Peak Play GOATS

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by hoodjem, Mar 15, 2013.

  1. Phoenix1983

    Phoenix1983 Hall of Fame

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    This depends on the surface, of course.

    But in my time of watching tennis (only about 18 years unfortunately!), the following names spring to mind:

    Sampras - on fast courts
    Federer - on all courts
    Nadal - on slow courts
    Safin - on hard courts
    Nalbandian - on hard courts/indoor
    Ivanisevic - on grass (when not headcasing)
     
  2. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    ^^ Djokovic deserves a mention for slow hard courts.

    Out of that list Federer has the best level considering all surfaces.
     
  3. Phoenix1983

    Phoenix1983 Hall of Fame

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    Oops yeah, not sure how I forgot Djokovic. :oops:
     
  4. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    If you were going to make a second tier for the last 20 or so years for peak play beneath these guys who would it be?

    I guess Agassi would be on there for starters.
     
  5. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I think the whole idea is peak play for one match. To my mind peak play is a player so in the zone that nothing can stop him.

    For example let's say John Newcombe is playing his absolute best. Well he's a superior player to Arthur Ashe on grass in general but if Ashe is in the zone Ashe can serve and volley to Newcombe's non offensive (but in real life not bad) backhand return and put away the volley. Newcombe, even with his huge serve and volley can't do that to Ashe because of Ashe's great offensive backhand return.

    Newcombe's the better player over the course of a year but Ashe is better for one match. Ashe can attack with backhand, forehand, his great serve, volley so Newcombe can't go anywhere he is safe. There is nothing Newcombe can do against Ashe at his best but Ashe can hit to Newcombe's backhand and be somewhat safe when Newcombe was at his best.

    It's the same with Martina Navratilova and Hana Mandlikova. Navratilova at her best was dominant against anyone if she was playing her best except Hana. Hana at her best could overwhelm Navratilova because she was just able to attack with all her shots. Navratilova didn't have the overall power of Mandlikova. Hana was even faster than Navratilova.

    Frank Kovacs was held in awe by his opponents when he was in the zone. He was able to hit huge winners with backhand and forehand. He had a great serve and his return was incredible. He was 6'4" tall with all the talent in the world. He play Frank Parker in a clay court match around 1950 and lost one game in three sets. Parker was a two time French Champion! Riggs was convinced no player in history could do that to Parker.
     
  6. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I was just gonna say that Hana, on her absolute zone, is the most unstopabble force I have seen since 1980.

    As for Newcombe vs Ashe here are some scerpts of Arthur book:

    " Of all the big australians, Newcombe is certainly the one with a more dense volume.He doesn´t have the resources of Rosewall the rythimics of Emerson, the power fire of Laver.But he is the most consistent at playing his best.

    Newcombe had a big Fh, everybody knows that.Yet, he never ran across his Bh to hit the Fh.But on a decisive point, he would just place himself in the ROS very wide out, so that he could have much more space to hit his FH.He would look to you like saying " now, be ready, I am going to whack my FH to you no matter where you try to serve".

    Ashe was a great analist.
     
  7. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    One of your best kiki :lol:
     
  8. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Of the players I watched, Ilie Nastase was unstoppable on his good days.

    So was Maria Bueno

    Boris Becker was a fire gun, he would come and come and keep coming to you until you yielded.

    Borg was so consistent, he always looked like peaking

    Mc Enroe if his first serve went above 65% was almost unbeatable on a fast court.

    Of course, Rod Laver.Because he was so confident he would do the most under % shots and you wouldn´t even see them.

    Roscoe Tanner serving on his best days on grass is to be considered.So were Pete Sampras,Michael Stich and Goran Ivanisevic, all of them exceptional servers.

    Agassi had uncredible groundies but he has almost never had a convincing win that would make you say " this guy is unbeatable today".I never saw that even if he had the tools.

    Federer could be unstoppable in his early stages, but not later on.

    Well, Hana Mandlikova could be erratic and sleepy,until the storm broke.You watched the clouds to find an explanation.

