Peak Play GOATS

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

  1. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne G.O.A.T.

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    Dan, I doubt that Sedgman would have lost tour matches to Cooper and Anderson.
     
  2. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Sedgman was every bit as famous as Rosewall or Hoad in his day. Thing is that he turned pro and essentially spent the rest of prime and competitive years as a pro barred from all classic majors. He did play some Open Tennis I believe but he was way over the hill being over forty. Sedgman even played the Australian Open as late as 1975 (counts as part of the 1976 season even though it was in December of 1975) winning the first round. That's not bad considering he was born in 1927. Rosewall was just young enough to be competitive in the Open Era. To give Rosewall credit that was because of his greatness and his style of play. Sedgman's greatness has been dimmed by time and the fact he was no longer great during the Open Era. At least Pancho Gonzalez (born in 1928 ) had some great and memorable wins in the Open Era.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
  3. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne G.O.A.T.

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    pc1, Sedgman beat Richard Lewis in the 1974/75 AO.

    Sedgman was a bit in the shadow of the pros because he lost the 1953 and 1954 tours and got no tour till 1961.

    Rosewall is more famous than Sedge because of his backhand and because he won much more majors (23:7).

    But Sedgman won a tournament as late as 1970: Victorian Hardcourts against Ian Fletcher.
     
  4. NatF

    NatF Talk Tennis Guru

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    In his day yes but these days he's rarely mentioned I find.
     
  5. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    And that's one of the things about tennis history that I find to be terrible, ie that some greats are often forgotten. Even some super greats like Pancho Gonzalez are somewhat forgotten. Laver, while he deserves to be well known is remembered because he played and won his Grand Slam in 1969 in the Open Era.
     
  6. NatF

    NatF Talk Tennis Guru

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    I feel Laver is mentioned almost by obligation these days not because his record is understood, someone like Pancho Gonzalez deserves equal respect IMO. Federer and Laver are usually the 2 GOAT candidates these days.
     
  7. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    It's very possible. Laver is mentioned by experts because he always is mentioned. No one seems to mention greats like Tilden, Kramer or Gonzalez anymore to use them as an example.
     
  8. NatF

    NatF Talk Tennis Guru

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    It's possible that the experts are aware of those players but just don't rate them as the GOAT's alongside Laver and Federer - which is the case for me with the exception of Gonzalez who I have as a candidate too.

    But I think it's more likely that they're just forgotten as they didn't achieve much in the Open Era.
     
  9. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    It always amuses me because so many seem to not consider that top competitive tennis existed before the Open Era in 1968. Forty-six years really isn't that long a period of time! I think another reason is that people don't understand or know what Gonzalez accomplished in tennis. They just go by his amateur accomplishments or perhaps regard him as this old man who somehow did well at the beginning of the Open Era.

    With Tilden however there is no really good excuse except that he played so long ago. His record in tennis is easily found and it's amazing. The only excuse is how long ago it was.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2014
  10. NatF

    NatF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yes the way the B league e.g. the amateurs but not the pro's is very strange. There's enough information out there now to evaluate those players. I think the trend is the view newer tennis players as better than the last generation, when you get back to Tilden's era the general perception is that tennis just wasn't as competitive back then.
     
  11. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Perhaps. It's always hard to say. Some of the names of the 1930's look awfully impressive to me with Vines, Budge, Nusslein, Tilden (still around), Perry at the top. The late 1940's through the 1950's with Kramer, Gonzalez, Sedgman, Kovacs, Hoad, Rosewall, Segura, Riggs look great also.

    I generally try to ask myself if I feel a player from that time would be successful today given the training and equipment from today. With Tilden I almost have no doubt he would be fantastic today given some time to adapt. The main reason is his brilliant tennis mind and how he could play any style he wanted if need be. He was an excellent athlete who was very mobile and an excellent serve. That's translates very well for today's game. Wouldn't be surprised if Tilden decided to hit with a two hand backhand for example.

    On my own list I take into account the advances of today and give, for lack of better term bonus points to players who have played more recently. Despite this Tilden is one of if not the top player.
     
