Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by pc1, Oct 22, 2010.
there's another thread for that. go there.
Yes, generally speaking that seems to be true. Often tennis players (and almost anyone for that matter including the historians of the game) are in awe of the player of the moment. The image of the present player's greatness sticks in the tennis players mind. It's true of any time in his time, whether it is Tilden, Budge, Kramer, Vines, Gonzalez, Hoad, Laver, Connors, Borg, McEnroe, Sampras or Federer. If Nadal is number one for a few years it will be true of him.
With anything in history you have to wait a few years for things to sort themselves out. I'm sure a lot of people in 1984 would have taken it as a "given" that John McEnroe was the best ever. Just a few years later and people realized that while John McEnroe was great, he probably didn't have the accomplishments to be a GOAT candidate.
I just realized I didn't do one for the men. For them its tougher for me as I grew up watching womens Tennis as my mom was big into Graf, since I was born in 1987 it was always womens tennis on TV, and tapes of older female matches from my aunt. I got into mens tennis myself thanks to Agassi but don't know the history near as much. But if I were to make a list for the men it would be something like this
6-10: I am not really sure, I'd probably have names like Tilden, Rosewall possibly, maybe Budge, Lendl, then I am not sure.
Its hard as I am still learning a lot about these guys. I grew up with womens tennis, then moved myself into mens tennis as well. But thats a tenative one for me.
They always do! I've seen it, over, and over, and over! It's amusing, if not tiring, to see it continue apace! In my time, it was Laver, then Nastase, then Connors, then Borg, then McEnroe, then Connors again, then Lendl, then Sampras, then Federer. They're all great. And I can't say with certainty that Federer isn't better than Laver was. They're both in my top 5. But, I've been through enough eras, and seen even all of the top players over the past 40 years, to know that you can't discount the players of the past if you haven't seen them play. My eyes were opened when I saw Budge play at the age of 59. Yet, the strongest, most intransigent, opinions always seem to come from those with the least amount of knowledge and experience.
My top 5 exactly. They're all worthy of consideration for all time greatness. But, I put Sampras above Borg and Gonzalez.
It's all very reasonable what you wrote. The thing we always have to be careful about is that many of us have a tendency to see the current greats and because they are so memorable in our minds we may tend to overrate them. It's true of any great from before Tilden to the greats of today.
For example if you asked someone what Federer's winning percentage lifetime would be I would think most would think it is higher than his current percentage of 80.8%. A player like Jimmy Connors for example who had his decline phase has a higher winning percentage lifetime. Now I'm not saying Connors is better than Federer but these are points we have to consider. We cannot just believe what we perceive but also the reality.
The problem with ranking players based on majors is that it wasn't until recently that all the top players tended play all the majors. Greats like Tilden, Rosewall, Laver, Budge, Kramer, Gonzalez didn't get to play the classic majors and even guys like Borg, Connors and McEnroe didn't put as much emphasis on playing all the majors every year.
That's why I like to say we have to wait until the player's career is over until we can fully rank them with some perspective.
Didn't Ted Tinling pick Steffi Graf? He had Steffi Graf winning his fictional tournament with all the great players past and present. Indeed, not wishing to have his beloved Lenglen lose to Graf in the final, didn't he arrange for her to lose in the semi-final to Navratilova? Graf beat Navratilova in the final.
BJK picked Steffi Graf.
Martina Navratilova picked Steffi Graf
Tracy Austin picked Steffi Graf.
Virginia Wade picked Steffi Graf
Associated Press picked Steffi Graf.
Didn't realize Tinling changed his mind and picked Graf.
I wonder if Navratilova, if push comes to shove wouldn't pick herself as number one.
Yes, Tinling had Graf winning such alltime tournaments around 1995 (i think in Tennis Week or World Tennis). Tinling thought that a woman couldn't cover the whole court, playing a serve and volley game. He thought that powerful baseliners like Graf, Connolly or Seles would eventually beat women serve and volleyers like Martina.
