Bud Collins and "the Grand Slam"

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by AndrewTas, Jan 20, 2009.

  1. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    So basically, your explanation is that it looks "neater" on paper.

    It's already been explained that Don Budge held all 4 majors after he won the 1938 French Championships, completing the Grand Slam. Winning 1938 Wimbledon and the 1938 US Championships to complete the calendar year Grand Slam, just made it look "neater".
     
  2. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    A term cannot have a definition intrinsically, of itself. People give the term "Grand Slam" its definition(s). Those who define it with the calendar may have a lot of tradition behind them (and that's fine); they may also be more numerous than other who have defined it differently; but they have no special claim to any intrinsic definition.
     
  3. LDVTennis

    LDVTennis Professional

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    No, it has nothing to do with "neatness."

    It's a rare accomplishment. The tradition valorizes it as such. History and statistics explain why it is rare.

    When Budge did it for the first time, it may have been a "neat" thing for him to do. But, by the time, Graf accomplished the Grand Slam in '88 it was a rare accomplishment.
     
  4. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    You can talk about its rareness, but a calendar Grand Slam is no better or worse an achievement than a non-calendar year Grand Slam.
     
  5. Giggs The Red Devil

    Giggs The Red Devil Rookie

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    werd. 10ch
     
  6. LDVTennis

    LDVTennis Professional

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    Consensus is for all practical purposes the truth, intrinsic or not.
     
  7. LDVTennis

    LDVTennis Professional

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    Its rarity makes it better. That's what history has determined. That's why tennis tradition thinks of a calendar-slam as being more special than a non-calendar slam or a career slam.

    Even math agrees with tradition here. Do a probabilistic estimate of which event is more likely to happen, a non-calendar slam or a non-calendar slam.

    As with everything, the event that is least likely to happen is thought to be more special.
     
  8. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    But that isn't correct. We all accept as truth that the term 'Grand Slam' comes from card games (whist and bridge). In that case they are specifically referring to ONLY the currently active 'hand', not to anything held in a previous hand. Therefore, a 'Grand Slam' in tennis only relates to the current 'season'.

    Of course, you can *******ise the term if you like - which is exactly what journalists and marketing people have successfully done with the 'career Slam'. However, that doesn't shift the original intent which was the holding of all majors in the one year.

    To end; all of the fervent and desperate pleas to have the definition of 'Grand Slam' extended to encompass wins over more than one year only serve to emphasise how truly significant it is to win all four majors in one year.
     
  9. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    No, it just shows how petty it is that some people can believe that a certain 4 in a row pattern is somehow better than another 4 in a row pattern.
     
  10. Joe Pike

    Joe Pike Banned

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    Because it was not in one calendar year.
     
  11. Joe Pike

    Joe Pike Banned

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    Because there are only 10 opportunities to win the Grand Slam in any decade.
    But 37 to win 4 in a row.

    That was easy.
     
  12. Joe Pike

    Joe Pike Banned

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    So to beat the whole field in Indian Wells is the same achievement as to beat the whole field in Wimbledon?

    You are funny ...
     
  13. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Turns out there is a reference to a tennis Grand Slam even earlier than Kieran's, and again the idea seems to be holding all 4 titles at once.

    I see this on Kieran's Wikipedia page:

    "Although Kieran is widely credited with first applying the term 'grand slam' to tennis, to describe the winning of all four major tennis tournaments in a calendar year, sports columnist Alan Gould had used the term in that connection almost two months before Kieran."

    The source is a link to The Reading Eagle (Pennsylvania), July 18, 1933.

    (http://news.google.com/newspapers?n...3gzAAAAIBAJ&sjid=DeIFAAAAIBAJ&pg=2327,2495314)

    Gould writes:

    So this author like the other early sources is operating on the idea of holding all four titles at one time. He says that Tilden, Lacoste and Cochet never did it, and he notes that Vines was stopped from sweeping all the titles, when he lost at the 1933 Australian championships after winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals the year before.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2010
  14. LDVTennis

    LDVTennis Professional

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    I instructed him to do a probabilistic estimate. Apparently, he didn't know what that was.

