Donald Budge

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Xavier G, Mar 30, 2012.

  1. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Messages:
    510
    Donald Budge is a very famous name in tennis history and of course won the Grand Slam of major titles in 1938. That was pre-World War II when tennis was so much different from today. Do you guys think he still deserves a stellar standing in the game? How does Budge compare to Tilden for instance? Martina Hingis could easily have won the calendar year Grand Slam in 1997. In the end, she won 5 slam singles titles all in all and her career kind of fizzled out. How would she have been remembered with a Grand Slam year and six singles titles, say?
    So, how great was Donald Budge? All thoughts welcome!
     
    #1
  2. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,344
    Don Budge has been ranked by many to be the greatest player of all time. Greats like Jack Kramer thought he was the best he had ever seen. Kramer repeated that same thought just a few years ago when he was talking about Sampras. He implied that Budge was superior to Sampras.

    Bill Tilden thought Budge was the best player for 365 days a year. How that would apply to Leap Years I don't know. Anyway, aside from that poor joke Tilden meant that Budge was a very consistent player and always good, never with ups and downs in levels of play.

    Budge was considered by many to have the greatest return of serve ever. They said it was impossible to serve and volley against him and win.

    Do I think Budge is the greatest ever? The answer is no. I think his reputation far exceeds what he accomplished on the tennis court. Yes he did win the Grand Slam in 1938, the first person to ever win the Grand Slam but it was an amateur Grand Slam and not of the level of Laver's Open Grand Slam in 1969 or Laver's Pro Grand Slam (imo) in 1967. He also claims to have invented the Grand Slam which actually means to me that it wasn't the pressure for him to complete the Grand Slam that greats like Connolly, Hoad, Court, Laver and Graf had when they won or at least in Hoad's case, came close to winning a Grand Slam.

    To use Tilden as a comparison I found Tilden more than lived up to his reputation. His record in the 1920's was astounding. He was virtually invincible and for a period of years he won every major he entered. It wasn't many majors because of the poor transportation at the time but you couldn't blame that on Bill Tilden. Tilden was also competitive even at 48 against a peak Budge winning probably 7 matches while losing 46 and tieing one. That's incredibly impressive for a 48 year old against another player many have called the GOAT. Up to that point in tennis history I believe Tilden was the GOAT and even to this day Tilden could very well be the GOAT. There is no comparison in my opinion when you look at Tilden's record versus Budge's record. For example Tilden won over 160 tournaments and 10 classic majors plus 4 Pro Majors for a total of 14 majors. Budge won over 40 tournaments, 6 classic majors and 4 Pro Majors for a total of 10 majors. They both won and lost some head to head tours. The difference is that Tilden turned Pro in his forties and Budge turned Pro during his peak. I don't think Tilden at his peak would have lost any tours.

    What Budge has in his favor is the prestige of winning the first Grand Slam. That is his calling card.

    Budge was defeated by Riggs several times in head to head tours. The Budge supporters would say he was hampered by a shoulder injury incurred when he was in the army in WWII. However even in Budge's prime, Riggs won 10 out of 25 on tour against Budge. Very very close. Riggs improved greatly after that with a much superior serve, better volley etc and was FAR superior in tournament record to an older Budge. It's very possible that a prime Riggs may have beaten a prime Budge considering their tour in 1942 when a weaker Riggs played Budge close.

    Do I think Budge was a great player? Yes I do but not nearly the invincible one that everyone thought he was. For example I believe in his Grand Slam year he won 38 and lost 5. Excellent but not super and hardly invincible.

    In the Pros Budge defeated an Ellsworth Vines who was still great but injured and perhaps wanted to play golf more than tennis. Budge defeated Perry in a very good result. After the war Budge lost to Riggs, Kramer (don't know if he ever beat Kramer when they both were pros) and Gonzalez. I believe he was close with a Segura not quite at his best yet.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2012
    #2
  3. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,063
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    The question is, was Budge the best tennis player in the world in 1938? Was he better than the top professionals at the time like Ellsworth Vines, Hans Nusslein and Fred Perry? Budge had success in his first year as a professional in 1939, beating Vines 22-17 on their 1939 world pro tour, and also winning both the French Pro and Wembley Pro tournaments. However, that was 1939, and back in 1938, it was different as Vines had been the best professional player in the world since 1934.

