Clay Court GOAT

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by timnz, May 18, 2009.

  1. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2009
    Messages:
    21,222
    BTW, Borg never won a slam on hc. Kuerten was awefully good on clay, but never pass the QF at the AO and the USO.

    Please, do not ignore how hard it is to deal with an additional surface(hc).
     
  2. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Messages:
    5,544
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Borg played exactly four majors on hard courts in his career. Only four.
     
  3. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Messages:
    5,544
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Or he would win less if he was playing majors on hard and grass surfaces as Laver and co did throughout much of the 1960s.

    The whole business of Laver playing three of the four grand slam events on grass really applies only to two years of his professional career. 1968 and 1969. The preceding years involved a different tour with different surfaces. The following years involved him missing many grand slam events in favour of playing other, better paying, events like the WCT tour and others.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011
  4. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    12,743
    Location:
    Bierlandt
    I guess "blows away" is in the eyes of the beholder.
     
  5. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,410
    This argument about no hard court slams in Laver's time and before and a bit later is such nonsense in my opinion. Remember the argument can go any way you want it.

    Here's an argument for you and I want to point out that I don't necessarily believe this is true but can any of you tell me it wouldn't be true?

    Fact-Grass was faster in the old days at Wimbledon and the US Open with terrible bounces. Very often the ball wouldn't bounce at all. You couldn't hit a lot of groundstrokes with heavy topspin then. It's really a different surface today.
    Fact-Wooden racquets are smaller and less powerful.
    Fact-Strings aren't as good as today and the strings at that time combined with the smaller racquets allow less spin.
    Fact-Federer, Djokovic and Nadal never played on the faster and poorly maintained (with very bad bounces) grass of Wimbledon, the Australian and the US Open.

    Theory-A serve and volleyer at that time would try to kick serves to Federer's weaker backhand return. They may do the same Nadal's or Djokovic's backhand also. Can they handle the kick serves as well with wood racquets?

    Federer or Nadal or Djokovic may have to change their swing patterns to adapt to the old conditions.

    Fact-They have NEVER won a grass tournament on the old fast grass while Laver, Sampras, Rosewall, Newcombe, Borg, Connors, Gonzalez and McEnroe have.

    Theory-With bad bounces (especially at the West Side Tennis Club), one player can have a bunch of lucky bounces and upset a player.

    Can anyone prove Federer, Nadal or Djokovic can win on the old fast grass under the old conditions? The answer would be no.

    Do I think it hurts them in any way? The answer is no because it's ridiculous to even ask that question and it is also ridiculous to ask about it being tougher to win a hard court major. Frankly with Laver's super solid strokes and power I would bet he would easily have won a number of hard court majors and I think players like Nadal would win on the old fast grass and old wooden racquets. Nadal would have adapted.

    But I could make that ridiculous argument.

    Point is this. All of this guys don't have to prove anything. They all won on every surface.

    If Nadal was healthy at the 2009 French and Federer did not win that tournament, would I think Federer wasn't an excellent clay player? NO, I would still think so.

    Guys like Connors, McEnroe, Laver, Rosewall, Federer, Nadal have won on every surface.

    Do I think Laver would have won a Grand Slam if let's say the US Open was on hard court? I don't know but I think he would have had a heck of a chance. If Laver won the first three majors under these new conditions in 1969 and went to Flushing Meadows with a chance to win the Grand Slam, I would take Laver over the field.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2011
  6. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    9,277
    OT: I don't agree that the Victor Imperial and VS gut of the 60's wasn't as good as the string is now. It was different than polyester, and in some ways, better. Moreover, I would go so far as to say that the only part of the game that significantly benefits from polyester string are the heavy topspin modern forehands. It seems to me that the rest of the modern game could do as well, if not better, with natural gut strings.

    PS: Victor Imperial (with the blue spiral) was great string, made in the USA. But, it was expensive, $20 including labor, which almost doubled the price of a $25 Dunlop Maxply Fort. :mrgreen:
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2011
  7. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Messages:
    3,545
    Location:
    OREGON
    I think the answer to your questions can be answered by career W/L stats. If for example, Borg or Laver had a depreciated ratio relative to other surfaces, it would suggest a problem. If W/L stats are basically similar, then presuming eventual similar success in a major on hard is a good bet. Luck and circumstance can play a role in four majors in a specific. Its harder to explain over seasons of hard court tennis.
     
  8. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,410
    Of course.

    If there wasn't a clay court major now and Pete Sampras won all the four majors but never on clay, let's say the French Open was a grass tournament instead of a clay tournament. Well if you look at Sampras' clay record a person could logically argue that Sampras may never have won a major if one was on red clay.

