Longevity at Number 1

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by timnz, Jan 31, 2013.

  1. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    4,443
    I thought it would be interesting to compare top players time range from when they first became number 1 to when they were last number 1. This statistic would be indicative to their longevity at playing at the very top level. What I am giving here is the maximum possible ranges, so to avoid controversy I am choosing as their start and end times when a reasonable number of commentators said that they were number 1 - even if it wasn't universal. Also I need to make it clear that when I say 9 years for Connors say, it doesn't mean he was number 1 for 9 years continuously - just 9 years between when he was first number 1 to last number 1. So the point of this thread isn't to argue about if they were or weren't - it is the maximum possible range of time that someone was first number 1 to last being number 1). I haven't always followed the ATP rankings. But pre-open era I have used

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World-number-one_male_tennis-player_rankings

    This is not perfect I know - but it is indicative.

    ATP rankings are:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ATP_number_1_ranked_singles_players

    Tilden - 11 yrs (1920 to 1931)
    Rosewall - 11 or 10 yrs (late 1960 to perhaps 1970 or 1971)
    Pancho Gonzales - 9 yrs (1952 to 1961)
    Connors - 9 yrs (July 1974 to July 1983)
    Agassi - 8.5 yrs (Early 1995 to Late 2003)
    * Federer - 8.5 yrs (Early 2004 to Late 2012)
    Sampras - 7.5 years (early 1993 to late 2000)
    Lendl - 7.5 yrs (Early 1983 to late 1990)
    Laver - 7 years (mid 1964 to mid 1971)
    Perry - 7 yrs (1934 to 1941)
    Kramer - 6 or 5 years (1947/1948 to 1953)
    Borg - 5 or 4 yrs (depending on who you talk to - ended Mid 1981)
    Budge - 5 or 4 yrs (depending on who you talk to - 1938??? - 1942/1943???)
    Vines - 5 yrs (1932 to 1937)
    McEnroe - 4 yrs (Mid 1981 to Mid 1985)
    * Nadal - 3 yrs (mid 2008 to mid 2011)

    Note: * players still playing (hence may add to time yet).
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2013
    #1
  2. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2012
    Messages:
    7,773
    timnz, Fine list. Your first three concur with my top three regarding longevity.
     
    #2
  3. ARFED

    ARFED Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2012
    Messages:
    602
    I believe that Agassi first became number 1 in January 1995 (after his AO win), and for the las time in late 2003, so that is an 8.5 years span. Pretty impressive
     
    #3
  4. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,332
    Always thought if Agassi had dedicated himself more he may have prevented Sampras from getting six straight years of number one. Agassi probably would have been number one in some of the weaker Sampras years.
     
    #4
  5. robow7

    robow7 Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    Messages:
    966
    Fine list, and it's obviously a misconception of mine, but I always thought of Laver as dominating even longer. Just surprised with that one.
     
    #5
  6. ARFED

    ARFED Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2012
    Messages:
    602
    IMO the key moment was the Us Open final in 1995. I can`t prove it, but if Andre had defeated Pete, the landscape of the second part of the 90`s would had been much different
     
    #6
  7. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    4,443
    Agassi

    Thanks for reminding me about Agassi. He actually first was number 1 on April 10, 1995 - and last on Sept 7, 2003 - so 8 years 5 months - close enough.

    Thanks again :)
     
    #7
  8. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,332
    We will never know but I think you're right. If you look at that year it really was Agassi's best year overall even though he won only one major. He was crushing people and was favored I believe in the final. We can all talk about strokes weaknesses and that but I thought Andre's major weakness in those days was his mind. By that I mean that he could get down on himself despite having such great talent. That loss probably shattered him.

    In retrospect how often do you have major final when you have two all time great players that you know now were were at their absolute peaks. Yes I know we can argue about Federer and Nadal but I am not sure their peaks were at the same time.
     
    #8
  9. ARFED

    ARFED Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2012
    Messages:
    602
    Really interesting question pc1. Becker-Edberg in 1989 would be a reasonable choice as well. Perhaps Gonzalez and Hoad around 58-59 (Dan Lobb should know abouth this one). In recent times Nadal-Djokovic in 2011 would be close too (imo Nadal`s level was a bit superior in 2008).
     
    #9
  10. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2005
    Messages:
    4,352
    Methodical problem is, that before 1973 we have no year long Nr 1 rankings but only (subjective) year end rankings, and we have the amatuer-pro split before 1968.
     
    #10
  11. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Messages:
    510
    Big admirer of Rosewall, he had great longevity not just as a top player, but a decade-long span where he could be considered as a number 1. Nearly the same for Connors. Maybe Federer has a chance to increase his run. Tilden must have been some player in his day. Pancho Gonzales looks to have been the real number 1 (counting all players in his prime, pro and amateur) for a long run.
     
    #11
  12. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    1,960
    A reasonable list, although the length of years ranked as number one does not always coincide with a player's peak years.
    For example, Rosewall probably reached his peak about 1957, but did not achieve a number one ranking until 1960 (?) (Gonzales dominated him in 1960) or 1961.
    Would it not make more sense to look at the date when a player won his/her first major title and last major title? This would assume that by winning a major event, they had demonstrated reaching a certain peak level.
    Some years have more severe competition than others, and a player can wait to be recognized as number one.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2013
    #12
  13. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    1,960
    Hoad and Gonzales believed that they both peaked at the same time, 1958-9, mainly because they had to raise their respective games to play against each other.
    There was no one single match which determined their rivalry, although Gonzales believed that the second 1958 Kooyong tour match shifted the balance, and the score was a marathon 4-6, 9-7, 11-9, 18-16, eighty games. (The greatest match ever?)
    Gonzales had won the first Kooyong match to lead 5 to 4 in the series, but after this match, Hoad took control, winning 14 of the next 17 matches.
    Gonzales reasserted control when Hoad's back gave out at Palm Springs.
    The Forest Hills final in 1959 was widely regarded as giving Hoad the edge, but Gonzales won the Sydney final later that year over Hoad in straight sets (this tournament was also billed the Tournament of Champions).
     
    #13

Share This Page