GOAT with Muscles

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by pc1, Jul 23, 2009.

  1. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Last edited: Jul 23, 2009
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  2. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    "Total Majors

    The 4 Grand Slam tournaments plus the 3 Pro Grand Slam tournaments that were true equivalents to the pre Open Era majors.

    This category could be called the Rosewall domain. The Australian won 23 "major" titles in his career (combining Grand Slam titles with Pro majors), Laver won 19, Federer has captured 15 and Sampras and Gonzalez both won 14.

    Considering all semifinal, final and championship results in majors, we find Rosewall at unbelievable 52 (total semifinal, final and championship results in majors), followed by Tilden (35), Laver (32), Connors (31) and Gonzalez (29)."

    Most interesting.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2009
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  3. Q&M son

    Q&M son Professional

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    Thanks pc1.

    Great reading.
     
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  4. gpt

    gpt Professional

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    Thanks pc1. So good to read a goat assessment based on more than hero worship.
     
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  5. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Robert Geist is one of the finest tennis historians in the world. I have found that he is very objective in his analysis.
     
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  6. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    I very much agree. A masterful article. I hope he keeps them coming. I hope he knows how appreciated his work is...
     
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  7. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Many valuable points. I first read something of Robert Geist in a German Tennis Magazin, where he wrote some readers letters, citing some numbers, which were a strange field for the German editors there. Geist wrote some books on Rosewall and Nüsslein, and collaborated with McCauley for his book on pro tennis. I think the criteria are well reasoned and show once again, that the simple majors count is not everything. On the other hand, i have some difficulties, to put pro majors and real majors as 'true equivalents'. There were only 3 pro majors, they seldom had big draws, were not played in unbroken continuity and had not always the best draws. Wembley, as Robert Geist stated, was the most important pro event (maybe partly due to the Anglo-Saxon dominance of the tennis media). The US pros 1960-62 however were quite weak. Also the schedule is to be recognized. The French pro was played in autumn, mostly just one week before Wembley, and it was NOT always a Pro Clay court Championship. 1963-67 it was played at Stade Coubertin indoors.
    On the basis of good work by Sgt John and others a concept of 4 most important events in a year was discussed here on TW. It has its difficulties, but it is worth to be remembered. Rosewall would rank here about as high as in the majors concept of Geist.
    The more i think about it, another concept of Sgt John comes to my mind, to get a middle ground of comparison between records of players cross eras. I mean the number of Masters equivalents or Super Nine events (the 9 or 10 most important events in a years), as an additional criterium to compare players records.
     
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  8. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    Rosewall's numbers in this category are absolutely crazy. On this count, he may well be considered the goat.
    Note that Lendl is right under Gonzalez with 28 total semis or better.
     
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  9. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Outside of his serve, I can't think of any stroke of Rosewall's that is not above average. He was beautiful to watch too, like Capablanca or Karpov in chess. Elegant, no wasted moves.

    If you use the chess analogy, he was essentially a positional player who could attack if his opponent made a weak move or shot in this case.

    You would have loved to watch him play if your taste in tennis is similar to your taste in chess.

    If Rosewall was Jose Capablanca, Laver was Alexander Alekhine.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2009
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  10. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Recognition

    I'm tired of Rosewall not getting recognized for 11 great seasons for tennis - from 1957 to 1967 inclusive.

    I far as I am concerned he has won 23 Majors.

    That would be a challenge for Roger Federer to beat.....
     
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  11. John123

    John123 Rookie

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    Robert Geist may know more about the pro era than anyone else, but I thought this article was very disappointing. It was an advocacy piece, rather than an evenhanded assessment. And to make its argument for Rosewall, it emphasized many misleading points.

    As Urban says, equating pro "majors" with open majors ignores the huge differences between them. Rosewall is credited with reaching all of those Wembley semifinals, but he needed to win only one match to reach the semis! In the open era, five wins are required.

    The article is rife with other examples of ignoring obviously crucial differences between eras. To take just one, Geist points out that Laver won 199 tournaments as compared with 64 for Sampras and Federer. Was Laver three times as good as they were? That's the implication, but what goes unsaid is that tournaments then were far shorter and that players entered far more of them.

    A statistic is basically useless for GOAT purposes if it systematically works to the advantage of one era relative to other eras, and this is true whether the statistic favors players of the 2000s or players of the 1960s. Yet people constantly use such statistics to argue for their favorite players -- whether those players be Sampras and Federer or Rosewall and Laver. When it's done by knowledgeable people, it's especially discouraging.

