What is a weak era or strong era in tennis?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by pc1, Jan 1, 2011.

  1. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    We've had a lot of discussions on so called weak eras in tennis. Some of the reasons are because they may serve as explanations for why one player may have done well in a certain era. If one player dominates it may have been because of the so call weak era.

    I do believe that just by logic alone, there had to be times in tennis history in which the relative quality of play more have been lower. However I do think it's hard to pinpoint and a so call weak era may be in reality a strong era.

    For example I do believe in Pre-Open tennis that perhaps there were very weak eras in the amateur ranks. Roy Emerson won a lot of majors in the 1960's and yet he may not have been one of the very top players in the world. Would he have won so many majors if Gonzalez, Laver, Rosewall, Gimeno, Hoad were playing in the majors? I would doubt it. But that was the times. The Pros had all the best players and while there were some strong players in the amateurs, there weren't of the level of the pros.

    So I'm curious what people consider a "WEAK ERA" and what is a "STRONG ERA" in tennis and why? Please don't just give an explanation that currently we have the strongest era in history just because it's the present. I want some explanations if possible.

    Obviously there is no right or wrong answers here. No one can prove anything but it would be interesting to see the explanations and perhaps learn from them.
     
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  2. FiveO

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    IMO strong v. weak eras can be identified by the strength/weakness of two elements:

    1- generational overlap both front and rear. IOW the holdover apex players of the generation prior, coming to the big tour 5-6 years earlier than the current generation currently enjoying their prime AND early door kickers, the young guns from the "next gen" breaking in 5-6 years after the current crop had. Sometimes it becomes further enhanced when 1 or 2 great players from two gens prior hang long enough to be a factor in the first part of a current generations run.

    2- health - of the top echelon current and crossover generations, but mostly the current generations nearest peers all peaking at or about the the same period of time.

    I think that the history of the game shows that each generation produces somewhere between 2 and 3 truly elite players and it's the presence and overlap of multiple generations that makes any particular era great. The vast majority of any era are draw fillers and would remain draw fillers in any generation, there's a second tier of very good, but there's only a couple of great players per generation. The absence of such players from any of those generations creates a vacuum or weaker era.

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  3. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Lets better talk about strong eras, and leave the weak era debate to others like Mats. Otherwise we get the usual flame war with the usual suspects. If you have 6-7 great players competing for the big titles and top ranks, you imo have a strong era. Three of these strong eras were imo the late 50s at he pro game, the early open era around 1970, and the late 80s until ca. 1991.
    While i certainly agree about the problems of the pro-amateur-split, i don't see the 60s as a particular weak era in the shamateurs. Because the National Federations spent money to control and hold their amateurs, great and very good players remained amateurs like Emerson, Santana, Pietrangeli, Stolle (till 1966), Fraser, later the upcoming Newcombe, Ashe, Roche. The semi final lineup of the Australian of 1967 with Emerson, Ashe, Newcombe or Roche was certainly not bad. When the younger ones came into age in the late 60s, they faced the older pro generation and the older amateur generation, so we got together a very strong era imo. The early and mid 50s had also a very strong amateur game, with Sedgman, Patty, Drobny, Schroeder, Rosewall, Hoad, Rose, Trabert, Seixas and others competing. A weak amateur era were the late 50s, when virtually all top players had turned pro. That resulted in the strong pro era, mentioned above.
     
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  4. BTURNER

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    A few thoughts. With rare exception, it is not the era or time frame that is weak, but that an era has specific weaknesses or strengths. There may be a weak clay era or a regional fragility on 'this side of the pond' or that, but it usually suggests resurgence in other places on grass events or in Europe. Those weaknesses or strengths switch either due to internal or external politics, changes in the technology etc. Very few changes have led to a pervasive weakness of the entire sport. The two world wars and their direct aftermath surely represent the exception. Even the the deprivation in the amateur sport had a corresponding blossoming in the pro tour, it is more about looking somewhere else for the strength.
     
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  5. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Yes the names you brought up in the shamateurs were almost legendary so for the amateurs the 1960's may very well have been a strong era. Still it would have been interesting to see how it would have played out if the top pros played in a true Open Era in the 1960's. I would bet Gonzalez, Laver and Rosewall would dominate but some names like Gimeno, Emerson, Newcombe and Roche might break in to win some majors.

