Greatest Ground Game of all Time!

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Limpinhitter, Apr 24, 2012.

  1. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Robow7 I would tend to agree with you. John McEnroe had excellent groundstrokes, wonderful variety of spins and changes of pace but he wasn't Lendl's equal from the backcourt among other players. Wilander played McEnroe in the US Open semi in 1985 and almost defeated him playing mainly from the backcourt while McEnroe approached the net constantly.

    I think McEnroe could stay in rallies with anyone that ever lived waiting for his chance to approach the net but if he played Mecir for example from the baseline he would lose most of the time. I also believe that would be true of Connors. In the US Open semi of 1984 which McEnroe won in five sets McEnroe was constantly coming to net. I think John Newcombe commented during the match that if McEnroe stayed back it wouldn't be effective.
     
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  2. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Perry? Who had a defective backhand and lost the 1936 Roland Garros final to von Cramm (a two-time French winner, and not on your list)?
     
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  3. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I picked Perry because of the overall ground game of Perry since it was primarily a baseline game in the 1930's. Perry's defective backhand as you call it was able to withstand Vines' power, Budge's power and won every major leading him to number one in the world for years plus the top player in the pros in 1941. Vines thought Perry's backhand was fine but clearly it was not his best shot. In some ways Perry was similar to Federer in that he was extremely fast, good serve, had and still has the arguably best forehand ever which he could hit on the rise and at sharp angles. You didn't question Federer so why question Perry? Federer's backhand is clearly his weaker side also.

    And yes I forgot about von Cramm but I don't think it's easy to remember every baseliner ever. And yes I remember Ted Pell but decided not to pick him. Anyway Nusslein was superior to von Cramm in my opinion. You can pick and choose problems with any post. No one can be totally complete in these lists. They are meant to be the basis of discussion assuming a person takes in the information.

    The Dohertys were left out too but I suppose I should have picked H Doherty.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2012
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  4. brettsticker86

    brettsticker86 Rookie

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    Not sure how sampras or McEnroe would make the list. Yea, Sampras' forehand was big but his backhand was hideous. Not to mention his forehand was very 1 dimensional. Best ground games that come to mind me are, in no particular order:

    Agassi
    Hewitt
    Safin
    Baghdatis
    Grosjean
    Nadal
    Djokovic
    Federer
    Murray
    Connors

    Agassi and Safin might be 2 of the purest ball strikers I've ever seen in person. I put them over fed as far as clean ball contact. I'll probably get reamed for saying that, but its just my opinion.
     
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  5. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Read some of the comments by Moose about Sampras and McEnroe. Sampras backhand was virtually identical to Federer's backhand, except he had a more penetrating slice. I would compare Mac's groundies to Riggs' and Gonzales'. Once again, ball bashing does not equate to a great ground game.
     
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  6. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Limpinhitter, as you person who is very familiar with Don Budge's power you realize what a powerful hitter he was. Well Riggs' perfect strokes were easily able to hand the power of Budge from the baseline, even the backhand to backhand exchanges. I like the comparison of McEnroe's and Riggs' strokes but I am not sure if McEnroe really belongs here with the top players. He would be in the lower part of the list in my opinion.
     
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  7. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Updated list. Added Chang and Safin.

    Roger Federer
    Bjorn Borg
    Jimmy Conners
    Ralph Nadal
    Rod Laver
    Novak Djokovic
    Andre Agassi
    Ivan Lendl
    Gustavo Kuerten
    Pete Sampras
    Don Budge
    Mats Wilander
    Bill Tilden
    Ken Rosewall
    Pancho Gonzales
    Guillermo Vilas
    Marat Safin
    Ilie Nastase
    John McEnroe
    Bobby Riggs
    Tony Trabert
    Michael Chang
     
    #57
  8. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    He is in the lower part of the list. I have him just above Riggs. I would also say that Riggs could "hang" with Budge on a given day. But, Budge at his best had too much power for Riggs to overcome. In fact, I'm considering moving Budge up a bit.
     
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  9. li0scc0

    li0scc0 Hall of Fame

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    I was going to say the same thing. McEnroe was one of the best ever! But not a baseliner, ever. He couldn't have won a set on any surface against Lendl staying back on the baseline. Which is not a knock against McEnroe, because that was not his game.
     
