Peak Play GOATS

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

  1. monfed

    monfed Banned

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    Interesting question but a tough one,pc1. Here goes nothing -


    Fast grass - Sampras Wim 1999 F. Honbl'e mention, Krajicek vs Pete Wim 96
    Slow grass - Federer Wimb 2006 vs Gasquet, perhaps
    Clay - Nadal RG 08 F
    Fast HC - Fed USO 2004 F
    Slow HC - Can't pick b/w Fed AO 05 vs Agassi or Nole 2011 AO F vs Murray. Hon'ble mention Fed AO 07 vs Roddick
    Indoors - Fed vs Agassi TMC 03 or Fed vs Blake TMC 06
     
  2. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Thanks Monfed.
     
  3. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Better (too) serious than too nasty ;-)
     
  4. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    Your list is a good one, I think Djokovic at his best now might be better. But overall on clay Nadal has the edge. Nadal has lost foot speed and is more prone to errors than before.

    Djokovic has better combined groundstrokes but Nadal's peak movement, forehand and passing shots were all better on clay than Djokovic's. The one area where Djokovic is clearly superior is the return.

    In terms of peak level Federer's serve, forehand and movement combination is IMO arguably the best of all time. I completely disagree but at the YEC 2004 people were discussing whether Federer had a better serve than Roddick based on how well Federer placed it. In terms of hold game percentage he's right up there with the best serves of all time like Sampras and Roddick - albeit part of that is due to his whole game package.

    In terms of returning Federer has declined majorly and he always had trouble with Nadal's lefty serve out wide to his backhand especially on clay. But that's a shot most struggle with. At his best he was able to neutralize big servers and often got more aces than they did. He was a master at getting balls into play. He could also return offensively.

    A few video's of him handling the serves of Sampras, Karlovic and Philippoussis;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_hOnbvvVUo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-HOGspAApw

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7tmJOATeoo

    This is one of Roger handly a 140 mph serve from Roddick (in a tiebreak);

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gcvLbtaNxM

    He's not a GOAT returner by any stretch but he's a good returner.
     
  5. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I'm not going to disagree with the part in bold but I might add that I do think Djokovic also has a superior backhand to Nadal, although I do think Nadal's backhand is good. Nadal's play has declined this year as opposed to just last year. Hopefully he will regain his form so we can see both at peak level.

    Incidentally since you mentioned foot speed I can never figure out why Murray doesn't do well on clay because one of his many great assets is his great mobility. Sometimes he can be downright brilliant on clay but he never keeps it up. I am not sure if Murray isn't more talented than either Djokovic or Nadal. I like Murray's hands and feel for touch shots and I think his hand speed is very good at the net. He also has been timed at 140 mph in serving which is faster than either Djokovic or Nadal although I do think Novak has a better second serve. Brad Gilbert feels that Murray could be the fastest man in tennis although he also said that over five sets that Nadal was faster. That was before Murray improved his stamina.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2014
  6. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    But you disagree with the rest? ;)

    Yes Djokovic has a far superior backhand, but on clay Nadal's forehand is the greatest weapon ever IMO. Nadal's backhand is good when confident, when he's not it's mostly a rally shot, although he passes exceptionally well off that side.

    Do you feel of the last 10 years or so that Djokovic then Nadal have the highest level of play?

    Murray is hugely talented, his struggles on clay are his strokes. He hits with very little spin and generally pace compared to the other top players, so he doesn't pressure his opponents too much consistently. He can't maintain aggressive hitting on clay especially and makes a lot of errors. His second serve is the worst of the top 10 by far I think. Which costs him as well on a surface like clay.

    He moves better on grass and hardcourts compared to clay too.

    I recently saw some match highlights of his USO 08 win over Nadal, the way he mixed up his game was beautiful to watch.
     
  7. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    The 1953 Wembley final, Sedgman df. Gonzales 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.

    The 1959 Kooyong final, Sedgman df. Gonzales 6-4, 9-7, 6-4.

    Seixas was interviewed after retirement, late fifties or early sixties.