    And then there's the fact that Budge's biggest rival in the amateurs at the time, von Cramm, fell victim to discrimination by the Nazis, was jailed and therefore not on the amateur tour in 1938. I personally have Budge as the best player in 1939, 1940 and 1942, not in 1938, as I still believe Vines was the best that year.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012
    #3
  4. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,344
    Possibly but maybe not. Nusslein was perhaps the best clay court player in the world. Vines was still Vines and he may have been superior to Budge on fast surfaces when he was healthy, definitely when he was on his game.

    The big question is whether Budge would have won the Grand Slam in 1938 with Vines, Perry, Nusslein and von Cramm competing. I would tend to think no but no one can possibly answer that.
     
    #4
  5. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Messages:
    510
    Thanks for the info. I wanted to have an idea of Budge's '38 year because that made his name in tennis history. Bill Tilden is another great name from the old days and it seems Tilden may have been the better player then. I often read that Vines was great too, and of course Kramer, whose book I read many years ago.
     
    #5
  6. krosero

    krosero Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Messages:
    5,579
    Both Vines and Kramer rated Budge as the greatest of all time. Vines wrote that in '78, and Kramer said it as late as 2007, in an interview shown in the recent Tennis Channel special. Don't know if you saw it; Kramer said that if not for the war, Budge might have dominated for as much as 10 years.

    I think 10 years is going too far in praise, but it highlights the fact that Budge's career suffered irreparably from the war which coincided with his peak. He spent a few years in the service and would surely have won a great number of victories in those years, for one thing. In the service he also injured his shoulder and was never the same again, as Vines, Kramer, Riggs, Danzig and a large number of other observers all agree on. After the war he had to try to come back from a few years away from the game, which must be an exceedingly difficult thing to do at any age.

    Riggs was another player whose prime intersected the war, though his true peak probably came after the war. And Riggs, being stationed in Hawaii, continued playing every day; plus he never got injured.

    Of all the big names in tennis history it's hard to think of someone, besides Budge, whose career was more affected by a war, at least since the First World War (in which Tony Wilding was killed). Von Cramm obviously is one big name whose best years were swallowed by WWII. That's one more way in which Budge and von Cramm are linked, besides their famous rivalry.

    Tilden's career, overall, was unquestionably greater than Budge's. I thought Budge was ranked too high in the TC special, at #6, well ahead of Tilden. The experts interviewed for his segment mentioned his Grand Slam in '38 as the main reason for putting him so high. But while a Grand Slam is obviously a great achievement, I don't see that it should catapult someone over another great who won far more tournaments, for one thing.

    I don't know the exact number of Budge's career titles, but it was far lower than Tilden's. Anyone have the number?

    Kramer and Vines did regard Budge as the GOAT, but in their writings they always focus on Budge's skill as a player, rather than claiming that Budge's record was the greatest overall. That's where I think Budge has his greatest claim -- his level of play. Vines, when in the zone, was probably the best of that era; but Tilden is probably right that Budge was the best over 365 days. Budge on his day could annihilate a top rival; but he also had great consistency.

    Well even in late '37 Budge had his supporters as the best in the world. This is from an article in the Baltimore Sun (no byline given):

    "There is sound reason to rate Budge today as the greatest tennis player in the world, amateur or professional, although Ellsworth Vines, another California, and Fred Perry, of England, kings of the professional game, probably have as many supporters who claim distinction for them."

    Budge against Nusslein would have been extremely interesting. I think when they finally did meet in '39 Budge called him the greatest player he had ever faced (a lot of such compliments were given among the top rivals, but those are strong words nevertheless). They met at Wembley that year, in May, and Budge won but it was quite a match: 13-11, 2-6, 6-4.
     
    #6
  7. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,344
    Budge won about 42 tournaments in his career and Tilden won over 160. BIG DIFFERENCE.
     
    #7
  8. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,715
    Not by much, but possibly, in the late 30´s tennis had more tough players to beat than in the early to middle 20´s, when Tilden peaked.You always have to bear on mind the level of competition those greats, Doherty,Brookes,Wilding,Tilden,Budge,Crawford,Perry, Mousketeers or Vines were facing when comparing them to the nest fom 1950´s on.
     
    #8
  9. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,344
    Thing is that Tilden, when he was 41 in 1934 faced Vines in his prime on tour and gave Vines a very close battle on the tour. I think Vines won 41 to 26. It's tough for a man in his forties to recover to play the next match. At 48 he won 7, lost 46 and tied 1 against Budge on tour. That's a great performance for an old man.

    Tilden faced everyone in the pros. He faced Vines, Perry, Nusslein, Cochet, Budge and even faced Pancho Gonzalez in one match! Except for Gonzalez he was able to defeat them all.

