Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by pc1, Oct 22, 2010.
Yes that was a huge surprise.
"One swallow does a summer make" ..... similarly one bad match does not a failure make.
Dan, surely you're not suggesting that all of Hoad's losses including those to Cooper (who never once was able to beat Gonzales) on the 1959 tour were due to back problems. What about all his losses in the pro majors he played from 1958 onwards, only one of which he won (1959).
Again, how do we define "pro major"? This is controversial.
I give Hoad three pro majors, two at Kooyong, one at Forest Hills.
In major venues, Hoad held a strong edge over Gonzales.
"We have to admit"
We don't have to admit anything. Emmo spent 1963 - 67 in the amateurs, racking up six major finals over Stolle, while the world's best: Laver and Rosewall as well as others: Hoad, Anderson, Gimeno, Olmedo, etc., were in the pros. Additionally, Emerson like Smith-Court racked up a disproportionate number of Australian titles, which then didn't have the fields they have now. Emmo won 6 Big Three (2,2,2).
True, Gonzales bombed at Wimbledon in 1949. The next time he played Wimbledon (1968) he was over 40. Any mention of Gonzales' poor Wimbledon completely ignores the fact that in his best EIGHTEEN years he was banned from Wimbledon. Incidentally Gonzales beat Emerson, 8 years his junior at the !968 French Open. From 1954 to early 1960, NOBODY had a better overall tour record than Gonzales. Yes his personality left a lot to be desired, but he was the ULTIMATE competitor.
Gonzales played in 1967, and was upset by a retired Hoad.
He played OFF FORM in every Wimbledon he appeared in, all 7 times.
You're aware that Gonzales had a cyst the size of a dollar coin on his racket hand when he began the pro tour against Hoad.
I think that was against Rosewall.
You are thinking of 1957...no, he did not play Hoad on that tour.
You raise an interesting point..what role did Hoad's back injury play in his career?
We cannot know for sure, but Hoad had fairly long stretches of pain-free play, which allowed him to play an enormous amount of tennis in 1958 and 1959, and in those two years he reached his peak of play. I give Hoad the number one spot both years for the level of play he displayed, first on the Australian portion of the 1958 tour, which was like a separate tour, major outdoor venues on grass, best-of-five set matches. Then the initial period in the USA when he ran off ten straight wins, and apparently reached a 21 to 10 lead over Gonzales before his back seized up.
In major venues that year, Hoad won over Gonzales at Kooyong, Forest Hills, and Roland Garros, where his back was wrenched in the final, ending his season.
Hoad's bonus money winnings far exceeded Gonzales that year, although Hoad's bonus winning percentage was higher than Gonzales, which caused Gonzales to attempt to nullify the contract in court, unsuccessfully.
Hoad showed enough dominance in major venues in 1958 to reasonably claim to be the foremost player that year. He played about 122 matches in 1958.
For 1959, Hoad played what I consider to be the greatest year a tennis player ever had, while playing over 150 matches on the year.
After that year, Hoad had accumulated through prize money, endorsements, and investments roughly ten million in today's dollars, and refused to play a full tour thereafter.
In 1961, he briefly returned to the tour but withdrew with foot trouble.
After the 1959 tour, he played only about 30 matches per year for the next six years until retirement.
Personally, I doubt that, even with a sound back, his career would show a markedly different pattern.
He would probably have won the 1958 marathon series against Gonzales, but as it was, he demonstrated a decided edge when healthy, sufficient for a top ranking.
He basically lost interest in the tour after 1959, except for the 1963 Australian tour, where he skunked Laver 14 to 0, getting back into shape for the event.
This overall arch to his career would likely have happened with or without a back problem.
Interesting Dan. I would not have expected you to write that. Do you feel that he was too gifted for his own good and it came too easily for him?
He had strong off-court interests, wife and family were number one.
Actually, he would probably have toured more without his family commitments.
Vines and Hoad have been compared ad infinitum. This is another example of what they had in common.
Dan, I'll concede that you seem to have studied the 1957,58 and 59 tours in much more detail than I have, so you could be right about 1958/59.
Nevertheless, greatness is a function of circumstances. Injury or lack of interest is a factor in assessing greatness, or the comparable lack of it. Even if you accept that Hoad was the world #1 in 1958/59, even outstandingly so, that's only 2 years. Keeping eras separate as non-comparable, Tilden, Budge, Kramer, Gonzales, Rosewall and Laver (in chronological order up to 1970) all held the world #1title for 4 to 6+ years.
For a more European perspective: Recently i found an alltime ranking in the good French book by Michel Sutter, Denis Lalanne: Le Tennis. Larousse, from 1984, based on a L'Equipe poll of 1983:
Laver, Borg, Tilden, Rosewall, McEnroe, Budge, Hoad, Gonzalez, Cochet, Kramer, Perry, Connors, Newcombe.
The idea that I have done is this : the "critics" of the 30s - 60s period once they identified a number one elected the champion ( " the chosen one " ) even though "the chosen one" was playing less well with the passing of years and was exceeded .
Kramer was the chosen one after Budge, despite Bobby Riggs ( forgotten ) and although in 1951-52 Jack played a few matches.
Laver was chosen one after Pancho , despite Rosewall ( forgotten ) .
The " chosen one " by the media lasted more than they deserved substance.
In fact in 1974 when Connors won three Slam he was accused of not having beaten Laver , who was still considered the best... in spite of three years was that it was not.
I like to call "ATLANTIC OCEAN FACTOR" .
Europe and America have always had two very different visions .
