Emmo’s Competition—how tough was it?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by hoodjem, Apr 23, 2008.

  1. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Roy Emerson won 12 GS singles titles. Almost everyone (not me) on here seems to believe he was not that great a player, because during his pre-open era (’61-68 ) the competition was not that tough. (All the tough pros--such as Rosewall, Hoad, Gonzales, Trabert, Cooper--were categorically excluded.)

    I thought it would be interesting to compare Emerson’s GS titles opponents to, say, Federer’s GS finals opponents. (Fed has the exact same number of GS singles titles at this moment).

    You decide . . .

    Emerson’s GS finals opponents
    1. 1961 Aus— Rod Laver
    2. 1961 US— Rod Laver
    3. 1963 Aus— Ken Fletcher
    4. 1963 French— Pierre Damon
    5. 1964 Aus — Fred Stolle
    6. 1964 Wimb— Fred Stolle
    7. 1964 US— Fred Stolle
    8. 1965 Aus— Fred Stolle
    9. 1965 Wimb— Fred Stolle
    10. 1966 Aus— Arthur Ashe
    11. 1967 Aus— Arthur Ashe
    12. 1967 French— Tony Roche

    Federer’s GS finals opponents
    1. 2003 Wimb— Mark Philippoussis
    2. 2004 Aus— Marat Safin
    3. 2004 Wimb— Andy Roddick
    4. 2004 US — Lleyton Hewitt
    5. 2005 Wimb— Andy Roddick
    6. 2005 US— Andre Agassi
    7. 2006 Aus— Marcos Baghdatis
    8. 2006 Wimb— Rafael Nadal
    9. 2006 US— Andre Agassi
    10. 2007 Aus— Fernando Gonzales
    11. 2007 Wimb— Rafael Nadal
    12. 2007 US— Novak Djokovic


    You decide: who had the tougher competition?
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2008
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  2. Wuornos

    Wuornos Professional

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    I'm with you hoodjem. I think it's right to devalue Emerson's achievements based on his limited competition bit, I think people over play the card to too great an extent.

    Having said that I do see Federer's competition as being superior to Emerson's mainly in the form of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, but no weaker than some other periods during the open era, e.g. the mid - late 1990's and the opposition faced by Sampras.

    It's all just opinion though so we'll never all come to an agreement on it.

    Take care

    Regards

    Tim
     
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  3. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    I think that something we must take into account. when comparing Federer's (or anyone's) oppostion to Emerson's, is who each played on what surface. On grass Nadal, Roddick and Philippoussis are not in the same class (not even in the same stratosphere) as Stolle, Ashe, Roche and Laver. Unlike Federer and others, Emerson didn't get the chance to play at least one event where his opponents weren't masters of that particular surface.
     
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  4. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    I would think it had to be much easier in the 60´s for a top player like Emerson to reach the second week of a slam. That should be taken into account.
     
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  5. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    In most of the 60s, only 8 players were seeded. Emerson himself pointed to that problem. You could get a top ten player in the very first round. Stolle won Forest Hills 1966 unseeded, although being a top tenner. In 1949 later Wimbledon champ "Lucky" Schroeder had to play Gardnar Mulloy, Nr. 5 at that time, in the first round. Schroeder himself made the draw.
     
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  6. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    Good point. So you could have a very tough opponent in the first rounds. Overall i would still believe, that nowadays there is more depth in mens tennis.
    Making it more difficult for the top seeds to get through to the final stages of a tournament. Correct me if i´m wrong.
     
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  7. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    We all know how great Laver was, and what he could and would do post-1962.

    It would appear that a lot depends on how one regards Fred Stolle. How good was he?

    How good a player do you believe Stolle was?
     
