was agassi's grand slam the greatest?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by degrease, Oct 14, 2013.

  1. degrease

    degrease Rookie

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    Just a thought i had so bear with me. Although fed and nadal have since done it and it had been done before i think agassi's achievement may be greater due to the more vast differences in surfaces. The modern homogenising of the surfaces slowing grass and speeding up clay has meant that we have a case of "usual suspects" at every slam.
    Could nadal have coped with sampras, goran etc on super quick low bouncing grass?
    Laver did slam i believe with 3 of the 4 on grass (i might be wrong but i sure i heard that)

    Anyway thats my opinion.
     
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  2. spinovic

    spinovic Hall of Fame

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    Like a lot of stuff, it comes down to personal opinion, but I definitely think there is a case to be made for it.
     
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  3. 90's Clay

    90's Clay Legend

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    Definitely. He won it under the most polarized conditions at slams in history. In many ways, I prefer it over Laver's '69 Calendar slam because 3 of those slams that year were played on grass. Agassi could win any surface vs. all types of players with different game styles. Thats amazing what he did
     
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  4. PhrygianDominant

    PhrygianDominant Hall of Fame

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    agree

    10agrees
     
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  5. YaoPau

    YaoPau Rookie

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    In a vacuum, Agassi's slam is most impressive, but...

    If you're like me and care about draw quality, then Agassi's '99 French was on the easy side. He took out #4 seed and defending champ Moya early, but he faced zero other seeded players in the remaining six rounds. And in his only Wimbledon, he beat an aging #4 seeded Becker, and #8 Ivanisevic in the Finals, but zero other seeds in the remaining five rounds.

    It's not to take anything away from Agassi, but more to give extra credit to players who faced the best of the best and still came out on top. Nadal for example took out an absolute giant in Federer at Wimbledon '08; took out Soderling, Murray, Federer consecutively to win the '11 French; beat world #1 Djokovic and #8 Gasquet along with two bottom-half seeds to win this year's US Open; and beat a prime #1 Federer along with #6 Simon, #13 Gonzalez, #14 Verdasco, and Tommy Haas to win his only AO.

    The differences is Agassi's surfaces, and being the first to do it is a great achievement. But if you're putting your best 4 out there I say Nadal's is more impressive. If Djokovic can win the French over Nadal, he'd get my #1 since so many of his draws have been pure hell.
     
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  6. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Agassi did not achieve a Grand Slam or Slam.
     
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  7. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Aging Becker? At 24 years old?

    The most impressive tournament Agassi ever played was in winning the 1990 WTF on carpet.

    He beat Becker 6-2 6-4 in the semi's (he dominated Becker in that match - I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it), then beat peak Edberg in the final. (He also beat Sampras 6–4, 6–2 in the round robin).

    So he has the true calendar slam + the WTF on carpet + Olympics (the least of these but still).
     
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  8. monfed

    monfed Guest

    A case can be made for it,sure. Having said that I believe Roger could've done the same in the 90s too. Once Fed sorted out his mental issues, he turned into a winning machine.
     
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  9. 90's Clay

    90's Clay Legend

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    I think Fed would find it more difficult to be a baseliner in the 90s.. Maybe not. If he stayed in his old game plan (Pre 2004 style), he would less consistent because he played higher risk tennis
     
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  10. YaoPau

    YaoPau Rookie

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    Yeah, you're right that was a lazy way to describe Becker. I meant it happened after his best years but he was still obviously near-elite, especially at Wimbledon.
     
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  11. egn

    egn Hall of Fame

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    Agassi definitely deserves the credit for winning it in the polarized surface era of the 90s. What's more odd is the fact that mots would argue he was better on clay in early 90s when he won his wimbledon and better on grass in late 90s when he won his French. However Agassi prior to Federer and the rest of this era breaking tennis was one of the few players to actually be able to say they made the finals of all the majors.
     
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  12. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    Ummm, Laver won those majors in one year.

