Why isn't agassi G.O.A.T

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by Ruud, Aug 2, 2006.

  1. Ruud

    Ruud Rookie

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    We are al talking about Sampras Federer Borg sometimes Nadal as futer G.O.A.T.

    Why don't we (including myself) see agassi as G.O.A.T, he won every Grand Slam, still plays on a high level and we still see him win the US open this year with al little bit of luck.


    So why isn't agassi the G.O.A.T?
     
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  2. exruda

    exruda Semi-Pro

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    Maybe he's not spectacular enough, because what he did is extended over such a long period of time... and his career theoretically isn't over yet, so we should not be evaluating all his achievements yet :mrgreen:

    I think with his retirement now and all the tribute to Agassi sites and media attention we will be hearing more about him being one of the GOATs, which I think he is
     
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  3. stalliondan

    stalliondan New User

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    he doesn't stand out for breaking the record of most slams, or most wins but overall he was one of the best. In terms of duration in today's game and being an all courter no one can do what he did.
     
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  4. Ruud

    Ruud Rookie

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    So he is the best allrounder. Isn't that what a G.O.A.T has to be.
     
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  5. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Agassi is definitely one of the greatest of all time.
     
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  6. emcee

    emcee Semi-Pro

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    But he's nowhere near THE best of all time. He won all 4 Slams, yeah, but he won the French and Wimby only once. Andre was only dominant at the Australian Open while Sampras dominated Wimby and the US Open. Pete also finished number 1 a LOT more than Agassi did, so the whole "Pete was only good on fast surfaces" argument goes out the window.

    Personally, I think the GOAT is either Borg or Laver or Sampras with Federer catching up but not quite there yet.
     
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  7. TrueAce

    TrueAce Rookie

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    If Andre was more focused in the early part of his career about being a champion and didn't have the big dropoff I believe he would have had somewhere between 10 and 12 slams now. His 8 slams is still incredible seeing that he didn't take the game real serious until later in his career.
     
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  8. MaxT

    MaxT Rookie

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    He was basically dominated by Sampras his whole career. 2nd from his era, therefore can't be first.
     
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  9. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Agassi was to Sampras what Rosewall was to Laver and what Connors was to Borg.
     
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  10. stalliondan

    stalliondan New User

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    the whole thing about Laver being the best is A) there weren't that many players at that time. B) 3/4 slams were played on grass
     
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  11. Babblelot

    Babblelot Professional

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    Yeah, I never was an Agassi fan, but when I really thought about it, I realized his stock must be soaring.

    Andre Agassi’s legacy

    > 4-0 in AO finals, including wins over Sampras (2x winner) and
    Kafelnikov (1x winner)
    > 1-2 in RG finals
    > 1-1 in W finals beating Ivanisevic (1x winner)
    > 2-4 in USO finals
    > 8-7 in slam finals
    > only man to have won at least one slam on all 4 surfaces
    > minimum 2 finals on all 4 surfaces
     
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  12. ACE of Hearts

    ACE of Hearts G.O.A.T.

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    He is one of best of all times but not the GOAT, Sampras maded sure he wasnt.
     
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  13. FiveO

    FiveO Hall of Fame

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    Several reasons IMO:

    Firstly, G.O.A.T. is ultimately subjective because it can't be determined with any certainty due to a myriad of "environmental" factors, i.e. level of competition at the top and throughout entire draws, changes in surface, changes in the tennis calendar, changes in equipment and how training and coaching have adapted to and been effected by them. The G.O.A.T. discussion is also effected by whether you include the "non-Open" era where there was split of the best tennis players between those "goin' pro" and those wishing to remain amateurs and maintaining their eligibility for the majors as "true pros" were barred from playing them until '68 into '69.

    That being said I agree with others who hold that those qualifying for G.O.A.T. consideration IN THE OPEN ERA ONLY are Laver, Borg, and Sampras with Lendl right there.