  12. NatF

    NatF Talk Tennis Guru

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    I think the question would be more of depth rather than simply top level players. But yes the 30's certainly had some stand out names. I agree about Tilden adapting to modern tennis as well.

    There's some discussion in the General Pro Player section where the ranking of certain achievements is being discussed with point values. I would be interested in exploring that with pre-open era players and early open era players. Though I expect with a much more fickle definition of majors it would be quite difficult.
     
  13. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    The parameters of what is considered a great accomplishment varies from era to era. A good example to me is the head to head tours that had the pro who won it as the recognized World Champion of Tennis. Nowadays no one would consider that players would play tours of over one hundred matches to determine who was the best player. It's forgotten. Yet greats like Kramer and Gonzalez have a considerable amount of their tennis resume in these tours. They were clearly more important than even several majors.

    The WCT Championships of the early 1970's to a little later are another perfect example of what is a top tournament isn't necessarily the traditional classic majors. There is no doubt the WCT Championship was really a major in prestige for a good portion of the 1970's and perhaps later but it isn't taken into account nowadays.

    I would tend to agree the depth is higher now but I also think many of the top players years ago would be top players today.

    To rank by point values is a very difficult task because let's say you rank the WCT Championships by a certain point value, well you know eventually that it declined in prestige so do you lower the values by year and by how much?
     
  14. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    Sedge finished behind Anderson on the 1960 NZ tour.
     
  15. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    Do some reading, old boy.

    Gonzales did vow revenge, and got it the following year.

    But Sedge got him back in 1958 and 1959.

    When pumped, too tough.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2014
  16. Phoenix1983

    Phoenix1983 Hall of Fame

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    I agree with this.

    Tennis pundits seem to only talk about Open Era records, or if they do mention greats prior to that time, it's only in the context of the traditional majors, not about anything they did in the pro game.

    I don't know if it's a purposeful attempt to not discuss the pro tour, or just ignorance/laziness because it's easier to look at the grand slam records throughout the years and assume a continuum.
     
  17. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Yeah, WCT did lose a bit of impact by the second half of the 1980´s, but it was still considered one of the two indoor majors.By 1985 or so, I´d say the Australian had caught up.

    But the great thing about it is, even if there was no WCT tour anymore, it was a coveted title that all the great players wanted to win.Becker,Lendl,Mc Enroe,Edberg.In fact, the carpet was so important that it did fine with its two showdowns at Dallas and New York.
     
  18. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    But this is a distraction from the main point, that Sedge could raise his game to a great height and whip Gonzales, Trabert, Drobny, Seixas and others.

    I give Sedgman the edge over Sampras in a big grass match, as Sampras was not the athlete that Gonzales was.
     
  19. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    I agree with you that it's just a combination of ignorance and laziness. How many people actually realize how many head to head tours Gonzalez won or how many Pro Majors Laver and Rosewall won? And even if they did know I think many of them can't put it into the context of the times. Would they even know the importance of those tours that greats like Kramer and Gonzalez played?
     
  20. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne G.O.A.T.

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    Dan, It's unfair to make a claim, then not giving proofs and then saying: Do some read! Which books do you suggest???

    Gonzalez was better than Sedgman in 1959 and arguably in 1958.
     
  21. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    This seems to be what The Tennis Channel largely did in creating its list.

    Emerson way ahead of Gonzales!?
     
  22. Chopin

    Chopin Hall of Fame

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    What venue? Surely Nadal should be on this list.
     
  23. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Chopin it's opinion for who's the greatest for one match. What's your list? Nadal's one of the greatest I've seen but is his highest level among the top few of all time?
     
  24. ARFED

    ARFED Semi-Pro

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    So put your number 1 of your list playing against peak 2008 Nadal in Phillippe Chatrier in a best of 5 playing with modern racquets...
    Are you sure your pick is going to defeat Nadal??? :) My guess is that he will be straight setted, only Borg perhaps could win a set or 2


    Chopin is right, the context does matter
     
  25. Dan L

    Dan L Professional

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    You miss the point again.

    Sedgman WHEN PUMPED played in the stratosphere.

