Most talented player of all time

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by pc1, Apr 9, 2009.

  1. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Here's are some players that have had some support over history for most talented player that I've read in books and articles.
    Tilden
    Hoad
    Vines
    Nastase
    Laver
    McEnroe
    Pancho Gonzalez
    Federer
    Borg
    Cochet
    Sampras
     
  2. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    You have to include Budge in that list.
     
  3. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I haven't seen articles saying he was the most talented. Vines played around the same time as Budge and people who saw both said Vines was the most talented.

    Kramer, who said Budge was the best player he had ever seen also said he thought Vines, along with Hoad and Laver were more talented than Budge. Kramer wrote all these guys (meaning Laver, Hoad and Vines) would have to do when they were "on" was think of a shot and they would make it or at least some words to that effect.

    I'm sure some have wrote Budge was the most talented but I haven't read it.
     
  4. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Is that a BB sentence? great¡¡¡
     
  5. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Mandlikova´s Fh was better than Martina´s.Sharapova should be in the top 5.
     
  6. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I've seen Leconte get "hot" or be "on" and hit some amazing devil-may-care shots for an entire match. But then the next day he plays like garbage.

    The greats are those that play like that for an entire tournament, . . . or even an entire year. (Somehow they achieve a level, at which that becomes their standard level of play.)
     
  7. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I agree totally.

    Leconte was one of my favorites but he disappointed me because of his lack of consistency. So much wasted talent.
     
  8. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Then I'll write about it. You just can't play the game Budge played without supreme talent. Budge's game was THE BOOK on proper form, technique and stroke production in virtually every aspect of the game. His technique was largely his invention, especially on backhand. He was the first to have a backhand that was a major weapon. And his forehand was better than his backhand. He hit the ball almost as hard as Laver, with nearly the pinpoint accuracy of Rosewall with more consistent depth than either of them. He could hit underspin on both sides just as easily as topspin with the same power, control and depth. Only Connors had the power, accuracy and consistent depth that Budge hit with. His smash and leaping ability were outstanding. His serve was the best in the game, and he hit mostly swinging volleys because his reflexes were so quick and his eye hand coordination so accute that he could get away with it. And, he did it all with a 16+ oz wooden racquet with a wood handle that he insisted was better than the later day wood racquets of the 70's.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2011
  9. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Budge certainly was a superb player.

    I'd would have loved to have seen some of his matches against Perry, Vines, von Cramm and the famous match against Kramer in the early 1950's. Budge led two sets to one before Kramer rallied to win the last two sets to face Riggs in the final. If memory serves, I believe it was the US Pro.
     
  10. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    One tendency I fall prey to is the urge to categorize players in two camps: the naturally talented players and the hard-workers.

    One problem with this thinking is that it leads to generalization, such as the talented players are lazy, prima donnas depending on their innate talent to win matches. Or that hard-working players tend to be clay-court grinders with one or two good strokes and win largely because of fitness.

    Another problem with this type of thinking is that it tends ignore those that had or did both. I submit that Laver (among a few other greats) was supremely talented, but was also a very hard worker who put in thousands or hundreds of thousands of hours refining his skills and improving his game.
     
  11. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Are you thinking of 1948? Kramer d. Budge in the semis, 6-4, 8-10, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 and then beat Riggs in a four-set final.

    That was on grass at Forest Hills, must have been a wonderful match.

    We should talk more about the great matches that the pros played against each other, there are so many, and most of them are not spotlighted whenever tennis history is discussed.
     
  12. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    True, Krosero. So many great matches in the Underworld of pro tennis then. Steve Flink has given detailled account of this match in his book about Greatest matches. He has included also the 5 setter between Gonzalez and Hoad at US pro 1959. Other memorable matches, which few saw, must have been the 5 setter between Gonzalez and Kramer at Wembley in 1951, when Kramer, a stone-hard war veteran, cried afterwards. Or the Laver-Rosewall matches at Coubertin 1963, at Wembley 1964 and at Boston 1966 must have been great, too.
     
  13. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Yes I was slightly off. It was the 1948 match.

    Here's some matches I would have loved to have seen.

    1927 Wimbledon-Tilden led Cochet two sets to none and 5-1 in the third before Cochet rallied to win.

    1963 French Pro-Rosewall defeats Laver in five sets

    1964 Wembley-Laver defeats Rosewall in five sets

    1937 Budge-von Cramm Davis Cup match

    1927 US Championship-Lacoste defeats Tilden

    1933 Wimbledon final-Crawford defeats Vines

    Probably a bunch of Hoad-Gonzalez matches and other Laver-Rosewall matches

    1927 Wills-Lenglen match in France

    I'll try to think of some others to perhaps discuss.
     
  14. tennisjon

    tennisjon Semi-Pro

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    I once asked Bollettieri around 2001/2002 who he thought was the most talented player he had ever seen. First, he said Agassi, and then he took it back and said Marcelo Rios. Until seeing Roger Federer over the past decade, I would have agreed with him.
     