    When it comes to a difference between eras that disfavors Rosewall and the other pro-era players -- winning percentage -- Geist's article is curiously silent. Geist lists 13 criteria for GOAT, including "doubles success" and "Kramer Cup," but winning percentage receives zero mentions. Did it slip Geist's mind? Hardly. He doesn't want to discuss it because it makes Rosewall and the other pro-era players look bad compared to earlier and later players. For that reason, I think winning percentage is just as misleading as the things Geist does mention. But the fact that he leaves it out, while including so many of those equally problematic stats, further reveals that his goal is to advocate rather than to pursue the truth objectively.

    Speaking of advocacy, the following two quotes from the same short post contradict each other:

    Urban rightly opposes equating pro majors with open majors because pro majors "seldom had big draws, were not played in unbroken continuity and had not always the best draws." But those three identical points make it a problem to equate pro-era "Masters equivalents" with open-era Masters tournaments.

    Indeed, this Super Nine list that Urban likes so much "the more he thinks about it" ranks Josiah Ritchie as the sixth-best player ever, ahead of Laurie Doherty -- Ricthie's contemporary who won five straight Wimbledons while Ritchie won none. The list also has McEnroe, Lendl, and Connors ranked in the top seven ever -- all of them ahead of Pancho, Doherty, Federer, Borg, and Sampras.

    Of course, I knew before I even looked it up that the Super Nine list would have Rod Laver at the top, because Urban praises every metric that favors Laver and criticizes every metric that favors anyone else.

    Is it too much to ask that we actually try to figure out who's the best, instead of arguing disingenuously for whatever point happens to support our particular hero?

    Apparently it is too much to ask. Even Robert Geist can't seem to do it.
     
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  12. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Come on, i am a bit tired of someone calling me biased or something all the time. I am not making different goat lists each day, like some others, and i am far more interested in historical circumstances than in comparing different eras. Besides: Yor post is not correct. Geist mentions percentages of match wins. Raymond Lee did the same, with evaluating percentages for 5 years and for careers. Percentages are depending on the amount of matches played. Borg has extreme high percentages, but he retired with 26 and never grew old on a tennis court. Also if one counts all his exhibitions, he lost more than ten macthes a year (with the exception of 1979). Budge had 'officially' (whatever that means) a great streak of 92 matches won, but not all his matches and losses are counted. In 1937-38 he lost a few matches during that period to Kukuljevic and von Cramm and others. One quite one sided loss to von Cramm in Austarlia is seen on the clips on TW. It was shortly after Chistmas, maybe Budge had eaten too much turkey. If you play more, you lose more, especially if you play more than 120 or 130 matches per annum, as did Gonzales, Rosewall or Laver. Laver (around 80%)and Rosewall (around 76%)had a better percentage in the open era, when they were 30-40, than in their peak period in their pro years. Why? Simply because they reduced their schedule since 1972. The number of tournaments, Laver, Rosewall, and even Gonzales won under big draw conditions in their amateur and especially in their open periods, show me, that they would have won each way more than hundred in any case, big draw or small.
    When i am pointing to a middle ground as a additional criterium to best four or best three concepts, it is something, that spans eras, at least since the 1920s. It should be possible to single out the best 9 or 10 tournaments each year.
     
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  13. John123

    John123 Rookie

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    Wrong. The closest he comes is to mention "percentage of titles" and "percentage of majors" as sub-categories within "best five-year period."

    He never mentions percentage of match wins.

    Doesn't it concern you that this measure yields absurd results, like (i) Ritchie over Doherty and (ii) Mac, Connors, and Lendl over Gonzales, Doherty, Federer, Borg, and Sampras?


    Pretty convenient to put the cut-off there, so as to explain away the fact that Federer went 92-5 in his best year. That's a lot of matches, and not a lot of losses. Lendl had similar W-L records, playing about 90 matches in some years.

    So why do you think Sampras and Federer didn't win anywhere near 100? Are they simply much less good? Isn't it obvious that it's harder to win as many tournaments now?


    I don't enjoy doing it. But you continue to focus only on things that support Laver's GOAT candidacy, while downplaying any consideration that cuts the other way. When you stop citing exclusively the facts that favor Laver, then I'll be only too happy to stop raising this criticism. For what it's worth, I'm equally critical of those who focus only on the recent players and of those who ignore pre-WWII tennis; this is something we have in common.
     
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  14. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    I don't like this criticaster-attitude. Its all too easy to critizise thoughtful approaches by people like Geist and call him biased. All he does is to name a circle of 7 or 8 top candidates for alltime greatness and a bundle of reasonable criteria. Why is number of titles won not a reasonable criterium (besides percentages)? Why have people like Connors, McEnroe or Lendl won more important Super Nine titles than Sampras? Was it easier to win them in the 70s or 80s? I don't think so. The above players had long careers playing a big schedule, while Sampras focussed on winning majors in his later career. One can ask in in the exact opposite direction: Why have Sampras or Federer such a high percentage of major wins compared to overall wins, a much better percentage than Mac, Connors or Lendl? Were they so much better? Given their overall match win-lost percetage, which is less than that of Mac, Lendl, and especially Connors: No, they simply focussed more on major wins.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2009
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  15. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    John123,

    You realize that Geist was simply pointing out that Rosewall was very deserving of consideration for the GOAT. He did not say that he was the GOAT.

