, Australian Open/ French Open/ U.S Open (locally important but don't rank with the first two)
     
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  28. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    I agree, Sgt John, that the amateur-pro rankings are difficult and speculative, and can change from period to period. We had often discussion on this board about the status of Emerson, and i tried always to hold a middle ground here. In his prime, in the mid 60s, he would probably have won some majors, regardless the pro competition, especially given his fitness in the context of the big draws. Sedgman in 1952 was maybe co Nr.1 overall, in 1953 as a pro, he had a positive record vs. Gonzales, and lost a tight head to head tour on canvas vs. Kramer, who didn't play much in 52.Trabert in 55 had Rosewall and Hoad in the field, not Gonzales, Sedgman and Segura. Hoad played great tennis in 56, and Laver in 1962 would have to fear Rosewall and to a lesser degree Gimeno the most over the long term. Hoad would be still dangerous, but probably not on a day to day basis and under big draw conditions. Gonzales didn't play in 62. I would rank amateurs Emerson and Santana quite on par with Gimeno, so the six best players for 62 would be Rosewall or/and Laver, Emerson, Gimeno, Hoad and Santana. The problem would be under the conditions of big tournaments with 128 draws - as i said above - the ranking of Hoad. All these rankings are speculative and open to discussion. But i think, that Your approach is very helpful, because it puts a light of many forgotten records and results.
     
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  29. Serve 'em hard

    Serve 'em hard Banned

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    Am I understanding you to say here that before 1968, the US Open -- the almighty Forest Hills -- was only "locally important"? (And less so than Davis Cup?)

    If so, the credibility of your otherwise reasonable post championing the importance of your country's open becomes entirely suspect.
     
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  30. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    Prior to 1968, the Davis Cup was more important in a global sense than the French, Australian or US Opens. How important a player thought they were was directly related to their nationality. An Australian would, naturally, rate the Aus Open higher and an American would rate the US Open above the other two. However, there were other factors involved in deciding their significance. Also, due to the situation in America (with tournament invitations) a lot of players would have considered the Italian or German Opens of equal.

    A few things to remember:
    1.) Prior to 1968, players were amateur. In order to compete internationally, most all of them had to do so via their national association. You might say that a player as famous as Emerson, Trabert, Rosewall or Laver could do what they wanted to do - not so. The tournaments were run by the national associations (the former incarnations of Tennis Australia, LTA, USTA, etc) and if a player incurred the wrath of one they would be ostracised by all of them. The only alternatives were to tow the line or turn professional.

    2.) Tournaments in the American circuit were invitation only. As a result, a lot of the very best international players didn't participate. If they couldn't play in those events, it wasn't worth their time going to the States.

    3) Distance has always been a problem. An American didn't want to sail (in the days when that was the only option) all the way to Australia and an Australian didn't want to sail all the way to America. On the other hand, they could arrive in Europe, play that circuit (including the French) then make their way to the English circuit and finish at Wimbledon.

    4) Prior to a date I can't remember and can't look up at this moment (Urban might be able to help me out on this one), but I do believe it extended through until 1972, the Davis Cup format had Australia in the 'European Zone', and the US in the - obviously- 'American Zone'. Given that either Australia or the USA held the Davis Cup (with only a couple of exceptions), a team needed to win their zone in order to challenge for the title (which was the primary goal of the national associations - not any of the majors). However, if an Australian team lost in one of their European Zone matches they wouldn't bother to continue on to the States and, subsequently, wouldn't play the US Open. EVEN when an Australian team did make it to the States, there was no guarantee they would be allowed to compete at the US Open.

    5) I’ll leave this for someone like Urban to confirm but, as it has been repeated in countless articles and books, so you could look it up yourself, the US Open at Forest Hills was considered to be the worst run tournament with the worst courts in the tennis world. That probably did affect how important players thought it was.


    I don't think that affects my credibility at all. On the contrary, if you are interested in tennis history and read enough of it, with a critical eye, you'll see that (as with most every thing in this world) the truth isn't as black and white as most people would like it to be. If you really want to understand history you need to do apply hermeneutics. That is, you need to develop the ability to understand and appreciate things from a different viewpoint (of a different age, nationality, etc) and to appreciate the cultural and social forces that may have influenced their attitudes and opinions. So, if people are talking about world history, they need to think outside of their national biases.