    As far as the late 1950's are concerned I read in Jack Kramer's book that he thought Cooper and Anderson were the best of a bad group so he agree with you that time was poor for the amateurs also.
     
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  6. urban

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    Yes, we should very carfully considerate the respective amateur and pro tours of the 50s and 60s. Joe McCauley writes in his book, that the real top class pro game started with the Gonzalez-Trabert series in 1955/56. In 1956 and 57 the last great amateur players, Rosewall and Hoad, turned pro. Prior to that, the amateur game had a camparable level, but it couldn't compensate the loss of the two young Aussies. Cooper and Anderson, who succeeded them, hadn't the same level, and got clobbered, when they turned pro in 59. In 1959 virtually a whole generation of top players had left the amateurs and were in the pro ranks. It lasted some years, before a new generation of great amateurs like Laver, Santana and Emerson, and some very good as Pietrangeli, Osuna, Stolle or Fraser took over the amateur game. By then, the ILTF made it more difficult for Kramer, to recruit new pros, by giving their players some appearance money and benefits. In the 1960-1967 period, only Laver as real amateur champion turned pro, Stolle and Ralston signed later in 1967. Gimeno was a upcoming new face, when he signed with Kramer in 1960. That said, the major picture would certainly have been different with all pro competing.
     
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  7. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    You left out one element and it's the most important one....

    Increase in number of athletes and countries competiting. Logic say the bigger pool, the greater depth and talent. It doesn't necessary has to be tennis, but in other sports too. It's natural that the game continue to progress, it cannot stay still and improvement is the only way to survive.

    While it's true that each generation produces 2 or 3 dominant players, but the quality of tennis in their respective era are not the same. For example, no one in there right mind would say Court would have won 11 AO in this current era.
     
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  8. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    That's is a great point and extremely valid.

    But let's say Court played in this era. I believe she was around Serena's height with world class speed in her time. What if she had the training of today? Clijsters is shorter (or at least near Court's height) than Court and she's one of the dominant players in the game today.

    I do think Court would be one of the top players today. She would be different and probably play with a different style but I don't think her physical gifts and mental desire would be denied.

    Did Court play in a weak era? Her main competition was Bueno, Wade and Billie Jean King with Evert and Goolagong coming in at the tail end of her dominance in the early 1970's. Is it as strong as today? Offhand I would think the top players could compete but perhaps there weren't as many good players then as there are now. It's a gut feeling.

    The increase pool of course is a tremendous help and logically there should be greater athletes but we can never assume that genius cannot be found from a little pond.

    Writers in the United States used to complain all the time how the United States players were being dominated by the population of a small country in Australian for years. Why were the Aussies so powerful for such a long time? Perhaps it was Hopman, who may have been very unique. I guess Hopman can claim credit for developing John McEnroe and Vitas Gerulaitis also among all the great Australians.

    Is tennis better today? Are the athletes better today? Hard to say. But clearly the talent pool is larger. Would that make Roger Federer of 2005 a weak player relatively speaking twenty years from now when the talent pool should be even larger? I don't think so. I think Federer's genius would probably be valid in 2031 but obviously I wouldn't know for sure now.

    In watching John McEnroe compete against some of the athletes of today I am convinced a young John McEnroe would do extremely well today. His speed and hand/eye coordination and his great touch would still be very effective today in my opinion and this a player who's peak was over 25 years ago. It was from a smaller talent pool.
     
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  9. Manus Domini

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    Anderson Cooper was a tennis player?

    In my opinion, it is shown a few ways:

    1} how the older players of the previous generation do against the newer ones at the newer one's prime

    2} Now, champion's series. If the old-men players can keep up with/beat the younger guys, they obviously would do well in the current era.
     