    If your complaint was that, as you call it, as advocacy piece in favor of Rosewall, than why complain about Laver's 199 tournament victories. This is NOT in favor of Rosewall. The reason for this is clearly to point out the different categories of dominance. You keep complaining about Laver or Rosewall's era helping the tournament victories. Lendl, Connors, McEnroe and Borg also had large amount of career tournament victories, do we eliminate them? Laver won around 17 tournaments in 1969 during the Open Era and around 15 the next year, also during the Open Era with greater winning percentages than when he played the Old Pro Ranks. Laver won about 32 tournaments in the first two years of Open play, despite the fact he was over the hill in his early thirties. What the reason? It's obvious, the Open Era had overall weaker competition than the Old Pro Tour. Notice the high amount of tournament victories. It very reasonable to believe Laver would have done as well or better if it was always an Open Era. The amount of tournament victories doesn't necessary favor one era over another. By your logic Vilas' 1977 should be eliminated because that era favored the player because Vilas won so many tournaments that year. The reason was that Vilas was durable enough to play many tournaments and was able to win many of them.

    The other thing is that while many complain about whether Pro Majors should be included like regular majors. My general opinion is that it was far tougher in Rosewall's era to win a Pro Major than it was for a Roy Emerson to win a regular classic major. Why? I think it's far easier to win a tournament without Rod Laver, Pancho Gonzalez, Andre Gimeno, Ken Rosewall, Sedgman, Hoad etc in it than with them in it. It may be fewer rounds but what are the odds of defeating all of these greats consecutively. It's not easy and for a player of Roy Emerson's strength at that time, highly unlikely.

    The Geist article, to me is very objective in that he mentions a number of categories which are NOT in favor of Rosewall and he points out how a number of other players who do quite well in a number of categories.

    The article clearly was not meant to be a full statistical analysis but since you complain about the winning percentages not being in it Geist does have percentage of tournaments won which is fairly close to winning percentage. I don't think Geist wanted to depart from the point of the article which was to understand why Rosewall is to be considered in the GOAT area. Again, he doesn't outright say Rosewall is the GOAT but that he is to be considered for GOAT.

    Here's a quote from the conclusion of Geist's article.
    I repeat, Geist only says Rosewall deserves to be in the GOAT conversation.

    St John123, while I enjoy your posts I don't understand the constant Urban bashing. Perhaps Urban does believe Laver is the GOAT. So what! It's a very logical conclusion as would be the conclusion that Rosewall or Tilden is the GOAT. I don't find Urban to constantly pushing the fact that he believes Laver is the GOAT, in fact Urban praised the Geist article as very valuable and I agree with him. He points out that in the Geist article a lot of information in certain areas that have not been known before. You make it seem as if Urban beats people over the head and states Laver is the GOAT in every post. That is so far from the truth. Urban's posts are very well thought out and well written and if I just read a sample of his posts I probably wouldn't even know he think Laver is the GOAT. I have found Urban to be very objective in his analysis.

    St John123, you seem to use the fact that Laver and Rosewall lost a number of matches in the old Pro Ranks against them. You have to take the percentages in context. Rosewall, himself has admitted that Open Play probably lowered the average level of competition for him. Those who played in the Old Pro Ranks seemed to do quite well when they were older. Laver, Rosewall, Gimeno and Gonzalez, probably the best players of the 1960's in the Old Tour Ranks were very good into their thirties. The first three all won majors in their thirties and Gonzalez won a number of tournaments into his forties. I believe a lot of it had to do with the fact that they were so strong that even when their physical skills declined, they were still strong enough to be competitive. Does anyone really believe a Ken Rosewall in 1974, a year in which he would turn forty was stronger than he was in 1964, a year in which he battled Laver for number one in the Pro Ranks and was officially ranked number one that year? Yet that Rosewall in 1974 was in the final of two majors defeating excellent players like John Newcombe, Stan Smith and Roscoe Tanner on grass, a surface that should favor the big serve. Rosewall retained enough of his skill to be a force at age 40 to possibly win majors. Only Connors during that time had Rosewall's number.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2009
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  16. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Part 2

    You also state in your behalf that why is it that Sampras and Federer didn't win anywhere near 100. Your assumption is that clearly a player of their level deserves to be near 100 tournament won but you can't use that as a GIVEN. You're making a conclusion first and than assuming that the information doesn't justify the conclusion so the reason must be the era the respective players played in.