    Sedgman whipped Seixas at Forest Hills and Davis Cup, so he knew what he was talking about.
     
  8. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    So Seixas can't have known how good the likes of Sampras, Borg, McEnroe, Federer or even Laver would be. His comments carry weight regarding players of that era but not beyond it.
     
  9. Nathaniel_Near

    Nathaniel_Near G.O.A.T.

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    Murray's strokes lack penetration and heaviness and his footwork and movement on clay is not optimal.
     
  10. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    And the eras before it.

    Sedgman had good groundies, and was runner-up at Roland Garros in 1952 and 1959.

    Sedgman and Gonzales were the equal of Fed on clay.

    Of course, Rosewall, Trabert, and Hoad were better still on clay.

    The fifties were the greatest for clay.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2014
  11. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Mats addresses this--
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_USmscL29g

    Start at 5:37.
     
  12. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    Interesting, I disagree. I think all great champions would adapt to different era's. Still nice to have some endorsement for Federer who I think would adapt quickest of the modern folk.

    Yes of course, that is what I meant.

    Perhaps they were the equal of Fed on clay, perhaps not. Federer actually won Roland Garros and was runner 4 times to the greatest clay courter of all time.

    Rosewall is the only one of those who is definitely better than Federer on clay.
     
  13. Phoenix1983

    Phoenix1983 Hall of Fame

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    Trabert has to rank close to/slightly ahead of Federer on clay, I think.

    He won 2 amateur FO's then 2 French Pro titles. Obviously, he did not have to face Nadal, and all of these titles were in split fields. But still, 4 major clay titles is very impressive.
     
  14. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    I rank Federer's finals and masters on the same level of those amateur FO's at least. But Trabert went through some good players to win his Pro titles so that's a definite plus for him. Still I only said definitely better, I don't think Trabert is definitely better, arguably better perhaps.

    Good points though, perhaps I over looked him slightly.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2014
  15. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    specially if you face Ken Rosewall, Lew Hoad or Pancho Segura
     
  16. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    It is close with the 70´s.In the 50´s clay court scene there were some great players such as Rosewall,Patty,Hoad,Trabert,Pietrangeli,Drobny.I don´t know if Frank Parker played at all in that decade and there was also Segura.

    The 70´s had Rosewall,Gimeno,Nastase,Kodes,Borg,Vilas,Orantes,Panatta and Connors who was very good on clay.
     
  17. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    NatF, I agree. Sedgman is a bit over-rated. In the 1953 Wembley final he beat an out of shape Gonzalez who promised to hunt Sedgman the following year when he beat him 30:21...

    But Sedg played a great match against Pancho in the 1956 Wembley final, one of the all-time great matches.
     
  18. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    NatF,

    I think Seixas did make that list around the 1980's. He knew about Borg, McEnroe and Laver. But obviously at the time he didn't know about Sampras and Federer. I have the book but I don't know where I put it. I do know that he was really impressed by Sedgman. Hopefully I can find it to put all this in a better context.
     
  19. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    Thanks pc1, that would be good. I tend to find players talk about the players they faced and lost to as being the best ever, there's a little bit of ego in there generally. Or in reverse Andre Agassi saying Federer is a class above Sampras as a way to put down someone who bested him.

    Adds another layer of subjectivity to the whole ordeal of deciding who the pea play GOAT is.
     
  20. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I agree with you totally here. You always have to look with a grain of salt when player discuss their peers. You note what they have to say and know where it's coming from.
     
  21. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    Do you prefer the eye test when rating playing level then? What you see yourself. I tend to look at match stats e.g. high numbers of winners, look at the commentary surrounding that player so past players/current players and also what I see when I watch dominant or high level contests. The first and the third of those things is what I value most.
     
  22. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    I have a list by Vic Seixas in the Giller book of 1986:
    Budge, Kramer, Gonzalez, Laver, Sedgman, Hoad, McEnroe, Rosewall, Borg, Emerson.
     
  23. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    How many of these could play at RG with the boycotts?
     
  24. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    No, Herr Bobby, Gonzales had already played a half-dozen event against Sedge leading up to Wembley, and was not out of shape.

