Lew Hoad-A discussion on his career

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by pc1, Sep 17, 2012.

  1. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    It appears that Hoad could be consistent when he wanted to be.
    On the two 1959 championship tours, the American world pro championship and the Ampol world championship tournament series, his combined overall record was 76 wins and 33 losses, a percentage (70%) comparable to some of the lopsided series wins of Kramer and Gonzales.
    The opposition he faced that year included a lineup of giants.
    During that same year he played indifferently on the lesser tours and tournaments not in the Ampol series (Cleveland and Wembley, in particular), but he played over 150 matches that year, more than Laver in his big years, and no player can be "up" for every match.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2012
  2. BobbyOne

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    You could be right.
     
  3. treblings

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    quite sure it did:) as a racket collector, did you get a chance to ask him, whether he still owns a few of his old rackets?
    decals are fun to collect, some of mine include Kodes, Taylor, Gonzales
     
  4. Virginia

    Virginia Hall of Fame

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    He's donated most of his racquets to the museum there, but I was able to pick up and examine the Slazenger racquet he plays with currently. We were supposed to play a tournament that day (12 of us altogether), but it rained. If it hadn't been for the rain, I would have had 15 minutes playing with Rosewall as my partner and 15 minutes with him as my opponent. I still have a copy of the draw.
     
  5. BobbyOne

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    I must contradict (and in this case I guess Dan would agree): To discuss a great player does also mean to examine the whys and wherefores of his or her achievements and strenghts and weaknesses: looking at the venues with their importance, the depth of the fields and so on.

    Even though I found the discussion with Dan sometimes unpleasant there yet was a positive point: Dan and I were able to give some useful (?) information on Hoad and Rosewall maybe not yet well-known to some posters.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2012
  6. BobbyOne

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    I also would plead for the 1959 F.H. final because Hoad won it against one of the four all-time greatest players at the latter's peak. I agree there also with Joe McCauley.
     
  7. treblings

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    as for the slazenger, do you remember the model? just wondering if he still plays with a heavier stick with moderate head size
    you must have cursed the weather that day:)
     
  8. BobbyOne

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    As Bud Collins informed me recently, Rosewall,alas, does not play tennis anymore because of a stiff neck. But I still hope that that injury or illness would improve.

    As we know tennis playing is Rosewall's greatest pleasure since he was 5 years or so old.

    Gardnar Mulloy played until recently or still does at way over 90.
     
  9. Virginia

    Virginia Hall of Fame

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    It's the Slazenger Type II NX Two - I made sure to buy one!

    Headsize: 100
    Unstrung wt: 280g
    Construction: Nanocarbon
    Stiffness-RA: 66
    String Pattern: 16x19
    Balance: 335

    A far cry from the 14oz Seamco or Slazenger Ken Rosewall he used to play with! But then, he's a lot older now...

    Oh yes, cursed the rain, but at least I was able to talk to him for a lengthy period and get to know him a little bit. He has since told me (on the telephone) that if I ever go to the Australian Open, we'll meet and have a chat there.
     
  10. treblings

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    sorry to hear that about Rosewall
    Mulloy played his last itf senior tournament in 2003 in Pörtschach, losing the final of the 85+ age group as a 90 year old. don´t know if he still plays
     
  11. Virginia

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    Oh, I didn't know he had to stop, let's hope it does improve.

    Gardner Mulloy - oh yes I remember him too - amazing to still play at 90!
     
  12. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Thank you anyway Virginia. It must have been some treat to see Hoad in his prime.

    Incidentally I respectfully disagree with you about BobbyOne's and Dan's (ahem) discussion being boring. They are throwing out some interesting information in my opinion.
     
  13. Virginia

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    Yes, the exchange of information and discussion is/was interesting, but did you really need to be so critical? Surely you can agree to disagree on some points.
     
  14. Virginia

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    Oh no, I didn't mean the discussion was boring, indeed not, as some very interesting facts have come to light, not covered elsewhere. What is boring though is the animosity and personal remarks.