  15. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Yes I mentioned that one a few weeks ago in the thread about longest games, and I wondered if anyone would comment on Kramer breaking down afterwards. Among other things it shows how much these matches meant to the players; they were not mere exos.

    I have always known in general terms that the pros did great things before the Open Era, but even so when I read about tennis history, or reflected on it, the pro "underworld" as you call it was something of an afterthought. You know, for example, Tilden did so-and-so at Wimbledon and Forest Hills. And you think of that as the end of the main story. Then he turned pro. Might be great stuff in there, great matches, but still I thought of it as an appendix to the "real" story. A postscript.

    Yet I'm learning just how much great history there is in the pro world -- and it's almost never mentioned.

    Just one example, in '58 Hoad beat Pancho in Australia, at Kooyong which was a frequent site for the Australian Championships, later the Australian Open. Hoad won 4-6, 9-7, 11-9, 18-16. A total of 80 games. Joe McCauley writes that the match "was generally conceded to be the greatest match ever played at the famous old stadium in Melbourne."

    That's an astonishing scoreline among two greats in their prime, at a historic venue. And it may have been greater than all the matches played at the Australian Slam event (in its amateur years). But usually tennis history concentrates on the Slams -- which leaves years of great tennis out of the story and mostly unknown today.
     
  16. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    As you know the same thing nearly happened to Rosewall in the pros. At Eastbourne in '58 he was leading Trabert by two sets and 5-1 in the third, with match point. But Trabert somehow came back and actually served for the match at 5-4 in the fifth, reaching 40-love on his own serve. But Rosewall got out of it with three straight passes and another winner, and managed to win 7-5 in the fifth. Trabert ended up double-faulting on match point.

    Amazing stuff.
     
  17. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Yes, the pro circuit is often very underrated in tennis histories. That the pro career was a sort of postscript to Tilden is partly explanable with his age, he was already 37, when he turned pro. Nevertheless, as the German pro Hans Nüsslein witnessed, he still played some of his best matches against the younger Vines. And on the pro tour, he finally solved his Cochet problem.
    But most champs turned pro at or even before their peak, and played their best tennis at the pros. Before McCauley's book however, no one had covered solid stats and results about the pro tour. Only the magazine World Tennis had results in their copies, and McCauley, a long time writer for it, used this sources. The pros didn't get much media attention back then, only at Wembley, the only pro event, which was official sanctioned by the ILTF, or Boston they came out of the wilderness and got some exposure. The BBC and the tennis writers of the Brit newspapers were at hand. When the pros first played at Wimbledon in August 1967, they drew suprisingly big crowds and large tv audiences (it was one of the first color transmissions by the BBC). It paved the way for open Wimbledon a year later.
     
  18. halalula1234

    halalula1234 Professional

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    federer, hingis, Seles, serena
     
  19. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    It is incredible.

    I think Rosewall might have done the same to Laver. I think Laver was also leading 40-0 and 5-4 serving for the match in some tournament. But Laver kept serving to that backhand and kept getting punished for it. Rosewall won that match also.

    All the matches that have been lost to history because tennis wasn't that popular and wasn't widely covered on TV or the media.:cry:

    Incidentally since you wrote about Trabert, I've read that his groundies were fantastic. He was strong on both sides with a great return plus a top serve and volley but I understand that he wasn't too quick.
     
  20. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Absolutely! Classic Eastern drives. Trabert hit his backhand like Budge, a driving topspin with his thumb on the handle.

    PS: I have some amazing pictures I wish I knew how to post.
     
  21. PCXL-Fan

    PCXL-Fan Hall of Fame

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    Nalbandian
    .
    Federer
    Nadal
    Sampras
    Laver
    Borg
    .
    .
    Agassi
    McEnroe
    Lendl
    .
    Becker
    Edberg

    Its unbelievable how so many non-Argentinians here can be so ignorant of the truth... Nalbandian... Greatest most gifted backhand ever.
     
  22. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    The Argentinian Joe Pike?
     
  23. vivace

    vivace New User

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    For me its Edberg.

    If i had to pick the best player of all time based on a single point in a random match im sure it would be him. (I am sure other players have phenomenal shots in their careers but in most of edbergs big matches there were just so many phenominal points)

    the backhand, the footwork, the VOLLIES he was always stunning to watch.
     
  24. Sid_Vicious

    Sid_Vicious G.O.A.T.

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    I was wondering why Nadal is never even considered as one of the most talented players ever? The guy is absolutely phenomenal and has won 10 slams by the age of 25 yet most people don't believe that he is exceptionally talented.
     
  25. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I think Nadal is super talented. Great power, consistency, speed, stamina, incredible topspin on his shots are just a few of his many gifts as a player.
     
  26. Tshooter

    Tshooter Hall of Fame

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    "he [Edberg] was always stunning to watch."