    Sampras didn't win 100 because he had to retire because he was unable to win a tournament for years until his final great US Open victory. He was burnt out and some injuries. Frankly Sampras wasn't that dominant a player during his peak years. To win 100 you have to be very great and durable. Sampras wasn't able to be both. He retired at a fairly young age in his early thirties.

    Federer has been dominant for some years but he couldn't win tournaments in the early part of his career and doesn't enter many tournament now. In recent years, sometimes for periods of many months, Federer doesn't win any tournaments. How many tournaments did Federer win last year? Not many. He actually hasn't won that many this year, despite the fact he has won two majors. One of the reasons, aside perhaps from some decline is that Nadal, Murray and Djokovic are often able to defeat him. In other words, I believe the competition around him has improved.
    Laver and Rosewall had a lot of losses to each other and that hurt them a bit in winning percentages in the Old Pro Tour. Can you really hold that against them? What would Federer's percentages be if he played Nadal, Murray, Djokovic and some other top players all the time? Probably much much lower. Probably all of the mentioned players would have lower winning percentages if they played each other all the time. Well that was the case with Laver, Rosewall, Gimeno and Gonzalez for many years.

    Another problem is just that Federer's career isn't over yet. He's only 28 this year. He may win 100 but I would tend to think that he won't win much more than 100 if he does.

    Well Rosewall had tough competition too and he won 136 tournaments. It's not the era in this case but the fact Rosewall was great and was at least very good for a very long time. How many players can be argued to be number one in the world in their mid thirties as Rosewall was in 1970? Durability is also important in the GOAT argument as Geist pointed out. Sampras wasn't durable and Federer hasn't been around long enough to prove durability. Frankly Federer's overall winning percentages aren't that great compared to many other greats at 80.9% for his career according to the ATP site. With that winning percentage you cannot expect him to win 100 tournaments by age 28. He's not Borg in that area or even close.

    Lendl was durable and he won 140 plus tournaments and he was around into the 1990's. Lendl lifetime winning percentage, even with his decline years I believe is 81.8% for the ATP. The winning percentage is probably different if we take into account all tournaments but Lendl probably had a higher overall winning percentage than Federer even with Lendl's decline years. You can understand how Lendl won so many tournaments.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2009
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  17. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    This is a good thread, as it illustrates very well the insurmountable difficulties in coming up with unbiased measuring sticks across eras. Sgt Johns lapidary dictum that "A statistic is basically useless for GOAT purposes if it systematically works to the advantage of one era relative to other eras" can be accepted as valid. But to the extent that it is accepted as valid, it highlights the near impossibility of the task at hand, because as a matter of fact, it seems that ALL statistics used for this purpose will reveal themselves as working to the advantage of one era more than another.

    Of course the difficulties of the task and the fact that for every argument raised a handful of valid counterarguments seem to be available, only makes the discussion more interesting. It is an inexhaustible topic. It is fun.

    At any rate, those among us whose ignorance of pre-open era tennis is so vast that it could be called encyclopedic, are learning a lot from the tidbits that emerge. My impressions suffer huge suden swings. No sooner am I in complete awe at Rosewall's impressive number of semifinal (or better) performances in majors, than a bucket of iced water is poured over my fever, when am told that many of those semifinals were reached by winning just one match!! What?? So these majors involved winning only three matches?? Doesn't sound like a very unbiased comparison with today’s majors. Same thing with winning percentages, but in the opposite direction. I've always thought that winning percentage IS a highly relevant statistic by any rational approach, as it measures the overall performance of a player against the field of this day. There is no other stat that does this better. But if it turns out that in the pro tour the top players tended to play one another much more frequently than today, then of course a comparison across eras is necessarily biased. I still think it is one of the most revealing stats, but now I understand it only works for comparisons within open era OR within pro era, not between them.

    It is nevertheless an essential stat to give an idea of relative domination of players within their time, and in this sense it is a pity that such an easy to obtain number is not given year by year for all players. Because what all these huge hurdles in GOAT studies boil down to is that the best we can hope for is to establish which players were the best of their era, and then attempt to compare them by seeing how dominant they were. In the open era, I believe Borg, Lendl and Federer have shown the highest level of overall domination for the longest period, if you use the stats for winning percentage.

    As regards the overall performance in slams if you consider not only wins but how deep they went for how long (quarters, semis, and finals) I think guys like Connors, Lendl and even Agassi must be given more credit.
    Tennis28.com has a section on these (quarters, semis, finals and wins)
    http://tennis28.com/slams/semifinals_openera.html and you will see Connors and Lendl permanently at or near the top in most of them.