    I am not championing the Australian Open's importance. All I'm trying to do (once again) is correct a constantly repeated fallacy. If you’re interested to find where that fallacy originated, I’d look up Earl "Butch" Buchholz, Jr and the Lipton.
     
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  31. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

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    It is true that, with the exception of Wimbledon, the prestige of the major tournaments has changed a lot over time. Often it has to do with where the best players are - the peak of the French Open's importance was the late 1920s, when the Musketeers took the Davis Cup from Tilden and the Americans and dominated the tennis world. Roland Garros itself was constructed in their honor. After Lacoste retired and Cochet turned pro, the French declined in importance. The US Open has been a fairly consistent No. 2 behind Wimbledon - first with Tilden in the early/mid 1920s, then Vines, Budge, Kramer, etc. (Kramer himself thought the US Open was a more important title to win than Wimbledon, as it usually boasted the strongest field... at least when American tennis was clearly supreme.) The Australian did increase in importance in the 1950s/60s, though I am not sure it ever truly eclipse the US Open - very hard to reconstruct, and ultimately very intangible. Certainly in the 1970s/80s, it was more common for the top stars to skip the Australian/French than Wimbledon or the US Open. Today I think there is perhaps the most parity, with Wimbledon still the most prestigious, but always dominated by a single player (Sampras/Federer).
     
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  32. Serve 'em hard

    Serve 'em hard Banned

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    Both of the last two posts seem intelligent and well-thought out. So instead of trying to argue AndrewD's lengthy post point-by-point, let me just say that I'm going with chaognosis's post since he supports my position that the US Open was always the second most important tennis event.;)

    Yes, this American realizes Wimbledon always was and is more important than the US Open -- but get behind us, French, AO, and Davis Cup!
     
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  33. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    To Andrew and Chaog. Regarding the internationalisation of major championships, i would think, that up to the early 60s, Paris and Wimbledon had the most international field. It was often simply a transport problem, and under amateur conditions, a question of cash. In 1962, with new transatlantic jet flying possibilities and direct flights installed, the USTA made an intentional attempt to get the best European players to Forest Hills, by chartering an aeroplane, which went directly from Paris to New York. Before, many Europeans had skipped Forest Hills, because the national organisations didn't pay them expensive and longduring flights. Some players got invitations from the USTA, to stay in houses from sponsors. In reverse, most of the Australian, American, and South African players were sent by their national organisations to Europe, especially to play Davis Cup or Wimbledon. The Aussie teams under Hopman toured around Europe, even in Egypt and later in the summer in the US. And many touring amateurs played the circuit in Europe with Rome, Bournemouth, Paris, Wimbledon, Hamburg and Gstaad, because they got good under the table money from the organizers. Gordon Forbes descibes this old amateur system in full lenght.
     
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  34. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    Urban,

    Forbes also describes the situation he encountered in the States when, after a number of years as one of the world's leading players, he was finally invited to play in America. On the other hand, his partner, Abe Segal, who was considered the far better player of the two, was never given the same opportunity in the States. I don't believe either one of them played here in Australia although I know for certain that they both competed at the French and Wimbledon (think there's a message in that).

    chaognosis,

    You are describing an American interpretation of events. Yes, to Americans the US Open was the 2nd most important title (most important to some). However, to Australians, it was only ever 3rd or 4th best and, during the Tilden years, it didn't even figure in discussions (no-one bothered to play it). When Australia was the dominant nation in world tennis from 1950 to 1970, the US Open was only the 4th (3rd to some) most significant of the majors. Whatever the case, the US Open has certainly never been "a fairly consistent No. 2" to anyone other than Americans - which is as it should be.
     