    The forehand. Stunning.
     
  27. BorisBeckerFan

    BorisBeckerFan Professional

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    McEnroe & Sampras, stand out to me, but really over the last 30 years there have been so many talented players it's almost impossible to pick. Can't really comment on old school players since I'm not a tennis historian.
     
  28. zagor

    zagor Talk Tennis Guru

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    That's because most people have a narrow definition of talent and don't truly understand the game, the guy who wins slams at such a pace has to be extremely talented, mental strength/fitness alone won't cut it, not by a longshot.

    Heck you only have to look at sick precision/placement off Nadal's FH side to realize how gifted he is.
     
  29. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Terrific groundies and a pretty good claycourter. He has those two French amateur titles and he also beat Rosewall at Roland Garros in the '59 French Pro 6-2, 6-0, 6-2.

    Incredible result considering Rosewall's skill and overall record on clay.
     
  30. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    I have some Trabert photos in an old tennis book by a guy called Cornel Lumiere and World Tennis. In one picture, he hits a terrific drive backhand with a little topspin. On impact he has a quite gritty look on his face. I think, Trabert like Connors was brought up on Cincinnati cement courts and always liked hard and clay courts the most.
     
  31. ximian

    ximian Rookie

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    The guy had the work ethic of a McDonald's burger flipper. No dedication at all to fitness or training, like NONE. You could tell the first moment you saw him walk on court out of shape and with a nonchalant, "don't care" attitude. Yet still reached a ranking of 42 on talent alone. The rare moments where he did dedicate himself to training and fitness, he would immediately start winning, only to lose interest and stop his training. Supreme headcase, but his talent is undeniable.

    EDIT: Look how insanely out of shape he is. It's just laughable. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8KJM18Xfrs
     
  32. heftylefty

    heftylefty Hall of Fame

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    Irakli Labadze is/was playing the wrong sport. I have never seen a professional tennis player with a gut like that. He looks like he should be pitching for the NY Yankees.
     
  33. TennisLovaLova

    TennisLovaLova Hall of Fame

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    Yes, this quote was from RF bio
     
  34. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Great list.I think, in terms of pure talent, we should also consider Edberg,Rosewall and, may be, Budge....and Jimbo, too
     
  35. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    ....1954: Drobny vs Rosewall at Wimbledon, 1936: Perry vs von Cramm at Wimbledon and, of course, the match of the matches: 1972 WCT Finals, Laver vs Rosewall...and what about the US VS AUSTRALIA in the 1953 or 1954 Davis Cup?
     
  36. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    The way he treated , and was treated by eager women, it sounds very normal to me.
     
  37. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I would think so.

    Also I would think Miloslav Mecir is up there also. Many thought he was the most talented player in the world when he was at his best.

    From the 1900's on list of possible most talented during the decade
    1900's-Both Dohertys, Norman Brookes
    1910-Wilding
    1920's-Tilden, Cochet
    1930's-Vines, Budge, Perry
    1940's-Kramer, Kovacs
    1950's-Gonzalez, Hoad, Trabert, Sedgman
    1960's-Laver, Rosewall, Roche
    1970's-Borg, Nastase, Connors, Ashe, Okker (a number of people thought Okker was super gifted), Tanner
    1980's-McEnroe, Lendl, Becker, Mecir, Leconte
    1990's-Sampras, Edberg, Agassi
    2000's-Federer, Nadal, Safin, Nalbanian, Murray, Djokovic
    2010's-Too early but we may reassign Nadal to this decade along with Murray and Djokovic. Sorry Federer fans but I don't think Federer will play his highest standard of tennis in this decade.

    I assigned one player to one decade. That's the decade I felt that they played their highest standard of tennis.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2011
  38. Ben Hadd

    Ben Hadd Semi-Pro

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    Thank you, thank you. Although I may have altered the original post, and think Federer deserves it more.
     
  39. chrischris

    chrischris Hall of Fame

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    wOW.. I HAD NEVER SEEN A GUY THAT STOCKY ON ATP TOUR.. jeez man..
    He still managed well again a guy like Costa who was very fit.
    Now i have to go to the gym...
     
  40. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    1960´s:Gimeno and Santana
    1970´s: Newc,Panatta and Gerulaitis.I don´t think Tanner is at their level, talent wise.I have doubts about Okker, too.

    1980´s: Kriek, ultratalented
    1990´s: Stich and Rafter, too
     
  41. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    ...Orantes in the 70´s, a real great touch player and a marvelous backhand.Injuries broke him up, that is why he is almost unknown on those boards.Won 2 majors and was runner up at another one.
     
  42. Tilden1893

    Tilden1893 New User

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    Vines' talents went with him to the golf course as well as he gained the semi-finals of the 1951 PGA Championship (Match Play).
     