    Graff and Court had a very high level, same as Navratilova .Much like Borg, it was hard to tell when they were " on " because they had the weapons to kill you even if they didn´t play at their absolute best.This would be the case of Williams, as well.

    To me such a player must have attack on his/her head.Not a single great defender will make me think of such a thing even if they can look unbeatable.

    Past players: Gonzales,Hoad,Budge, and possibly Cochet and Vines.And, of course, you couldn´t even touch Lenglen and Connolly on their good days.They were just on another planet.
     
  9. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    It is pretty good and if it was retentive it makes some sense.
     
  10. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Thanks.He was better oraly though.:)

    -if you correct myself, Hoodjem will get jealous-
     
  11. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Positively birlliant!
     
  12. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Enough! (This is getting a bit risqué.):wink:
     
  13. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Borg's pretty underrated for peak level for one match. The key is that he had a huge serve which he seemed to be able to get in consistently at big moments. I've seen Borg play some matches in which I thought his opponents played as well as they possibly could and yet get overwhelmed by the Borg power.

    We shouldn't forget Steffi Graf for one match also. When she won Wimbledon in 1988 against Navratilova I thought Graf's backhand return was incredible and worthy of her husband's return. You combine that with her forehand and serve and that's incredible.

    Of course how could I forget Serena's best game! I think it's clearly the best in women's tennis today by a big margin.

    Maybe it's just me but I thought Clijsters best game was great also. She had great power, speed, very good serve and an excellent volley. I thought Kim was fantastic in her 2009 US Open semi against Serena. I thought both played at or near their best with Clijsters winning a close two set match. Great rallies from two great talents.
     
  14. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    What about Little Bill? Norman Brookes? Mc Laughlin, the comet? I heard Kovacs was extremely dashing when he was zooning.

    Adriano Panatta, when he was happy with life and himself was just untouchable at times.I have seen him baggeling Lendl, and even if it was not the best of Lendls, he made it look so easy.

    But he could get bored too.He would start looking at his clock more and more often.

    In the 1980´s Leconte could **** you off on his best days.And, of course, Mecir.He´d toy with you even if he didn´t want to.
     
  15. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    I would start with Rosewall's picks for the top four

    1) Hoad
    2) Gonzales
    3) Laver
    4) Federer

    Here's where it gets tough.

    5) Rosewall
    Rosewall won some incredible matches at his peak form, notably the 1963 Forest Hills final against Laver, and the 1965 Longwood final against Laver.
    Also, the 1962 Kooyong final against Hoad showed him at his best on grass.

    6) Budge
    7) Vines

    Two players who had everything.

    eight) Sedgman
    Picked by Seixas as #1 when pumped.

    9) Sampras
    10) Borg
    Two guys who were tough at Wimbledon.

    Short-listed:

    Tilden (difficult to judge someone who matures at twenty-eight years old).
    Williams (seemed to have the same edge over Johnston as Tilden did.)
    Kramer
    Newcombe
    Lacoste
    Ashe
    Connors
    McEnroe
    Becker
     
  16. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    No view on Nadal or Djokovic?
     
  17. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Dan,

    It's supposed to be peak form for one match. Is this list for one match or for a certain period of time? Just a little surprised for example that Budge is ranked over Vines because no one that I have read who played both ranks Budge's peak level for one match over Budge. In fact most who have played Vines ranks him as the GOAT for one match. Now of course those who have played Vines didn't play Hoad.

    Thanks in advance Dan.
     
  18. Rosewall

    Rosewall Rookie

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    1. Borg
    2. Connors
    3. McEnroe
    4. Djokovic
    5. Federer
    6. Nadal
    7. Sampras
    8. Lendl
    9. Becker
    10. Vilas
     
  19. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    My goodness Muscles! Such a youngish list.

    None of your contemporaries?
     
  20. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Dan, Borg had a higher peak than Sedgman. You forgot his clay performances.
     
  21. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    Vines took out Crawford at 1932 Wimbledon in straight sets, and dominated Austin in the final.
    Budge dominated Austin in the 1938 final, and beat Riggs in a lopsided U.S. Pro final in 1942.