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  8. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Stolle had a big serve for his day, a good volley and a good backhand, his was tall and lanky, and despite always looking a bit stiff, quite fast. His style reminds me a bit on that of Michael Stich. These qualities made him an exemplary doubles player, being successful with Hewitt, Emerson and later Rosewall. As a singles player, he stood always in he shadow of Emerson, losing 3 Wimbledon finals (as von Cramm) against Emmo and Chuck McKinley. His finest hours came in Davis Cup, and against Ralston and McKinley in 1964, and Santana in 1965, he helped to win the Cup. In 1965, he won RG (without the champ Santana),and in 1966, as an unseeded hacker, he won the US over Newcombe and was ranked Nr. 1 amateur by many experts. Then he turned pro, and ended 1967 as Nr.6 pro, behind Laver, Rosewall, Gimeno, Gonzales and Ralston. Emerson, his doubles partner, had a psychological advantage over him (as Smith had over Lutz, or Newcombe over Roche), they were great friends, who made breakfast for each other, before the Wim finals. Overall not on the same level as Laver, Rosewall, Newcombe and Emerson, but on his day dangerous for anybody, especially on grass. In 1972, well past his prime, he beat favorite Newcombe at Forest Hills, without breaking serve. His serve was unreturnable on this day.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2008
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  9. superman1

    superman1 Legend

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    Let's also compare QF and SF opponents.

    Federer's competition is vastly greater.
     
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  10. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    Outside of Nadal, name one of Federer's current opponents who qualifies as a 'Great'. Djokovic isn't there yet, Safin hasn't been a challenger for quite some time, neither have Roddick or Hewitt.

    Simple fact is that while the overall draw might be stronger today (and that has nothing to do with talent or athleticism) the top of the draw is immeasurably weaker than it used to be.

    Wuornos,

    Quite simply, you can't devalue Emerson's achievements and it reflects very poorly on anyone attempting to do so. The most you can do is attempt to put his wins into some sort of perspective, however, that most definitely does not mean you can lessen their value.
     
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  11. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I am inclined to agree with all of the above post. Yes, we should put a record in perspective by noting the competition, but in the end 12 slams is 12 slams. If I can devalue Emmo, you can devalue Fed. An infinite cycle.

    The tough part is comparing Emmo's competition in the 12 slam victories to Federer's 12 slams competition--particularly when the record book on Fed's competition is not closed yet. But I don't think I regard Hewitt, Roddick, Safin, etc as comparably tough.

    Nadal's getting there, and Djokovic maybe . . .
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2008
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  12. christo

    christo Hall of Fame

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    you guys are crazy, Emmo got away with murder, he stayed amateur and cleaned up, the depth today is 10 times better
     
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  13. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    This kind of stuff is painful to read.

    Yes, majors meant something to amateurs in before 1968. But few of these guys would win much against the pros. Emerson probably was at Gimeno's level at best. Stolle far below that.
     
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  14. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    And his final opponents look better than they really are.

    Yes, he played Laver a bunch of times, but that was younger Laver. Not the really great Laver we would come to know from 65-69.
     
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  15. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    What I mean by this statement is that Emmo's 12 slams are in the record books, and there is not much I can do about it one way or the other.

    Just as Connors is listed as the no. 1 player for the year of 1977, even though I believe it should be Vilas, and CyB (apparently) thinks it should be Borg.
     
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  16. davey25

    davey25 Banned

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    This is an interesting thread.
     
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  17. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    Comparing apples to oranges, Fed (like most every open winner since the early to mid 70's) has beaten the very best players available in the world, Emerson didn't. The accomplishments are not equal but Emmo couldn't do anything about that, btw, helluva nice guy, met at Indy long time ago.
     
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  18. davey25

    davey25 Banned

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    While that is probably true the OP makes a good point. Emerson is often lowballed due to supposed lack of competition. That seems to make sense. However Federer gets a free pass for his lack of competition, people saying that it isnt his fault, you cant control who you face on the other side of the net, it is speculative anyway, etc...Federer's competition at times was argaubly worse than Emerson's, even with nearly all the best players pro and away at the time.
     
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  19. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    I don't feel I'm lowballing his efforts and again, I feel it's almost impossible to compare player A to player B mano a mano with such a large generational difference, but you can compare how they dominated their contemporaries and their accomplishments in that light. If Emmo had collected those 12 by beating a prime Laver, Rosewall, and Gonzales he could surely be considered as the best of all time, but he didn't. How many might he have won, you can only speculate but if he won two, that would have been something against three of those greats.
     