  43. ahuimanu

    ahuimanu Rookie

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    Loved to watch Johan Kriek...his strokes were sooo clean and penetrating. Pure offensive tennis...love it! :)
     
  44. Otherside

    Otherside Semi-Pro

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    can add this from the general player section, great reads#1
    JeNn
    Registered User

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    Safin says Rios most talented, Federer "next Sampras", really interesting article
    Safin decides to get serious
    January 18, 2004
    Marat Safin may be this year's player to watch, reports Linda Pearce.

    Marat Safin has just finished a thunderous practice session overseen by his latest coach, part-time Russian tour player Denis Golovanov.

    The performance is imposing, an effortless service action pounding one last basket of balls. Safin may be the world's 77th-ranked player, but he also intends to return to No. 1 before the year is out.

    Which may sound optimistic, but Safin has never been one for restraint. The past season, in which he won only 12 matches in 23 tournaments, was the most difficult of his career. Safin spent months able only to rest and hope, waiting for his damaged left wrist to heal. No doubt he also enhanced his reputation for party-boy behaviour during his time away, but more significant is his post-sabbatical vow to change his erratic, undisciplined tennis ways.

    Indeed, one former coach, Mats Wilander, has said that "if Marat had the head of Jim Courier, he would be unbeatable".

    So, are we seeing the new, calm, committed Marat at last?

    "I'm trying, I'm trying, I'm really trying," said Safin, whose 2002 Australian Open finals loss to Thomas Johansson was most notable for his busty blonde "entourage" and carefree - almost careless - demeanour. "I had six months off, so I've been talking to people, and they give me good advice, so at least I can understand a little bit myself and I can understand a little bit what I need to do.

    "It has to work. I have no other option. I have been out for basically almost a year, so I have a lot of time to think about my life, about my tennis life, and make some good decisions and that's why I decided to prepare myself quite seriously for this year, because it's time.

    "I'm going to be 24, so time to do something big, and life is moving, so you have to hurry up. Otherwise, it's going to be too late."


    Safin will never be a Courier, or Lleyton Hewitt clone, and has only recently been struck by the radical idea of trying, really hard, until a match is over. Yet he is not one for if-onlys, despite his performance against Pete Sampras in the 2000 US Open final prompting the towering 20-year-old to be hailed as the prototype of the next generation. Somehow, more than three years later, the rising 24-year-old is still waiting for major No. 2.

    "It comes with time. It's coming at a certain age, but for some people that's very early, and for some people that's 23, as it happens to me," said Safin of his new-found resolve. "But I also don't regret anything I did in the past. I mean, maybe I had to change something, but it was OK.

    "You have to go through the periods of time, the periods of life, the directions. You have to find everything and put it in order."

    Still, the present world order is horribly unflattering among a peer group that includes Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Hewitt. While Federer, Roddick and Ferrero won singles majors last year, and Hewitt led his country to a Davis Cup, Safin tumbled from No. 3 to 77th.

    Injury was the major factor. The Russian arrived here last January fresh from his country's Davis Cup win, only to withdraw before his Sydney quarter-final with a shoulder injury, and then tear ligaments in his left wrist during his first match at Melbourne Park.

    "Basically I was in great shape, I came here, I got injured and then all the year was screwed up," he said.

    Safin tried twice to return to the court, but it was soon clear that a long break was needed, and the semi-final defeat of Ferrero in Barcelona on April 26 was his most recent tour victory. Five demoralising first-round losses prompted one last withdrawal, from the Paris Masters, to prepare for 2004.

    Safin spent a solid month training in Monte Carlo under fitness adviser Walt Landers and Golovanov, his sixth coach in three years. "He's the person that he can travel with me for 42 weeks a year, he can be for me 24 hours available and he knows me since I was 12," Safin said.

    Safin believes he belongs in the company of Roddick, Federer, Ferrero et al. "I think there will be times that they will beat me, that I will beat them, so it's going to be a competition like it was before with Becker, Sampras, Agassi."

    Who, then, is the next Pete? Safin himself? "No, it's Federer. Federer I think is Sampras. He has the potential. He's very talented and he has more or less the same game. he needs more improve(ment), but he plays as nice as Pete. He is very talented, definitely. Very good hands, very good serve.

    "But I think for me the most talented of all times was (Marcelo) Rios. But unfortunately he doesn't want to continue his tennis career, because when it's too easy for you, then it's boring."

    The same, perhaps, could be said of Safin. "For me, tennis is not so easy," he insisted. "But I've been working really hard, I've put in a lot of time and a lot of dedication, and I'm trying to make it easier."

    Marat Safin
     
  45. Otherside

    Otherside Semi-Pro

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    “Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.” — Shakespeare.

    “There is no great genius without some touch of madness.” — Seneca.

