Clay Court GOAT

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

  1. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    He would have love to have won it. Again, though in 1975 & 1976 Borg was 19 and 20 years old respectively - not at his peak yet. A pity he was injured in 1977 - I don't see anyone beating him if he was healthy that year.
     
  2. newmark401

    newmark401 Professional

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    "Quote:
    Originally Posted by newmark401
    I'd also include the Dohertys in the discussion. A list of some of their clay court singles victories can be found here:

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=322284


    They certainly won the top clay court titles of their time (and personally I think that Laurie was the best pre-world war one player, even though I am a fan of Wilding), but the number of their clay court titles, with full respect to their abilities, wasn't up there with someone like Wilding ie 13 to 16 Clay court titles each compared to over 60 for Wilding."

    That list of the Dohertys' clay court singles titles isn't complete, but it's all I have for them. I don't think their numbers really matter, it's their utter dominance which is so impressive.
     
  3. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Borg did eventually have great success on har-tru, not at the USO but at the Pepsi Grand Slam, which doesn't exist anymore but was a big tournament at the time. I don't think he was as strong on Har-Tru as he was on red clay, but the evidence is there that he was the best har-tru player of his generation. He just had to gradually overtake Jimmy Connors.

    In '75 at the USO he was still far from his peak and not favored to win the USO. And he lost to Connors (who owned him them, physically and psychologically) in straights.

    In '76 he went into the USO as the Wimbledon champion, and some people expected him to win, others picked Connors. And Connors beat him in a very close match (Connors had 2-point margin in total points won; Borg had points to go up two sets to one).

    In January '77 he beat Connors in a close match at Pepsi. In September he was top-seeded at the Open and the favorite to win, but defaulted early with an injury.

    In January '78 he beat Connors in another three-setter at Pepsi, 6-1 in the final set, a little more comfortably than the previous year.

    In early '79 he dominated Connors at Pepsi, 6-2, 6-3. And he won Pepsi again in 1980, his last time playing that tournament.

    So basically Borg didn't solve Connors until January '77, and until then Connors prevented him from winning the USO. Afterwards he solved Connors (eventually even dominating him), but there was only one USO left on Har-Tru and he was injured for it.

    So a combination of youth and injuries (and a tough early matchup with Jimmy Connors) shut Borg out at the three USO's played on clay.
     
  4. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    Borg also won three consecutive events at the US Pro (Boston) on har-tru from 1974 to 1976 (correct me if I'm wrong). Hilton Head was an exo on har-tru as well. Borg won that in 1976 and 1977 and then it was scrapped.

    Har-tru played faster than red clay and was much more friendly to players like Connors and other guys who simply did not do well on red. It's "clay", but "clay" is just a label. The material isn't the same.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2010
  5. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    They were impressive indeed. Wilding himself I think was hugely respectful of Laurie's abilities.
     
  6. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Yes, Boston went to har-tru in '74 and Borg won it three straight times (though he didn't have to face Connors). Plus he has those two Hilton Head titles on har-tru.

    This thing about har-tru not being clay is tricky, because har-tru might be faster, but it's still a slow surface, comparable to clay in that sense. On the other hand as you say the material is not the same, and it made some difference in the matchups. I think it made a difference in the Borg-Connors matches, though not necessarily because Borg was really hindered on har-tru. Red clay, especially at its slowest, was obviously Borg's strongest suit, but he could play well on all slow surfaces. I think it made more of a difference to Connors. He could play great on har-tru but was, at best, questionable on red clay. Or at least an unproven force on red clay.

    I don't know but did Jimmy have any real experience on red clay, I mean in his formative years? He lost in the opening rounds at the French in '72 and '73 when he was already a top player; and after he started playing at the French again in '79 he never got past the semis. It's just a contrast with what he did at the USO on har-tru (making all three finals, and winning one of them).
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2010
  7. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    Connors could drive through the ball on har-tru, take it early, force it to the corners, overpower the opponent. But on red everything stayed up and grinding out long rallies was more to Borg's strengths.

    As for comparing clay across eras, we can only really use red clay results if we want to be fair. Nadal has not played a single atp match on har-tru, so we don't know how he'd do. So ultimately it's red clay results of one versus red clay results of another. IMO.
     
  8. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    In the matches I've seen, Connors does seem to be getting a lot of pace from his opponents on har-tru, and of course that's something he liked.