    Same thing if you consider dominance by number of years at the top, including years in the top 2, top 3, top 4 etc.
    http://tennis28.com/rankings/yearend_mostyears.html

    I think by now it is safe to say Federer is at the top *in the open era.* Then maybe Sampras (I put him there reluctantly because his level of domination in terms of winning percentage is extremely unimpressive to me, a stain larger than the fact that he never won RG) and then Borg, Lendl, Connors, Mac, Agassi, Edberg/Becker, Wilander, Nadal, more or less in that order.
     
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  18. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Good post Benhur. One minor question to you, how impressive is it when Rosewall reaches the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open in a year he turns 40? I think in an Open Era he would have done extremely well in his prime.
     
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  19. tudwell

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    My 2 cents on various subjects discusses in this thread.

    Urban and John123, I'm not sure why you guys are arguing. I'm sure you both agree that a player's accomplishments must be taken in the context in which he achieved them. Laver's win-loss percentages might look unimpressive when compared with players from the open era, but how do they look when compared with other pro players from the 60s? (I actually don't know, although I would assume Laver would have the best percentages for at least a few years; if anyone could post these, that'd be great.)

    Regarding 100+ titles, it may have been easier to win titles back then, especially racking up a lot of lower level titles with not a lot of top players in the draw, but even then, you don't see anyone anywhere close to Laver's 198 titles. Had he been born in 1980 and were he playing the game today, he might not have that exact number, but I'm sure he would have more titles than most of his contemporaries, and by quite a large margin.

    However, former players' winning 100+ tournaments doesn't make Federer's 60 unimpressive. One, his career's not over yet, but even then I doubt he'll reach 100 (I think he'll end up with more than 80 but fewer than 90 titles) and two, there are other factors to take into account. Let's look at a guy like Lendl, for example. In 81-82, Lendl won 25 ATP tournaments. That's over a quarter of all the ATP tournaments Lendl won. Not one of those tournaments was a slam. Two of them were the Masters, which is impressive, but a lot of them were rinky-dink tournaments that Roger Federer today would probably never play. And despite winning 15 tournaments in 82, Lendl was only number 3 on the ATP ranking system (although most people give him the number two ranking over McEnroe), which should give you some idea of just how important these titles were. Lendl's rate of winning tournaments in his prime, when he was the top player playing, winning, and defending all the top events, is not as impressive as Federer's. I think something like that is more important than a raw tournaments-won statistics.

    Plus, the game is just more physical now. Racquet and string technology allows players to hit with more spin, which, among other things, has led to the decline of serve and volley tennis. Thus, points are longer and more tiring (on average) than they were in the past. And the increases in science, dietary, nutritional, and athletic knowledge have all just upped the ante. A player has to be more physically fit than in the past, because all the players around him are and it would be a disadvantage not to. We're a long way off from Tilden's strict steak-potatoes-and-ice-cream regimen. None of this is to say that players today are inherently better or greater players than those in the past, but it's telling that Andre Agassi, a player that was known for his longevity, retired at 36 - while Laver, who had a rather unextroadinary career (length-wise), retired at 38. Urban mentioned durability - I think today's game makes it harder than in the past to remain durable throughout one's career. There's just more wear and tear on the body. And this of course is just another factor to look at when comparing the greats of different eras.
     
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  20. Borgforever

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    Great debate and IMO all the last posters has fine merits and make solid points.

    John123 -- I praise your sober judgement and your initiatives and perceptions in questioning aspects in all records and details on all eras while also giving each era great respect. However, I agree with pc1, ease up on Urban with the biased finger. I don't find Urban overly biased whatsoever. This is only my opinion of course; but he has, over and over, showed his skill and willingness to debate all areas in tennis history with good judgement and courtesy without ever consciously defending anything in a unfounded, so called "biased" way. Now, Urban might think that Rod is the GOAT, which I think is an ideal choice and I agree with him to a great extent on this, however, we are all consciously or unconsciously a little biased always -- mainly because of our limitations of our experience in the subject and our personal taste. And Urban doesn't defend Laver always or to the death.

    Second, Geist simply advances Rosewall's strengths in the article -- mainly because he's underrated (IMO very, very true) and he might be a little biased because of this too. Geist would have to write a dang novel to put every thing in context and put everything in so it won't look skewered in favor of Kenny. That's how I interpret it. Not that he denigrates other important stats -- or ignores them. An article, even a much longer one -- can't cover all the bases in the subject. Some things -- sometimes -- take time to explain and grasp.

    Apart from this I always think your posts are wonderful in their writing and in the points you make -- even in this case. Everything important deserves to be debated. Courteously. I also praise you for your fine knowledge. I noticed you named Ritchie's stunning amount of tourneys he won. Yeah, he won all over the place like crazy -- Hungary, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Spain -- and not only all over Europe either. Crazy. And he was the only one beating H. L. between July 1901 to his retirement in July 1906. A really forgotten man today...
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2009
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  21. JoshDragon

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    This author is insane. He thinks that Bill Tilden and Ellsworth Vines are in contention for the title of GOAT.
     
