Gottfried von Cramm

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by egn, Jun 30, 2009.

  1. egn

    egn Hall of Fame

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    So yesterday I finally picked up A Terrible Splendor which documents the time around the 1937 Davis Cup and the match between Cramm and Budge and after realizing all the stress but on Cramm due to the **** government I was wondering does anyone think this really hurt his game? The man was definitely the 3rd best player of that era behind Budge and Perry but could he possibly have been even better had he not been so stressed and intertwined with politics and his homosexuality causing problems with the strict **** Government. It is sad when you read about his complex situation, but from reading all of this and getting a feel for the stress he was under 24/7 I imagine it had to affect his game. So I guess does anyone feel he could have been better...

    shoot they censor .na.zi
     
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  2. Hey Moe!

    Hey Moe! New User

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    Yes, I do think that Von Cramm could have been right up there fighting for the top spot. He had a really nice game.

    I know how my game went south when I got divorced; I can't imagine the issues that Von Cramm had to deal with.

    Free of those shackles, I think that Budge and Von Cramm would have been one of the all-time rivalries.
     
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  3. atatu

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    Yeah, I'm in the middle of the book right now, it does seem that he would have had a lot less stress without Hitler, et. al.
     
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  4. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    A true gentleman and a fantastic tennis player, who had anybody´s numbers on clay.he´d have been a top gun if he had undergone a normal life.
     
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  5. max

    max Hall of Fame

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    I read the book and was pretty underwhelmed by it. Not particularly well written. It's a great story, of course. Don Budge put together an article on it. Good old Budge! :)
     
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  6. Gemini

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    Is Von Cramm the German player executed by Hitler because he was g a y?
     
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  7. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    His friend was a Jew, That was even more a shandal for the Nazis. He wasn't executed, but sent to prison. Later he went to war on the Eastern front, got the Iron Cross. In the last year of the war, he was protected by King Gustav of Sweden. He died in a car crash in Kairo in 1976.
     
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  8. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Von Cramm beat Perry to win Roland Garros in '36. The next year the N_azis prevented him from entering the tournament, and by '38 he was under arrest. That was the only year that Budge entered the French, so what an opportunity lost in that rivalry.

    Budge usually got the better of von Cramm but I wonder how it would have gone in Paris, where von Cramm won twice and was able to beat Perry.
     
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  9. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Exactly. Von Cramm was the best clay courter of the 30s, after the decline of Cochet. In 1937, a big favorite at RG, he was drawn back by the German Federation, to focus on Davis Cup; in 1938 and 39 they didn't let him play due the political reasons. Instead, in 1937 the lesser Henner Henckel won RG. Von Cramm won the Rothenbaum event at Hamburg many times, over great players like Crawford.
    Some say (including Robert Geist), that the pro Hanne Nuesslein was at least equal to von Cramm on clay. I doubt that. From the German sources i read, von Cramm was always regarded as the better. And in a pro-amateur match at Rot-Weiß Berlin in 1934 (?), von Cramm beat Nuesslein in four sets.
     
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  10. krosero

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    Interesting stuff, Urban.

    I'm sure von Cramm's absence was felt heavily after '38. Here's just one quote from the New York Times which doesn't mention him by name, but it notes the absence of top challengers to Budge at the French:

    "Donald Budge today easily captured the second of four major titles he has set out to win this year. By defeating the giant Czechoslovak champion, Roderich Menzel, in straight sets in a match lasting less than an hour, Budge won the French hard-court singles crown in a field that, it is true, did not include any stars of the first magnitude."
     
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  11. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Roderich Menzel was a Czech-German, who played for both countries. In vital matches in DC and at Hamburg, he always lost to von Cramm. Later Menzel became a writer. Wrote some lyrical tennis stories like 'My beloved (female) tennis partner' and a History of German Tennis from the beginnings until 1950.
     
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  12. newmark401

    newmark401 Professional

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    Some interesting information on Roderich Menzel from the German wikipedia entry on him, which has the ring of truth to it:

    "Roderich Menzel (born April 13, 1907, in Reichenberg; died October 18, 1987, in Munich) was a Czech and German tennis player who later became a writer. As an author, in addition to his real name, he used the pseudonyms Clemens Parma and Michael Morava.

