Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by pc1, Sep 17, 2012.
How to hit a volley.....
It appears that there is an annual senior's tournament named after Hoad,
There are...the doubles final is available on British Pathe, and a brief clip of the Laver/Rosewall final was on youtube for a while...it is now pulled.
Apparently, the Queen enjoyed Hoad's performance in the final...she offered him a Knighthood if he would remain an amateur....of course, he accepted $125,00 of Kramer's gold, and turned pro instead.
An intelligent decision. I wonder how much knighthood pays. Lol.
If Hoad had remained amateur,....how many Wimbledon's would he have won? Perhaps...every year from 1956 to 1963, and the amateurs were making more money than the pros by the mid-1960's, which Hoad could have benefitted from.
Yes, Hoad would have probably won far more classic majors but I doubt if he would have reached the high level of play that he attained in real life because he played competition like the great Pancho Gonzalez. I think overall you would have preferred what actually happened.
Yes, I think that winning the pro tournament bonus pools in 1958 and 1959 represented a much greater achievement for Hoad than anything in amateur tennis, or, indeed, in the later open years with lesser fields.
Here is an objective assessment of Hoad's stature.
The most objective assessment,
Here are some great dream matches, including a Hoad/McEnroe dream encounter.
Also, Trabert's analysis of how to play against Djokovic..I think that Tony could have done it.
As good as Djokovic's groundstrokes are, I would pick Trabert on clay, with greater power and serving than Djokovic.
That would be an interesting match. To beat Djokovic you have to really force him and perhaps Trabert could. Trabert was also a superior volleyer to Novak.
I found it silly to compare Bill Tilden to Agassi. Frankly they are in totally differently classes as players. Bud Collins is right in picking Tilden but it probably would be fun to watch.
I would also pick Borg over Djokovic on red clay.
I'm not sure about Rosewall on clay. Novak's overall power and consistency is incredible. I'm not sure if Rosewall had the overall power off the ground even if he used today's racquets to beat Djokovic on red clay. Could Rosewall have gone to the net enough and be effective?
Perhaps the greatest dream match already happened Dan! Hoad versus Gonzalez!
Any opinions on a Rosewall versus Djokovic match on red clay Dan? Let's say it was Rosewall in 1962 versus the Djokovic of 2015. Both at age 28.
You are right, the ultimate dream match would be Hoad/Gonzales, and the greatest match they played by their own reckoning was the second Kooyong match in 1958, Hoad winning 4-6, 9-7, 11-9, 18-16.
Yes, I like Djokovic's chances against Rosewall on any surface. Djokovic, like Rosewall, can return most shots, and with greater power than Rosewall. But I like Trabert against Djokovic on any surface, as you say, partly because of Trabert's volleying superiority.
The Djokovic versus Rosewall hypothetical is the perfect example of level of play versus accomplishment. If someone asked me who was the better player at their peak I may very well say Djokovic, although it's debatable. I don't see Rosewall, even with today's racquets handling the practically perfect groundies of Djokovic. Rosewall doesn't have that good a serve so the serve and volley would be a big problem so Rosewall would have to stay back. It would be a catch 22 situation for Rosewall imo. Yes Rosewall has accomplished more than Djokovic but a lot of that was because of his great consistency over the years instead of a great high peak that some like Gonzalez had. Gonzalez to me tops Rosewall in peak and longevity. I think it's quite possible for peak level that Djokovic has surpassed many including Rosewall. I think he has surpassed Sampras, Agassi, Edberg, Becker for peak level also.
Some may be surprised that I already believe Djokovic has surpassed Sampras for peak level but I believe the stats already support it. Both won 9 majors in their best five years but Djokovic was in more majors finals also. Sampras won 35 tournaments in his best five consecutive years out of I believe 85 played. Djokovic from 2011 to now has won 37 tournaments out of 75 played. Sampras won 82.9% of his matches in his best five years while Djokovic up to 9/22/2015 has won 89.6% of his matches in the last five years. Djokovic has also won 19 Masters 1000 tournaments in these last five years while Sampras won 8 Masters 1000 tournaments in his best five years. Sampras won three Year End Championships in his best five years while Djokovic so far has won three Year End Championships with a possibility of a fourth. Considering all the Masters Tournaments that Djokovic has already won and the fact that Sampras only won 64 tournaments in his career while Djokovic has already won 55 you can argue that Djokovic could surpass Sampras for career very soon.
From a subjective viewpoint I would favor Djokovic over Sampras on the current Australian Open surface. I would favor Djokovic BIG over Sampras at the French Open. I would favor Sampras over Djokovic at Wimbledon on the current surace and I would favor Sampras over Djokovic by a bit at the US Open surface. Overall I think Djokovic wins most of the matches.
