Greatest Tennis Player of All-Time (Men)

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by ATPballkid, May 14, 2007.

  1. ATPballkid

    ATPballkid Professional

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    1. Sampras
    2. Tilden
    3. Budge
    4. Rosewall
    5. Perry
    6. Borg
    7. Laver
    8. Cochet
    9. Gonzales
    10. Lendl
    11. Connors
    12. McEnroe
    13. Lacoste
    14. Agassi

    #3-#9 are all very, very close and a good argument could be made for Rosewall at #3 ... #11-#14 are also very close.
     
    #1
  2. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    ZERO FRENCH OPENS.
     
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  3. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    +1. if you dont win at Roland Garros, you dont get #1
     
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  4. Alafter

    Alafter Hall of Fame

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    This thread lacks serious scientific analysis.
     
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  5. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    2 + 2 = Sampras out of the top 5. :p
     
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  6. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    Had to laugh at his 2 and 3....really a sad list with his top 2 and 3 as Tilden and Budge.

    People should NOT formulate a list like this unless they have seen EVERY player play on their list. Its a joke and tiring to see this garbage on the boards.

    Who am I to rate how good Laver was...NEVER SAW THE GUY PLAY. Was he good/great...of course. The only thing I can say for certain is he has won quite a few majors and a 2 time GS winner. But to rate him over Mcenroe or Lendl?? How? I saw Mac and Lendl play many matches and have no problems with rating players from the 80's, 90's and 00's. This list is a joke and I am finding the OP posts to have the same credibility.
     
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  7. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    This guy has BORG ahead of MAC!!!! I thought MAC was the reason Borg retired?? MAC was better than Borg.
     
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  8. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    do you feel that way with other sports as well? it seems like many older boxers, baseball players, etc are still highly regarded by sportwriters/fans today, even though most of them didn't actually see them play.

    Wonder why Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Jackie Robinson, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Babe Ruth are still universally regarded as among the best in their sport today, yet some tennis fans find it so farfetched to give older players their due.

    Bud Collins & Steve Flink are 2 of the most knowledgable, award winning tennis writers on the planet & they put Tilden in their top 5, without having seen him play. Are they full of "garbage" as well?

    I think it is incredibly shortsighted to only rank players that you have seen, & considering this board consists of mostly teenagers, I think your method(just ranking who you've seen) can result in some rather comical looking lists.

    BTW you can find many laver matches on the internet, if you are interested in seeing why mac(among others) still calls him the best ever. and remember sampras studied laver's strokes when he was developing his game.

    why is that farfetched? virtually every tenniswriter/historian ranks borg higher. 11 slams is more than 7, no? and borg retired because he was burnt out(turned pro at 15) & the atp wouldn't let him play a reduced schedule(they actually wanted him to play the qualifying at the french & wimbledon. borg had too much pride to cave-in to their demands)
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2007
    #8
  9. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    If Borg had won the US Open in either 1978 or 1980, I would have no qualms declaring him as the GOAT as he would have achieved the French Open-Wimbledon-US Open treble on clay, grass and hard respectively. In my opinion, that would have topped Laver's calendar grand slam in 1969 on grass and clay.
    However he didn't so Laver's takes the crown for me. I know he didn't win any grand slams on hard, but he regularly won the biggest tournaments on this surface that were available to him at the time. It was the same story with carpet as well.
     
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  10. EZRA

    EZRA Rookie

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    Gerulaitis was the reason why Borg retired.
     
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  11. ATPballkid

    ATPballkid Professional

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    Again, Tilden never won a French and never played an Australian .. yet he was the #1 player of the first 100 years of tennis even though Laver and Emerson won each of the Grand Slam events at least twice.

    Sampras, Borg, McEnroe, Connors, Edberg and Kafelnikov won at least 3 singles titles on each of the 4 court surfaces ... Lendl and Wilander won at least 2 singles titles on each of the 4 court surfaces .. Agassi never managed to win more than 1 on each of the surfaces.
     
