Connors v Borg 1978 and the no.1 ranking

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Xavier G, Feb 22, 2013.

  1. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    If you look at the calender year 1978 (including the Grand Prix Masters which was held in January 78 ), the year-end number number 1 ranking looks very close based on results. Jimbo finished the year no.1 by the official rankings, we know of course, Borg won 2 Grand Slam tournaments to 1 for Jimmy. Jimmy finished winner of the Grand Prix points standings for the year. Bjorn was voted ITF World Champion.

    According to the records I looked at, I have Connors also winning Philadelphia, Denver, Memphis, Rotterdam, Birmingham (Eng.), Washington, Stowe, US Open and Sydney.

    Borg won Birmingham (US), Pepsi Grand Slam, Las Vegas WCT, Milan, Italian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, Bastad and Tokyo.

    It seems they had a pretty similar number of losses.

    In Grand Slam wins, Borg is ahead, but Connors also has the Masters.
    In official meetings again counting the Masters as happening in 1978, it's 2-2 in official matches between the pair. There are at least a couple of other matches in exo type events, of which they won one each.

    I'm asking because I think some good tennis judges at the time had Connors ahead of Borg, most had Borg as number one. I give the edge to Bjorn, narrowly, myself, but it's close. Any thoughts? Any additional tournament info anyone has would be useful too.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
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  2. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    And where the emoticon is above, that should be down as January 78. Thanks.
     
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  3. Carsomyr

    Carsomyr Hall of Fame

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    Even with the Masters (though it should be the one in January of the next year that reflects the "true" ranking of the previous year in retrospect), I don't think it's particularly close. While Connors won some big titles in '78, he also won some titles that aren't particularly impressive (e.g. Memphis, Birmingham, Stowe).
     
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  4. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    The ATP ranking ( prior to 1990 ) was computed as an average: "total points divided by nº of (computable) tournaments played".

    Not all the tournaments played (even some with strong-fields) were computable to the rankings.

    This was the system and all players knew it.

    Under this system Connors was nº1 in 1978 (and in 1977 ahead of Vilas) because his average "points per (computable) tournament played" was a bit higher than Borg's.

    Since 1990, the "average computation" was changed to "the total sum of the best 14 results" (taking into account BONUS points too, that were a good fraction of the total points of any player).

    They tweaked things (changing the points awarded, varying some other things) several times during the 90s also.

    From 2000 (or so) M-1000 (and GS) started to be mandatory and 18 + WTF tournaments were computable ( instead of 14 ).

    Well, there were other changes too that I have not mentioned because I am already tired.
     
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  5. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    The likes of Stowe were average, true, but Memphis and the Birmingham grass court event Connors won in 1978 were decent enough, imo. Connors beat Raul Ramirez easily in three sets in a best of five final. Ironically Borg won the weaker Birmingham event earlier in the year that Jimbo usually won. Funny game.

    Yeah, the Masters should always have been held in the same calendar year they pertained to.

    I thought Connors had a good 78, one of his best, though I do give Borg the edge myself. It's close enough to be a talking point though or at least I hope so.
     
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  6. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    Thanks for the information.
     
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  7. tudwell

    tudwell Hall of Fame

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    The Masters held in January 1978 belonged to the 1977 season. McEnroe won the 1978 Masters, which was held in January 1979.
     
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  8. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    Yes, I know. They had to qualify through the year's results to get to the Masters. Connors only finished in eighth place in the Grand Prix standings for the 1977 Masters (held in January 1978 ) and then won it. Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
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  9. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    January 1978.
     
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  10. Nadal_Power

    Nadal_Power Semi-Pro

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    Can you please tell more about pre-90 ranking, when you find time of course
     
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  11. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    To remove the emoticon, you can edit it and then put a space between the 8 and the parenthesis.
     
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  12. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    Thanks! I'll attempt it.
     
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  13. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    There is no doubt that Jimmy was no.1 in 1978. He was also no.1 in 1977, yes that's right. People confuse No.1 ranking with "the best player". In 1977 Jimmy got to 2 GS finals, he didn't play the other 2, and he won the WCT and Masters. He had the best average results for the year, not head to head, not who was the best player, but he was ranked no.1, check the record books. (Awaits people talking about titles, head to head records, and who was the best player etc, none of which is relevant to the No.1 ranking). Anyway back to 1978, it was definitely Jimmy Connors!
     
