Pre-open era was a immature stage of tennis history

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by NGM, Nov 10, 2012.

  1. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Lew Hoad didn't turn professional until July 1957. Why have you brought up the best amateur list? Hoad was the best amateur player in 1956 and 1957, but Gonzales was the best professional player, and the best professionals were the best players in that era. Hoad had a world pro tour against Gonzales in 1958, and Hoad managed to get a 18-9 lead at one stage, before Gonzales eventually won 51-36.
     
  2. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    From the 1930s to the 1960s, if you made a name for yourself as a great amateur player, by winning majors like Wimbledon, US Championships etc. you almost certainly turned professional, in order to challenge the best players in the world for open prize money. The professional tour was smaller in terms of numbers, but very high in terms of playing level.
     
  3. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    No, it was 18 to 8, and Gonzales had given up hope, according to Kramer. Hoad's back gave out at Palm Springs, and the series turned around drastically.
     
  4. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Why did you ignore the rest of my post? Without a split fields there would be prone for upsets, as i have gave a few examples.

    Roddick would greatly benefitted if there was a split field, as evidence that he couldn't beat Federer. However, there's no evidence that Emmerson would win NOTHING had there was no split field, or the entire amateur would win nothing either. I'm sure there would be plenty of upsets.
     
  5. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    QFT. That's why tennis records are published that only covered in the open-era. It has more meaningful when tennis competes in one tour.
     
  6. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Have some of you ever read a book on tennis? At least the Collins encyclopedia. Of course the records of pre open era tennis are published.
     
  7. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    But my point is most of the published are only from the open-era. I believe historians see open era tennis stats are the holy grail(eg years #1, slam count, weeks at #1, winning %, most titles, etc.)
     
  8. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    We've been through this so often:

    1. The amateur fields didn't have the best players, but did have the big numbers in the draw
    2. The professional fields had the best players, but smaller numbers in the draw

    There's a reason why nobody after Fred Perry dominated the majors in the amateur field, apart from Roy Emerson, and that's because once they had made a name for themselves as a top amateur player, they would turn professional and then be barred from the mainstream majors until the open era began in April 1968.

    After Don Budge won the 1938 Grand Slam, he turned professional
    After Bobby Riggs won the 1941 US Championships, he turned professional
    After Jack Kramer dominated 1947 in the amateurs, he turned professional
    After Pancho Gonzales beat Ted Schroeder in the 1949 US Championships final, he turned professional
    After Frank Sedgman dominated in the amateurs in 1952, he turned professional
    After Tony Trabert dominated the amateurs in 1955, he turned professional
    After Ken Rosewall did very well in the fall of 1956, he turned professional
    After Lew Hoad won his second Wimbledon title in 1957, he turned professional
    Ashley Cooper and Mal Anderson turned professional after being the best 2 amateur players of 1958.
    After Rod Laver won the 1962 Grand Slam, he turned professional.

    Is it clearer now?

    And then there's players like Hans Nusslein (barred from being an amateur player for life at the age of 15 for allegedly taking payments), and Pancho Segura (a 4-time US Championships semi finalist as an amateur, but a far superior player in the professional game and arguably Gonzales' main rival).
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
  9. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Mustard, I agree with your well written post. There is only a little reservation.
    Rosewall did not only very well in the fall of 1956. In fact he was the top amateur after Wimbledon for the remaining year.
     
  10. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    I think the point TMF is making is that if tennis had been open, say from 1930, the top pros would have been LESS dominant than their records actually were.
    There is some reasonableness in this. Vines in the 1930's was prone to upsets, and would have had a tougher time in major tournaments playing against Perry, Crawford, von Cramm, Budge and others.
    The pros in the 1950's had limited tournament play until 1958, and Kramer and Gonzales would have faced possible upsets from Sedgman, Hoad, Trabert, Rosewall, who all, in fact, did actually show well against Gonzales in tournament play. Many of the "major" pro wins by the top players were against weak fields, because the top amateurs were not able to play against them.
    Laver and Rosewall desperately attempted to sign Emerson and Santana to pro contracts to give some needed depth to the pro game.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
  11. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Vines was prone to upsets only as an amateur.
     
  12. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    And only in 1933.

    In reponse to Dan Lobb and the number of professional tournaments, they certainly increased the number of pro tournaments in the late 1950s, but there were many from 1954-1957 as well, especially 1954 when there were also a lot of small tournaments across North America. 1951-1953 had a lot less tournaments, but even in these years, Gonzales won a total of 8 tournaments over these 3 years combined.
     
