Who is the most important male player ever.

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by JAY1, Apr 8, 2012.

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Who is the most important male player ever.

  1. Lew Hoad

    2.1%
  2. Ken Rosewall

    3.1%
  3. Rod Laver

    13.5%
  4. Arthur Ashe

    11.5%
  5. Jimmy Connors

    13.5%
  6. Bjorn Borg

    21.9%
  7. John Mcenroe

    6.3%
  8. Andre Agassi

    7.3%
  9. Pete Sampras

    7.3%
  10. Roger Federer

    46.9%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Tilden had Bill Johnston and the French Musketeers for competition. But for Tilden, Johnston himself would have had the same kind of dominance that Tilden had (or not too far from it), and the Musketeers won multiple majors between them.

    Gonzales was stuck in that 7 year contract he had signed with Kramer. Kramer would always sign challengers to Gonzales like Trabert, Rosewall and Hoad on much bigger money, which only increased Gonzales' bitterness at being underpaid. It's rather ironic that Gonzales was blamed at the 1963 US Pro for negotiating an appearance fee while nobody else got paid because of promoter incompetence.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
    #51
  2. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Billy Johnston's biggest problem was his size ("Little Bill"). He tended to lose to larger, stronger opponents (like Dick Richards in the 1916 US final, or any number of matches to Tilden ("Big Bill"). The fact that Johnston was a clear number two for a number of years shows how little depth there was in 1920's tennis. Johnston died very young and his play was running downhill from physical weakess, and the same was true of Lacoste, the best of the Frenchmen (although Lacoste lived much longer).
    Kramer refused to rate either Tilden, Johnston, Lacoste, or Cochet because he believed that they dominated such a weak era.
    Tilden's slow development as a player (28 before winning an important title) is weird beyond belief. Tilden's whole career seems somehow disconnected from the general stream of tennis.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
    #52
  3. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    In the old pro format of marathon, head to head tours, the greatest draw for the ticket buyers was always the new pro, to see if he could beat the champ. This was true long before Gonzales' time (Budge was offered $100,000 to turn pro and play Vines, and Vines got second money). They often said that pro tennis thrived on fresh blood, and devoured its young.
    Once the rookie had finished his first tour, he was no longer news, and it was necessary to find another super amateur to make the turnstiles click.
    This pattern was broken in the late 1950's when the Hoad/Gonzales show played three times (Kramer wanted four), although Hoad refused to play the tour in 1960, only in tournaments, and withdrew from the 1961 tour with a fractured foot.
    Laver and Rosewall played each other year after year, which was box office poison, because Emerson and Santana refused to turn pro (Emerson claimed that he could make better money as an amateur (shamateur).) The coming of Open tennis saved Laver and Rosewall from total oblivion.
    Gonzales refused to understand how the system worked.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
    #53
  4. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Gonzales was very unfortunate that the open era didn't start in 1960, as it could have done. That would probably have been early enough for Gonzales to win many more of the classic majors. 1968 was too late, as he was 40 years old by then. Rosewall, and especially Laver, were still young enough.
     
    #54
  5. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Off the top of my head: Johnston, Lacoste, Cochet, Borotra, Brugnon, Patterson, Richards, Nüsslein. All ITHOF inductees.
     
    #55
  6. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Complete nonesense! "Little Bill" and "Big Bill" were nicknames given by the media to make it easier for the reading public to distinguish them, both being American heros in "The Golden Age of Sports." Little Bill was about 5'9" and Big Bill was about 6'1". Neither is particularly relevant. Little Bill was the #1 player in the World for several years before Tilden overtook him.

