Does Kramer have a viable case as a GOAT contender?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by TheFifthSet, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    Seems like he's not talked about enough for a guy that was the best in the world for such a long time.
     
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  2. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Best guy in the world

    He was the best player in the World for 1/2 a decade - late 40's and early 50's. It was his thrashing of Gonzales that pushed Gonzales to greatness.

    Definitely should be on the radar.

    Two other areas he should be recognized for:

    - he set the standard for style of game (Serve and volley + % age tennis) that was the majority style until the end of the 70's - so basically 30 years.

    - he was the guy that ran Pro tennis for the 1950's and was also heavily involved through through to the 70's.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2012
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  3. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Jack Kramer is certainly a GOAT contender. As soon as WW2 ended, he became the dominant amateur player, turned professional and it didn't take him too long to get to grips with Bobby Riggs (the best professional player), and Kramer was soon beating Riggs at will with a relentless serve and volley game.

    As an amateur, he won 2 US Championships and a Wimbledon title. As a professional, he won the 2 big tournaments with the US Pro at Forest Hills in 1948 and the Wembley Pro in 1949. More importantly, he was so brilliant on the world pro tours, thrashing players like Riggs in 1948, Gonzales in 1950, Segura in 1951, and edging a closely fought tour against a brilliant Sedgman in 1953. Injuries then put an end to his career, apart from those 1957 tours against Hoad and Rosewall.

    Kramer was also legendary in other parts of tennis, on the promotional side, equipment side, commentator, and trade unionist with the ATP. He has to be one of the most influential figures in the history of men's tennis.
     
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  4. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    On court and off court combined Kramer is top 3 ever along Borg and Tilden
    Those 3 took the game beyond what they had found when starting
    TILDEN made it a popular sport beyond elite clubs and settled new tactical and tecnichal standarts
    Kramer influenced 2 or 3 generations with The Big Game and % tennis,much helped by great and underrated Kramer mate,Tex Schroeder
    He also developed pro tennis and tennis worldwide organization like no one else did and will do
    And he prepared the way to the golden era and tennis star ststem explosion rhat Borg led, and Borg also influenced next 2-3 generations with top spin invention
    All other players could be spendable in historics terms
    But without the magic link Tilden-Kramer-Borg the game wouln not be what we have known and that puts them in their own league
     
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  5. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    At his best Kramer was fabulous. He defeated Riggs, Segura, Gonzalez and Sedgman fairly easily on tour. Yes I do think he is viable as a GOAT contender especially when you consider how long he was number one.

    He didn't have the number of majors that the media and fans tends to fixate on today but it really wasn't as important in those days. He was the top player and that's all there was to it. Many people consider Kramer as the best player of all time including greats like Frank Sedgman.
     
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  6. Prodigy1234

    Prodigy1234 Rookie

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    According to an almanac I was reading, yes, because apparently he was world no.1 from 1929-2009. What a long career...
     
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  7. boredone3456

    boredone3456 Legend

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    He is a case where majors won is by no means a fair criteria to represent his power or dominance. He beat everybody for years even if he did not enter or win the the pro majors all the time. Arguably WW2 stalled his rise in the game but he was a demon on court. I am not sure where on a list he would fit though.

    Top 15? Does he really merit a top 10 spot?

    On the promotional side the man was a genius, he took the game to all kinds of new levels and venues. Billie Jean King probably learned a thing or two from him he was a dynamo.
     
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  8. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Interesting. I guess he beat everyone from Bill Tilden to Djokovic. :)
     
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  9. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    He skipped a lot of major events.
    Lost a marathon five-set to Drobny at Wimbledon in 1946, skipped Wembley in the early fifties.
    He could have done more.
     
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  10. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Some players of the 50s (Sedgman, Hoad, Segura) and some experts (Mezler, Flink) rank him above Gonzalez or Budge. He was one of the first, who played the Big Game. Its imo open to discussion when he did develop it, still as amateur or on the pro tour with Riggs. In clips of the 1947 Wimbledon he doesn't come to the net.
    In a Tennis Magazin interview in the 80s he regretted somewhat, that he lacked a real rivalry with another great player. Budge was too old, and Gonzalez too young for him.
    I have some problems with him, because imo he was very selective in his chosen play, selecting carefully his places and (fast) surfaces. He never played at RG as an amateur (Rosewall mentioned that in an interview with Eliot Berry), as a pro he chose his places on the one on one indoor series, and often skipped US pros or Wembleys. After his initial series win over Gonzalez he went out of a more experienced Gorgo's way a bit. He dominated the amateur scene, when the post War years still prevented a strong amateur field. He lost the fewest games in Wim history in 1947, but the Wim field was rather weak, while for instance the 1949 Wim field was very strong with matured players, and i would have loved to see Kramer against that kind of field (Schoeder, Sedgman, Drobny, Gonzalez, Patty, McGregor and others). He also dominated the pro scene, but it was not the class field of the later 50s or the 60s. I think, that other pro champs like Gonzalez, Rosewall or Laver put their b... more on the line over a longer period of time and on a more consistent basis.
     