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  12. Baghdatis72

    Baghdatis72 Hall of Fame

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    Where's Federer and Nadal in the ranks? :confused:
     
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  13. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    WRONG!!!!

    Agassi won 4 AO titles (rebound ace)

    2 US Opens (hard court)

    By the way, your list is a joke.
     
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  14. ATPballkid

    ATPballkid Professional

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    No dominance at any major event or in the #1 ranking for Agassi ... the closest would be the Australian Open.

    Agassi has had a little success in several areas of the sport ... no, he has never won a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th or all-time record 7th Wimbledon ... no, he has never won a 2nd, 3rd, 4th or all-time record 5th ATP Championship ... no, he has never finished a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th or all-time 6th year ranked #1.

    Agassi did manage to fluke into a lucky draw at the 1999 French Open and Sampras came up 2 matches short of this when he had to beat the top clay court champions of the Open Era from the United States and Spain in 5 set battles before the semifinals.

    Sampras came within 2 matches of matching Agassi in singles titles at the French.

    How many matches did Agassi come within matching Pete Sampras with Pete's all-time record 7 singles titles at Wimbledon?

    ANSWER: 13 matches.

    1991 quarters, semis and final (QF loss to Wheaton).
    1993 quarters, semis and final (QF loss to Sampras).
    1995 semis and final (SF to Becker .. Becker lost to Pete).
    1999 final round loss (to Sampras 3-6, 4-6, 5-7.)
    2000 semis & final (SF loss to Rafter .. Pat lost to Pete).
    2001 semis & final (SF loss to Rafter .. Pat lost to Goran).


    How many matches did Agassi come within matching Pete Sampras with Pete's all-time record 5 U.S. Opens on hardcourts?

    ANSWER: 3 matches.

    1990 final round loss to Pete Sampras.
    1995 final round loss to Pete Sampras.
    2002 final round loss to Pete Sampras.


    How many matches did Agassi come within matching Pete Sampras with Pete's all-time record 5 Tour Championships indoors?

    ANSWER: 5 matches.

    1994 semis lost to Sampras and final (Sampras d. Becker)
    1999 final round loss to Pete Sampras 1-6, 5-7, 4-6.
    2000 final round loss to Gustavo Kuerten 4-6, 4-6, 4-6.
    2003 final round loss to Roger Federer 3-6, 0-6, 4-6.


    How many matches did Agassi come within matching Pete Sampras with Pete's all-time record 11 consecutive years in Grand Slam singles finals?

    ANSWER: 9 matches.

    1993 ... 2 matches (QF & SF at Wimbledon - Sampras).
    1996 ... 1 matches (semis at U.S. Open - Chang).
    1997 ... 3 matches (R4, QF & SF at U.S. Open - Rafter).
    1998 ... 3 matches (R4, QF & SF at U.S. Open - Kucera).


    How many matches did Agassi come within matching Pete Sampras with Pete's all-time record 8 consecutive years winning Grand Slam singles finals?

    ANSWER: 11 matches.

    1996 ... 2 matches (semis and final at U.S. Open).
    1997 ... 4 matches (R4, QF, SF and final at U.S. Open).
    1998 ... 4 matches (R4, QF, SF and final at U.S. Opens).
    2002 ... 1 match (final round U.S. Open loss to Sampras).



    HOWEVER ...


    The difference of 1 French Open doesn't negate the huge chasm of 6 Wimbledons, 3 U.S. Opens, 4 ATP Tour Championships, 5 years at #1 and 185 weeks at #1.