    No tennis player ever awed us with his beautiful talents quite like Marcelo Rios. Even his name flowed smoothly, like that of some legendary artist from centuries ago. The great Rios turned pro in 1994 and went on to win 18 career singles titles, including five Masters Series. He produced his finest season in 1998, capturing three consecutive Masters Series titles (Indian Wells, Key Biscayne and Rome) along with four other titles. Rios even became No. 1 — at the age of 22 — for six weeks after conquering Andre Agassi in a captivating performance on Key Biscayne to become the first South American to rise to the top of the ATP rankings. But for how familiar we were with the Rios style on the court — that leaping two-handed backhand, the graceful and artful movements, those uncanny angles, the Chilean chanting from his flag-waving supporters — there was always an aura of mystery about Rios. Why did he seem so often to be joyless on the court? For what reasons was he so reluctant to do media interviews or engage with the fans or even other players? Was his reputation for being unapproachable an act of self-defense because he was actually very shy? The enigma of Rios will continue to confound us now that he retired (due to repeated leg and back injuries) in 2004 from professional tennis at the age of 28.

    His last ATP matches were in April of 2004, losses in Satellite events in Ecuador and Mexico City to Mariano Delfino and Juan Pablo Guzman. Suddenly the career of Rios was over, without any final applause or a befitting tribute. Even the idea for this article only came by a chance comment during an unrelated interview with former Australian Open winner Thomas Johansson. The Swede just so happened to share this anecdote of Rios when I asked him for a funny tennis memory, something from tennis that made him laugh: “All the guys have different humors, outside of the court,” Johansson said. “A player that I really liked to watch was Rios. I think he was one of the best players, ever. Because I remember one year when he was gonna play Thomas Muster in Rome. And I saw the press conference before the match. And they asked him, so how are you gonna be able to beat Muster, because he only had lost one or two matches on clay so far. And Rios said, ‘The guy should be happy if he gets like a couple of games.’And Rios went out there the next day and killed him, 1 and 2. And that’s for me unbelievable. I really liked to watch him. I didn’t like to play him though. But I really liked to watch him.”

    Asked why he didn’t enjoy the experience of playing Rios, Johansson replied: “He could make you feel like it was the first time you were standing on a tennis court, you know [smiling]? So I hated to play him. You could get killed by him easily, 1 and 1 or something like that, and you could have played a good match.”

    Johansson’s high regard for Rios sparked a curiosity to investigate further insights about Rios from others in the tennis community. If a Grand Slam champion like Thomas Johansson had such respect for Rios, just what else would some of the other ATP insiders have to say? So here’s an interesting and insightful collection of memories and lasting images of one of the great tennis players of this modern era — Marcelo Rios:

    Jimmy Arias, former No. 4 in the world: “My one memory of Marcelo Rios is — I was retired for a number of years already — and he was ranked No. 2 in the world in 1998. And he lost first round of Wimbledon. And made some disparaging remarks about Wimbledon. He came to Bollettieri’s because he had to practice for the rest of the summer. And I was the only one there. Everyone else that played was still at Wimbledon. So I was a decent enough player for him to practice with. So Nick called, ‘Can you come? Marcelo Rios is here for a couple of weeks?’ So we play the first day, the first set — and he’s not trying at all [smiles]. He’s just sort of lounging around. And I win the set 6-4. And as is my way, when I play a top guy of today, I find a way to give them a little jab, just to see how they react. So we finish the set and as we’re shaking hands after, I said, ‘Marcelo, what would you rank me if I were playing today? Two or three in the world?’ And he said, ‘Man, tomorrow, I’m going to kick your ass!’And I liked his attitude. And actually, some of the top players, when I give them a hard time, they actually didn’t want to play with me anymore. When I would say something like that, they would get insulted. They didn’t want to play with me. Rios came at me. He said, ‘No, I’m gonna kick your ass tomorrow.’ And sure enough, we came back the next day, and for about three games, he was fired up. And I was playing well and was down 3-love. And he couldn’t keep that intensity, because it’s practice. He’s just so relaxed. Eventually the set was close. But I did see for those three games what talent he had. He would hit a couple of forehands in a rally, and with that same swing — not a bigger backswing, nothing — he’d suddenly hit it 20 miles-per-hour harder. Down the line for a winner. You didn’t know how that happened. You couldn’t understand how the same swing produced such a different pace on the ball. So that’s part of what he had that the other players couldn’t figure out.”

    Hernan Gumy, former top 50 ATP player from Argentina: “I have a personal memory about him because we were kind of close. He didn’t get along with many players. But we were kind of friends in a way. And we play against each other many times. The greatness of his game — I didn’t see anybody who play like him in the past 10 years. All the most difficult things he made it easy. I mean, it was so nice to watch him play. It would have been great to have him for a couple of more years. He’s still young but, every time I spoke with him, he said that he was not made to travel 25 weeks a year. Or play 20 tournaments. He loved to play the big tournaments but he didn’t like the whole life of a tennis player. So you have to understand that also. But I think he was a great. He was a nice guy from, I repeat, my side. And he was a helluva tennis player…The fans and the media never got to him — really close. I think you have to check the background. In Chile, when he was a kid, he had some problems with the media when he was 16. When he stepped up to complain about something about the Federation. So maybe after that he took some distance from the media around the world. With the fans also. Like I said, he was gifted to play tennis. But he was maybe not gifted to do whatever is outside to the inside of the tennis court. Because he loved to practice, sacrifice. He loved to compete. But everything else outside of the tennis — you name it, the fans, the kids — he wasn’t able to do it. Because of his character, he didn’t enjoy to do that. He’s a guy who, I believe, he do things that he enjoy…We were close. I mean, he was a sensitive guy. Personally, he was a guy that I really liked. I know that not many players like him, but I like him.”