    Both Federer and Nadal have shown the talent and potential to rise to those levels, but haven't "qualified" as of yet. Neither has done it long enough nor have they done enough to qualify for consideration....YET!.

    The reason many are comfortable with Laver, Borg, Sampras and perhaps Lendl being included are that their accomplishments in what have been the constants, in terms of numbers, consistency, the majors and rankings are singular. The Olympics has a nice "ring" to it when discussing Graf's Golden Slam but doesn't have enough history to it nor the prestige to include it in the criteria IMO. As a tie-breaker maybe but not anything more than that.

    Even given that there are significant variables, and/or gaps in even those players resumes, to ultimately render ALL G.O.A.T. discussions moot.

    Singular Achievements:

    LAVER: Two Grand Slams, not career, not non-calendar. Just two real, actual, honest to God GRAND SLAMS. One as an Amateur and one in the Open era. Singular, as in no one else has done it, and no one else will ever be able to do it because the majors will never return to "shamateurism".

    BORG: 6 RG's and 5 Wimbledons in a row. 5 Wimbledon's in a row. Won the RG and Wimbledon 3 times back to back. That combination of majors, especially then, on what were considered playing conditions as polar opposite as they could have been, in those kinds of numbers, is probably more unattainable than a calendar, or natural Grand Slam. Singular, and again, probably the "safest" record in tennis history.

    SAMPRAS: 14 majors and 6 year end #1's. Singular. (however temporary both of those records may seem right now).

    LENDL: Among alot of other achievements, EIGHT CONSECUTIVE US OPEN FINALS, from 1982 through 1989 winning the event 3 times, 1985 through 1987. IMO Lendl also holds the record for the most under-appreciated tennis champion of all time. Eclipsing even Sampras.

    Each has missing pieces, question marks and/or points of contention too.

    Laver: played in an era where the slams were played on two surfaces. 3 grass and one on red clay. Depth was questionable back then as even he stated he really didn't worry about the level of his competitors until the QF. Neither was his fault, but many include this as a "but" or "what if".

    Borg: never won in NY at the Open. Not on grass, har-tru or hard courts as the surface there went through all it's permutations during his career. The Aussie was not on his, nor most of the other top players calendar during his career as it had lost prestige and sponsors.

    Sampras: No RG.

    Lendl: No Wimbledon.

    Agassi is AN All Time Great, a slightly larger pool, than those distinguishing themselves enough for consideration for G.O.A.T. status. But:

    His career "Slam" singular in the men's Open era, and enhanced by the fact that it was on 3 or 4 varied surfaces (depending on how one classifies those surfaces) was accomplished twice prior by Perry and Emerson. The career "Slam" is a wonderful accomplishment on one hand but a bit of a contrivance on the other in that it was created because no one had come close to Laver's actual Grand Slam in decades.

    No, Sampras never won the RG, yet he won on red clay at Rome. At the RG he reached one SF and 3 QF's. He also registered wins and beat every RG champion 1990-2002 (the span of Sampras's major championships), except for Kuerten and Moya (who he never met on the surface) on red clay. The names: Gomez, Bruguera, Courier, Muster, Kafelnikov and Agassi.

    In Davis Cup and on red clay, Sampras "single handedly" (with a little help from Todd Martin in doubles who Sampras paired with in the final tie) beat a Russian Team, defeating Kafelnikov, a RG and AO champion, in the fifth and deciding match, on red clay, described as red mud, in that the Russians had over watered the surface for some "home court". Sampras brought the Cup home largely by himself that year.

    Bigger is AA's h2h match-up with Sampras. Sampras finished 20-14 overall, 6-3 at the majors and 4-2 in major finals alone v. Agassi. In addition Sampras was ranked #1 at the end of the year 6 times in a row during Agassi's career to Agassi's once.

