Peak Play GOATS

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

  1. 90's Clay

    90's Clay Legend

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    Sampras at #7? . Peak wise on a one match basis, Pete is perhaps the most dominating force ever on medium-fast surfaces. Haven't seen one better yet anyways.

    For Peak, all Sampras needed was that one break of serve and the set was over
     
  2. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Good point but there's been a few greats similar to that in Kramer and Gonzalez.

    I think if we had to have a number one trait for a perfect peak play player I guess that player has to have a really really great serve. In that way Sampras is up there with anyone.

    Now since it's just for one match who would have the most dominating serve if he is in the zone? Is it Sampras? Is it Vines? Is it Gonzalez? Is it Tanner? Is it Goran? Is it Jack Kramer? Is it Tilden? Is it someone else I forgot about?

    If we just use the greats I guess we have to eliminate Tanner and Goran.
     
  3. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    Sampras' problem was the lack of credible competition at the top.

    It is difficult to judge his capabilities with the odd assortment of in-and-outers he faced year after year.

    He had wicked trouble with Kraijek, and on rubber had serious beatings from Rafter, Safin, even Hewitt, none of whom would make a top ten list.

    You need more than a serve, as Newcombe could verify.
     
  4. NadalDramaQueen

    NadalDramaQueen Hall of Fame

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    Dan L, are you suggesting that it is better to lose against great players rather than taking the majority of your losses against inconsistent, inferior opponents?

    I am not being sarcastic, truly. From my time spent here on these forums, I can only conclude that the majority of posters believe that losses against lesser players are better somehow than losses against greats. In addition, I read that losing early in a tournament is better than making the finals.

    To stay on topic, I think the list of players who would beat anyone when "on fire" throughout an entire match would be very different from the traditional goats. Any player with a huge serve and forehand would be unbeatable if they hit every ball 100 mph (or more on the serve) and right on the line.

    If you temper that a bit, and assume that the players are playing close to their own reasonable peak level, I would think the following five are the best (in no particular order):

    Sampras
    Federer
    Nadal
    Laver
    Hoad

    Nadal gets a mention for his level on clay. I really think that Nadal is unbeatable at his best on a slow clay court (more unbeatable than the others on their own favored court).

    The names seem obvious, but I think there is a good reason why they are. :)
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  5. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    FYI for some people, Richard Norris Williams was a survivor of the Titanic. However I don't think he met Leonardo Dicaprio or Kate Winslet. I suppose (pardon the pun) he was a player of Titanic proportions.
     
  6. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    NDQ,

    The question was who is the best for one match. Do you think Nadal's peak level on clay is higher than any player for one match? Reason why I'm asking is because I'm thinking of the Soederling match at the French a few years ago in which Soederling overpowered Nadal.

    You may very well be correct of course but I'm curious if you mean for a series of matches or just for one match?
     
  7. forehand fan

    forehand fan Rookie

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    i don't know any player who has gotten unbeaten on any surface. if that's your criterion . then i don't think such a player exists
     
  8. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Newcombe bien sur
     
  9. NadalDramaQueen

    NadalDramaQueen Hall of Fame

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    I do think that Nadal's peak level on clay would beat anyone else at their peak on clay for a match. However, as I said in my previous post, I'm not really considering someone being on absolute fire. If I was, many of the goats may not be on the list.

    The discussion of absolute peak reminds me of the efficiency of heat engines. Even under ideal conditions, the efficiency isn't 100%. Similarly, a player at his best isn't going to paint the lines while hitting as hard as he can with every shot (not quite a one-to-one correspondence ;)). I don't think a discussion of that scenario is very useful.

    Anyway, I haven't read through the entire thread but I hope I have followed your definition well enough or at least offered a suitable explanation for why I didn't. Sorry if I've failed.

    It is a combination of Nadal's record at RG (and on clay in general) and a qualitative judgement of his play there that makes me think he has shown the highest level ever on a surface.

    I much prefer to watch Federer play but I can't deny that Nadal has raised my eyebrows quite a few times when he has really put his foot down.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2014
  10. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    How can there be a failure if it's just opinion? There is no failure here. Your answer is fine. This question has been asked in tennis circles for what seems to be an infinite amount of years. Frankly I do fine it interesting but that's just me.

    I appreciate the answer. I was curious about your thinking on the subject.

    To me the question asks what player is an unstoppable juggernaut if he is playing his best no matter who he plays and what that opponent does. It has intrigued tennis people forever. In so many tennis publications the names of Vines, Hoad and some others come up.

    The question asks for example if Djokovic was playing his best on red clay and Nadal was, who wins? That's very intriguing because I'm not sure if I don't go with Novak here.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2014
  11. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    No, the point was that if you are totally dominant in an era, perhaps the era is lacking in great players.

    You know the old saying, "Well, who did he beat?"
     
  12. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    Perhaps or maybe he was simply too good.
     