    If you look at Tilden's competition in the 1920's it seems to me that it was pretty great. He faced Bill Johnston, Lacoste, Cochet, Borotra, Richard Norris Williams, Gerald Patterson, John Doeq, Vinnie Richards etc. In 1930 Tilden won his last Wimbledon by defeating Borotra in the semi and Wilmer Allison in the final at the age of 37.

    Fred Perry faced Budge and Tilden and ranked Tilden higher than Budge for what that's worth. Vines didn't really rank Tilden in his book but thought he could be number one but Vines did rank Budge number one of all the players who played after World War II. Vines did not mean Budge's peak was after WW II but that he played after WW II.
     
    #9
  10. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    9,277
    Don Budge's stroke production was text book perfect in every respect. His technique was what tennis text books were based on. His ground game and return game were among the greatest of all time. He was probably the biggest hitter of all time until Laver. He also had a great serve and net game, although he was known to swing at his volleys on occasion. IMO, he would have thrived with modern racquets and would easily be top 3 in the World today.
     
    #10
  11. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    9,277
    My understanding is that Budge served in WWII and suffered a shoulder injury from which he never fully recovered.
     
    #11
  12. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,344
    He may have been number one also.

    Yes he did but even before the injury he didn't have the best year and wasn't dominant. In 1941 before the injury several players like for example Fred Perry had a better year than him.

    Was Budge the hardest hitter in history up to that point? Perhaps for controlled power he was but from everything I've read, Ellsworth Vines was perhaps the hardest hitter in tennis history with a wood racquet, perhaps even including Hoad and Laver. Some have compared Budge to Lendl at his best to give an example.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2012
    #12
  13. krosero

    krosero Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Messages:
    5,579
    Thing is that Budge's testimony on this issue is worthless. For whatever reason, he characterized his Grand Slam campaign as something he did in secret until it was finished. But in truth he told the press, in May 1938, that he was setting out to do it -- in contrast to Laver who as far as I know did not speak openly about the Grand Slam in '69, because he didn't want to heap pressure on himself.

    I agree that Budge faced less pressure than did later players trying for the Grand Slam. But there is other evidence for that argument. Budge's own testimony on that matter is not good evidence, because he obviously wanted to recall, or claim, against the actual facts, that he accomplished the Slam in secret, with no pressure at all.

    I've always thought of Budge's result against Tilden as overwhelming. A 46-7 record is a winning rate of .868. Later in that same year Perry went 20-3 against Tilden, a rate of .870. It's nearly the same thing, and it could be that Budge actually did better than Perry did, because Perry lost at least two more matches to Tilden (in August, per Bowers).

    And that is striking because Perry was in great form during that stretch in '41; as you know he ended up #1 for the year. Budge was probably #3 for that year, largely due to his surgery in June.

    Tilden being able to beat Budge (and Perry) at the age of 48 has never struck me as a notable result -- except as great evidence of Tilden's longevity. In that category Tilden might be second to none. If Tilden had won only 3 or 4 matches against Budge, instead of 7, I would find that surprising, considering how well Tilden had done at the age of 41 against Vines.

    Was the Vines-Tilden margin 41-26? I have seen a figure of 41-19, based on a mid-tour report from American Lawn Tennis (see Tilden's Wikipedia page and Bowers).

    Budge at his peak certainly did not lose any tours. He lost only after the war, and though it's debated how good or bad Budge was by then, no one has called that time Budge's peak.

    Budge went 15-10 against Riggs, but Budge started the tour badly and was pulling away the longer it continued. As mentioned he had that surgery in '41, and seems not to have played much at all for the rest of the year. When he started the tour in early '42 he was observed to be out of shape; he lost his first three matches. But slowly his form picked up and he started pulling away from everyone.

    As you know the tour was canceled prematurely, which raises the possibility that Budge's edge over Riggs (and everyone else) would have been even greater if it had gone to its conclusion.

    When Budge met Riggs in the final at the US Pro Grasscourt in July, he overwhelmed him 6-2, 6-2, 6-2. Riggs played his best but there was little he could do. Joe McCauley thought that Riggs in '42 was not yet in Budge's class, as shown by that match.

    And even the tour results show a huge gap between them. Budge finished 52-18 against everyone else in the troupe. Riggs finished 36-36, the second-best record among the five men (by a small margin), but nowhere near Budge.

    Riggs did get better in later years, you're right. And Budge only got worse.