    As for the comparison with Nadal, I agree about restricting it to red clay, though if I had to speculate I think Nadal would adapt to har-tru just as well as Borg did. Neither one of them grew up on har-tru but both excel for obvious reasons on slow dirt.

    Now Federer, I wonder, he didn't grow up on har-tru, but if har-tru gave Connors an advantage I think it may have given a similar advantage to Federer. Now that would have been really interesting, to see the Fed-Nadal rivalry on clay split up between red clay and some har-tru matches.
     
  9. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    I think with Borg's defeats to Connors on har-tru at the US Open in 75 and 76, the fact that they were playing the US was probably more important than the surface. As we all know Connors was considerably more formidable in the US, regardless of the surface, than he was in the Europe (he still had an excellent record outside the US of course). And Connors only beat Borg once in Europe.

    Har-tru courts are pretty much exclusively used it North America (though you can find a few in London). These are hypothetical scenarios, but put the pre-prime Borg of 75-76 against Connors on har-tru on Europe, and he would stand a much better chance of winning than he did in the US. Likewise even if the US Open had used European style red clay for a bit, I think Connors still would have found a way to win the title on it. Stich is another player like Connors who was outstanding in his home country regardless of the surface, as highlighted by his excellent record in German tournaments on clay, carpet and grass.
     
  10. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Connors Borg

    Connors beat Borg a couple of times on clay in South America in minor tournaments though in 1977 and 1978. One of them was in Buenos Aires in 1978 straight after the US Open - he beat Borg 5–7 6–3 6–3. He also Beat Borg on clay in 1974 in Indianapolis. Having said that from 1977 onwards Borg was definitely dominant over Connors.
     
  11. xFullCourtTenniSx

    xFullCourtTenniSx Hall of Fame

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    Number 1 is absolutely Nadal. He is by far the best clay court player the game has ever seen. He is an absolute beast on the red dirt and has an unbelievable defensive game. Borg was good, but Nadal is simply unbeatable in terms of defense and that is probably the most important thing on clay. The second most important thing is the ability to rally and construct points, and Nadal also has that going for him.

    Number 2 is Borg. Do I even need to really argue his case?

    Federer I believe could've been known as one of the clay court greats had it not been for Nadal. Federer did very well on clay before Nadal came and took all the trophies on the dirt. I mean, Federer coul've had 5 straight titles at Roland Garros if Nadal were never born. But such an argument is, of course, unfair. But Federer has made it to 4 straight French Open finals; and before that made it to the semifinals, where he lost to Nadal. Federer has also beaten Nadal on clay, which is a massive achievement for anyone who pulls off such a feat. Not only that, he BAGELED Nadal on clay. How many times do you see Nadal bageled? How many times will you ever see him bageled on his own turf?

    And there's also Coria. He was a good clay court player as well. But I'm not too familiar with the older generation players, so I can't really make a case for or against any of these players. All I know is that Borg was essentially the old school Nadal and Nadal is the buffed up, modern-day Borg.
     
  12. dmt

    dmt Hall of Fame

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    Federer isnt the third best on the red dirt, no way. Top 10? yes, but not top 3. Gustavo Kuerten was better on clay.
     
  13. big bang

    big bang Hall of Fame

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    I have Nadal ahead of Borg as well! sure Borg got more FO at this point, but Nadal dominated all claycourt events the last 5 years (09 was not as great I know) Nadal is still very young, even with his physical problems he could easily focus on clay only and win pretty much all there is, but his ambitions is bigger than just being the greatest claycourter!
     
  14. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    That's a good discussion above on Har-Tru courts (rublico) vs. red clay and also on Borg/Connors on clay. Connors preferred the "faster" clay and also playing in the United States. Furthermore, he did get Borg when Borg was 19-20, as opposed to 20+. Having said that, Connors was a great rublico player, so he should get credit for being one of the best rublico players at the time, along with Borg and Vilas.

    Orantes took the US Open in 1975, and Connors beat a 20 year old Borg in the 1976 final. In 1975, Connors beat Borg in the SF. In 1977, Borg retired in the 4th round vs. Dick Stockton with a shoulder injury. (I don't think he ever lost a match to Stockton). In 1978, they switched to hard courts and Borg lost to Connors in the final, but Borg did have a bad blister on his thumb (thumb unjury) and he could hardly grip his racquet after pain shots.