    But to argue Laver wouldn't have won a Grand Slam if there was a hard court major, well to be honest and I'm trying to be respectful here but that's really a reach. Laver won more tournaments on hard courts than most Hall of Famers have won tournaments to put it in perspective. For example, Rod Laver won more hard court tournaments than Kuerten won tournaments in his entire career, a good amount more.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2011
  9. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Good Point.Even if Indoor has almost gone off, we must consider it as a measure of greatness, along grass,hard and clay.That would make climb up in the rankings guys like Mc Enroe,Lendl,Becker,Sampras,Federer...and Nastase
     
  10. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,410
    Borg didn't have a weak surface. I've always thought Borg would have beaten Connors easily at the US Open in 1978 if he wasn't hurt. Incidentally Borg won the 1979 Canadian Open on hard court without losing a set, defeating McEnroe in the final easily.
     
  11. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,410
    Kiki,

    Your mention of Nastase is inspired. Nastase at his best would give almost anyone would ever played some problems and he didn't have a weak surface.
    http://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Players/Na/I/Ilie-Nastase.aspx?t=mr

    If Nastase played Andre Agassi, both at their best on red clay, medium indoors, hard court and grass I may very well pick Nastase, as long as Nastase doesn't go totally overboard.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2011
  12. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    I do think so, too.Nastase, with his tricky tennis and athletic abilities, would find the way to outplay Andre.At his top level, Nastase had great stamina and speed, may be hard court´s would be the only surface I´d bet top Agassi beat top Nastase, at their peaks and with comparable matherial ( whn I make a comparison, I always imagine comparable conditions).On indoors and clay, Nastase would have a clear advantage, on grass, it could be even, but it would be a pretty close match whatever the outcome would be.
     
  13. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Many people don´t know that Ilie´s last big win, the Indoor Masters played at Stockholm in 1975, he completely demolished Borg in front of his home crowd.I cannot imagine many other player able to do so.Do not forget indoor tennis was played on a much faster surface than today´s YEC, and , of course, there were much more indoor events than now ( as opossed to there are much more hard court events now than then, even if they are indoors, but it is still a hard court event, not my indoor definition - Supreme court-)
     
  14. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,113
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    Kuerten's best result at the Australian Open was one third round loss in 2004. Every other year, he went out in the first or second rounds. Kuerten never played well there for some reason, even though theoretically, there was no reason why he shouldn't have had a few deep runs. The irony is that Kuerten was usually rubbish at Wimbledon and he disliked the tournament, yet still managed a quarter final run in 1999.

    Kuerten's best chance of a hardcourt slam win was at the 2001 US Open. Unfortunately for Kuerten, that epic third round match he had with Mirnyi did bad damage to his hip and would later cause him major problems.
     
  15. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    9,277
    I think that Agassi's steadiness is underappreciated on TT. Becker, one of the biggest hitters ever, explained that his problem against Agassi was that Agassi hit harder than he did, AND was steadier than he was.

    With Agassi's unprecedented combination of power and consistency, I don't see Nastase having a winning record against Agassi on any surface except, perhaps, clay, which would neutralize Agassi's power and reward Nastase's touch and versatility. Nastase might have some success against Agassi on grass, but, only because grass rewards foot speed which, in addition to great hitting on the run, Nastase had in abundance, and Agassi had neither.
     
  16. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,410
    Possibly but remember I'm talking about Nastase at his best and at his best he was able to beat Jimmy Connors at his best, not all the time but quite often.

    One thing Agassi used to say was that Mecir gave him the most problems of any player he ever played. Funny thing was that I think they played only once unless there were some exhibitions I didn't know of. My point is that Mecir was a very fast player with great touch, very similar to Nastase in that respect but he didn't come close to Nastase's effectiveness on serve.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2011
  17. Cesare

    Cesare Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2010
    Messages:
    469
    not so bad, but Nicola Pietrangeli should be there, 2 roland garros straight 1959-1960, and runner up in '61 and '64( defeated by Santana), 2 times winner in Rome, a great talented player for sure
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2011
  18. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    I like your point.Mecir was a master uf the unexpected, just that Nastase was a bit better...
     
  19. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    9,277
    Haha! I would say Sampras gave Agassi the most problems of any player. But, if Mecir gave Agassi problems, then, IMO, it was not because Mecir was quick although he was very quick. It was because Mecir made his opponents run - more than anyone else I've ever seen - and Agassi didn't hit well on the run.