    I do not see much to choose there.

    There was no great win streak by Vines during their 1939 hth series.
     
  22. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    For players I have seen my top 5 is;

    1) Federer
    2) Nadal
    3) Djokovic
    4) Sampras
    5) Agassi

    Federer is an easy choice for me for number 1, high level across all surfaces but especially grass and hard courts. His level on hardcourts is IMO the best ever.

    Nadal edges Djokovic based on superior level on clay and grass. Djokovic is clearly ahead on hardcourts. Sampras is better than the previous 2 on grass and hard courts but lacks skill on clay so he's marked down.

    Agassi could play on all surfaces, with a high level on hard courts so he rounds out my top 5. He's not arguable number 1 on anything which lets him down.

    Players like Nalbandian and Safin were good for a couple of matches but I think a little more consistency is needed. Albeit Safin in 04-early 05 did reach a high level on several occasions.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2014
  23. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Thanks Dan.
     
  24. Phoenix1983

    Phoenix1983 Hall of Fame

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    I thought this thread was about who was the best at peak, i.e. in one match when everything was firing?

    For me, it would probably be:

    1. Federer
    2. Sampras (co-No 1 with Federer on fast courts, actually)
    3. Safin
    4. Nadal
    5. Djokovic/ Nalbandian

    I don't think Agassi's peak level is that high actually. There are a lot of players peaking who could beat him.
     
  25. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    I put my own spin on it.

    Sampras lack of a high level of clay downgrades him IMO. On grass and hards I rank him about equal with Federer. Likewise Safin was never good enough on grass or clay for me to rank him above Nadal even on hard courts he could take him down. For a single match I don't think Agassi is at the very top but if I judge his form on hard courts in 1995 I think it was very high and at the AO too.
     
  26. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    OUCH!

    And Crawford won three slams the next year, and almost won a Grand Slam.
    (Vines lost just two sets in the entire tournament.)
     
  27. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Rosewall is losing memory
    Good irony however Mr Grammar
     
  28. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Crawford also beat Vines at a W F
     
  29. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Dan, yet there was such a streak after Vines regained his health.
     
  30. forehand fan

    forehand fan Rookie

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    nadal on clay. sampras on grass, fed on h.c. one match scenario . whose peak do you think is the highet? i think nadal is ahead of the other 2 if you just look at a single match like that. and safin of course is nowhere close to nadal on clay on any surface
     
  31. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    Safin did destroy Sampras at the USO so he's not THAT far behind.

    Nadal tops it just, I don't think his one match level necessarily much higher what's special about Nadal is over 3 months he can reach that level over and over.
     
  32. SamprasisGOAT

    SamprasisGOAT Semi-Pro

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    Sampras Wimbledon final 1999 or YEC final 1999. I'm sorry but nobody is beating him.
     
  33. forehand fan

    forehand fan Rookie

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    anyway. i think while mentioning peak play you have to mention the surface
    slow hc
    djoker
    fed
    agassi
    safin
    nadal
    pete
    clay:
    nadal
    kuerten
    soderling
    federer
    ferrero
    moya
    coria
    djokovic
    agassi
    grass:
    sampras
    federer
    ivanisevic
    krajiec
    nadal
    roddick
    murray
    fast hc:
    federer
    sampras
    agassi
    safin
    nadal.
    only among the players i've seen
     
  34. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    Federer has played several matches as good as either of those. Such as the Wimbledon 03 SF, USO final 2004, AO SF 07 etc...several matches at the YEC.
     
  35. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Guys,

    My idea of the highest possible peak play is a player who, no matter who his opponent is and my matter what the opponent does is helpless against the peak level of the opponent. Also no matter what the surface is.

    Any ideas what player comes closest to this ideal? Lew Hoad, Vines, Laver, Tilden, Nadal, Federer, Gonzalez, Rosewall, Nastase, Kovacs, Tanner, Newcombe, Ashe, Sampras, Borg, Connors or Bitsy Grant? Sorry I can't help giving an occasional Bitsy Grant reference.