    One year.

    I will repeat again. One year.

    For Agassi, it took seven years.

    Get off the sauce.
     
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  13. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    He also faced the crappiest competition at RG imaginable.
     
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  14. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    But he can buy himself a slam at Denny's like everyone else.
     
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  15. illusions30

    illusions30 Banned

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    I would agree Agassi's Career Slam was the most impressive of those guys who didnt do an actual Grand Slam. More impressive than Federer and Nadal anyway who did it in the time of homogenized playing conditions. It cant even come close to a true Grand Slam like Laver's but of the non Grand Slammers it might be the best.
     
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  16. YaoPau

    YaoPau Rookie

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    Maybe someone here can help me with this...

    Laver's '69 Slam seems overrated to me, and maybe I'm just missing context, but I don't think the Slams were as big a deal in his time. I mean, Laver obviously cared so much about his Slam streak that he skipped the AO and French in 1970 because he had better options elsewhere with the NTL/WCT.

    Laver had a very nice year in 1969, but I wonder if he just saw those four tournaments as four very good tournaments over the course of the year, with tournaments like Boston or Philadelphia, for example, being just as important to him.

    I guess what I'm saying is, why single out those 4 tournaments and put Laver on some pedestal as a result. They weren't the highest paying, none of them had the draws that the Pro Tourneys did over the previous decade, the AO had never been relevant, the French hadn't been relevant since 40 years prior. Use 1969 to add to Laver's cross-generation rankings resume, but for greatest career grand Slams, I think that's more a metric for rating modern players.
     
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  17. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    Yes, you're missing some context, which is okay because it's confusing.

    The majors were always a big deal, even during the pro-amateur split. When the open era started, the majors immediately began attracting the very best players. The first two years of the open era - 1968 and 1969 - demonstrated outstanding participation among the very best of pros.

    Starting in 1970, corporate reality set in and the majors couldn't get by on their prestige alone. Other events began to offer significantly more money and the reputation of the majors gradually began to drop off.

    In the 1970s, the status of the majors is difficult to rank with the exception of Wimbledon which was always the top event. The US Open also did well, while the French picked up towards the late 1970s. The Australian was in a funk until well into the 1980s.

    Events that at times had major-type prestige were Rome, Dallas WCT and a few others, depending on the year. Meantime, there were very many events that offered better prize money than the majors. We're talking double digits here.

    However the late-60s majors are largely considered to be legit, because they attracted the best talent on the strength of their prestige and the wave of excitement deriving from the start of the open era. This prestige got watered down due to the realities of the time, mainly the pro tour's non-standardized structure, significantly fragmenting men's tennis in the process.

    Numerous other complexities ensued, about which you can read elsewhere, including World Team Tennis's effect on the French Open.
     
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  18. YaoPau

    YaoPau Rookie

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    Thanks for the reply.

    Totally agree that Laver's 1969 Slam was legit, I just wonder if he sees people going nuts about it 40 years later and just smiles to himself. There was basically nobody outside him and Rosewall in the '68 French, with bottom-of-the-barrel attendance for the '68 Aussie. I can't imagine he saw the legit draws in '69 and said "whoa, if I just win these four former Amateur slam tournaments in particular out of a group of the dozen really good tournaments that people care about on tour I'll be put on a special pedestal for the rest of history".
     
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  19. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Jack Kramer called the Grand Slam in 1969 the greatest achievement in the history of tennis. That was at Forest Hills in September 1969. McCormack, the big promoter of golf stars, took Laver as the first tennis star under his tutelage, but only when he won the GS in 1969. No slam, no contract. Laver wrote a book (of course Bud Collins wrote it) of his 1969 season. It would have been cancelled, if the GS would have failed. No slam, no book.
     
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  20. Flash O'Groove

    Flash O'Groove Hall of Fame

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    As clay been sped up? I think clay didn't move, but all others surfaces went slower and higher bouncing.