    However, Sedge was certainly rusty in the 1956 Wembley final and 1957 Forest Hills decider.
     
  25. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    I recall that Seixas' remarks about Sedge were qualified to refer to when Sedge was pumped.

    Sedgman was clearly not as consistent as Gonzales or Hoad, but I see him beating Sampras on grass when both are strong.

    Faster feet.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2014
  26. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    Was there an order to his rankings?
     
  27. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    All of them bar Rosewall
    Consider also that almost one third USO were staged on cc
     
  28. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Eye test on video can be hard at times. If you see some videos of some greats it may not make them look that good but other videos of the same old time players may make them look great. Even eye tests for some experts can be downright awful. For example when Borg was invincible many didn't understand the different way he played from the classic serve and volleyers of the time. Some actually called him a looper which was ridiculous. Now many called Borg the father of modern tennis.

    Of course I do have certain opinions of great players based on what I've seen in person, on video and on television. But just because I may think a player's style is awful or ugly doesn't mean that I don't think a player is great. When I first saw McEnroe play I thought his game looked ugly to me but I realized after a while the beauty of his game.

    When I see an expert's opinion I will remember it and keep it in mind. For example so many players and experts have called Segura's forehand the greatest single shot of all time. It is not just one but many. Laver, who only faced Segura when Segura was passed 40 called Segura's forehand probably the best he faced. All of these experts have similar opinions. Even Segura has modestly said just a few years ago that he had a good forehand. I was amused when he said that because to say his forehand was good is like saying the Pacific Ocean is a puddle. That's really understatement.

    You really have to look at record first, strength of opposition etc.

    Too often so called experts in tennis will say something because the player's style looks so great but the player was really overrated. The player may look great but he didn't win. Some, as Brad Gilbert put it could win ugly. Laver for example imo looked great most of the time but if he had to he could win in an ugly way. That's something I respect.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2014
  29. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    Well that's why you need to watch a lot of matches, I feel like with modern video you can judge well enough if someone is hitting with depth, accuracy and pace etc...I can see if Nadal has hit a huge forehand close to the lines, I can see if he does it repeatedly.
     
  30. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I forgot that Seixas put his list in that book too. Here's his order----
    1. Donald Budge
    2. Jack Kramer
    3. Pancho Gonzalez
    4. Rod Laver
    5. Frank Sedgman
    6. Lew Hoad
    7. John McEnroe
    8. Ken Rosewall
    9. Bjorn Borg
    10. Roy Emerson

    Sedgman is a greatly underrated player. He was a volleyer of the highest level, arguably the greatest ever. I guess his closest comp would be Edberg but his forehand was considered excellent but his backhand was not of the level of Edberg. Sedgman is a player who is in the running for fastest tennis player ever also.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2014
  31. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    Thanks, interesting. High rankings for Kramer and Budge.
     
  32. Phoenix1983

    Phoenix1983 Hall of Fame

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    Seixas is still alive at the age of 90, I wonder what his Top 10 would look like today?

    His ranking seems to be a combination of achievements and peak play. McEnroe above Borg is an indication of this.
     
  33. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Not surprised about the high ranking for Budge and Kramer. Historically they always have been ranked very high. Both have been called the GOAT numerous times.
     
  34. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Seixas' list wasn't that long after McEnroe destroyed Connors in the 1984 Wimbledon. It was during McEnroe's peak. Psychologically most tend to remember what impresses them at the moment and rank that player or moment higher.

    I find that many in the past tend to rank on their perception of level of play.
     
  35. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    The interesting was aimed more at the low placement of Borg and Rosewall especially in relation to Emerson. Kramer and Budge are often highly spoken of. Seixas seems to support my view than Pancho was better than Rod as well.
     
  36. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Seixas list that I put up is his most updated list. He moved McEnroe up from when he wrote his book.

    It's not unusual for placements to differ. Nowadays the three most common names on these lists are Laver, Federer and Sampras. A few years ago it was Laver, Borg and McEnroe. In a list in 1969 by a ton of tennis experts they had Tilden, Budge and Laver. Tilden was number one on that list.

