Greatest Player on Their Weakest Surface

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by noeledmonds, Aug 2, 2007.

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Who is the greatest open-era male player on their weakest surface?

  1. Laver

    18 vote(s)
    21.7%
  2. Connors

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. Borg

    4 vote(s)
    4.8%
  4. Lendl

    6 vote(s)
    7.2%
  5. Agassi

    17 vote(s)
    20.5%
  6. Federer

    34 vote(s)
    41.0%
  7. Other

    4 vote(s)
    4.8%
  1. noeledmonds

    noeledmonds Professional

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    Who is the greatest open-era male player on their weakest surface?

    The contenders that come to my mind are as follows.

    Laver- Hard to dispute thsi man's adabtability accross the surfaces. Although clay was Laver's weakest surface his record on clay was amazing. With 2 French Open titles too his name he was in no way weak on the dirt. Note that Laver's performances on Hard Court do suggest that clay was his weakest surface.

    Connors- relativly untested on red clay given his ban from the French Open during his prime years, but still undoubtably a force to be recconed with and a great green clay record.

    Borg- Hard courts or indeed decoturf courts seems too general a way to describe Borg's weakest surface. After all it was an atmosphere that Borg struggled with in the US and not really the surface. However deco-turf still has to be Borg's weakest surface even if it is infact merely that deco-turf correlated with night sessions and noisy crowds that caused Borg to struggle.

    Lendl- Frustrated by coming close but faling at Wimbledon he was still no slouch on grass. Apart from his 2 finals he had tough semi-finals there too against players such as McEnroe in 1984.

    Agassi- Grass is probabely Agassi's weakest surface. However with a Wimbledon title to his name another final loss to a awsome Sampras performance is very respectable. Due to the shortness of the grass court season there are no real other measures of Agassi's grass court strength, although it may suprise some to realise that 1992 Wimbledon was Agassi's only grass court title.

    Federer- Few clay court oponents have caused Federer problems since he hit good form in 2003. Federer's French Open losses since then have come to truely great clay courters in the form of Kuerten in 2004 and Nadal the other years. 4 Hamburg titles shows his quality on the red dirt.
     
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  2. bluetrain4

    bluetrain4 Legend

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    I'd say Lendl on grass - very underrated b/c he didn't win Wimby, but 2 RU, some SFs, and multiple Queens titles.

    and

    Federer on clay - his record speaks for itself - 2 FO RU, another SF, Masters Series clay wins, win over Nadal on clay.
     
    #2
  3. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    Lendl on grass or Borg on fast American hardcourts. Laver was nothing special on red clay. His one French Open was a gargantuan feat.

    Federer shouldn't even be in the conversation. He's picking up some finals appearances in a weak clay era - he wouldn't be doing this in a deeper one.

    Lendl was at times great on grass. I don't know what happened to him in those two Wimbledon finals. The loss to Becker is understandable. The defeat to Cash (and the manner in which) is bizzarre.
     
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  4. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Now, Laver was pretty good on red clay.Later in his career, he didn't play much on the dirt, but when he played, he was very successful. In 1962 he won ca. 10 tournaments on clay, including French, Italian, German (only Hoad has done that triple), Dutch, British Hard Court (equivalent of Monte Carlo in those days), Swiss and Austrian champs. He beat pretty good clay courters like Santana, Pietrangeli, Emerson, Mulligan, Lundquist, Ayala etc. Turning pro in 1963, he was actually the best pro on clay, winning more on European clay than Rosewall and Gimeno.Its very difficult to distinguish clay tournaments on the old pro tour, so the exact clay record in the years 64-67 is difficult to reconstruct. The pros played more on carpet, grass and hard courts. When the open era began, Laver played very seldom on European clay, but was ru in Bournemouth and Paris to Rosewall in 68, won the French pro at Roland Garros 68, won French open in 69, Canadian open in 1970 (ru at Spanish Open), and won Italian open in 1971. In the US, he won Louisville and Houston (on red clay over Rosewall and Borg) and Hilton Head several times. He beat pretty decent clay courters on clay in open era later in his career, including Rosewall (3-4 hth on clay in open era, about even overall on clay), Gimeno, Okker, Kodes, Orantes, Borg, Panatta, Vilas, Fibak, Solomon and others. He grew up on antbed courts, which should be similar to clay, and developed his topspin style there.
     