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  20. davey25

    davey25 Banned

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    I am not saying Emerson is even close to the best of all time. I agree he is far from it and isnt even one of the 3 best of his own era. I am just comparing him to Federer. When one thinks about it Federer's competition often was even worse than Emerson if we compare it straight up.
     
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  21. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    Yea, but if I can't compare Fed directly to Emmo, how can I compare Fed's competition to Emmo's. Fed's competition is undoubtedly deeper than Emmo's was, greater equality further down the line.

    Also according to Wiki, Fred never won a single tourney in the open era even though he was only 30, and Roche never won a slam singles title either in the open era and he was prime at 23 when it opened up. Yet Laver and Rosewall continued to do well after the open era, so I can't say Emmo's runner ups were world beaters. Yet Fed's runner ups were former number 1's, Hewitt, Agassi, Nadal, and Roddick. Case closed.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2010
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  22. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Emerson - highly underated

    The usual refrain is - Emerson won his majors against Amateur competiton - and hence doesn't rate highly.

    However, a few things show that view is somewhat superficial.

    For one Emerson's head to head with John Newcombe spanning Amateur and Open era is 17-6 in Emerson's favour.

    The other thing that shows how good Emerson was - was when Emerson went pro in 1968 and started playing Laver again. His 1968 head to head with a peak Laver was even - 5 to 5. And of the 5 victories he did have, they were all in straight sets over world number 1 Laver. After 1968 he faded but he was marching into his early to mid-30's by then - so it was more of an age issue not ability.

    1968 SF HOLLYWOOD PRO EMERSON 64 61
    1968 SF MADISON SQR GARDENS CHAMPS LAVER 62 62
    1968 SF LOS ANGELES LAVER 75 62
    1968 1R PARIS PRO NTL LAVER 46 64 62
    1968 SF MIDLAND PRO EMERSON 64 64
    1968 RR SAO PAULO RR LAVER 61 108
    1968 RR LA PAZ RR LAVER 64 62
    1968 RR LIMA RR EMERSON 86 64
    1968 F Buenos Aires ARG EMERSON 97 64 64
    1968 1R WEMBLEY PRO EMERSON 63 97
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2010
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  23. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Very interesting.

    Welcome to the dark side, where we try to evaluate Fed's achievements objectively, and not genuflect with automatic obsequious adulation.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2010
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  24. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Hood -- this poster used to have a signature saying he was a proud Federer hater, or words very close to that.
     
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  25. davey25

    davey25 Banned

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    This is incorrect. Although in a forum that could be ranamed Federer Palace it is easy to understand why not thinking Federer is the automatic GOAT, questioning the completeness of his game compared to many past greats, or questioning his competition level, amongst other things, makes one a supposed hater.
     
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  26. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I am hoping that we can be neutral and objective--not haters or worshippers.

    I guess I hope the glass is half full.
     
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  27. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I'll tell what why I said it. Thalivest used to have such a signature. Are you thalivest, or no?
     
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  28. davey25

    davey25 Banned

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    No I am not thalivest.
     
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  29. pjonesy

    pjonesy Professional

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    Possibly a little harsh, but I have to agree with your main point. Emerson stayed amateur and won against a lesser class of player during the 60s. There is absolutely no doubt that the best players in the world were not allowed to play in the top tournaments, leaving less competition for the amateur players. The depth today is much better, but that really is a moot point, considering that in the 60s, two classes of skilled players were not allowed to compete against each other. I'm really not trying to split hairs, but I think that you can only compare the depth of the current men's game to other eras or years in the Open Era (post 1968).
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2010
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  30. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    Krosero. This thread is not about either Davey or Liveliest. Its about Emerson and Federer.

    Comparing finalists is just too shallow from my perspective to determine much, too often the dengerous opponent is in the QF or Semi. I'd love to see a clip of Emmerson in action.
     