  13. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    In the early 1950's, Gonzales was rusty without regular play, and lost some big finals (1951 Forest Hills, 1953 Wembley). From 1954, he got regular play, and was more consistent.
     
  14. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Let me ask you guys two questions....

    If we have a split field today, would the players in each tour stand a better chance of having a better career? Yes or no.

    If the pre-open era never had the split field, would the players suffer more losses? Yes or no.

    There's no point in arguing anymore.
     
  15. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    TMF, There is yet a point in arguing as long as there are one-sided posters...

    I'm quite sure that the careers of Gonzalez, Rosewall and Laver would not have been significantly different if there were not split fields. I doubt that the top amateurs would have bothered the top pros too much. The "big three" would have probably won 20 or more open majors.
     
  16. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Very nice list. Commendable!
     
  17. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I am sorry for the transparency of your specious premise.

    Let me state it succinctly: Federer is the greatest because tennis in the pre-Open era was no good.
     
  18. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    Huge impact? Does it really? The big 4 have won EVERY single grand slam title since the 2005 Australian Open, with Del Potro being the lone exception. That's 31 out of 32. You really think it would make a huge impact, when the top 4 have won pretty much every major for almost the last decade?


    Again, the field wasn't really "split". Virtually all the legendary players were the pros.
    You're kind of making my point here. Roddick would have a great career sans the big 4, but he wouldn't be half the player, and would never be in contention for best in the world in a field of Nadal, Fed, Murray, and Djokovic. And he wouldn't deprive them of very much (although he would garner the occasional scalp). So, bizzarely, you are arguing against yourself here.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
  19. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    Hoad was still blossoming in '56-'57, whereas Gonzales was a far more seasoned champ. Hoad was not the best player in the world in either of those years, and in '58 (Hoad's first year as a pro), Gonzales beat him 51-36 on the tour and beat him in the TOC.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
  20. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Yes, but suppose Hoad had turned pro in 1953 (and Kramer made him a hot offer), at the age of 19. (Alternatively, that tennis is opened in 1954).
    What happens next? I think that Hoad matures by 1955, and is a serious challenge to Gonzales in every tournament.
    Likewise, if Trabert and Rosewall turn pro in 1954, you also have two more contenders in majors, especially at Roland Garros (you cannot assume that Gonzales, who was tough on clay, would beat these three guys at Roland Garros, because all three were even better on clay than Gonzales).
    Sedgman is also more of a contender, because on grass his game is tougher than on wood.
    How do you see Gonzales winning twenty majors? Sorry, I don't.
    The field in the late fifties (from 1956 to 1960) is just too strong for one player to "dominate" the way Federer has at times.
     
  21. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    You make some very salient points, but there are a lot what-ifs there. I think if that would have happened, Gonzales would have been even more driven. Remember that Gorgo himself had his share of dry spells, like in '60, where he competed in few tournaments.

    Also, even at the age of 26 after several years on the pro circuit, Rosewall was edged by Gonzo 16-5 in the h2h in 1960. From '57-'60, the head-to-head was 90-42 Gorgo, a very decisive edge.

    I don't think Trabert would take many majors away from Gonzales. Gonzales was far better on fast surfaces (none of his 17 were won on clay).
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
  22. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Like Sampras? Gonzales had the ability to win on clay, but there was fierce competition there, Rosewall, Trabert, Hoad maybe the three greatest ever on clay. No way Gonzales can dominate.
    On grass Hoad, Sedgman could match him.
    The toughest field ever.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2012
  23. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    I agree Gonzales wouldn't dominate on clay, but my point is that the stronger clay field wouldn't necessarily hinder his major count because he never won a major on clay anyway.
     
  24. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Gonzalez did win a number of clay court tournaments including I believe the US Clay courts in 1949 so you never know. He was an excellent clay court player.
     
  25. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    There is the problem. The pros only played Roland Garros in 1956, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1968.
    I was assuming that open tennis arrived in 1954, and Gonzales had a shot at Roland Garros every year.
    Gonzales won on clay at Toronto in 1959, and other clay events. He was better than Sampras on clay.
    But even on grass (no major is played indoor on wood), Gonzales would not have reached 20.
    I believe that Hoad and Sedgman could have stopped him on grass.
     