The examples that you can do are so many :
1 ) Kramer , Tilden and Gonzales did not know who they were in Europe
2 ) Laver , Rosewall , Borg had to go to break through in USA
3 ) In the US, Cochet is largely unknown
4 ) In Europe, Connors learned to know him when he lost to 35 years.
Actually Tilden was very famous in Europe and for example in 1930 for example he won the champions of Italy, Germany, England (Wimbledon), and the Netherlands. He won the World Hardcourt in France and the Wimbledon in the early 1920s also.
Perhaps it is wrong to me , also because my vision is only Italian .
I have the impression that the Europeans, have forgotten Bill the years after .
I think I bought 100 italian tennis magazines in the 70s - 80s and do not think I've ever read two lines of Tilden . Unfortunately.
That's because it was a long time ago. Very few people in the United States know of Tilden nowadays either. In his day Tilden was World Famous.
You have to look at the context of 1958/59...what was going on there...why two years of the same two players? That was not the usual routine.
Hoad was invited to play Gonzales again in 1959, and that decision was made by Kramer long before the season ended...partly financial, the big money draw of these two players, but also the unparalleled quality of the tennis, the only matchup that made any sense, even in an era of great players.
So these were not typical professional years, there was a special level of play and status about those two years. Unequalled ever.
Recall, Hoad played about 122 + 150 matches in 1958 and 1959 combined, two seasons totalling about 272 matches...that is like an entire career worth of matches today rolled up into two seasons.
That is one of the reasons that I try to point out to people. If you think of accomplishments as similar to car mileage. One car may go 200 mph and travel for 50 hours. That car drive 10000 miles. Another car may drive for 150 hours which is three times longer but only average 50 mph. The car drove for a time period three times longer but covered far less distance. Players like Borg and Hoad may be the fast cars. They may not be around as long as some but they may have done more.
Really not sure if we can compare Hoad's career to Borg tbh. Borg did a lot more than Hoad in his career.
I'm also not sure how much argument Hoad has to be #1 in 1958 and 1959, most sources don't support that.
Borg's career of course can be used in that analogy. Yes Hoad can be debatable but in a way Laver can be also if we sub Laver in this example. Laver did play a long time but not nearly as long as Rosewall but Laver did more imo and by a clear margin.
Borg was number one more years than Rosewall, won 106 tournaments by age 25, almost as much as Rosewall and won more classic majors than Rosewall. He also may have won just as many or more equivalents to Pro Majors than Rosewall. For example the Pepsi was prestigious and just as tough as many pro majors and Borg won four of them. This was all done by age 25! Borg won the US Pro four years, the WCT Championship, the YEC twice, the Italian Open twice, Wembley, the Spanish Championships twice. Already that is more than 15 which is the amount of Pro Majors Rosewall won and these tournaments were won in the Open Era. But to me the most important part is the dominance level of Borg over five years and yes over his entire career was far higher than Rosewall ever was.
Jack Kramer's opinion seems to be the most objective of all the experts.
By the way, he held Vines to be the GOAT for many decades, before finally conceding that Federer was greater...
I'm not sure if he felt Federer was greater than himself. I saw an interview on the Tennis Channel in which he thought Don Budge and Pancho Gonzalez was superior to Pete Sampras. Yet at the same time he made the comment Federer would have beaten him 6-0 6-0. Seems a bit contradictory. Yet in other interviews he hinted that he (Kramer) was the GOAT and clearly better than Sampras. Now if you're better than Sampras how are you going to lose 6-0 6-0 to Federer?
But anyway Kramer probably knew as much as anyone in tennis history.
I think Borg fits the analogy perfectly. Hoad maybe he does but I just object to comparing his career to Borg's.
Borg's career is really impressive. I think he deserves a dedicated thread just to showcase some of those things you pointed out. Too many gets that stats on him from the ATP website e.g. 2 years at #1 and 64 titles and just 10 or so masters.
In my humble opinion, those who weren't alive to witness Borg's era can't understand his significance to the sport of tennis.
Borg bridged the gap between the traditional sport of tennis and the modern professional game we know today. He was at the pinnacle of his powers during the transition and was at the top of the sport for much of that time.
Also Borg was universally loved by the Tennis fraternity. No player since has fostered the following that Borg had. And while we all have our favorites, it is probably fair to say that Laver and Borg stand alone in that regard.
People love to talk about the player stats and to try and compare different player stats from different eras. While I think stats are important, it does get to a point where they no longer really matter when one wants to compare the truly great players of this sport. At that point, one has to look beyond those things and think about what contributions the players made to making the sport better than they found it.
Borg's involvement in tennis left the sport a much better place than he found it. So many wonderful aspects of the modern game can be traced almost directly back to Borg. Few others can say the same thing.
And the most amazing thing to me, Borg like Laver, is as humble today as he ever was. (His father's actions, in denying him that 6 months of tennis when he was a junior paid off in spades.)
I dare say that if people are talking about the sport of tennis in 500 years time, Borg will be one of the very few names that is still mentioned in a historical sense. Borg is "The Beatles" of Tennis.
And for me, the greatest tennis match ever played is still the 1980 Wimbledon Men's Singles Final
Top 10 of all time off my head.
Others: Connors, Kramer, Vines, Lendl, Agassi, MAC
Pancho Segura ranked Jack Kramer as number one.
Impressive coming from Mr. Forehand.
Well Segura may know more about tennis than anyone. I believe this comment was just a few years ago also so that says a lot about Jack Kramer. Segura said his greatest match was beating Kramer in five sets on clay!
You know , pc1 , if Segura had only the name of Jack or made a list?
From what I read Segura only named Jack Kramer as the GOAT but didn't have a list. From the way everything was worded I got the impression Pancho Gonzalez was number two but I'm not sure.
Separate names with a comma.