    Thanks for doing the math for him. Saved me the trouble.
     
  15. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Kieran, per Bud Collins, wrote that a Grand Slam in tennis would be like "taking all the tricks" in bridge. That sounds simply like holding all four titles at once. Of course you may be right that the early writers equated a hand in bridge with a season in tennis, but were they making the analogy at such a level of detail? Tennis and bridge are such different games, so I wouldn't be surprised if all they meant to say was that the bridge Slam is similar to the tennis trick. Similar but not exactly the same.

    Did Kieran mention the calendar year in tennis?

    Meanwhile there are these other sources -- at least one earlier than Kieran -- who use examples of possible (unsuccessful) Grand Slams across two seasons.
     
  16. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    So what. Winning 4 majors in a row is winning 4 majors in a row.

    Again, so what. It's exactly the same percentage of opportunities for winning the last 3 majors of a calendar year and the first major of the next calendar year, or indeed any of the other patterns.

    What the heck? :confused:
     
  17. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    From a difficulty point of view, holding all four majors at the same time regardless of which major you started with shouldn't be any harder than if you started with the first major of the calendar year and won all the majors for that calendar him.

    So in my mind the Serena slam is about as impressive in difficulty as Graf's Grand Slam in 1988. However from a the current historical point of view nowadays, the Graf Calendar Grand Slam (not including the Olympics that year) is more impressive from most people's point of view. I'm not saying it is more impressive from my point of view but most of the media and general public.

    With that in mind, the Navratilova six straight major streak in her best years in an Open Era may very well be more impressive than a calendar year Grand Slam. Navratilova won it against all comers.

    The Budge Grand Slam in 1938 as well as the Laver Grand Slam in 1962 was not nearly as impressive as some may think because they did not do it against all the top players. Budge's record in 1938 was actually not nearly as great as one may think it was by won-lost record and the best players he could compete against did not play in the majors. Greats like Perry, Vines, Nusslein, Tilden, von Cramm did not play in the majors in 1938. Players like Perry and Vines would be pretty close to even money to beat Budge on a grass court and perhaps would be favored. Perry, von Cramm and Nusslein perhaps were superior players to Budge on red clay.

    Laver did not have to play Rosewall, Hoad, Gonzalez, Trabert and many other greats on the Old Pro Tour. It's highly unlikely that Laver would have won the Grand Slam in 1962 if these players had been allowed to compete in the majors. I do think it was possible however that Laver could have won a Grand Slam in later years aside from his Open Grand Slam in 1969 at a fairly advanced age in tennis of 31.

    I think Connolly may have won nine straight majors she entered allowing for the fact she did not enter some majors during that streak.

    Wills won 19 of 22 majors that she finished so I think she probably could have won a few calendar year Grand Slams. I think that would also be the case with Suzanne Lenglen.
     
  18. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Does anyone here play bridge? What does it mean to take all the tricks in one hand?
     
  19. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Unfortunately I only play chess.
     
  20. LDVTennis

    LDVTennis Professional

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    If it is not more difficult, why have so few players completed a calendar-year Grand Slam? Case closed.
     
  21. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    I have to agree with Mustard here. Winning 4 consecutive slams in any combinations are all equally difficult. A Calendar Slam is a title that’s nice to have, but the achievement is exactly the same thing. It’s similar to the number of year end in #1 vs. total number of weeks at #1. The total weeks is a lot more important. Of course having both would be great.
     
  22. LDVTennis

    LDVTennis Professional

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    There is no point in arguing with you. Presented with a probabilistic estimate of which is more or less likely, you still don't get. It's NOT the same percentage for a calendar slam as a "mustard" slam.

    You'd argue against the laws of physics if those were presented as evidence for why a calendar-slam is more important.
     
  23. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    The probability of winning four straight majors is higher because you can start at any major but I do think it is super impressive to hold four majors at the same time regardless if it was calendar year or not. The amount of player holding four majors at the same time is rare also.