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  10. BTURNER

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    How a past champion might adapt to today's tennis is not just about how their physical game and training would be altered, but would the sport still fit their personality or temperament. That is one individual characteristic that is not easily altered by training or even the best sport psychologist. Court might not succeed in the modern era because her shy, diffident personality could not handle the modern pressure cooker of public eye and Mac might simply implode too often and far earlier in his career
     
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  11. urban

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    Of course, Court would win even more than 24 majors against the likes of Woizniacki, Safina, or others of the current crop. Court was a bit mechanical, but that would fit in extremely well with today women players, who play all the same. She could lose to players with some imagination as Bueno or Goolagong. That even a mother can win big, is shown by Clijsters. If Serena would really focus on her game and train properly the whole year, she would have around 20 majors. The current state of womens tennis is pretty weak. Excuse me, i did want to talk not about weak eras, but strong ones.
     
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  12. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    This is not a good post.
     
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  13. BTURNER

    BTURNER Hall of Fame

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    I see problems with her winning that much on the hard courts as she did on the grass courts. While the groundies are certainly there, I suspect injuries would take a real toll on her body.
     
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  14. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Court used to play a pretty heavy schedule. While the hard courts could cause injuries I can see her playing less tournaments than she did in the 60's and early 70's which would cut down on the wear and tear.
     
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  15. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    "This is not a good post." Logic "says" nothing here.

    Probability suggests that if a given set of organisms is more populous, the specimens who survive are probably better adapted to survive. But in reality the exact opposite could happen. Probability means that it is more likely to happen, but offers no guarantee that it will actually happen.

    Logical results are dependable; probable results are only more likely.

    "It is only a fool who presumes evolution means progress or improvement in human beings."
    --Bertrand Russell
     
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  16. The-Champ

    The-Champ Legend

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    1. Weak era - the era your favorite player did not play in.

    2. Strong era - The era your favorite player dominated.


    :)
     
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  17. fed_rulz

    fed_rulz Hall of Fame

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    but in the absence of indisputable proof, which one would you rather trust? probability or the subjective opinion of some tennis-crazy, self-proclaimed expert?
     
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  18. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Ok, Lets get into it again. If one would (and could) change the one really good women player of modern times, Serena Williams with Margret Court, i would indeed bet, that she would win over 20 majors. Serena has won a lot, without focussing on tennis, without training properly, despite being overweight and very seldom really fit, with an in and out mentality. Now Court, with her sound allcourt game, her ultra fit athleticism, her long arms and legs, i don't see, why she would have not won the same now as in her own era. Who in all the world would say, that those unspeakable names of today, those camp-made roboters are in the same class as women like BJK, Maria Bueno, Virginia Wade, Ann Jones, Lesley Turner, Rosie Casals, young Chrissie Evert - all players Court defeated for big titles. The only exception and competition for a really fit Serena i see is Clijsters.
     
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  19. FiveO

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    Looked at in a vacuum perhaps. But this isn't a vacuum. World population only has an impact if participation in tennis increases in a like percentage and if other established locales maintain their own level of participation.

    Number of countries has little to do with it. As the former USSR and Eastern European countries fragmented it doesn't mean more players playing it merely means players playing under more flags. About the only country that could have an impact is China but that depends on if the sport catches enough people's interest there. Aside from that many countries are no larger in terms of area or population than states in America.

    The decline in participation in New York is just one example of once established tennis playing locales being a shell of themselves as far as participation. A large local public par of 16 courts here was jammed with 2-3 hour waits in the 70's and 80's. One is lucky to find 3 or 4 courts occupied at a time nowadays. The majority of indoor clubs that sprang up like mushrooms during the "tennis boom", whose JD programs lured the best coaches in the world to suburban and even urban New York have either been downsized to accomodate other sports or training facilities or sold off outright for their land value. Having been in the industry here since before the bubble burst, there isn't 1/10th the participation in tennis there was in the sport's hey day here. That's just one state whose area and population rivals many of the "new countries" you speak of. About the only locales it has survived in numbers are the traditional US sunshine states.

    Tennis has to compete against many more leisure time activities today than ever before, that's worldwide. X-sports, more water sports, vehicle sports, etc. Also every sport has to compete against ever more sedentary generations attracted more to video/computer games and activities than outdoor sports.

    So merely because the world's population has increased doesn't mean there are more potential elite tennis players in the pool of potential prospects.