    In fact, a player who represented the DIFFERENCE between Sampras and Agassi would be one of the very, very top players of the Open Era:

    Wimbledons:

    1. Sampras 7
    2. Difference between Sampras and Agassi 6
    3. Borg 5
    4. Becker, McEnroe 3
    6. Laver, Newcombe, Connors, Edberg 2


    U.S. Opens on Hardcourts:

    1. Sampras 5
    2. McEnroe 4
    3. Difference between Sampras and Agassi 3
    3. Connors, Lendl 3


    ATP TOUR CHAMPIONSHIPS Indoors:

    1. Sampras, Lendl 5
    3. Difference between Sampras and Agassi 4
    3. McEnroe, Nastase 4


    Years Ranked #1:

    1. Sampras 6
    2. Difference between Sampras and Agassi 5
    2. Connors 5
    4. Lendl, McEnroe 4
    6. Borg, Edberg and Hewitt 2


    Weeks Ranked #1:

    1. Sampras 286
    2. Lendl 270
    3. Connors 268
    4. Difference between Sampras and Agassi 185
    5. McEnroe 170
    6. Borg 109


    Most Consecutive Years In A Grand Slam Final:

    1. Sampras, Lendl 11
    3. Borg 8
    4. Difference between Sampras and Agassi 6
    4. McEnroe 6
    6. Connors 5


    Most Consecutive Years Winning a Grand Slam final:

    1. Sampras, Borg 8
    3. Difference between Sampras and Agassi 5


    This mythical player known simply as "Difference between Sampras and Agassi" would be right there with Ivan Lendl and Bjorn Borg as the 3 best players of the Open Era other than Sampras.
     
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  15. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    Moose...I am a fan of many sports. Some sports you can rank a player from 100 years ago to the present like baseball. Babe Ruth would still be a great player today because guys were not only throwing heat (90 mph plus) back then, but were doctoring balls like you would not believe. Joe Dimaggio, Ted Williams, Bob Feller, Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb and a host of other players would still be great players today. So a top whatever list in baseball would work. This is common knowledge and many sportswriters and experts agree baseball can be ranked with out seeing the player...stats are very important because the game has relatively stayed the same. I know the balls are a little juiced or the bats are harder, but that is all.

    Football...some changes that may affect a list. The sheer size and speed of players has grown leaps and bounds. But you can still rate certain guys from years past with todays players. The equipment is basically the same.

    Basketball...again. The sheer size and speed of players has changed big time. Some players from the 50's might be as good as players today, but most could not even play division one college ball.

    Hockey...other than a few rules changes (size and speed...to a point) is basically the same. Equipment changes is small.

    Golf....lots has changed. Now this is reverse in this case. 80 years ago Bobby Jones was the best golfer in the world....bring him back today (in his prime) and he challenges Woods no problem. Equipment has changed the game and hence changed the golf course. The ball is especially important. Golfers of years past may actually be better than today's golfers....

    Tennis...changes in equipment is very important to add. Bill Tilden played a style of tennis based on his equipment. That was the way he played....give him a Babolat today and he would be crushed by a nice college player. The racquet in those days only allowed a certain way to play. Today's game and for the past 26 years is very different to the days of Don Budge, Rosewall Laver and Tilden. You see, other sports have not changed much in equipment. A baseball and bat is static, footballs, basketballs, hockey sticks and pucks...all static. Golf and tennis have changed way too much.

    I am not discrediting the older generations achievments, but simply stating you can't really list a player from 50 years ago to todays. The game has changed too much and we never saw them play. Stats don't mean much from 50 years ago in Tennis...unlike other sports.:)
     
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  16. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    huh?? Its common knowledge that Mac broke Borg's spirit when he took his number one ranking and started to beat him. Not only is this in Mac's book, but its been discussed in many areas. Mac is the reason.:)
     
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  17. FedSampras

    FedSampras Semi-Pro

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    drakulie = ZERO INTELLIGENCE. :D
     
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  18. CEvertFan

    CEvertFan Hall of Fame

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    Everyone seems to forget that Sampras doesn't hold the Wimbledon record all by himself. He shares it with William Renshaw, like Martina did with Helen Wills Moody until she won her 9th in 1990. So every time I see it written that Pete alone holds the record I just have to point this out. ;)
     
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  19. EZRA

    EZRA Rookie

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    Vitas introduced Borg the wonders of partying .. and partying hardcore
     
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  20. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    Yes...that was part of it. According to Mac, Vitas shoed Borg you can party and play great tennis, but I don't think Borg could party like Vitas and play great tennis.
     