    Agassi had it within his control to throw his hat in the ring for G.O.A.T. in the six meetings in major finals alone. Had he won 3 more of those meetings he'd be in a tie with Sampras in both major titles and career h2h, and his one RG would arguably break that tie. Had he swept Sampras in those finals this proposition would be moot as Sampras would have been the #2 of their era. But he didn't and here we are.
     
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  14. Swissv2

    Swissv2 Hall of Fame

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    Excellent research Five0!!!!! I will bookmark this
     
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  15. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Interesting, what are you basing that on? He played slams with 128 draws & many countries represented in those draws.

    Its funny how often this is mentioned, like he a Goran type player who could only play on grass. Do you know that Laver has more hardcourt titles than Sampras or Agassi? And quite a few on clay as well. He has more career titles than anyone, even Connors, something like 150. Talk about a dominant all surface player.
    Check out the 1969 schedule on atptennis, even though 3 slams were on grass there were very few grass events on the calendar(actually less grass events than today!)
     
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  16. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    I don't buy this, he had many tough matches in the early rounds, check out the scores. And he beat 7 hall of famers during his '69 Grand Slam(some multiple times) so he had plenty of competition. I think he may have had to deal with tougher opposition than Borg, Sampras, or Federer, since it was the beginning of the Open Era & all the banned pros of the 60s/50s were so hungry to get a chance to play on the big stages again.

    R32 Massimo Di Domenico (ITA) W 6-2 6-2 6-3
    R16 Roy Emerson (AUS) W 6-2 6-4 3-6 9-7
    QF Fred Stolle (AUS) W 6-4 18-16 6-4
    SF Tony Roche (AUS) W 7-5 22-20 9-11 1-6 6-3
    F Andres Gimeno (ESP) W 6-3 6-4 7-5

    R128 Koji Watanabe (JPN) W 6-1 6-1 6-1
    R64 Dick Crealy (AUS) W 3-6 7-9 6-2 6-2 6-4
    R32 Pietro Marzano (ITA) W 6-1 6-0 8-6
    R16 Stan Smith (USA) W 6-4 6-2 6-4
    QF Andres Gimeno (ESP) W 3-6 6-3 6-4 6-3
    SF Tom Okker (NED) W 4-6 6-0 6-0 6-4
    F Ken Rosewall (AUS) W 6-4 6-3 6-4

    R128 Nicola Pietrangeli (ITA) W 6-1 6-2 6-2
    R64 Premjit Lall (IND) W 3-6 4-6 6-3 6-0 6-0
    R32 Jan Leschly (DEN) W 6-3 6-3 6-3
    R16 Stan Smith (USA) W 6-4 6-2 7-9 3-6 6-3
    QF Cliff Drysdale (RSA) W 6-4 6-2 6-3
    SF Arthur Ashe (USA) W 2-6 6-2 9-7 6-0
    F John Newcombe (AUS) W 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-4

    R128 Luis-Fernando Garcia (MEX) W 6-2 6-4 6-2
    R64 Jaime Pinto-Bravo (CHI) W 6-4 7-5 6-2
    R32 Jaime Fillol Sr. (CHI) W 8-6 6-1 6-2
    R16 Dennis Ralston (USA) W 6-4 4-6 4-6 6-2 6-3
    QF Roy Emerson (AUS) W 4-6 8-6 13-11 6-4
    SF Arthur Ashe (USA) W 8-6 6-3 14-12
    F Tony Roche (AUS) W 7-9 6-1 6-2 6-2
     
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  17. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    SF Tom Okker (NED) W 4-6 6-0 6-0 6-4

    Two love sets off Okker and in a row? That's impressive.

    Moose, great posts. I wholeheartedly agree. Some of the folks who like to continually say that "tennis wasn't deep" or "the amateurs didn't have any competition" need to look back at the actual record. Roy Emerson had a stellar career as an amateur. However, when you look at his professional career, he had a good career. Now some will jump on this and say why not great? Well, after winning 13 Slams, anyone would be worn out.