    "Reared in the Sudetenland, initially he played tennis for Czechoslovakia, but after the 'Anschluss' with Germany at the end of the 1930's he played Davis Cup for Germany.

    "In 1931, he won the International German Championships at the Rothenbaum Tennis Club in Hamburg. In 1936, he was considered one of the top four players in the world. In 1938, he lost in the final of the French Championships to Don Budge.

    "After his tennis career Menzel became a writer and wrote under his own name and the pseudonym Clemens Parma [and Michael Morava]. The catalogue of the German National Library includes 156 titles by him, several of which were translated into foreign languages. In the 1950's and 1960's, he wrote books for children and teenagers, which were illustrated by Johanna Sengler. The most well-known of these books is 'Das Wunderauto' ['The Wondercar']. In addition, he wrote biographies of [Queen] Friederike of Hanover and [actor and director] Max Reinhardt. His trilogy 'Weltmacht Tennis' ['World Power Tennis'] is considered the best work of its kind in the German language.

    "Roderich Menzel had five children: Michael, Christian, Renate, Carola and Peter. His eldest son Michael was for twelve years sports photographer for the Bavarian Wrestling Association and completed seven marathons and the 100 kilometre run in Biel. Nowadays he [Michael] works as an athletics statistician in Bavaria."
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2011
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  13. Frank Silbermann

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    I read that in Bobby Riggs best year (he won Wimbledon singles, doubles and mixed-doubles, and $100,000 dollars betting on himself to win all three), he had been soundly thrashed (close to being bagelled) by von Cramm in a grass-court warm-up event to Wimbledon (I think maybe it was the Queens Club tournament).

    The Wimbledon committee decided not to let von Cramm play that year because the rules required players to be "of good morals" -- and von Cramm was a convicted homosexual.
     
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  14. newmark401

    newmark401 Professional

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    In the semi-final of the men's singles at the 1939 Queen's Club tournament, Gottfried von Cramm beat Bobby Riggs 6-0, 6-1.

    According to the London "Times" of Monday, June 24, 1939: "This was the second time within a week that Riggs had lost eleven games in a row against an unrelenting attack by drive and volley, and, for some inexplicable reason, he was a mere shadow of the player we know him to be. Von Cramm, who has been given a cordial reception, was certainly in ruthless trim. There was not an ace for which he did not strive to the limit of his flashing strokes, and after a stiff tussle for the second game Riggs, with a philosophical smile and perhaps unwilling to trust the [slippery] foothold, seemed to give it up as a bad job."

    I don't think von Cramm sent in an entry for the 1939 Wimbledon - I'm not quite sure why as he probably would have been allowed to play there. Perhaps, being a gentleman of the old school, he simply didn't want to put anyone in a difficult position. Certainly he would have been the favourite to win the men's singles title that year.

    Of course, the original allegations of a homosexual relationship had come from the Nazis, whom von Cramm didn't support, so they should be taken with a grain of salt.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2011
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  15. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    The name "Von Cramm" suggests he was of the German aristocracy; many of them hated Hitler. (In the late 1800s many members of the German aristocracy married daughters of Jewish industrialists and bankers -- as a way of combining one family's social status with another family's wealth. Thus, many German aristocrats by the 1930s had some degree of Jewish ancestry -- usually not enough Jewish ancestry to be arrested for it, but when some of your beloved relatives _are_ being taken by the Gestapo you tend to resent it...)

    However, in Frank Deford's book _Big Bill Tilden: The Triumph and the Tragedy_ he wrote that it was common knowledge that Tilden and Von Cramm used to frequent the Berlin gay cabarets together in the early mid-1930s.
     
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  16. newmark401

    newmark401 Professional

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    Yes, von Cramm was a baron. If I'm not mistaken, when the Gestapo came to call he was eating dinner with his family in the dining room in their castle.

    There were other gay, or possibly gay, figures of the time in Germany, known or not known or not suspected, but the Nazis didn't target them either way.
     