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  11. mmk

    mmk Professional

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    Well, he never lost to Djokovic or Fed or Nadal
     
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  12. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Wasn't Kramer career was during and after WWII? That was the time when athletes(especially international sport) are not interested because of the war and post war reconstruction. Even athletes have to join the military to fight for their countries.
     
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  13. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    In switzerland men serve in the army till 45 or 50 for some weeks per year
    Is Federer doing that?
     
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  14. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    I know that Sedgman and Riggs rank Kramer as the greatest. But I'm sure that I recall both Hoad and Segura ranking Gonzales as the greatest, especially Segura.
     
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  15. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Kramer second ball and fh shot are all time classics
    I always thought that Tex Schroeder, Kramer best mate was too much under hus great shadow
    Why didn' t have much success in the pro when he was so good as an am?
     
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  16. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Would his Kramer racket and ProStaffs be the number one biggest selling rackets of all time?
     
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  17. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    I don't think Ted Schroeder ever did turn professional. He was going to, but lost to Gonzales in the 1949 US Championships final. Bobby Riggs reluctantly offered Pancho Gonzales the chance to turn professional and challenge Jack Kramer instead. Gonzales was married to Henrietta and had a young son, Richard Jr., and he needed the money, so he went pro.
     
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  18. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    Respect what he did for the game, but this guy doesn't have GOAT credentials
     
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  19. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    No just the second serve but his first serve was also considered to be superb, perhaps slightly below the level of Gonzalez. His second serve was considered to be the best of all time by many. His volley was strong and penetrating and was considered only slightly below that of Frank Sedgman, who is arguably the best volleyer of all time.

    Just to show how great he was, Kramer still holds the record for fewest games lost at Wimbledon.

    Here's the game scores
    1. 6-0 6-1 6-0
    2. 6-2 6-2 6-2
    3. 6-0 6-2 6-0
    4. 7-5 6-2 6-3
    5. 6-0 6-1 6-3
    6. 6-1 3-6 6-1 6-0
    7. 6-1 6-3 6-2

    That's pretty awesome on fast uneven bounce grass.

    What are credentials? The guy had the credentials to be the best in the world for years and arguably at his best he was the best ever. He beat Segura, Riggs, Sedgman and a young Pancho Gonzalez (who still was a superb player but not quite THE Gonzalez) on tour and beat them easily. And he won a number of Pro Majors. He won three classic majors and that was with an interruption due to World War II. Now to be fair I don't think he was the GOAT but I think he does have a case for it. I think Kramer is superior to players like Roy Emerson, Agassi, Ashe, Nastase, Smith, Vilas, Roche and he has a case over any player including Laver, Federer, Connors, Tilden Gonzalez etc. He is one of the few you can argue to be the GOAT without it being a stupid argument.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012
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  20. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    pc1, I rank Kramer in a group with McEnroe, Vines, Lendl and Hoad regarding achievements, just behind first tier (Tilden, Gonzalez, Rosewall, and Laver) and behind Borg, Sampras and Federer.
     
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  21. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Reasonable and some of those players have been argued to be GOAT by some.

    I do think many rank Kramer subjectively on average level of play as the highest ever. Subjective opinions are tough because someone can rate David Nalbanian as the best ever when healthy and frankly while he's pretty tough when he "on" his game he can't come close to the best on average level of play.

    However there are also results indicating the incredibly high level of play in Kramer's often lopsided victories on tour over Riggs by 69 to 20 and Pancho Segura also by a huge score which some write as 64 to 28. Gonzalez was dismissed by 96 to 27 and Sedgman came close at 54 to 41. However Kramer was suffering from a bad case of arthritis when he played Sedgman and was already over the hill. To defeat a super player like Frank Sedgman when you are suffering from arthritis at age 32 is a great result. He was perhaps the first athlete to receive cortisone injections. These are very impressive victories over some of the greatest of all time. I believe that these tours are perhaps more important than majors at that time. In some ways tennis operated like Professional Boxing in that the World Champion had to be beaten in a series of matches. The winner is World Champion.