    I'll add that even M. Orantes was pretty tough on rublico (green clay). Borg beat Orantes in the FO final in 1974 on red clay, but Orantes beat Connors on rublico at the US Open final in 1975. Players such as Orantes, Vilas, and Clerc were some very dangerous clay courters back then that could give serve and volleyers fits on clay. Wood racquets on clay vs. modern racquets on clay have changed the dynamics some, plus they have supposedly made clay at the Fo faster than it was during the 70's. So, with wood racquets, slower red clay, and no Luxilon strings, blasting a great clay courter in the 70's off the court was a very tall order.
     
  15. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I played a lot on har-tru as a youngster (it is popular in the southern US) and on hard courts.

    The ball tends to skid a lot, particularly off of power shots. I don't know if this is also true of red clay (having played on red clay only twice, and I can't remember the conditions--I was too young).
     
  16. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I saw Connors play Borg in the US Open semi in 1975. Borg wasn't nearly the player he would be and it was clear that Borg had problems on har-tru with the Connors power and also the fact his shots didn't bounce as high as many other players and tended to skid. Connors was able to win almost any big point in that match by hitting Borg's short balls and approaching the net. Borg was able to adjust to that obviously in later years.
     
  17. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Rubico courts play quite a bit faster. I've played junior tournaments on both surfaces. Sometimes on a rubico court, it can seem a bit slippery and one has more difficulty coming to a complete stop and changing directions. You tend to "slide around" on rubico a bit more than red clay and it's definitely faster, with the balls bouncing lower. One notices the finer particles contained on a red clay court, versus the "pebbles" on a rubico court. A really nice rubico court is a lot of fun to play on, especially in the heat of a Houston summer! Yet, Red Clay feels a lot better to me. When you slide, the clay tends to sort of "keep you up better", so one can really run around pretty fast with good traction, given that you'll have to slide properly as you're moving laterally and forwards/backwards on the court.

    See this excerpt on wikipedia describing rubico courts:

     
  18. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Borg Nadal

    I disagree with some recent posts. I would place Borg ahead of Nadal because 6 French Opens beats 4 French Opens. Now Nadal has the potential to be number 1 (and probably will take that position) but that is just potential, he has to get there - until then Borg is number 1 on clay. You can't rate people on what they could be, you can only rate people on what they have achieved to date.
     
  19. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I think in a thread last year somebody questioned whether the Buenos Aires exo really was on clay. It was something about whether the exo was held at the venue normally used for Davis Cup (definitely red clay) or on some other court.
     
  20. Nadal_Power

    Nadal_Power Semi-Pro

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    There's not just French Open!!! Rafa set some numbers on this surface that will probably never be equal

    Besides that,Rafa is playing very few clay tournaments over the season.. all in all,after this year's French Open (with Nadal's result from Monte Carlo,Barca,Rome and Paris) we will probably have some better picture about this two greatest clay players of all time
     
  21. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    This is one area I agree that Nadal outclassed Borg on other clay tournaments. He’s been consistently defending his titles every year. Rarely loses and set a very high standard after setting a record of winning 81 consecutive matches.
     
  22. The-Champ

    The-Champ Legend

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    WOW!! One of Rafa's greatest bashers of all time Mr. TMF is defending him. I wonder why?


    Borg is clearly the Clay GOAT, and that's coming from a Nadal fan!!
     
  23. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    There have been numerous threads comparing Borg's numbers and Nadal's numbers and in no way are Nadal's percentages better than Borg's. It all comes down to Nadal's longevity.

    In terms of pure dominance, Borg's play at the 1978 French Open is superior to anything Nadal's done.
     
  24. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    I loved watching Borg on clay and I love watching Nadal on clay these days. It's pretty clear that they rank at the top among the Game's clay courters, with Rosewall somewhat in the conversation as well, per many.

    Here are some stats on Borg's clay career below. See the 30 clay titles he racked up between 1974-1981 below and his clay titles by year. His 30 clay titles were among 64 total titles. 23 of those 64 titles were indoors and he had 5 hard court titles. Among his 30 clay titles, he amassed 6 FO titles and also other prestigious clay titles including two Italian Opens and three Monte Carlo titles. 30 clay titles over 7 years means an average rate of 4.3 clay titles each year. Nadal now has 25 clay titles, out of 36 total, amassed over 6 years from 2004-2009. That's also a rate of a little over 4 clay titles per year for Nadal (vs. 4.3 for Borg for 7 years from 1974-1981). So, their "rates" of clay titles are similar. Nadal is now 181-16 so far on clay, while Borg was 245-39 during his career on clay.