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  10. jrepac

    jrepac Professional

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    I think this all comes back to the definition of "ground game" which may not necessarily equate with the classification of the player as a "baseliner". At his best, Mac could rally with anyone...but, he was not a baseliner whereas, Lendl, Borg and Connors, etc., certainly were. Yet, Mac could hurt any/all of them from the backcourt, even if his primary goal was to get to net and close out a point quickly.

    Sampras is also an odd one. In many of his matches with Agassi, he could go toe-to-toe and even out rally Andre. He certainly could take it to people like Becker and Chang as well. He had a very strong backcourt game for someone who is noted for his serve. I don't classify him as a serve and volleyer either; he's very much an all court player with a superior/exceptional serve. And, I think you can still have a great ground game and not succeed at the French....but, arguably, some of the very best baseliners of the 70s/80s have won a major on every court surface, even if at not all 4 of the slams (Connors, Wilander, Lendl, for instance).
     
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  11. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Thanks! You've done a great job of explaining my point about Mac and Sampras. I see no reason to exclude great ground players from the list just because they were also great net players, or because they used their ground game to defend and/or transition to the net. Like Pancho, Mac also had a great return game and great sharp angled passing shots. I do agree that the ability to play, and finish, from the backcourt may qualify players like Connors, Borg, Lendl, Agassi, Federer, Nadal, Djoko, et al. for a higher place on the list. But, I think Mac's artistry and Pete's power from the ground deserve to be recognized.

    PS: It's interesting how, years after a player's retirement, he can be pigeonholed, and his actual greatness forgotten.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2012
    #61
  12. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    And to throw another stone, I couldn't put Guga that high up there since his ground game was really only successful on clay. He had little success on any hardcourt majors so not as well rounded as those rated below him. JMHO

    Edit: But I dare not pigeonhole the poor fellow
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2012
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  13. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    That's one of my problems with Guga also but he did win the Year End Masters defeating Sampras & Agassi and I believe he won a few hardcourt tournaments.

    Chang imho may have a better overall tornament record on all surfaces for example.
     
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  14. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    According to Wiki, he did win a handful of hard court tourneys, not sure how slow the surfaces were, but he never ever made it to semi's at the US Open and never even the quarters at the AO. Yet he did make it to No. 1 for a brief time. He's on my lower tier therefore, ha
     
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  15. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Chang had a much longer, healthier, if not lower level, career.

    [Runs for cover]
     
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  16. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Incidentally Gonzalez was well known for being about to disguise his groundies and some opponents would move the wrong way starting after Gonzalez's shots.

    Honestly I'm not so sure Sampras belongs on the list. His backhand was okay and his forehand was a great weapon. But I'm not so sure about his consistency from the baseline. When Sampras rallied with Agassi forehand to forehand Sampras had the advantage of being much faster and he was an overall better athlete. You also have to take into account Sampras' stamina which was questionable because of his blood disease. Often in the French Open, particularly in the later rounds Sampras would have nothing left for the long grueling rallies.

    Sampras was a fantastic player and he could win on any surface but I'm not sure if he could win baseline rallies regularly from the top baseliners.
     
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  17. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    :) No need to run for cover. That's a debate we all have, whether to value a major that much more than regular tournament. Incidentally I meant to write Chang could outrally Agassi in some matches.

    Here's the records and head to head. Chang was washed up by the early 2000's due a lot to injuries.


    Michael Chang
    0 Singles Ranking
    United States

    United States
    2 Record 3
    Age
    40 (22.02.1972) 35 (10.09.1976)
    Birthplace
    Hoboken, New Jersey, USA Florianopolis, Brazil
    Residence
    Mercer Island, Washington, USA Florianopolis, Brazil
    Height
    5'9" (175 cm) 6'3" (190 cm)
    Weight
    160 lbs (73 kg) 183 lbs (83 kg)
    Plays
    Right-handed Right-handed
    Turned Pro
    1988 1995
    YTD Won/Lost
    0/0 0/0
    YTD Titles
    0 0
    Career Won/Lost
    662/312 358/195
    Career Titles
    34 20
    Career Prize Money
    $19,145,632 $14,807,000
    Compare YTD Stats
    Gustavo Kuerten