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  22. Borgforever

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    Josh -- please be a respectful poster yourself instead of submitting a thoughtless one-liner drive-by-shooting -- like the one you just did.

    Your better than that and I respect you and all -- but supposing people who support Giest's writing are also insane is well, you know...

    Particularly since your knowledge about tennis history prior to 1990 isn't exactly flabbergasting, to say the least...
     
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  23. Benhur

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    I agree it is incredibly impressive. In today's tennis, I think it would be inconceivable that a player in his late 30s or even 40s could have the results that Laver, Rosewall and Gonzalez had at that age against the best players of the day. I am not sure what the reason is, but certainly if they could play that well against the younger generation, I have to conclude they would have done a lot better if they had been in their prime. I have to conclude they were extraordinarily talented. Or may be they were just very late bloomers imbued with unearthly longevity. Freaks of nature. Sort of like Korchnoi in chess, who was still winning tournaments at the age of 75+ and ranked in the top 100!! Korchnoi has said his lucidity in old age is due to breakfasting on raw oysters for many decades.
     
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  24. John123

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    Pc1 and Borgforever are right that I should stop calling Urban biased, and I will stop. From now on, I'll just address his substantive points without saying that his motivation is to promote Laver. I still believe that Urban's next post highlighting anything that doesn't favor Laver will be his first, but this sentence is the last time you'll hear me say it.

    Federer, Lendl, Connors, and Mac all had high winning percentages in their prime, whereas Sampras's weren't as high. Lendl did focus on major wins, playing all four majors regularly during his prime.

    The view that Mac, Connors, and Lendl were just as good as Sampras and Federer is very atypical and, I think, difficult to support. Mac and Connors each had only one really dominant year, whereas Federer had four. Lendl had at least two dominant years, but he won only two majors in each of them (entering all four), whereas Federer won three majors in three different years. Sampras had six straight years at #1, which none of the others (including Connors) achieved.


    Yes, it was easier, as has been discussed in these forums before. No one today could win the number of tournaments those guys won, regardless what they focus on. It's not just a matter of focus, but also a matter of smaller tournaments and less-regular entry by all the top players.


    I was very heartened to see Benhur's post (and I happen to agree exactly with his ranking of players from the past 35 years). He's absolutely right, as are pc1 and Urban, that winning percentage unfairly disfavors the pro-era players because so many of their matches were against the other best players of their time. Just as counting tournaments skews an inter-era comparison, so does focusing on winning percentage.

    As Benhur points out, where does this leave us? What doesn't privilege one era over another? My suggestion has been to look at which players dominated their own eras the most, and which compared most favorably to other great champions of nearby eras. In my subjective judgment (which isn't worth more than anyone else's opinion), this results in the top four players being (in chronological order) L. Doherty (1900s), Tilden (1920s), Laver (1960s), and Federer (2000s) -- which I like because it spans the eras rather than having the top ones all come from the same era (like Laver and Rosewall (and Gonzales)).
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2009
    #24
  25. JoshDragon

    JoshDragon Hall of Fame

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    Ok, but how can you say that guys like Tilden or Vines are in contention for the GOAT title? Most people on the forum probably weren't even born when they were playing let alone old enough to remember how good they were, or what their strengths were. You Tube has basically no videos of them so the only way you'd know anything about them is through reading. Also, you'd have to take into account the technology changes.

    I just don't see how you can consider a player to be one of the GOAT, when you've never seen them play before.
     
    #25
  26. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    I understand the value of seeing someone play. However, it is not those past players fault that video technology wasn't around then. GOAT assessment is made based on how players played against their contemporaries (because really you can't do anything else than that because none of us has a time machine to bring Tilden back from the past). There is a large repository of written accounts and records of matches that we can draw from. So yes, we can get a very accurate picture of Tilden in terms of how he played and how he went against his contemporaries.

    Does Babe Ruth get disqualified from GOAT discussion in baseball, because he played back in the day? Does Bobby Jones from golf? No, because we have a large amount of information that tells us a lot about how they did and performed.
     
    #26
  27. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    money was a major factor in why these guys had so much 'longevity.' they were making up for lost time. the prize money that the open era offered was a good form of motivation. why else do you think Laver, etc were playing made for tv challenge events, wct & wtt events well into in their 30s? and playing WCT resulted in being banned from some majors in the early 70s! it wasn't just for 'love of the game' type reasons.

    imagine if today's players had no endorsements whatsover, weren't allowed to accept appearance fees, & had no exos to play. you can be sure there'd be a heck of a lot more guys in their mid to late 30s on tour, regardless of how 'physical' the game is. heck sampras may still be on tour if he had to deal with those limitations to earn $$.

    when you(& any children you may have) are set for life at 25, you have different priorities. then you can only play for fun reasons like winning the 'most majors' instead of playing so you can buy a nice house & pay for your kids, or grandkids education.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2009
    #27
  28. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    The 30's and 40's era

    Just to complete my comments about how I feel that Vines and Perry etc could be considered for the discussion on GOAT.