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  5. CEvertFan

    CEvertFan Hall of Fame

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    Lendl on grass.
     
    #5
  6. AAAA

    AAAA Hall of Fame

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    I have always said Sampras was a fast court player, even specialist, and his lack of FO final appearances goes some way towards backing up that point.
     
    #6
  7. cshokraii

    cshokraii New User

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    Agassi, is the best by far, he actually won wimbeldon which was his least favorite and least likely surface to win!!
     
    #7
  8. superman1

    superman1 Legend

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    The answer is Laver, followed by Agassi.

    None of the other players won a major on their weakest surface. Federer still has time, though.
     
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  9. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    Rod Laver without a doubt. Even if we ignore his titles achieved as an amateur, as a professional he won the French Pro Championship in 1968, the French Open in 1969 and the Italian Open (which was probably a more important tournament then than it is now, having been surpassed by Monte-Carlo in the past decade or so) in 1971. Absolutely outstanding achievements on his weakest surface.
    While Borg was still a very good player on the hardcourts, by it must be stressed that he only won 4 titles on the surface.
     
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  10. Gorecki

    Gorecki G.O.A.T.

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    definitely, this guy has some weird opinions...
     
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  11. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    All of these guys are 'pretty good' even on their worst surface.

    But from the footage I've seen of Laver I liked him much more on faster surfaces (I don't recall seeing him on fast clay). And let's make it clear that Rosewall aged a few years before Laver did take him out at the French Open.

    You make some good points about Laver. His groundies were powerful and a good fit for all clay surfaces. But he didn't look like he enjoyed the pace to the matches nearly as much - he couldn't attack to the same extent with his volley. In general, I like Laver a lot and don't want to seem like I'm disrespecting the man. For the sake of fairness let's just say that Laver was 'special' even on his worst surfaces.

    One thing I really liked about Rod is that he could swing like a slugger. He's miles better than Federer on clay just on the fact that he could handle balls at eye level and return them deep with ferocity. He really got good at this at his prime in the late 60s where his groundies had immense power and his racket produced astounding whipping action - more intense than Nadal.
     
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  12. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    A specialist that won 3 of the 4 majors? Interesting.

    Laver aged as well though. there wasn't that big an age difference.

    I think Laver's 1971 Italian Open title showed just how great he was on clay, & is one of his most important wins in the open era. The French that year banned all the WCT players, so the Italian was really the best claycourt field of the year, not the French. In the italian final Laver beat Kodes. Kodes went on to win the French that year(which Laver wasn't allowed to play)

    And Laver beat Borg on clay a few weeks before Borg won his 1st French in '74 (probably on green clay)

    Hardcourts didn't become a common surface on tour until the 80s & Borg retired in '81. The amount of titles he had on fast carpet shows that he likely would have done well on hard, had he got the chance to play more on it. And those 3 US Open finals on hard shows he had no issues with the surface.
     
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  13. anointedone

    anointedone Banned

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    He won 12 of his 14 slams on the 2 faster court slams. So I see someone calling him a fast court specialist.

    If you are as a great player as Borg and you dont actually "win" on that surface, people will say you have issues. Most people will say Federer had "issues" on clay if he never wins the French, regardless how many finals he gets to, or how great Nadal goes on to be on the surface.
     
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  14. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    Laver on the clay. Second is Lendl on grass
     
    #14
  15. wyutani

    wyutani Hall of Fame

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    Others....Guastavo Kuerten.
     
    #15
  16. noeledmonds

    noeledmonds Professional

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    Why do many view Lendl stronger on grass than Agassi. Lendl failed to get that elusive Wimbledon title, where as Agassi won Wimbledon as his first slam. Agassi had a good chance of winning in 1999 too if it had not been for an ignited Sampras. Lendl meanwhile lost to Cash in straight sets in the 1987.
     
    #16
  17. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Lendl was 48-14 at Wimbledon, Agassi 46-13.
    Plus Lendl reached an AO final on grass, as well as a semi.