    Here's a question, is Navratilova's feat of winning six straight majors more impressive than winning a Grand Slam? We are assuming the player loses the next majors if they win the tradition calendar year Grand Slam.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2010
  24. ywk999

    ywk999 Rookie

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    This was one of the reasons why Navratilova's camp was claiming her to be a winner of the Grand Slam for some time thereafter. I remember seeing on a Yonex racquet tag a claim to just that listing the four majors, and thinking what a crock it was.

    I was just beginning to play tennis and didn't know much, but at least I understood this distinction. Some people just didn't get it, and bought into the propaganda. Some argued for lowering the bar, comparing tennis to golf and saying how winning all four majors in one calendar year had become an almost impossible feat by then. It would take Graf to set the records straight for most others a few years later. I thought it was all settled then.
     
  25. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Well said. The Everest of tennis.
     
  26. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    That's why I called it "common sense". I never had much respect for Mustard's intellect (it has been severely lacking in the past, but this is even more of an indictment).

    Probability alone, makes it vastly easier to attain, let alone the innumerable intangibles.

    Can't see that? Sad...
     
  27. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    PC it certainly is impressive...but it's all relative. Holding any one slam is impressive...but doing a true grand slam is so much greater than just holding all 4.

    Again...others have now covered the mathematics of it....consider just how precious few chances you have a real grand slam during your prime! And once you blow it. BOOM. Game over for an entire year....

    On top of that, I think the other biggest factor (but there are smaller ones) is the pressure. That is HUGE. HUGE! I'm sure you would recognize that. Imagine holding all 3 going into the US open!?

    That is a true test of mettle! When others have just held all 4...there was little buzz as they went for the 4th. Yes, it was a nice trivia point and was mentioned now and then...usually as an offhand commentary comment when going for the 4th! Yes, some acknowledge it....but, it clearly was not recognized in the same way. Usually, a player doing that well, had just as much buzz about being #1, and their latest results, not ...the "slam"!

    But imagine those same player going in with a AO,FO,Wimb run......MOST of the questions at any press conference would be about one thing! Most of the tourney, press, fans, would be talking about ONE thing. Every match would be watched.....a match even getting close? They wouldn't be buzzing about an upset...but the END OF THE GRAND SLAM!!! Now imagine the pressure on the player. Knowing that this is it. Knowing that this tennis history. Knowing that they might well never ever ever have a chance at all 4 in the same year again! (and many never get that chance at all...injuries etc...again...the chances are so far lower....10 chances vs 37 for a decade....in a player's "prime"? Maybe 4 or 5 chances...maybe less!

    Winning 4 slams is impressive, holding 4 slams is more impressive....but there is a reason why doing them in one year, is the ultimate feat. No...you can't just start anywhere and hope for a run of four....that is the whole point.
     
  28. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    I have to laugh at putting the "calendar year" bit on a pedestal. It's baffling beyond words.
     
  29. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    By February, only ONE PLAYER in the entire world has a chance at a grand slam.

    EVERY other man in the world has to wait until NEXT JANUARY, when they are a full year older, to even begin the attempt.

    This isn't rocket science.
     
  30. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    No. We are all laughing the simpleton, who can't understand these incredibly basic concepts. Seriously....a 10 yr old would fleece you in a deal.

    "ok...there timmy....but if you lose any one of the 4...you've lost your entire chance, and have to start again. Ok..mommy...but that's the same as just getting 4 in a row at any time right? NOOO....Timmy...."
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2010
  31. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Agreed.

    If Nadal wins the 2010 US Open and the 2011 Australian Open, he is the reigning champion of all 4 majors, and has achieved the Grand Slam.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2010
  32. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I agree with you totally. I was simply trying to point out from the mathematical point of view, both feats are equal from a probability point of view. That's why I mentioned difficulty. I should have used the word probability.

    However the Calendar Slam may be the most prestigious accomplishment in tennis because you MUST win every major for the year.
     
