changing perceptions of tennis records

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by urban, Oct 19, 2011.

  1. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Reading some of the recent threads about Connors, Lendl and Agassi, i found it funny, how the perception of many records changes. For instance Agassi: His so called 'Career Grand Slam', the term was invented for him, was seen around 2000 as one of the best records of all time. Players like Connors, Borg, Becker, Lendl, Sampras had tried and missed, to take the last leg of the majors. Then Agassi came, and made it - quite surprinsingly. Now 11 years later, the trick of winning all four majors in a career, has become quite common. Fed and Nadal did it, Djoker has good chances, and i wouldn't even rule out Murray. At least he reached at all majors the semis or better this year. In consequence, Agassi's status has lost some of his luster.
    On the other hand, Connors with his consistency seems to take a new high ride. Maybe spurred by Federer's semis record, people care more about consistency. Even some scientific reseachers give Connors the highest accolades. Back in the 80s or 90s, nobody cared much about Connors' (or Everts) consistency records. With Djkoker's big year the interest is shifting again to one year performances. I find this tendency quite funny and amusing.
     
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  2. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I think it's has a lot to do with showing how "unique" the present players are compared to past players when often they aren't that unique at all but the conditions of playing are different. A lot of it also is to publicize the present game of tennis.

    I saw that scientific research and it was a joke to me. I respect Connors but I felt the article was incredibly flawed.

    The big change is the emphansis on the fixed number of majors. It seems that anyone who has a decent amount of majors is officially (in their minds) a GOAT contender. I don't think it's so simple.
     
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  3. Orion3

    Orion3 Semi-Pro

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    My thoughts....

    Historically, the slams were played on Grass x3 and Clay x1. Grass was faster than it is now and playing on Clay represented and big difference. Laver was the last player who managed to win THE 'grand slam'.

    70's - 90's saw the surfaces on some of the slams change and we ended up with 4 different surfaces; making what Agassi did quite an achievement.

    Now - By and large the French plays as it always did, Wimbledon seems slower and the French and Australian Opens are now played on slower artificial surfaces.

    My thoughts are simple - Over the years the surfaces have become increasingly similar; what Agassi did was impressive, in some respects it was more impressive than what Laver achieved.

    I guess what I'm trying to say (rather inarticulately) is that the variability of court surfaces in the slams is closer now than it has ever been (in my lifetime anyway) – you don’t need to develop a separate (or even vary your) game to win all four slams, ala Lendl with Wimbledon; which he still failed to win.

    Connors – his constancy and longevity has to be admired. That said, I’ve never been a fan but I still am in awe of what he managed and can’t see that EVER being repeated.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2011
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  4. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Agree for wider parts with the posts above. Some records look differently under different circumstances. In the 70s, Connors biggest achievement was seen in winning the USO on 3 different surfaces (grass, green clay, hard). Now with the emphasis more on major counts, he maybe would have better fared, if hard courts had been in play since 1974, giving him probably more titles. Jimbo himself certainly will not regret it, he has always been a "did it my way" guy.
     
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  5. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    Let me get this straight: several decades ago "we ended up with 4 different surfaces" (instead of 2) but "over the years the surfaces have become increasingly similar." Ahhh, thank you.
     
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  6. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I've written about this phenomenon many times. The changing perceptions of the greatness of tennis players after their careers are over is a repeating cycle that has been going on since tennis became a widely popular sport.

    Typically, the "crowd," always tending toward hero worship and fanaticism, can't imagine that there has ever been, or will ever be, a champion greater than the current champion du jure. I've seen it over and over and over. Then after any particular champion has retired, the emotions that tainted the fan's judgment during a former champion's career having faded, his/her greatness can then be retrospectively considered in the context of all of the champions that came before him in a more thoughtful, rational manner. The most recent iteration of this phenomenon is occurring right now with Federer who choses to continue to compete for his own satisfaction notwithstanding that he is clearly past his peak.

    As for Agassi, it seems that the OP is observing the same phenomenon in reverse. Perhaps Agassi was less respected, beloved, revered during his career than other champions for any number of reasons which are well known and don't have to be enumerated here. But, only after his retirement, and the fanatic emotions, positive or negative, appurtenant to his successes and failures have faded, can his greatness be more rationally and reasonably assessed in the context of the greats that came before him.
     