    Yes, I loved watching Hoad and of course, Rosewall. As I've probably mentioned elsewhere, I had photos of my two idols on my bedroom wall! I bought those photos at Wimbledon.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2012
  15. BobbyOne

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    pc1, Thanks for your words.
     
  16. BobbyOne

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    Virginia, Thanks that you don't find the Dan/Bobby discussion itself boring.

    I regret that my sharp words and even insults toward Dan annoyed you and maybe other posters. I apologize for this and once apologized in an answer to Dan himself.

    But I also would like to defend myself a bit that you understand my position.

    Hope to be able to explain this after together 5 hours of sleeping in two nights (because of a cold, not because of Dan....).

    In my opinion I just answered sharply to Dan's "subtle" fouls. Dan never called me an idiot or so but I would have preferred he would have done it frankly instead of his sometimes unfair INSINUATIONS and very strange arguments. I just demanded fairness in a discussion-the basics of the culture of discussion (sorry for my English).

    I will try to abstain from further insults and unfriendly words toward Dan and TMF and whomever...

    Great that you were in contact with Muscles himself. I also had the privilege to meet Ken at Wimbledon (just for an autograph), in Austria twice and at Hamburg. He was very patient to me and my many questions...
     
  17. Dan Lobb

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    Bobby, sometimes when we compare players, it is necessary to be critical of a great player's game in some ways.. This does not mean that we are dumping on them, or being unkind.
     
  18. Limpinhitter

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    Seamco or Seamless? They changed the name of the brand around 72'-73'.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2012
  19. Limpinhitter

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    Gardnar Mulloy will be 99 in November.
     
  20. BobbyOne

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    Dan, here I agree.
     
  21. pc1

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    I think it's pretty clear both of them were geniuses of tennis, in different ways of course.

    Sorry that I misunderstood what you meant.
     
  22. Mustard

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    What about Pancho Segura? He's 91. He played until very old didn't he? Does he still play?
     
  23. pc1

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    I don't think so. He was in a wheelchair last year when I saw him at an event.
     
  24. krosero

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    1977 Hoad interview

    In '77 Hoad gave an interview again to Dave Anderson of the New York Times, during the USO. Excerpts below:

    Some tennis people have forgotten how good Lew Hoad was; others never knew because a spinal ailment shortened his career.

    But many remember the grandeur that was Lew Hoad two decades ago. In those years before open tennis, he won Wimbledon twice with a serve that scorched the grass, then he turned pro and challenged Pancho Gonzalez's reign as no other did. After his first look at Lew Hoad across a net, Pancho Gonzalez was asked what he thought of the rookie's game.

    "Every shot," he said, "comes out of a cannon."

    And when Pancho Gonzalez was asked years later to select his toughest opponent, he never hesitated.

    “Lew Hoad,” he said, “was probably the best and the toughest player when he wanted to be.”

    Mostly, that meant when Lew Hoad’s spinal ailment let him be. In a London tournament, he once took a set from Pancho Gonzalez, 6-0, in 13 minutes. And in 1959, when Pancho Gonzalez was as good as ever, Lew Hoad had a 13-2 lead [actually 10-5] on their tour. But then his back slowed him. It had first hurt in 1956, when he won the Australian, French and Wimbledon titles. All he needed for a grand slam was to win at Forest Hills, but he lost the final to Ken Rosewall in a swirling, chilly wind.

    “In that wind, I couldn’t toss the ball up high on my serve,” Lew Hoad was saying now in the West Side locker room. “I think I had beaten Kenny about 12 straight times until that match.”

    .... In the tennis boom now, it's often forgotten that touring pros once were treated as outlaws.

    "At one stage we were banned in Australia, and in England we had to play on cricket pitches and in ice rinks, we couldn't use the tennis stadiums. Over here, we used to drive all night from one city to another and we were lucky to get the result in the paper. Somebody has a sore toe now and it's all over the front page, but we played with sprained ankles, with a pulled shoulder, we had to because if we didn't play, there was no match. What a life it was in those days, but I'd probably do it all over again. The great thing that came out of it is what's happened to tennis now."