    Not invincible, but hardly an ambiguous result when compared to Laver who lost 16 matches in '69.

    I have also read that Budge was not defeated in '38 until after he completed the Grand Slam.

    Kramer said that Vines developed shoulder problems late in his career; Bowers mentions serious shoulder trouble even as early as '36. Vines seems to have often had trouble with his shoulder. And yet in the first tour against Budge he continually served aces as I documented in the other thread. With those serving performances, there are not many dates left over on which Vines could have been playing injured; and the aces also imply that if he was injured, he recovered quickly. But then it could not have been a serious injury -- at least, not one more serious than the shoulder issues he commonly dealt with.
     
    #13
  14. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    9,277
    Although Lendl could rip his forehand when he wanted to, I think that, point in and point out, Budge hit harder, flatter and deeper, with less arch than Lendl. Again, more like Connors or Agassi. It was Budge's deep penetrating ball that made him so tough.
     
    #14
  15. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,344
    All good points but my feeling is that a man of 48 shouldn't do that well against a potential GOAT so I do think it's very impressive. Can we imagine anyone who is 48 winning 7 matches on the ATP tour today, let alone against great players like Djokovic, Federer or Nadal? Could we imagine Jimmy Connors at age 48 winning 7 matches out of 54 against Pete Sampras, Roger Federer or Andre Agassi?

    We've discussed the Vines injury a number of times and it has occurred to me that aces don't necessarily mean he wasn't hurting. It may have affected Vines in other ways. I've had shoulder injuries myself and sometimes I can fight through it and serve decently and sometimes I couldn't. This is probably the last time I can compare myself to Ellsworth Vines. :confused::oops:

    I will see if I can get some more information on the Vines shoulder injury if possible.

    When I wrote that Budge wasn't invincible I meant that it seemed like in every book I read about Budge, it was implied that he almost never lost. So I got the impression (wrongly) that he perhaps went years without losing or at worst lose one or two matches a year. This was not true. I did find it true of Bill Tilden.

    With Laver I knew he lost a number of matches during the year. It was almost impossible not to when you played the high level competition he did.
     
    #15
  16. krosero

    krosero Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Messages:
    5,579
    The modern-day examples are inapplicable because it's a different game with shorter longevity. Connors at age 48 would not have won 7 matches against the top player because he retired at age 41. And even at 41 -- even in the year of his last great hurrah at the USO -- he was not taking 20 matches from the top player in the world, as Tilden did to Vines in '34. Connors, for whatever reason -- his own genes, or the different times in which he played -- did not have Tilden's longevity. And Tilden's the focal point here. I just find nothing unusual about Tilden taking 19 matches from Vines and, seven years later, taking 7 from Budge.

    As you say Budge is usually regarded as a GOAT candidate, but I don't find 7 matches a lot to lose -- not to Tilden whose longevity is second to none, and who is a GOAT candidate himself.

    Pancho Gonzalez and Rosewall had comparable longevity. At 40 Rosewall was still beating Newcombe and Smith in the majors. At 41 Pancho beat a 31-year-old Laver in a five-set match. So why shouldn't Tilden at 48 be able to take 7 out of 53 matches against Budge, and 3 out of 23 against Perry?

    Perry, again, was the #1 player in the world that year.

    No doubt he could have been hurting. It may even have been probable, considering he had shoulder problems at least as far back as '36 -- problems which did not, however, prevent him from producing the best seasons of his career. That's what I find difficult about any injury report concerning Vines' shoulder: this was not something that started in '39, when he met Budge.

    Vines could well have been hurting in early '39, during the Budge tour. But if it was a physical issue that he often dealt with, there's little reason to diminish Budge's victory in the tour, since Budge had physical issues as well (blisters in his case). For players to go through these tours without any physical issues would have been the exception.

    Well Laver's competition in '69 was tougher, no question. That is one reason I don't view Budge's Grand Slam as a reason to rank him as #6 alltime. It was a great accomplishment -- and still among the greatest -- but it can't make up for the fact that Budge's overall career, in large part due to reasons out of his control, was not as impressive as a career like Tilden's.

    At the same time, against this lesser competition in '38, Budge lost no matches until the Grand Slam was completed. After that effort a few losses are more than understandable.