    I would tend to lend toward player who have service that are excellent offensive weapons first because the serve is the most important stroke and next I would go with return of serve.
     
  36. Phoenix1983

    Phoenix1983 Hall of Fame

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    You can't say "no matter what the surface is", IMHO - because then no player would fit the criteria. I can't imagine peak anybody beating Nadal or Borg in a best-of-5 clay court match. Similarly, very few (Federer? Laver? Gonzales? Hoad at peak?) could deny Sampras on grass.

    I don't know of anyone whose peak was so high on all surfaces that they could overwhelm anyone in history.
     
  37. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    Such a player doesn't exist, surface preferences and match ups mean that no player is going to be completely unbeatable at his best everywhere.

    I agree that a strong serve is essential it's the most important shot in tennis, a strong server having a peak serving day is going to be very hard to break obviously. That cuts down your list a little bit.
     
  38. hawk eye

    hawk eye Hall of Fame

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    Peak play Sampras is the most impressive i've ever witnessed.
    Followed by Becker, Edberg, Agassi and Korda.
     
  39. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    I did not include Nadal or Djokovic because I was thinking primarily about grass, not clay or rubber.

    Neither would make my greatest on grass list.
     
  40. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    My recollection is that they were 50/50 if you net out the six match win streak for Budge when Vines had a pulled rib muscle (?) and could barely serve.

    I did not see more than two in a row for Vines (or for Budge against a healthy Vines).
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  41. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    Give Sampras a wooden racquet and see.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  42. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    What racquet are you giving Sampras?
     
  43. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Dan, You are probably right.
     
  44. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    On the faster surfaces he could display some amazing peak play, yet if you look at all time greats, I think it's useful to compare them across all surfaces, including slower hard courts, slower Wimbledon courts, and clay courts as well. Sampras versus players like Nadal, Borg, Laver, Hoad, Gonzalez, Rosewall and Federer on Centre Court would make for some great tennis. Also we can consider strings, frames and shoes as well.
     
  45. hawk eye

    hawk eye Hall of Fame

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    Yes, I guess you're right here, the Borgs, Mcenroes, Lavers, Rosewalls and gonzalezes had to deal with wood aka more demanding material which didn't allow so much for swingin all out. But I have to say I started watching tennis in the very late seventies, so a lot of these players I've never seen play live. In the early eighties I thought Borg, Connors and Mcenroe would be considered the best players forever, but then I was only ten years old. But with improvement in technology and stroke techniques ( which are related obviously) in the nineties I saw tennis that was just on another level. And yes, they slowed down the courts after that and though i've seen very high level tennis since then, for me it didn't have the impact of the nineties were the game was fast but you still could dominate with any kind of style.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  46. monfed

    monfed Banned

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  47. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I'm not sure about that either.

    However who is the ideal? Is there an ideal player when "on"? Who is the closest thing to an ideal over all surfaces? Laver, Borg, Hoad have (according to many)played fantastic matches on red clay and grass. One well known sports writer wrote that one of Borg's great opponents played as well as he could be was overwhelmed at one major.

    There was a player named Richard Norris Williams (I think he won two US Championships) who played into the 1930's. He was known for taking incredible risks in his game like taking the ball just a few inches off the ground off a big serve. So when he clicked he was incredible. There was match in which he played Tilden in which he won first set 6-0 with a loss of only a few points. Tilden said that he (Tilden) played very well when he was able to hit the ball. Tilden also said no set of tennis has ever be played by anyone else. Williams did that to Vines in the early 1930's in winning the first set 6-0 and I think Williams led the second 3-0 before Vines won the last twelve games and the match.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  48. Devilito

    Devilito Hall of Fame

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    "Tripple P" Prime Pistole Petros on fast indoor was unplayable. Only Becker zoning out of his mind was able to come close
     
  49. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    Williams game may have been hurt by his WWI duty.

    Before WWI, he was probably the dominant male player.
     
  50. hawk eye

    hawk eye Hall of Fame

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    Indeed, BB was a beast on his home indoor turf and could only be tamed by one player: PPP.
     

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