    Anyway, the career grand slam was certainly harder in the polarized 90's and I agree that his career gran slam is more impressive than Fed's or Nadal's.
    However, theirs are impressive none the less, because they had to win a slam on their main rival territory. Nadal's wins at Wimbledon 2008 and AO 2009 against Federer weren't easy to do, whatever the distinction of surfaces, because Fed was a great player.
    And you have to command Federer for being in the RG finals years after years, waiting for the greatest clay courter ever to stumble on Sod.

    These career slams are impressive, and if Nole can complete his it will be impressive as well, as he was as much blocked by Nadal than Fed.
     
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  21. YaoPau

    YaoPau Rookie

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    I'm not sure how accurate that is.

    This link says IMG (McCormack) signed Laver on September 19th, 1968, nearly a full year before completing his Grand Slam.

    This link mentions Bud Collins' book written with Laver, but says "The Slam made little initial impact outside of the cloistered world of tennis, but over the years it gradually has grown in stature."

    As for Kramer's quote (I'll mention I couldn't find it online)... I love Kramer, but he had plenty to gain by saying that, as his promotion work was a major reason why an Open Era Slam became possible. He also wrote a few years later that he was positive Gonzales could've beat Laver regularly. It's possible that he thought Laver wasn't the best but had the best achievement, but still a bit suspect IMO.
     
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  22. DMP

    DMP Semi-Pro

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    You pay your money and you make your choice. Federer and Nadal had the benefit of homogenisation, Laver the benefit of having his play sharpened by the pro circuit and maybe catching the amateurs cold. Agassi the benefit of SEVEN years to do the job, and not the strongest grass fields ever.

    What you can say is that each of them did it, while the players around them didn't. So none is unique, but all have this special achievement.
     
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  23. andreh

    andreh Professional

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    Yes. That was very impressive. And a good a match to watch (the final) but I hear the round robin match was higher quality from both players. Never saw it, though.
     
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  24. Graf1stClass

    Graf1stClass Semi-Pro

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    um...was it a calendar grand slam?
     
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  25. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    I am confused by your comment.

    The 1968 French had outstanding participation: outside of these two, there was Andres Gimeno, Roy Emerson, Pancho Gonzales, Fred Stolle, Lew Hoad, Jan Kodes, etc. What more do you want.

    I can't say what Laver's mindset was then, but it is important to realize that these four events were already a big deal due to their inherent prestige. We're talking prestige that carried over from the amateur era as well.
     
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  26. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    The Slam events in themselves were always important. What you may have heard is that Slam-counting was not a big deal back then, which is true. Slam-counting really became a big deal when Sampras started chasing Emerson for that particular record. Today it's the single biggest metric for measuring a player's achievements. It's practically a badge or tag: here's 6-Slam winner Djokovic, here's 17-Slam winner Federer.

    But in Laver's time the holy grail of tennis was the Grand Slam -- defined in those days as sweeping the 4 Slam events in one calendar year. That was regarded as the single biggest achievement in tennis, and the players who achieved were regarded as legendary figures of the sport: Budge, Connolly, Laver, Court.

    Laver's second Grand Slam gave him 11 Slam victories but that was not regarded as the important part of what he did -- if it was regarded at all. I can hardly recall any source of the time period defining his achievement that way or referring to the total Slam count as an important record. Bud Collins did mention it, I think because he was big on stats and records. But even he regarded Laver's Grand Slam of '69 as the far greater achievement. Emerson's mark of 12 total Slams was very much regarded as a secondary record.

    That might explain for you why Laver could skip the 1970 AO and FO. For political reasons, he was obligated to do so. But no one thought of it as Laver losing his "Slam streak." The Grand Slam was accomplished and finished and in the history books. Anyone else who might be inclined to count things like most consecutive majors won would be counting something regarded as a secondary record.