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  21. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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    This is a great post. I've always believed Sampras had amuch better career than Agassi and have never understood why some people say otherwise.
     
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  22. ATPballkid

    ATPballkid Professional

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    Thanks Sandy.

    Andre Agassi is overrated after an 20 year career with very little to show for himself ... he had 3 or 4 good years' worth of results --- good years, NOT great ones --- spread out over an 20 year career.

    If someone were to achieve in 4 years what Agassi has achieved in 20 years, people would say that this person might end up becoming the next Pete Sampras.
     
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  23. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    There are many reasons for Borg's burnout, which include:

    a) the fact that Borg was an early bloomer, he became breaking down mentally and getting tired of travel earlier than most star players

    b) as some have mentioned, he wanted to party and was getting tired of getting up and going to sleep at specified times

    c) he married Marianna - realized he made a colossal mistake

    d) he had very little else to prove and literally sleepwalked through the 81 french open and still won it

    e) even McEnroe himself admitted that Borg was simply 'not into it' in their last few matchups - including the Wimbledon and US Open of 1981

    Borg outgrew tennis. The matches with McEnroe were difficult, whereby he couldn't win by sheer will alone. But Borg was unwilling to practice overtime as he would have done in prior years. He realized that he had enough and it was time to move on with his life.

    McEnroe did not win a single major in 1982. He was far from a perfect player. In 1984 he was almost perfect - this was 2+ full years after Borg quit grand slam competition.
     
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  24. z-money

    z-money Semi-Pro

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    my former boss who loves andre said he was better than pete because he won the french. that was his only statement i then laid him to waste with similar stats, and because he was an idiot he said pete couldnt be better cause he didnt match agassi at the french!!!! i thought to myself when pete really wanted you to go down (angry pete) he damaged your pride with 6-1 sets 12 sets between them pete laid down a double break on andre. P.S. Davis Cup 95: Pete beat two of the best clay players on clay in russia to take the cup in the final rubber. andre never won davis cup
     
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  25. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

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    I like all the players you've listed. Of course, a few names could always be added to these sorts of things. It's particularly interesting to watch the evolution of rankings over time. 30 years ago Kramer would have been a lock for the top 5, and it would have been unheard of to place Rosewall ahead of Perry or Gonzales. Around 1990, Borg and McEnroe were widely considered to have been the greatest players of the Open Era (with the exception of Laver) and the only two to stand on par with past greats like Tilden, Budge, etc. Today one often sees Connors and Lendl ahead of McEnroe.

    The positions of Cochet and Lacoste are always tricky. 30 years ago both would often appear in the top 10. Most ranked Cochet ahead of Lacoste, but not all (books by Al Laney and Eugene Scott are notable exceptions). Today both are largely, and unfortunately, forgotten. In 1968 Laney compared Rosewall to both Cochet and Lacoste, but felt that the two Frenchmen were ultimately superior.

    In practice I tend to favor players who have no obvious weaknesses. The only two men to achieve the true Grand Slam (Budge and Laver) are a good starting point for any G.O.A.T. discussion. While many felt Budge was even more invincible than Laver at his peak, Laver's greater longevity gives him the advantage in most contemporary critics' eyes. Tilden needs to be right up there as well, if not indeed at the very top. These three together certainly belong in the top five.

    Many other great champions, despite their incredible achievements in one area or another, have clear holes in their resumes: Borg's short career and his failures at the US Open, Sampras's poor record on clay, etc. The true G.O.A.T. in my eyes must not be tarnished in such a way. An all-court, all-surface champion with a long career, winning historic matches over legendary rivals, is a very rare thing indeed. Tilden and Laver are the safest choices. Budge would probably have joined them, if not for the war. Laver has two Grand Slams, Tilden has an even greater record of dominance (six straight years without losing a single match of any significance), greater longevity, and was the most influential figure in the history of the game. Take your pick between these two, or opt for Budge as the "dark horse" (relatively speaking). I would place Sampras and Borg just below, with guys like Perry, Gonzales, Rosewall, etc., beneath them. As you go down the list, however, relative rankings become all the more difficult and all the more subjective... not that they aren't inherently subjective to begin with!
     