    You may be coming at this from a different place than I have. You read constantly about Budge's supposed invincibility. I was not as familiar with all those claims made about him. Before studying his career I basically just knew him as the guy who won the first Grand Slam, had the great rivalry with von Cramm, and then disappeared into the historical dark ages of the war and the pro game.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2012
    #16
  17. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2005
    Messages:
    7,864
    unless the average age of players in the 30s/40s was the same as it is today, the analogy doesn't really work. maybe there were a number of 40 year olds in the top 100(god knows how you would figure that out) at the time, so a 48 year old player(who just happened to be the most significant player in terms of advancing the sport in its history) being still able to play at a high level wasn't something totally absurd.

    Much is made of the fact of Laver being 31 in '69, with some implying that 31 is old - since it is by todays standards - so he must have really been in his prime when he was like 24, like Sampras or Federer were. I always found that to be a rather strange conclusion, because when you look at the average age of all players in '69, 31 was not old at all, and many players of that time said that you were really in your prime when you were around 28-29. Ditto with Rosewall & Gonzales, their longevity was amazing, but in the context of their time players were quite a bit older than they were in the 80s on, so their age records are not quite as jarring as say what Connors did(when you look at the average age of the top 100 in 1988 when Connors was still top 10 at age 36, its rather amazing - really he was so much older than virtually everyone on tour. by the 1980s it was obvious that tennis was a very young man's game, most pros were around 23-24, with many teenagers at the top of the game as well)

    I know fans love inter era comparisons, but really you aren't comparing apples to apples even when it comes to something other than pro/amateur/equipment etc. SO much has changed.

    And I can't imagine how any player would do if they had to play a tour vs just one other player today, its just so different from the structure they have now. I'm guessing Nadal would be more likely to figure out Djokovic if he had to play him & only him 50 times a year, instead of playing him only 6 or 7 times in finals where he has to beat so many others just to get to him.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2012
    #17
  18. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,344
    Correction, in an earlier post I thought Vines won 41 to 26 over Tilden. I remember now it was 47 to 26 over Tilden.
     
    #18
  19. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2005
    Messages:
    4,355
    Budge was a great player, top ten all time imo, with wonderful stroke production. Some times i have some personal resentiments against him - that may be right or wrong - , because in his own accounts and interviews, he always came around pretty cocky, he always claimed, that that he was best alltime and that he never lost, would have won 10 Wims and so on. His famous 92 winning streak has to be really proven. In an earlier thread some years ago, Andrew Tas gave all results from the years 37 and 38, and there Budge lost a few more matches in team matches during this streak.
    Budge was the 'Sultan of Swing', his swing game was beautiful, his backhand was built after the baseball swing. His game reminded me of Lendl, but was more fluent. However, against spin tricksters like Riggs, his game could be dissected.
     
    #19
  20. krosero

    krosero Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Messages:
    5,579
    Does that include matches apart from their formal tour?

    Just asking. I'm wondering how that figure squares with the 41-19 figure I mentioned.
     
    #20
  21. krosero

    krosero Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Messages:
    5,579
    It does seem like Budge himself contributed to the perception that he was invincible.

    And I agree that Riggs was a kind of player who would do well against Budge. I just don't see that as necessarily knocking Budge out of the top level of greats -- certainly not if you're just looking at level of play. Borg was a greater player than Budge, imo, and yet McEnroe (another spin artist) certainly dissected his game. Nadal has dissected Federer's game to a large extent, at least up to now. Cochet and Lacoste knew exactly how to play Tilden.

    There's no one I'm comfortable saying that they dissected Laver's game. But Pancho did seem, at least, to play against Laver with plenty of confidence, as if he knew what would work best.
     
    #21
  22. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2005
    Messages:
    4,355
    I think, Budge was a rhythm player, who liked to control the match from the baseline with pretty big swings and backswings. He even played his volleys with a lot of backswing. Perry had success against him, at least at the amteur game, because he took his time away. Perry was known for a rather unorthodox crouching game with early taken shots, and this seems to have disturbed Budge's rhythm and timing. And Perry had better stamina. Riggs was another unorthodox player. It would be interesting to know, how Budge in his prime would have fared against net rushers like Kramer (who was not much younger) and Gonzalez.
     
    #22
  23. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,715
    That´s a good point.IMO, what makes Rodney George Laver the greatest ever player is that no one could really be for a long time evened with him.He could change rythms and paces, and he could come up with the most unexpected move or shot.
     
    #23
  24. krosero

    krosero Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Messages:
    5,579
    Budge says himself in his memoir that his game depended on rhythm. He said he had "the hard, driving, attacking game that demands a groove."

    Perry seemed to rush Budge, by taking the ball early. At least in the amateur game.