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  7. Orion3

    Orion3 Semi-Pro

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    Yup...that would be correct. Perhaps if I changed the sentance to "over the years the way the surfaces play has become increasingly similar." would it make more sense?
     
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  8. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    There is a great love for Agassi now because he changed from what they perceived as a young man with no substance, the "image is everything" person that he portrayed in the commercials. He is now considered a very giving person and he married another legend in Steffi Graf. Perhaps person want to see him as a great player on the level with the all time legends of tennis. He was humanized further when people read his revealing book and some loved him more for that.

    I consider Agassi a great player of course but a level below the all time greats.
     
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  9. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I think it would be very cool if the USO switched to a painted (non-aggregate), cement surface. It would be as fast as the current grass at Wimbledon with truer bounces, it would open up the game for more variety, it would significantly differentiate the USO from the current AO, and would be marginally easier on the legs.
     
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  10. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I agree with the bolded part. But, I consider Lendl to be a level below the all time greats as well. I don't have that strong of an opinion about Agassi vs. Lendl. But, having seen them both play, I was more impressed with Agassi's game. His peak level of play was closer to the all time greats than Lendl's IMO.

    The best argument in favor of Lendl's "career" vs. Agassi's isn't his level of play, but, the consistency of his level of play. If consistency and percerverance (which Agassi also had in abundance), is your gauge, then Lendl is a a first tier all time great. If highest level of play is your gauge, then I tip the scale in favor of Agassi.
     
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  11. Satch

    Satch Hall of Fame

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    +1
    also with every record broken, perception also changes.. nothing new there
     
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  12. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    Its not that surprising. The tendancy of what people look at the most for evaluating players keeps on shifting as the events unfold as tennis , like many other games, is quite dynamic.
     
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  13. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    krosero posted articles from 1987 talking about Lendl's quest for the "career grand slam"

    and from 1990

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=266828&page=2
     
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  14. BTURNER

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    I felt it was cultural. Americans who may have loved Chris and Jimmy viewed reaching the semis of a major as no different from reaching the 3rd rd. If you don't win the whole enchilada, you might as well not have bothered to enter. I never understood that thinking.
     
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  15. Bobby Jr

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    That's a big understatement. It was one of the more retarded efforts I've seen and done clearly by someone who seemingly created the formula to demonstrate his desired result.

    I agree... one thing which has changed, particularly in the last 6 or 7 years is the easy access to masses of historic data - the likes of which were rare to see, let alone compile en-mass as can be done in a matter of seconds now.

    The way people find and interpret data is also a factor too. There is so much available that it is easy as pie to be selective about what you use but still give the impression of legitimacy or impartiality when demonstrating a point, when more often than not the compiler did have an in-built bias. Being able to spot this is tough and usually requires a level of experience and knowledge of the subject at hand (i.e. to work out what is missing that should be there or vice versa).

    Two examples of this which come to mind quickly are the h2h stats and the general ignoring of the value of the end of year championships.

    The h2h is probably the most commonly used and spuriously comparison between players. Put simply, to achieve something - i.e. a tournament win, a player must play a series of players in order to win. They don't play one person to do it. As covered many time by people here who smell a rat, the famous Federer/Nadal h2h is not comparing like for like as Federer won literally dozens of tournament in which Nadal lost earlier - but the same can't be said the other way around. In a holistic view Federer should be credited with all those tournament wins where he beat the person who earlier beat Nadal. In that week/time-frame he bettered the person who bettered a rival (or bettered the person who bettered the person who...). That's as good as beating them. At least that's why they give that person the trophy - they beat all.

    Simply: tennis isn't actually a head-to-head sport despite it being an individual sport. It's a tournament sport. The h2h is nice for quick comparisons per-match but so far as being remotely important in the bigger scheme of tennis achievement it rates about 20th down the list.