    I'm sure in a few years some names will change from today.
     
  37. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    Again, Seixas rating for Sedge was different for those occasions when he was pumped.

    In terms of consistency, it looks like a different list from him.
     
  38. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    Nowadays I think Nadal and even Djokovic are rated higher for peak play than Sampras.

    Who did he rate for consistency? Regardless I have been convinced that Sedgman had a very high level of play, just not that it was higher than Sampras.
     
  39. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    NatF, That way Seixas could also rate Rosewall as a GOAT candidate because he almost always lost to Muscles...;-)
     
  40. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    NatF, I mostly go along the results of a player for peak play.

    If a man wins an open Grand Slam, he must have awesome playing strength.

    If a man wins 25 majors he also must have awesome peak play.
     
  41. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    No, Mr. Lobb, Gonzalez had played only two small tournaments before Wembley, against oldies like Budge and Riggs.
     
  42. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Dan, Sedgman was more consistent than Hoad!
     
  43. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    NatF, I think that many experts have over-rated Budge and Kramer (plus Perry).
     
  44. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    This list does not look like a Peak Performance list, but an overall list.

    I think that Seixas put Sedge ahead of Kramer on peak performance.
     
  45. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    No, Herr Bobby, there were at least five matches between Sedge and Gonzales leading up to Wembley.
     
  46. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    McEnroe would not be a head of Borg or Rosewall in that case.
     
  47. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    Ridiculous, Bobby.

    Look at the tour results.
     
  48. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I found the book "Prime Time Tennis" and here's quote from the book that explains it--I have a confession to make. While I had no trouble selecting the top of my list, I found it more and more difficult at the bottom. Budge, Kramer, Gonzalez, Laver and Sedgman are five who absolutely belong there; their records are all the evidence you need. But then you have someone like Rosewall, who played so long and so well, yet on a given day was not that great a player. Hoad played for a much shorter period but had a fantastic record. You have to weigh how much longevity should count.

    Now in look at Seixas' book it's clear he is somewhat in awe of the speed and ability of Frank Sedgman, using terms like invincible at times. Sedgman certainly had some incredible years in the amateurs and he was excellent in the pros although he was overshadowed by Kramer and Gonzalez. To me it is apparent Seixas values what he believe is the level of play of the greats and he ranks Sedgman so high based on that.

    How strong was Sedgman? Many who observed Sedgman believed he was a superior volleyer to even greats like Kramer, Gonzalez, Laver, Hoad and Rosewall. His volleys were penetrating. Kramer wrote that if Sedgman got his racquet on it, the volley was almost always a putaway.

    He had an excellent serve, great speed, stamina and a strong forehand with a good backhand. Essentially to me similar to Edberg but his better groundstroke was his forehand while Edberg's was his backhand. My best guess is that Sedgman was superior to Edberg for level of play.

    There are a couple of points I'd also like to make. Sometimes a player is able to play super tennis because his opponent allows him to do it. Often a great overpoweringly serve is the great equalizer. I think Agassi once complained about Sampras and how Sampras could play badly and still be on even terms with him. Agassi said something like that Sampras could play five good minutes of tennis and win the set. I think that frustrated Agassi and I don't blame him. However that's the way tennis is and the serve can often overcome all. That's why greats like Gonzalez, Kramer and Sampras with great serves have huge advantages over greats who don't have an overpoweringly serve like Agassi.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
  49. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    Yes sometimes having a couple of huge weapons is better for winning matches than having a more balanced game - not that Agassi was more balanced.

    Sedgman seems to have had a very solid and damaging game. Interesting comments on Rosewall too, I feel he's doing him a disservice as Rosewall won many big matches against supposedly 'better' players but I do feel his level of play wasn't GOATly.

    Sedgman doesn't get spoken so much with regards to volleys, especially compared to the greats you listed. I guess that's to do with his lack of comparative fame.
     
  50. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Dan, Then list up those matches. I never heard of them.

    I once read that Gonzalez was not match-tight at Wembley and that he swore revenge for the following year.
     

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