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  31. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    Hoodjem, just to be clear, I don't bow at the alter of the mighty Fed, but objectively, he's probably one of the very best to ever play the game. I think that if you would have handed him a wooden racquet in the 60's or 70's, I really do feel that with his natural gifts, he would have competed well and won in any era, and I can't say that about too many players to be able to cross generations. God it would have been fun to see him play Borg, speed on speed. Or how would he have handled the drama that Connors and McEnroe would bring to the court? Would he play counterpuncher to the better s & v guys, like a Laver, Mac, or Edberg or would he have figured it was in his best interest to make it a race to the net. We can only wonder :)
     
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  32. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Have to go with Federer on this one. I would say Emerson's finals opponents were as good (given the time) as Federer's finals opponents. The rest of the field really only had only about four guys who were on the same level as Emerson. Fed's consistency in the big tournaments and his longevity at the top are what makes him so great.
     
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  33. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Lack of competition?

    Rod Laver - how about him? And in the Pro's as well. Emerson played Laver 10 times in his first year as a pro (1968) and split 5 matches all. All of Emerson's wins over Laver that year were in straight sets. There couldn't have been higher competition than a 1968 Laver.
     
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  34. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Sorry, but I don't think you can devalue Emerson's accomplishments very much. His competition included amateurs who were on their way to the pros. They had to go through him first, so he played the cream of the crop.

    Also, after Open tennis when Emerson was past his prime and physically worn out was competitive with the best. He had wins over Borg, Tanner, Ashe...

    The guy was every bit as good as anyone who played the game. You don't win majors being sub-par or average.

    According to at least one Aussie on the boards, he was also a national hero for staying amateur and not turning pro.
     
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  35. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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  36. orangettecoleman

    orangettecoleman Professional

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    The reason people say Federer hasn't had quality competition is because he's so bloody good that the competition hasn't had the chance to bag the slams they would otherwise have. Roddick, Hewitt, Safin, Djokovic, would all have multiple more Slams if Fed wasn't as good as he is, and we wouldn't be talking about a weak era. It's the distance between Fed and everyone else that makes the era look weak. As for Emerson, I guess it's all conjecture how good he could have been had he turned professional. He was one of the fittest players and had a great serve. Perhaps he would have done well against the top players, but we'll never know.
     
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  37. davey25

    davey25 Banned

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    Roddick and Hewitt would not be 5 or 6 slam winning players in any era. If it possible either would have been that without Federer than all that shows is how weak the field after Federer really is, since there is no other era either of those would have won more than 2 slams, there are some either might have won none in fact.

    Although Federer owns Safin head to head he hasnt victimized him any as far as slam wins. Safin didnt have the stamina to last all those 5 setters at the 04 AO and win the final so someone else was winning that without Federer. There are no other slams Federer beat Safin which Safin would have potentially won without Federer, including Wimbledon 08 where Safin would have had zero shot vs Nadal. If Safin were more consistent it is quite possible Federer would have victimized him more often in slam semis and finals given their head to head history but it didnt pan out that way. The reverse might have happened too if Safin had better luck with health and had truly maximized his potential.

    Djokovic has possibly been denied 1 or 2 U.S Opens by Federer (one or both of 2007 and 2008), but overall he has been an underachiever on his own account due to suspect fitness, mental strength, and perplexing inconsistency.

    Hewitt during his reign at #1 allowed Johansson, Albert Costa, and a 33 year old Agassi to all win slams under his watch. Safin was one of the top players from 2000-2002 and Johansson, Costa, a well past his prime Sampras, and a 31 and 33 year old Agassi, all won slams during this time aided often by Safin and Hewitt unable to even make it past the early rounds.

    These guys arent not tennis legends due to Federer but due to their own limitations in abilities. Excellent players, but not truly great ones other than potentially Safin who was so inconsistent.
    If you take Federer out Agassi is probably still scalping off this weak group by taking some additional slams at 34 and 35 now as opposed to them all winning them. After all only Federer and Nadal of Federer's generation of top players even has a winning head to head vs an older Agassi.
     
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  38. jnd28

    jnd28 Rookie

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    I am one who has been lucky enough to see emmo play close to his prime. What a magnificent player. Fast and strong with one of the best backhand volleys of all time.