This was true at the time, but I believe that Sampras has since qualified his estimation of Fed and indicated that he is bothered by the head-to-head, and now thinks Nadal is better.
Bruce Jenkins top 20 of the Open Era
20. Patrick Rafter. I make him a sentimental pick (over Stan Smith, among others) because he was such a classy, thrilling purveyor of serve-and-volley tennis. He had the misfortune of losing two historic Wimbledon finals: to Sampras (who broke Roy Emerson's career record for major titles that day) and to Goran Ivanisevic (on the epic "People's Monday" when the chanting, blue-collar crowd more resembled a soccer match). But he won back-to-back U.S. Opens in the Sampras era, a spectacular accomplishment.
19. Lleyon Hewitt. I don't much care for the man, to be blunt, but he was (still is, to a degree) a beacon of will power and desire, with a No. 1 ranking and championships at Wimbledon and U.S. Open.
18. Jim Courier. You'd want him on every U.S. Davis Cup team until the end of time, a battler who won two French titles and two at the Australian.
17. Arthur Ashe. This where the algorithms and statistical scribblings go right out the window. Ashe brought social enlightenment to tennis. His 1975 Wimbledon victory (over Connors) was a landmark in the game's history. He also won the U.S. Open (1968) and the Australian (1970).
16. Guillermo Vilas. Dynamic player, symbol of the free-spirited element during the Great Tennis Boom, winner of the French, U.S. and Australian (twice) titles.
15. Ken Rosewall. His prime years came before the Open Era, but you can't discount his titles at the 1968 French, the 1970 U.S. Open and the 1971-72 Australian. He played the U.S. all the way through 1977, and there must be acknowledgement of that fluid, textbook backhand.
14. Ilie Nastase. I enjoyed seeing Nastase as high as ninth on Radicchi's list, because he had as much pure talent as anyone and won 57 career titles. Fell a bit short at the majors -- one U.S., one French -- but he performed an unforgettable brand of magic between repulsive fits of petulance.
13. Stefan Edberg. Supremely accomplished and unquestioned master of the volley. Had the distinction of winning twice at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Had an impact only once (the 1989 final) at the French.
12. John Newcombe. Why is this man so easily dismissed? He had panache, all-court ability and the classic man's-man qualities that characterized so many Australian greats of his day. He was never a factor at the French, but he won two Wimbledons, two Australian Opens and one U.S. Open (1973) after '68.
11. Boris Becker. Statistics don't measure the true impact of his style and personality on the game. Few players had more adoring fans around the world, and he cashed in with three Wimbledon titles and another at the U.S. Unlike many of the great serve-and-volleyers, he had some pretty fine moments at the French, reaching the semifinals three times.
10. Mats Wilander. Few athletes in any sport have been so underrated historically. You want clay? Three titles at the French. Hardcourts? Three Australian titles and another at the U.S. (1988). He never got past the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, but he carved out a Hall of Fame career on guile, intelligence and a quietly brazen confidence.
9. Ivan Lendl. Strange career, in retrospect. He absolutely owned Jimmy Connors, but Wimbledon owned him. While a number of foreign players (Borg at the forefront) were confounded by the madness of the U.S. Open, he won it three straight times (1985-87) and cashed in three more majors at the French. American fans didn't care much for his style, but he had a fabulous career.
8. Andre Agassi. He was a one-man tennis revolution, breaking new ground in service returns, crushing the ball off both wings, hand-eye coordination and the ability to hold position inside the baseline. One of only seven men (all-time) to win each of the majors, a monumental accomplishment.
7. Jimmy Connors. Might have pulled off the Grand Slam in '74, his greatest year (99-4) if he hadn't been banned from the French Open because of his association with the competing World Team Tennis. And it's a shame that he missed nine French Opens over the course of his career, because he could perform on clay. But he won five U.S. Opens between 1974 and '83, gave new meaning to on-court aggression and was still a pulsating, crowd-pleasing presence in the early 90s.