    Here are the number of clay titles Borg won by year:

    1974-4
    1975-3
    1976-2
    1977-5
    1978-4
    1979-5
    1980-4
    1981-3

    Here are his clay court titles:

    French Open 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981
    Geneva, Switzerland 1981
    Stuggart, Germany 1981
    Monte Carlo 1977, 1979, 1980
    Nice, France 1977, 1980
    Pepsi Grand Slam 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980
    Palermo, Italy 1979
    Bastad, Sweden 1974, 1978, 1979
    Boston, Massachusetts 1974, 1975, 1976
    Italian Open 1974, 1978
    Barcelona, Spain 1975, 1977
    Madrid, Spain 1977
    Dusseldorf, Germany 1976
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2010
  25. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Oh please...that’s just show you how much you know me. I’ve been given rafa’s credits lots of times before for all he’s done.

    The world is not evolve around only on this board, in case you didn’t know.
     
  26. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    Percentages tell a better story. Borg in the span of the five years between 1977 and 1981 had a winning percentage of roughly 97 on red clay. Rafa's numbers, at last calculation, were comparable for 2005-2009, but took a bit of a hit due to Madrid/RG last year.

    Still, that gives you an idea of how unbeatable these guys are on their best surface. It's also interesting to look at the losses. Borg's losses were largely superficial. A retirement in Hamburg in '79 while up 4-1. A loss to Vilas in small tourney in 1980. The only head scratcher was a defeat to Pecci in Monte Carlo in 1981. Nadal had odd losses to Ferrero in Rome and, of course, Soderling at RG.
     
  27. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Thanks for the interesting numbers.

    Here's what Rafa has in his resume so far:

    2002
    Alicante
    Vigo
    Barcelona
    Gran Canaria

    2004
    Sopot

    2005
    Costa Do Sauipe
    Acapulco
    MC
    Barcelona
    Rome
    RG
    Bastad
    Stuttgart

    2006
    MC
    Barcelona
    Rome
    RG

    2007
    MC
    Barcelona
    Rome
    RG
    Stuttgart

    2008
    MC
    Barcelona
    Hamburg
    RG

    2009
    MC
    Barcelona
    Rome


    29 total titles for Rafa. He’s one title behind the great Borg but will eventually pass him.

    Dating back from 2005 MC to 2007 Hamburg(right before the FO), Nadal was on a tear by winning 13 consecutive tournaments he enter, or winning 81 matches in a row.
     
  28. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Nadal had a win-loss record of 136-2 on clay from the start of 2005 Monte Carlo up until beating Djokovic at 2009 Madrid. That's a 98.55% winning percentage.

    As of now, Nadal has gone 141-4 on clay since the start of 2005 Monte Carlo. That's a winning percentage of 97.24%.
     
  29. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    These aren't atp tour titles.
     
  30. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Didn't rafa earned atp points for those? Atleast I know Barcelona is been around for years.
     
  31. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yes, quite amazing. Unfortunately Rafa ain't going to retire and there's no way he can sustain this consistency and thus his number can only go down.
     
  32. DudewithBabolat

    DudewithBabolat Rookie

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    Rafa's known to have a number of injuries. Once he's in tip-top shape again, he'll be unstoppable, again. I mean come on, it's Rafa AKA 'The King of CLay'
     
  33. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    Are you serious?
     
  34. Nadal_Power

    Nadal_Power Semi-Pro

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    After taking Monte Carlo for the record 6th consecutive time :

    202 ATP clay matches for Rafa with blistering 186-16 score

    42 tournaments played with 26 titles from 28 finals


    Looking good for clay court GOAT player :-D
     
  35. The-Champ

    The-Champ Legend

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    It's still Borg!!

    If Rafa wins the FO this year...then we can start speculating. Hope he does.
     
  36. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    I wonder if Rafa will get the ultimate record and break the tie of 6 titles he shares with Laurie Doherty.
     
  37. Carsomyr

    Carsomyr Hall of Fame

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    Those are Futures titles. Didn't you think it strange that Nadal collected 4 titles in 2002 and didn't win a single tournament until 2004?
     