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  14. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    1978 is certainly close in my eyes, my fellow Jimmy Connors fan. Borg did win 2 Slam events to Jimmy's 1 though. I wanted to give JC 1978, but maybe Borg winning the Channel Slam double of RG and Wimby gives him the nod.

    I don't think I can give Jimmy the 1977 no.1 ranking judging by results, even though he topped the computer.

    Cheers anyway!
     
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  15. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    Hey that's OK:)

    I do try to be fair, but someone has to stick up for Connors. The computer did have him at one, so he was officially the no.1 player in 77, but not the "best player" that year, which was Borg I think (although Vilas was brilliant that year). However I do genuinely think in 78 Jimmy was actually the best player.
     
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  16. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Rome equivalent to Phily, neither of both won the Masters ( John mc Enroe) or WCT title (Vitas Gerulaitis), so at the end, Borg´s two slams as opposed to Jimmy´s one shall give Borg a close edge.

    Please, stop placing badly every year Masters.The Masters was not the start of the season but the close up of the former one, even if the event was held at the beginning of the next year.The title Connors won, over Borg, belonged to the 1977 season, just as the title that mac won in jan 79, belonged to the 78 season.
     
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  17. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    Yes, kiki, I know in reality the title Connors won, over Borg, belonged to the 1977 season.
    It took place in the 1978 calendar year though, so the premise of this thread is IF you include this Masters as a 1978 event, it is pretty close between Borg and Connors for actual tennis results in the calendar year 1978. It's just a different way of looking at the 1978 year, kiki.
     
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  18. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    yes, XavierG, and you are right.In any case, both beat each other at least once in a major either in 77 or in 78.

    BTw, 1977 WCT tour was incredible, possibly the best ever as far as big names are concerned.Borg and Vilas being the only ones absent, though both entered the Montecarlo event, and both reached the final (Borg took the title in staraight sets).So, the 77 WCT tour had everything you wanted for real.
     
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  19. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    Yes, jimbo333, it's my thread, so as a Connors fan, I'll give Jimmy the no.1 ranking for 1978 then! He did finish top, after all. Cheers, I've seen the light!
     
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  20. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    Yes, kiki and a 1977 WCT Dallas final between Borg and Connors would have been great. Who would have won that?!? Who knows. Good work.
     
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  21. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I presume that experts voted for the top player of the year before Jan. 1. In that case they may have counted Jimmy's Masters victory in Jan. '78 -- not because they truly regarded it as belonging to the '78 season but simply for the expediency of having 12 months of results to evaluate.

    In December '77, for example, most experts came out with their rankings for the year even though they were aware that the season would not officially end until the Masters was concluded in Jan. '78. It's just a tradition everywhere to vote for 'best of the year' -- in all things, not just tennis -- before New Year's Day.

    And because of that tradition, I'm not sure there was any expert ranking of the '78 season that ended with the January '79 Masters. If there had been, Jimmy's Masters victory in Jan '78 would not have been counted, and then you have to ask how that would have affected votes. Maybe the experts who voted for Jimmy best of the calendar year would have stuck with him and called him the best of the tennis season, too. But maybe not.

    Borg was 21-2 against the rest of the top ten, Connors 14-3.

    I calculated that stat myself using the official computer rankings at year's end -- and using only sanctioned events.

    You don't hear too much about that stat today -- probably because conditions are uniform on the tour and everyone faces essentially the same field. But back then, H2H against the whole field was regarded by some as important (Sports Illustrated used it to judge the '77, '83 and '85 seasons; and other experts in '77 also used it).

    Borg won 9 non-sanctioned titles: Goteborg; Copenhagen; Tokyo Suntory Cup; Menton French Riviera; Frejus Arena; Essen; Hamburg; Manila; Antwerp.

    Connors won 3 non-sanctioned titles (his first such titles since ’72, per his Wikipedia page): Beckenham; Kobe & Tokyo; and Lucerne Invitational.

    Borg's winning streak -- ended at the USO -- was also reported prominently in the press, and in year-end publications. I don't know what the official count is, at the ATP, today. Back then it was reported as 55 straight matches.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
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  22. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    Well i just posted this elsewhere, there don't seem to be that many Connors fans around here, so am doing my best:-

    "Jimmy won over 100 tournaments between about 1973 and 1986 (more than anyone in the open era).