6. John McEnroe. Falls short on longevity, but set lofty standards between 1979 and '84, when he won four U.S. Opens, three Wimbledons and held the edge over Connors and Borg. Still agonizes over losing the '84 French final to Lendl (7-5 in the fifth). Inadvertently popularized the game by being an irrevent, incorrigible genius, and perhaps the greatest doubles player of all time.
5. Bjorn Borg. There's a lot to say about Borg, who had so much to do with the evolution of the two-handed backhand, but this is all you need to know: He pulled off the French-Wimbledon double, considered a nearly impossible task among today's players, three years in a row (1978-80). That's pure virtuosity.
4. Rafael Nadal. The beauty of Nadal, assuming he can keep his body from falling apart, is that there's so much left. At the age of 24, he already owns nine majors. For kids wanting to know about tenacity and desire, he's right there with Connors among the greatest role models in history. Come to think of it: Since we're playing the fantasy game, who wouldn't want to see a match between those two, each in his prime, on Centre Court or Arthur Ashe Stadium?
3. Rod Laver. I'd rank him higher, perhaps even No. 1, if we were considering the entirety of tennis history. He played the majors only sporadically in the 1970s, but he pulled off the Grand Slam in '69, after achieving it as an amateur in 1962. To see him play, as I did throughout my school years, was to witness a pocket-sized force of nature, the very definition of greatness in every respect.
2. Pete Sampras. Best remembered as the man whose 14 major titles set the historical standard (until Federer came along), and nobody ever hit more clutch shots at Wimbledon or the U.S. Open. Would probably be everyone's No. 1 if he'd won the French (he reached the '96 semis but didn't clear the second round in his last five attempts). And never forget this: For six straight years (1993-98, he finished the year ranked No. 1, breaking Connors' record. That took a brand of commitment and physical punishment few were willing to consider.
1. Roger Federer. He's lost a bit of luster now, but so did Willie Mays, Johnny Unitas and Oscar Robertson. Think back to the 2004-09 period, when he won 14 majors and had the all-time greats -- Laver, McEnroe, Jack Kramer, so many others -- effusive in their praise, agreeing we'd never seen anything quite like this man before. Such will be the essence of his legacy.
Many errors from Jenkins when speaking of Wilander pointing out he won 4 majors on Hard.
Jenkins rates guys based on them being role models? Anyone else but me bored by lists based on muddled criteria of evaluation?
Maybe Cyborg. But indeed, memory and legacy are factors, that one cannot dismiss. Famous artists knew that. So Michelangelo wrote his own account of his genius and gave it to his greatest follower, Vasari, who transformed him into a demi-god. In pure technical terms, Budge or Vines were probably better tennis players than Tilden. But Tilden - despite or because of all the controversies - outshined them on the long run, leaving the biggest mark ever in tennis history. Mac is still in all minds, because he is everywhere to see, as commentator and voice of tennis. On the other side: Borg was a bit like Greta Garbo, he left for good and created some myth of absence.
That's a lot of vague speak here.
If one wishes to construct a list based on player popularity and tall tales then one is welcome to do so as long as it is stated explicitly in one's criteria.
And that's generally a lazy and pretentious way to think on the author's part. It's as if seriously believing that one can simply grasp a common unconscious and capture it in one list.
Okay, maybe Agassi was a bigger 'superstar' than Lendl (he sure as hell wasn't a better player). By the same logic, Sampras was no superstar and should be lower on the list than Borg. Maybe even lower than Nastase.
Again, no consistency, no thought put into the criteria by the author. A lot of empty aphorisms. Waste of time.
Lendl is indeed so often the step-child in those rankings, especially when done by US-experts. By sheer numbers, the amount of his work and wins, considering the strong opposition he faced, it can be argued, that he was the top Nr. 1 man in open era. Mac and even Borg had problems, when they actually had become Nr. 1. They didn't deal too well with motivation and the rigors of defending this position. Nobody did defend his Nr. 1 so proudly and constantly, day in and day out. Sampras and Federer were way more selective, in their intention to peak for the majors.