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  17. newmark401

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  18. Q&M son

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  19. SusanDK

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  20. egn

    egn Hall of Fame

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    The CNN article is very interesting. It is so unfortunate to know that such a fantastic player was persecuted and had to deal with so many issues. He's definitely a forgotten all time great.
     
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  21. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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  22. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    "A Hollywood studio has taken an option on Fisher's book so both Budge and von Cramm may end up immortalized on the silver screen."
     
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  23. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    In fact, Budge is in a film, a piece of the famous Tracy- Heburn duo. She plays a sports woman, who plays golf with Babe Didrickson and tennis with i think Gussy Moran, Budge and Riggs. Von Cramm was in a film about the life of Barbara Hutton, i think a made for TV picture.
     
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  24. pc1

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    I forgot about that movie. It was called "Pat and Mike."
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045012/fullcredits#cast
     
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  25. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Nice find, pc 1. I think, Hepburn won all the fictive golf and tennis matches played in this film. Would be not easy against Babe and Alice Marble. But, if i have read it right, she was a very good tennis player, and a friend of Martina Navratilova in her later years.
     
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  26. Frank Silbermann

    Frank Silbermann Professional

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    It would be very difficult to teach the actor to hit backhands like Budge, considering that even most top tournament champions who came after him couldn't do it.
     
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  27. Limpinhitter

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    When I was at Don Budge's tennis camp, he spoke about his matches with von Cramm, and opined that von Cramm was an all time great and might have been the greatest ever but for the Nazis.
     
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  28. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    1934 Roland Garros final

    Over at http://tennis28.com/slams/saved_matchpoint.html it says that von Cramm faced a match point against him when he won his first RG title, against Crawford. Fisher says the same in A Terrible Splendor, and he also says that von Cramm won three five-set matches before the final.

    Just on those facts alone it sounds like one of the most dramatic and impressive victories of the 30s, but you rarely hear about it. Whenever von Cramm is mentioned today all the talk is either about Budge, or about von Cramm losing three Wimbledon finals.

    Wondering if anyone has more information on this tournament and particularly the final?
     
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  29. newmark401

    newmark401 Professional

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    "Wondering if anyone has more information on this tournament and particularly the final?"

    From the London "Times", Monday, June 4, 1934:

    "A New Champion

    "Few people had thought earlier in the afternoon that the [men's] singles final would bring a new champion. It was evident at the outset that Crawford was not in the wonderful form that had beaten Henri Cochet last year. He often seems to make a lackadaisical start, however, and, complete stroke player that he is, can thrive on living dangerously. Past experience was being repeated when Crawford, having lost the first set, pulled himself together in time, won a close second set and the third set and, leading by five games to four in the fourth, at last reached match point. He threw up a difficult lob, von Cramm smashed it dead on the sideline, and with a burst of brilliant drives and volleys, ran out with the set.

    "The fifth set was a sorry affair. Crawford, against the severe driving from von Cramm, had needed all his speed of foot to make those disconcerting recoveries of his, and by this time was staggering with fatigue. His control deserted him and it was not long before von Cramm, volleying magnificently, had won the match by 6-4, 7-9, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3."
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    Last edited: Dec 28, 2011
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  30. newmark401

    newmark401 Professional

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    Some more match points saved by eventual champions in majors (not included in that other website):

    In the All-Comers' Final at Wimbledon in 1889, William Renshaw saved six match points against Harry Barlow in the fourth set of their match. W. Renshaw eventually won 3-6, 5-7, 8-6, 10-8, 8-6.

    Coincidentally, and probably uniquely, the 1889 women's singles champion, Blanche Hillyard, of England, saved three match points in the All-Comer's Final in her three-set victory, 4-6, 8-6, 6-4, over the Irishwoman Lena Rice.
    --

    In the All-Comers' Final at Wimbledon in 1895, Wilberforce V. Eaves had one match point at 6-5, 40-30, in the third set of his match against Wilfred Baddeley. The latter saved the match point and eventally won the match, 4-6, 2-6, 8-6, 6-2, 6-3.
    --

    At Wimbledon in 1919, Suzanne Lenglen saved two match points in the Challenge Round against Dorothea Lambert Chambers, at 6-5, 40-15, in the third set. Lenglen won 10-8, 4-6, 9-7.
    --

    In the Challenge Round of the men's singles event at Wimbledon in 1921, Bill Tilden beat Brian Norton after the latter had had two match points in the fifth set. The final score was 4-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-0, 7-5.
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    Last edited: Dec 28, 2011
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  31. krosero

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    Thanks for the 1934 excerpt, Mark. The NY Times had relatively little on the match. They do say that von Cramm "speeded the game and came from behind with an attack that left Crawford staggering with weariness in the final set.”