    Gustavo Kuerten
    0 Singles Ranking
    Brazil

    Brazil
    ATP World Tour, Grand Slam, and Davis Cup Main Draw Results
    Year Tournament & City Surface Round Winner & Score
    2001 ATP Masters Series Rome
    Italy Clay R32 Kuerten, Gustavo
    6-1, 6-1 Stats
    2000 Roland Garros
    France Clay R32 Kuerten, Gustavo
    6-3, 6-7(9), 6-1, 6-4 Stats
    1998 Memphis
    TN, U.S.A. Hard S Chang, Michael
    7-6(7), 7-6(4) Stats
    1997 ATP Masters Series Cincinnati
    OH, U.S.A. Hard Q Chang, Michael
    6-1, 6-2 Stats
    1997 ATP Masters Series Canada
    Montreal, Canada Hard S Kuerten, Gustavo
    6-3, 6-1 Stats

    So we have 34 career titles for Chang versus 20 for Kuerten. But one major for Chang versus three for Kuerten. In Master Level tournaments Chang has seven and Kuerten five.

    Don't get me wrong I like Kuerten far more than Chang but I'm not sure he had a better career. At their peaks however I would go with Kuerten. As a baseliner I think Chang had more success on more surfaces so for the purposes of this thread I would go with Chang.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2012
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  18. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Let me try another approach. IMO, Sampras is a genuine GOAT contender, arguably THE GOAT. And, many agree that Sampras ground game was every bit as good as his net game. How, then, could he not be included in an all time great groundgame list? Frankly, I think he might be higher than I placed him. Who on the list would beat Sampras from the ground, other than on clay? Not that many.

    IMO, Kuerten's ground strokes were at a different level than Changs on any surface. However, Kuerten's mobility was hampered by a bad hip for much of his career. But, at their peaks, I'd take Kuerten over Chang every time, on any surface. JMO, of course.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2012
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  19. Zimbo

    Zimbo Semi-Pro

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    Nice try but I'm not buying this. Pete is a GOAT candidate. No question about it. However, his net game wasn't all time best contender material, which according to you is equal to his ground game, thus his ground game wasn't all time best contender material. BTW, i think his back court game wasn't as good as his net game. What made Pete GOAT candidate was a combination of his all time serve, great (but not all time contender) net and ground game, mental strength, great athletic abilites, etc........

    I would never say Borg should be mention as one of the greats net players because he won Wimbledon 5 times S&V'ing
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2012
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  20. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    This is a good thread topic Limpinhitter. I do think it makes sense to consider more than simply the forehand and backhand since there are many components to a great ground game in tennis. I would note these players especially, but like so many other topics in tennis, there are so many great players to consider.

    Bill Tilden
    Don Budge
    Pancho Gonzalez
    Ken Rosewall
    Rod Laver
    Guillermo Vilas
    Jimmy Connors
    Bjorn Borg
    Ivan Lendl
    Mats Wilander
    Andre Agassi
    Pete Sampras
    Roger Federer
    Rafael Nadal
    Novak Djokovic
     
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  21. Devilito

    Devilito Hall of Fame

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    To be fair it depends. Petros ground game wasn’t as versatile and patient enough for certain surfaces. On a fast indoor court I’d say that Petros wouldn’t even have to come to the net and his results would stay the same because his ground game was that good given ideal indoor conditions. Someone like Agassi, Courier or Lendl just have more versatility off the ground across a wider range of surfaces and conditions. While have arguably the best forehand of all time Petros game as a whole incorporated more of an all-court approach which made certain aspects suffer on a slower surface like clay. Mentally you just can’t change your game that much to adapt to such extremes. Luckily for guys like Federer, Nadal and Djokovic they don’t have to adapt to anything now adays
     
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  22. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    I was thinking of Kramer's assessment of Perry, as having an exploitable backhand, which he would run around and use his magnificent forehand, but which Budge and Vines could make him pay for.
    Kramer believed that Vines carried Perry on their 1937 tours, which ended in an overall tie, but Vines won decisively in 1938 to set up the Vines/Budge series.
    Perry lost badly to Budge in their 1939 series, and his 1941 victory over Budge at Forest Hills was probably caused by Budge not wanting to risk diving or colliding with anything, while his broken nose was still healing.
    Perry's success was due to his magnificent conditioning (probably superior to anything today) and his great forehand. One commentator described his backhand as being "little more than a cut". Federer's backhand can sometimes be a magnificent winner, but not when he is off his game or tired.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2012
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  23. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Yes I realized Perry didn't have the best backhand. But I also realized he dominated amateur tennis with his great speed and forehand. It was a subjective choice and due to Perry's great record I felt I couldn't ignore it.