  26. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    1950—Kramer/Segura
    1951—Kramer
    1952—Gonzales/Sedgman
    1953—Kramer(6)/Segura(2)
    1954—Gonzales
    1955—Gonzales
    1956—Gonzales
    1957—Gonzales
    1958—Gonzales(6)/Sedgman(2)
    1959—Hoad
    1960—Rosewall
    1961—Rosewall
    1962—Rosewall
    1963—Rosewall(4)
    1964—Laver
    1965—Laver
    1966—Laver
    1967—Laver
    1968—Laver
    1969—Laver
    1970—Laver(7)

    Interesting comparison.
     
  27. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Dan, Gonzalez is more likely to win 20 or 25 open majors than Rosewall and Laver.
     
  28. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Safin in 05 AO, Del Potro in 2009 USO, Nalbandian in 2005 Shanghai Master Cup, Davydenko/Del Potro were winner/finalist in 2009 WTF. THese are HUGE events that would be owned by Federer had these guys were playing in another field. Fed would have a SUPER year in 2005(better than his best 2006) had there wasn't for Safin/Nalbandian, because he would have won 3 slams/year and beat Mac 1984 win/loss record(82-3).

    As dominant as FEderer was, he still had some upsets, so no question Laver and Rosewall would get plenty of upsets in a big stage had there wasn't a split fields. 1962 Laver won 4 slams as an amateur and many have said he wasn't even the best player in the world, lol. His 6 overall amateur slams could have been reduce had the pro was competing too. The 3 pro majors had only 8-14 players. Had the amateur were in the mix and have 128 draws, who knows how many times Laver/Rosewall get upset.

    No matter how much to want to defend the pre-open era, players have better success with having a 2 fields .
     
  29. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Gonzales faced a much tougher field than either Laver or Rosewall, whose only serious competition came from each other.
    As it was, how many majors, closed and open, did Laver win?
    I make it 21, including the 1968 pro majors (US Pro, Roland Garros).
    Gonzales gets 16 (including 8 bogus US Pro events, and 2 Forest Hills Tournament of Champions).
    This was caused by the higher level of competition at the professional level.
    If tennis had been open from 1950, how would things have changed?
    I think that Laver's totals would have been the same, or greater, as there were only 3 majors for the pros, and four majors in open tennis. Laver was a mature player by 1961, and I would give him the edge at Wimbledon and Forest Hills beginning that year. Only Rosewall from the players of the fifties was still a force in his prime, until about 1964.
    Gonzales, on the other hand, would have faced major competition from the developing players, (Segura and Sedgman already denied him majors in the early fifties, then also Trabert, Rosewall, Hoad would have joined the list). Gonzales faced too much competition, and I think his totals would have declined if tennis had been open.
    Still, I accept Rosewall's overall rating; 1) Hoad 2) Gonzales 3) Laver 4) Federer.
    You have to take the level of competition into account when rating players.
     
  30. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Dan, your strange opinions don't become better when you repeat them again and again.

    First, Gonzalez had a much longer career on or near the top than Laver had.

    Rosewall's rating is NOT an overall rating regarding achievements. It just points to the playing strength in ONE match or a few top matches, as I suppose.

    Laver having the edge since Wimbledon and US Open 1961 is curious. I refuse to tell you my real opinion about your statement...

    Rosewall and Laver would have stolen many majors from each other. And it's not true that only these two were serious competition in the 1960s. You ""forget"" Hoad, Gonzalez, Gimeno and others.

    How strong Gonzalez was as an old man you might see at his SF in the 1968 French Open and the QF in the US Open when he beat Tony Roche clearly...
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2012
  31. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Hoad and Gonzales won their majors in the fifties, not sixties. Gimeno never won a major until the depleted 1972 French.
    After 1963, Laver won the vast majority of the major pro events.
     
  32. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Dan, It's not easy to win a major if you face peak Laver and peak Rosewall in every major. That's why Gimeno did not win a pro major. It would have been also difficult for a Borg or a Connors...

    Laver won so much after 1963 as you rightly say but not from 1961 onwards as you earlier wrote.
     
  33. DolgoSantoro

    DolgoSantoro Professional

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    So Gimeno was a really good player, it's just that a few really strong players monopolized the majors and so we should regard him as quality competition?

    This sounds eerily familiar to someone else's arguments, but I can't place it now. I'll come back when I think of whose.
     