    Let's put it this way, if you had a young Jack Kramer in 1950 with a wood racquet playing anyone in history on grass or hard court, Kramer would have an excellent chance to win. If you had anyone in history playing Kramer on an indoor court at Kramer's peak, Kramer may be favored over anyone. And yes Kramer was a pretty good clay court player.


    So here's the problem with Kramer. We currently rank players by amount of majors. You cannot just rank by majors won. That's a bit too simplistic and superficial. Kramer did not win a huge amount of majors but he was dominant in tours at his best and he did win some majors, classic and pro. He retired early because of arthritis. So do we rank on achievements only or top average level of player? Kramer would do extremely well with the former considering he was number one for years. Some argue he was the best from 1946 to 1954. I disagree there on the years but he was clearly number one for a while. On average level of play he has an excellent argument when looking at the players he defeated and from the many opinions of people who played with.

    Do I think he's the GOAT? No. Do I think he has valid arguments to be at least be argued as the GOAT? Yes. I would not say that about many players like Djokovic, Nadal or Agassi just to name a few. Although I can see the former two in the mix if they continue their superb play for a few years.

    Opinions?
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012
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  22. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    pc1, Even though I think that Gonzalez was a bit stronger than Kramer, the latter was yet very strong and still competitive as late as 1957 when he beat Hoad at Wembley in straight sets and Gonzalez also at Wembley (when Pancho was a bit out of shape). Kramer also finished the European 4 man tour ahead of Segura!
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012
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  23. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    For me credentials for the GOAT really have to be eye popping, spectacular achievementsthat go above and beyond, that really show man this dude is on a different level, incredible (stats, records, longevity, strength of play against the field). It's no secret that I think Fed is the best ever (The GOAT) but I think guys like Laver, Sampras, Gonzales, Tilden (though I'm just being respectful here, deep down inside in my heart I can never call a 1920s player GOAT) are in GOAT convo. Guys like Hoad and Kramer I respect what they did but cannot seriously consider them in that category at all. With guys like that, I haven't seen them play, got no highlight reels,have lesser achievements (right I know I can't just go by the fact they have less majors but a lot of other factors and hypotheticals go in place here for pre open era legends that make things complicated). There's also a lot of lore and mythology that surrounds guys like Hoad or Kramer (peak level of play and all that which can be said about anyone who has ever been tough at his peak).

    As far I am concerned, these guys are at best on the level of McEnroe or Djokovic. Far away from from the first tier. And I like to keep that first tier (the GOAT contenders) really strict and exclusive to get into. So lots of respect, but no GOAT material imo.
     
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  24. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Interesting, you dont even rank Federer 1st tier? You also didnt even mention Nadal, where do you have him.
     
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  25. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Here's the thing. There are different variables here. You discuss Federer as the clear GOAT, but is it so clear? You realize that the old time pros couldn't enter the majors and thereby add to their totals. You realize that players like Bill Tilden had trouble going overseas by boat for many weeks to enter majors like Wimbledon (which he won several times) and the French. You realize that Gonzalez was the foremost player in the world for many years and a major title contender for way over a decade, close to two decades.

    Would Kramer have won a lot of majors if he had the chance? Yes I think so. He didn't have the chance. You write about mythology but it's not a myth that Tilden won ten classic majors and a total of 14 majors. It's not a myth that Tilden won over 160 tournaments. It's not a myth that Tilden was about 6'3" or 6'2" tall and was physically gifted. Do you penalize Tilden for playing in the 1920 to the 1950's? The man was a tennis genius and it's pretty clear to me that if he had the same mindset that he would have done extremely well in today's game.

    Here's a number for you. Federer won 17 majors. That's a fact. It's very impressive. Did you know he won that in 54 tries at major? That's about 31.5%. Not quite as dominant when you see the percentages. Others have had higher percentages for winning majors. So my point is that the older pros didn't have the chances to play the majors and therefore had no chance to win 17 majors. I think Tilden would have won many majors as would have Gonzalez and Rosewall. There was no opportunity. If Federer was in that situation also, he wouldn't have won many majors because they would let him play the majors.

    So this is what you have to take into account when you look at Jack Kramer's career and if you examine the different variables it's very impressive.
     
