Greatest Tennis Players (Men) YOU have SEEN

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Azzurri, May 15, 2007.

  1. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    I feel to rate a player its important to have actually seen him play. Here is my top 10

    1. Sampras
    2. Federer
    3. Mcenroe
    4. Connors
    5. Borg (Connors is higher because Borg retired so early and Jimm was great into his late 30's)
    6. Lendl
    7. Agassi
    8. Edberg
    9. Wilander
    10. Becker

    I really like Nadal and he needs a couple more slams to break the top 10. Thos slams have to be USO, W or AO.

    I may have ommited a great player, but these are the guys I watched growing up and following. I could never rate Don Budge....I don't even know what he looks like.
     
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  2. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    He helped the #3 on your list turn around his rivalry with Lendl after losing 6 straight in '82.
     
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  3. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    I was joking a bit.:) Yes Don Budge did help Mac...
     
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  4. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    1. Federer (Putting statistics aside, to me, he is the best player I have ever seen between the lines)

    2. Sampras

    3. Agassi (what impresses me the most about Agassi is how much he was able to achieve even though he had soooo many lows, and how he didn't take the game so seriously in many of his first few years. This guy was a rare talent. Additionally, he won Wimbledon at a time where there were still "Grass Court Specialist (S & Vers), and then was able to transcend his game to a compelely different surface and win the French in an era of "Clay Court Specialist"

    4. Mcenroe (I am at times more impressed with him than any other player on this list. The fact he was not only an amazing singles player, but one of the best doubles players of all time. None of the others on this list can make that boast. Additionally, his Davis Cup record makes his tennis achievements even more impressive. My first "favorite player". :)

    5. Borg

    6. Connors (Amazing player. Only guy on the list I coudn't stand).

    7. Lendl

    8. Edberg

    9. Wilander

    10. Becker
     
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  5. Pro Staff Pete

    Pro Staff Pete Semi-Pro

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    World Group 1994
    Quarterfinal
    Mullerpier, Rotterdam, Netherlands
    15 July - 17 July 1994
    Surface: Hard (Plexipave) - Outdoors
    Ball Type: Dunlop

    Tie Completed
    USA defeated Netherlands 3-2 in Netherlands

    Sunday:
    R.KRAJICEK (NED) def. P.SAMPRAS (USA)
    2-6 7-5 7-6(5) 7-5

    I was only a small boy but I can still remember that amazing game! They built a great stadium for the tie and it was fully packed. Sampras played very well, but not at his best though.

    Two years ago I saw Federer play at the ABN atp in Rotterdam. I was sitting very closely to the court and it was just amazing (movement, pace).
     
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  6. CEvertFan

    CEvertFan Hall of Fame

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    I wouldn't change a thing about your list. I agree with all the choices and the order you have them. Well done!
     
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  7. Dedans Penthouse

    Dedans Penthouse Hall of Fame

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    Renee Richards
     
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  8. Pete Semper

    Pete Semper Rookie

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    Sampras
    Federer
    Agassi
    McEnroe
    Edberg
    Mecir
    Becker
    Connors
    Leconte
    Nadal
     
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  9. z-money

    z-money Semi-Pro

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    Best we have SEEN people: Id say Agassi was the best ive seen but mcenroe was cool too. Andy was fun but he is overrated
     
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  10. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    I meant watched (tv or live). :D

    I never got to see Mac...could have went to the 90 Open....chose to go another time. I would have been able to see his match against Pete, big mistake.
     
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  11. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    Great list. One question...Agassi over Borg?
     
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  12. FiveO

    FiveO Hall of Fame

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    Also numbers aside and based on talent and varied "talents" at that:

    1. Federer
    1aT Laver, Borg, Sampras, Nastase (at his best, yes he was that talented)
    6. Lendl
    7T McEnroe, Agassi, Safin
    10T Connors, Newcombe
    12. Becker
    13. Edberg, Wilander, Rosewall
    16. Kuerten, Nadal, Vilas
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2007
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  13. armand

    armand Banned

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    Define "SEEN". If I saw a 6 minute Youtube clip of Rod Laver, does that qualify me to have "SEEN" him?
     
