We have a GOAT - Pancho Gonzales

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by jrs, Mar 16, 2013.

  1. jrs

    jrs Professional

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    We all know how good Roger Federer is, Nadal ...Rod Laver but here is the goat.. we can talk records, grand slams....with this dude they changed the rules to stop him from winning....my books "GOAT"!

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pancho_Gonzales

    In his professional career, Gonzales won the United States Professional Championship eight times, the Wembley professional title in London four times, and the Tournament of Champions three times, plus beating, in head-to-head pro tours, all of the best amateurs who turned pro, which included every Wimbledon champion for 10 years in a row. During this time Gonzales was known for his fiery will to win, his cannonball serve, and his all-conquering net game, a combination so potent that the rules on the professional tour were briefly changed to prohibit him from advancing to the net immediately after serving. Under the new rules, the returned serve had to bounce before the server could make his own first shot, thereby keeping Gonzales from playing his usual serve-and-volley game. He won even so, and the rules were changed back. So great was his ability to raise his game to the highest possible level, particularly in the fifth set of long matches, Allen Fox has said that he never once saw Gonzales lose service when serving for the set or the match.
    [edit]"
    "
     
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  2. 90's Clay

    90's Clay Legend

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    I got Pancho at #2 just behind Laver. He had a longer reign at the top then Laver but Laver just had better all around achievements on all surfaces then Pancho

    Pancho and Laver both definitely have a claim for GOAT though.. Neither player were anyone's rival love slave with Shackles.
     
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  3. jrs

    jrs Professional

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    Wait - can't compare records

    The fact that they changed the rules throws the records out the window. The establishment changed to the rules to stop 1 guy.....has this ever been done before or since?
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2013
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  4. Bhagi Katbamna

    Bhagi Katbamna Hall of Fame

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    Kramer used to beat Gonzales regularly when they played.
     
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  5. jrs

    jrs Professional

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    Did the rule change benefit Krammer

    That's disappointing to hear. But were Krammer's victories assisted with rule changes?
     
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  6. Phoenix1983

    Phoenix1983 Hall of Fame

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    Pancho never won a clay major. Therefore he cannot be GOAT.

    He is something of a Sampras equivalent from an earlier era (that's a compliment btw).

    This rule change business is a bit misleading, however good a player is, you wouldn't do this is if it were a proper tour, as opposed to the pro tour which could make up silly rules as and when it pleased.
     
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  7. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    It's a fact that the rules were changed for a brief period to prevent serve and volleying altogether during the peak of Pancho Gonzales' dominance of professional tennis.
     
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  8. North

    North Professional

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    There was also a tournament series (run by Kramer, I believe - correct me if wrong) where only one serve was allowed to prevent Gonzalez from having such an overwhelming advantage with his serve, which was was deadly. I guess they figured Gonzalez would take something off his serve. He didn't - lol - and won just as handily with only one serve allowed.
     
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  9. jrs

    jrs Professional

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    So this completely crazy - so there is no objective way to judge how good this guy really was.

    The fact he didn't win any major clay tournaments is an issue against him for the GOAT.
     
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  10. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

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    Well to stop Sampras winning Wimbledon first introduced larger tennis balls to slow them down with air resistance.

    That didn't work so they started taking the lids off the cans of tennis balls 2 weeks before Wimbledon so they'd be flat and it would be harder to hit aces.

    That didn't work either, so they introduced the slower grass after the 2001 final. Unfortunately for tennis, this worked. Sampras was knocked out in the 2nd round by Georg Bastl, along with Federer and all the other serve and volleyers.

    The same is arguably true with Nadal at the French Open. The French put thinner and thinner layers of clay on the courts year after year so it became more and more of a hard court. Then they introduced the lightning fast tennis ball in 2011.
     
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  11. DropShotArtist

    DropShotArtist Banned

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    To prevent Federer from winning over 20 slams, they slowed all of the surfaces down.
     
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  12. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Pancho Gonzales only played in 5 clay-court majors:

    As an amateur (pre-open era)
    1949 French Championships: Semi Final loss to Budge Patty in 4 sets

    As a professional (pre-open era)
    1956 French Pro: Runner-up to Tony Trabert (losing in 5 sets)
    1958 French Pro: Semi Final loss to Lew Hoad in 4 sets
    1961 French Pro: Runner-up to Ken Rosewall (losing in 4 sets)

    As a professional (open era)
    1968 French Open: Semi Final loss to Rod Laver in straight sets
     
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  13. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    I am utterly convinced he is not the GOAT
     
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  14. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Bhagi Katbamna, I must correct you: after their long tour where Gonzalez was too young, Pancho had the edge against Kramer.
     