    The quality of grasscourt players was much higher in Lendl's time than Agassi's time. Lendl beat Edberg in the '87 W semi which may be more impressive than any win Agassi has had on grass. Cash was phenomenal on grass, there is no shame in losing to him. He didn't lose a point on serve in the 2nd set of that W final. Agassi lost 2 W semis to Rafter, who wasn't any better than Cash imo. So its a close call.
     
    #17
  18. AAAA

    AAAA Hall of Fame

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    somebody who gets it.
     
    #18
  19. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    Apparently Laver won 8 titles on clay in the open era (Tennis28 states 7, plus I've added his 1968 French Pro title to that). That's ignoring the whole host of claycourt titles he won, both as an amateur, and as a professional prior to the introduction to the open era. I consider Borg (on hardcourts) to be his closest rival in this discussion, and as Moose correctly pointed out Borg didn't play that much on hard. However likewise Laver didn't play that much on clay in the open era (especially in Europe), yet still had noticeably more success on clay than Borg did on hard, and unlike Borg he can claim to have won the biggest tournament on his weakest surface. That's why I think that, as excellent as Borg was on a hard, Laver on clay wins in this discussion. As I said the reason why I'm comparing Laver and Borg is that I think they are the two players in this poll.
     
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  20. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Could be right, Gizo. On top of my head Laver's clay titles since 68:
    French Pro 1968, maybe Buenos Aires and some minor titles in South America, he won in 68, were also on clay, but that is not absolutely sure, French Open 69, Canadian Open 70, Louisville 70, Rome 71, Houston 72, Houston 74, maybe Tokyo 74 (which was a clay like surface made out of rubberized gravel; he beat Borg in sf and Gisbert in the final, who was a Spanish clay specialist), Caracas 75 (was clay or hard). He won also 8 and 4 man events at Hilton Head in green clay a couple of times. He was also ru at French Open 68, at Argentine Open 68, at Spanish Open 70 (played in late October in between indoor circuit).
     
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  21. gerikoh

    gerikoh Semi-Pro

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    andy roddick!!!
    kidding :D

    how come sampras is not here?
    clay maybe his weakest surface but at least he got a descent record there..

    but based on the choices it has to be federer.. though i think it's not his weakest surface.. if it weren't for nadal.. :)
    of course it has
     
    #21
  22. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    An excellent post from you as per usual Urban :)
    I have to admit that I had no idea which of his open era titles were on clay apart from the French Pro in 1968, the French Open in 1969 and the Italian Open in 1971, so thanks for that informative summary.
    It was also remarkable that at the age of 35 he beat Borg on clay in that Houston final in 1974, only 5 or 6 weeks before Borg won the Italian Open and French Open titles, and then gave Borg a tough match on the har-tru at Forest Hills a year later.
     
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  23. WillAlwaysLoveYouTennis

    WillAlwaysLoveYouTennis Hall of Fame

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    I thought Lendl on grass, because most people count he never won Wimbledon, but he went deep many, many times. Also I consider Edberg on hard courts, because he played solid there, though most people think of him on grass serving and volleying excellently.
     
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  24. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    Don't you mean, two French Opens? He did, after all, win two Grand Slams. Regardless, if 'nothing special' means good enough to win two French Open titles then I'll happily take that every day of the week.

    Quite simply put: the GREATEST player on his weakest surface would have to be someone who was actually great enough to WIN a major tournament (French, Aus, US, Wimbledon) on his weakest surface. The records of Lendl (who also made the Aus Open final and semi-final on grass), Agassi and Federer on their worst surface is exceptionally good but, to date, only Agassi has managed to win a major on it.

    Rod Laver is, naturally, my pick. However, I would also throw up the name of Ken Rosewall as an obvious inclusion. Wimbledon grass was his worst surface (grass differs from one nation to another) but he still made the final 5 times. Note that, of those 5 times, 3 were before the age of 23 and 2 were after the age of 35. If he'd been able to play during his prime years (or any time between the ages of 23 and 33) there is no doubt he'd have won Wimbledon at least once.
     
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  25. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    I didn't count the first one as it was against amateurs. But for accuracy's sake Laver does have two French Opens.

    Again, my comment was poorly phrased. From my viewings I found Laver unorthodox on red clay and nowhere close to Rosewall's league.
     
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  26. grafrules

    grafrules Banned

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    Laver obviously. Federer is second most.
     