    I also refute the 3/4 Slams on grass theory. That in itself is a true statement, but the grass and clay were more disparate surfaces then. The grass was faster. The clay was slower. Why? Back then, the French was played with a pressureless ball, a Pirelli ball I think. That made play at the French even slower. The two players who won on grass and clay in the Open era, Borg and Laver, have to be considered at the top of the game regardless of when they played. And, Borg and Laver played each other. Laver was in his late 30s and Borg was a teenager. The matches were competitive for the most part. While both players were on opposite ends of their career curves, I think they were at the same height in the curve at the time. I mention this because it goes even further to substantiate Laver as a legitimate GOAT.
     
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  18. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    I agree with Moose and Rabbit. I just found some interesting stats in the World of Tennis annuals of 1970 and 1971, which i booght on the internet. To win a normal pro tournament in 69 or 70, you had to beat a string of quite impressive players. Laver won 13 tournaments in 1970, playing way over 100 or 120 matches. He won the Philadelphia Pro US Indoor with wins over Emerson, Nastase, Ralston, Roche; the LA SW Open over Smith, Ashe, Newcombe, he had to play and beat Rosewall 6 or 7 times. There was seldom an easy match, and no time to recover. Breaks of 4-5 weeks after Wimbledon were not taken, to make as much money as possible. Laver won a record sum of 201.000 $, more than the best golfer then, but peanuts in todays perspective.
     
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  19. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    urban, do you know where I can find the list of Laver's(150?) career titles. You mentioned that Bud Collins or someone was going to publish it in an earlier post.

    what's your guess as to the breakdown of titles by surface for Laver? I would think he won most of his titles on carpet or hard.
     
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  20. harryz

    harryz Semi-Pro

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    Moose and Rabbit are right

    Major titles are also misleading for guys who played before and during the open era. Gonzales turned pro early and would have undoubtedly won many majors. Laver's two slams were on either end of his pro days from 63-68, so he didn't play in something like 20 consecutive slams. The game was slower, yes, but guys had to construct points and use their minds more than now, IMO since brute force and power were less of a factor with wood and older racquets, not to mention lack of knowledge about cross training etc.... I was fortunate enough to see a few of these guys live as a kid, and believe me-- they could really play and knew the game. Ever wonder why Federer (and Lendle before him) has Roche for a coach? I saw Roche practice with the Aussie Davis Cup team in DC in '99 and he could still hit a TON.
     
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  21. superman1

    superman1 Legend

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    I believe Agassi is the GOAT.

    We probably talk about him more than any other player (except maybe Federer and Nadal recently). He has done EVERYTHING there is to do in the sport. Lasted through the 3 toughest generations in tennis history. Won all 4 Slams. He didn't win as many Slams as Sampras, but I'm starting to put less weight on # of Slams. He had plenty of chances, didn't play the Australian Open until 1995, had all of these ups and downs and comebacks. He spent the entire year of 1995 ranked #1, up until the very end when Sampras pushed him to #2. Ended 1999 as #1. 4 straight Slam finals and won 3 of them. Won Wimbledon when the grass was slick and fast beating guys that loved the fast grass (McEnroe, Becker, Ivanisevic). Choked out 2 French Open finals then finally won it. Won Davis Cup, Olympic Gold, a record 17 Masters titles. He was in the top 10 in 1988 playing Lendl, McEnroe and Connors, and he was in the top 10 in 2005 playing Federer, Nadal and Blake.

    Come on guys, these accomplishments are unparalleled. This guy is the greatest ever. Only Federer could surpass him if Fed can win the French Open and can last into his early 30's (doesn't even have to be 36). I think Sampras and Federer are both (slightly) better players than him, but neither has become the icon that he has.
     
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  22. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Moose, Bud Collins wrote, that an Austrian tennis historian, Robert Geist, has counted 185 titles for Laver, but it isnt published yet. On wikipedia i have identified 163 overall titles for Laver 1960-1975 from different sources. The ATP webside counts only 39 from open era, but there were many more.
     