    Lew Hoad was a teen-age prodigy with Ken Rosewall when Harry Hopman ruled the Australian Davis Cup team.

    "It's great that Kenny's still playing so well," Lew Hoad said. "I think he just loves to play bloody tennis. I used to think that it was an ego thing for him, that he wanted to prove he could still handle the up-and-coming guys, but now I think he just enjoys the competitive part of it. Even if my back never bothered me, I never would've played as long as Kenny has. I'm not built that way....

    "How would you have done," somebody asked Lew Hoad, "against Jimmy Connors and Bjorn Borg and Guillermo Vilas."

    "I think I would've handled them," Lew Hoad said seriously.​

    Another note on the stats in the interview: Hoad says that he beat Rosewall 12 straight times before the 1956 final at Forest Hills, but I don't see how that is possible, unless he's including practice matches. Andrew Tas has only 4 straight, with Ken beating Lew at Queens Club in '55 and then losing to him twice in Sydney and in the finals of the Australian Championships and Wimbledon in '56.

    I like Hoad's candor about the fact that the players were often injured on the pro tours. Nowadays we know about some specific injuries (like Vines in '39), but these are only the ones that have been reported. The truth seems to be that everyone was hurting from something at some point or another: because as Lew says, they had to play, injured or not; they could not withdraw to rest.

    In that light, I think it may be possible that some injuries were never known about or have since been forgotten. Some injuries have been mentioned in memoirs or high-profile interviews and are therefore still remembered today; but there could be others that we'll never know about.

    Today I think it's less likely for such things to escape notice: there is a wealth of information, and everything in the sport is covered by the media. As Hoad says, one stubbed toe today will make the front page. Back then, especially on the pro tours, it was a different story.

    For me this just means that any single injury we know about needs to be taken in context. We may know that one player was injured here or there; but it's not as if his opponents can be assumed to be healthy. That must be a far safer assumption today than it was in those years, under those circumstances, when the players had much less choice about whether to go out on court and play.
     
  25. Virginia

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    I had the Seamco with me at the time, but I also have a Seamless.
     
  26. Virginia

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    krosero, thanks so much for your post - great stuff!
     
  27. krosero

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    Well as they say in Australia:
    ¡de nada!
     
  28. krosero

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    Yes McCauley calls that '59 match Hoad's zenith. Unfortunately I can't find any stats on it, only this AP report:

    Lew Hoad today crushed a strength-sapped Pancho Gonzales, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 in the singles final of Jack Kramer’s $15,000 pro tennis tournament of champions.

    Hoad, the blond Australian slugger, took a 21-20 lead over the pro champion in their 1959 matches.

    Gonzales, weakened by an attack of heat prostration during his semi-final victory yesterday over American Tony Trabert, double faulted three consecutive times in the final game.

    Gonzales, who had won the two previous tournaments at Los Angeles and Toronto, couldn’t cope with Hoad’s precision power except for a brief rally in the second set.​
     
  29. Dan Lobb

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    As I recall, Hoad led the 1959 tour 13-5, but lost 8 out of the last 10 matches to Gonzales.
    Hoad claimed in a 1984 interview that his back began to bother him when he had the big lead, and he had to pace himself to complete the long season, in which he eventually played over 150 matches.
    Regarding Connors, Borg, and Vilas, Hoad could have said "I would have MANhandled them." and been more accurate.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2012
  30. Dan Lobb

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    In a TIME magazine interview just before the Forest Hills final against Hoad, Gonzales stated "I feel fit, very fit. Until Hoad beats me, I'm not worried."
    I do not think that weariness affected Gonzales in the first set, when Danzig reported in the New York Times that Hoad's return of serve dominated Gonzales' best serves. Perhaps in the final set, where Gonzales was reported to be obviously tiring.
     