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  14. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Great minds think alike. :)
     
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  15. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    I'll explain. Similar to what I stated about Fed, even though Agassi doesn't have as many slams as Borg, I think he was the better player.

    Honestly, the list gets rough for me between 2-5. For example, I will say I'm far more more impressed with McEnroes accoomplishments in TENNIS as a whole, than I am with Pete's 14 singles slams. If Pete would of played both singles and doubles would he have as many doubles slams as Mc? Would it have had an impact on his singles totals? That goes for all those guys (Agassi, Borg, Lendl, etc).

    On the other hand, I think one of, if not the most impressive achievements is Borg's French and Wimbledon success. I think that feat has proven to be far harder to obtain than total # of slams. Quite frankly, I don't see that feat ever being duplicated (even with the slower grass). I do see the total # of slams being surpassed.

    As too many arguments could be made, my list finally came down to taking numbers out of the equation and going by who I thought was the better singles player in their prime.
     
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  16. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    FiveO, interesting way to look at it. After revieweing your list I'm surprised you didn't place Rios up there. Not that I would, but with all the hoopla about him (which I really don't get), I would have expected to see him there along with Safin.

    By the way, I agree Safin is one of the best players I have ever seen. I always thought he was going to be the next guy to be number # 1for years, and winning slams every year, etc. The guy could do it all.
     
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  17. FiveO

    FiveO Hall of Fame

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    Same thoughts on Safin.

    Rios? I have to admit my bias here. Yes, very talented. However with very little to show for it and just not talented in the jaw-dropping Safin-esque way to me. Believe it or not I viewed Rios as more of a Hicham Arazi with a little more court sense. Like I said, I admit my bias on him.
     
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  18. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    No....6 minutes is not enough.

    By seen I mean watched them play for most of their career. Not every match, but 5-10 tourneys a year. How much tennis do you watch now? I watch all the GS, basically anytime ESPN shows matches. That is quite a bit of tennis. I watched/played a lot of tennis and followed it a great deal from 1979 to 2000. My list was based on players I have watched play each other a great deal. :)
     
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  19. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    I see...good way of choosing. Now that I think about it, a 28 year old Agassi probably would have beat Borg in his prime, but not sure on clay. As for the other surfaces Agassi and Borg would be a great great match!:D
     
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  20. 40Love

    40Love Rookie

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    No player that I have seen on courts dating back to Laver and Emerson-yes I saw them play-electrified crowds like Jimmy Connors.
     
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  21. z-money

    z-money Semi-Pro

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    safins destruction of sampras in 2000 us. or his 5set win over roger at AO in 05
     
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  22. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    Loved to watch the guy....amazing player and entertainer. Some of those US Open matches were like nothing else. I never saw a guy pump up the crowd the way he did against Krickstein and ....can't think of the other guy. :-(

    Jimmy was a gift to tennis.:D
     
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  23. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    How good should Safin have been....I mean how bad did he underachieve? I stopped watching tennis around 2000 and started up late 2004, so I missed a lot of Safin, Hewitt and some Federer.
     
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  24. ACS

    ACS New User

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    Of those i have seen (going back to the late 80s)...

    1. Sampras - honestly, to see him play live, he didn't blow me away the way i had expected (possibly due to expectations being too high, or his efficiency being too high), but his record is better than anybody else's (n.b. Open era)

    2. Federer - what needs to be said? but, I just can't bring myself to put him over Sampras yet

    3. Agassi - to see him play live in the 90s, he just seemed to hit the ball so much cleaner than anybody else going; his timing was amazing; furthermore, the fact that he continued to win slams into the 00s and into his 30s (when a lot of players started catching up to him in terms of ball striking) speaks to his rare talents

    4. Lendl - was #1 when i started watching tennis; devastating serve/groundstroke combinations in his prime

    5. McEnroe - glimpses of genius, but Lendl had pulled ahead when I started following the sport

    6. Connors - see above

    7. Nadal - as exciting as Agassi in the late 80s (in my opinion)...and better?

    8. Edberg - beautiful game

    9. Becker - had periods where he appeared unbeatable

    10. Kuerten - what could have been?
     
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  25. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    5 - Great starting list for me. I'll show my moves DOWN in Red; my moves UP in Green. I'll show players I'd REMOVE in Grey and my additions in Blue. (Let's see if I can keep my own key straight....) My list is based on ... wins, depth and "Wow!" factor....