  13. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    Sure, like Emmo was too good for the guys in 1964.

    The question was about Sampras, whether he faced the highest level of competition.

    I would suggest that the late fifties were tougher.
     
  14. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    You can't compare an amateur split field with an open field, no comparison whatsoever.

    Sampras was more dominant in his best years than Hoad was in his, arguably evens out any competition edge the later has (if there is one).
     
  15. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Hoad,Kramer,Trabert,Gonzales,Rosewall and Sedgman...who gives a **** about split fields.

    No better six players going day in and day out at each other
     
  16. NadalDramaQueen

    NadalDramaQueen Hall of Fame

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    Of course, I am well aware that posters here can absolutely determine the relative level of two different fields that absolutely have no connection with each other. ;)
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2014
  17. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Sampras played pretty tough competition. He faced Edberg, Becker, peak Agassi in 1995 and for many years, Kuerten, Rafter, Chang, Rios, Goran, Lendl who was still tough, Courier.

    Hoad faced Gonzalez, Rosewall, Sedgman, Segura, old Kramer, Trabert, Laver, Olmedo, Cooper, Anderson, Gimeno. Of course Hoad didn't face Laver and Gimeno in the 1950's.

    We also have to take into account Hoad played Gonzalez on two tours which is incredibly tough. So over a period of a few years Hoad played Gonzalez way over 100 times, many of them five set matches.

    I would subjectively give the edge to Hoad in toughness of competition but Sampras did not have it easy. To compare his competition to the amateurs of the 1960's is a bit unfair.
     
  18. NadalDramaQueen

    NadalDramaQueen Hall of Fame

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    Honest question, have you read some of the posts by certain members here?
     
  19. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    NDQ, Yes, there were two fields but one of them comprised all the top players whereas the other did not.
     
  20. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    Hardly.

    In fact, I would rate Gonzales, Rosewall, and Sedgman of the late fifties crew ahead of Pete.

    And, of course, Hoad gets my nod ahead of his own group.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2014
  21. NadalDramaQueen

    NadalDramaQueen Hall of Fame

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    BobbyOne, I wasn't referring to the pro and amateur fields, I was talking about any two fields separated by a large amount of time. For example, comparing the field in the 50s to the 90s.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2014
  22. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    He FACED Edberg, yes, and got beat.

    He played Becker post-peak. Nothing to get excited about.

    Heck, Gonzales beat Budge....in 1953.
    Should we get excited about that?

    Agassi got some licks in against Pete.

    The other names...how many Wimbledon titles among them?
    Goran was great at times, but a real in-and-outer, winning Wimbledon courtesy of Fed beating Sampras.
     
  23. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    Yes but you're hardly impartial ;)

    What basis do you have for putting Sedgman a head of Sampras?
     
  24. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    Thank you for asking.

    Seixas picked a pumped up Sedge as the greatest player of all.

    Sedgman was the greatest volleyer of his day, with lightning feet, and deceptive moves at the net.

    His serve, when on, was the equal of anyone.

    He had lopsided final wins over Gonzales in 1953 at Wembley and 1959 at Kooyong.

    Yes, give Sampras a wood racquet, and I pick Sedge on grass.
     
  25. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Dan,

    You wanted tough competion. Edberg was tough. Budge was 38 in 1953 and almost never beat Gonzalez. I think on that tour Budge, in over twenty some odd matches I believe won once. Agassi was in his prime (most of the time anyway if he was interested) and Becker was under 30 for a good portion of that time and still dangerous. That match Sampras beat Becker in 1996 in Germany in the Year End Championship is legendary. Becker thought he couldn't play better and still lost!

    Sampras beat Edberg later in 1992 and also in 1993, 1994 in the Year End Championships.

    I would subjectively agree with you that Hoad had tougher competition but it's not fair to say Sampras didn't have tough competition.
     
  26. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Lol. But that doesn't pertain to your answer.:)
     
  27. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Among current players, Nadal is up there with all time greats in terms of peak play. As for Bjorn Borg, he won three majors without the loss of a set, including the 1976 Wimbledon title. He won the 1978 French Open while only losing a mere 32 games. mad
     
  28. helloworld

    helloworld Hall of Fame

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    I can't believe people are still dumb enough to compare across eras. The playing conditions are so different that we are basically comparing different sports! How can you say peak Jordan is greater than peak Ali?
     
  29. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    When did Sexias make those comments? I (perhaps wrongly) assume there are several greats he hadn't yet seen when he made those comments.

    Most of these comments plumping up players doesn't necessarily include modern greats. It depends when they were made.

    What was his game like off the ground?

    Beating Gonzales is impressive, what were the scores of those matches?

    It's unfair to just force a wooden racquet in Pete's hand and say he couldn't handle it, Sampras would adjust given time.
     