    The Grand Slam is definitely a streak, maybe the greatest kind. But it just wasn't talked about that way in those days. It was more about something a player did within a single season. In that sense someone might say, "We come to Wimbledon now and Laver is still undefeated in his quest for a Grand Slam." But that's it. There was next to nothing about the total number of Slam events he'd won.

    In 1970 it was actually a bigger deal when Laver lost early at Wimbledon, because he had not been defeated there since 1960. He had a streak going there, covering his titles in 1961-62 and '68-69. That was a big deal -- because Wimbledon was the biggest deal of all.
     
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  27. DMP

    DMP Semi-Pro

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    You've nailed. Even when Borg was winning his slams the big record was equalling and then passing Perry's Wimbledon record. No-one really cared about his slam total.
     
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  28. DashForever

    DashForever New User

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    Very well said.
     
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  29. 90's Clay

    90's Clay Legend

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    The 90s was among the strongest grass field ever. If not thee strongest.. Im confused here.

    When you got a field of Sampras/Goran/Agassi/Rafter/Becker etc.. I would say thats pretty dang strong for grass.

    It certainly hasn't been that strong since.
     
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  30. DashForever

    DashForever New User

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    Yeah, I actually didn't notice that bit about the grass field until I'd quoted and apparently us green people aren't important enough to edit our posts or something.

    There are plenty of people who will disagree with you about that, DMP. I wouldn't demean the quality of the grass players of the 90's or the field Agassi won his Wimbledon over.

    Though I do admire your attempt to evaluate arguments against each player.
     
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  31. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    Well for one Sampras had yet to win and Wimbledon and there was no Rafter on the scene yet when Agassi won his title there.
     
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  32. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Agassi's slam was a "career slam" not a Grand Slam. Big difference!

    Yes, Agassi's career slam is probably the best. But (nothing against Agassi in particular), in general I believe that the career slam is the silliest, emptiest, and most vapid accolade in all of tennis "honors".

    It is a recent creation of brainless, shallow journalistic hype. It was invented largely to attempt to whip up some interest in a dwindling American tennis audience that was uninterested.

    It and two dollars might buy you a cup of coffee, if you're lucky.

    It is in that hallowed group along with the Serena Slam, the Martina Slam, the Golden Slam, and the Bryan Bros. Slam. (Heck, even the Channel Slam and the Old World Triple Slam have more cachet and history.)
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2013
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  33. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    I think winning on all surfaces is important. It's the Golden Career Slam I think it's moronic. All it means is that player won 5 best of 3 set matchs and a 5 set final on hards (or grass), there's nothing unique about the format. It's obviously inferior to a slam win, means next to nothing in comparison.
     
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  34. YaoPau

    YaoPau Rookie

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    The '68 French was severely lacking IMO. Besides Laver and Rosewall, nobody else in the draw made the semis of the US Open or Wimbledon, and only the 40yo Gonzales even made the quarters of either slam.

    Gimeno was a good name who might've just had a really bad year, but I think as many as 6 of the top 8 in the world weren't at the French that year.
     
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  35. 90's Clay

    90's Clay Legend

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    But Agassi took out Becker (one of the best grass court player ever) and Goran (who took out Sampras).

    Its not like he had a cakewalk to the title
     
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  36. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    I didn't say it was a cakewalk. I just said Sampras and Rafter weren't properly on the grass court scene yet.
     
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  37. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    YaoPau, Gimeno has lost at Wimbledon and US Open, but he was clearly one of the three best claycourters in 1968 (and probably the 1960s),the other two of course L&R.

    Emerson was the holder of RG.
     
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  38. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    You think?
     
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  39. illusions30

    illusions30 Banned

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    Lets not pretend Agassi wouldnt always have had atleast even odds vs Rafter on grass. Wimbledon 2000 semifinal was probably the best grass match of Rafter`s career, and Agassi while he played very well in defeat, was having in general a fairly down year after the Australian Open (his only tournament title of the year, which he would drop from 1 to 8 by the end). Wimbledon 2001 was a match Agassi totally should have won with all the chances and leads he had in the 5th set. Rafter was down break point to go down 2 breaks and Agassi had what seemed like a very easy pass, but made an unbelievable lunge volley which he was also lucky to somehow guess right on. Dont forget Wimbledon 1999 where Agassi had a very easy semifinal win over a fairly good Rafter.