    1. Federer
    1aT Laver, Borg, McEnroe, Nastase
    6. Connors, Emerson
    8T Sampras Agassi, Safin
    11T Newcombe, Rosewall, Lendl
    13. Becker
    14. Edberg, Wilander
    16. Nadal, Vilas

    Kuerten
     
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  26. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    KK, interesting list. Because I like you, I'm going to remind you to duck. You are probably going straight to the inferno for putting Sampras at # 8. :)

    Be careful out there.
     
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  27. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    KK has said in the past that didn't follow the game that closely in the 90s, so I doubt he's seen many of Sampras' slam wins.

    Not sure he followed it much in the 80s either, considering his Pat Cash question in another thread.
     
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  28. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    Nice list, but why Nadal and Kuertan over Wilander? He had a great CC game.
     
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  29. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    Nah! I'm not that worried. My criteria are just different. I give more weight to "well-roundedness" -- meaning they played Dubs, too!

    So the fact I put Sampras ahead of Newk, Rosewall, Edberg and Wilander shows how I gave weight to his singles prowess.

    P.S. I never got an answer to that Cash service motion question.... Did he always serve so "square" to his target?

    - KK
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2007
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  30. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    1. Bjorn Borg
    2. Roger Federer
    3. Pete Sampras
    4. John McEnroe
    5. Rod Laver
    6. Ivan Lendl
    7. Jimmy Connors
    8. Ken Rosewall
    9. Andre Agassi
    10. Boris Becker

    McEnroe's peak may have shone the greatest.

    Borg's domination on grass and clay trumps any other accomplishment in the history of tennis, bar none.

    Federer's a very close second. I was tempted to put Nadal on the list. He's right there.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2007
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  31. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    Borg??? You are a weird little man.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2007
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  32. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    Some players who really impressed me in person, in no particular order...

    - Amir Hadad
    - Verdasco's forehand
    - Roger Federer practicing
    - Ljubicic's kick serve
    - Bjorn Phau
    - Cedric Pioline, especially during warmups
    - Mac's drop shots
    - Monica Seles
    - Paes playing doubles, just seemed to be in the right place all the time
    - Korda practicing
    - Albert Costas strokes during a threeway (when I saw him practicing with Kraijeck though, not as impressive)
    - Agassi warming up for US Open finals, just insane hitting
    - Jan Vacek smoking Alex Kim in qualies
    - Nadal practicing
    - And I even saw a Lendl playing an exhibition way back in kiddy land.
     
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  33. VikingSamurai

    VikingSamurai Banned

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    16-17-18y.o Becker..

    Why, because at the same age, everyone was still dreaming about winning a Grand Slam...

    He had 2!......
     
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  34. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    9 Greatest players I've seen live (also, with the exception of Connors, called lines for all of them).

    1. Federer
    2. McEnroe
    3. Connors
    4. Sampras
    5. Lendl
    6. Becker
    7. Agassi
    8. Wilander
    9. Edberg
     
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  35. ACS

    ACS New User

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    Because I totally forgot about Wilander...and (and I'll qualify this by saying that I never saw McEnroe or Connors at their peaks) I'd probably put him at #5...there's something about him that seems so much more cerebral than other players (Agassi developed it over time, Sampras would hint at it, but Wilander always seemed very intelligent)
     
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  36. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    1. Laver
    2. Sampras
    3. Federer
    4. McEnroe
    5. Borg
    6. Connors


    I hate ranking players while they are still playing. But Roger is undeniable in my opinion. He's got plenty of time to move up to the top spot. Although I really could go back and forth between he and Sampras.

    I hesitated ranking Laver #1 because I didn't watch him play while he was in his era. I saw him play some in the 70's when he wasn't really playing full time. But you could plug him into a draw somewhere and he'd start beating people. I saw him play in a special event on Hilton Head Island in the late 70's vs. Borg. And it was amazing to watch him flick winners by Bjorn on green clay. Plus, the guy won 2 slams. Just think if he had been allowed to play all those slams he missed before the Open era began?