    You picked Lew Hoad as the most important player ever. Subjective choice, isn't it? I would think that a number of players are more important than Hoad but I didn't write anything because it is your opinion. Your opinion is as good as anyone's in these subjective type of discussions.

    Kramer also did NOT write that Vines carried Perry. He asked Vines that question. Vines by the way called Perry's backhand first rate. Kramer wrote that Perry sliced the ball on the backhand about 90% of the time and against Vines and Budge, that was what did him in. Now Kramer considers Vines and Budge to be the two greatest players of all time, with Perry not far behind and only they could exploit Perry's backhand. Still when you look at a great player with a great record who has a good backhand, great stamina and speed plus arguably the greatest forehand of all time do you leave him out of the list of greatest ground game? I decided to put Perry on the greatest ground game list. Would you not name him? If you didn't you still have to admit Perry has a lot going for him to be put on the list or do you just ignore that because you think his backhand was exploitable and defective as you put it? If we do that we have to take Federer off also since Nadal and Djokovic can exploit his backhand and I don't think I should do that.

    Kramer also has Perry as one of the top three or four players he has seen.

    I don't want this disagreement to go on for many pages? If you feel Perry doesn't belong then that's okay with me. It's your opinion. I'm not exactly a Fred Perry fan.

    I don't understand your statement about Federer's backhand can be a magnificent winner but not when he's off his game or tired. I think you can write that about Fred Perry's backhand also. How many people have great backhands when they are off their games or tired? Not many I would think.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2012
    #73
  24. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    There is no doubt that Perry was a great athlete, and his relatively less potent backhand does bring about a good comparison with Federer.
     
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  25. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    It would have been a bit easier if the topic was "greatest groundstrokes of all time," wouldn't it? But, "easy" isn't nearly as interesting I don't think. If stroke production were the only criteria, then Agassi takes the prize and Chang and Riggs probably don't make the list.
     
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  26. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I don't agree with you about Sampras' "net game." Once again, you have to distinguish "net game" from "volleys" the same way my OP distinguishes "ground game" from "ground strokes." I think there are probably 10-15 players in tennis history who were better volleyers than Sampras. But, add Sampras unparalleled athleticism and power to the equation, and he becomes top 10, or better, without much dispute. The same analysis applies to his ground game.
     
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  27. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    OK lets be clear on one thing. 3 majors + 20 tournaments >>>>>>>>>>> 1 major + 34 tournaments. It would be one thing if you were arguing someone with over 30 tournaments and 2 majors vs someone who had 14 and had won 3 like say Capriati. Someone like Mauresmo has won 27 titles to 14 for Capriati for instance, and won 2 majors to 3 for Capriati, and won the WTA Championships , and most still think Capriati had the better career. Also didnt they win close to the same # of Masters (and it was Kuerten who won the ATP World Championship and ended a year at #1. Yeah Kuerten's career was better by a huge margin, no ifs, ands, or buts.

    As for who is better, Kuerten is obviously light years better on clay, which is the main reason he achieved more (though Kuerten's ATP World Championship is a bigger non clay title than Chang ever won). However on could argue Chang is better on all other surfaces besides clay. So it becomes an interesting discussion when one looks at it from that angle.
     
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  28. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    Top 10 from the players who played majorly in the open era ( no particular order ):

    federer
    nadal
    borg
    connors
    lendl
    agassi
    djokovic
    wilander
    courier
    safin
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2012
    #78
  29. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    Excellent list, but Safin gives me problems here because his results were so inconsistent. When "on", maybe the best of the best but you never knew what you were going to get on any given day. He definitely makes my top 5 of underachievers.