    Agassi beat Ivanisevic and Becker to win his Wimbledon and Ivanisevic and Becker are superior to Rafter on grass, so he doesnt have anything to apologize for not meeting a prime Rafter in his title win. Agassi would also probaly go down as a superior grass courter to Rafter. I cant think of a single stat Rafter would lead in, other than a 2-1 head to head at Wimbledon, where Agassi still leads 7-6 in sets.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2013
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  40. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, there is a quotation from Laver somewhere that he once asked Emerson how many majors he had won, Emmo said he didn't even know.

    Emmo had never counted them all.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
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  41. jaggy

    jaggy G.O.A.T.

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    If he is patient, the service sucks
     
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  42. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    If Agassi had won all his slams on four surfaces in one year, then it would be truly great.

    But to take 8 years to do it, rather dilutes any claim to greatness.
     
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  43. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    I agree somewhat, although it's better to have done it than not done it surely? Or do you find it of so little consequence it doesn't bare mentioing.
     
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  44. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    not even close to the strongest grass court field ... not even close

    rafter wasn't even there deep at Wimbledon till 99 ....

    becker's peak on grass was from 85-90, 91, not beyond that ... he was still pretty good, but not consistently at his best after that ...

    goran and agassi were MIA for many years at Wimbledon ....
     
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  45. CyBorg

    CyBorg Legend

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    Another interesting thing I've gathered is that often players had a "one-and-done" mentality. As in to say "I've won there, maybe I won't go next time."

    This was more of a 70s thing than a 60's thing, because the 70s had so many highly-paid tournaments that competed with one another for prestige all the time.

    When Borg finally won Dallas, after three tries, he didn't go again for three years. When he won Rome in '74, he didn't go again for four years.

    In contemporary tennis, it is all about numbers, as in "how many."
     
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  46. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Okay, I guess better than nothing.

    But IMO the same as "Over the course of his or her career, he or she won all four of the individual majors" (and so was not a one-surface specialist).

    (Of course today, we are getting closer to a one-speed uni-surface.)
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
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  47. illusions30

    illusions30 Banned

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    if that wasnt the strongest grass field, then what was. The only one I can think of that was arguably stronger was the late 60s, for 2 and 3 years when the Open Era began.
     
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  48. Flash O'Groove

    Flash O'Groove Hall of Fame

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    And it's something you can't say about McEnroe, Connors or Borg (didn't win the three they played), Lendl, Wilander, Edberg, Becker, Sampras...Rosewall (this one is for Bobby, just joking), and so far Djokovic.

    Therefor it's not so bad to do it.
     
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  49. DMP

    DMP Semi-Pro

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    I simply take the view that the strength of grass play is a function of the number of tournaments on that surface. In the 60s and early 70s there were lots (look at the the surface by surface details of players from that time). Since the move to HC in the latter part of the 70s there began a shift away from grass as a preferred surface.

    If you don't have a lot of tournaments on grass, how are players going to become proficient? If you want to know how strong the competition on grass was, count the number of tournaments year by year.

    I would say thing reached a nadir in the late 90s when you got Kuerten, the world #1 saying 'thanks but no thanks' to playing at Wimbledon. He couldn't be bothered. That was what, together with the declining interest because of the servefests triggered the changes to making it more like HC (higher bounces).

    Now the situation has recovered because it has become similar enough to HC that all players feel they can at least play on it, so the competition is there.

    Having said all that, the fact is that Agassi achieved it, while other players of his time didn't.
     
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  50. Flash O'Groove

    Flash O'Groove Hall of Fame

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    Great post.
     
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