    There were witnesses to that period that have only died relatively recently. We know that Don Budge watched a lot of tennis and so did Fred Perry in the 80's and 90's. These guys played with the likes of Bill Tilden and Vines. THey know how good they were. They also saw the likes of Sampras and Agassi play in the 90's and Borg, McEnroe in the early 80's. So they were in a very good position to give perspective on the various generations.

    This is a long way of saying that we have considerable evidence and witnesses to how good Tilen, Vines, Perry & Budge were compared to modern day players. Perry only died in the 1990's and Budge only died in 2000. Perry picked Sampras to win Wimbledon before the age of 22. So he knew of the more recent champions. In youTube you can see Budge at a match watching Lendl and Borg playing.

    I think therefore that interviews with those guys in the 80's or 90's would be gold in terms of their perspective.
     
    #28
  29. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    timnz,

    I love your analogy of Babe Ruth in baseball to tennis. No one complains about Ruth being considered the GOAT of baseball and he played in the 1920's.

    One of the problems I have found is that some believe that simply because a person played many years ago, that person is inferior physically and in skill. You cannot just make that simple assumption.

    To continue with the analogy of baseball, I will use the all time strikeout pitcher Nolan Ryan as an example. Nolan Ryan is by far the greatest strikeout pitcher in the history of baseball and he started pitching in the 1960's when radar guns weren't used regularly like they are today. By the logic of some posters here Ryan would be soft tossing pitcher, even when he was in his prime. Timnz, you know that is far from the true. Ryan may very well have been the most consistent hard throwing pitcher in baseball history.

    Nolan Ryan was born on January 31, 1947 and ended his career with the Texas Rangers in 1993 at the age of 46. His last pitch was timed at 98 miles an hour and he was regularly timed at over 100 mph after he was 40. I'm pretty sure Nolan threw consistently harder when he was in his twenties.

    Just about any pitcher nowadays would be delighted to be about to throw as hard as Ryan threw in his forties and yet a number of pitchers in the 1960's, like Tom Seaver, Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson were very close to Ryan in pure speed and perhaps equaled him. My point is that just because someone played years ago doesn't automatically make the player inferior to players of today. It may be true but it may NOT be true also.

    Guys like Tilden, Vines, Gonzalez among others cannot be assumed to be unable to compete today just because they played years ago. These weren't people without great physical strength and stature. All were taller than 6'. I believe Tilden was 6'2" and Gonzalez was 6'3". Vic Braden, the well known tennis teacher believed Gonzalez would be capable of regularly serving over 140 miles per hour today.

    I've used this example before (and one person made fun of it) and I'll try it again. If the Williams sisters can serve over 120 mph, don't you think Pancho Gonzalez would serve a lot harder than that? Yet some would think that Pancho wouldn't break 100 mph today. Heck, I have a friend who's over 40 and under 6' tall and he has been timed at over 120 mph.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2009
    #29
  30. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Present Generation's Perspective

    Sometimes the habit of devaluing those in the past is similar to the typical teenage phenomena of not believing anyone over 30 knows anything about anything.

    Just because you have never seen someone play doesn't mean they weren't very good. Its easy to establish using eye-witness accounts, current or recent living eye-witnesses etc.
     
    #30
  31. Borgforever

    Borgforever Hall of Fame

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    According to Lance Tingay Pancho Gonzalez was timed in the early 50s -- clocking in at 112 mph with a fairly primitive (but still fine) wood racquet. Borg banged 120 mph with a primitive prototype hybrid of wood and glassfibre/graphite...
     
    #31
  32. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    The problem with longevity is not so easy. Moose Malloy makes a good point with his money-argument. The better medical nutrition and operating methods of today could and should make it indeed easier, to have a longer career than ever before. In other leading sports we see a prolongation of careers. I am not talking about golf and Tom Watson. In swimming, for some time people went out of the sport in their teens. Nowadays we see many swimmers doing well at end 20. In boxing, Vitali Klitschko is dominating at i think 37 or 38, in an age, when former greats like Louis and Ali were shot. In soccer, basketball and even an athletic discipline like basketball stars are still shining, well into their late 30s.