    I might replace him with Vilas because there was no way Guillermo would let himself be beaten by the Magician.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2012
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  30. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I'm not so sure about that, by that I mean two extra majors is greater than 14 extra tournaments. Also bear in mind Chang won two extra Master Level Tournaments. It's debatable and I can see either side. Anyway that's not important for this thread. Did you pick Chang or Kuerten? I think Chang is better on more surfaces if you compare both careers but Kuerten is superior I believe at his best on all surfaces.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2012
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  31. Carsomyr

    Carsomyr Hall of Fame

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    Depends what the 14 tournaments were. Were half of them MS events? A WTF or two? Such an unusual example (most players don't win that many high level tournaments with only 20-30 tourny wins) may make the topic debatable, but I'd say, on average, 1 major > 7 smaller tournament victories. They are the ultimate goal of the sport.
     
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  32. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    That's why I wrote it's debatable. Chang has two extra Master Level Events over Kuerten so does two ML tournaments equal one major or maybe 1.5 majors? Who knows? But we're getting off the point and perhaps we should stop the Chang versus Kuerten debate.
     
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  33. Carsomyr

    Carsomyr Hall of Fame

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    Also, titles aren't the only factor to consider. Kuerten was the best player in the world for a year. Chang was not.
     
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  34. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    2 extra Masters levels titles does not even come close to equaling 1 major, let alone 2 extra majors which is what Kuerten has won. Dont be ridiculous. Also Kuerten has the WTF which is bigger than a regular Masters. 2 extra slams + WTF + year end #1 >>>>>>>>> 2 extra Masters and a bunch more small tournaments. Lets just concede Kuerten had the much better career since it isnt a contest. I cant believe anyone is even debating that point. Chang overall had the better career on all surfaces except clay (despite Kuerten's WTF) but Kuerten's clay court achievements still push him well ahead in the end.

    As to the topic one could still argue Chang since his ground game was more consistently effective across all surfaces. I guess I would pick Kuerten though since his clay ground game towers over anything Chang can produce off the ground on any surface, and on occasions, albeit not consistently, Kuerten even displays a more devastating, dominating, and far superior ground game on various types of hard courts that Chang even at his best can produce (eg- 97 Canadian Masters, 2001 Cincinnati Masters, 2000 WTF). He displayed that vs Chang himself in the 97 Canadian Masters semis, just hit him right off the court on a hard court. Chang relies more on his legs, will, and returning and passing ability, than his ground game anyway. Off the ground he is even dominated by serve and volleyers like Sampras and Becker when they are in the zone, and decide to hit from the back with him.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 27, 2012
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  35. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Okay, let's leave it like that.
     
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  36. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    I have a question for you. If you think Chang might have had a better career than Kuerten, do you consider Sabatini, Novotna, and Martinez to have had better careers than Capriati. I ask that since I have argued Maursmo and Pierce have had better careers than Capriati, based on overall achievements, and have had a hard time convincing people even off that. I am not as majors only heavy as the vast majority of people, but obviously still more than you are.

    Here are some stats (singles only):

    Capriati:

    Major titles- 3
    Major finals- 3
    Major semis- 13
    Tier 1 titles- 2
    Premier titles (tier 1 or tier 2)- 6
    Total titles- 14
    WTA Championships/Olympic Golds- 1
    WTA Championships/Olympic finals- 1


    Mauresmo:

    Major titles- 2
    Major finals- 3
    Major semis- 8
    Tier 1 titles- 6
    Premier titles (tier 1 or tier 2)- 21
    Total titles- 25 (all but one tier 2 or higher)
    WTA Championships/Olympic Golds- 1
    WTA Championships/Olympic finals- 4


    Pierce:

    Major titles- 2
    Major finals- 6
    Major semis- 6
    Tier 1 titles- 5
    Premier titles (tier 1 or tier 2)- 10
    Total titles- 18
    WTA Championships/Olympic Golds- 0
    WTA Championships/Olympic finals- 2


    Novotna:

    Major titles- 1
    Major finals- 4
    Major semis- 9
    Tier 1 titles- 2
    Premier titles (tier 1 or tier 2)- 13
    Total titles- 24
    WTA Chamiponships/Olympic Golds- 1
    WTA Championships/Olympic finals- 1


    Martinez:

    Major titles- 1
    Major finals- 3
    Major semis- 12
    Tier 1 titles- 9
    Premier titles (tier 1 or tier 2)- 16
    Total titles- 33
    WTA Championships/Olympic Golds- 0
    WTA Championships/Olympic finals- 0