  38. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    I posted some Nadal clay-court stats in another thread:

    In his ATP Tour career: 186-16 (92.08 winning percentage)
    Since the start of 2005: 160-6 (96.39 winning percentage)
    Since the 11th April 2005: 146-4 (97.33 winning percentage)
    In Monte Carlo: 34-1 (97.14 winning percentage)
     
  39. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    1. Borg
    2. Nadal
    3. Rosewall
    4. Cochet
    5. Lendl
    6. Wilander
    7. Wilding
    8. Lacoste
    9. Kuerten
    10. Laver
    11. Borotra
    12. Drobny
    13. Vilas
    14. Santana
    15. Bruguera
    16. Pietrangeli
    17. Federer
    18. Muster
    19. Courier
    20. von Cramm
    21. Emerson
    22. Trabert
    23. Agassi
    24. Connors
    25. Gimeno
    26. Frank Parker
    27. Roche
    28. Nastase
    29. Sven Davidson

    Drobny at no. 12--a great clay-courter.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2010
  40. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Why is Muster in 18th? He won 40 clay-court titles in his career, including 18 in 1995-1996 alone.
     
  41. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Muster

    Muster was a great Clay Court player. But being 18th on that list I would imagine is a product of the greatness of numbers 1 to 17. Not a lot of players I would disagree with (though there are some I don't know too much about).
     
  42. davey25

    davey25 Banned

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    I think Muster and Courier at their best are clearly better than Bruguera. JMO though. I agree with Bruguera, Federer, Muster, and Courier all being in the same little area.
     
  43. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Exactly. When one is talking about the GOAT of anything in the entire history of the game, just being on the list is a great achievement. Cracking the top-ten is realizing god-like status.

    But the list is adjustable as more opinions add weight to certain arguments or rankings.
     
  44. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Agreed so that's why I don't understand why some are offended if their favorite isn't number one on the GOAT list in anything but let's say number five instead. To be number five is still terrific.

    Incidentally Hoodjem, I noticed Emerson is ahead of Gimeno on this list. Gimeno was a renown clay court player and defeated Rosewall numerous times on clay. Clay may have been one of his stronger surfaces and I think overall Gimeno was a superior player to Emmo especially considering Gimeno played Laver, Gonzalez and Rosewall regularly on the old Pro Tour which was far superior to the amateur tour Emerson played on.
     
  45. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Clay-court GOATS--
    1. Borg
    2. Nadal
    3. Rosewall
    4. Cochet
    5. Lendl
    6. Wilander
    7. Wilding
    8. Lacoste
    9. Kuerten
    10. Laver
    11. Borotra
    12. Drobny
    13. Vilas
    14. Santana
    15. Muster
    16. Pietrangeli
    17. Bruguera
    18. Federer
    19. Courier
    20. von Cramm
    21. Gimeno
    22. Emerson
    23. Trabert
    24. Agassi
    25. Connors
    26. Frank Parker
    27. Roche
    28. Nastase
    29. Sven Davidson
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2010
  46. Nadal_Power

    Nadal_Power Semi-Pro

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    Rafa on clay after Rome :

    Matches : 191 - 16
    Tournaments : 43
    Finals : 29
    Titles : 27

    Looks good for me :grin:
     
  47. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I wish someone would do a side-by-side comparison of relatable statistics for Borg versus Nadal.?

    Maybe Nadal is better after 2010 MC and Rome.
     
  48. Murray_Fan

    Murray_Fan Rookie

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    It would be very funny if murray was on there :)
     
  49. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Hoodjem, basically, Nadal and Borg are neck and neck in terms of accomplishment. We have Borg with 2 more FO titles, but that was by the time he was past 25 years of age. He did skip the '77 FO Open though due to a player's strike. Meanwhile, as to other tourneys, it's an apples to oranges comparison in that the clay schedule is quite different now with more the advent of the Masters series/tourneys. So you have a different mix now, with perhaps more "official" clay tournaments to be contested. Nadal has won more tourneys thus far in terms of his "win rate", but Borg still has two more RG titles. Other than that, overall, both have been extremely dominating during their respective eras. By, 26 or so, Nadal may very well catch Borg at the FO, we'll see. Yet, as of now, it's really pretty close in my book if you look at overall accomplishment. Yet, I disagree with the argument that Nadal has beaten Federer on clay, so he is automaticaly greater than Borg on clay. Federer is a borderline great clay courter, but it's not as if Federer is the second best clay court player in history. If Nadal wins 2 more FO titles, and also starts winning more Wimbledons, then, he'll start entering Borg territory as an all time great player and not just an all time great clay courter.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2010
  50. robow7

    robow7 Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    Messages:
    967
    Hoodjem, I think I would have to move Vilas up on your roster considering he had the record 53 straight winning matches on clay until Nadal came along and broke it. How far up, not sure since not familar with a couple above him.
     

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