    He whipped Gonzales at Wembley in 1953 by 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.

    He whipped Gonzales in the 1959 Kooyong final 6-4, 9-7, 6-4.

    These were probably Sedgman's two most important wins, and show a level of peak play probably beyond Sampras.

    That was the issue, in case you have forgotten.

    When Sedgman was very rusty, he lost a marathon Wembley final to Gonzales in 1956, and a close five set Forest Hills decider to Gonzales in 1957.

    Keep things in perspective, please.

    Yes, leading up to 1953 Wembley, Gonzales played several warm-up tournaments.

    No excuse.
     
  26. JW10S

    JW10S Hall of Fame

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    If everyone is playing in long sleeves, long pants, sometimes wearing shoes with spikes, weilding 15+ oz wooden racquets, strung with gut with nothing but bare wood for a grip I'll pick Tilden.

    If everyone is playing with wood racquets, strung with gut, with white balls, wearing canvas shoes with socks folded down, and barnstorming through the world I'll pick Gonzalez.

    If everyone is using wood racquets, playing on slow clay courts one tournament, then fast grass the next I'll pick Borg.

    If everyone is using graphite racquets, with synthetic overgrips, polyester strings, homogenized court surfaces, I'll pick Federer.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2014
  27. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I agree.While Gonzales,Rosewall,Trabert,Kramer,Segura were more consistent players, as for mere peak play Sedgman was only second to Hoad in the whole 50´s.Gonzales himself knew that bottom up.
     
  28. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    I think pc 1 stated some time ago, that Sedgman in 1952 had the fewest sets and games lost in the Wim and US champs that year, and/or is among the best percentages ever for the year.
     
  29. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Didn't say I wouldn't pick Nadal up there. It's just that I have to reflect on it. Nadal has a different style from most. Often Nadal neutralizes a great players strengths while playing at a super level himself.

    It's always hard to say. The tennis history books tend to glamorized certain players as perhaps being invincible when on their game. Your pick of Nadal is excellent. Perhaps I overanalyze but I immediately think to myself what if he plays Djokovoic when he's also at his best. Djokovic has a better serve plus his backhand can handle the Nadal's lefty forehand. Both have great speed and power but Djokovic hits a flatter ball that drives through the court faster with more penetration I think. I know the Djokovic of 2011 could beat the Nadal of 2011 on red clay. Could Djokovic beat the Nadal of 2008? In my mind at his best versus Nadal at his best it's possible. That's what make these scenarios interesting. I also look at the super high level of play that Soderling was able to reach against Nadal in his one loss here. Soderling was in the zone hitting winners all over the place. Was it higher than Nadal's best and Djokovic's best, I don't know but it was tremendous. If someone argued that Soderling had a higher peak level on red clay for one match than anyone I wouldn't think it's that bad a choice. I'm just giving examples of what we have to consider here.

    By the way OF COURSE CONTEXT MATTERS. Can't agree with that more.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2014
  30. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    The other thing I also consider is first strike tennis.
    By that I mean things like a huge first serve and powerful attack weapons for peak level. To give an example I will use a player I don't care for and that's John Isner. Isner has one of the most devastating serves I've ever seen. Because of that serve he actually came very close to defeat Nadal at the French a few years ago! If you looked at skill level it's not even close but Isner's first strike serve allowed him to hold his serve even against Nadal on clay. There have been players in tennis history that have had comparable serves to Nadal but are far better in other strokes. A Lew Hoad had a huge serve but his groundies, volley and movement were far better. He was also known for going into the zone. How would he do in one match against Nadal? I have no doubt Nadal would win the majority of matches against him on red clay but against Hoad in the zone on clay versus Nadal in the zone? I'm not sure but Hoad had the big serve plus he could hit the ball on the rise very well with great pace.

    I mean it's fun to theorize and look at all the possibilities. There is another super famous clay court player that I would think would have absolutely no chance against Nadal because he just didn't have the weapons to bother Nadal even playing at peak level. Actually there are a few of them.

