John Newcombe

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by pc1, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Newcombe to me was a very underrated giant of the game. He won seven majors including three Wimbledons. He won majors by defeating superb players like Rosewall, Connors, Roche, Stan Smith, Kodes. He dominated the 1974 WCT tour and won the 1974 WCT Championship over a young Bjorn Borg.

    Here's Kiki's description of the Newcombe style which I agree with.
    Newcombe won the Italian Open on clay was a strong clay court player. He was also very good at the baseline. He was well known during his peak as a very strong five set player.

    What is often forgotten is the during the 1973 Davis Cup in which the old Aussies romped to the title is that Newcombe was probably considered to be the top player on the team even over Rosewall and Laver. Newk defeated Stan Smith in five sets in the first match to set the tone. After that Laver and Newcombe dominated.

    Newcombe was also considered to be a top doubles player, winning many of his titles with the great Tony Roche. This team is considered by many to be the top doubles team of all time.

    Newcombe won just under 70 tournaments in his entire career.

    Newcombe may be just as legendary in his ability to drink beer all night and play well the next day.

    Now why didn't he have a better record than that even though his record is excellent? I don't know if he was always in top shape as far as training was concerned and I don't think his mind was always into tennis as a Laver or Rosewall might be.
     
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  2. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    PC1...you opened the thread¡¡ great.
     
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  3. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Newcombe was very very interested in business.He was probably the first marketing agent ( of himself) and tennis player at once.Ran a few ranch, had his own design and racket company and had such energy that french journalist Jean Couvercelle said in his book of the top tennis stars of the 70´s:

    " this man can sleep for 9 hrs, drink beer for another 5, play a top tennis match next 5 and engage in a long business dealing for the remaining 5"..
     
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  4. pc1

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    Arthur Ashe once wrote that John Newcombe and Bjorn Borg are the two players who had a presence on the court like they wouldn't be beaten. At least I believe these are words to the effect.

    Ashe also wrote that Laver and Rosewall didn't have that type of presence on the court but perhaps they were so good they didn't need it.

    Wonder if Ashe thought Pancho Gonzalez had a presence on the court?
     
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  5. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Most probably. Gonzales was Ashe's idol.
     
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  6. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    I like his mustache
     
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  7. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    His mustache with one eye, a sort of one-eyed-bandit was his logo. I saw him first when he annihilated poor Wilhelm Bungert in the 1967 Wim final. Had a very heavy serve, especially his second serve was the best i have seen- alongside Sampras. And he backed it up with one of the best forehand volleys, often hit as drive volley a bit from the side. Hoad remarked, that his nose was often over the net when he volleyed. Had a big forehand, and often ran around his backhand side on vital returns, going down the alley or forcing double faults.
    Was a clever tactician, and knew to lob effectively and to play softer when needed. He wasn't the complete technical star al la Laver and hadn't the best natural stamina of a Emerson or a Laver, but masked his weakness- his backhand - very well and paced himself well. Over a season he needed rest for longer periods and tried to focus and train for special events. Wasn't a day- in, day- out player, more a man for the big Wimbledon or Davis Cup matches. But in clutch matches in five sets he was extremely tough to beat, because he had big court presence and confidence - like Becker later.
     
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  8. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Yes, I can see some similarities between Becker and Newcombe, both being very confident and not too fast.
     
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  9. Phoenix1983

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    Don't know too much about Newcombe but his singles record alone (3 W, 2 US, 2 AO, with 5 of these 7 in the Open Era) demands respect.

    I agree he is not mentioned much compared to fellow Aussie greats like Rosewall and, of course, Laver.
     
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  10. pc1

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    I can tell you that in person Newcombe was super impressive. I saw him play a late 1973 Jimmy Connors who was just a few months from winning the Australian and winning three out of three majors. I saw Connors defeat Okker (who was a tremendous player) earlier in the tournament with ease so he was in top form. Connors did played extremely well against Newcombe but lost in three close sets 6-4 7-6 7-6.

    Here's a few clips of him.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR2asq8ZrSk
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_auZvAFcuI
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_auZvAFcuI
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-hIaUiA5Qo

    Incidentally mechanically I think he was perhaps the ideal serve and volley player. He had perhaps the best first serve of his time. Ashe wrote that some may have served a little faster but Newcombe's serve was a great combination of power and spin. The ball was very heavy to the receiver and it would sting. His second serve is arguably the best of all time. He was very strong volleyer especially the forehand volley.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
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  11. Phoenix1983

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    ^ Some great play from Newcombe and Kodes in that last clip. Interesting how the whole grass court is worn out in those days, rather than just the baseline as would be the case today.
     