  30. helloworld

    helloworld Hall of Fame

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    Give Nadal a wood racquet, and he loses to everyone under the sun. What's your point exactly? :confused:
     
  31. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    Comparing playing level is dubious, even more so than achievements. All we can do is see how they dominated their contemporaries and how their shots compared their peers.

    In line with this Pete had THE serve of the 90's with Goran, some of the best volleys (+ half volleys), excellent movement and a top notch forehand. Can't say definitively that Sedgmen was better than him.
     
  32. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I don't think so. He would probably change his swing and his style but he's just too talented not to win. I think he's a player who could easily adapt.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2014
  33. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    Agreed, it annoys me when posters talk about the current guys as if they couldn't play with wooden racquets given some practice. Nadal isn't my favorite by any stretch but his athleticism, will to win and natural talent transcend era's.
     
  34. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    How much time do you give him to practice with 66 sq. in.?
     
  35. NadalDramaQueen

    NadalDramaQueen Hall of Fame

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    His whole life, as it is only fair.

    TT, the place where players are punished for fully realizing the potential of their (legal) equipment. :)

    I'm sorry, but it is quite obvious that if Nadal was initially given a wooden racquet he would take a few cuts with his rather vertical swing path and then give up on tennis forever. :)
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2014
  36. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Hard to say because he may be revamping his swing and style of movement. A guess would be around three months or more because you're breaking lifelong habits. Of course he cannot expect to hit the same shots as before because the equipment is different but he would also play opponents that wouldn't use that equipment either. He would also have to adjust to the different play styles of his opponents.

    Tilden took many months to learn an offensive backhand. Nadal's change would be more.
     
  37. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    Players from generations gone by would take time to adjust to the new racquets, they'd also want to change stroke mechanics. Wouldn't be so difficult but there would need to a lot of practice.
     
  38. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    What made Laver the best of all time?

    His biggest and most differentiated asset is how he turned the craziest underpercentage shots in the highest % winners

    and second, how he did it exactly when he was in a crossroad or just about being there.
     
  39. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    He's not the only player to do this.
     
  40. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Nobody did it better than him
    and won so much doing that
     
  41. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    I think both of these are debatable. No one tops him in terms of pure total number of titles. But in terms of majors Rosewall has more, others arguably have him beat or matched too.

    In terms of shot making I have no doubts he was one of the very best. So perhaps I could agree no one does it better, but perhaps some do it as well ;)
     
  42. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    geez¡ I just described a specifical quality Laver had head and shoulders aboveanyone who has ever picked up a racket...I wasn´t talking about records or even overall greatness.

    And Rosewall, risky shots??

    Did you ever see Rosewall live?
    Did you ever see Laver live?
     
  43. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    Yeah - I made the mistake of treating that as two separate statements e.g. no one pulled off so many risky shots and no one won as much. My mistake.
     
  44. monfed

    monfed Banned

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    Overall I'd say - Nadal on clay, Pete on fast grass, Fed on slow grass, fast HC, indoors. Slow HC is a tie b/w Fed and Nole for me for different reasons.
     
  45. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Monfed,

    It's for peak play for one match. Would you rank the same guys number one for one match on the same surface?
     
  46. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    What would you list be?
     
  47. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    NatF, Your posts seem to become more serious than kiki's...;-)
     
  48. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    kiki, You have overlooked Rosewall's risky shots. He often aimed to the lines...
     
  49. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    I would say my issue is usually that I become too serious ;)
     
  50. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    It is always hard to say but I think you would favor the players with great offensive serves and players with offensive returns on any surface. On clay you would pay special attention to players with powerful consistent strokes on both sides. For example Nadal clearly over the years has had a higher average level on clay than Djokovic but I think it's possible that Djokovic may be better at his best than Nadal. Novak to me has the superior serve and overall more forcing groundstrokes. Movement is of course important on any surface.

    Just discussing past players, a Vines on a fast surface with his great serve, volley and forcing grounded would be tough. A Gonzalez at his best, if he was serving bullets would be a nightmare to deal with on any surface. Borg would be tough on any surface as would Laver. Hoad of course is up there.

    John McEnroe in 1984 at Wimbledon was brilliant in destroying Connors. Mac had all the prerequisites for peak level play with a great serve, volley, returns and movement. Many in the know thought McEnroe's first two sets at the French that year was the most brilliant they had ever seen!

    Of course it's always tough to say. Connors only had a decent serve but he was capable of going into the zone as evidenced by his matches at Wimbledon and the US Open against Rosewall. He played a brilliant match against Tanner in the 1975 Wimbledon semi. So I can see a Connors or a Roaewall more than neutralizing the big serves if they were on.

    I remember a match Leconte played against Noah at the French one year in which Leconte went into the zone and he overwhelmed Noah with his power, even on the red clay.

    Pete Sampras would be incredible at peak level for fast and even some slower surfaces as long as he had good footing.

    Overall I look at the big servers first however and great returners. First strike tennis is important.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2014

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