    ARFED, at peak level do you have choices on other surfaces like current grass, fast hard court and slower hard court? Let's add old Wimbledon fast grass.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2014
  31. mightyrick

    mightyrick Legend

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    As much as I enjoy watching Nadal... I have to say that given OP's criteria...

    Lukas Rosol's win against Nadal in Wimbledon was one of the greatest displays of "in the zone" tennis in the history of the sport. That last set alone was absolutely out of this world.

    Rosol's face even had a "glazed over/dazed" expression the entire match. Like the guy didn't even know where he was or what time it was.

    I'm sure that historically... there have been other great "in the zone" examples. But IMHO... Rosol is the best example in the last 30 years at least.
     
  32. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    That's a great example. I was thinking of that Rosol match myself. We could easily argue Rosol's best on Wimbledon grass is better than Nadal's. It can't be proven but we saw the incredible level that guy was playing at. Nadal may very well beat Rosol nine times out of ten on grass but the tenth time Rosol may be untouchable by Nadal.

    I was thinking of a Pancho Gonzalez who may very well serve better than Rosol on that day. How good could he be at peak level on grass or any surface for that matter.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2014
  33. PDJ

    PDJ Legend

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    For just one match: I'd say Evert v Navratilova Houston 87. Both players produced amazing tennis, but Evert when she needed it most.
     
  34. BTURNER

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    Not sure how many matches are won where the topspin lob truly plays plays a pivotal and decisive role. This was one. I wish I could see more than that 12 minute highlight clip. Evert just hit them perfectly time and time again in the late stages of those sets.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2014
  35. PDJ

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    I have the whole match on DVD- and the tennis is outstanding. The lob definitely won evert the match. The commentators lamented they hadn't kept a stat on just how many winning lobs she hit. For me, their best match in terms of tennis alone.
     
  36. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Wasn't a match where Lendl hit a ton of topspin lobs over John McEnroe's head? Don't remember when and where.
     
  37. ARFED

    ARFED Semi-Pro

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    Pc1, my guess is that you should go watch again 2008 Nadal version :)
    But you are right, is all debatable. I am not 100% sure (as nobody could ever be about this topic), but IMO 2008 Nadal on clay is the deadliest force on a particular surface. When you have a guy that is hitting with amazing depth on both groundies, with that much heavy spin, good luck trying to overpowering him. If someone like Hoad tries to go for the lines from the get go on every point against the kind of balls Nadal would be throwing at him, well if he ends up with less than 60 unforced errors in that match he is not human...

    For a slower-modern type of grass my pick would be either Laver or Federer. All court tennis adapts perfectly to this grass we have nowadays at Wimby, and i can`t think of 2 better all courters than this 2

    For anything faster than a medium paced court, be it carpet, wood, fast hard or old Wimby grass : Sampras, Pancho, Hoad

    Stich is my personal preference, but i know that i would be flamed if i pick him over the names previously mentioned

    For a slow hard court: 2011 Djokovic, but my guess is that a 78-80 Borg would be pretty close, sadly we never got to see him play on plexi or rebound ace
     
  38. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Actually I do watch it (2008 French Final) because I enjoy virtuoso performances by players as well as great exciting matches.

    Stich is actually a very nice and imo a very knowledgeable pick. I may not agree with it personally but I like it. If someone asked me who was more talented (and who knows what is talent) between Becker and Stich, I would say Stich. Beautiful backhand and serve.

    Nice choices of players on different surfaces. :)
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2014
  39. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    Djokovic somewhere in there near the top. 2011 is his peak season and he was ridiculous that entire first half of the season
     
  40. ARFED

    ARFED Semi-Pro

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    My 2 favourites were first Edberg and then Fed, but there was something about Stich`s game that was so appealing to me and many others i believe. Problem is that he was so inconsistent, that i hardly remember having watched good matches of him. But i do remember him toying with Sampras and Chang in some indoor tournaments around 93. I believe Sampras once told that if Stich was on his day there is nothing he could do to stop him
     
  41. BTURNER

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    I would never kill for property like a DVD, but I might maim!
     