    Luis Lobo, former coach: “I just have good things to talk about Marcelo. I think he was the most professional player that I’ve ever seen. I know the people think of him another way, but for me he was a very good professional. He was one of the best players in the world, for sure. For sure he’s one of the best players in history. For me, yes. Because, about tennis, if he made a Grand Slam or No. 1 for more time, for sure he’s one of the best guys I ever see. Very talented. If you play against him on a day when he’s focused, very tough to beat him, very tough. He had so many great matches — Monte Carlo against Kuerten, Paris against Albert Costa, indoors when he make Singapore — so many good matches. (What held him back from winning a Slam?) It’s a good question, I don’t know. I’m not a psychologist [laughs]. He was very close to winning a Grand Slam. He lost the final (in Australian Open to Korda in ‘9, and then personal problems. I don’t know. One part of each player — some players when they’re this close to the final, they make it. And others, no, they can’t do it. But I think he was injured a long time too. And the moment for him was a stress fracture in the lower back, and problems with legs…He was very nice person. Very nice. When he was in a tournament, he would be alone and no say hello to anybody. Just a few guys. He didn’t believe too much in the people. And I think he was right. Because in tennis, the world is very tough to be friends.”
     
  46. Otherside

    Otherside Semi-Pro

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    Roger Federer: (When asked back in 2000 which was his favorite tennis player to watch): “I like Rios. I like his game. When he’s playing well, he’s fun to watch. Because he’s a different type of guy.”

    Vera Zvonareva: “I think Rios was a great tennis player. I watched him play maybe a year and a half ago in Washington. And I think he was a great player to watch for me. I think he was like an actor on the court. And I love it because he was doing his show. Everybody knows it’s tough to play tennis, especially when it’s 100 degree. And he was like performing like an actor. You can always see his emotions. He wasn’t just like standing there doing his job, you could see how he feels.”

    Patrick McEnroe (his ESPN commentary during the first set of the 2002 Nasdaq- 100 semifinals vs. Agassi): “I’m not even sure if he goes out there with a strategy, Cliff. He just goes out there and just swings away, angles the ball, it looks like he just sort of free-wheels it out there and relies on his talent. Agassi used to do that. Agassi would just bomb the ball and just says, I’m just gonna be a shotmaker and I’m gonna rely on that. But why Agassi has won seven Slams now and Rios has won zero is because Agassi has learned to play his opponents, to play within himself, to come out there focused, to be physically fit, to have a strategy, have a gameplan…The players are just too good these days, to think you can go out there and just free-wheel it…That is SCARY right there! That is pure genius right there. What a one-two from Rios. Just launching himself into that backhand, taking it in mid-flight for the clean winner cross court (at 7-7 in the first-set tiebreak – which Rios won 9-7, but he retired after losing the second set 6-4.).”

    Guillermo Vilas: “I talked to him a couple of times. He didn’t talk too much. He had a strong character. It’s like when you are in front of a lion — you are not going give some candy to a lion, right? Everybody knew he was like that. Some people are like that. If you give him enough space, he’s okay…He play well, but he could never win something very big. He had the qualities to do that, then his body gave out. But he left his image to the players — a very good way of playing and the attitude was like a rebel. He was very interesting, to add color to the game. If he wouldn’t have had all those injuries, he would have been better, much better. The time he was there, he was exciting. But it’s sad, because the body gave out. He was a great player, but you have to be champion of the world. He was geared to do that, but the body didn’t allow him to do that. Like it happened to Muster. Muster was gearing to be No. 1. Suddenly he had the accident (hit by car in Miami) and three years after, he did it. Rios didn’t have that second chance. You can say Rios was one of the most gifted ever. But not one of the best ever. Because you have to win something, you have to do a little bit more. He looked very nice, everything he did. But the body did not allow him to do it.”

    Ilie Nastase: “He’s the worst ***** I ever met. The players of today probably have the same opinion of him. Ask all the players what they think of him, you’ll get the same thing. When somebody doesn’t sign autographs for the kids, that is a ***** for me. (What about his game?) I don’t give a ****. I don’t look at him. For me, he’s an idiot. I don’t know what else to tell about him. And that’s the first time I say something about somebody like that. I think he was the worst thing for tennis. He did not deserve to be No. 1 — one or two days. To live with the other players like he did — terrible. He really was the worst. I never say anything about anybody else like this but about him I have to say this. Sorry.”