  31. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I wonder if Hoad said it as just an example that he beat Rosewall a number of times in a row. Hoad doesn't seem like the type to keep exact count on everything. For example a person may have beaten another person many times in a row so he may say I'd beaten him 100 times in a row as sort of number to show that it is a lot of time that he beat the person consecutively
     
  32. kiki

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    Agreed and it is great to have on boards somebody fortunate enough to have seen prime Hoad play.I did not and certainly is my greatest regret as a tennis fan
     
  33. kiki

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    You are a genious of philosophy
    When did your passion for Hoad begin?
     
  34. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Bobbyone will agree that the swewtest way to die is watching a prime Rosewall hit a backhand shot while holding a 20 yrs old Chivas cup and liatenung Beethoven Ninth Symphony played by BSO
     
  35. BobbyOne

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    kiki, I would prefer Beethoven's Ninth Symphony played by the Vienna Philharmonc orchestra...
     
  36. kiki

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    Von Karajan was the Rosewall of music
     
  37. BobbyOne

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    Oh I'm glad to hear this because Karajan was acknowledged the No.1 maestro....

    By the way, my admiration for Rosewall began when I watched my first ever tennis match: the 1970 Wimbledon final R. vs. Newcombe. I just wondered that a 35 years old can play a championship's final. Then I could not imagine (as probably only few were able to imagine) that Rosewall would reach the final stage also four years later...

    Before that I was an Emerson admirer because in Austria only the amateur scene was covered by the newspapers and I did not know about Laver, Rosewall and Gonzalez at all.
     
  38. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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  39. BobbyOne

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    pc1, I'm pleased to hear this because Bach is commonlyrated as one of the three all-time greatest classical composers (the other being Mozart and Beethoven).

    I would rather go for Franz Schubert whom I rank a bit ahead of the three and who is still underrated by public just as Rosewall is....

    By the way, it's curious that three of the big four composers lived in Vienna and about at the same time!
     
  40. krosero

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    yes Hoad extended his lead from 10-5 to 13-5, and lost 8 of the last 10.
     
  41. krosero

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    Hoad was capable of manhandling anyone on his best days. That includes even Pancho Gonzalez (I had a problem finding the Times report on the '59 Forest Hills final, but you mentioned it was Danzig, so I found it under his name; I'll post from it in another post).

    I think Connors, out of the 3 mentioned, might have the best chance of beating Hoad -- particularly on hard courts which were his best surface. I say Connors because he loved pace. Of course if Hoad can blast the ball enough times past Connors, he'll win; but the match would be pure fireworks imo.

    Connors' return and passing game were roughly comparable to Rosewall's -- and though Rosewall was surprisingly good at handling pace, I'd still give the nod to Connors for ability to reach, and blast back, unreachable serves.

    Connors' service game, too, was roughly comparable to Rosewall's.

    Needless to say Rosewall had the winning H2H over Hoad -- but could be decisively beaten by Hoad on Lew's best days, as could practically anyone in tennis history.

    In other words I don't think a Hoad/Connors rivalry would have looked dramatically different from the Hoad/Rosewall rivalry.

    And for a sheer slugfest you probably couldn't do better than Hoad/Connors.
     
  42. BobbyOne

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    Connors was a bit inconsistent on his forehand return. Generally spoken I would put Rosewall's return on the same level with Connors' one.
     
  43. krosero

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    1959 forest hills final

    Here's Allison Danzig's report in the NY Times.

    With an opening assault of electrifying violence, the blond 24-year-old Australian swept through the last three games of the first set at love and went on to defeat Gonzales in the final of the Tournament of Champions, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1.

    A gathering of 5,000 looked on spellbound at the ferocity of the attack that overwhelmed Gonzales in the sixteen-minute opening set. Returning service with blazing winners, and ripping into the ball with his scorching volley behind his high-powered service, Hoad had the champion at his mercy.