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  26. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    ^^^i get that it's impressive but like I said I see things differently. To me pre open era player cannot be goat, end of story. Too far back, too different from contemporary game, too many variables. Do i know for a fact that Tilden would dominatw today? Hell no it's completely speculative no way of knowing. But its other things that put these guys out of contention for me (i.e. Tilden seemingly wears long pants and from footage I've seen is more of a casual tennis than full blown tennis epics and atheticism). That's just not relatable to modern tennis to me (didn't they also have to serve differently with one foot at the ground at all times?). Sorry if Grammatical errors typing from phone
     
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  27. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Oooops! Fed got a tennis-deferment.
     
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  28. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Point is that you are being close minded about this. You decided that this must be correct and you proceed from there. I've used this example before and I'll use it again. Nolan Ryan, the all time strikeout leader in baseball played in 1965, which is by definition before 1968 which is the Pre Open Era in tennis. Yes I know it's a different sport but hey it's is a while ago. Ryan in his heyday threw the ball clearly over 100 mph. His last pitch in the 1990's at I believe age 46 was timed at 98 mph. By your definition he wouldn't do well today. I disagree.

    The great Pancho Gonzalez played in the 1940's and he played until the 1970's. He defeated everyone from Tilden to Connors. He was 6'31/2" and a super athlete. By your definition this gifted player couldn't play today.

    Check this video out.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nd0gJzm_EQY

    Here's a reverse question that's often asked. Could Federer, Nadal, Murray and Djokovic play in the pre open era?
    http://www.espn.co.uk/tennis/sport/story/177649.html
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012
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  29. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    Yeah I've seen that vid before. I said not dominate, not not be able to play. Tennis has just stepped up a notch and imagining Tilden playing against today's players I have to use a lot of imagination and give benefit of the doubt. Can't do that
     
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  30. NadalDramaQueen

    NadalDramaQueen Hall of Fame

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    I agree with forzamilan90 to the extent that it is nearly impossible to compare players from the distant past to the modern players (in tennis). Some sports have had similar enough structure and technology to make a direct comparison, but I don't believe that tennis is one of them.

    That is not to say that past players are better or worse, only that this list of "goat candidates" is getting so large as to be meaningless. There should at least be a dividing line between the open and pre-open eras for goat lists (pre-open era best, open era best). It is unfortunate for the players who played in the pre-open era, but it is just rampant speculation otherwise.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012
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  31. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I agree that some of the people being mentioned to be the best ever is frankly ridiculous. Some players are called GOAT after only a few years into their careers. However the list of actual players who can be ARGUED to be the best is very low. Among them are Tilden, Laver, Borg, Rosewall, Gonzalez, and your choice Federer. Kramer was acknowledged as one of the best ever while he was playing and for many decades. He is only forgotten now because the standards are different and he didn't win a lot of majors to fit these requirements. It makes no sense because he didn't have the opportunities to win a lot of majors because in the prime of his career he was a pro and unable to play the majors. He was just beating up on the best playing in the world.

    Kramer was no ordinary player. He was a super player.
     
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  32. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    Pc1 why no Sampras mentioned among the GOATs?
     
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  33. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Well said pc1
     
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  34. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I wrote among others. I was in my car writing this on the side of the road. Wanted to write the post quickly and get on my way and didn't have time to mention all the perspective candidates. It would take too long to write everyone. I will say this, while I respect Sampras, if you check his percentage stats, while he is a player that can be discussed for GOAThood, his percentages are not too impressive. A 77.4% lifetime winning percentage isn't that great for a player who is supposed to be a GOAT candidate. His best year for won-lost is 77-10 and that's not great for a best year. He won 14 majors but out of 52 attempts and that's just okay but not great either. In other words others have done better and in some cases, much better. Even in his peak years he did NOT have a streak where he won the majority of majors over a period of years. For example did you know Laver had a streak in which he won 10 of 13 majors (including pro majors) entered. When the Open Era started Laver was to turn 30 and he still won five of the first seven majors he entered plus a Grand Slam. Don Budge won six consecutive majors including a Grand Slam in 1938. Federer won 11 of 16 majors at one point and 12 of 20 during his best five years. Sampras did very well and came close but he won 9 of 20 majors during his PEAK YEARS of 1993 to 1997. His winning percentages during his best five years is around 83% which is about Rafael Nadal's lifetime winning percentage.

    His Wimbledon titles and other majors are impressive as is his general ability. I think subjectively Sampras is more gifted than most of the all time greats.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012
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  35. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Thanks Kiki. I appreciate that.:)
     
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  36. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    I think Fed aside, Sampras is the best of the Open Era with great credentials. More so than Borg that's for sure.
     