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  23. Marat Safinator

    Marat Safinator Banned

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    how can you say laver was the greatest of all time when he played in the era he did, and he was never no.1 in the world. not even 2, but 3. Agassi I think could be the best of all time. Agassi is a perfect role model.
     
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  24. Greg Raven

    Greg Raven Semi-Pro

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    I think there's a rule that no one who blows his nose on the court -- even while the TV cameras are on him -- can be the greatest tennis player in history.
     
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  25. Jack the Hack

    Jack the Hack Hall of Fame

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    This one is not true. Agassi is one of three players to have won a grand slam singles title on grass, clay, and hard courts. In addition to grass and clay, Wilander also won on the two different versions of hard court. Connors is the only person to have won the US Open on three different surfaces.

    Connors: '74 Australian, '74, '82 Wimbledon, and '74 US Open on grass; '76 US Open on clay; and '78, '82-83 US Open on hard courts.

    Wilander: '83-84 Australian on grass; '82, '85, and '88 French on clay; and '88 Australian, '88 US Open on hard courts (Rebound Ace and Deco Turf II).

    Agassi: '92 Wimbledon on grass; '99 French on clay; and '95, '00-03 Australian, '94, '99 US Open on hard courts (Rebound Ace and Deco Turf II).

    If Agassi had gotten into double digits with his slam totals, he might have been a serious argument for GOAT, but with 8... there are too many other players that have achieved more.
     
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  26. Max G.

    Max G. Hall of Fame

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    See, in my mind, there's one big problem with Agassi being GOAT.

    He was second-best among his own generation. Pete Sampras, a contemporary of his, spent SIGNIFICANTLY more time as the #1 player in the world than Agassi did. They competed in the same era, against the same opponents, and Agassi routinely didn't do as well as Sampras over the course of the year - hence why Sampras ended as year-end #1 six times while Agassi hasn't.

    I can't agree to call someone greatest of all time but at the same time see that he wasn't even the best out of his generation.

    (I guess your last line clarifies the differences in our thinking... I see "greatest of all time" as being a description of tennis skill and ability, so both Federer and Sampras being better players than him means he's not greatest of all time. Ah well, we'll have our differences.)

    The statistic that means least to me of the ones you mentioned is the number of Masters Series titles. As I hear about it, the "Masters Series" events are a relatively recent invention - according to Wikipedia those 9 tournaments were only singled out from the rest in 1990, as the "Super 9". Were they even required tournaments back then, like they are now? I'm not old enough to know :( but they don't seem to me to have anywhere near the same importance as the Grand Slams do.
     
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  27. Arafel

    Arafel Professional

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    Lendl was a great player no doubt, but I don't see how by any criteria you could place Lendl above Connors. Nor, IMO, could you place Agassi above Connors.

    Connors has more weeks at #1, more titles, and the same number of GS titles as both Lendl and Agassi. Of course, it helps that Connors never played the AO after 75 and skipped the French or was banned from it between 74-78. Looking at it in more detail, you find that Connors won a GS on clay, his weakest surface, while Lendl never won a GS title on grass.

    Further, until Connors turned 33 and could no longer physically keep up the way he used to, he owned Lendl, and defeated him in consecutive U.S. Open finals.

    Connors made 5 straight U.S. Open finals on three different surfaces, something I find more impressive than Lendl's 8 straight. And Connors won 3 of those 5, plus two more in 82-83, for a total of 5 US titles. He won Wimbeldon twice and lost in 3 Wimbledon finals. Between 74-78, Connors made the finals of every Grand Slam he entered except for one, the 76 Wimbledon, where he was upset by Tanner in the fquarters.

    In total, Connors made 14 GS finals out of 27 GS tournaments entered between 74-83. In addition, he made the semis or better at 22 of those 27, and the quarters or better at 26 of those 27, the only exception being the 83 Wimbledon, where Connors was upset by an absolutely on fire Kevin Curren.