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  26. fgbowen33

    fgbowen33 New User

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    singles and doubles

    McEnroe was the best - cuz he was ranked number 1 in both singles and doubles. Tennis is more the just singles
     
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  27. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

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    Many players have dominated in both singles and doubles - it only became a rarity in the past 30 years or so. It's one of the many reasons, I feel, that modern champions are not as complete or accomplished as the stars of the past. Don Budge, for example, achieved the incredible feat of winning the Wimbledon triple (singles, doubles, mixed) in back-to-back years.
     
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  28. TacoBellBorderBowl1946

    TacoBellBorderBowl1946 Professional

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    bjorn borg is no. 1, if he didn't retire at 25 who knows how many slams he would have won.
     
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  29. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

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    Unfortunately, he did - you want to give him credit for what he didn't win?
     
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  30. fastdunn

    fastdunn Legend

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    A taller version of Laver would beat anybody in any era.
     
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  31. ChipNCharge

    ChipNCharge Professional

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    No, but I'll give Borg credit for having the highest career winning percentage in the open era (82.3%).
     
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  32. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

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    I have nothing against Borg - truly one of the all-time great players - but don't you think that percentage would have gone down if he'd played longer?
     
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  33. Swingin Richard

    Swingin Richard Rookie

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    Good list. I don't know about 2-14, but if Pete is #1, it is a solid list. You can throw out so many FACTS that point to Pete as the greatest ever. To argue for another player, the facts disappear and you start getting all these strange, emotional opinions. Pete's records speak for themselves.
     
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  34. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    It did go down when he made his 90s comeback!:mad:
     
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  35. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

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    You can throw out as many (if not more) facts in support of other players:

    - Tilden: six straight years without a loss
    - Gonzales: eight straight years as world pro champ
    - Rosewall: won approx. 23 major titles (amateur and pro)
    - Laver: TWO Grand Slams, 180+ overall titles

    None of Sampras's "records" extends beyond the Open Era except for one: his seven Wimbledon titles, which ties Willie Renshaw's much older mark - though Renshaw won his seven in the Challenge Round era. A case for Sampras as G.O.A.T. must rest on those seven Wimbledons, because, at the very least, both Tilden and Gonzales were ranked No. 1 longer (and Kramer about the same), and both Rosewall and Laver won far more major titles (Tilden and Gonzales about the same). In my opinion, several players have a much stronger case for being the G.O.A.T. than Sampras - with many more impressive facts to back them up - particularly Tilden and Laver, who could win on all surfaces and in all conditions and had very long careers. These two have topped more G.O.A.T. polls over the years than any others. Laver in particular has clearly been the favorite of experts over the past two decades.
     
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  36. FiveO

    FiveO Hall of Fame

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    A percentage point or two.

    Borg ended his career with a winning percentage a couple of tenths short of 83%.

    Laver was slightly below 80% just from 68-77 when Rod 29 to 39 years old.

    Connors ended slightly below 82% playing much longer than Borg. But, Connors winning percentage was likely to have dropped as well in that Borg had started to own Connors later in his career going 8-0 vs. Jimbo in tournament play from 79-81.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2007
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  37. dukemunson

    dukemunson Rookie

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    Sampras...the argument for Borg breaks down quickly (he was basically done at 25) and Tilden/Laver were in another era that I don't think can fairly be argued for...
     
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  38. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    The argument for Sampras breaks down quickly.

    It's true because I've stated it confidently.
     
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  39. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

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    Explain...?