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  15. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Forza, And I'm utterly convinced that he is possibly the GOAT....
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2013
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  16. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    Mustard, That's a great balance. Pancho had only two opportunities to play a clay major in his prime. Losing to Trabert and Hoad is not a blame.
     
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  17. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    Wasn't he number #1 for 8 years or something? He has less majors some GOAT candidates though. Hard to evaluate guys from so far in the past. He's up there though. Perhaps someone could better list his notable achievements?
     
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  18. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    Under absolute best appraisal of him we can give him 17 majors, 15 of which pro. Not a great clay court player compared to other high tier legends, no FO for him. I equate him to a Pete Sampras or something like that, only except Pete's performances in the open era over much larger fields and modernized tour give him the clear advantage.
     
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  19. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    I don't really count the amateur majors. Even the pro majors in my mind aren't equal to a modern slam. I was counting 15 for him.
     
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  20. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    I'll say this, pre open era yeah this guy is probably the GOAT. Once you factor in open era however, he's clearly behind Federer, Sampras, Laver (of course counting entire career of him spanning both open and pre-open). 8 years as The Man in the 1950s is incredible, but I think Sampras and Federer's less year end #1 finishes given the circumstances of the open era are a much greater achievement.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2013
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  21. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    I wonder how many players were in the pro tour...
     
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  22. tommyfr

    tommyfr Rookie

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    I reas somewhere he was ranked number one in the world for ten years. that is longer than any one else.
     
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  23. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Pancho Gonzales only played 5 tournaments at Roland Garros, one when he was a 21 year old amateur who had only just started travelling abroad regularly, and another when he was a 40 year old veteran. Let's note that there were no French Pro tournaments at all from 1950-1955 and 1957, and Gonzales played hardly any tournaments in 1960 after the end of a 7 year contract with Jack Kramer, so just dominated the 4-player head-to-head world pro tour against Ken Rosewall, Pancho Segura and Alex Olmedo instead.

    Which year? The best amateur players from Bill Tilden in 1931 up to Fred Stolle and Dennis Ralston in 1967, turned professional so that they could win some prize money from the sport and challenge the very best players, but they would be banned from the mainstream majors until the start of the open era in April 1968. The very few top amateur players who didn't turn professional in this period before the open era were Neale Fraser and Roy Emerson, most probably due to their loyalty to the Australian Davis Cup team and Harry Hopman. Well, strictly speaking, Emerson turned professional with the NTL just before the start of the open era, but he had resisted professional overtures for years before then.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2013
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  24. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Big achievements of Pancho Gonzales

    • Won 2 US Championships as an amateur in 1948 and 1949
    • Won 3 Wembley Pros in a row in 1950, 1951 and 1952
    • Added a fourth Wembley Pro title in 1956
    • Won 7 US Pros in a row in 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958 and 1959
    • Didn't play the 1960 US Pro, but won his 8th US Pro title in 1961
    • Won 3 consecutive Tournament of Champions titles in 1956, 1957 and 1958
    • Won the head-to-head World Pro Tours of 1954, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960 and 1961, which were the biggest events in professional tennis at the time. The only head-to-head World Pro Tour that Gonzales lost was to Kramer in 1950 (27-96). 1954 was Gonzales beating Segura, Sedgman and Budge. 1956 was Gonzales beating Trabert (74-27), 1957 was Gonzales beating Rosewall (50-26), 1958 was Gonzales beating Hoad (51-36), 1959 was Gonzales beating Hoad, Cooper and Anderson, 1960 was Gonzales beating Rosewall, Segura and Olmedo. And 1961 was Gonzales beating Gimeno, Hoad, MacKay, Olmedo, Buchholz and Sedgman.
    • I personally have Gonzales as world number 1 for 8 years in a row (1954-1961), and it's pretty close at the top in 1952 between Segura and Gonzales without a big head-to-head tour involving Kramer that year.
    • At the age of 41, Gonzales saved 7 match points, twice from 0-40 down, during his 1969 Wimbledon first round match against Pasarell. Gonzales won the match 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9, and is thought to be the biggest reason behind the introduction of the tiebreak into tennis from 1970-1973
    • Capable of beating Rod Laver in 5 sets during Laver's peak in a $10,000 winner takes all match, which he did in February 1970.
     