    Fisher writes that it was one of the hottest French championships in memory.

    Too bad about Crawford, only the previous year he had lost a 2 sets to 1 lead against Perry, just one set away from a Grand Slam. Then he lost the Australian final to Perry, the French final to von Cramm, and the Wimbledon final to Perry.

    Off topic but I noticed the list I linked to also has Perry saving match points against Budge at Forest Hills, but the NY Times has a very detailed description and they only say that Budge twice came within two points of winning. Do you have anything on that?

    Btw I think you mean Norton above.
     
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  32. krosero

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    1935 French final

    Perry took von Cramm's title in the '35 final, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3. Again the New York Times had relatively little, but they do say that it was a "thrilling struggle."

    The Times added this: "Observers believed there was a growing tendency among the players to regard the hard-court tournament as no longer one of first importance since France lost the Davis Cup. A lack of spirited play was apparent this year."

    Fisher, when writing about the 1934 tournament (only a year after France lost the Cup), remarks that "The French title was second in prestige only to Wimbledon."
     
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  33. krosero

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    1936 French final

    Again Perry met von Cramm in the final, this time going five sets. Von Cramm won 6-0, 2-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-0.

    An AP story in the New York Times reported that it was the first victory for Gottfried “in four attempts against the recognized No. 1 star in the tennis world.” Perry had defeated von Cramm at Wimbledon in ’31, in Davis Cup in ’32, and in the French and Wimbledon finals of ’35 – every time in straight sets except at Roland Garros.

    Von Cramm won the fourth game of the final set “with four blinding service aces.”
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2011
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  34. newmark401

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    From "Lawn Tennis and Badminton", 8 June 1935:

    "Fred Perry captured one of the few honours of the game which have hitherto eluded him by his victory in the French Championships in Paris last Sunday, and in so doing he has set up a record never before accomplished in the history of lawn tennis. He is the first Englishman to win the French Championship since the meeting was thrown open to all-comers in 1925, and the first player of any nation to have his name inscribed on the four major championship rolls of the world, those at Wimbledon, America, Australia and France. His nearest rival, Jack Crawford, had won in Australia, France and at Wimbledon, but the Australian has yet to annex the American Championship.

    "[...] Perry has many attributes which favour him in his quest of overseas titles. He is more adaptable to varying court conditions, and he can rely on his great stamina to see him through a marathon encounter. With the knowledge that his physique is more robust than any of his contemporaries he can also conduct his matches with a good margin of reserve for the unexpected. Rarely does he get off the mark with the flying start so often witnessed when Borotra was in his heyday, though he is quite capable of emulating the Frenchman's sustained net attack if he so wished. None of the Paris entry could match him in steadiness or control from the baseline; consequently he could wage his matches without being hustled or subjected to intensive pressure.

    "[...] Perry wins the final

    "A gathering of over 10,000 witnessed the final between Perry and Gottfried von Cramm, and the Englishman realised a long-standing ambition when he emerged victorious by 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3. Perry led practically throughout in the first set, his accurate and deep driving giving von Cramm little scope for executing strokes on lines which demand some margin of leisure to achieve their best effect. After losing a service game to love - his only lapse during the set - Perry took the first set with two love games in a spectacular burst of speed. When von Cramm had won the first game of the second set a shower caused a short adjournment, after which the German established an ascendancy of brief duration. He was helped to this by a stream of lobs which he smashed firmly to get a lead of 5-2. The set went to von Cramm at 6-3.