    Gabriela Sabatini:

    Major titles- 1
    Major finals- 3
    Major semis- 18
    Tier 1 titles- 6
    Premier titles (tier 1 or tier 2)- 16
    WTA Championships/Olympic Golds- 2
    WTA Championships/Olympic finals- 5
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 27, 2012
    #86
  37. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I think you're misinterpreting what I wrote. I could go for either side. I'm just writing it is debatable.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2012
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  38. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Well if it even were debateable than that would mean Novotna, Sabatini, and Martinez have had better careers than Capriati wouldnt it. As the gap in non slam winning achievements is much bigger in their case vs Capriati, as Chang vs Kuerten, right?
     
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  39. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    There are so many factors involved here you just can't just make a set rule for this. For example is Jan Kodes' Wimbledon more important than John Newcombe's US Open the same year? Is a major more important than seven year end majors? This can be a never ending discussion. It's not worth it and I really am not on any side.

    Here's another one, let's say Nadal beats Djokovic, Murray and Federer in the last three rounds of a Master Level tournament and does it again later in another Master Level Tournament. Let's say Murray and Federer are hurt and can't play the US Open and Nadal wins it by beating Tsonga in the final. What is the more impressive feat?

    Just too many variables here.

    Let's just stick to the topic. I'm dropping this and won't discuss it any more. We'll do it in another topic for this. :)
     
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  40. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Newcombe beat Connors,Rosewall and Kodes, which is rather impressive, while Kodes defeated Taylor and Metrevali, which is not just in the same league.edge to Newcombe ( but Nastase was, to me, the best player that year )
     
    #90
  41. ClairHarmony

    ClairHarmony Rookie

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    Chang was never able to flat-out DOMINATE the field on *any* surface. To me, he was tennis' jack-of-all-trades, master of none, baseliner.

    He along with Muster, was tennis' most consistently pugnacious competitor, but unlike Kuerten, Muster, and Bruguera...truth be told, it was as Agassi said. Of all the top guys, Chang was the guy he felt like if he played well, he was going to win.

    Chang was a guy who could clean up at the lower tier tournaments and even the masters, but when it mattered most at the slams; he needed almost somewhat of a miracle to go all the way. Sooner or later, one of the full-size guys who was "on" that day, was going to walk all over him.

    His biggest edge at the regular events, was that he wasn't a flaunting tanker like many of the other top guys periodically were. He seemed to ALWAYS give a darn, ALWAYS compete to his maximus, did not know the meaning of quit.

    Tennis is like a game of tug of war, of *wills.* When you look at clips of your favorites when they were at their absolute best, you see their eyeballs in constant Jim Carey vigilante mode...they all coked out and stuff, they soooo focused in on NOTHING but the ball. That's what the greatest level of tennis capable on planet earth at any given time requires. An almost super human level of LIFE OR DEATH focus. The second you lose even just the *tiniest* bit of that, you're pretty much finished at the top level. The best way to describe the feeling is one of, *hanging in* the point, at ANY cost...vs. (when the interest wanes a little), finding a way to subconsciously *bail out* of points, a little more freuqnelty, with ever growing frequency, as you get older and more disillusioned that this game of ball isn't the only thing in this life worth living for anymore.

    Chang didn't quite have Rios' handy level of talent to overcome his height discrepancy.

    He made up for that by trying harder than everyone else on a *consistent* basis. But when pretty much ANY of the full-size MEN decided to NOT bail-out on a match with him, they were probably going to win...no matter how hard he tried. So long as they were willing to hang-in there and be as tenacious as him *for a day*, my bet was on them. It would not matter if you're talking about a primarily caly-courter, either. The ability to DOMINATE the field on ANY surface is almost IMPOSSIBLE to do. It should not be dismissed so easily by Hall of Fame committees. It's quite an accomplishment, it means something more than what a reporter or politician can do. You don't just STOMP out the best specimens in the world, to the point that it's NOT a fluke, unless you've got something a little extra special up your sleave. It's just NOT possible.