    As far as other sports go, look no further than baseball. Where are the .400 hitters? W/O drugs who has hit more homeruns in a season than Ruth or Maris? Why aren't all pitchers throwing 120 mph today?

    Lebron James is held up as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Better than MJ? Better then Kareem? Chamberlain? Based on what exactly? He was recently quoted as saying the league is watered down by having too many franchises and preventing teams being formed with multiple tier 1 stars as they were in the 1980's. Why would he say that?

    Why is a country like Jamaica producing all the world class sprinters not caught doping? Why aren't all those "new countries" producing them? It's only my opinion, based on almost all other record breaking 100m times being rolled back as each of those athletes were discovered to have been PED enhanced, is that Jamaica is merely just somehow ahead of the testing curve. If that isn't the case then how is a sport like horseracing, one that has control over all the variables of the subject population, engages in selective breeding, bioengineering and various types of doping (legal and illegal) able to produce ever faster horses? The simple answer is there are limits. And to think with that much "control" over their subjects horseracing can't produce ever better "athletes" but with human subjects, by shear chance, to multiple powers (i.e. parent's genes, the offspring choosing the sport, finding the right environment, the right training, the right competition, remaining healthy), simply through the passage of time and increasing general population, human beings MUST produce better tennis players is a concept that is rendered amusing.

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  20. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    The late 1970's-early 1980's has been called the "golden era". Public courts were packed in the U.S. (TV ratings were also extremely high. The 1980 Wimbledon final was off the charts). I'd be curious to know what the numbers were in places such as Great Britain, France, and Australia as well. The open era began in 1968 with Laver leading the way. Then, by the mid-1970's you had Connors, Evert, Borg, McEnroe, and Navratilova taking the Sport to dizzying heights of popularity. That atmosphere, in my opinion, helped produce some stellar competition, but that atmosphere was also created by the very special players themselves. In effect, some key players have played a large part in making professional tennis into what it is today, in terms of media coverage, global reach, prize money, and endorsements. I do think that "overall depth" has increased as the Sport has become more popular internationally (more countries are fielding top players, so more depth overall). Yet, I don't think that automatically translates into more "depth at the top", just by virtue of greater numbers. If you look at Laver's competition you'll see that it was extremely tough. Then again, just look at the top 10 in 1980 or so. It was stacked with Borg, Connors, McEnroe, and Lendl in the top four and many great players in the top 20.

    In many ways, champions are "born, not made". Really great players come along periodically and I don't buy the argument that you can just produce lots of great players by starting with a large number of them and just sticking to a standard formula. Comparing players across eras as well as comparing the eras themselves is a very difficult proposition. I've concluded that doing so has to be both a qualitative and quantitative exercise (like the GOAT debate). Even then, as PC1 has rightly pointed out, "there are no right or wrong answers here".

    I tend to evaluate the strength of eras based on the majors and who is contending at them. I focus on the players that reach the quarters, semifinals, and finals at the majors. That's where champions/all-time greats are really tested. Those are the tournaments that are most prized and where players tend to play their very best. The stakes are the highest and they are playing on the grandest stages. So, I like to focus on this question:"What is the overall quality of the quarterfinalists/semifinalists at the majors"? That inevitably leads me to another related question when I look back at majors played during an era. I end up asking myself "how tough were the players that the title holders prevailed over?" When I try and rate the strength of an era, I look at the "depth at the very top" (players 1-4, 1-8 ). By and large, great players just don't lose in the first several rounds at majors. When you get down to the quarters and further, that's the real danger zone for them. So, that leads me to the conclusion that in a "strong era", even truly great players are severely tested by other great players at the end of majors. In a "weak era", great players face relatively weaker players in the quarters through the finals.
     
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  21. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Gotta agree here.

    Probability theory would suggest that starting with greater resources, what comes out on top is a greater player.

    This is only a description of what should happen, not what will happen.
    But I also agree that one of the legs of the big-pool-thus-strong-era premise is false: that there is a greater pool of players (because of increased popularity world-wide) to select from today. Tennis was more popular in the 1980s than it is today. There may be a more international face to tennis stars today, but that does not mean that more persons are playing (or that the general pool is more populous).