    I think, especially when you consider that Connors was either banned or boycotting the French during his prime years of 74-78, you could make a serious argument that Connors rivals Borg for greatest of his era.

    While both Agassi and Lendl are great players, they are both below Connors. I'd probably put Lendl ahead of McEnroe, behind Laver, Borg, Sampras and Connors, and Agassi either just ahead of or just behind McEnroe. While I feel McEnroe at his best was well-nigh untouchable in a way that none of the other players under discussion were, he was also far too mercurial.
     
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  28. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Great stuff, however, one could argue Agassi consitently made it deeper more often to surfaces that Favored Sampras. He made it to 2 Wimbledon Finals, and 6 US open Finals. For a total of 8 -Winning 3 of those.

    Sampras only made it to 3 finals on surfaces that favored Agassi. 3 Australian Open Finals and zero French. Winning 2.

    Agassi has an undefeated record against Sampras at the French and Australian (3-0)

    Sampras has a undefeated record against Agassi at Wimbledon and US Open. (I believe 5-0)

    Again, one could argue if Sampras was a better all around player he would have made it deeper to the tournament surfaces that favoride Agassi. I am quite certain that 20-14 record favoring Sampras would be a lot closer.

    Needless to say, it is my favorite rivalry with lots of potential discussions that will be endless.

    I would just say they are both 2 of the greatest players of all time.
     
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  29. superman1

    superman1 Legend

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    The definition of "greatest" seems to be different for everyone. Sampras was more dominant than Agassi and a slightly better player, but he's struggling in Team Tennis, unable to find his game, while Agassi is still beating the 20 year olds. What Agassi has done, to last through these generations and be one of the best players in the world even now, when tennis has become so competitive and cutthroat and guys are stronger and faster and starting out younger, that to me is the true mark of greatness. There have been a couple of guys that, at their peak, could edge out a peak Agassi most of the time. But they all faded and disappeared while Agassi stayed at the top. It doesn't get any greater than that. And if you took Agassi from 2005 and gave him a pair of quick legs and a healthy back, I'd say he'd be unbeatable. His ball striking and serving has just gotten better over the years. I was watching the US Open final from last year recently, and I'm convinced that Agassi is slightly better off the ground than Federer.
     
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  30. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    On Agassis status we had another thread a few weeks ago. I think, it comes down to 1995. If Agassi had made the Nr. 1 then - and it was distinctly possible, but he threw it after his USO loss - he would have 2 Nr.1 years, and he would have taken one off Sampras. On the other hand, he had a bit luck in 1999, when Sampras, who was on a high and better playing than the years before, injured himself on the eve of USO. So Agassi remains with 1 year end at Nr.1, and that is too low for the top 5 or even top 10 alltime. His overall record including Olympics, Masters and Davis Cup is great. I think, only Bill Johnston won Wim, US, Davis Cup and Olympics.
     
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  31. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    You shouldn't rely on atptennis.com for info on tennis history. The computer only started in '73, when Laver was near the end of his career. He was clearly the best player in the world from '64-'69.

    do you (roughly) know the surface breakdown for those 163? how many were amateur & how many pro?

    Well, considering in your past posts you've said stuff like "I've never heard of manuel santana" & "I've never seen Richard Krajicek play" I take your opinions on the history of the sport with a little grain of salt. Its like hearing a baseball fan have an opinion on the best pitcher of all time, but saying they haven't heard of Koufax or Gibson.

    Wonder how that can be proven. Not sure how it was any tougher than pancho gonzalez winning the US Open in '49, turning pro, returning to the open era in '68(& in his 40s) & being able to beat laver, newcombe, ashe & many other much younger players in their primes that a 40 year has no business beating.
    Or Connors being top 10 with Laver, Rosewall, etc in '72 & still top 10 in '89 with Becker, Edberg, Agassi. I think the game changed more from '72 to '89(we're talking major equipment change) than it did from '88 to '05.