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  25. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I have something very similar, and think it is his most impressive statistic--only Laver comes close.

    Gonzales is the one player who best demonstrates the short-sightedness of just counting majors, and the foolishness of that Tennis Channel ranking. (Pancho got just two slams before he turned pro, and not even in the years when he was dominant.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2013
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  26. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    I know. That tennis channel ranking got right up my nose, because they clearly didn't understand tennis history, and the tennis criteria of that era. I'm sure that Jack Kramer would have laughed out loud had somebody seriously suggested to him around 1968 that Roy Emerson was a greater all-time player than Pancho Gonzales, and he would have called for the men in white coats. Yet to those guys on the tennis channel, they just see 12 majors for Emerson and 2 majors for Gonzales, using modern criteria to an old era. And as you say, Gonzales' 2 mainstream majors, won when he was an amateur player in the late 1940s, were way before Gonzales' dominant years as a tennis player.
     
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  27. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    All very true.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2013
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  28. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    ^
    You guys act like you know everything and the rest of the world know nothing just because you disagree. Steve Flink doesn't even include Pancho on his list:

    1. Federer
    2. Sampras
    3. Laver
    4. Kramer
    5. Tilden

    I'm sure you all will say he doesn't know anything about tennis history while Bobby say Rosewall, Dan say Hoad, Borg Number say Borg, hoodlum say Laver...are all experts in here and no one knows better. Too funny.
     
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  29. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Mary Carillo once said on air that Sampras had never even heard of Gonzales, because Gonzales had not won Wimbledon, nor been in a Wimbledon final. When this was put to Gonzales' one-time brother-in-law, Agassi, Agassi said that he wasn't surprised, because tennis history is extremely complicated, and if you don't look closely enough, a lot of its history will be missed.
     
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  30. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Is Steve Flink the noted sports psychologist? I wonder where he places Gonzales? IMO, his is a strange list. I would not say that he knows nothing about tennis; I would say that his placement of Sampras and Kramer is too high, IMO.
    Is there a link to his entire list?

    Sorry, just because I agree with Mustard and disagree with Flink means that I disagree with Flink--not that I believe he knows nothing. Your statement quoted here says more about the way you perceive disagreement than it says anything else.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2013
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  31. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    And TMF "say" Federer. No difference.












    (No wait . . . here comes the McDonald's argument.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2013
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  32. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Why bring up Sampras since he's not a historian? I was referring to the respected people like Flink, Wertheim, Collins, or Drucker who are well known for their tennis knowledge and would never criticize their opinion.
     
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  33. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yeah, not directly, but you act like Flink and the others are a bunch of ignorance but you know better.

    Flink top list are coming from his latest book. I don't have his book, but would like someone to post his complete list. As far as I can remember from last year, this is his list:

    1. Federer
    2. Graf
    3. Sampras
    4. Laver
    5. Martina
    6. Evert
    7. Kramer ?
    8. Moody ?
    9. Tilden
    10. Court

    I'm not sure if Kramer and Moody is rank correctly. I'll post the link if i can find it.
     
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  34. TennisDawg

    TennisDawg Semi-Pro

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    All this discussion is very interesting about Gonzales being the GOAT. Like all these debates it's impossible to clearly name the GOAT. One big factor that is overlooked when Laver is hailed as the all time greatest is the 10 year age difference when Gonzales played Laver. Gonzales was the ripe old tennis age of 36 when the great rivalry began and he competed very well against Laver until age 42. Gonzales was born 10 years too early that's all.
    Had Gonzales been the same age we wouldn't even be having these debates of Laver vs Gonzales. Gonzales would have clearly domianted, and in spite of rule changing, too!
    Gonzales was much bigger, stronger and athletic than the other players. Gonzales is one of the players from the by-gone era that would have dominated in todays tennis, same way Sampras with the serve/volley game did.
     
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  35. TennisDawg

    TennisDawg Semi-Pro

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    It makes absolutely no sense to lump the women in with the men??? What are you saying Graf would have beaten Sampras? Please!
     
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  36. TennisDawg

    TennisDawg Semi-Pro

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    Margaret Court who was beaten by a 55 year Bobby Riggs, let's be serious!
     