    The Australian never played quite as well thereafter and yielded the second set as Gonzales improved vastly in his serving and return of service. But Hoad’s superiority was re-established beyond question in the last two sets against his tiring 31-year-old opponent.

    The ability of the powerful youth from Down Under to deal drastically with the rangy Californian’s service, the chief instrument of Gonzales’ supremacy for the past five years, left the champion with a sense of futility of his fight. His ground strokes weakened and he could neither return service nor repulse Hoad on his attempted passing shots.

    The outcome was seen to be inevitable as Gonzales lost the first foru games of the third set, in which the players donned spiked. In the final set he won the opening game and then yielded the next six, double-faulting three successive times after leading 40-love in the last game.

    Victor over Gonzales in fifteen of their twenty-eight matches on tour, Hoad ended the champion’s supremacy at Forest Hills, where the Californian had won the tournaments of 1957 and 1958, both round-robin affairs.

    No title was at stake in the Tournament of Champions, and, since Gonzales had won the tournaments at Los Angeles and Toronto this month, neither he nor Hoad now has any clear-cut claim to pre-eminence.

    Promoter Jack Kramer said yesterday that he planned in 1960 to arrange with the Professional Lawn Tennis Association to conduct the tournament at Forest Hills as an officially recognized national championship.
    Hoad received $3,000 in prize money with his victory yesterday and Gonzales $2,000 as runner-up.​
    What stands out for me is that Hoad never again reached the level of play that he attained in the first set. At some point Hoad had to come down to earth, and that's perfectly normal.

    Danzig writes that Gonzalez improved after the first set. I think he might have been able to take advantage of a normal downturn in Hoad's play, if he had been in physical condition to do so. But even if he'd been in perfect condition it would not necessarily have made a difference in the result, obviously, since this was one of Hoad's best days.
     
  44. krosero

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    I think Connors' forehand was more inconsistent in rallies, particularly soft rallies, than it was on the return, though I agree his BH return was better and more consistent.

    Yes in general terms Connors and Rosewall's returns must be on the same level.

    What I think about, though, are all the powerful serves that I saw Connors blast back with interest even in his 30s. I remember him facing monster serves from Bobo Zivojinovic, serves that looked like no one could get them back -- and he'd not only reach them but send them back for winners.

    To repeat, Rosewall's ability to deal with power is too often underestimated, and I don't want to do that; but I can't imagine anyone better at dealing with powerful serves than Connors.

    This is where I would want some footage of Rosewall/Hoad matches, to be able to compare more specifically. We know Rosewall could handle Hoad's serve phenomenally well; but you'd still love to have the footage showing exactly how he did it.
     
  45. BobbyOne

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    krosero, thanks for giving the report.

    I wonder that Gonzales tired in that rather short match considering that he won tough five-setters in 1964 (beating Rosewall after 73 games), 1970 (defeating Laver) and as late as 1972 (beating Goven).
     
  46. treblings

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    i find it remarkable that Gonzales would double-fault three consecutive times from 40-0. goes so much against the image he holds as being nearly impossible to break.
     
  47. Limpinhitter

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    I can tell you how he did it. He stood in close and blocked the ball back using his opponent's power against him with immaculate timing and technique. That's one reason Rosewall wasn't as effective against Connors' serve as he was against others like Ashe, Newcombe and Smith. Connors' didn't have that much power for Rosewall to work with, and it had a big lefty curve on it.
     
  48. Dan Lobb

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    "Passion" is perhaps the wrong word.
    I became convinced that Hoad was number one when I investigated the records of the greats and compared peak performances, sometime in the 1970's.
    You don't have to be a genius to look at the numbers.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
  49. Dan Lobb

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    Interesting comparison between Rosewall and Connors, two players who relied on return of serve and groundstrokes, and accuracy of serve.
     
  50. Dan Lobb

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    I read this article excerpted in the early 1970's, and not since, but I can recall every word.
    Thanks for finding it.
     

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