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  35. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

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    Maybe so, but I would counter that you are describing a rather idiosyncratic, revisionist, Australian interpretation of events. Urban is right about the impact of travel - though Tilden made the trip to Europe early in his career (winning Wimbledon + WHCC in 1921), the Australian was simply out of the question, though he did play Davis Cup in New Zealand. The US Championships were by no means irrelevant in the 1920s, for the simple reason that Tilden was understood to be BY FAR the best player in the world. France sent the Musketeers to try their hand against Tilden in the mid-1920s, and that meant going to the US... they couldn't have cared less about competing in Australia. (Borotra was the only one who bothered with it.) The US was the proving ground - to be the best you had to beat the best. And there can be little doubt that, after WWI, the US was the most dominant tennis nation, producing the most quality players. There have been exceptions of course (France in the late '20s, Australia in the '50s and '60s), but by and large the US had the most first-class champions. Also being the second oldest of the major tournaments, after Wimbledon, helps. Remember, I acknowledged that the relative prestige of the majors has changed a lot throughout history - but if you try to find an average/consensus over the course of the 20th century, there is little doubt it would be the US.
     
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  36. SgtJohn

    SgtJohn Rookie

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    As you said, a major's 'prestige' was completely correlated to who played it. In the early 20s, neither Tilden nor Johnston played Wimbledon, and this made it a distant number 2... Nobody would have supposed Borotra was the best player because he won Wimbledon 1924, while Tilden "only" won Forest Hills...

    AndrewD, sorry, but I have to disagree, I also think the Australian might have been a co-No2 or a close number 3 in the 60s, but no more...Let's have a look at the era of Australian dominance, roughly, 1956-1973. I checked some stats in Collins's Total Tennis (I know he's not always extremely accurrate, so I can't say I'm totally exhaustive here). Still, if you take a look at the Great Australians' record, you can check that they obviously played their Australian Championships, and that they hardly missed any Forest Hills throughout the 60s. Even when the Davis cup challenge round was against Italy or Spain, the likes of Emerson, Stolle or Roche always got to New York. The opposite is not true: take big American players from this time (Trabert, McKinley,...) : they didn't make the trip Down Under so often. Finally, take 'neutral ground', ie European players (Santana, Pietrangeli, Davidson...), you can see they played Forest Hills more often than the Australian....
     
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  37. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    God help us all if you truly believe that LOL. Unlike the US Open, Wimbledon was open to all-comers and not a glorified national event. It wasn't until the mid 1920's that the US Open became a significant tournament - same as the French Open. Regardless, the simple fact that Tilden felt he had to win Wimbledon to confirm his greatness tells you that it was more significant than the US Open. If it hadn't been as important, he'd have stayed in America.

    I did look up the stats and from my records, the best American players did continue to come out to Australia for the Open between 1950 and 1970. That was because we held the Davis Cup for 15 of those 21 years and America came to challenge in 13 of them. If you look at the Davis Cup records you'll see that, during that period (1950-1970) the USA won in 1954, 1958, 1963, 1968, 1969, 1970. In 1954, 1958, 1963, 1968 they won the cup in Australia (the holders at the time). They were also runners-up in 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1964 - all years that the cup was held by Australia. As runners-up they had to play in Australia, they brought their best players and, in most cases, they stayed on to play the Aus Open.

    No, the period of Australian dominance started with Frank Sedgman and Australia winning the Davis Cup in 1950.

    chaognosis,

    A revisionist history is absolutely necessary, given the nationalist biases that fill the bulk of our tennis books. I appreciate your parochialism but, if you're going to discuss history, you've got to put aside your passport, approach each text with a critical eye (think, vested interests) and think hermeneutically.

    If you read my other post, prior to Urban's, you'd see that I mention travel and the impact it had on the importance of BOTH the US and Australian events. It is one of the key issues, alongside the Davis Cup and the relationships that existed between the 4 nations.

    As for Tilden, he was recognised by Australians as being the best player in the world (in the history of the game, to that time) HOWEVER, that did not extend to the US Open. Their opinion was that he was the best but he would have to prove it against them at Wimbledon (he did and was duly acknowledged by men such as Patterson as the best of all time).

    If you doubt that, ask yourself what the American attitude was to the Australian Open when Australia dominated world tennis. Did the Americans think that the Australian Open automatically became the best tournament in the world, or even the second best, because its players were the best? No, of course they didn't.

    Off topic but, applying your line of thinking (it would be handy in this instance), how do you approach criticism of Margaret Court's record 11 Australian Opens? She was the best in the world, like Tilden, so Australia became the proving ground - to be the best you had to beat the best. That international players didn't turn up (especially as, in her day, unlike Tilden's, there was air travel and nations hadn't been devastated by a recent war) can be discounted and her record validated?
     