    Chang never had that. I would take the DOMINANT clay court ability guy over Chang on any surface, IF he was giving it his all that day, feeling fresh, etc. Because that's just the reality. Guga, Muster, Bruguera, it doesn't matter. If at their absolute best for a day vs. Chang at his, no matter the surface, the MAN is going to win over the little boy without the once in a lifetime "gift" in his hands like a Rios. Rios is a precious gem, with the attitude of a snot. Chang was a pugnacious bull dog in the body of a pint size mighty mouse...mighty mouse, yeah, but still this is real life yo, and Mike Tyson is probably going to pummel Urjijah Faber even if he does take his conditioning more seriously. Weight classes DO matter in tennis, ESPECIALLY at the highest level. By then, EVERYBODY'S skills are so maxed out compared to everyone else on the planet, that hairline weaknesses get magnified by the fans as these really big deals, when they're really not. Courier's backhand for example was MIGHTY solid thunk of SWAT, by ANY standard...it's only against the VERY best that chinks in the armor can even begin to show.

    Really, the way I see it = Rios = BJ Penn, the only guys who if EVERYTHING were clicking in their life, they were taking their training as seriously as all, they could *maybe* compete outside of their weight class for a day and look dominate...*but* that's only for so long. There's only so much that the smaller specimen can take on, before their body simply caves in on them. It simply takes too much ENERGY out of you. You have to have that little more talent wise that CAN'T be taught to even be stupid enoug to think you can do it.

    Chang on the other hand had EVERY BIT AS SPECIAL a *mental fortitude* that simply could not be matched. It's just as rare in a generation to find someone who has that level of grit and determination, as it is to find that rare talent.

    Ultimately, though, there are limitiations to both. And I think history has born that out now.

    When it comes down to it thought, I was not in the LEAST surprised when, Rafter MAN-stomped/crushed/trampled...walked all over, the helpless little fighting spirited bug, that Chang usually ultimately rendered into at the slams. Sooner or later, one of the manly men was going to walk all over the little dude in the stroller with a cane, who knows how to use it...it didn't really matter in the end, 'cept that once. Which is why Chang is most importantly able to live with it. His result was ultimately as inspirational, and non-duplicable as any in history. He had a MOMENT, and in his mind not a selfish moment...it was a shared moment, that he felt meant something to people who REALLY needed it at that particular time. I'd say, his was a heroic career...not a "legendary" one (who cares, genuine perspective changes all). Everyone should have their life flipped upside down, it changes everything...if you see that heart triumphs over accomplishment everytime. Nirvana on, dudes! Like, cowabunga.
     
    #91
  42. Zimbo

    Zimbo Semi-Pro

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    I think our definition of all time greats are different. When you said all time "great net" I was thinking you were referring to top 3 or 5 because it was mentioned in the same breath as GOAT contender. I can live with the fact that you think he belongs in the top 10. I however, think he's more like top 15-20.
     
    #92
  43. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    This is where it makes sense to give emphasis to a major. Nastase simply failed to play well at the 1973 US Open, which was clearly the most important tournament of that year, more than Wimbledon.
    Nastase also failed to play his best at subsequent Wimbledon or US Opens, period. The guy looked brilliant in various pro tourneys, but consistently failed to show up for the big ones (after 1972).
    No way does Nasty rate with Newk for 1973, especially when Newcombe played big against the great Stan Smith, also playing well, in the 1973 Davis Cup final, the match of the year. Newk also won a second major that year, the Australian, beating some good players.
    The Masters (which was what? when or where did it come from and disappear to?) simply lacks the stature of Wimbledon, US Open, or Davis Cup, still the biggest events today, as for the last century.
    As Hoad said in 1985, "I would play my best for a major event, but if it was the final of the Hamburger Open (there actually was a Burger King Pro Championship) against a player I knew I could beat, well.." he shrugged his shoulders.
    A great player shows up for the big ones. That's what big events are all about.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2012
    #93
  44. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    The Masters or WCT finals were not exactly Hamburger Open, if you knew anything about the 70´s and 80´s.It was more impoertant than the AO until the middle 80´s ( I´d say quite unfortunately).