    Yeah because Blake is a sure hall of famer or something. Right now his career is as good as Brad Gilbert's.

    Reason #1 why no one can seriously call him GOAT. Sampras was #1 for 6 years. Ditto Laver & Pancho Gonzalez.

    Another important reason. Sampras, Borg, Connors, Mac never choked with as much frequency as Andre(not just the young Andre, he choked major matches throughout his career)

    This is hilarious. WTT? I see Magic Johnson doesn't look so good during some of the silly all star activities(teaming a former player with a wnba/nba player) Guess that means something in your mind.

    Yeah and those guys faded when they were mentally & physically worn out(like all pro athletes eventually) because their peaks were so much higher than Agassi(Connors, Mac, Borg, Lendl, Sampras all far more time at #1) they got worn out & "faded" in their 30s. While Agassi faded when he was 23, 27, etc. How can you not acknowledge that part of Andre's longevity is due to playing the game halfheartedly for much of his earlier career? The guy took an entire year('97) off so he could watch Suddenly Susan, no wonder he had reserves in his 30s.
     
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  32. superman1

    superman1 Legend

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    Yeah, see, this is the part I hate most about this forum. Quoting every single line and criticizing each word individually. Can't we just have a discussion here?

    To each his own. I think Agassi is the greatest ever.
     
    #32
  33. MaxT

    MaxT Rookie

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    Another consideration. Agassi was never dominant during a period of time. 80-2 in a year for example, all the other greats mentioned had that.

    He is probably the head of of the Edberg, Becker, Wilander class, but in that class. And then Lendle, JM, Connors is different class. Then the GOAT.

    There is a difference. Note that as great as JM was, he is not even mentioned/considered as a possilble GOAT, even by himself. But Roger is probably the most mentioned among modern players.
     
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  34. Rhino

    Rhino Legend

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    The older players themselves say it was easier in the old days.
    It's so much more difficult for the young kids to break into tennis today because of the depth.
    These days young guys who are trying to qualify for tournaments are looking at having to go through pre-qualifying to get to the qualifying to get into the main draw.
    Fred Stolle said, in his day there used to be 128 players that were good enough to get into the major tournaments like Wimbledon, now there are 4 or 5 hundred.
    Roy Emereson says: "Nowadays there are thousands and thousands at exactly the same standard and first round matches are awfully tough today".
    These days there is so much more to play for; the cash, lifestyles of the rich and famous, etc, so tennis is taken very seriously today. When Andre goes out on court today he's an international celebrity. In Lavers day, sure they were known as the best players in the world, but nowhere near millionaire superstars like today. This brings so many more players to the game.
     
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  35. harryz

    harryz Semi-Pro

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    Thanks Moose

    for your cogent and well reasoned posts. A refreshing sense of history and perspective that is missing all too often from this forum.

    I love how younger guys make strong statements (as we did probably did, too, at the time) without having lived enough or seen enough. Like you, I saw those guys play and have observed how the game has and has not changed. Agassi is a great player, no doubt. But Laver and Gonzales were probably more complete players. That both could win for such long periods and play at such a high level is incredible. How many majors would each have won if they hadn't turned pro?

    Fortunately, players know what's up. That's why the best ones turn to their elders for coaching. No coincidence to me that both Lendl and now Federer have chosen Tony Roche to help them. When asked what THEY think, great players are pretty consistent. Sampras modeled his game after the Aussies of the 50s and 60s and said so repeatedly. McEnroe worshipped Laver. And now Agassi unequivocally says that Federer is the greatest player he's played against in the past 20+ years. And he should know.

    I remember reading how the officials at Wimbledon let Sampras violate the all white rule in a practice with Laver late one day before the tournament. Apparently, he didn't have pure whites with him. They left the two alone to hit. Sampras said it was a highlight of his career and an honor.... A great story, huh?
     