Now of course Rosewall was a super player but his lack of huge power (note that I write huge power, Rosewall did have power but not the great power of a Hoad, Gonzalez, Kramer, Borg or Laver) would be a problem against some players like for example Jimmy Connors. Admittedly Rosewall was old when he faced Connors but he did lose less than many players because of his style of play.
Laver versus Djokovic would be different because of the Rocket's power, spin and excellent serve. That to me would be more interesting. I probably would favor Laver but I respect Djokovic's game tremendously.
On Hoad's abilities .... Gonzales said of Hoad (and he should know) that he was the only player he had ever played who could beat him when he was playing his best. The other top pros agreed that when Hoad was motivated and "on", he was unbeatable. Since Gonzales played Kramer, Segura, Sedgeman, Trabert, Rosewall, Mal Anderson and Laver at their primes that puts Hoad above all of them "at his motivated best". Budge and Riggs were past their primes against Gonzales, although a 42 year old Budge beat Gonzales in 1957, when Gonzales had pissed him off and Budge was hot under the collar (and very focused by his anger?).
Unfortunately, unlike Gonzales and later Rosewall, he wasn't always a motivated competitor. Comparing Laver to Rosewall, Stolle said Rose wall is always tough, meaning the when Laver was off he was more beatable than Rosewall. Hoad's loses to Cooper have already been mentioned. Gonzales never lost to Cooper. Ironically, despite Ashley Cooper's excellent amateur record, Mal Anderson turned out to be the better pro player.
Part of Hoad's apparent lack of motivation may have been related, at least in part, to serious back problems. Despite being unbeatable at his best, he never became the world's Number One. It was Rosewall who succeeded Gonzales as Number One, not Hoad.
Not sure about Rosewall on clay?
You've got to be kidding! He was exceptional on clay. It was his best surface ..... How many French Pro titles was it he won .... NINE? Plus the French in '53 (amateur) and '68 (open) plus he beat Laver at the first tournament of the open era, the '68 British Hard Courts?
So .... 11 Clay Majors plus the first open. How many more do you need? .... and I haven't even checked how he did at Bastaad, Gstaad, Hilversuum and Hamburg.
I meant I'm not sure in actual play how Rosewall would match up against Djokovic. Giving the amount of clay majors is fine but you have to put it in context. Gonzalez won two classic grass majors. Rosewall won more classic grass majors. I still would bet on Gonzalez in a grass major final if both were at their peaks. Heck I would bet on Gonzalez if Gonzalez was slightly past his peak like in 1960 on grass. Incidentally Rosewall won I believe six clay majors, not eleven. Some of the French Pros he won were on wood.
Djokovic regularly in the last few years pushes Nadal on clay. He has beaten Nadal a number of times and won a number of top clay tournaments even with Nadal in the field. Can Rosewall match that level of play? I'm discussing level of play not just tournaments won on clay.
It's a question of styles. Does Rosewall have the clay game to push Djokovic who is one of the greatest power baseliners I've seen? Does he have the power to push him? I think Laver has the power but does Muscles? Rosewall doesn't have a big serve so he's very vulnerable to being broken on clay while Djokovic has an excellent serve.
Bear in mind I don't think Djokovic will win 100% of the matches but I've seen Rosewall play a ton of times. Can Rosewall stay with Djokovic at the baseline? Can he get to the net enough to hurt Djokovic? I don't know if Rosewall has the power to hurt Djokovic and I think he would need power to hurt him. Bear in mind this is all opinion but nevertheless I believe Djokovic would be a big problem for Rosewall on any surface. That's reasonable I believe to say Djokovic would be a problem.
We have to keep in mind the level of play among the top players of the two eras.
For 1956-60, Gonzales, Hoad, Rosewall, Sedgman, Trabert, Segura, Cooper, Anderson, Olmedo
For today, Djokovic, Federer, Nadal, Murray Wawrinka
The earlier period is much stronger among the top group.
Yes the late 1950s had a very strong and deep group of talent.
Interesting evaluations...although Hoad and Anderson were probably more gifted players than Gonzales and Cooper respectively, both Gonzales and Cooper won hth series against them, in Hoad's case due to back injury.
As strong as Rosewall was on clay, he played in an era of great clay players, and others such as Trabert, Hoad, Davidson, Laver, and even Newcombe could beat him at Roland Garros.
Remember a significant number of Rosewall French pro's were on indoor wood. He basically has 4 clay French pro's and 1 amateur French championships and one French open. Even so, I would rate him only behind Nadal and Borg in clay achievement.