I recall a match of the older Lendl in the early 90s, still ranking very highly. It was played in a minor tournament at Munich, on a damp and dark late afternoon, before only some 50 wet and cold onlookers, on an awfully slow, rain drained clay court, against an unknown, but oh so dangerous South-American grinder. Lendl lost the long first set, and i think any other pro champion, with the exception of Connors, would have packed in, and had gone to a better place like Monte Carlo or a Bavarian beergarden. But not Lendl. He dug deep, and began to grind out the grinder. And at the end, before a handful of onlookers, he won and showed a beatific smile, as if he had won the USO. That was champions style.
That would explain federer winning over 10 titles a year from 04-06, making the finals of almost every tournament he entered, remaining number 1 for 237 weeks and only losing this position after his form had dropped off noticeably - i.e. not due to lack of motivation.
err what ???????
74-6 in 2004
81-4 in 2005
92-5 in 2006
69-8 in 2007
federer did play better in the majors, but he dominated the other events as well. Was # 1 for 237 weeks straight..
Funny how some of you so called 'historians' can't get a fact regarding recent history right
Has there not been a chorus of Fedfanatics in the last 3-4 years, that Federer doesn't focus on Mickey-Mouse-tournaments anymore, and that only majors count? Maybe that chorus was in a parallel world.
Now, Lendl won in his years at the top from 1979/80 to 1991, way over 100 tournaments, if one includes big non-official ATP tournaments like the Antwerp event, which were far more than exhibitions. In almost all of these years he played over 100 matches a year. I think he played around 1100 ATP matches, and won over 81 percent of them. I cannot think of another player in open era (besides Connors), who was equally consistent over such a period of time, with such amount of tournaments and matches.
I don't want to make extra work for you, but I think that the year in which these opinions were offered is really crucial. For instance before or after 1969 (for an obvious reason).
Can you please add the year when each of the opinions was offered?
I definitely put Lendl way ahead of Agassi. IMO they are not even close in the total history of the game (not just the Open Era).
(In an Open Era only ranking they would necessarily get squeezed closer together.)
If you consider yourself a serious analyst/historian, you should draw the majority of your conlcusions from the facts, and not be influenced by the nonsensical rhetoric of fanatical tennis groups.
Of course, you could just as easily be a member of one of those fanatical tennis groups...
Agreed. Lendl is way ahead of Agassi in terms of greatness. Agassi has the one extra major and the career slam...but really, Lendl still beats him. the magnitude of how Lendl from 1981-1991 made the finals of HALF the majors that were held during that period I think sometimes gets lost in some people minds. He may have a losing record in slam finals...but 19 of them in a 10 year period?? Not to mention 9 straight YEC finals..of which he won 5? 86 non slam titles? The man really was great and I do think he is above Agassi.
Disagree. If that's true then no way Ashe is ranked #17.
Ashe was a great player.12 years in the top 10.Won the huge WCT Dallas plus 3 slams.He was a Davis Cup Stalwart and have a great carrer. Remember He had match points against Mcenroe at the Masters when He was 35 years old.That its pretty remarkable.Besides he reached the semifinals or better at 13 slams.
Man, what a great post. Just a jewel.
The Danzig, Hopman and Tingay lists were from the book "The Encyclopedia of Tennis" with the editors Max Robertson and Jack Kramer. The lists were for the book which was copyrighted in 1974.
One major problem I have with a lot of lists is that a lot of the experts tend to base their opinions on just what they think they see. Often it's very emotional. Some haven't done side by side comparisons when they look at various players. For example I can never understand why anyone would rank Agassi over Lendl. They won the same amount of majors at 8 but Lendl was in more finals with 19. Agassi won 60 tournaments in his career but Lendl more than doubled that with over 140! Even if we go by "official" ATP records Lendl is 34 ahead of Agassi with 94. Lendl also has a better winning percentage lifetime. Yet I think a good percentage of experts rank Agassi higher. Is it because Agassi won all four majors and Lendl only won three? Who knows?