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  38. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

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    Trust me, nobody here appreciates good exegesis more than I do. But there's such a thing as going too far -- becoming so obsessed with erasing biases and uncovering the lost "truth" that you end up completely rewriting history, such that it is no longer recognizable. Very, very few would agree with your recent points, even Australian tennis fans alive during the 1960s (I've talked to several over the past few days, and brought this up -- that the Australian was the No. 2 major back then was news to them). I even have a tennis book written by an Australian author (with a preface by Adrian Quist) from the height of Australian dominance... and it seems to confirm that the US Championships remained second only to Wimbledon as the sport's premiere event. Just pointing fingers and making accusations of parochialism isn't enough if you don't have any real substance to back it up. Be wary of the line between being a scholar and being a crackpot, at least insofar as you want your research to be taken seriously.

    Short answer: I think it's impossible to accurately compare men's and women's tennis. I personally wouldn't discredit Court's achievement at all, and count her among the very finest women ever to play the game.
     
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  39. Serve 'em hard

    Serve 'em hard Banned

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    Just because Court was the best, how does that make Australia the proving ground? Didn't she play Forest Hills and Wimbledon, and thus give players opportunity to beat the best?

    I'm not even going to pretend I know 1/10 as much tennis history as you boys in this thread, but I'm interested in the history of the game, possess a modicum of common sense, and enjoy this debate you guys are having.

    As for the Australian "Open", I would think its prestige and importance suffered not only from geography, but the importance of the country itself. No offense, AndrewD, but Australia is hardly in the same league as the United States, England, and France as a nation, even if it did produce some great tennis players, and that's got to effect the overall prestige and importance of these tournaments just a bit. Paris, London, and New York are the world's greatest cities and great places to triumph in any endeavor, while Australian cities are... not.
     
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  40. SgtJohn

    SgtJohn Rookie

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    Tilden played and won Wimbledon in 1920-1921, at the beginning of 'his' era. Then he was famous enough for the USLTA to pay him a trip to Europe every year if he wanted, and yet he didn't come back to England for many years. As I said, Wimbledon was not seen as a 'world championship' anymore when the French won it in 1924-1925, Tilden and Johnston clearly staying the best. Lacoste had to win Forest Hills for people to feel there had been a changing of the guard...
    As for your repeated accusations of national bias, I'm completely cool with that, as I'm from France, and still would not claim Roland Garros was ever the number 1 major. Still, nationality doesn't matter, I think people on this forum have proved their objectivity, and implying that their opinion on Forest Hills is based on patriotic grounds is quite offensive I think.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2007
    #40
  41. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    John, could you list the remaining 'major' Rosewall won? I'm counting 22, from the open era majors, plus Wembley, US, & French Pros, & the majors you mentioned in post 19. Also how many do you have for Hoad? could you list those as well? thanks!
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2007
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  42. SgtJohn

    SgtJohn Rookie

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    Hi Moose,

    Sure, here's the data :
    Rosewall:
    Davis Cup '55 (in 1955 there were very few pro events...I currently count US Pro, US Pro Hard Courts, and Scarborough Pro as 'pro majors' (though the last two are debatable, I admit. The fourth major is then the biggest amateur major, that usually was, before the Open era, the Davis Cup)

    Wembley '57, '60, '61, '62 '63 '65

    French Pro '58, '60, '61, '62 '63 '64 '65 '66

    US Pro '63 '65

    Los Angeles Pro (not sure if it was a Masters Pro Round Robin or not though?) '60, Geneva Gold Trophy '62, Rome Italian Pro '63

    French Open '68, US Open '70, Australian Open '71, Dallas WCT Finals '72


    As fro Hoad, he only got 1 major in my list, the Forest Hills Tournament of Champions, which of course seems very little, given his reputation.
    He was an underachiever, as he often reeached the final of the US Pro, Wembley, etc. , but never won. He won other big events, like Zurich Pro, Tokyo Pro, but that don't count as majors on my list (they're on the 'super 9' list instead). I'd consistently rank him in the top 5 from 1954 to 1961 though...