  42. Chopin

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    On clay, yes. The thread doesn't specify if we're talking about clay or grass. The thread's premise, while in good fun, presents some problems. See below.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2014
  43. Chopin

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    I've reviewed some of the posts in this thread, and while many are thoughtful--PC1's are thoughtful in the context of this discussion--the thread itself is too quirky to merit this type analysis.

    The problem is that "peak level" is dependent on a context, and more specifically, on a ball coming over the net. There's only one shot in tennis that you have complete control over: the serve. All other shots are in response to something your opponent did. Federer can't achieve his "peak" play against Nadal on clay--a more precise way of saying this is that he can't respond to Nadal's ball to his backhand in the way he can against most other players. There's no all-encompassing, winning "trump card" in all surfaces in all matches. All of this "peak" levels are going to be dependent on the individual matches and surfaces. That's what tennis is, and that reality makes this thread and the analysis in it a little suspect in my opinion.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2014
  44. Chopin

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    Also, I find it strange that posters make claims about Tilden's "peak level" when they never saw him play.
     
  45. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Chopin, great post.

    You know what I think it is, this discussion of the peak level player is the outgrown of the GOAT discussion that rarely goes anywhere. To me the peak level discussion is actually more fun. Because I'm a tennis junkie I think about these things while driving and while in the shower which may say something about my sanity. :)

    I think we've all experienced how it is to play "in the zone" relatively speaking for your own level. Sidney Wood in his book "The Wimbledon Final That Never was..." actually goes into detail about how he felt when that happened. I guess we all want to see perfection even though it can never be achieved.

    It's basically a barroom type discussion but fun to talk about. I used to read about the peak level discussion in many tennis books. A lot of names have be mentioned and it's interesting to read about certain greats when they are in the zone. Rosol is the player some fans talk about when they discuss peak level in the last year or so. I think people were stunned on how great he played in the fifth set at Wimbledon against Nadal.

    You mention what Nadal does to Federer but I'd also like to add what Sampras used to do to frustrate Agassi and many of Sampras' other opponents. That is using his great serve to pull himself out of break point situations. Agassi used to mention that Sampras could play badly and still be even. All he'd have to do is play five good minutes (maybe it was two or three minutes. I don't member) and he'd win the set. Agassi found it very hard to use his great return to full effectiveness when Sampras was serving hard on many surfaces.

    Still it's the tennis ideal and it'll probably always be discussed. Who is the best ever when in the zone? Is it Federer? Is it Nadal, Djokovic? Or is it some fairly unknown player? Rosol wasn't exactly the most well known last year but if he played at that level again against someone, no one would be surprised anymore. It's just enjoyable to speculate.

    I find this topic to be entertaining. There isn't a right answer but we can all give our theories on this.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2014
  46. Chopin

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    ^I agree. I'm by no means saying that we shouldn't have these discussions, just saying that the premise is not completely "logical."

    It's good to hear from you again. I've been thinking about these message boards a bit, and I feel a bit bad about some of the arguments I got into with Datacipher and a few others over the years. I really wish everyone on these boards well and I'm happy that I presented challenging opinions to posters in the past, but on a few occasions, the arguments with a few select posters became "over the top." Well, I won't dwell on it, but I just wanted to say sorry to any poster, active, retired or banned, who was offended by some of the more crass moments over the years ha!
     
  47. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne G.O.A.T.

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    Dan, You are a liar: I asked you to give a proof for your thesis reg. 1953 and you were not able to give one. No meetings of Gonzalez vs. Sedgman before Wembley!

    Gonzalez beat Sedgman much more often than he lost to him.

    You pump up Sedgman to an insane level.
     
  48. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne G.O.A.T.

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    kiki, Don't trust insane claims!
     
  49. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    You're right. It's just not measurable like in any race when it can be timed. And even in some races there are different factors involved like the track conditions.

    To be honest I didn't know how to react to some of your posts in the past at first. However eventually I realized I was actually amused with many of your thread and comments. You were never offensive imo. Anyway you're an excellent chessplayer. You have to be nice guy. lol.

    Some posters take things too seriously. I probably have also to a degree.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2014

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