Yes Newcombe beat Rosewall in perhaps the strongest French Pro of them all in 1968 at Roland Garros in five sets 6-4 6-1 5-7 1-6 6-4. Incidentally I don't see how the French Pro in 1968 shouldn't still be considered a Pro Major. Why the arbitrary distinction because Open Tennis started? The French Pro in 1967 had a few weaker field and yet someone decided not to rate it a big tournament. The 1967 French Pro had Gimeno, Laver, Rosewall, Ralston, Stolle, Buchholz, MacKay among others. The 1968 French Pro had Laver, Newcombe, Rosewall, Stolle, Gimeno, Roche, Ralston, Drysdale, Gonzalez, Emerson, Taylor, Buchholz, Davies, Pilic. Laver won both tournaments but clearly the 1968 French Pro was bigger and stronger. In some years you can have more tournaments of greater importance than other years. It seems to me Laver's victory in 1968 is more impressive than his win in 1967 but someone decided to use 1967 as the dividing line and not 1968. Yes I do understand the logic but I think when we look at accomplishments we look at the strength of the tournament that the player won. The 1973 Wimbledon is a major won by Kodes in a weakened field. The 1973 US Open was won by Newcombe in a more stronger field. I think Newcombe's win at the US Open is a more impressive achievement.
Certainly McCauley included the Pro Majors in 1968.
Certainly, the pro majors of 1968 appear to be majors...which means that we have about 6 majors for pro players in 1968, the French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open, plus Wembley, Roland Garros Pro, U.S. Pro. Laver actually won three majors that year, Rosewall won two.
I would tend to agree with you.
This also raises the issue of how do we assess pro majors from other years when there was a limited or non-existent pro tour, or, indeed, when tournament play was absorbed into a pro tour.
Does Wembley have less significance in 1950 or 1951, when some of the best players opted out? Obviously, Wembley has no relevance for 1954 or 1955, when it was not held.
Should other tournaments with strong fields be substituted for the standard "pro majors" in some years?
Hard to say Dan. They still were Pro Majors but the field may be weaker. Isn't the 1973 Wimbledon still a major even with the boycott? Kodes did win it.
I do think a lot of these so call experts tend to overrate the majors because some tournaments may in some years be more powerful and most prestigious than majors. Perhaps tournaments like the 1967 Wimbledon Pro would be bigger than any of the Pro Majors or the 1971 Tennis Champions Classic or the 1959 Tournament of Champions I believe won by Hoad.
To answer your question Dan, I do think the entire year has to be looked at and if some tournaments are super strong like the Masters Round Robin why shouldn't it be looked at with greater reverence that some majors. For example Segura won the 1958 Masters Round Robin with a 6-0 record defeating Gonzalez, Hartwig, Hoad, Trabert, Sedgman and Rosewall. Dare I write that it's an awesome feat! The field was incredible.
Good points, PC1. I agree with all of them.
1973 Wimbledon and 1973 French Open were officially majors, like some of the weaker Australian championships, but in reality carried less prestige than the WCT final, and the top event that year was the U.S. Open by far. Also, Davis Cup was very strong that year. On that basis, I would give Newcombe the top spot for 1973. with Smith number two. I think that Nastase's year was overrated, similar to Kodes, although both had good years.
The 1950 Wembley was very weak, with only van Horn opposed to Gonzales, the outcome almost predetermined. Surely, Gonzales' win at Philadelphia over Kramer was a much more impressive showing.
The Kramer Tournaments of Champions series (1956 L.A., 1957/58/59 Forest Hills, 1959 Sydney) seemed to be Kramer's attempt to construct a super-tournament for the pro season, surpassing all other events. Obviously, the 1959 Tournament of Champions at Forest Hills had the strongest field and prestige of these events, similar to the 1967 Wimbledon Pro and 1970/71 TCC, although the latter was almost like an extended event or mini-tour.
Some majors have always been weakened occasionally by the absence of top players, such as the 1938 majors which Budge won, absent von Cramm, Vines, Perry due to special reasons.
The reasonable thing to do is to look at each year individually and assess the major events on their merits.
Here is an example of how difficult it was to decide a clear champion in 1958 or 1959.
Note that Gonzales' serve is rated at 112 mph., using the measuring equipment of the day. Hoad's serve was similarly measured at 110 mph, and these are cannonballs.
Vic Braden wrote in his book Tennis 2000 that he felt Gonzalez's serve would be regularly in the 140 mph range and that was in the late 1990s when the book was published. You can assume Hoad wouldn't be far behind.
Thing about Gonzalez was not only the speed but he had great placement of his serve.
I would assume that Braden is thinking about current measuring methods.
I forgot to mention that Braden wrote using the technology of that time which was the late 1990s to 2000.
You can't really compare apples and oranges. If you limit modern players to the BIG FOUR, you can't allow more than 4 majors in 1968 if you want to make a fair comparison. As the 1968 Australian was amateur, the 4th most prestigious would have been the Pacific Southwest. It had an even better field than the French Open, which the "Handsome Eight" were prevented from playing.