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  37. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Pancho Gonzalez was obviously an amazing player. He had one of the best serves ever as well as a tremendous serve and volley game, as well as fierce tenacity. He is a legendary player that also has quite an impressive record versus Hoad, Kramer, Laver, and Rosewall, among other great players. I'd put him in the top tier of players.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  38. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    No, it's not about ability, but purely on the level of greatness to the sport. Graf is widely considered the female goat while Sampras is not, that's why he's below.
     
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  39. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Thanks. I'd like to see a full list to see where he might put Gonzales.
     
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  40. NatF

    NatF G.O.A.T.

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    What does your top 10 look like?
     
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  41. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    To the Tennis Channel list of course a few chosen real experts, like John Barrett or Bud Collins, contributed to. That older players like Laver, Tilden or Rosewall got this many votes, is an indication of it. But nobody knows, how many people and who voted. I think, over 30 or 50 people voted, including many marketing and business people and most of recent business. Its one of my main critical pounts of this voting, that they never gave away an open list of all voters.
    The other systematic critical point i have, is the merging of men and women. This is, as pointed out here, idiotic. In my mind, the biggest mistake was the Nr. 30 or what place of Helen Wills.
     
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  42. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    hoodjem, also Rosewall comes close (or more) to Pancho's statistic.
     
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  43. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    TMF, At least all those mentioned posters do know more than you...
     
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  44. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    I try not to respond to posts like this, but I really don't like how you misrespresent Flink's views around here. Yes, he works for Tennis Channel, but after their list came out he wrote a column where he said the worst thing about it was the low placements of Kramer & Gonzales.

    I'm sure he has seen Gonzales play more than anyone here(in addition to actually interviewing him)

    the rest of his list(from his book, it wasn't mentioned in the TC shows)

    6. Borg
    7. Nadal
    8. Budge
    9. Gonzales
    10. Connors & Agassi

    if any of you want to know more, buy his book(and some other books. too many rely on the internet for all their tennis history imo)
     
    #44
  45. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Berlin 1952

    Pancho won what was certainly the top pro clay court tournament of 1952 - the berlin pro on clay.
     
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  46. Xavier G

    Xavier G Semi-Pro

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    Gonzales must certainly have been one of the best ever. GOAT is not a debate I like to engage in too much, with such different era's, equipment, training, organization and structure of the game, different priorities etc. He must surely be a top tier player though, top-three, top-five. Incidentally, he was giving away ten years in age to Rod Laver when they were playing, so Gonzales was almost certainly past HIS very best when competing against the Rocket. The Greatest Of All Time question always has to have certain caveats and careful analysis if it's going to be fair. I just generally recognize great players as great players and the best of their day.
     
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  47. jrs

    jrs Professional

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    Thanks everyone for the information. This whole era was much different than what I imagined. I guess the networks made sound pretty much the same as today. Number grandslams - major winners - but it was completely different.

    I saw some videos of Gonzales - didn't look like he was doing anything spectacular - but if rules were being changed to stop him - it must have been special. Add to that he was completely self taught and started playing tennis after joining the service - makes him quite a special player.

    Certainly an all time Great - too bad most of people won't know of his accomplishments.
     
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  48. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    So based on the above, here is Flink's list:

    1. Federer
    2. Sampras
    3. Laver
    4. Kramer
    5. Tilden
    6. Borg
    7. Nadal
    8. Budge
    9. Gonzales
    10. Connors-Agassi

    Not a terrible list at all, but it does include a few oddities IMO, such as the high placement of Kramer and much lower placement of Gonzales.

    I wonder how he derived such a high placement of Kramer given that he did not start "following tennis" until long after Kramer had retired as a player--maybe he read and researched just like the rest of us.? (According to Flink's website [http://www.steveflink.com/] he started "following" tennis in 1965: "Steve Flink has been following the game since 1965, the year he first went to Wimbledon and the U.S. Championships.")

    These are simply my opinions, and I am not saying that Flink "knows nothing" about tennis history.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2013
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  49. BobbyOne

    BobbyOne Banned

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    And he won the strong 1959 Toronto claycourt event with wins against Cooper, Trabert and Sedgman (Rosewall participated).
     
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  50. jrs

    jrs Professional

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    I guess it made sense at the time....

    I remember the Sampras issue - didn't realize they did the same thing with Nadal. So I think when players play at a level where organizers have to get involved they need to move up the list of all time great.
     
    #50

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