    Pat Cash: “Rios is one of the most talented players I’ve ever seen. I thought he had a control like a McEnroe. He was definitely a wasted talent but he still got to number one in the world. I loved watching him. He was brilliant. He hit the ball anywhere. Anywhere…I played doubles with him one week, in Scottsdale in ‘95 or ‘96. When I was making a comeback. We practiced quite a bit. And when I practiced with him, I never ran so much in my life. I played with a lot of the top guys in practice and he was just able to hit the ball anywhere. He used to run me everywhere. (How did you do in doubles with Rios?) Not very good. It wasn’t his fault though [smiles]. I was making a bit of a comeback and I was pretty terrible. But he was a brilliant player and I was disappointed that he never actually fulfilled his potential. (Get along well with him?) I got on all right with him. A lot of other guys didn’t like him, that’s for sure. Not many guys, I think, got along with him. And he was fine to me. We always had a good time, we practiced hard and I liked his game. And I think he appreciated somebody that was nice to him, I think.”

    Melchior DiGiacomo, noted tennis photographer: “I think he’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen play the game. I’ve been following tennis since 1971. And I thought Rios was a bit of a throwback in many ways. He reminded me of guys like Ken Rosewall — who had so many great shots. Guys like Tom Okker who was a brilliant player. Rios was that way. But I couldn’t figure Rios’ head. Because I never knew where he was on the court. Whereas the older players, you always knew where their head was 7#8212; their head was, To win. At all costs. But Rios, I don’t know. There’s a wonderful line written by Norman Mailer in a book called ‘The Bullfighter.’ He’s talking about how a man cannot be judged by what he is, the man is best judged at his greatest moment. (Melchior sent the exact quote to me the next day: “The one thing that can keep the sweet nerve of life alive is the knowledge that a man cannot be judged by what he is every day, but only at his greatest moment, for that is when he shows what he was intended to be..It is a Latin approach, their allegiance is to the genius of blood. So they judge a man by what he is at his best.”) And that’s what Rios was to me. There are times when you look at him and you say, Nobody in the world has ever done what he has just done, in terms of the match. And then you may see him the next day or two days later and you go, What happened to that guy that was out here a couple of days ago? Is it the same guy? I don’t know how you get to a kid like that. Again, he was brilliant. There were other players who were like that — Mel Purcell never had a killer shot. But you had to hit him over the head with a shovel if you wanted to beat him. But Rios’ head was the thing. He had every shot in the game. There was nothing he couldn’t do. (How was he as a subject to shoot?) Brilliant. Because of his athleticism. He wasn’t like Adriano Panatta, who was like this stand-up, at-attention Italian. He had a beautiful game but there really wasn’t anything to shoot, in terms of physical action. Rios is the kind of guy that could stop on a dime and give you five cents change. He was very exciting to shoot. Connors was not very exciting to shoot, in the sense that he played basically a baseline game, rarely came to the net. And the only time Jimmy was exciting was when he pumped up the crowd. Then he was exciting. But photographing Rios during a match was always exciting. And you had to be quick, because he was quick. When guys are running as fast as he is and lunging out making shots, that’s exciting for me, because he fills the frame. He’s not standing up straight. But Rios was exciting. And he’ll be missed. By me. I don’t know about everybody else.”
     
  47. Otherside

    Otherside Semi-Pro

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    arl Munnerlyn, U.S. Open locker room supervisor: “Rios was very giving. When I knew him, when he was a player, he always, after each practice, he would come in and go up to one of the attendants and always offer a pair of his shoes that he just practiced in. And even after the match. His match shoe, that he wore in the match. He’d always come up to us and give us his shoes. Every time, every day he was here. It was unbelievable how such a giving person he was. Not too many people knew him that way, but we, as locker room attendants, knew him that way — as a very giving, courteous person. And he always joked with us, he liked to joke with us. Because he saw us as people he could relate to. He was relaxed with us. And we brought out his lighter side, his personality, instead of serious all the time, like always getting ready for a match. One time I was standing next to the soda refrigerator and he walked by and gave my head a push. I turned around and Marcelo’s walking out the door, smiling. So that’s how I know him. He was friendly to me. In that sense, I know him that way. He was never not the slightest bit sarcastic to me. That’s what I know of Marcelo Rios. Nice guy.”

    Petr Korda: “I beat him badly (in 1998 Australian Open final 6-2, 6-2, 6-2). It was very — actually I had the chance to see the match on video for the first time a month and a half ago. And in TV it looked completely different than it did on the court. But I remember I was really dominating and I was ready for that. I knew this was probably my last chance to win a Slam — and if I played the right game, then I could beat him. I think I really shot him down that day. I know we were hitting the balls very hard. On the TV it doesn’t look like it. I was hitting balls very hard. (What kind of person was Rios?) I think that not many people knew him. Some people had problems with him, he was like a controversial, not many people did like him. But I know him, we play doubles. I don’t know if it was before or after we played in Australian Open. He was a nice guy. Gifted player. And I said in Australia, he can be maybe number one. But it’s most important to win the Slam. Unfortunately for him, he never achieved it. Maybe I was that reason, probably.”