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  27. martinross

    martinross New User

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    Laver Laver Laver

    Not even worth a discussion. How can it be anyone else than the man with two slams to his name and no real weakness
     
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  28. anointedone

    anointedone Banned

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    You have to be kidding. Sampras on a poll for best player on their weakest surface. There is zero argument for Sampras being the slighest bit better on clay then Federer on clay, Lendl on grass, Borg on hard courts, Laver on clay, Connors on clay, McEnroe on clay, Agassi on either grass or clay. He would be a completely worthless option in a poll like this, no disrespect to Pete but that is just being honest.
     
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  29. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    For accuracy's sake, WTF? Laver won two FO titles: deal with it.

    Your comment must have been one of the most poorly phrased I've ever read because you didn't mention Rosewall at all and made absolutely no comment on Laver's style but now you're saying that's what you were really talking about. In what language?
     
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  30. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    Pete did at least win the Italian Open, which to me, is historically the 2nd most prestigious clay court tournament. But what really hurts him is that he never made it beyond the semis in Paris.

    Laver won several big titles on clay, including the French. Connors won a US Open on clay, and even though he's one of my least favorite players, I wish that he had gotten the chance to play the 1974 French. McEnroe was just a few games from winning the French. Borg was a 2 time Open r/u on hard courts and wasn't a bad player on that surface by any means. Agassi took advantage of an older Mac and weak minded Goran to win Wimbledon, but he won it nevertheless. And Lendl was r/u at Wimbledon twice, and won Eastbourne by destroying his major competition. In fact, I thought Lendl finally had Wimbledon won in 1990.

    Pete's one of my 3 favorite players of all time. But his clay court record comes up shy of those men's records on their worst respective worst surfaces.

    I think Laver's the GOAT because of his 2 complete grand slams, and because of his record on his weakest surface.
     
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  31. grafrules

    grafrules Banned

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    I think it might be Federer. Remember he is very unlucky to be in the era of arguably the greatest clay courter ever. In addition to being arguably the greatest clay court ever this guy is also a poor matchup for Federer in general, and Federer has a mental block against this guy. Add that all up and he has a tougher hurdle to win the French then anyone in history who is not the #1 clay courter of their time.
     
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  32. msunderland71

    msunderland71 New User

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    Lendl made 2 finals and 5 semis at Wimbledon. Compare this to others overlapping his era - better than Borg @ US Open, Wilander/Courier @ Wimbledon, Mac/Connors/Becker/Edberg/Sampras @ French. Of course Agassi won Wimbledon but for consistency I don't think he reach the semis 7 times.
    Nadal and Federer have not finished their careers but Fed looks able to overtake this position on clay.
    Consider the standard Lendl reached in the 1989 sf vs Becker - that could have won him the title in 87 vs Cash.
    Taking nothing away form Sampras but I think Lendl could have won a Wimbledon final vs. Courier or Pioline.
     
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  33. msunderland71

    msunderland71 New User

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    Oh yes I nearly forgot - back when the Australian was played on grass Lendl reached the final once (1983) and semis twice (in 85 & 87).
    So he reached a total of 10 grand slam semifinals on grass, going on to the final 3 times.
    Not bad for your worst surface!
    PS Federer had the most votes. I agree he is a great clay courter who would win if Nadal was not there - but he has not yet achieved the stats of Lendl on grass.
     
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  34. msunderland71

    msunderland71 New User

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    Yes, Lendl was nowhere near his best in the 87 final vs. Cash. Nerves? Considering he beat Edberg in the semis he should have done much better in that final.

     
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  35. federer envies me

    federer envies me Semi-Pro

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    I think everyone is voting for fed because he plays now.
     
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  36. msunderland71

    msunderland71 New User

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    Yes, there is always a bias towards the current players, although I think Federer will become the greatest with his current momentum.

     
    #36
  37. Benhur

    Benhur Hall of Fame

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    1. Lendl on grass.
    2. Borg on hard.
    3. Federer on clay.

    Lendl's loss to Cash was even more forced than his loss to Becker, because of how Cash played that day. Watch the match. I can't think of anyone who could have clearly beaten him the way he played that match.

    Federer would keep up pretty well with any past players on any surface, and if Nadal hadn't been around on clay the last few years, clay may not even be considered Federer's "weakest" surface.
     
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