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  37. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    When you argue like that, I am prompt to accept that Vines was, maybe, superior to Kodes:)
     
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  38. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Sampras is a contender.Borg is another, as well.He did the RG-W double three times in a row when grass was grass and clay was clay, which is a feat that will probably never be matched.He won 6 RG titles, which means he has the credentials of being , at least, the 4 th best ever on grass ( 3 rd on fast grass) and second on clay.Plus, Borg won three indoor majors, two of them beating day in day out the next four best players in the world in the most competitive era, which is a feat that won´t be easily duplicated.Finally, I admit he lost three USO finals on hard.

    His record is better than that of Sampras, in my opinion.But I respect Sampras a lot, too.
     
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  39. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    well retiring early does help that wouldn't you agree? Considering he was an early bloomer that inflates his win %, kind of like Nadal.
     
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  40. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    What has age to do with % of wins?

    We´ll never know what would have happened if Borg had decided to retire later, but we know what Borg achieved while playing and that´s all about to it.
     
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  41. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    How is that?
     
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  42. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    Once out of prime and older, you start losing more often
     
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  43. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    more complete resume for starters, spend more time at the #1 position, won lots of year end titles as well
     
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  44. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Borg was still very young (25) when he stopped playing so it's probably his lifetime winning percentage would have gone up for a number of years. Probably would have started declining after his early thirties. We also have to take into account he started very young and lost a lot more than he should have (considering his talent) in the beginning. So I think his lifetime winning percentage probably would have ended up to around what it is now, which is perhaps the highest in tennis history. It's actually higher than what the ATP has officially because they didn't count many tournaments like some WCT tournaments and others.

    Incidentally Borg in my opinion is clearly superior to Sampras. He was just a far more dominant player. It is just not close if you look at all the numbers objectively. All Sampras has going for him over Borg is the number 14 and that's in 52 tries. Borg has the number 11 but that was in 27 tries. Borg won 106 tournaments by age 25. Sampras won 64. Borg averaged over a 90% winning percentage for five years. Sampras NEVER did that in one single year.
     
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  45. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    wtf 106 tourneys? wtf? Did he play every 2nd day of the week?
    I was familiar of the 64 number of titles though that's still crazy good.

    Why only 2 year ending titles though?
     
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  46. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    If we take Sampras' years as world number 1 from 1993-1998, are they really better than Borg from, say, 1976-1981? The ATP computer was extremely unreliable until at least 1984, so I wouldn't pay much attention to that.
     
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  47. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    ok what about year end titles?

    have to give Borg>Sampras on title count though
     
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  48. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    1974: Round Robin exit (lost to Newcombe and Vilas)
    1975: Runner-up (lost the final to Nastase)
    1976: DID NOT PLAY
    January 1978: Runner-up (lost the final to Connors)
    January 1979: DID NOT PLAY
    January 1980: CHAMPION
    January 1981: CHAMPION
     
    #48
  49. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    2,004
    I think Kramer's record looks better than it is.
    This is where simply listing wins and losses needs to be expanded to include looking at the quality of opposition.
    For example, I notice that you somehow chose to OMIT the names of the players Kramer beat at Wimbledon. Was this because it was an unimpressive list? His major opponents were Tom Brown (yes, the one and only Tom Brown), and Frankie Parker late in his career.
    Also, what was Kramer's record at Roland Garros? How did he manage NOT to play there? That was strange. Even as a pro, he avoided the place in 1957.
    His tour wins against Gonzales and Sedgman were puffed by injuries suffered by his younger opponents, and while he claimed that he was injured too, his "injury" was just arthritis. Why did he skip so many major tournaments?
    The long road tours were played in high school gyms on a cruddy portable carpet, and the best-of-three sets format favoured the veteran player.
    He did not beat PRIME Budge, Gonzales, a healthy Sedgman, but instead Bobby Riggs and Segura, players not in his class at the time.
    As Gonzales said, "Kramer was not a natural athlete. He wasn't too fast or too quick, but he had the knack of winning". Part of that knack was knowing when to fight and when to make a strategic withdrawal.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012
    #49
  50. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2012
    Messages:
    7,773
    Dan, why do you belittle Kramer as you use to belittle Rosewall?

    Kramer was a fine claycourter as you can see in his five set loss to Segura in the 1950 US Pro. Losing a tough match on clay against a peak Segura is not too bad, I think.

    Kramer did enter the 1958 French Pro where he beat Worthington and won 11 games from Rosewall who won the tournament. Your darling Hoad won 12 games from Rosewall...
     
    #50

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