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  12. pc1

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    Trust me I was at that US Open and you cannot play the game they play on the baseline today. The bounces were just awful if it bounced at all. They had to serve and volley to not let the ball bounce.

    Kodes was pretty tremendous when he was on his game. But Newcombe was playing at such a high level. I think he beat Connors, Rosewall and Kodes in consecutive rounds to win the tournament. Newk wrote that at the beginning of the tournament he wasn't in form but it clicked in when he played Connors.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
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  13. Gonzalito17

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    Heard the story that Newk and Roche or Stolle were playing doubles against the young John McEnroe who pegged Roche or Stolle at the net a couple of times and Newk went around the net and threatened McEnroe. It was on national TV too. Mac learned a lesson from Newk and obeyed the order.

    Anyone remember this?
     
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  14. Gonzalito17

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  15. pc1

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    Great description of Newcombe. I might add that his backhand was a relative weakness but it was solid. It was able to withstand pounding from players like Jimmy Connors. He did not have a great offensive backhand although I've bet with today's racquets he could hit one easily.

    I think the match I think of most when I think of Newcombe was his epic five setter with Stan Smith in the first match of the Davis Cup final in 1973. It was an extremely well played match but as usual when these two played in a big match, Newcombe got the edge with Smith serving at match point, second serve in the fifth. Newcombe who had one of the all time great forehands moved way over into the doubles alley in the ad court basically saying I'm going to pound your second serve. You have to risk a big serve down the middle or you're in trouble. Smith went for the ace on second serve down the middle, missed, double faulted and lost the match.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1088126/2/index.htm
     
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  16. pc1

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    Newk writes about it in his book. Apparently Stolle was hit very hard by a ball hit by McEnroe or Fleming (forgot who) and Newcombe threatened McEnroe. McEnroe and Fleming eventually beat Newcombe and Stolle, the old men 7-6 in the fifth set.
     
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  17. Phoenix1983

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    interesting how he says Gonzales was the most ferocious competitor he faced, even more so than the likes of Connors and Mac. I have heard this a few times about Gonzales now - what must he have been like? :shock:
     
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  18. mattennis

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    I get very nostalgic everytime I re-watch a tennis match from the 70s or the 80s (or even the 90s).

    That clip of Newcombe-Kodes...how beautiful tennis was back then, almost like a totally different sport.

    Laver, Rosewall, Newcombe, Kodes, Ashe, Nastase, Okker, Roche, Emerson, Gimeno, Smith...and then Connors, Vilas and Borg (and Tanner, Gerulaitis...).

    The first half of the 70s had so many great players.
     
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  19. BobbyOne

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    pc1, Newcombe might be underrated by the current experts and fans, just as all players of older times are now underrated or even forgotten. But he is not underrated in comparison to Laver and Rosewall. Remember that these two giants have won much more than Newcombe. Rosewall keeps 23 majors, Laver 19 while Newk only keeps 7. A huge difference.

    Laver has a hth against Newcombe of about 12:5, Rosewall leads 14:10 even though the former was a grandpa when they met.

    And Newcombe is in fact overrated in comparison to his doubles partner, Roche. As long as both were healthy, Roche was the stronger player in open era.
     
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  20. BobbyOne

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    mattennis, I just agree.
     
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  21. Dan Lobb

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    Hoad was interviewed in Sports Illustrated in 1973 about Newk, and he says that the key match of Newk's career was the 1969 Wimbledon final, where Newk had a real chance to establish superiority over Laver.
    Hoad claimed that the whole match boiled down to one point, where Newk drew Laver into the net and had a chance to pass him with a cross-court backhand, but since Newk didn't have such a shot, he dinked a short chip shot which Laver just reached and chipped a remarkable winner back.
    In other words, Newk just lacked the wide range of shots that Laver (and Hoad earlier) possessed.
     
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  22. NLBwell

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    That's the difference between being the best of his time and perhaps the greatest of all time.
     
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  23. pc1

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    Agreed, but you have to admit that Laver and Hoad perhaps had a wider range of shots than perhaps anyone that ever played. Newcombe couldn't pass with a heavy topspin backhand but he could try to pass with a crosscourt flat backhand but it wasn't nearly as effective as Rosewall's flat backhand. It's a shame Newcombe didn't play nowadays because hitting a topspin backhand with today's polystrings and super light racquets is very easy. I think he would have every shot nowadays. Not to say that his backhand would be Murray or Djokovic level but it would be more effective due to the superior technology. I shutter to think how effective Laver's and Hoad's backhands would be today.