    As for Nastase, he was a bit like Hoad in that respect. He could play at the highest levels when he kept his focus. And, just when it seemed that Connors and Borg had left him behind, he would come up with a devestating win against one of them.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2011
  20. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,410
    I would have no doubt that you're right about Sampras giving Agassi the most problems. I forgot to mention in the post you quoted that it may have been in the early to mid 1990's that Agassi said that comment about Mecir giving him the most problems. It was early in the Agassi/Sampras rivalry.

    I wonder if Mecir would have had the success against Agassi that he had against many of the Swedish players if they had played more.
     
  21. CharlesJScott

    CharlesJScott New User

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2011
    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    New york
    Mecir only success against only swedish players.
     
  22. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    4,547
    2 out of 3 in 1968 on grass

    And in 1968 he didn't play the Australian because Open tennis didn't happen until April that year (Australian was in January). So only 2 out of 3 available Open Grand Slam tournaments in 1968 were on grass.
     
  23. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    I like your point on Hoad.Very underrated here.I many times thought peak Laver vs peak Hoad would probably be the best match of all time.Devastating tennis, with no shots undoable.Over 10 games, Laver would get the edge but, on a given day, people who followed Hoad closely said he was untouchable...1956 Hoad vs 1967 Laver, that would be close to a heart break
     
  24. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Ask Mac about that...
     
  25. CharlesJScott

    CharlesJScott New User

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2011
    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    New york
    Not four, it's five as per my information..
     
  26. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Messages:
    5,544
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    What's the fifth one?

    1978 US Open, 1979 US Open, 1980 US Open, 1981 US Open.
     
  27. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,113
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    No. Only four.
     
  28. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    12,743
    Location:
    Bierlandt
    Pancho would agree. He said that even at his very best, Hoad could beat him.

    (I do often wonder what set Muscles on fire in the finals of the '56 US Championships--keeping Hoad from the GS.?)
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011
  29. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2005
    Messages:
    4,373
    The wind that day. It hampered Lew's service rhythm a bit. But their earlier matches at Australian and Wim were close 4 set affairs, too. In the Wim final Ken lead Lew 4-1 in the fourth, but Lew stormed back to take the set.
     
  30. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Possibly, the pressure of having the GS at hands, plus don´t forget Hoad and Muscless had grown up together (the Wonderkids, they were called), and if Hoad didn´t approach his top, Rosewall would make him pay for it - as Laver so often said-.Rosewall and Hoad knew each other like twins brothers...
     
  31. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    12,743
    Location:
    Bierlandt
    Here we are--
     
  32. got spin?

    got spin? Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2011
    Messages:
    469
    Location:
    Dish Pit
    Roddick, no doubt is the best clay courter :)
     
  33. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    12,743
    Location:
    Bierlandt
    Roddick or Sampras.
     
  34. TennisLovaLova

    TennisLovaLova Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2011
    Messages:
    3,069
    N°1 Nadal
    And Federer would have been clay goat if nadal just kept playin "padel"
     
  35. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    9,277
    What a novel opinion. But, you won't make many friends around here with that kind of talk. Hahaha!
     
  36. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,113
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    How is Borg still above Nadal now?
     
  37. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Where are Panatta and Orantes? Panatta won Rome and Roland Garros ( as well as Hamburg and a Davis Cup final played on clay); Orantes won Forest Hills, Rome and some other titles like Barcelona,Hamburg,Indianapolis and Boston.If Gimeno is in the list, they both should also be.
     
  38. zagor

    zagor Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2007
    Messages:
    26,029
    Location:
    Weak era
    It amazes me this is even a question but since I'm such a nice person I'll clarify things for you. I won't even use arguments from other fan groups( Fed fans, Novak fans, historians etc.) since they're overall very biased against Rafa but rather I'll just concentrate on a few things that Nadal fans themselves stated quite often.

    According to the majority of Nadal fans 2004-2007 was an extremely weak period of tennis overall (weak era as it is often calle by little bulls) and half of Nadal's current # of FO titles comes from that period so given that it was a weak era than 3 of Nadal's FO titles are weak themselves, Borg on the other hand has no such problem given that all of his FO titles were won in a strong era.

    Another issue is that of a main rival, according to Borg fans Vilas was an amazing physical specimen, real beast and warrior on court and a great player overall(even underrated according to them).

    Nadal's main rival on the other hand again according to Nadal fans( as I said it wouldn't be fair to use biased statements from other fan groups) is a mentally weak crybaby who has no BH and who basically owes all of his titles to luck, weak opponents(bums, chokers, babies etc.), pansy draws, rigged schedules etc. etc.