    Budge writes in his memoir that he umpired one of Perry's first pro matches against Vines, in January '37. He fully expected Vines' power to overwhelm Perry; he thought that Perry would be doing most of the running. But he recalls watching in amazement as Vines was forced to do at least as much running as Perry.

    He realized that Perry was doing this by taking the ball early, while Vines, for all his power, was not dictating play because he would always let the ball bounce high before giving it his customary wallop.

    That's when Budge made his famous formulation: "Suppose a man could hit the ball as hard as Vines and take it as early as Perry? Who could beat that man?"

    I don't know whether in fact Budge's style changed dramatically from that point forward, though there's no question that soon afterwards he started winning everything.

    Maybe when he met Perry again, in '39, Budge was no longer as vulnerable to Perry's on-the-rise shots because he was doing some of the same. Hard to say without actual footage.
     
    #24
  25. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,715
    That is a great judgement from Budge.30 years later he would have asked: suposse a man could hit as hard as Hoad and have the timing of Rosewall, who could beat him?... or suposse somebody could S&V like Gonzales and play the baseline game like Laver...who could have beaten him?
     
    #25
  26. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    9,277
    Pete Sampras? Hahaha!
     
    #26
  27. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,715
    If I had to find similarities, yes, Sampras could be somewhat comparable to Budge because of his flat, all out baseline hitting and big serve and volley game.Connors would be more similar for groundstroking techniche, IMO.
     
    #27
  28. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    9,277
    Actually, I was comparing Budge's ideal player, someone who hit hard and early, to Agassi who hit hard and early. Budge asked who could be such a man. I answered Sampras.
     
    #28
  29. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,715
    As opposed to both Connors and Agassi, who are renowned for taking the ball earlier than anybody else, Budge had a potent first serve.And he was a better volleyer than Connors ( and of course, much better than non volleyer AA)
     
    #29
  30. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    9,277
    I don't know about that. Connors was an excellent volleyer. So was Agassi, when he came to the net. Like all of the top pros of that era, Budge was a backcourt player who didn't attack the net as much as Connors did. When he did come in, like Laver, he had a tendency to take big swings at his volleys. Usually successfully, always entertainingly.
     
    #30
  31. WCT

    WCT Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2010
    Messages:
    217
    Hw good a volleyer do you think Budge was, Limp? I recall a detailed post of yours describing attending Budge's school/camp in the early 70s. Very detailed in describing his racket and stroked, how he toyed with younger instructors. I specifically recall your describing how he just crushed any volleys that were above the level of the net. Read to me like you thought quite highly of his volley.

    IMO, neither Connors or Agassi were great volleyers although I thought Connors was better. I saw Connors as a very agressive volleyer who sometimes had trouble with balls below the level of the net. To be a truly great volleyer, I think you need to be better than he was on those. However, some players, like Nastase, didn't always do enough with the high volley. When Connors was volleying well, he crushed high volleys.

    All opinion, though. To this day I'm shocked by Arthur Ashe's OFF THE COURT contention that Laver was not a great volleyer. That he flubbed a lot of volleys. That Borg's topspin would have eaten him up on the volley.
     
    #31
  32. krosero

    krosero Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Messages:
    5,579
    Agassi's success at net was pretty good, when he came to the net, but that qualifier is key here because he came in so little. For example when he beat Sampras in five sets at the 2000 AO, he won 19 of 26 approaches. That's a success rate of 73%, which is better than Pete's rate of 58%. But Pete came in 122 times. Agassi was successful 73% of the time because he came in so little, when he had the point largely won already.

    Increasing his number of approaches would have required a better net game, I think. When he tried to press the attack he sometimes looked lost to me, up there. He had the talent to be a better net player, I just don't think he developed it.

    Connors is another story. He came in a good deal more, sometimes a lot more. And I think he was a better volleyer than Agassi, one who knew how to approach and put away the ball -- though I agree with WCT about his low volleys.

    I doubt any stats exist for Budge's net approaches, but in at least a few big matches in his career he attacked the net at decisive moments (that is how he got the last break over von Cramm in the fifth set of their Davis Cup match, for example). I don't think you could win a grasscourt major back then without knowing how to attack the net, not necessarily on every point, but with some regularity.

    Again, hard to say without more footage.
     
    #32
  33. krosero

    krosero Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Messages:
    5,579
    Budge-Riggs

    As PC1 noted, Budge won 15 of 25 matches against Riggs in their crosscountry tour from Dec. '41 to Apr. '42.