    "Perty went to 3-0 in the third for the loss of only four points; and going smoothly to 5-0 appeared to throw away his service game deliberately with the object of beginning the next set with service. This argued supreme confidence, and that confidence was justified by what happened. He easily won von Cramm's service for 6-1 and reeled off the first three games of the fourth set. He dropped a game, but then went further ahead, breaking through von Cramm's service, to 5-1. He was now well within sight of victory, but he was not destined to reach it without dropping two more games and failing to clinch six match points. On his seventh, however, he brought off a fine passing shot for victory."
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    Last edited: Dec 30, 2011
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  35. newmark401

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    From the London "Times", 2 June 1936:

    "A Disappointing Final

    "[...] When due credit has been given to von Cramm's attacking strokes, the deliberate murder in his service and the wide sweeping of his low forehand drive across the court, those love sets with which the match began and ended cannot be ascribed to any considerable improvement during the winter. He is steadier in the critical rallies and has a broader appreciation of attacking values which are centred in making powerful drives on both hands no more than net high and at the widest possible angles. He has the allies of the drive, the drop shot and the volley, at his command as well as any other player, but Perry showed that von Cramm can still be made to yield to depth and pace in the backhand corner and that, like Perry himself, he is prone to hit down the slow drive in the forehand service court. It had been rumoured that von Cramm had perfected a short, heavily-chopped stroke that would have Perry in trouble, but we saw little of it; the straight long drives were doing their work too well.

    "Von Cramm opened the match with vigorous strokes in such perfect control, hitting winner after winner across the court, that Perry, repeatedly driving out and down, did not make the vestige of a stand for the first set, in which he lost three games to love and scored very few points in the others. The remarkable thing was that the fifth set should go exactly the same way, for, after the interval, Perry, two sets to one down, had come back with all his power of stroke to make the match level, and we all expected that now he would take his revenge for that opening love set. Perry's touch on the backhand, however, deserted him completely. As a stroke it is a law unto Perry, which we may admire but never understand; but now he repeatedly hit down shots plunging close to the body, depending more upon wrist and forearm than the true pivot of the hips.

    "Von Cramm's control

    "As von Cramm saw victory in sight he rose to his opportunity with magnificent control. His service came out with greater strength, kicking more terribly than ever high up on the backhand, his forehand drive plunged precisely across the court into the far corner, and, what was more unhappy for Perry, he never gave his adversary time to regain command of the rallies, but pressed him mercilessly on the volley. Even when Perry had lost five games and won no more points in this cruel fifth set there was still a faint hope for him, but von Cramm was serving, raced in to turn another of his piercing volleys across the court into match point, and with Perry's next stroke he became champion of France, once more as deserving a winner as when he first won the title from another holder, Jack Crawford."
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    Last edited: Dec 31, 2011
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  36. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Good articles on von Cramm. Yes, von Cramm is often reduced to his 3 Wim final losses to Perry and Budge. He was however, certainly since the times of Cochet, the best clay courter of the 30s. I know, that some historians like Robert Geist, who wrote a book on Nuesslein, refer to the pro Hanne Nuesslein as the better German player, but all German sources like Kleinschroth, Najuch or Menzel prefer von Cramm, who beat Nuesslein in their pro-am encounter at Rot Weiß in four sets. With a bit of luck, von Cramm could have challenged Cochets title haul at RG. He was forced to scratch RG in 1937 by his federation, on order to focus on Davis Cup duties. His team-mate Henner Henkel won RG instead of him. In 1938 and 39 he was banned, then came the War. He would surely have beaten Bill McNeil (i think he actually had beaten him shortly before RG 1939 at Cairo), and would have given Don Budge a run for his money in 1938. He had beaten Budge twice in team matches in Australia begin 1938. He also won a ton of German titles at Rothenbaum, Hamburg.
    Two aspects, which are mentioned in the articles, seem to me contradicting some myths and cliches about von Cramm: One, that he had a formidable serve, probably the best twist serve before the War, which contradicts, that he was a pure baseline or clay artist (i heard even Perry making such a statement). And second: He won a lot of 5 set matches, so contradicting any rumor of mental weaknesses, which i often read about him.
     