    The value of the end or year championships seems also to have changed a lot over the years - or has it? It used to be a big thing and rightfully I think it still should be. But so many people who are on here divvying up the wins/losses etc seem to treat it as nothing. In reality every player on tour knows their legacy will be improved more by a single end of year championships win than 10 masters 1000 series wins. (a slam is worth way more). Here on Talk Tennis though it often feels like the bias is towards tournaments you see more often so the masters series stick in people's minds more and the perception grows that they are of more significance than they really are in the bigger scheme of a player's lasting greatness. If you won tons in a single year - cool... great achievement. But no amount of them can make up for a poor career-long slam performance (except in money earned).
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2011
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  16. Eternity

    Eternity Semi-Pro

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    Really? Why do Agassi and Lendl miss the mark? What do you consider the cut off for being an all time great?
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2011
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  17. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    I consider there to be different tiers of all time greats. I personally put the cut off at the Becker/Edberg level. So in the post World War 11 years I would go something like this (in no particular order btw):

    Tier 1: Laver, Sampras, Borg, Federer, Gonzales, Rosewall
    Tier 2: Nadal (will be tier 1 soon IMO), Lendl, Connors, McEnroe (because of historic 1984 and peak level play)
    Tier 3: Agassi, Newcombe, Wilander
    Tier 4: Becker, Edberg, Hoad, Djokovic (because of his amazing 2011)

    These are the players who can be considered all time greats IMO.
     
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  18. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    IMO, Laver, Sampras, Federer, Borg and Gonzales were in a class by themselves. Connors, Agassi, Lendl, Mac and a few others were a notch below them.

    PS: I forgot to mention that after his 2010 season, I would include Nadal in that second tier. If his body holds up, and he can continue to play at that level, then there's an argument to put him in the top tier. But, as I've said, it's difficult to assess players against history who are still in their prime. Federer was a rare exception to that rule.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2011
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  19. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    If Nadal has another great year, you wouldn't mind put him in the 1st tier. But if Fed has another great year, would you put him a notch above Laver, Sampras, Borg and Gonzales ? I know you won't.
     
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  20. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I remember everybody was writting off both Connors and Evert when Borg-Mc Enroe-Navratilova -Austin were dominating them...still they reached ALL the semifinals of the GS plus Masters or WCT finals, and they´d be beaten just by one of the 2 players they had above up in the rankings...that is consistency¡¡¡ and faith...:)
     
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  21. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    It makes sense, but you forgot to mention, from the 60´s on guys like Roy Emerson
     
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  22. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    TMF,

    Just out of curiosity, do you know all the accomplishments of Gonzalez and Laver? They are truly astonishing. Anyway many already put Federer in the first tier already so why get so upset. In terms of accomplishments I already put Federer ahead of Sampras.

    My point is that if you don't know all the accomplishments you can't say Federer is ahead of them if even Federer had several more great years. Maybe Federer is already ahead of them in accomplishments but maybe not.

    I know when I read about the great accomplishments of Bill Tilden I was quite skeptical but he was truly superhuman when I read about his tennis feats. Yet at the same time many of these so call greats disappointed me when I found out what they truly accomplished.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2011
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  23. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    A notch above Laver, Sampras et al., would be a notch that doesn't exist yet, IMO. It would have to be a really great year.
     
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  24. Eternity

    Eternity Semi-Pro

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    Oh, I see. Fair enough.

    Yeah, I agree for the most part. I haven't included Djokovic just yet, but he's on his way.
     
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  25. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Well, since many of members in this forum have Fed in tier 1 along with the players Limpin have mentioned, I was curious if Fed continue to add another spectacular year, would he be placed ahead of them. That's all.
     
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  26. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    For Fed to have another "spectacular" year at this point, he would probably have to improve his game somehow. To me, spectacular would be something like winning 2-3 majors beating Djoko and Ralph in the finals, in addition to another 10 titles, and a 95%+ winning percentage. If he managed to do that on top of his existing accomplishements, then he would probably be in a class by himself. It could happen. Laver won his 2nd Grand Slam at the age of 31 and was still considered the best player in tennis until about 33-34.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2011
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  27. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    In the absence of....25 grand slams...I'm not sure how you could ever put somebody in another tier above Laver, Limpin! MAYBE if Fed won a grand slam....
     
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  28. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    He's not going to have the spectacular year I described in any event. I was just trying to make TMF feel better.
     
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  29. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    You still didn't answer my question. Do you know the accomplishments of Gonzalez and Laver? I'll add Tilden to that list. Don't just use wiki.

    Again the point is that while Federer is clearly an all time great, tennis has a very long history so how can you call him the greatest unless you are familiar with the greats of all time? If I was asleep for fifty years and woke up now I wouldn't say that Federer isn't the greatest ever over let's say Gonzalez because I wouldn't know anything about Federer. I can't assume Gonzalez is automatically superior because while I knew Gonzalez's record I wouldn't know Federer's record.