There were many reports in the 1950's of Gonzales' serve at 112 mph, which used the measurement of the serve at the END of its' trajectory, while today we measure the speed at the instant of leaving the tennis racquet. This would account for the much faster speeds recorded recently.
George, there were many years during the amateur/pro split where each year had a variable number of important pro tournaments, and sometimes they changed locations from one year to the next. There was no Wembley event in 1954 or1955, and Wembley in 1950 had only one notable player in the field, Gonzales, who won the event. Was this a major? I would say not, but I would grant major status to the Philadelphia tournament of that same year, where Gonzales defeated a strong Kramer in the final.
Each event must be judged on its own merits.
From "Tennis 2000" by Vic Braden---"What always impressed me about Pancho Gonzalez's serve was not his speed, but the fact that fundamentally he had a flawless stroke and normally it with 60 to 70 percent accuracy on his first serve. He didn't have one hitch or one wasted motion; he never made any muscles work against him. He hit the ball harder than anyone, yet his motion was so fluid that he never had upper arm and shoulder problems. At 18-all in the third set, back in the days before the tie-breaker, he would still be hitting rhythmically and throwing in bombs.
Even in the 1960s, when he was winning matches at Wimbledon at the age of forty-one, Gonzalez was still the greatest server in the game because he generated his power with rhythm and the proper use of each body link, rather than brute strength. At the old Madison Square Garden, wrestling mats were hooked up in the corridors downstairs and you could find Pancho warming up there before a match, working on his serving motion. He would throw the ball up and just swing nice and easy, trying to make sure there were no hitches in his swing. Sometimes he wouldn't even use a ball; he would almost close his eyes and go through the serving motion, trying to sense the rhythm of his swing rather than the isolated movements of his body.
Out on the court, whatever he did while serving or preparing to serve was calculated to keep himself relaxed. He never bounced the ball hard on the court. He never game his motion excess gyrations. When he walked to the line he would try to shrug his shoulders an shake his arms loose. He looked so calm you would think, "Why doesn't he get excited?" The first time one of my students, Jeff Austin, faced Gorgo's serve, his motion was so easy that Jeff thought Gorgo was going to take it easy on him 'cause he was just a kid. But when Gorgo uncorked the ball right down the middle, Jeff wasn't ready and it scared the heck out of him. I have no doubt Gonzalez would have served in the 140 m.p.h. zone with today's rackets. But a bigger issue is that he would have done it with very little force on his shoulder and elbow. In contrast, power servers like Greg Rusedski (143 m.p.h. in the 1997 U.S. Open) and Pete Sampras hit with a style that places their shoulder and elbow in great jeopardy."
Fascinating stuff, pc1.
Thanks Dan. I think it's very possible imo that Gonzalez had the greatest weapon in the history of tennis with his serve. Hoad's probably not that far behind. I think Kramer is very comparable also and maybe a couple of others.
I think in recent years some would argue Sampras, Ivanisevic and Roddick among the top players.
Here is an appearance by a famous guest in the early moments of "What's My Line".
The interview here with Hoad gives some idea of the great public anticipation of his pending series with Gonzales.
Interesting how they ask Hoad about his debut as a pro at Forest Hills that same day against Sedgman.
The status of the Forest Hills event was huge in the late fifties.
Here, for example, the 1958 Forest Hills Tournament of Champions event is referred to as the World Professional Tennis Championship, and it seems to have acquired that unofficial status.
Hoad seemed to generate a sense of awe with those sports fans he encountered in person.
Here is a recent article citing John Newcombe's pick of Hoad as the GOAT.
Great article Dan but I have to correct you. It was Roy Emerson who picked Hoad as the GOAT. Emerson was at Newcombe's tennis camp. Nevertheless so many have picked Hoad as the GOAT.
I double-checked...right you are. Emmo it was.
Speaking of Emmo, here is an event earlier this year featuring four famous Aussie players, all of whom were dominated by Hoad.
Quiz: can you identify each one?
Very nice video Dan.
Hoad's last great singles win was probably the Wimbledon Professional quarter-final in 1967 against Gonzales.
Here are the available clips of that great event, which featured Laver's possibly greatest ever performance in the singles final against Rosewall.
and the doubles, with Gonzales, this would be Gonzales' only Wimbledon title, doubles championship.
The complete matches are certainly still available with the BBC, which has not seen fit to release them in DVD form, much to our disadvantage.
The 1964 BBC "Hamlet" with Christopher Plummer and Michael Caine, a genuine classic, was recently released on DVD as a result of persistent public pressure brought to bear on the BBC through letter writing and requests.
Perhaps something similar could result in the release of the 1967 Wimbledon Pro matches.
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