The Collins list was probably 7 or 8 years ago but he's added Rosewall to his list since-In the Jenkins article Collins: Laver, Borg, Sampras, McEnroe, Connors, Rosewall, Lendl (Bud had Pancho Gonzalez, Bill Tilden and Don Budge behind Laver at 2-3-4 but his list was for the Open Era alone.
The Trabert list was about 20 years ago I believe.
Good post pc1.
The best american writers Drucker,Flink and Collins all rank Lendl over Agassi.
Agassi won all 4 slams which is a great achievement but Lendl had a better carrer and was a clear number 1 3 years.Agassis 1999 year was great but he lost 4 out 5 matches against Sampras including Wimbledon and the tour finals.
The lists from Drucker Flink and Collins posted in this thread are all from September 2006 when Agassi retired.
(1974) Allison Danzig-1. Tilden 2. Cochet 3.Budge 4. Lacoste 5. Kramer 6. Perry 7. Johnston 8. Laver 9. Vines 10. Gonzalez and Emerson
(1974) Harry Hopman-1. Tilden 2. Budge 3. Perry 4. Laver 5. Cochet 6. Lacoste 7. Johnston 8. HL Doherty 9. Vines 10. Gonzalez and Emerson
(1974) Lance Tingay 1. Tilden 2. Budge 3. Laver 4. Gonzalez 5. Hoad 6. Perry 7. Cochet 8. Wilding 9. HL Doherty 10. W. Renshaw.
Bud Collins picked (from my memory) Laver, Sampras, Borg, Gonzalez and Tilden I believe a few years ago.
Tony Trabert picked Laver as number one but I think Jack Kramer was up there also.
Vic Braden picks Jack Kramer as the best he had ever seen.
(early 1980s) Arthur Ashe picked Borg as best he had seen but also wrote Gonzalez and Laver were there with Borg.
Jack Kramer picked Budge, Vines as the two best with Budge as the day in and day out best but also in tier 1 was Tilden, Perry, Riggs and Gonzalez.
In the second echelon was Laver, Hoad, Rosewall, von Cramm, Schroeder, Crawford, Segura, Sedgman, Trabert, Newcombe, Ashe and Smith. He also wrote Nuskse but I think he means Nastase. He ends with Borg and Connors who since they were active were able to move to the first group.
Ellsworth Vines in his book picked the best after WW II and that was 1. Budge 2. Kramer 3. Gonzalez 4. Laver 5. Segura 6. Riggs 7. Rosewall 8. Hoad 9. Sedgman 10. Trabert. He didn't pick Borg and Connors yet since they were still active I believe.
Vines picked Tilden, Borg, Laver, Budge and Kramer in an interview a few years later in the mid 1980's. I was surprised he forgot about Gonzalez who he picked over Laver in his book but perhaps it was just a slip.
Don Budge picked Kramer, Gonzalez and Laver with Kramer number one.
Gene Mako picked Tilden, Vines, Perry, Budge, Kramer, Hoad, Borg and McEnroe
Bob Falkenburg picked Tilden, Budge, Vines, Kramer and Laver
Nastase picked Borg
Perry picked Tilden before WWII and Laver after WWII. I think he picked Tilden overall.
Paul Metzler picked Kramer
Gene Scott picked Laver
Laver picked Hoad or Rosewall as his toughest opponent depending on the interview.
Tony Trabert picked Laver
John Newcombe picked Laver
Mark Cox picked McEnroe, Borg, Connors, Laver and Rosewall
Agassi used to pick Sampras as the best he played but recently he picked Federer
Nadal picks Federer
Peter Bodo picks Laver
(2006) Drucker: Sampras, Laver, Gonzalez, Kramer, Budge, Tilden, Borg, Connors, Lendl, (tie) McEnroe-Agassi
(2006) Flink: Sampras, Laver, Kramer, Tilden, Borg, Budge, Gonzalez, Connors, McEnroe, (tie) Lendl and Agassi
(2006) Collins: Laver, Gonzalez, Tilden, Budge, Borg, Sampras, McEnroe, Connors, Rosewall, (tie) Lendl and Kramer
(1990) Maskell: Laver, Budge, Tilden, Perry, Borg, McEnroe, Cochet, Borotra, Rosewall, Connors
(2003) Paul Fein: Sampras, Tilden, Laver, Gonzalez, Borg, Kramer, Budge, Connors, Lendl, McEnroe
I consider myself a harmless amateur, who has read some books on tennis, and has seen some tennis matches in his life. To call my nice and warm posts on Lendl fanatical, is somewhat strange. But openly said, as said in 'Gone with the Wind': I don't give a dime.