  34. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    I am assuming open tennis from 1950.
    Therefore, Laver gets quality competition against the best BEFORE 1961, when he matures as a player.
    Likewise, Hoad gets top play BEFORE he matures in 1956.
    So these guys are ready to go when they mature.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2012
  35. SoBad

    SoBad Legend

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    Frank Hadow, I remember, had a heck of a forehand - much better than Federer, but not as many RPMs as Nadal.
     
  36. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    As TheFifthSet pointed out, the big Four have won 31 of the last 32 majors. That's an extreme case but it shows just how much a small group of players can lock up the majors, even when facing full fields.

    Your list of upsets is relevant but there is no way to know whether the upset players would have won those majors, if they had won those matches. If Sampras had not faced Krajicek, I think he probably would have won the event. Nadal if he had not faced Rosol, I'm not sure.

    Federer, if he had not faced Del Potro in the USO final, would have faced Nadal whom Delpo beat in the semis; and at that time I think Federer would have beaten Nadal; but the principle there is still true, he could have lost.

    It's complicated because, yeah, in an open field, Laver might get upset in an early round. But then again one of his big rivals who's been beating him might be the one to get upset (like Nadal was eliminated by Soderling), clearing his way to the title.

    I'm not saying you're wrong, I just think that if you imagine open fields for Laver, his major haul might be lower, or the same, or even higher than it actually is. I'm sure you're wondering how it might be higher, but the reason is that in an open field Laver would have 4 chances every year to win majors. In reality he won a lot of his majors with only 3 chances per year (from 1963-67).
     
  37. TheFifthSet

    TheFifthSet Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, like I said there'd be the occasional upset win. But you're using wins that are years apart. The big picture would still be the same: 31/32. Remember that number.



    Of course they would, but the difference would still be fairly negligible in my opinion.


    Edit: Krosero explains it far more eloquently :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2012
  38. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Totally logical post.

    Another thing I would like to point out is that it's basically mandatory for the players to play all four majors nowadays. It was not mandatory years ago so just about every top player skipped the Australian Open in the late 1970's to part of the 1980's. There were boycotts and often some majors would banned some players (like those who played World Team Tennis) from playing in their tournament. Laver's group couldn't play the Australian and French in 1970 for some reason, I think it may have been price money. Bottom line is that if you have more opportunities to play the majors you have a greater chance to win more majors, especially if you're a top player like Laver, Rosewall or John Newcombe. I think Newcombe had a great chance to win Wimbledon in several years but he couldn't play the tournament.

    Also you must consider that the old pros couldn't play the majors for decades because pros were not allowed to play the majors. Greats like Tilden, Budge, Gonzalez, Rosewall, Kramer and Laver were hurt by this. I believe Tilden who was virtually unbeatable in the 1920's would have won several calendar year Grand Slams and his majors total easily would have been in the mid to high twenties area in my opinion. Tilden was hampered by the travel conditions of his day which only boat travel was available easily and it would have taken many weeks to travel to Wimbledon for example. He would be exhausted and out of shape. Despite that he still won several Wimbledons.

    Gonzalez played at a high level for over twenty years. He was still winning tournaments into his forties. How many majors would he have won? This is the same with Ken Rosewall.

    Right now Roger Federer has won 17 majors. That's an excellent number but we have to take it into context when we point out he won those majors in 54 attempts. Sampras, who used to hold the record won his 14 majors in 52 attempts. Considering the times I would tend to think that Federer must win a number of majors more in order for his record to be safe for a while. I think at 17 it is very vulnerable to being broken sometime in the near future. I can't see it lasting as long as the Joe DiMaggio consecutive game hitting streak for example which is over 70 years old. To put it in perspective, the Women have always been allowed to play all the majors and despite some boycotts and bans many women like Court, Graf, Evert and Navratilova have won over 17 majors. So I would tend to think Federer has to put the total into the twenties to keep it safe for a little while.

    Remember the fixed number of majors is important but perhaps even more important is the amount of majors played and the winning percentage of majors win to majors entered.
     
  39. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    No player can play high level in their late 30s, much less in the 40s today. AS evidence there isn't any because the depth/strength of the field doesn't allow that to happen.

    Federer 17 slams is tough to match/break than you really believe. Because to reach that numbers, first you have to be incredibly talented, which Mac said Federer is like one in billion out there. You have to be almost injured free, always fit to play at a high level to give you a chance. You can't skip any slam, and limited to fewest upsets as possible. And you have to start winning slam at the early age, which isn't that possible like during the early days, again, all because the depth/strength of the field. Not to mention by the time you reach 30, the window of oppotunity has closed considerabliy. AS talented as Nole is, he start out winning late in his career, and at 25 it's impossible to catch Roger. If you've been watching Davis Cup, they said tennis today is the 2nd most global sport in the world behind soccer. That speaks volume.