    Here's a picture of Little Bill standing next to (to the right of) Big Bill, for your edification:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:V...n_and_Bill_Johnston_at_the_1922_Davis_Cup.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2012
    #56
  7. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    I doubt, that Gonzalez would have won many majors in the 60s. In fact, he won only one pro major, the 1961 US pro, which had a weak field. In the 50s, he could well have dominated the US open at Forest Hills. In Australia and at Wimbledon, the Aussies, especially Sedgman and Hoad, would have given him a run for the money. On clay, Trabert and Rosewall did much better at the RG French pro (and the amateur as well).
    Sometimes Kramer should have been more careful with his assesments. He himself profitated from the weak era in the after war years, when Europe laid in ruins (although sadly enough, he lost 3-4 of his prime years due to the war). His competition both at the amateur and the pro game was not that stiff: Joe Hunt was dead, Schroeder played seldom, Tom Brown was not highest class, at the pros Riggs and Budge were aging pre war stars, Gonzalez a greenhorn, Sedgman inexperienced at the pro indoor game.
     
    #57
  8. 8F93W5

    8F93W5 Rookie

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    What's that. Something that lets you smoke two cigarettes at once? I googled it and didn't find anything. Sounds like something a pot smoker would want to do, but they have more effective ways to maximize smoke.
     
    #58
  9. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Gonzales only won 1 pro major in the 1960s, yes, but he was in semi retirement quite a lot in the 1960s. I doubt that would have been the case had open tennis arrived in 1960, as that would have given Gonzales fresh challenges, and he was still only 32 at that point.

    Gonzales only once played the French Championships as an amateur, reaching the semi finals in 1949. But yes, Gonzales failed to win the French Pro.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2012
    #59
  10. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Last edited: Apr 11, 2012
    #60
  11. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    That's correct. I said to "the right," not to "Tilden's right." That is Vinnie Richards to Tilden's right.
     
    #61
  12. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    Ah yes, Vinnie Richards, Keith's younger brother.
     
    #62
  13. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Maybe Keith Richards' grandfather.
     
    #63
  14. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Right, two at a time.
     
    #64
  15. Doug_Hartley_2012

    Doug_Hartley_2012 Rookie

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    Most important player? Well, it would have to be someone who promoted the game strenuously either by their conduct and excellence on court or by their lobbying or organisational skills. Jack Kramer must be on the short, short list as a player and promoter. Harry Hopman as a coach and mentor. Players from the 1930s thru the 1980s owed him a lot in their development. Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall for their oncourt excellence and sportsmanship, epic rivalry and impact on US television audiences in 1972. They 'broke' tennis into the mainstream and the bigtime. The others have been great champions but really, what did they change? Among the women, well definitely BJK but that is about it. Chris Evert maybe.
     
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  16. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Before reading your post, I'm going to hazard a guess - Rosewall! Let's see if I'm right.

    Partially right! BTW, the topic is most important "male" player. As a player, I can't see anyone more important to the game than Tilden. He created public interest in the sport at a time when sports was in its renaissance. As anything other than a player, Jack Kramer created the pro tour and the ATP which has a monopoly on the men's pro tour. Which two players were more important to the sport than them?
     
    #66
  17. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    Question for you better historians, when Tilden's personal problems came out, was that damaging to tennis and set it back a ways in the public eye or was it too long after his initial impact?

    Oh and Limpinhitter, have you seen Keith lately, definitely an older brother.
     
    #67
  18. wendersfan

    wendersfan New User

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    Gonna go with Jack Kramer.
     
    #68
  19. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    I would say Jimmy Connors
     
    #69
  20. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I doubt Tilden's problems were made public anywhere near the time they occurred. The public might have rebelled against the press before condemning Tilden. As for Vinnie, he would be about 50 years older than Keith, if he were still alive, despite appearances.
     
    #70
  21. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Tilden was arrested a few times. The public did know and as Bud Collins and others have noted it did hurt the sport. I don't thINK the pictures of male players in the 1920's and 30's prancing with long white pants and sweater vests on gass courts did much to help either.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2012
    #71
  22. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Agreed, as far as the players go. And Connors was around at the right time to do that, when the sport was starting to boom on TV. Borg and McEnroe later joined him.