    Did you know Bill Tilden won at one point 138 of 162 tournaments in his time? Yes I know you'll argue that it was the past but clearly he was great. He was fast, powerful and had all the skills. He won only ten majors because airplane travel wasn't really available and traveling by boat would take ages. If Tilden had the available travel of today he may have won several Grand Slams.

    Please don't argue the stuff about present better than past. I would also argue that Gonzalez in today's time would do well also, same with Tilden and yes Rod Laver. Frankly I think Gonzalez would scare a lot of players today with his will to win. These were gifted players as is Federer.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2011
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  30. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    True, it could only happen with very improbable circumstance ie. luck. (djoker and Nadal flop out to other players...or just burn out mentally) or injuries etc. befall them.

    Having said that, when that is required to win, can it truly be judged the same way in terms of dominance or greatness? Of course, a win is a win...you can always throw in "ifs and buts"....nevertheless, it's hard to argue, well you can become the "greatest" IF the people who are better than you, figuratively don't show up this year...

    In any case though...I can never rank somebody as a tier above Laver without at LEAST one grand slam....it would be like saying the guy with 6 silvers and 4 bronze beats the guy with 2 gold!
     
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  31. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    If the players who are supposedly better suffer early losses to lesser players, that's a negative in their column. In that sense they are not the best. If they burn out and play poorly all around, that is also a negative: it means they did not hold up as well as the player who, under the same or very similar circumstances, did not burn out. In that sense, again, they are not the best.
     
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  32. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I see your point but I would give some players a break because of different circumstances in their era. For example Tilden wouldn't travel overseas because of the difficulty in doing that in his time. Many players in other times only played three majors a year. Players like Gonzalez and Rosewall couldn't play the majors for years etc.

    Still Laver won an amateur Grand Slam, a Pro Grand Slam and an Open Grand Slam. That's pretty awesome.
     
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  33. TopFH

    TopFH Hall of Fame

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    What year do you live in? Can't believe you survived 9 more World Wars.
     
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  34. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    Yeah, I still don't put a lot of eggs in this contrived Grand Slam nonsense. Total marketing BS for Don Budge back in 1938. I still do not buy any of it.

    Cincy is really all that matters in tennis.

    And whatever Serena is designing or acting in at the moment. That's what I follow. Oh, and American Idol.
     
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  35. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Yes, true. All of that must be accepted due to the very nature of the sport, and the competitions that are held! As I said, I accept that, and wouldn't try to take slams away from somebody on that basis, and yet, were we to talk frankly, if one were to say: would your opinion Federer's clay court ability to rise if he won the FO next year? Well, it likely would....unless Djoko and Nadal announced that they weren't playing. Then....well....to be honest, my opinion of Feds' claycourt ability would probably stay about the same!

    In that sense, deep down, would I be as impressed if Djoko and Nadal were injured at the beginning of the year, and didn't play the slams...but Fed won a grandslam? Well, of course, it would still be an achievement, and it would still "count"....but if you were to ask me off the record, if my evaluation of him as a player has gone up....the honest answer would probably be: not much. Of course, my evaluation of him is already sky-high...so high that I wouldn't be shocked if he did it, absent Nadal/Djoko, but to really impress me more as a player...right now...I think I would need to see him go through them convincingly!

    Nevertheless if Fed could get a couple slams, or even one(maybe), I'd consider putting him a tier above Laver, regardless of circumstance...because as you point out, one cannot possibly account for all the variables, and thus, I will go with: winning slams count.

    If you can makes sense of this ramble....no time right now to rewrite for clarity...lol.
     
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  36. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Absolutely...so for sure, I'd take radically different circumstance into account (ie. before open era)...

    ...and as I was discussing in the ramble above...there are many factors one can consider if one wants to make a personal subjective evaluation of the circumstance...nevertheless, for all the current players, and players of the last few generations (I'd even say the 80's players have a argument for their general dismissal of the AO...and a few other cases)...the Laver slam has been a well known, pursued goal...and especially now, an opportunity much, much, more accessible...(ie. today's top player has every luxury, and no reason not to try), and yet, it has not been done....Laver is the man LOL.

    In fact, I can think of a better chance in my lifetime than now, for a Djoko to get it. Relatively homogenized surface, very homogenized games (of which he plays the best right now), few surprises, the most controlled environments ever, all the resources and support he could possibly imagine (the players can have one assistant for blisters on the right foot and one for the left...and some almost do! ;-) ....no, huge top 10 all-courters around to get hot and blow you away one day (Krajicek, Stich, etc)...no crazy flat ball shotmaker (Korda, Leconte, etc)....it's a great time.