I've found you to be very objective in your comments over the years. I read your comments on Lendl and as usual, you were very objective and honest. I felt you were just being very informative.
I agree with you that Lendl has been extremely underrated. The man has one of the greatest resumes in the history of tennis. He won over 140 tournaments, won tournaments on every surface and defeated many Hall of Famers.
Thanks, PC 1. Maybe we should make up a Lendl-Fanclub, with the name "The Big Teeth". Just joking.
PRE OPEN ERA SEEDED PLAYERS
OPEN ERA SEEDED PLAYERS
PRE OPEN ERA SEEDED WOMEN
OPEN ERA SEEDED WOMEN
Paul Fein top 12 greatest tennis players of the Open Era.March 2011
Urban is an excellent poster. He always has very informed opinions and excellent contributions.
If he's the "fanboy" of anyone, it's only after much intensive objective research into records and stats. But then I would not call that being a fanboy, anyway.
I would replace Kuerten with Courier. He's more balance across all surfaces and has accomplished more. Guga had short career due to injury, but what can you do.
LOL. Serena > Evert, Venus > Seles?
Don't think so.
Many others could also fit, though Courier´d be an excellent option.I could also consider Kodes, Rafter,Ashe,Smith,Stich and, may be, very soon Djokovic could fit.I agree Kuerten showed most than he did, but what he showed was pretty awesome ( 3 RG and 1 Masters , may be as good on cc as Wilander or Lendl)
For the mark she left, Chris Evert is well above Seles and the Williams.By a great distance.
However, Serena is , by far, much more complete player than Seles, better or steadier than her sister and more powerful than Chris.That is why I put her as nº 4, even though not close yet to the top 3.
Of the ones you mentioned Kiki, Ashe clearly has the best record. He won the Australian, US Open, Wimbledon, WCT and according to Vainquers, he won 71 tournaments in his career. Kodes won about 20 tournaments according to Vainquers plus two French Opens. Stich won 18 tournaments plus Wimbledon.
Stan Smith won 59 tournaments plus Wimbledon, the US Open, the Year End Masters and WCT. Rafter only won 11 tournaments in his career plus two US Opens. His career, while excellent wasn't nearly as good as many players.
Kodes also won a Wimbly title and Stich, a Masters title, but I catch your idea.Between Ashe and Smith, I think Arthur was a better player but their record is about the same ( in fact, Stan beat Arthur at the WCT finals, while Arthur´s win at the AO was not that difficult, since the field was quite weak for Gran Slam standarts).
I think, just on record, LLeyton Hewitt would deserve being the last seeded player of my list, just as much as Kuerten or Courier.I never liked his tennis too much but he is one of the last real fighters and aguy that knew how to face a big match against a big player no matter where or when.I think is damn even for that 16 th positions.
Greatest of All Time tennis players by Steve Flink
In 2008, Tennis Historian and Journalist sir Steve Flink named Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf as the best female players of all time in male,female categories respectively.
The list of greatest ever of all time tennis players:
1. Pete Sampras
2. Rod Laver
4. Roger Federer
1. Steffi Graf
2. Martina Navratilova
3. Chris Evert
4. Helen Wills Moody
5. Margaret Court
6. Suzanne Lenglen
7. Maureen Connolly
8. Billie Jean King
9. Monica Seles
10. Serena Williams
Is this published anywhere?
You are a great user, and seems a nice person too.
Separate names with a comma.