    Jack Kramer was responsible for a lot of progressive advances in bringing professional tennis to the masses. The professional players today and past eras owe a lot of the professionals of the pre-open era days when professionals were treated as pariahs by the tennis establishment.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2012
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  23. sandy mayer

    sandy mayer Rookie

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    I have no doubt it was Jimmy Connors. Tennis first became a huge spectator sport on TV in the 70s and he was the number one reason. If you read Joel Drucker's book you'll hear that of the top twenty most televised matches in the 70s, Connors featured in virtually all of them.
     
    #73
  24. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I don't think so. The media in the early 20th Century was much more cautious and prudish than it is now. Typically, folk heros like Tilden were protected by the media and bad acts were covered up. If Tilden's conduct had been widely known during his career he would certainly have been a pariah thereafter.

    As for long pants and sweater vests, you're way off base on that one. They also played in neckties. These were all traditions that tennis inherited from its upper class, country club gentleman, roots. There was nothing lacking in masculinity about that, unless there's something effeminate about being an aristocrat.
     
    #74
  25. pmerk34

    pmerk34 Legend

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    Tilden became a Pariah after his career and the arrests came to light. He was broke at the end playing matches to feed himself. Absolutely hurt the sport. When I picked up tennis in 7th grade, I sued to get comments about it as the reputation causes by the players outfits and Tilden's behavior was still there some 40-50 years later. I didn't know why at the time of course.
     
    #75
  26. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Bill Johnston is listed as "the smallest male champion in American history at 120 pounds" at the Hall of Fame website. What's that you were saying?
    Further, he made a pathetic exit from the game by losing to Lacoste and Cochet, two pint-sized Frenchmen, in the 1927 Davis Cup, simply running out of gas early in the matches.
     
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  27. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    120 pounds? That's got to be a mistake. That's less than 9 stone, for goodness sakes.

    And your disrespect towards the top 2 Musketeers is ridiculous.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2012
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  28. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Again, why is Tilden regarded as a great champion when he could not win a significant tournament before the age of 28, and the field which he dominated consisted of unhealthy competitors, some of whom were gassed in WWI?
     
    #78
  29. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    No mistake, look it up. And the guy was also physically feeble.
    The Musketeers were all survivors of the WWI trenches, and were gassed during the war. Both Lacoste and Cochet suffered from ill health, and Lacoste retired very early.
     
    #79
  30. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Tilden played the US Championships for the first time in 1916, when he was 23. He was 27 when he won the title in 1920, having been runner-up to Lindley Murray and Bill Johnston the previous 2 years. And it's hardly Tilden's fault that Anthony Wilding was killed in the first world war.
     
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  31. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yet Lacoste managed to win 7 majors and was 92 years of age when he died in 1996. Lacoste was also regularly seen at the French Open right up until his death. How feeble.

    Cochet did even better in his career, winning 10 amateur majors and 1 pro major. Cochet was 85 when he passed away in 1987.
     
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  32. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Anthony Wilding would have been well past his peak after WWI.
    Perhaps Tilden was only 27 (not 28) when he won his first tournament, but this is hardly rehabilitation for his record. The fact is that there was no new generation of players coming up in the early 1920's to challenge him, they were lying dead on the battlefields of Europe. His competitors were old guys like Johnston and Williams, who had peaked before U.S. entered the war.
    By the way, both Williams and Johnston suffered major interruptions in their careers because they served their country in the war (the Musketeers were all veterans of the trenches, where they were gassed).
    How did Tilden manage to avoid any interruption to his career during the war years? Did he suffer a hangnail?
    Even old Norman Brookes served courageously at the front lines of the war.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2012
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  33. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    They lived to a ripe old age, but they experienced physical weariness early in their careers, Lacoste retiring at a very young age.
    But then, what would you expect of men who had been gassed in the trenches of WWI?
     
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  34. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Does Bill Johnston look like he's 120 lbs in the picture I linked for you? If he is, then Bill Tilden was about 130 lbs, and Vinnie Richards was about 105 lbs.
     
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  35. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Who gives a rat's ass who served on what front lines! This is a tennis forum. Maybe you should post your stupidity at the American Legion website. You'll be better recieved there.
     