    Indeed, one could argue that the more international face of tennis today is a function of a weaker era: more weak fish (from outlying countries with poor tennis traditions) survive longer in a less competitive pool. Perhaps because in the countries with the strong tennis histories, tennis is not that popular.

    (I don't necessarily endorse the above argument, but it seems a plausible inference, given the premise.)
     
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  22. dlk

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    ^^^Nice Post. Makes sense.
     
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  23. piece

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    That kind of definition entails absurdities: for one, it implies that were a group of 6-7 players who were competing for major titles in a way that satisfies your conditions for a strong era to suddenly faced with a new player who was so vastly superior to all of these elite players that they could rarely win sets off of him, then the era would be weakened according to your definition because of the lack of competition for big titles, when in fact all that has happened is a very strong player has been added to the era. Surely such an addition cannot fail to strengthen an era.
     
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  24. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Urban is emphasizing GREAT PLAYERS so if they are so great then if would be very very hard if not impossible I would guess for one player to be so dominant.

    I do think Urban is pointing that we all want to see greatness and also great competition, hopefully lots of it.

    Bottom line is that we all want to see super skilled players with great physical talent play each other because I think we all love tennis and want to see great rallies. To see Isner and Mahut never lose serve is not my idea of fun and skilled tennis unless you love serving exhibitions. I'm not exactly a fan of Isner's groundies.

    In the 1920's Suzanne Lenglen was virtually unbeatable and rarely lost games, much less sets. She was a great player of course but I would think the competition wasn't of the highest quality, to say the least.

    To have one player dominant doesn't necessarily make it a weak era. Rod Laver was very dominant in 1969, not only winning the Grand Slam but a lot of other top tournaments. But in 1969 you had greats like John Newcombe playing, Tony Roche, Arthur Ashe, Ken Rosewall, Tom Okker, Andres Gimeno and while they didn't beat Laver in big matches, they were to make big impacts in later years. Newcombe won a few Wimbledons, US Opens, Australian and a WCT title. Roche was very good for a few years. Ashe was to be number one and was one of the top players for years. Rosewall had a few majors left to win plus he won a few WCT championships. Okker and Gimeno also did well. I think 1969 was very strong but you can see it from a perspective of time. You couldn't tell in 1969. All of Laver's top competition in 1969 could have done terribly afterwards and in this case you may say it was a weak era.

    The era we have now has Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, del Potro, Roddick and some others. Maybe they all will do well in the future. But even if players like Murray do well is it because he fulfilled his talent or is it because Federer and Nadal has declined. Who knows? Only years from now can we truly get an idea of how strong this era is. It could be one of the best or one of the worst.

    A lot of it is also very subjective. I for one don't think Roddick is very talented so I'm never that impressed by him. outside of his great serve. I think Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Murray and del Potro are very talented and there is the makings of great competition here. Others may think Roddick is more gifted than anyone. What I'm getting at is that one person looking at the names and experiencing that particular era may consider it a great era for skills and talent. Another one may see and experience the same tennis era and think it stinks.
     
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  25. piece

    piece Professional

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    No doubt it would be great to see that kind of competitiveness at the highest level, but as regards urban's definition of a strong era, my point still stands. The possibility of a player with the kind of dominant abilities of envisioned is of no import because there can be no doubt that the addition of such a player, whether possible or not, to an era could only serve to make it stronger, but on urban's definition of strong era it would do exactly the opposite. As a side note, I do think such a player is possible. Just imagine if Nadal had a serve close to the caliber of Wayne Arthurs' serve, surely such a combination of talents is unlikey, to be sure, but not impossible.
     
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  26. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I believe that Urban's point stands.

    If you allow the hypothetical in which you do have the "new player" who enters competition and completely dominates the other 6, then his domination indicates that it was indeed a weak era in general--because he is the single strong player.

    If on the other hand, the same "new player" enters competition and competes well, wins his share but does not dominate, then one can say it is a generally strong era with more than several great players. (It is also possible that this period is a weak era with more than several weak players.)

    I do think the only way to be certain whether a short term period is weak or strong is to introduce a new variable, such as a past "great" player coming out of retirement. If this past great player is able to completely dominate--much more so than when the player was in his prime, this would tend to indicate that it is a weak era.