    The reality is that players can only beat the players that they get to play. Emmo beat all of the players he got to play. He is one of the best of all time.
    IMO.
     
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  39. pjonesy

    pjonesy Professional

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    While I still stick by the idea that he did have an advantage by only having to play other amateur players, I will agree that his skillset and ability were on par with just about anyone who has played the game.

    I grew up in the 70s and 80s, so this era was before my time. What younger generations (like myself) generally do not understand, is that if you became a professional pre '68, there was no turning back. It was a decision that had massive implications on a player's career, especially someone of the caliber of Emerson. While I respect the players who had the guts to turn pro, I also understand and respect why a player would stay amateur and avoid the risk of being blacklisted.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2010
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  40. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I am inclined to agree.
     
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  41. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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  42. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Now that I am looking at Emerson's opponents more closely, even if he wasn't facing "all the top pros" at the same time he was facing the amateurs, his competition was tough. So, I wouldn't say he won against very weak fields by any stretch. The fields he competed against were quite tough, at the top of the amateur ranks. Depth was lacking somewhat most likely, but that didn't make winning in the SF-F "easy". He did beat who he faced.

    Yet, of course, the competition at the top would have been even tougher had he played the pro pre-1968. So, I think Hoodjem's take on him is quite accurate (though Emerson was well before my time in terms of me watching him play in his prime).

    We should keep in mind that Emerson's achievements are more impressive than it may appear "on the surface" if you just think amateurs vs. professionals in the 60's. He also had 16 doubles majors! The guy could definitely play.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2010
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  43. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I have also heard that he was very, very fast--by any standards.
     
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  44. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    He once said, that only kangoroos (is it the right spelling?) were faster than him, but that he could play better tennis. Maybe his best record was, that he never lost a living rubber in Davis Cup (only a dead one to Santana). And this streak extends to 9 finals.
     
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  45. jeffreyneave

    jeffreyneave Rookie

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    emerson in 1968

    emerson was not generally ranked in the top 10 in 1968. He failed to reach the sf of the 4 major events (french, wimbedon us open and PSW). He had losing records against Gimeno and Gonzales, the players who he was competing against for the last spots in the top 10. He won only 2 touraments, not very good. His 5-5 split with laver is his only good stat for 1968; the rest of his stats are not very good and is why he was generally excluded from the top 10 players by journalists of the time.

    jeffrey
     
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  46. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    I guess though - the 5-5 split speaks of his basic ability. To beat a peak Laver in straight sets 5 times in one year - you have to be good. The fact that he was inconsistent in other ways points to the age factor kicking in. My belief is that his ability to beat a peak laver points to the fact that if he had turned Pro with Laver in 1963 he would have done a lot better than people suspect in that 1963 to 1967 period.
     
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  47. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I saw him play live a few times.Your description fits mine perfectly.As solid a S&V as any great aussie name, had a very good and fast BH return of serve, though he was not a very consistent player and probably didn´t believe as much in himself as Santana or Emerson ( the only 2 guys who were really better than him in the mid 60´s).Nice guy, fun and with great sense of humour ( no wonder he and Emmo were all partying guys).he teamed and coached Vitas Gerulaitis, and I´m sure those 2 easy going, laid back guys must have made agreat teamwork...in 1981, he and Newc, over their 40´s almost beat Mc and Fleming at the USO SF.great way to say bye bye.
     
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  48. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    Feds competition till 06 certainly was a little soft, but still at least equal to emersons competition.

    and from 07/08 on it really becomes no comparison, since nadal/novak hit their prime by about 08. emerson never faced such a player.

    so in the end feds competition was easily much harder.
     
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  49. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    You already said it.Laver,Roche,Stolle,Fraser,Santana and young Ashe,Newk or Rochey compared to Bagdathis¡¡¡ Gonzales¡¡¡ Roddick¡¡¡ Nalbandian¡¡¡ Philipussis¡¡¡

    You have a great sense of humour
     
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  50. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Feb 17, 2010
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    18,715
    Most of the amateurs Emmo fought are better than the pros Fed´s fought...now imagine how the pros in emmo´s ages were¡¡¡
     
    #50

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