    One report from late February stated that Budge got off to a bad start and trailed both Riggs and Kovacs for the first ten days, though he soon started to dominate everyone: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=-y5PAAAAIBAJ&sjid=aU0DAAAAIBAJ&dq=budge riggs&pg=6214,3841781

    And yet in April, after Budge lost to Riggs in Los Angeles, Paul Lowry wrote in the LA Times that Budge was no longer as good as he had been as an amateur:

    (Riggs won 6-8, 6-2, 6-2.)

    Lowry's description suggests that Budge was dominating this tour even at a level below his peak tennis.

    Budge's friend Gene Mako also thought that Budge was never as good again as he had been in the late 30s.

    When Budge met Riggs in early July in the US Pro final at Forest Hills, he appears to have been in perfect form. He won 6-2, 6-2, 6-2, and it was probably one of the best matches of his career.

    Danzig in the NY Times:

    They toured again in March '46. Budge had injured his shoulder during the war and played very little, while Riggs had kept practicing and was now coming into his peak -- in '46 he won a total of 14 tournaments.

    Budge fell back 1-12 immediately in the crosscountry tour, pulling up to 16-20 before finally losing 21-23.

    Later in June, he beat Riggs twice in five-set matches, in the finals at Memphis and Richmond. He also beat Riggs in the final at San Franscisco. Riggs beat him in four-set finals at Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Los Angeles, and in a five-set final at Longwood. In July they met again at Forest Hills in the US Pro final, exactly four years after they had last done so, and this time it was all Riggs: 6-3, 6-1, 6-1.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2012
    #33
  34. krosero

    krosero Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Messages:
    5,579
    Andrew's list is here: http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?p=2338799#post2338799.

    He is missing some early rounds, but he indicates the number of rounds in each tournament, in that same thread. If I counted the rounds correctly, this is what he has as Budge's win/loss records:

    1937: 66-5 including a 61-2 record in tournaments/Davis Cup.
    1938: 45-7 including a 42-2 record in tournaments/Davis Cup.

    According to Andrew, Budge did win 14 tournaments without a loss, from January 1937 to September 1938 -- though in that stretch he lost 8 times in exhibitions and team matches (but not in Davis Cup).
     
    #34
  35. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    9,277
    Before Jack Kramer invented the "big game," singles tactics were pretty universal on all surfaces. They played primarily from the ground. S&V was rare. Budge was known to swing at his volleys which implies that he went for a lot of winners and probably also hit a few more UE than other, more conservative, volleyers.
     
    #35
  36. krosero

    krosero Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Messages:
    5,579
    I'd forgotten, but I do have volleying stats for Budge, in one match.

    This comes from Lawn Tennis & Badminton.

    1937 Wimbledon final
    Budge d. von Cramm, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2

    Budge’s 41 winners: 11 FH drives, 2 BH drives, 11 passing shots, 1 lob, 16 volleys.

    Cramm’s 38 winners: 11 FH drives, 6 BH drives, 10 passing shots, 1 lob, 3 drop-shots, 7 volleys.


    Budge’s 43 errors: 16 FH, 10 BH, 5 volleys [and 12 service returns]

    Cramm’s 60 errors: 19 FH, 19 BH, 9 volleys [and 13 service returns]​

    So yes the biggest numbers belong to groundstrokes. But note how many of the groundstroke winners were passing shots and lobs.

    Budge had 16 volley winners; 12 times he hit a groundstroke winner with Cramm up at net; 13 times he hit a groundstroke winner with Cramm at the baseline.

    Cramm had 7 volley winners; 11 times he hit a groundstroke winner with Budge up at net; 17 times he hit a groundstroke winner with Budge at the baseline.

    That's a fair amount of net play.

    They made relatively few volley errors, as well. Cramm had 7 volley winners and 9 volley errors, while Budge's ratio was excellent: 16 volley winners and only 5 volley errors.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
    #36
  37. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,715
    Kramer also invented % tennis.It is amusing that, in that time, % tennis was S&V, while today, % tennis is staying at the baseline and bash the ball.
     
    #37
  38. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    9,277
    Watching Laver, the startling and unexpected became expected!
     
    #38
  39. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,715
    Yeap¡¡ I´d say that was one of his trademarks.
     
    #39
  40. WCT

    WCT Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2010
    Messages:
    217
    Your point about Agassi could be said for Connors as well. Nowdays a Nadal. They come in on better approach shots. Plenty of matches that I saw where Connors had a better net % than Mcenroe. He wasn't as good a volleyer. In the 1975 US Open telecast, Bill Talbert was in the booth with Summerall and Trabert. At one point Trabert remarks how Connors' approach shots lessen the difficulty of his volleys. Talbert adds, much like the great Don Budge.