  33. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Ridiculous. If one wins 4 majors in a row, the Grand Slam has been achieved. Simple enough to understand. If a tennis player can be the reigning champion of all 4 majors, how exactly has he not achieved the Grand Slam just because it doesn't neatly fit a calendar year? And don't say that percentage stuff, because it's exactly the same percentage for the other unique ways to win 4 majors in a row. For example, in a 10 year period, a player gets 10 chances to win a calendar year Grand Slam, 10 chances to win a French Open - Australian Open Grand Slam, 10 chances to win a Wimbledon - French Open Grand Slam and 10 chances to win a US Open -Wimbledon Grand Slam.

    That the calendar year starts at the start of January is irrelevant to the tennis achievement of winning 4 majors in a row.

    You talk about the pressure on the final leg of a calendar Grand Slam, but do you think Federer didn't feel the same sort of pressure when he played the 2006 and 2007 French Open finals? Winning either of those matches would not only have completed his career set, but would have made him the champion of all 4 majors at the same time.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2010
  34. LDVTennis

    LDVTennis Professional

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    Apparently, it is rocket science. NO, they are not equal from a mathematical point of view.

    How could one chance a year be equal to 4 chances a year? (Probabilistic statement of the problem.)

    They are not even equal from a statistical point of view. There are only 6 instances of a calendar grand slam. There are at least 11 instances of 4 in a row (calendar/non-calendar).
     
  35. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    One chance a year of the calendar year Grand Slam.
    One chance a year of the French Open - Australian Open Grand Slam
    One chance a year of the Wimbledon - French Open Grand Slam
    One chance a year of the US Open - Wimbledon Grand Slam.

    Now, tell me why the calendar year way of winning the Grand Slam is a better achievement than each of the other three ways to win the Grand Slam. The truth of the matter is that each of the 4 ways to win the Grand Slam is as brilliant as each other. Instead of recognising this, you just put the latter 3 into a "Mustard Slam" and paint the calendar year Grand Slam as even more unique. The reality is that it's no more unique than each of the other 3 ways to hold all 4 majors at the same time, except for the fact that it looks neater on paper.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2010
  36. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Here's the situation. Let's say you have equivalent field in all the majors.

    Let's go by the theory we have a player with a 50% chance of winning any of these majors. A great player who is equally great on all surfaces.

    If he wins the US Open as his first major, that a 50% chance. If he wins the next major which is the Australian, that's 50% times 50% chance for 25%. If he wins the next major which is the French it is now a 12.5% chance. If he wins the next major which is Wimbledon it is now a 6.25% chance. In any order it was about the same probability.

    However the key factor and difference is you have to win the Australian to win the Grand Slam so it makes the odds higher. However to win four majors in a row at any point as far as the statistical probability of difficulty to me is the same in winning four straight majors in a calendar year.

    Also another key point is a Grand Slam caps one tennis year. A player is number one for the year, not number one for the last half of the previous year and the first half of the current year. Therefore a Calendar Grand Slam is more important for the tennis season.


    If there was another sport and a team win all the games in the last half of the year and all the games in the first half of the year, they may have been unbeaten for the equivalent of a full season but they were NOT unbeaten for a full season.

    The Calendar Year Grand Year holds far more prestige and I suppose is tougher since you have to win the Australian, the first major of the year.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2010
  37. LDVTennis

    LDVTennis Professional

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    Well, Court did it before Martina ('69-'71). Yet, even Court is remembered more for having won the Calendar Slam.
     
  38. LDVTennis

    LDVTennis Professional

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    Major Fail. I've not even going to try to explain it to you. Take a course in probability and statistics. They are not necessarily the same mode of analysis. Let some poor TA at at community college or wherever try to make sense of this.
     
  39. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Major fail? Whatever :roll:
     
  40. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    Whether you agree with the merits of a calendar Grand Slam or not is entirely irrelevant. The simple fact is that a 'Grand Slam' is only won within a calender year.

    I'm sorry that we can't lower the standard or dumb it down further to suit you but, that's just the way it goes.
     
  41. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    MY GOODNESS....I am responding b/c obviously you are sincerely being obtuse....because you just spelled out your irrationality.

    YES. ONE chance to start the true grand slam. FOUR chances to start four in a row.

    There can't be too many people here that don't get this? Hopefully?