    John
     
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  43. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Besides the fact, that Hoad is one of the biggest enigmas in an alltime ranking, he shows the problems of shutting out the amateur results. He has certainly not the pro record of Rosewall, and doesn't deserve to rank higher than him, but on the other hand the proportion of 22-1 gives a false impression. Hoad has a amateur record that is imo slightly better than Rosewall's, mainly because of his great year 1956. In the pro game he was probably better in 58 and 59, before Rosewall took over. The head to head on the amateur tour was in favor of Hoad, something like 15-8 or 7, as pros Rosewall leads 45-20 or 25, Total Tennis gives some (debatable) stats here. All the great players of the era had distinctive amateur and pro, some even open era phases in their careers. And somehow their amateur results should count.
     
    #43
  44. SgtJohn

    SgtJohn Rookie

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    Of course, I agree with Urban. Counting Slam titles, be they 'true', or wrong, or anything, is of couse, the simplest, and then most unfair way to compare tennis players. That's why, I'm trying to compile 'super 9' wins list, and also rankings for each year.
    The 22-1 proportion is of course totally out of line if one wants to precisely compare these players.

    From the point of view of 'true Slams', it might seem very unfair that Hoad doesn't get at least one in 1956. But "unfortunately" there were 4 very big pro tournaments: the US, French and Wembley Pro, and the Forest Hills Tournament of Champions, all of whom featured Gonzalez, Trabert, Sedgman and Segura. Wimbledon, Roland Garros, the Davis Cup featured Hoad, Rosewall, Sven Davidson and Budge Patty... It seems hard to argue that the second set of players is better, and then to grant Wimbledon or the Cup a 'true Slam' status for that year...

    Jonathan
     
    #44
  45. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

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    Jonathan, if you find the time, could you possibly post the complete list of "true Slam" titles for Tilden, Gonzales and Lendl? Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2007
    #45
  46. SgtJohn

    SgtJohn Rookie

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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by chaognosis
    Jonathan, if you find the time, could you possibly post the complete list of "true Slam" titles for Tilden, Gonzales and Lendl? Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2007
    #46
  47. SgtJohn

    SgtJohn Rookie

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    No problem...I just recall everyone this is (still!) a temporary list. I'm working on my 'super 9' list for all time, and this could lead to modifications of my 'true slams'.

    By the way, I need an opinion from you all: this Federer vs Nadal case made me consider the question of surface from a historical point of view. I wonder if it's not unfair that many of my 'true slams' for the pro years don't involve any clay tournament. I mean, Federer can only play 3 slams on his favorite surfaces, though in my list, the pro slams that I chose were often all grass and indoor (then very fast surfaces). For instance, in my list, Laver makes a kind of Grand Slam in 1967 by winning the most important tournaments, by far: Wimbledon Pro, Wembley Pro, French Pro and US Pro. But neither of them was on a slow surface that year. I'm considering changing a bit my list, as it seems unfair that modern players have to win on their worst surface to make a Grand Slam (think Wilander and Lendl on grass, Sampras and Mac on clay), though pros had not , in my list...

    Another quick question: I read somewhere that what was called "hard courts" in the old time was actually clay, a kind of Har-Thru. What do you know about this? When was cement first used? The US Pro Hard courts won by Riggs and Kramer in the late 40s were on clay then?

    Here are the lists:

    Tilden:

    Newport '1919 (just after WW1, there were very few european tournaments, so my fourth slam apart from Forest Hills, Wimbledon and Davis Cup had to be American. As the US champ's had just moved from Newport, the tournament there had still very much prestige...).

    Paris World Championships on clay 1921

    His 10 amateur Slams

    6 Davis Cup: 1920-1925 (in 1926 he lost one match for the first time, and thus doesn't qualify as a 'winner' of the Cup. Johnston deserves that honor as he managed to beat Lacoste.)


    That's 18 titles. It doesn't include any pro title, as Tilden was prominent in a time when the pro tour was not at the same level as the amateur slams...