    Newcombe did have a few shots that were imo superior to Laver. His serve was bigger and overall more powerful. I think his forehand volley was superior to Laver and perhaps (maybe not) his forehand.

    One thing that I remember was that Vic Braden wrote that Newcombe (before McEnroe and Edberg) moved in closer for the first volley off the serve than anyone he had ever seen.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
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  24. urban

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    Newk's serve may have been bigger than Laver's, but in all matches i have seen from Laver, he did hit clearly more aces than Newcombe (or Roche or Smith or Ashe for that matter). Maybe his first serve along the line had more bite than many think. On the forehand, imo Laver was more versatile and deceptive than Newcombe, his sharp cross court forehand, which went low over the net and had a very sharp angle, could be very dangerous. Newcombe had great difficulty to read Laver's passing shots. I think the hth is 16-5 or so.
    That said, Newcombe could hit some solid low chips and dinks from the backhand side and could crowd the net with his chip and charge tactics. And on the net he was a towering figure who looked bigger than he was and could frighten his oppenents by looking, as if he was willing to jump over the net right at their faces.
     
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  25. pc1

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    Urban,

    There is no doubt in my mind that Laver was clearly a superior player to John Newcombe. Anyone who believes otherwise would be foolish. However I do believe if you mean that Laver was rarely outaced I think it is a combination of factors. One is that Laver was incredibly quick and hard to ace, much like Federer is today. I remember watching Laver in his later thirties playing Roscoe Tanner in a match and Tanner only had something like two or three aces for the match. Tanner could serve big numbers in aces against almost anyone. Second is that Laver was just an excellent server who could serve a good amount of ace.

    You may be correct that Laver's forehand was as good as Newcombe's or better. I'm not really sure to be honest. Laver's heavy topspin forehand could hit angles that Newcombe's could not even though Newcombe could hit some pretty sharp angles.
     
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  26. Gonzalito17

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    Gonzales was a beast. Did you see the doc the Tennis Channel did on him? It was an older documentary. Really an intimidating tough guy. He makes Nadal and Djokovic look like kittens in comparison.
     
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  27. Gonzalito17

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    Agree, tennis was so poetic and graceful back then in the 70s, now it's more violent and physical.
     
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  28. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Pancho Gonzales became extremely tough both mentally and physically after making a lot of sacrifices following the beating that Jack Kramer gave him on their 1950 world pro tour. Kramer won 96-27. Gonzales got a good payday for that 1950 world pro tour, but was "dead meat" as a pro tennis attraction immediately afterwards (as Bobby Riggs, the promoter, put it). Gonzales' personality changed from an easy going youngster to a hardbitten loner with few friends, and he was determined to seize his next chance and never let it go again. Gonzales made huge sacrifices to become the very best at his sport for years on end, which only made him even more moody.

    Jimmy Connors regularly sites his old coach Pancho Segura, and Pancho Gonzales, as the best tennis players.
     
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  29. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Great post.I fully agree.I don´t think there´s ever been better tennis than that played by the top players of the 70´s.Extremely rich and diverse and, of course, extremely competitive too.

    PC1, even on current grass??? conditions, neither Newk or Kodes´d play like a Djokovic-Murray match.
     
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  30. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    You are totally wrong, my friend.Roche never had newcomb´´s winning ability.In fact, Newk had to fire up his lanky doubles partner many times..

    Newcombe trashed Rosewall in big events...

    Of course, 1969 Laver beat him handily at Wimbledon.But Laver is just...Laver.
     
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  31. kiki

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    seemed to volley from the other side of the court, sometimes...
     
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  32. kiki

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    Right.Easy to say so when you are Lew Hoad...
     
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  33. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Laver,Nastase,Newcombe,Ashe,Rosewall,Roche,Kodes,Smith, late Santana and Gimeno,Okker,Orantes,Panatta,Mc Enroe,Vilas,Borg,Connors,Tanner, Gerulaitis and second stringers like Lutz,Pecci,Gottfried,Ramirez,Dibbs,Barazutti,Solomon,Richey,Gorman,Franulovic,Riessen,Pilic,Barthes,Jauffret,Dent,Fibak,Alexander,Taroczy,Cox,LLoyd,Stockton,Taylor,Metrevali,Amritraj,Higueras,Clerc,Gunthardt,Scanlon,Sadri,Gildemeister,Fillol,Meiler,Bungert,Gisbert,Tiriac,Pala..that is what make 1970´s and 80´s (Lendl,Becker,Cash,Wilander,Edberg,Kriek,Noah,Gomez,Curren,Leconte,Mecir,Jarryd, youngs Agassi,Courier,Chang and Sampras, Mayotte,Gilbert,Jaite,Mancini,Hlasek,Forget,Sanchez,Sundstrom...) the GOLDEN ERA OF TENNIS

    Same happened with rock, blues, folk and jazz music.But that is for another thread...
     