    That is not to say it's "easy"....there are plenty of baseliners to go to war with.....and they will be long, grinding battles....but the mental advantage/momentum has never been so strong for the top baseliner....
     
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  37. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    No i didn't. But so what? Am I not have the right to for an opnion? EVen Agassi who's around my age haven't seen player's in the past, is his opinions not as accurate as yours or any older people. Even Borg who didn't get a chance to watch Tilden and Pancho. Should his judgement on the great players in history means little too?

    I'm just going by fans' opinion on these aforementioned names which are in tier 1 great, whether if those fans have watched tennis since 20s or the 80s.
     
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  38. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Of course you have a right to an opinion. But I'm just saying that you cannot say for certain if you don't have all the information or at least have a decent knowledge of the player in question.

    All you have to do is research the accomplishments of the past players. Borg may have done that.
    Incidentally a young Borg played Gonzalez and lost 6-1 6-1 so I guess Borg did his research on Pancho Gonzalez. I suppose it was painful research. lol.
    I'm sure very few alive have seen Bill Tilden play. Pancho Segura is one obviously.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2011
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  39. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    You certainly do. Others have every right to judge the correctness of your opinion, it's validity, and the criterions on which it's based.

    Also troubling are the many times you argue that your opinion is fact. For example, it is common for you to argue that Player X is a bad person, and that Player Y is a much better person. Then you argue that it is "FACT", not an "opinion". This shows an inability to properly identify between the two. Troubling from an epsitemolololololoigical perspective...as is your frequent argument that TW polls constitute "proof".
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2011
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  40. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    My opinion are back up by facts. I use stats/achievements to support my point. And the result of a poll IS fact...for instance, if a public poll had Fed receiving the most votes by all fans around the world as the greatest player, I have a strong case to bring this up.
     
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  41. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    TMF,

    A poll isn't necessarily a fact. For example if I had a poll asking who is the best right handed tennis player let's say Federer won the poll with Nadal second. Is that accurate? I'm sure some people voting wouldn't know Nadal is a lefty and vote for him because he's famous.

    Now of course the RESULT of a poll is fact but the poll result may really not be accurate because the fans may been casual fans.

    Some players in sports have won polls for most underrated player and most overrated player in the same year or at least been on both lists! I doubt if both can be true.

    There was a poll in the late 1940's in which Dewey was suppose to defeated Truman and become President of the United States. It didn't happen. Truman won. Polls aren't always true.

    http://history1900s.about.com/cs/trumanharry/a/deweytruman.htm

    In an election a poll is an least an indicator of results but a poll on tennis warehouse really just shows the opinions of the people here which is fine but you can't call it fact.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2011
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  42. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    the results of a poll represent a series of facts, but none with very much value in this context. The results of a 'TW 'poll' is also factual but it is of even less value because the poll is unscientifically drawn. It does not meaure anything accurately, including the views of people who use TW websites because it does not properly weigh for the variables as a professional pollster would.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2011
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  43. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    This does not make your OPINION a fact. If a person presents an opinion supported by facts, then it can lend strength to the opinion; then others can examine the facts which you feel support your argument.

    That however, is often not the case with you, particularly when you state facts that are either erroneous, irrelevant, or inadequate to support your conclusion. A typical example would be when you will attack another poster with something like: The Williams sisters ARE bad people. That is FACT! You haven't watched as much tennis as I have, I have watched almost all their match, I have seen their rude behavior, capiche?!

    This has been explained to you over and over, and indeed, it's deeply troubling that you are unable to understand the difference between fact and opinion.

    The existence of the poll is a "fact". That in no way implies that the opinions expressed in the poll are a "fact". You are (in fact), simply basing your opinion on the opinion of others.

    This was designed for small children, but perhaps this can help you....even the first examples:

    http://www.educationoasis.com/curriculum/LP/LP_PDF Word/LA_Fact_vs_Opinion_Packet.pdf
     
    #43
  44. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
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    Hahaha! TMF, the result of a poll is a fact about an opinion.
     
    #44
  45. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    4,548
    Borg Gonzales

    Actually Borg played, and lost, to Gonzales He was only 16 at the time but he got to see how great pancho was from the other side of the net
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2011
    #45

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