    I am not sure how to ascertain a strong era. Maybe the inverse.?
     
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  27. piece

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    I don't think that explanation properly addresses the point I'm making. By urban's criteria for a strong era an era of 6-7 elite players fighting it out for the major titles is strong. However, the addition of a much stronger player to this era would, on urban's definition, make it a weaker era if that much stronger player had a stranglehold on the majors. I think it is absurd to suppose that adding strong players to an era could do anything but make it stronger.

    It seems to me that what you're addressing is more of an epistemological problem, specifically: how do we tell whether an era is weak or strong. In which case a situation involving a player arriving and dominating players who were previously thought to be strong competition may be reason to revise our opinions on the strength of the era, but if a strong era has already been defined as 6-7 elite players competing fairly evenly for majors, then no such revision can be made. The era is/was strong by definition.

    urban wasn't, as far as I can tell, trying to propose a scientific method for determining whether an era was weak or strong, rather he was defining what a weak or strong era is, something that is a necessary precursor to the issue of era-strength-determination that you discussed in your last post. All I'm saying is his definition is inadequate, and your points about revising our beliefs about the strength of an era can only stand if you too find this definition inadequate, so I think we are, at least implicitly, in agreement.
     
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  28. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    If we take Federer and Nadal out of the equation, you would have multiple players competing at the top. So according to urban's logic, that equates to strong era. We can remove Sampras and his 14 slams are spread throughout the field to make the era even stronger. It's just doesn't make sense.
     
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  29. urban

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    Why is it absurd, to call Gonzalez, Hoad, Rosewall, Sedgman, Trabert and Segura great players? By all accounts, they all would rank in the top twenty or twenty five players of all time. And yet, they all competed near their prime for the top pro pizes in the years 1957-1959. I would certainly call these years a strong era.
     
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  30. piece

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    For sure that is a strong era, and it is no way absurd to think so. I'm saying that to think that only eras that satisfy your two conditions of quality and parity are strong eras results in absurdity.
     
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  31. urban

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    Quality is the deciding point. The results are open. That overall quality of top players must automatically exclude dominance, would be absurd to think. That Pancho Gonzalez - despite a strong era - was quite dominant, nobody would dispute that. Great players make their status by their own and in their own right.
    Sometimes in tennis history we had such situations (due to luck, and - as Five O said - due to career overlapping and lack of injuries), that made up a strong eras. Around 1970 all players out of the top with Laver, Rosewall, Nexcombe, Ashe, Smith, Nastase and Roche could make a great match or final - in all thinkable pairings. Its no suprise, that they all did just that, that matches between Smith and Nastase, Newcombe and Rosewall, Laver and Roche, or Ashe and Nastase actually are regarded as some of the best in all tennis history. And the "supporting cast" with Emerson, Gimeno, Drysdale, Kodes, Okker, Richey, Ralston, Riessen, Taylor, Lutz, Orantes, and later since 1972 the young upcoming Connors and Borg, wasn't bad either. In 1972 they had in the preliminary round of Forest Hills - they had a 156 draw) a qualifier match between Emerson and a young Borg.
    I believe, that the early 90s were deeper than the later 90s, due to injuries and early demission of leading players. Lendl, Becker (despite some strong spurts at the end of some years), Edberg, Wilander grew older, Mac vanished, Stich faded away early, Courier had a short peak, Agassi had other interests, only Sampras stayed and had enough dedication. But around 1990 - what a strong field at the top.
     
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  32. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Let's look at potential signs of a "WEAK ERA." You may see a player become number one who seems to have very little going for him or her. This player may have one weapon but perhaps many flaws that the weak top players of the era cannot exploit. Assuming that is the top player, it's probable many of those other top players below him or her have a good amount of flaws in their games also.

    In the next year or years you may have a massive infusion of new blood in who are extremely talented. The former number one or top players have not declined in level of play but the new infusion of top players are clearly superior and defeat the former top players, not because the former top players have declined but because the new players are simply better.

    This can indicate the era in which the former number one was weak or perhaps the new infusion of players have taken tennis to a new level. Considering that people noticed the many flaws in the former top group, it is probably the former.
     