    Unbelievable. You just argued against yourself. MOST of Fed's pressure was NOT about holding all 4....that was barely talked about! (though it by itself could put pressure on anyone depending on how much they valued it, though I ASSURE you, NO PRO Player ever would even THINK of trading a true grand slam for a wimbledon/USO/AO/FO run...they would laugh in the face of any deity who offered that trade). Fed, had plenty of pressure (for various reasons...their is almost always great pressure in these huge matches), that's completely non sequitur to the pressure of completing a true grand slam.
     
  42. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    How do get 11? I know of the 6 calendar Slams, plus these 3:

    Martina 1983-84
    Graf 1993-94
    Serena 2002-03
     
  43. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Yes, I see what you are saying, (and IF we eliminate the psychological pressure of doing the actual slam, and assume that the physical grind will also be equal) then, absolutely that is true....to say...are the odds that I will win the next 4 slams the same? But if you ask, are the odds I win 4 in a row during the next 2 years...or 10 years....or 20 years....the same as the odds of me winning a grand slam over that same time? Then it's not close mathematically.

    It would be like saying...hey, if you roll a six, four times in a row, I'll give you a million dollars. You can have either have 10 attempts...but each time you don't get a six, that counts as one attempt, OR you can just roll it 40 times and see if you get 4 in a row....well you'd be incredibly foolish to take the 10 attempts, and of course, that's not even counting the intangibles (pressure etc) that won't matter in dice rolling but will be a huge factor in tennis.

    PS. Krosero...as to the historical debate, while I appreciate your info, my concern is not with the origins, but with the "value" today. It is of course, all arbitrary. It could have been decided at the begining, that the "grand slam" would be something else entirely..lets say...starting at wimbledon and winning all 4 from there. That is fine, but the fact remains that winning 4 in a row, is entirely different, and statistically (and psychologically) much more probable and easier. So one can't equate the two rationally.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2010
  44. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    That's what I mean. :)
     
  45. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Changing terminology

    Hopefully the last post for tonight, since I've done a lot of posting today (too much).

    But one example of how terms change: the term "volley", in the early days of tennis, meant both a shot taken in the air and a rally.

    Newcomers to tennis today seem still to use the term "volley" when referring to a rally. I got used to correcting them on it, as if the term "volley" only had one meaning, and could never have had any other meaning.

    So it's been a surprise recently to find the terms "volley" and "rally" used interchangeably, for example, by A. Wallis Myers in his report on Lenglen-Chambers (1919). I've also seen the same thing across the pond in the New York Times of the 1920s.

    Around that time, tennis writers also used "aces" to mean winning shots that were not serves.

    These are not fixed things, because language is not fixed.

    Nor are meanings universal. Open the dictionary to any random page, how often do you see a word that has only one meaning? Most entries have a list of meanings for a single word.
     
  46. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    All quite true. And if the masses decide to change "grand slam" to 4 in a row, then I cannot stop them. But just as changing "volley" and "aces", we are radically changing the meaning, and the two things we are describing aren't equal. Not by a long shot.
     
  47. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    The concept of the Grand Slam is the perfect season, so the calendar year is relevant, restricting the options to say 10 in a normal career. Maybe there were some shifts and changes in the early 30s, but ever since Budge did it it in 1938, and Allison Danzig is credited with coining the phrase, the season concept has been intact. If it were not, Trabert would certainly have played the Australian in 1956, with a Grand Slam on the line. But he turned pro instead.
    Paul Fein did a study in the context of the case of the dubious ITF move in in 80s, where he cited a letter from Danzig, who supported the calendar year concept. The ILTF move and the 1 Million bonus is to be seen as a political maneouver by Chatrier to strenghten the status of the big four against the growing demands of the ATP and to lure the reluctant players to the AO and the French, which were under control of the ILTF. The gave it up in moment, Martina got the million.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2010
  48. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I think this pretty much forecloses further debate on the subject.
     
  49. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    I'm sure, mostly because people like yourself wouldn't give them the same credit.
     
  50. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I suspect that members of the ATP and WTA wouldn't either.
     

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