    I like Newcombe and I have been his most torrid defender over TT but in 1973 peak Nastase beats peak Newcombe ( as it happened at the year´s end Masters held in Boston).I overlooked Newk´s win at melobourne ( over an excellent grass courter like Onny Parun and former FO runner up patrick pproisy, two good results), and, therefore, Newcombe and Nastase would be evened.Kodes would come just third, but one can also argue he was number one (W champion and FH runner up, not bad¡¡¡)
     
    #94
  45. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    A slight correction. Nasty did not eliminate Newk from the "Masters", but simply won a preliminary round-robin match. In the semi-final, Newk manhandled Okker until he injured a leg muscle, and rather than serve out the match and then withdraw, leaving the tourney without a final, he withdrew before winning match point. In the never-played Newk/Nasty Masters final, I would bet money on Newk.
    Wasn't the 1973 Masters held south of the equator?
    And what did Nasty do in the 1973 Davis Cup, the first which allowed all the best players to compete? This was a great chance for Nasty to shine, but he didn't.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2012
    #95
  46. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

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    I'm late to this thread but I think Limphitter has done a good job in putting his point of view across and sticking to it. We live in a world where people will bring the mentality of going with the flow in terms of perceptions and forcing their view on masse where possible. But Limphitter is right to say that Sampras had a tremendous ground game when he was the number 1 player in the world. Not the best obviously, but good enough to play against the best in that field. I remember in 1997 Sampras thought he won the Australian Open from the baseline and that gave him hope for the French Open. He beat Hrbaty, Costa, Muster and Moya back to back. Moya in the press conference said Sampras' serve and forehand made the difference, not the serve and volley.

    I honestly think Sampras does himself no favours because he allows the media to box him into a corner of just wanting discuss his serve and will to win. In his book he really went into detail about his whole game but in interviews it is primarily about the serve. Unfortunately we know how lazy and unprofessional the media are en masse, which serves to pander to stereotypes. You can also be a good groundstroke player without winning the French Open. I assume most people will say Hewitt was a tremendous baseline player, but I don't remember too many claycourt titles or appearances at the latter stages of the French Open. The clay situation is of course a stick to beat Sampras with.

    I think a perfect example of this is, why does no one talk about the Sampras passing shots? Off forehands, backhands and lobs? He was one of the best back in th 1990s, thinking of all those passing shots that whistled past the best volleyer of that era - Patrick Rafter. It's bizarre and a bit unfortunate but it always comes back to the serve.
     
    #96
  47. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Correction.1973 Masters was held in Boston, that is, North of the equator.Tom Gorman did the same in the 1972 Masters ( not beating Stan Smith in the semis to allow a final).That proves they were true sportsmen and gentlemen.Which is one of the features that define John Newcombe.

    In any case, debate is open.
     
    #97
  48. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I never had any doubts that Pete Sampras is one of the most complete players ever, but he needed the aid of a real fast court to make all that all round game shine.
     
    #98
  49. Laurie

    Laurie Professional

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    This is exactly the sort of perceptions I'm referring to. First of all, Sampras has always being the man who said, on more than occasion I might add, that he doesn't like conditions too fast because he has long loopy swings and needs time to set up his shots. In the 1999 Cincinnati final, Drysdale and Pat McEnroe asked him exactly that question, because it was a real hot day and the ball was flying, even finishing Rafter's raquet and shoulder as we recall. And Sampras answered "contrary to what people think I don't like conditions too fast". And in 2008 in London, he mentioned that the carpet at the Albert Hall was way too fast and they might consider slowing it down.

    In Sampras' book, he went into real elaborate detail about the pace of grass. He said, contrary to popular opinion, the ball sits up on grass during rallies, and you have time to hit groundtrokes, whereas on hardcourts the ball can skid often, especially off Agassi shots.

    And I have said that it's not the pace of hardcourts, 3 times a Miami winner and 4 times finalist, twice an Indian Wells winner and 3 times finalist, twice Australian winner and 3 times finalist, those were all slow high bouncing hardcourts. The 1994 Miami final was a tremendous baseline 3 set battle against Andre Agassi, and the semifinal against Courier was also tremendous. Sampras liked to rally because he felt he had great movement.

    This is one of the reasons I get slighlty annoyed when Raonic is compared to Sampras because of his serve.
     
    #99
  50. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    I dont think anyone is comparing Raonic as an overall player to Sampras, just that one specific shot- the serve. Even his serve isnt in Sampras's league though IMO, but I guess some have decided the mechanics and motion have some similarities.
     

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