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  33. 1970CRBase

    1970CRBase Guest

    I very much believe that's what happened in the Fed era compared to the Pete era. Simply, Fed's peers (top tenners and contenders) and Pete's peers are equal in terms of talent, IMO, the 2 elite of elite groups in respectively the 90's and the 2000's would be equally good whichever era they belonged to, I absolutely cannot justify any viewpoint that Fed's peers are poorer in skill and talent than the 90's elite, but that on a scale of 1-10, if Fed is an 11 in his group, I consider that Pete was only a 7 in his. I see many 90's guys as equally talented as Pete, several more so, a number of people who were better than Pete in the departments that were Pete's usual strengths. BUT, although Fed seemed to dominate nearly all his peer group with overwhelming h2h's, he has a Nadal who is effectively an anti-Fed technically and mentally; whereas although Pete had many many tough opponents for him that he often barely scraped out against, he never had such an opponent whose game exactly neutralised his. Pete and Fed dominated in their respective decades for different reasons but in Pete's case, it wasn't because he was so much more brilliant than everybody else.

    So my personal conclusion : Fed's era is stronger than Pete's because of the addition of an extra strong player.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2011
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  34. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Weak era is when you have Nalbandian in Wimbledon final, Verkerk in the French Open final, 35 year old Bjorkman in the Wimbledon semis, Puerta in the French Open final, Ljubicic in the French Open semis, Johansson winning the Australian Open, Schuettler in the Australian Open final, and Haas reaching #2 in the World, all within a 4-5 year span.
     
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  35. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    This is a good, persuasive point: how does one tell a weak era from a super-strong era?

    If the definition of a weak era is one that has 6-7 mediocre players battling it out for slam titles. If the definition of a super-strong era one has 6-7 great players battling it out for all the slam titles. The only distinction would seem to be the determination that the top players are either mediocre or great. And how does one make this determination that the top players are either mediocre or great?

    Most look at the records, and say if player X has more than one slam title, then player X is a great player, but this is very problematic. Because records are entirely a function of the quality of the competition. Perhaps it could work if you have 6-7 players at the top, all of whom have some minimum like 5+ slam titles. I am not sure.

    PC1 has proposed looking at the skill-sets of the players at the top. Does player X have a complete skill-set? Can player X hit every shot in the book, and will to beat all comers? Or does player X have only one way of playing and a very limited repertoire (for instance, "a serve and a forehand"), it just happens to be a little better than everyone else's. This seems more plausible and more fruitful.

    Take for example, 2002-03. Here are the slam winners:
    2002: Thomas Johansson--Albert Costa--Lleyton Hewitt--Pete Sampras
    2003 Andre Agassi--Juan Carlos Ferrero--Roger Federer--Andy Roddick

    Eight different players. I believe that is only through hindsight, that we can look back and conclude that this was not a strong era.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2011
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  36. britbox

    britbox Rookie

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    Never a truer word spoken!
     
    #36
  37. fed_rulz

    fed_rulz Hall of Fame

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    you forgot to add the following:
    - Rios becoming #1,
    - the second best player in the era doing meth and going AWOL during the peak years of the best player of the era.
     
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  38. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Also, there has been discussion about the worst #1 in history, which included Rios, Kafelnikov, Moya, Rafter... all fall in the 90s.
     
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  39. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    A complete skill set helps of course but I also think that players should have some sort of overpowering weapon. A Pancho Gonzalez had arguably the greatest weapon in history in his great serve so he rarely lost serve. He often needed one break to win. He also had a very powerfully forehand and excellent volley. So maybe Gonzalez didn't have as many assets as let's say a Laver but he arguably was better than Laver because of his awesome serve.

    It may be better to have some weapons like Gonzalez with some mild weaknesses than to have everything balanced. I think some players like Tim Henman had no major weaknesses but he didn't have any overpowering strength either. It was harder for him to hurt an opponent.
     