    Angelica Gavaldon (Former WTA top 30): “My mom remembers him carrying my laundry bag in Sydney. I think he is a really sweet person. I really like Marcelo Rios. I know a lot of people had mixed feelings about him but I personally thought he was really shy .The first time I met him was at The US OPEN and my coach at the time, Pato Rodriguez, scheduled a practice session with him, we played baseline games and after he went up to Pato and said, ‘Wow, I did not know girls could actually play tennis.’ I thought it was funny. Later on in Australia we where at the same tournaments and I remember him waking up super early almost everyday to practice with me at 6:30 AM. I played okay that year and I think he didn’t win a match, so I felt guilty that it was probably because I don’t hit the ball like a guy.”

    Jaime Fillol, former Chilean pro tennis player with six career singles titles, quarterfinalist 1975 U.S. Open: “I first met him in New York when he was a junior. And he was already playing well in Futures. We became very close. We run an AP event in Chile. We would have to many times negotiate with him, his participation, especially when he was top 10. I think he was a very good player, he had a lot of talent. Not just with his hands, but with his mind. Very good at feeling no pressure and I think that’s what made him so good. There’s a lot of people that have talent but when it comes to winning, they have a hard time winning. And he was winning a lot of matches at a young age. Then I think he got hurt too much, too often, he couldn’t keep it up. There was criticism over his attitude — that he wouldn’t fight hard enough. But I would say that his personality was not a disciplined mentality. He was very erratic in that respect. He was not a Saxon or a Slavic, he’s Chilean, he’s kind of moody. And if he doesn’t feel good, he just doesn’t try. Not because he’s lazy, because he doesn’t feel good. So I think that was the criticism — which was fair — in order to be a champion and stay there as champion — you have to have the discipline too. Have the discipline, as far as to be a champion.” Asked for his lasting image of Rios, Fillol replied: “Playing so well that it was so much fun to watch him play. In fact, he really could make almost anyone look like a beginner. If things were right, he would guess exactly where the ball was coming. He would anticipate. He didn’t have to be strong physically to make the ball go and to have the guy run from one side to the other. I think his body didn’t hold the pressure of the circuit. He was weak in his preparation, probably coming from Chile, not knowing exactly what was gonna happen if he was that good. I don’t think he was prepared physically for the Tour. (Did he ever win the Chile event?) He never won the tournament, that’s why I didn’t mention it [smiles]. He got to the finals four times. He would make the crowd very upset because everybody was waiting for him to win the first time. He made the finals four times and lost to guys he should have beat — Slava Dosedel, Hernan Gumy and recently he lost in 2002 to David Sanchez. He was winning 6-1 and 40-love to go up 4-1 and lost the game. And then he couldn’t play. He became nervous.” “He was very — the word in is Spanish, ‘contradictorio’ — he would do the unexpected. If you were waiting for him to say hello to you, he’s not gonna say hello to you. If you didn’t think he’d say hello to you, he’d come up and say hello to you. He treated people like that. Not that he didn’t care for people, it was just like a game. He made a lot of enemies because of that, but I don’t think he’s a bad person. I would say he didn’t have the same discipline you need to have off the court. Many times he would do things — I mean the President of Chile was practically disgraced by him. When he became number one and the President invited him to the Palace and he came in a shirt, looking like he was going to the beach. And the President said, ‘Marcelo would you like to say something to the people?’ ‘No, I don’t want to say anything.’ So he turned the President of the country off just by being different. He didn’t think it was a big occasion, but he’s not a bad person. “I saw him about two months ago in Santiago, at the gym where he was training. I was talking to his physical trainer. And Marcelo was there, although he is retired, he still goes to the gym every day and trains, so he’s in good shape, other than the pain that he says he feels when he plays tennis.”

    “A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.” — James Joyce, Ulysses

    “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” — Anais Nin

    “To be great is to be misunderstood.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

    (Note: This article is currently being developed into a book about Marcelo Rios and will be available by Amazon.com for the 2011 U.S. Open.)
     
  48. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    Hana Mandlikova.
     
  49. Joe Pike

    Joe Pike Banned

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    I saw Mandlikova several times playing Graf in the late 80s.

    To say Hana had more talent than Steffi is really, really funny ...
     
  50. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    The difference between the two shows the limitations of talent without discipline, unquenchable drive and everything else it takes to be and sustain number 1 status. Graf had talent and everything else it takes to be a champion. I feel very sorry for anyone with so narrow a field of vision as you have. You miss so much if you interpret all tennis through a single agenda.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2011

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