    Gonzales:

    Forest Hills 48, 49
    US Pro Indoors 50, 52, 64
    Wembley 50, 51, 52, 56
    Berlin World Pro 52
    US Pro 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 59, 61 (the '58 US Pro was too depleted, and there were too much other big tournaments that year, so it didn't make it on my list)
    US Pro Hard Courts 54, 55
    New York MSG Pro 54
    Scarborough Pro 55
    Forest Hills Tourn. of Champions 56, 57, 58
    Los Angeles Masters Pro Round Robin 57
    Geneva Gold Trophy 61

    --->26 titles

    Lendl: 8 official slams, Masters 81, 82 (fourth event until 1983, instead of the Australian), Boca Raton 86 (fourth event that year, as there was no Australian...)
    Then that's 11 slams...


    Jonathan
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2007
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  48. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

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    Jonathan, you pose an excellent question about the surfaces - I have been waiting for someone else to chime in, b/c I do not know the best way to resolve this! Certainly, picking "true" majors based on the draw is a worthwhile endeavor, but there is something to the variety of court surfaces as well (particularly that at least one of the major tournaments each year be contested on a slow surface). Even more important, I would think, is the location. Some argue that Tilden completed the first true Grand Slam in 1921 by winning Wimbledon, the US Championships, and St.-Cloud, thus holding the most important titles in both Europe and America. The pro majors did preserve this issue of geographical diversity even if they abandoned surface diversity, as the most significant events - Wembley, US Pro and French Pro - in a sense paralleled Wimbledon and the US and French Championships.
     
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  49. SgtJohn

    SgtJohn Rookie

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    Glad that you share my concern, chaog. I'm now seriously considering changing my list to take all this in consideration.
    The more I think about it, the more I see that the surface factor is an important one in the perception of the Grand Slam. I think Laver said that Roland Garros is the gateway to the Grand Slam. If we judge by the fields only, then we could easily say Key Biscayne often had better fields than RG, then Federer would have a Grand Slam for instance.
    This problem is mainly about the pro era, as Roland Garros (and before that the St-Cloud World Clay Champ'ships) was always among my 'true slams' until 1939. Pro players who were mainly prominent on grass or indoor (VERY fast surfaces at the time, much more than today) might be overrated in my list (mainly Laver and above all, Gonzales). French Pro was on red clay until 1962, but for the 1963-1967 period, I think I don't have a single clay tournament in my list. It's a real problem, as a hypothetical 'best clay tournament of the year' that I could choose, would be much less prestigious than either Wembley, US Pro, Masters Pro or Forest Hills TOC...
    If anybody with a good knowledge of this pro period has information, please give your input!
    I have lists of pro tournaments for all years, but don't know how they were perceived at the time. Do you know of red clay tournaments that were perceived as big events in 1963-1967? And still this question: when was hard court (concrete) first used? There have been US Pro Hardcourt from the 40's, and I don't know if they meant cement or a kind of clay...


    Your point about geographical diversity is very interesting too. The feat of winning both Wimbledon and Newport by Doherty in 1903 was very strongly perceived, it was the first incarnation of the Grand Slam, we could say.
    Playing in a certain country can seem like a non-factor, but Borg's meltdown at the US Open, on surfaces that usually suited him perfectly well shows that it isn't. I think a year's 'True Slam tournaments' should at least include America and European countries...The Pro circuit in the years when the US Pro, Wembley Pro, and the French Pro, AT Roland Garros , were played was then very good...but it hasn't always been the case.
     
    #49
  50. SgtJohn

    SgtJohn Rookie

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    I'm still thinking about this surface matter, that's why I 'up' this thread.

    Does anyone of you know what "hardcourt" meant in the 'old times'. The US Hardcourt and US Pro Hard court tournaments seem to have been significant from the 40s on...Still, I don't really know what it means: was cement or concrete already used for tennis courts at this time? I think I read somewhere it was a kind of fast clay, but I can't remember my source.

    A more general question for these of you who followed tennis during the Pro era, or have more knowledge on this period than I have: how was clay perceived on the pro circuit? It seems that very fast surfaces (grass or wood) were the usual playground of the main pros, especially after the French Pro started being played at Coubertin indoors. Do you know of other events than Roland Garros Pro that were played on it? Was it considered a 'lesser' surface?

    Thank you for your help!
    Jonathan
     
    #50

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