    Overall when we compare:

    FO titles won in strong era-> Borg-6 Nadal-3

    Borg's main CC rival>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Nadal's main CC rival


    Conclusion: Even according to his own fans Nadal is inferior to Borg so what's the discussion here? Borg>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Nadal
     
  39. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    iN FACT, CLAY COURT IS THE ONLY SURFACE WHERE I WOULD SAY THAT TODAY´S PLAYERS CAN RIVAL WITH THE 1970´S OR 1980´S.SO NADAL HAS MERIT IN WINNING THE FO 6 TIMES.ANOTHER THINK IS THE USO, WIMBLEDON OR THAT THING CALLED YEC.
     
  40. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    9,277
    Borg had a great forehand, although Ralph's fh is even better. Borg had the better serve, the better backhand, the better net game, and at least equal if not the better speed and conditioning. Although Ralph is one of the mentally toughest, most cometitive players of all time, Borg was THE mentally toughest, most competitive player of all time (on the men's side). That intangible - mental toughness/competitiveness - is more important on clay, which recquires more patience and focus, than other surfaces. That's why they are the 2 best clay court players of all time.

    Both playing with modern racquets, I give the edge to Borg, 6/10 on clay.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2011
  41. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2009
    Messages:
    21,222
    THERE'S NO FACT, IT'S JUST YOUR OPINION. MY OPINION IS TODAY'S PLAYERS ARE BETTER THAN ANY PREVIOUS ERA IN ANY SURFACE, ESPECIALLY ON HC.
     
  42. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    12,743
    Location:
    Bierlandt
    I agree with TMF about opinions. That's his opinion. My opinion is different.

    I may regard my opinion as more logical and more supported by evidence, but that's just my opinion.
     
  43. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    I agree.Opinions are opinions and every one is entitled to make the arguments that support them.that is all about.
     
  44. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    First, today´s grass has nothing to see with former grass

    Second, today about 70% of the tournaments are played on HC, so it is normal there is much evidence of seeing hard court play today than any time before

    Third, the opposite is true concerning indoor, in the 70´s and 80´s, even some 90´s, indoor was much more played than now, so we were used to see former players indoors as often as you are used seeing hard court players today

    Finally, clay is the only surface that has remained relatively unchanged.That is why, IMO, clay is the surface were we can be more objective in comparing today´s and former players.

    Of course, I don´t get into the matherials, balls, rackets and strings which have changed so much that it is almost impossible to make a fair comparison.
     
  45. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    12,743
    Location:
    Bierlandt
    I know that the dimensions of the court have not changed. Have the dimensions of the ball changed much?


    (Weren't all tennis balls back in the 20s or 30s pressureless?)
     
  46. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    yeah¡ only court dimensions haven´t changed.Balls,Rackets,Court speed, matherials,strings every aspect of the game has changed, so any comparison should be within the same theoretical conditions.
     
  47. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2005
    Messages:
    4,373
    I read from Dan Maskell, that no ball was better than the hand-made used in the 20s. Woh, what could modern tennis be more exciting with such kind of balls (no Wilander joke).
     
  48. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Messages:
    12,743
    Location:
    Bierlandt
    1. Borg-Nadal (co-number ones)
    3. Rosewall
    4. Cochet
    5. Lendl
    6. Wilander
    7. Lacoste
    8. Kuerten
    9. Laver
    10. Borotra
    11. Drobny
    12. Vilas
    13. Santana
    14. Bruguera
    15. Pietrangeli
    16. Muster
    17. Courier
    18. Federer
    19. Kodes
    20. von Cramm
    21. Emerson
    22. Trabert
    23. Agassi
    24. Connors
    25. Gimeno
    26. Frank Parker
    27. Roche
    28. Nastase
    29. Sven Davidson
    30. Jack Crawford
    31. Fred Perry
    32. J.E. Patty
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2012
  49. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    9,277
    Federer doesn't belong on the list. But for Nadal's bad knees, Soderling would never had eliminated him in 2009, and Ralph would have, yet, another win in a major final against Federer. Nastase, on the other hand, should be much higher on the list near Vilas. He was a master clay court player.
     
  50. Carsomyr

    Carsomyr Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2009
    Messages:
    4,211
    Location:
    Winesburg, Ohio
    :lol:

    Five RG finals, including a title, along with five MS titles, "doesn't belong on the list?" Speaking of Vilas, he won but two matches against Borg on clay, the first and last ones they ever played, going 0-11 in between. Vilas' lone French Open win in 1977 didn't see the worlds' two best players in the draw, one of whom is arguably the clay GOAT. Amusing how exclusionary you are regarding Federer when Sampras somehow makes your greatest groundstrokes of all time list.
     

Share This Page