were exhibitions in the 70s and 80s more important than we realise?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by sandy mayer, Mar 12, 2012.

  1. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

    Joined:
    May 16, 2005
    Messages:
    260
    Nowadays the difference between exhibition and 'real' event is crystal clear. We know the only tournaments that matter are the ATP ranking events (and Davis Cup). We know not to read too much into exhibitions nowadays.

    But I'm not sure whether we have the same clarity about the 70s and 80s. I get the feeling not all exhibitions were unimportant e.g. the challenge matches of 1975. The other thing is I don't think the whole concept of ATP points was that important, especially in the 70s but even into the early 80s. It's well known the computer used to get the rankings wrong, but nowadays the computer rankings are very good and are taken much more seriously. So when a player in the 70s and 80s entered a tournament with no computer points, I'm not convinced this meant the tournament didn't matter.

    So how accurate are our official head to heads and official tournament wins from the 70s to 80s?
     
    #1
  2. Nadal_Power

    Nadal_Power Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2010
    Messages:
    506
    In the 80es, some of them were very important.. great money and players field. And we know that McEnroe/Lendl/Connors never wanted to lost to each other, no matter in what match

    Antwerp was better then all ATP 500 tournaments of today and there was few more great exhibitions, like AT&T
     
    #2
  3. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    4,658
    Important to understand

    The following formula is important here:

    Non-ATP sanctioned tournament <> exhibition

    Just because the ATP didn't sanction it, doesn't mean it was an exhibition. Antwerp, The Grand Slam Cup - these were real tournaments. The latter was only accepted as an offical tournament by the ATP well after the last one was played in 1999. If you look at the fields that Antwerp played they were more equivalent to a Masters 1000 today. Exhibitions are normally just one-night stands between players (though admittedly there are exceptions to this rule).

    There is a reason that McEnroe was ranked as the number 1 at the end of 1982 even though all serious tennis historians only have him as number 3 at best that year. The reason is at the time (though they do now) they didn't include the WCT tournaments in their rankings and Ivan Lendl won a lot of WCT events that year. Nowdays those WCT events are included in the ATP's website as official tournament wins but aren't the time they were ignored (possibly the WCT finals wasn't but the others were).

    Now real exhibitions ie one night stands - they weren't serious events in the 70's and 80's either.
     
    #3
  4. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    truth, I watched exos where the commitment of top players was well above offical competition.Golden Era´s best signature is probably those wonderful exhibitions with 4 or 5 top tenners...
     
    #4
  5. Nadal_Power

    Nadal_Power Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2010
    Messages:
    506
    Well said, you are right

    So there was a chance for Ivan to be Number 1 in 1982? :???: That year he played 9 WCT events and won all of them, with great season overall, making 20 finals from 23 tournaments
     
    #5
  6. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

    Joined:
    May 16, 2005
    Messages:
    260
    Thanks for this. Very informative. What about all those challenge matches Connors played in 1975? How important do you think they were?
     
    #6
  7. robow7

    robow7 Professional

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    Messages:
    967
    Those exhibitions allowed the Pro circuit to flourish and become what it is today. Remember, those early Open tourneys including the AO in the 70's didn't begin to pay out what they do today (in real dollars) and it was a way for the best to continue playing crappy "official" tourneys and still derive a high salary. Young people today don't understand that the majors didn't always pay out a million bucks to the winner or the whole field for that matter and something like the World Team tennis concept allowed for sponsors to eventually see that it worth their dollars and hence prize money eventually increased so they were needed less.
     
    #7
  8. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Golden Era and exos are a cause-effect thing.Milano,Montreal,Chicago,Boca Raton,Las Vegas,Forest Hills,Antwerp,Barcelona,Tokyo-Suntory,Munich in the early 90´s....attracted public´s eye much more than 70% of the official events, no doubt about it.
     