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  40. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Comparing eras must necessarily involve comparing the quality of different players who played and competed during different eras/times, under varied conditions, against very different players, in different playing environments. These players compete under different conditions, so it is not possible to control all the variables involved. So, this is necessarily a objective and subjective exercise when you compare raw statistics but also assess the quality of players from say 1-4 or 1-8. In my opinion, there's no way to avoid the inherent subjectivity in this discussion. It is interesting though. It all seems to come down to one's assessment of just how good the "competition" is for the top players.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2011
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  41. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    lol..wow, what would you do if youtube and wikipedia did not exist? its a good thing its here so you can read about tennis since you never played it nor watched from that era. its great to hear opinions coming from clueless posters that only know rios existed from wikipedia and youtube videos.
     
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  42. Azzurri

    Azzurri Legend

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    the worst #1?? that is just silly. each player earned it. you show little respect for the game and its history, but since you are new to tennis its not surprising. all of those guys were terrific players. most consider rios best never to win a major not the worst #1. guess you don't realize how difficult it is to attain #1.
     
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  43. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    Didn't say any #1 doesn't earned it, but if you had to choose which one are weak, these guys made the list according to most fans.

    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=217431
     
    #43
  44. BrooklynNY

    BrooklynNY Hall of Fame

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    haha
    Seriously, some people these days are crazy. My younger brother was like that until I enlightened him. He first started watching tennis when Roddick won the USO, and then Fed dominated, so he was a mindless *******. I've taken him to see some of the recent Sampras Exos, and Now his favorite players are Nadal & Sampras and than Fed at 3l. :) I love it.
     
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  45. fed_rulz

    fed_rulz Hall of Fame

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    hey, look, GameSampras agrees with Azzurri.. surprise, surprise :)
     
    #45
  46. fed_rulz

    fed_rulz Hall of Fame

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    you should try a different form of attack/insult. this a'int workin...

    Let me get this straight: you want to argue that an era, where a no-slam wonder became #1 is a strong era? :confused:
     
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  47. BrooklynNY

    BrooklynNY Hall of Fame

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    Once again, I am not GameSampras. Seriously, atleast give me the credit for my great posts(federer modesty), not this other guy GameSampras. I'm just a lurker who finally registered.

    If you're in NY area I will hit with you. Otherwise, call the moderator to verify our IPs, and or confirm we are probably on 2 different sides of the world.
     
    #47
  48. NadalAgassi

    NadalAgassi Guest

    Any player who cant even win a major, even one of the best not to, is a weak #1. If even in womens tennis #1s who never go on to win a slam in history are rare, mens it is even worse. Even if Rios was the best to not win a major he could still easily be the worst #1 as he is the only #1 in history to not have won a major.

    Anyway Rios isnt the best to not win a major probably. The guy only made it past the quarterfinals of 1 slam ever and embarassed himself in the final that one time. He was an amazing talent and showed it in non slam events but in slams when it mattered most he was a flop. Great hands, great shots and feet, no heart, no mind, no commitment.
     
    #48
  49. BrooklynNY

    BrooklynNY Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, Rios probably is the least greatest number 1, but I don't know about the worst.
    :D
     
    #49
  50. piece

    piece Professional

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    I often see posters on this forum comparing strength of competition by looking at the slam counts of the top end of the field in a certain era. You are quite right to note that this means of era evaluation fails to properly account for the fact that the achievements of a group of players in an era is a function of the strength of that era. But to properly take this fact into consideration is, I think impossible as it involves us in an infinite regress of achievement evaluation, where player A's major titles are only worthwhile if he beat another player (B) who had major titles to their name along the way, but of course player B's titles are only worth something if they came at the expense of some further major title winner C...etc.

    I think at some point (as pc1 suggests) you need to ground the worth of a player's/era's achievements in the skill sets of the players themselves rather than setting them atop a baseless tower built of countless iterations of the achievements of that player's/era's competition.

    As a side note I think your definition of super-strong era, even though it includes the caveat of "greatness", fails on the same grounds as urban's: if one super-skilled player came along and started dominating the other greats the era would all of a sudden become weak, because it fails to satisfy your definition of a strong era - but the addition of a super-strong player to an already strong era cannot fail to make an era even stronger. So I think definitions of this kind probably need to be abandoned as they cannot properly characterise what a strong era is.
     
    #50

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