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  37. GoSurfBoy

    GoSurfBoy Semi-Pro

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  38. Nadal_Power

    Nadal_Power Semi-Pro

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    Thank you guys, great read and great photos
     
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  39. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    He won these five-setters in the Slams, that I know of (his only loss is listed in bold):

    1931 French, R32, Du Plaix

    1934 French, R32, Palmieri
    1934 French, QF, Menzel
    1934 French, SF, de Stefani
    1934 French, final, Crawford (saving match point)

    1935 French, SF, Austin (bagel in the fifth set)

    1936 French, final, Perry (bagel in the fifth set)

    1937 Wimbledon, QF, Crawford

    1937 US Championships, QF, Grant
    1937 US Championships, SF, Riggs (from two sets down)
    Lost 1937 US Championships final to Budge

    1938 Australian, QF, McGrath (bagel in the fifth set)


    He won most of his five-setters in Davis Cup: http://www.daviscup.com/en/players/player/profile.aspx?playerid=10004657

    In five-set Davis Cup matches he was 6-1 until the famous match with Budge, which was the last time he played Davis Cup before the war. Among those six wins he's got a win from two sets down, another 11-9 in the fifth, another 8-6 in the fifth.

    After the war he lost both of his Davis Cup five-setters, including one from two sets up (which of course also happened against Budge).


    This can't be his full five-set record because he must have played others in the Slams and in other places. But what's listed so far is impressive, with only those two prominent five-set losses to Budge in the summer of '37 at Wimbledon and in New York.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2012
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  40. pc1

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    According to Budge, von Cramm was famous for his stamina and had a great rep in five set matches.
     
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  41. newmark401

    newmark401 Professional

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    Some more five-set victories by Gottfried von Cramm:

    1932 International German Championships, Hamburg

    QF: Gottfried von Cramm d. Harry Lee (GBR) 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 2-6, 6-4
    --

    1933 International German Championships, Hamburg

    FI: Gottfried von Cramm d. Roderich Menzel 7-5, 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
    --

    1934 German Covered Court Championships, Bremen

    FI: Gottfried von Cramm d. Pierre-Henri Landry (FRA) 6-1, 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2
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    1934 Capri, Italy

    FI: Gottfried von Cramm (GER) d. Christian Boussus (FRA) 2-6, 6-8, 7-5, 6-3, 6-0
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    1935 Merano, Italy

    FI: Gottfried von Cramm (GER) d. Henner Henkel (GER) 4-6, 0-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4
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    1936 Monte Carlo, Monaco

    FI: Gottfried von Cramm (GER) d. Henner Henkel (GER) 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 7-5
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    1937 Pacific Southwest Championships, California

    SF: Gottfried von Cramm (GER) d. Joseph Hunt 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2
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    1938 Australian Championships, Adelaide

    QF: Gottfried von Cramm (GER) d. Vivian McGrath 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-0
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    1954 Saarbruecken, Germany

    FI: Gottfried von Cramm d. Engelbert Koch 8-6, 3-6, 3-6, 7-5, 6-2
    --
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2012
    #41
  42. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Terrific information, Mark. This is a really impressive record in five-setters (four wins over Menzel alone).

    Found another:

    1931 French, R32, Du Plaix

    In our lists above I count 18 wins and no losses in five-setters, between a loss in Davis Cup in '32 to Lyttleton-Rogers and his famous five-set loss to Budge in '37.

    That's 5 wins in Davis Cup, 7 in the Slams and 6 in non-Slam tournaments (presuming that the Hamburg event in '32 was held in August, as it was in '33).

    It would be astounding if his loss to Budge ended a streak of that length, but can we say he had no losses in that five-year period? Anyone have information on his five-set losses?
     
    #42
  43. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Interesting informations. Obviously von Cramm's 5 set record was special. One match, often described as his swan song was his Davis Cup appearance in 1953 at Paris, when he lost in 5 sets (after leading 2-0) against French leading player Robert Haillet. He was over 40 years, but in his career after 1946 still the leading player in Germany, with many good wins over Drobny, Torben Ulrich and others. He was Germany's sportsman of the year in 1948 and 49 and did much for Germany's re-admission to the Olympics and other big international sports events.
     