    Personally, I feel the problem is that most fans are ignorant of tennis history. Rather than pick up a book, they'd rather make unqualified statements like "those old timers weren't real athletes" and live with the delusion that real tennis began whenever they started following it on TV. I guess it's only natural to want to believe that one's contemporary heroes are not only the best players of the current era, but also the best of all time. Fortunately, not everyone thinks this way. If you don't know the accomplishments of Laver, Gonzales, Budge, Tilden, or even Wilding and the Doherty brothers, then you aren't qualified to assess who the greatest players of all time really are.
     
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  40. Swingin Richard

    Swingin Richard Rookie

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    Tennis was a gentlemans game when those geezers played. Sampras dominated real athletes in a much more competitive era. It's kind of like saying Bill Russell would dominate Shaq.
     
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  41. dukemunson

    dukemunson Rookie

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    I understand and accept that the accomplishments of Tilden were amazing, he dominated in the 20's unlike anyone has ever dominated a decade...but with the differences in the structure of the tour how could you possibly compare his accomplishments with someone from the Open era? This isn't football where you can look at OJ or Jim Brown and marvel about what they did...the game and way in which it is competed has been changed so drastically that comparison is nearly impossible.
     
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  42. FedUp

    FedUp Rookie

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    1. Laver
    2. Sampras
    3. P Gonzalez
    4. Federer
    5. McEnroe/Lendl/Borg
     
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  43. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

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    Most fans/experts consider Russell a greater player than O'Neal.
     
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  44. TacoBellBorderBowl1946

    TacoBellBorderBowl1946 Professional

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    lol, Bill Russell is a LOT better than Shaq, Shaq has four rings to Russell's ELEVEN!

    Russell wasn't as good offensively or as strong, but he was the greatest defensive player to ever play basketball and would block anyone who penetrated the lane.
     
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  45. FedUp

    FedUp Rookie

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    I think Borg was the reason why Borg retired.
     
    #45
  46. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

    Joined:
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    I agree that comparison is difficult, but to me that is a challenge to investigate more and come up with the best possible solution(s). Certainly there's no magic formula for "greatness," but I think it's better to try to intelligently appreciate the unique achievements of all players (in the proper historical context, of course) rather than to simply dismiss everyone who played before some magic point where tennis became a "real" sport. There are a lot of knowledgeable experts who lived to see many decades of tennis, who always felt that Tilden would have found a way to beat any player of any era. Jack Kramer for one is still around, and he maintains that Vines and Budge - players of the 30s - were better than either Sampras or Federer. From the videos I have seen of older players, the best could easily compete physically and athletically with today's stars: Fred Perry may be the fastest player I've ever seen. Moreover, while the structure of the tour(s) has changed over the years, I doubt that anything about the game today really would have looked so foreign to Tilden, Budge or Laver... aside from technological changes, which they could adapt to. All in all, I think it's unfair in these G.O.A.T. discussions to penalize someone simply for when they were born.
     
    #46
  47. bluegrasser

    bluegrasser Hall of Fame

    Joined:
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    To me you have to win all *4* Grand Slams to be called the greatest - no RG, no numero uno. Perry, AA, Budge, Laver, Emerson - For me it's Laver now, but if King Fed wins the French, he gets the crown.
     
    #47
  48. FiveO

    FiveO Hall of Fame

    Joined:
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    3,260
    Sampras is Sampras simply one of the greatest of all time, but this argument is ill advised.

    Ever hear of Wilt Chamberlain? As big and arguably stronger than Shaq. How did Russell do vs. Wilt? How do you think Russell and Chamberlain would do today? There are very few centers in the NBA who came after them through today who have ever played the game.
     
    #48
  49. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
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    Location:
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    Chamberlain is stronger than Shaq? No way in hell.
     
    #49
  50. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2004
    Messages:
    10,026
    I hang out with a lot of fine, fine ladies. Some of them are past they prime backup singers. Most of them have been counted by Wilt the Stilt. I aksed them all about the Wilt vs Shaq strength issue. They all disagree with you, Stormholloway, and they called you a young cracka.

    They told me to tell you:
    You play your cards right,
    you might git a invite.
    One night.

    Actually they sang that.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2007
    #50

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