    On behalf of my original argument: I wrote in other posts, that Lendl was the first topper in the open era, who played the 4 majors consistently (not in his whole career (he missed a few in the early 80s), but since 1985/86. So there is a discrepancy between overall titles, match percentages and majors haul between the players of the late 70s and 80s and say Sampras in the 90s (Federer is still a work in progress). I would not rank Mac, Connors or Lendl exact on par with Sampras (please read my posts precisely), but they are not that clearly the second tier players, as some here seem to see them. They have an astonishing number of overall wins together with great percentages, the only department they are 'weak' is the majors haul. Therefore i pleaded for a middlle ground of data, between the poles of majors numbers and overall tournament numbers. It's according a bit to the best 14 concept of the ATP some years ago. If we broaden the basis of numbers from 3 or 4 to say 13 or 14 (majors plus Super Nine) we could have prehaps a common data basis, at least for all open era players. It's fair to say, that ALL top players played and entered the 14 most important events in each year, at least for most of the time.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2009
    #32
  33. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    This is a good insight. We drown in numbers, counting majors, super-9 titles. What we really should really be considering is dominance of players in relation to their peers.
     
    #33
  34. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    He's back.
     
    #34
  35. Q&M son

    Q&M son Professional

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    Wrong hood, he NEVER abandon us. :)
     
    #35
  36. Nathaniel_Near

    Nathaniel_Near G.O.A.T.

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    Relax folks, ...
    Bumped for evolution.
     
    #36
  37. Nathaniel_Near

    Nathaniel_Near G.O.A.T.

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    Relax folks, ...
    pc1, you are old enough to have a thick enough skin to be resilient to come what may, are you not? Please don't tell me you are past your thick skin prime.


    It is time to return as a regular and valuable member of the board. I repeat, as much as I have read many of your posts and agreed or disagreed, been enlightened or bemused, had my eyes opened or just scratched my head in disbelief or everything in between (usually of a positive nature BTW), you are a valuable member of the board who encourages critical thinking. We await your 'regular' return (of service... to the board).

    I trust you will see this message.

    Others who feel compelled to agree, please echo the sentiments of this post as a further reinforcement.
     
    #37
  38. mightyrick

    mightyrick Hall of Fame

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    In his prime, if Roscoe Tanner was able to S&V with a modern-day 100 sq. in. racquet with poly strings, he would have been unstoppable for a couple of years probably. I expect his serve would probably have been consistently 155mph/250kph.

    And Tanner was a great S&Ver with good touch.

    It is indeed silly to think that in modern day, someone like Tanner couldn't perform at an even higher level.
     
    #38
  39. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    I think Pancho with modern training and strings would be potentially the all-time great with the biggest 'enhancement'. I envision a better Pete Sampras.
     
    #39
  40. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Do. Owens, Anquetil or Joe Louis?
     
    #40
  41. Flash O'Groove

    Flash O'Groove Hall of Fame

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    Best opinion on this board so far. And that's a fact.
     
    #41
  42. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    No GOAT. 145 lb doesnt translate to todays game. All time legend though.
     
    #42
  43. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    I would rather say that your opinion does not translate to real tennis knowledge.
     
    #43
  44. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    I think Forza's opinion is justified. Rosewall would find it harder to be successful in today's conditions which emphasize power hitting and stamina. I doubt he would win 23 majors today.
     
    #44
  45. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    There are 145 pounds players on the women tour. In the men's game the best players are somewhere in the 170 and above.
     
    #45
  46. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Didn't you say you don't watch modern tennis ?

    There are no top player at 145. Even a skinny Davydenko is more than 145 and he's nowhere near capable of winning a slam today despite being very talented.
     
    #46
  47. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    NatF, Rosewall did well against hardhitters and power players. He is about 68:48 against Hoad who was at least as powerful as the top players of today.

    Rosewall (and Hoad, Laver, Emerson) had enough stamina to cope with the actual players.
     
    #47
  48. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    The Mighty Federer, No, I did not say this.
     
    #48
  49. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    you did say you don't follow the current game that much

    as far as my above comment on Rosewall. The sport has become much more physically imposing, and no way can a 5'7" 145 lb. guy dominate today, regardless of how skilled (finesse) he is. To me that completely erases him from GOAT contention. He's got sweet achievements (though not nearly as complete as some other greats), but if we just isolate the player things look a bit different

    interesting quote below:
    In 1995 Gonzales said of him: "He became better as he got older, more of a complete player. With the exception of me and Frank Sedgman, he could handle everybody else. Just the way he played, he got under Hoad's skin, but he had a forehand weakness and a serve weakness."

    He'd get blasted off the court big time by stronger athletes with modern equipment since he can't hit with power off his serve and forehand. His game doesn't translate into today, and neither does his physique. So imo, despite having a great resume he simply cannot be mentioned as a GOAT candidate.
     
    #49
  50. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    But You can be mentioned as a candidate for ignorance. Yes, you have sweet opinions...
     
    #50

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