    And Because if Connors had played the French Open at his peak (he reached 4 semis, and 3 quarters AFTER his best 5 years amazingly), and if he had played the Australian Open more than twice (with a record of 1 win and 1 final), he would have probably won at least 12 Grand Slam tournaments, more than Nadal's current total!

    Jimmy was playing in the hardest open eras (70's and 80's), in my opinion he is the third best player of all time (after Federer and Laver), a very underrated player and career by some."

    And I would put Borg 4th in the Open era by the way, just my opinion!
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013
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  23. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    True , a rela play off.Connors was great in the two indoor majors, beating Borg in the year end Masters, with a field that included: Vilas,Gottfried,Ramirez,Orantes,dibbs and Roscoe Tanner.Wow¡¡

    Stockton is not too popular here, but this guy was incredible all the WCT season, beating Connors at the Philadelphia and Toronto finals and reaching the Dallas final where finally Jimbo could defeat him.he also defeated Borg at the 1977 US Open but it was due to Borg retiring for injury.

    Stockton would beat great cc expert Manuel Orantes next year at RG, and would reach the semis before losing to Guillermo Vilas.So, Stockton was a clear top ten guy for 1977-78.
     
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  24. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    True , a rela play off.Connors was great in the two indoor majors, beating Borg in the year end Masters, with a field that included: Vilas,Gottfried,Ramirez,Orantes,dibbs and Roscoe Tanner.Wow¡¡

    Stockton is not too popular here, but this guy was incredible all the WCT season, beating Connors at the Philadelphia and Toronto finals and reaching the Dallas final where finally Jimbo could defeat him.he also defeated Borg at the 1977 US Open but it was due to Borg retiring for injury.Stockton would finally lose to Solomon at the quarterfinals of that Open.

    Not to mention that Stockton would beat great cc expert Manuel Orantes next year at RG 1978, and would reach the semis before losing to Guillermo Vilas.So, Stockton was a clear top ten guy for 1977-78.Even for a natural serve and volley player like him, clay courts were not such an obstacle.
     
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  25. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I'm not sure but did Connors attend Dallas in '78? I know Borg did; he gave a walkover to Gerulaitis in the semis because of an infected blister on his right thumb (the very same problem he had in the USO final).
     
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  26. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    Thanks all, good to hear the different thoughts!
     
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  27. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Another stat you might want to consider is the percentage of games won/games played. PC1 calculated it and he has the exact figures; I recall Borg having an incredibly high performance in that stat, one of the best of the Open Era.
     
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  28. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    No, Jimmy didn´t attend the Dallas summit, I don´t know if he even qualified although he won the biggest regular event on the tour, US pro Indoors, beating Tanner in straights.As you say, Vitas won the championships overcoming Eddie Dibbs in the finals.Connors had won the 77 Dallas finals with a four sets victory over fellow american Dick Stockton (IMO, the 77 tour is the greatest tour ever played in the sport)
     
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  29. jean pierre

    jean pierre Semi-Pro

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    Borg won FO and Wimbledon ! He was the real n°1 in 1978, just as Vilas was in 1977.
     
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  30. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    No, you can't just look at titles (or head to head for that matter). Connors was the official no.1, yes the real official no.1 for 1977 and 78. Look at the records, it can't be argued with, for those years the computer says on average throughout the year he had the best results!

    Now you could easily argue Borg was the best player in 1978, and for that matter Vilas was the best player in 1977, and I probably wouldn't disagree, but that is not the same thing.
     
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  31. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    Back in the day, Memphis and Philly drew top talent and was a notable win.
     
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  32. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    1979 Memphis semis had Connors vs Gerulaitis and Ashe vs Tanner and in 1980, the final read Mc Enroe vs Connors
     
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  33. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    The BP World of Tennis Yearbook 1980 gave me the idea for this thread.

    In Connors' bio at the back of the book, it says 'After slipping behind Borg and Vilas with losing records against both in 1977, Connors had a better year in1978, capturing his third US Open, his first Masters and reaching the final of Wimbledon for the third time in the last four years, a tournament he won in 1974'.

    In a way, they seemed to count this Masters as in1978, because it occured in the 1978 calendar year. We count it as the 1977 Masters.


    By the way, I used to love that yearbook.
     
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  34. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    Good info there.
     
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  35. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    I do think it's very close in 1978, but Borg just edged it over Connors. 1979 wasn't a good year for Connors, as Borg accelerated away as world number 1 and McEnroe was clearly overtaking Connors as the world number 2 before the year was out.