    #85
  36. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    There are players that left mark even if for minor details.While John Mc Enroe and John Newcombe may not be legitim GOAT contenders, their singles&doubles record makes them very specific tennis specimens...
     
    #86
  37. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    You can't always tell from a picture.
    Bill Johnston in this picture doesn't look like Tarzan to me, and, yes, he looks worn out.
    Check the Hall of Fame site if you want the facts, that he was the smallest of all American champions at 120 pounds. He was overmatched, and a loser to Williams in 1916.
     
    #87
  38. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    You seem to have missed the point. That Tilden was playing away his days on the tennis court while his competitors (Williams, Johnston, Brookes, Wilding, Borotra, Cochet, Lacoste) were placing their bodies and health on the line in a brutal struggle. Their sacrifice undermined their physical strength postwar, and made it easier for Tilden to build his tennis record. And, of course, the young players of the early twenties never made it to the tennis scene at all, but remained in Europe on the battlefields and graveyards.
     
    #88
  39. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    There's no way that he was 120 lbs in his prime. He died from tuberculosis, a slow progressing, lingering infection, before antibiotics became available. Perhaps he was 120 lbs. the year before he finally died. Other than that, I call BS!
     
    #89
  40. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    What a hot steamy pile of horse puckey! Tilden was the best player in the World for a decade beginning 3 years after WWI.
     
    #90
  41. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Yes, but what does that say about the world of tennis when it could be dominated by a guy in his mid to late thirties, who won his first tournament at the age of 27 or 28, in a field decimated by greater manpower losses for tennis-playing nations than in the second world war?
     
    #91
  42. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Given Tilden's ability to continue to compete with the best in the World through his late 40's, it tells me that he had the talent of a Sampras or a Federer, and he had longevity that exceeded even Gonzales and Rosewall.

    PS: Here's a short clip showing Tilden at 41 beating Ellsworth Vines at 23. I suppose Vines wasn't very good either. http://www.britishpathe.com/video/battle-of-tennis-stars/query/tilden+vines
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2012
    #92
  43. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Vines always started slowly on these tours, and soon turned the tables against Tilden. Tilden could win occasional matches against Vines or Budge on the pro tour, but he was already past his peak in 1927, when he lost a series of major finals to the French guys.
    Don't forget, Vines lost a major Davis Cup match in the final of 1932, to old man Borotra, on a fast surface. Vines was always inconsistent.
     
    #93
  44. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Let's try again. This was Tilden's first match against Vines. It was 1934. Vines just turned pro. He was 23 years old and was the 1931 and 1932 U.S. Nationals and 1931 Wimbledon champion. Tilden, who was FORTY ONE at the time, won the match.

    You've got nothing!
     
    #94
  45. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    My dear friend, Vines lost his opening tour matches at MSG to everyone (Tilden, Perry, Budge). Why?
    What good would it do to kill public interest in the tour before it really got going? Vines may not have consciously thought this, but he always started slowly at MSG.
     
    #95
  46. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    My dear friend, Ellsworth Vines was an all time great! An ITHOF inductee!
    AND TILDEN BEAT HIM AT THE AGE OF FORTY ONE YEARS OLD!!!
    BTW, Budge and Perry are also all time greats and ITHOF inductees.
     
    #96
  47. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    He also beat Budge several times in 1939.
    What does this prove? It was pro tennis, giving a good show to all the folks.
     
    #97
  48. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    It proves what I proffered earlier, that Tilden was a rare talent with amazing longevity. Unless you have an admission by Budge that he carried Tilden, that's all it proves.
     
    #98
  49. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Kramer once asked Vines if he had carried Perry, a notably less gifted player than Vines, in their 1937 tour (which ended in an overall tie). Vines refused to answer the question. I would not have asked this question to Budge, out of respect.
    Budge, like another Irishman, Hoad, enjoyed downing a few too many, and perhaps this accounted for some inconsistency in his play.
     
    #99
  50. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    That was on clay, at Roland Garros.
     

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