    #8
  9. Devilito

    Devilito Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2009
    Messages:
    4,266
    In the 70s and 80s the prize money for winning official tournaments was relatively nothing even when accounting for inflation. Even the majors paid out poorly. Players made most of their money from sponsorships, publicity, appearance fees and exos. Some exos had better fields than slams, paid out more money and had better more prestigious trophies. That’s why tennis is not like baseball and you can’t compare how good someone was with stats and and how many majors they won etc. Between eras it’s usually a reset because of all the changes that happen to the tour so often.

    Counting majors is actually the biggest complete joke in our sport as Roger Federer is the first “great player” that started as a pro when the Australian open even meant something and people actually started talking about “slam count” after Petros hit 14. Even for the early part of Petros career the Aus Open was something a lot skipped and total slam count was in nobodies thought process.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2012
    #9
  10. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

    Joined:
    May 16, 2005
    Messages:
    260
    Excellent post. People need to avoid simply comparing slam counts when comparing Federer to different eras. Even when comparing Federer to Sampras we can't simply conclude Federer was greater on the basis of slam count.
     
    #10
  11. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    4,658
    No

    Sampras only broke through as a top player in 1990. By then the australian open had top fields and actually had for a few years. Agassi was the only top player to stay away and that was only for his own reasons
     
    #11
  12. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2004
    Messages:
    7,174
    Through the 70's money was the driving factor,not points. There were two tours (at least), the slams were separate, World Team Tennis was at times a factor, and if someone was willing to put up big money for winning, the players would compete very hard for it no matter where it was.
     
    #12
  13. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    WCT ran their own computer ranking,which mixed both Gran Prix and WCT events, as well as Gran Slam results...the Nixdorf Computer Ranking...Ivan Lendl ranked 1, Jimmy Connors 2, John Mc Enroe 3...it is, by far , a more logical ranking
     
    #13
  14. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

    Joined:
    May 16, 2005
    Messages:
    260
    I've never heard anyone say they think Lendl should be ahead of Connors for 82. That computer ranking is in my view wrong.

    I think in 82 the real top three were:

    1. Connors
    2. Lendl
    3. McEnroe
     
    #14
  15. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    Again, I agree but only if you weight the majors ( which I do).If we talk about the regular events, Connors had a very good year, but not better than Mac or Lendl

    Lendl won 10 WCT titles plus Gran Prix events in Cincinnati,Frankfurt,North Conway

    Mac won Philadelphia,San Francisco,Wermbley,Sidney,Tokyo

    Connors won Columbus,Las Vegas,Los Angeles,Queen´s,
    - apart from the 2 majors, of course-

    Vilas also had 5 or 6 GP titles (Madrid,Montecarlo,Milan,Gstaad,Rotterdam), Gerulatis won Toronto,Brussels,Johannesburg...so it was very very close between the top 5 in terms of " Superseries" events or "Regular series" events, as they were called back then.
     
    #15
  16. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    1982 top 10:
    1-.Connors
    2-.Lendl
    3-.Mc Enroe
    4-.Wilander
    5-.Vilas
    6-.Gerulaitis
    7-.Kriek
    8-.Gomez
    9-.Higueras
    10-.Mayer/Teltscher/Mc Namara

    this would be my ranking
     
    #16
  17. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

    Joined:
    May 16, 2005
    Messages:
    260
    I think you have got it right.
     
    #17
  18. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    I think Noah deserved to be included there.The guy broke Lendl´s undefeated record at Palm Springs.But, except for a quarterfinal showing at Roland Garros, didn´t shine too much in the major tournaments.

    One also has to wonder if Borg really wanted to compete in 1982...why not send to hell the ITF/Gran Prix and their rules and just sign in with WCT? Hunt would have welcome him, that is undeniable...which means Borg didn´t really want to come back and use the rules of ITF ( which also ran the Gran Prix) as an excuse...any other thought?
     
    #18
  19. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2004
    Messages:
    7,174
    Borg didn't really want to play much. He just wanted to play a few times a year at the majors primarily and still retain his seeding. They said he would have to play enough tournaments and win enough points like everyone else to keep his seeding, so that was the final straw. In any case, he would have played very little.
     
    #19
  20. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,714
    I know but, still, he had the WCT option, which he refused...
     
    #20

Share This Page