    There are some passages early in the Drucker book on Connors that speak of how much Gloria Connors liked Budge's game and may have patterned her son's after it. Apparently Budge liked to take the ball on the rise as well.
     
    #40
  41. krosero

    krosero Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Messages:
    5,579
    Yes the point holds for Connors and Nadal too, as well as Agassi. But Connors came in more than the other two.

    Of course it depends on what part of Connors' career you're looking at. For example in that '84 USO semifinal against McEnroe he didn't come in that much. But the USO finals on clay, in 1975-77, were another story. In a couple of those finals he had several dozen approaches. Against Krickstein in '91 he came in 137 times. Against Wilander in '88 at Key Biscayne, 111 times.

    Those are numbers you just don't see from Agassi or Nadal. Typical numbers for them are 10 to 20 approaches, and 30 is really pushing it.
     
    #41
  42. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,344

    Connors has been compared to Budge as a pure ball striker and as a great returner by many. Jack Kramer the former great was on of them.

    Pancho Segura mentioned how Connors was superior to Agassi in his transition from the baseline to the net. I believe a lot of Connors' style was influenced by Segura.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2012
    #42
  43. krosero

    krosero Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Messages:
    5,579
    Connors did have great approaches, especially the backhand DTL. Though he did have trouble picking up the short ball on his forehand and getting in on it.

    I read something about Budge that was similar, made me think of Connors. In Budge's first Davis Cup match against von Cramm, the one in '35, Danzig wrote that von Cramm "attacked [Budge's] erratic short forehand”. He didn't elaborate, but it's an intriguing little bit. Did Budge have trouble with low forehands? Did he fix that problem after '35?

    Something else reminded me of Connors, in Marshall Jon Fisher's book. He wrote about the match that Budge won from Crawford, 13-11 in the fifth, in Davis Cup, 1936. "Throughout the match Crawford had maintained a strategy of patiently hitting slow deep slices that forced Budge to generate his own power."

    And Danzig mentioned Budge's approaches in that match: "Budge’s famed backhand creased the lines and paved the way for his winning assaults from the net.”
     
    #43
  44. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,715
    Connors had a great BH approach.Hitting it flat and deep, he could overcome the shortcomings of having a 2 HBH, when approaching the net.In fact, he beat Borg at the 1976 Forest Hills final, partly because of that shot.
     
    #44
  45. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2004
    Messages:
    1,063
    Only on low ones. The higher forehands he could take on the rise and slide down-the-line with power and side spin or drive cross-court flat.
    However, the flat cross-court doesn't give you much time to get into position, so it has to be overpowering. His down-the-line forehand went to his opponent's forehand, which is risky. His backhand approach was better simply because he could go down-the-line to the opponent's backhand.
     
    #45
  46. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    1,963
    The tragedy of Budge's Grand Slam was that he faced an unusually weak amateur field that year, and was never really tested.
    Vines, Perry, and Nusslein (who never won a major touornament) were all pros, von Cramm was in jail in Germany, Riggs, Hunt, Bromwich, McNeill, were still developing, Wood, Shields, Crawford were past their prime. Only Parker and Quist were in prime condition, and neither were credible challenges to Budge in a major.
    Budge's toughest challenge of the year came in the final of the Czechoslovakian Championship, where he won a very close five-set final against 16 year-old Jaroslav Drobny, still a junior.
    I think that if tennis were open in 1938, Budge could have still won the grand slam, although Vines would have had a good chance to beat him at Wimbledon or Forest Hills.
     
    #46
  47. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,063
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    Hans Nusslein won 5 professional majors:

    1. 1934 US Pro (clay)
    2. 1937 French Pro (clay)
    3. 1937 Wembley Pro (indoors)
    4. 1938 French Pro (clay)
    5. 1938 Wembley Pro (indoors)

    He barely played amateur tennis at all, turning professional very early in his career.
     
    #47
  48. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,344
    Nusslein was very respected as a pro. Tilden (before he played Budge) called Nusslein the best player for 365 days a year on level of play.
     
    #48
  49. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    1,963
    These titles, like many pro titles, sound big, but who did he actually beat in them?
     
    #49
  50. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    1,963
    I notice that the reponse you gave isolates a very small proportion of my post, and really does not relate to the main point, that Budge faced a weak field in his Grand Slam.
     
    #50

Share This Page