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  34. Mustard

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    Yet Newcombe was twice beaten by Rosewall in majors in 1974, a time when Newcombe was desperate to face Jimmy Connors.

    I think Newcombe is similar to Wilander in terms of mentality. Both were capable of being brilliant at their best and were usually well up for the big matches and the big events, but both definitely struggled to keep it up on a week-on-week, month-on-month basis without motivational issues.
     
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  35. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Newcombe-Kodes, one of the best rivalries of the golden era.
     
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  36. pc1

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    Of course Laver and Rosewall are superior to Newcombe. This thread was NEVER intend to make it seem like Newcombe was better. Even Newcombe would probably admit that. But I do think Newcombe is worthy of great respect and he is rarely mentioned today. When I read about great serves and forehands I never see Newcombe mentioned nowadays and he should be. He was an interesting character and a terrific player.
     
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  37. pc1

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    I would agree with that. Would have been great to see Connors against Newcombe for example in the 1974 US Open final? Anyway we did see it in the 1975 Australian Open final and it was a great match.
     
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  38. BobbyOne

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    kiki, You don't accept history. It's a pity for such a serious and expert man you are.

    Newcombe trailed Rosewall in big events (3:4).

    Most signifant are the hths of Newcombe and Roche against Laver and Rosewall: Newcombe-Laver 5:12; Newcombe-Rosewall 10:14 (Rosewall 33 to 41 years old). Roche -Laver 9:11; Roche -Rosewall 9:7.

    You cannot disprove me that Roche was stronger than Newcombe in 1968 and 1969 and about equal in 1970 before Roche got his arm troubles and did virtually not play for three full years...

    Roche lost to Laver and Rosewall in 1968 to 1970 because they were the giants of tennis then.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
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  39. BobbyOne

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    kiki, Are you the walking encyclopedia? I had thought Bud Collins was...
     
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  40. BobbyOne

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    pc1, That's okay. I just cannot stand kiki when he claims Newcombe was better in big events than Rosewall even though Muscles leads 4:3 there.
     
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  41. kiki

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    Rosewall and Laver were a level up Newcombe and Roche, I agree with you
    While Roche was extremely talented he just lacked
    Newks winning ability
     
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  42. kiki

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    I just lived and loved GOLDEN ERA TENNIS
     
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  43. pc1

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    Here's a practice session with Rosewall and Newcombe.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aUnSCp64S0
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013
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  44. BobbyOne

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    pc1, I think the clip is from 1962. It shows many backhand slices from Newcombe. One could believe John has the all-time best backhand...
     
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  45. pc1

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    I don't think so. You can tell Rosewall has a smoother and longer swing than Newcombe. Newcombe had a backhand that worked for him and it was a very good approach shot. It was good enough for him to win numerous clay court tournaments but it was several levels below Rosewall's backhand.
     
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  46. SoCal10s

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    you've got to be kidding .. Newcombe couldn't hit a backhand passing shot to save his life.. that's why he came to bet so often ..

    I loved watching Newkt play ,he did so much with what he had.. his service motion was so fluid ,the way he would try to get every inch coming into the service line after his serves .. his forehand was his bread and butter .. he would have been great in today's modern tennis .. big serve ,big forehand ,but he came to net .. his wing span must have been extraordinary to cover so much court .. he had great anticipation to be able to capitalize on the opponent;s weak shots..

    there were so many great Aussie players with different styles .. it was really fun seeing it all ..

    Stolle
    Rosewall
    Laver
    Newcombe
    Roache
    Emerson



    who else did I miss ?
     
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  47. North

    North Professional

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    Potentially better than any of them when he played his best - Lew Hoad. Could have achieved way more if he consistently played as well as he was capable of.
     
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  48. SoCal10s

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    maybe true ,but he was too busy beering in up ...
     
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  49. pc1

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    Don't you think Newk would greatly benefit from today's racquets, as least as far as his backhand was concerned? It's pretty easy to hit one handed topspin passing shots today

    Incidentally BobbyOne knows Newcombe's backhand wasn't powerful. He was just writing from the video it didn't look half bad.
     
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  50. pc1

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    You should check out Dan Lobb's posts and the Lew Hoad thread I started.
     
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