    McEnroe voiced his confusion over the Masters timing issue at the time, whether it was the end of the previous year or the start of the new year. Nobody seemed to know. I don't know why they bothered moving the Masters to January and the Australian Open to that dead-end slot around the Christmas period.
     
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  36. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    I agree really, I just give the edge to Borg too, kidding aside. I think it's close enough to discuss though and it's not as one-sided as some seem to think. Connors had a good '78.
     
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  37. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Yes, XavierG, I did it too.Specially because it gave full information of many exos that were very big back then.
     
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  38. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    I know, I used to like finding out the results of the Tokyo Suntory Cup and others for instance. Those matches all over the globe back then!
     
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  39. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Connors 1978

    The january 1978 was definitely part of the 1977 season. If you think about it, compare it to the current wtf. You are eligible for the wtf if you are in the top 8 immediately before the event. In january 1978 it had to relate to the top 8 from 1977. It couldn't relate to the top 8 of 1978, because that season hadn't happened yet.

    Now let's look at 1978. Connors only won 1 masters 1000 equivalent - Philadelphia, over and above his US open title. He did make the wimbledon final too. Borg won two Masters 1000 equivalents (tokyo and rome) along with his wimbledon title and us open finals appearance. I give Borg the nod.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2013
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  40. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Borg did also win Roland Garros, against Tanner,Ramirez,Barazutti and Vilas and lost no sets in the process...
     
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  41. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    It was never clear in that period whether it was the end of the previous year's season or the start of the new year's season. I'm sure that the new year was also regularly used by commentators and pundits in the first half of the 1980s. Of course, since 1986, when it was moved back to late in the year, they have been anxious to paint the YEC as always being at the end of the year.
     
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  42. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Not sure what you're referring to here? Commentators since '86 have been depicting the 1977-85 Masters as being played at the end of the year? :confused:
     
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  43. tudwell

    tudwell Hall of Fame

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    I think the issue is people want the number one ranking to reflect the best player of the year and sometimes use the terms synonymously, so when the ask, "Was Borg the real number one of 1978?" what they are really saying is, "Was Borg the best player in 1978?"
     
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  44. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I know in the late 80s you could earn points according to the ranking of a defeated opponent. For example, at the '88 USO Wilander got more for defeating the #1 ranked player (Lendl) than if he had defeated someone else. I don't recall the details but I'm certain wins were weighted this way for a while.

    Do you know when that began (and ended)? I doubt it was done back in '78 because Borg had a decisive edge over Connors in terms of defeated opponents (a 21-2 record vs the rest of the Top Ten, compared to 13-4 for Connors).

    I think if wins were weighted the way they were in the late 80s Borg could well have been ranked over Connors.
     
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  45. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    I mean that a lot of people now except that the Masters of January 1978 to January 1986 was the end of the previous season rather than the beginning of a new season, because it fits in with the format that has been used since December 1986.
     
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  46. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    another curiousity about the YEC is that the first year, in Tokyo 1970 it was run under a small league format, with no final.Stan Smith won the title over a field that also included Rosewall,Laver,Richey,Franulovic and Kodes.Richey was the first Gran Prix winner.
     
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  47. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    kiki, I think that the 1971 and 1972 editions of the WCT circuit were tougher than the 1977 issue.
     
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  48. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    the finals could have been better and the tour has always been very tough.But 77 had Connors,Nastase,Laver,Roche,Rosewall,Gerulaitis,Stockton,Orantes,Panatta,Dibbs,Barazutti,Okker,Solomon,Cox,Fibak,Drysdale,Alexander,Amritraj and some others competing in fields of 16 players.The first rounds were amazingly competitive.
     
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  49. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Agreed that it's certainly accepted today -- but the January Masters was always officially the season-ending championships, and was always tied in directly to the points earned in the season just ended. It always was that way, despite objections from some fans and players who felt that the Masters, if placed in January, should be regarded as the start of a new season. That's a natural objection; but it was an objection to the reality of the Masters format -- namely, that it was tied in to the points earned from the season just ended and was officially the season-ending championship.
     
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  50. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    I'm pretty sure that McEnroe's wins over Lendl in the mid-1980s at MSG used the new calendar year when the trophy was handed out. I'll have to check the DVD some time.
     
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