    I also have a ton of respect for players like Edberg and Vilas. But I'm satisfied with my top 6.
     
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  37. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    It was almost inexplicable. How Borg could go from the greatest clay court player to the greatest grass court player in the span of 2 weeks I'll never know. But he did it better than anyone else I can think of. His back to back French and Wimbledon wins are amongst the most impressive feats in tennis history I believe.

    I just wish that he had won one of those US Open finals. Like Goolagong, he was very unlucky in New York. I also wish he had tried the Australian another time or two. But then again there wasn't a lot of emphasis on that tournament in his day.
     
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  38. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    It would have been nice if Borg had won a US Open, but I just don't see how winning one would have made a huge difference. We all know that Borg could play on green clay and hard courts. It's not like he had any issues with the surfaces.

    The Aussie Open aspect is definitely irrelevant. It is for thise reason that counting up slam totals is flawed practice. With those draws Borg would have won there every year. But he prefered the time off.
     
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  39. suwanee4712

    suwanee4712 Professional

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    Yep its a shame that the Australian lost some of their luster in the 70's and didn't attract the fields the other slams did. It would've been great to see Connors try and win in Paris in 1974. But I think most of the world's best clay courters were still showing up for the French for the most part. I never saw Borg play Vilas in Paris. Considering how good of a clay courter Vilas was, Borg's wins over him are impressive.

    Also if Borg had played the Australian every year, perhaps he wouldn't have been as fresh for the spring circuit. When we start making hypothetical changes, we never know what exactly the effects and side effects will be.

    I'm pretty solid on my top 6 of the ones I've seen, although I would not quibble much about the particular order. I think Borg has a good case for all time best. But I think a US Open would have more or less sealed the deal for him. Perhaps the same could be said of Sampras and McEnroe had they won the French.
     
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  40. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    Thank you for actually making good and logical statements. Yes..I agree that the AO was not as important in those days but not because it was lesser tourney, but the timing was bad. It somehow messed with Christmas. I think that is why the Euro and US players skipped it. Once it changed to January US and Euro players started to play it.

    The thing is people are always talking about the Grand Slam. If the AO was so irrelevant then why bother talking about Rosewall and Laver? Agassi won 4...Pete won 2. I was just saying he can't be GOAT because he did not win the AO and USO...you obviously understand this. I agree Borg was a special player and an all-time great. I don't agree that he was better than Mac, but none the less he is still a special player.:D

    But not winning a US Open is big....big negative on his resume just like it is for Pete (no FO). Think about it...if Pete won the FO, he would be a no brainer for GOAT to 99% of the tennis population. ;)
     
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  41. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

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    Absolutely agree. The one difference is that it didn't indicate a surface deficiency for Borg... it was more that he hated playing under the lights and the comparatively rowdy US crowd. People focus on Borg's achievement of winning the French on clay and Wimbledon on grass, but overlook what these two majors have in common: they are played in Europe! This can make a big difference for a player--back in the 1950s, the No. 1 pro Gonzales was invincible in the U.S., but he was very vulnerable when he toured abroad. To Borg's his credit he lost those four US finals to Connors and McEnroe, two of the greatest champions in US Open history. Sampras, on the other hand, had a real problem on clay. His movement was dreadful, and his two greatest achievements on the surface (his one Rome title and run to the French SFs) qualify as small miracles. So I agree that the lack of a US title is a huge negative against Borg, and that he cannot be the G.O.A.T., but it's probably a little less serious than Sampras's deficiency on clay. Just my opinion, though. The more serious knock against Borg is his short career; if he had been able to sustain it longer, he might have had a real shot at being the greatest. As it is, all things considered, I'd say that Sampras had the "greater" career, even considering that he had a clear surface weakness.
     
