Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by Azzurri, May 15, 2007.
Probably would have been 4 times had he been at the 77 French Open.
The Australian Open was never irrelevant, that's just ridiculous. It was, however, a second-third tier tournament between 1976 and 1982, NOT 76-87.
When Mats Wilander won his first Aus Open in 1983, that marked the re-birth of the tournament. In the final he beat the number 1 seed Ivan Lendl (world #1). In the semis he beat the tournament's second seed and world #2 John McEnroe (world #2). Wilander was 3rd seed and, at the time, world #4.
Nothing changed in 84, 85 or 87. The best in the world, with the exception of Connors, competed in the Australian Open.
The main problem with the Australian Open WAS NOT the December start or the grass. While the start date didn't help sell the tournament to the top players the key issue was always the lack of financial incentive.
In the day of Laver and Rosewall the Australian Open was the SECOND MOST IMPORTANT major tournament because the best players in the world were Australian. Very simple really. Wimbledon was always the pinnacle but, apart from that, everyone else wanted to win their home event- partly due to the prestige, partly due to the benefits that would come after retirement (in those days players were thinking local, not global).
At that particular time, the US Open vied with the French as the least significant of the four majors, for a number of reasons. Primarily it was due to the US tournaments being invitation only so not everyone could compete and if you couldn't make a few dollars at the smaller events it wasn't worth playing the Open. Secondly, the playing conditions and officiating were considered to be decidely sub-standard. Thirdly, while the French was seen as a good tune-up for Wimbledon, the US Open was just another long flight or boat ride. All of that is very well documented so it isn't merely a matter of my opinion.
No player has won the the US Open, Wimbledon and the French Open without also winning the Australian Open in their career since 1955.
This isn't true at all. Tony Trabert won the French, Wimbledon, and US Open in the same year (1955), but never won the Australian. Cochet and Lacoste - the two greatest players of the 1920s after Tilden - both won the French, Wimbledon, and US Open, without ever winning the Australian. The most striking example of all is in women's tennis: the great Helen Wills Moody won the French four times, Wimbledon eight times, and the US Open seven times, but never bothered to compete at the Australian even once in her career.
Sorry, I was incorrect here (although I was refering to men's tennis only). I will correct the statement to read, since 1955. I notice that Trabet did not skip the AO in 1955 but lost in the semi-finals. My point still stands though in answer to slappano's comments. The reason we continue to talk about the likes of Laver is that no player since then has achiveved The Grand Slam, even if we exclude the requirement of the Australian Open.
I know what his point was, but it's sort of like when a player blames their loss on the sun and wind. It's like, well, your opponent had to play in the same conditions. Whatever.
Wasn't quite sure if you meant in person or television, but from your list in person, the greatest I saw play would be Becker.
From television watching:
1. Sampras (hard toss up for 2nd but...)
I had to rate some players lower like a Connors because I combine personality with ability. His on-court behavior was lacking, as well as McEnroe's. Much preferred them both after they stopped playing on the men's tour. Wilander would have to be 10 for me, because I think he was a great achiever, but not one of the greatest.
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