    #43
  44. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    In '35 Ferdinand Kuhn in the New York Times said "it is one of the finest services in the game."

    I have these few stats on him.

    1937 Wimbledon final – Budge led von Cramm 2-0 in aces
    1937 Davis Cup – Budge and von Cramm tied 8-8 in aces
    1937 Forest Hills – Budge led von Cramm 7-5 in aces

    1937 Wimbledon final
    Budge served on 111 points and 15 serves did not come back: 13.5%
    Cramm served on 76 points and 12 serves did not come back: 15.8%
     
    #44
  45. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    As for the surface issues, here is Fisher in A Terrible Splendor (p70).

    All this might help explain why he could lose in straights to Perry at Wimbledon but beat him at Roland Garros.

    But it also makes his 5-set performance against Budge, on Wimbledon's grass, all the more impressive.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2012
    #45
  46. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I've always heard that von Cramm's serve was superb. Players like Kramer, Sidney Wood and Budge ranked his serve very highly. His stamina was such that he felt he had a huge advantage in the fifth set.
     
    #46
  47. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    The London Times argued that the two bagels von Cramm gave Perry at RG were not due to his own improvements as a player, which implies a low level of play from Perry. But I'm skeptical, because von Cramm won several fifth-set bagels in his career. He even bageled Budge in their first Davis Cup meeting, in '35 (though Budge did come back to win that match).

    American Lawn Tennis actually remarked that Perry had not realized the extent of "immense technical improvement" made by von Cramm, when he lost to him at RG. They also say that Perry's defense held up in the fifth set, but he was still bageled (unlike the first set when Perry made "a series of amazing errors").

    The London Times called it "a disappointing final," but American Lawn Tennis said that the "quality of play in the [middle] three sets was equal to the best ever seen at Roland Garros."
     
    #47
  48. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I would tend to believe both. The London Times was probably disappointed the English player Fred Perry lost to a player who played at a higher level.
     
    #48
  49. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Makes sense, that probably explains it.
     
    #49
  50. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    When i read several German and British accounts of von Cramm, i got the impression, that he was heralded as a sort of gracious loser, a man with an elegant game and courtly manners, but without killer instinct, who always lost the big matches to the more battle hard anglo-american tigers Perry and Budge. But his superb 5 set record indicates, that he was in truth a tenacious, resilient fighter, who battled through many long, tough matches and tournaments (at RG 1934 he seems to have won at least 3 straight 5 setters). Also his serve was not mentioned as a special weapon, while these accounts often referred to Tilden's cannon ball serve.
    The statement of von Cramm, which Krosero cites, regarding the surface specifics of his twist serve and his long backswing, surely makes sense, but cannot explain the swift in clay and grass results completely. The kicker certainly works better on harder court, when it bounces really high. So von Cramm could ace Perry 4 straight times at RG, while on grass the serve wasn't as effective. Rafter, who had a big kicker also, was more effective on hard courts than on grass, where the kicker was easier to return (he was also no slouch on clay courts). On the other hand, Edberg, who had a similar kicker, was very effective on grass.
    The longer backswing gave von Cramm on grass a distinct disadvantage against Perry, who was famous for his early taken, short forehand drive out of a crouching position (not unlike Connors), which opened the court for him. Perry copied this crispy forehand after Cochet, who had developed it earlier, although he grew up on clay courts. On the other hand, seeing pictures and films of Budge, i always thought, that Budge had a long backswing, too, on both flanks; he even hit his volleys with a quite long backswing. In the 30s, grass tennis was foremost baseline tennis (like today), maybe the short, low forehand gave Perry some advantages here.
    Watching Pathé clips from some Australian matches of early 1938, with von Cramm and Budge and some doubles play, on this forum side above, von Cramm looked - even on grass - the most natural player to me, with an easy, fluent, smooth style, with decent volleys especially in doubles, a sort of early forerunner of Edberg without the cramped forehand.
    Maybe i am contradicting myself a bit, but so is tennis, it's never easy to understand - as is life.
     
    #50

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