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  42. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    The Australian Open was a mickey mouse grand slam from 1976-1982. At that point tournaments like Dallas and the Italian Open were far bigger. It did make a recovery in 1983, but in my opinion it only moved on a par with the other 3 grand slams in 1988, with the tournament relocating from Kooyong to Flinders Park, switching surface from grass to rebound ace, and more importantly the expansion of the draw to 128 participants. Borg and McEnroe not winning the title Down Under is not a blemish on their resume.
    However as much as I like Borg, his failure to win the US Open costs him the GOAT title to Laver in my opinion. The US Open has been the most competitive grand slam in the open era. Every other genuinely great player in the open era has won the title there at some point, making Borg the odd one out. Just look at the winners' list at that tournament. It is very impressive indeed. Every open era US Open champion has been able to win a grand slam away from New York, expect Orantes, Rafter and Roddick, who have all reached finals. Since the introduction of the computer ranking system in 1973, every US Open champion has reached world no. 1, apart from Orantes and Vilas who have both reached world no.2.
    Had Borg been able to win the US Open just once, I would have no qualms crowning him the GOAT, but unfortunately he couldn't. In 1978 and 1980, Borg was one match away from completing a calendar French Open-Wimbledon-US Open treble on clay, grass and hard. In my opinion, had he accomplished that, it would surpassed Laver's 1969 calendar grand slam on grass on clay as an achievement. Borg's problem wasn't the surface, but the night sessions under the lights and noisy crowds. However that is something that a player has to deal with and overcome.
    Although I would still put Borg in 2nd place behind Laver.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2007
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  43. jackcrawford

    jackcrawford Professional

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    AO was irrelevant from 1976-87; in 1988 move to present location in Melbourne and hard court resurrected it. The grass had become so awful and as you point out the December scheduling that the top players would only have gone there if a grand slam was on the line. In Rosewall and Laver's day it was the least important major, but not as low as the above years.
     
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  44. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    actually it was a lesser event, for many factors. top players were very critical of the facilities there, until they moved & built a new tennis center.

    keep in mind the Australian Open was only a 64 draw event until 1988! Even if the top players played it more, I think the smaller draw was an acknowledgement that it was lesser event. And there were many 64 draw events on tour in the 70s/80s(which offered more prize money), what would make Australia any more important than them?

    When Edberg was the Australian in '85(his first major) he said it wasn't as important as if he had won one of the other 3 majors. 1988 was when it finally became a real event.

    I think Laver & Rosewall's most important achievements don't involve their record at the Australian Open.

    Tennis was so disorganized, even in the early years of the open era, its hard to know what were & weren't big events. Browsing through the draws of the slams at atptennis might help, you can see which ones(& regular atp events) had the best fields. I've found urban to be the most knowledgable poster here, if you search his past posts you may get a better grasp of that time.

    also a poster called SgtJohn provided a very interesting list of the "masters series" level events of the 70s/80s in this thread:

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=118045

    Notice how many of these Laver won, even though he was near the end of his career. The guy was still winning very big events when he was 36. And Borg won a ton of them as well.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2007
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  45. federerfanatic

    federerfanatic Banned

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    I put them into tiers something like this:

    first tier-Sampras, Laver, Gonzalez, Rosewall, Borg
    second tier-Budge, Federer, Tilden
    third tier-Connors, McEnroe, Lendl, Kramer, Perry
    fourth tier-Agassi, Newcombe, Cochet, LaCoste, Wilander

    Federer will be in my first tier by years end I predict.
     
    #45
  46. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    The Aussie got good draws in the Laver-Rosewall years and was reinvigorated once moved up to January in 1987. The 15 or so years up to that show a Sahara of a tournament.

    For the record, I think that the Aussie is the most fun of the grand slams to attend today.
     
    #46
  47. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    I have heard he did not like the US Open....and I agree he did lose to great players. Sampras, IMO, had a better career, but Borg may have had better competition.
     
    #47
  48. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    Good points...guess I feel that its a major and great players are ranked based on majors.
     
    #48
  49. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    It's not like he was at some special disadvantage. Everybody else had to make the same difficult transition.
     
    #49
  50. FiveO

    FiveO Hall of Fame

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    I think the point was that no one made that transition better and that Borg proved it not to be a fluke by doing it that well three times.
     
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