    Sure, records are made to be broken. Just because Sampras's 14 slam record couldn't last for a decade doesn't necessary mean Roger's slam record is going to be broken anytime soon. It took almost 40 years for Mark Mcgwire to break Roger Maris home run record. Yet, it took only a few years for Barry Bond to break Mcgwire's record. So far, no player is remotely close to Bond's 73 home runs per season.

    Women's tennis is not like the men's tennis. you can't equate they are equal, slam to slam, or title to title. Because if you compare all tennis records, women always has the higher numbers in every categories. I would say Fed's 17 is a lot tougher than Graf's 22, certainly much tougher than Court 24.
     
  40. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    It has nothing to do with the depth of the field, but to do with the number of hardcourts on tour today, and also the more power elements in the modern game.
     
  41. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    The power game and hc are part of it, but the greater depth influence great players to retire early. No one likes to flame out in early round. Sampras retire early despite winning the 02 USO, because he kept on losing and his ranking plummeted. This isn't Bjorkman or Santoro, the journeyman use to get flamed out early, so they pursue to have a long career. For legendary player, he doesn't like to stick around. If Federer isn't part of a the elite 4, and his ranking fell off the chart, that increases his chance to retire. Even Roddick retire at 30 because the depth of the field left him zero chance to winning anything.
     
  42. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Of course you would.
     
  43. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Well, comparing WTA to ATP is apple to orange anyway, and my opinion is it's tougher for the men to dominate. I don't think PC1 use Graf/Court/Chris benchmark was a good comparison to Federer.

    Even when you only compare men's tennis, bigger numbers doesn't mean it's better. No one would say Connor's record 109 titles is better Sampras's 60 titles. Or Emerson's 12 slams is better than Laver's 11 slams(despite 6 of his slams were from the amateur).
     
  44. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    So what?

    Yes, 1967 and earlier was an immature stage of tennis history - when you compare the events to today's events. But so what? The players at the time could only play the events that were available to them. Are you saying that Pancho Gonzales wouldn't have been as dominant in the 1950's if they had to play events with as deep as fields as todays events? There is no evidence that he wouldn't have been at least as dominant as he was. In some ways the players were fitter then. In many many events they played, best of 5 sets, whereas today that only happens in the Slams. So nothing is there to show that Gonzales wouldn't have been the best player of the 1950's, Rosewall the best player of the early 60's and Laver the best player of the late 1960's - if they had events like today.

    So Gonzales still would have been rated number 1 or co-number 1 for 8 years. Laver would have been number 1 or co-number 1 for 7 years.
     
  45. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    As Hoodjem wrote, of course you would think so.

    Fact is that players have been super dominant in the past in men's and women's tennis and the average winning percentage in men's and women's tennis is 50%. No I don't think Federer's 17 is tough than Graf's 22 and Graf's 22 isn't even the record. All Graf faced was Martina Navratilova, Hingis, Sanchez-Vicario, Seles, Sabatini, Evert, Davenport etc. All weak players and if you believe that I'd like to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.

    Honestly I think Bill Tilden would have been easily in the mid twenties or higher if there was airplane travel like today and he wanted to enter all the majors.

    Yes tennis is unique in that they had geniuses not allowing the best players to play the top tournaments for the longest time and that also affected the classic majors record. I've pointed this out to you many times but you haven't acknowledged it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2012
  46. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    timnz, Well written and convincing.
     
  47. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Really? No one?

    I would certainly say that Connor's 109 tournament wins trumps Sampras's 60 wins. As I would also say that Sampras's 14 slams trumps Connors's 8 slams.
     
  48. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    In the final analysis, quality trumps quantity.
     
  49. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    We just have to disagree. I'm not basing only on Graf, but all female great players have racked up insane numbers, much higher than the male players. It is that trend that I believe it's easier to dominate in the women's tour.

    It's due to having more male tennis players than female players that determined the strengh of the field. I could be wrong, but since men have always dominated the sport, it's likely there are more male athletes.
     
  50. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    If you're going to break up into little parts, sure, certain area Sampras trumps Connors and vice versa. But take everything into account, Sampras > Connors. The Tennis Channel listed Sampras at #3 and Connors at #9.
     

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