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  36. harryz

    harryz Semi-Pro

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    Thanks Moose

    for your cogent and well reasoned posts. A refreshing sense of history and perspective that is missing all too often from this forum.

    I love how younger guys make strong statements (as we did probably did, too, at the time) without having lived enough or seen enough. Like you, I saw those guys play and have observed how the game has and has not changed. Agassi is a great player, no doubt. But Laver and Gonzales were probably more complete players. That both could win for such long periods and play at such a high level is incredible. How many majors would each have won if they hadn't turned pro?

    Fortunately, players know what's up. That's why the best ones turn to their elders for coaching. No coincidence to me that both Lendl and now Federer have chosen Tony Roche to help them. When asked what THEY think, great players are pretty consistent. Sampras modeled his game after the Aussies of the 50s and 60s and said so repeatedly. McEnroe worshipped Laver. And now Agassi unequivocally says that Federer is the greatest player he's played against in the past 20+ years. And he should know.

    I remember reading how the officials at Wimbledon let Sampras violate the all white rule in a practice with Laver late one day before the tournament. Apparently, he didn't have pure whites with him. They left the two alone to hit. Sampras said it was a highlight of his career and an honor.... Wish I could have been there to see it.
     
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  37. BigServer1

    BigServer1 Legend

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    HAHAHA I think that this conversation might have just ended right here. Took a year off and had horrible sitcom taste. No way that a GOAT would watch a show where Judd Nelson had a starring role.
     
    #37
  38. whistleway

    whistleway Semi-Pro

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    Great overall post...

    what is so special about the year end #1? It is after all a rotating 52-week ranking. and hence, all 52-weeks are the same. IMHO, year end ranking is no bigger than any other week ranking.

    I agree he's has been #1 for a long time. but others have been #1 longer.
     
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  39. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Sampras is #1 in total weeks as well(286) not just year ends. even though computer only started in '73, I only think Tilden, Laver, Gonzales have been #1 for as long as Sampras.

    The lists of year end #1s is smaller than the list of overall #1s(Moya, Rafter, Muster, etc), so its more special.

    In pre computer era, there were tennis journals that voted on year end #1s. So you can compare players in this aspect.
     
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  40. Warriorroger

    Warriorroger Hall of Fame

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    He married the female G.O.A.T, that's enough.
     
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  41. FiveO

    FiveO Hall of Fame

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    True, but cuts both ways. Wimbledon. If Sampras were Agassi's opponent in '92 are we even having this discussion?
     
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  42. superman1

    superman1 Legend

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    I'm looking at the big picture.

    Sampras: 286 weeks at #1
    Agassi: 100 weeks at #1

    Agassi finished in the top 10 for 16 years in his career, from age 18 to age 35.

    Sampras finished in the top 10 for 11 years in his career, from age 19 to age 30.

    Agassi won the French open once, got to 2 finals, 1 semi, and 4 quarterfinals. Sampras got to 1 semifinal and 3 quarterfinals and had a lot of 1st and 2nd round losses.

    Sampras career win-loss: 762 - 222
    Agassi: 868 - 272

    Sampras: 20-14 against Agassi.

    Who is the better player? I'm also a Sampras fan and I can definitely say Sampras by a little bit, he was more consistent throughout the years. But what Agassi achieved in winning all 4 Slams and doing pretty much everything else that is humanly possible in the sport to me is greatness defined. I think it's even more impressive than what Laver and Borg did. Just the fact that he's out there right now competing with the 20 year olds with a bad back and no movement is mind boggling to me. He bagelled Xavier Malisse. How is that possible?
     
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  43. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    12, not 11. The 16 year end top 10s for Andre are impressive, but on further look:

    only 8 of those years were in the top 5, while Sampras had 10 in top 5.

    We know that sampras had 6 straight #1s, but he also had 9 straight years in top 5. Heck, 9 straight years in top 3! (Connors has 12 straight years in top 3, Lendl has 10)

    The longest run of years that Agassi had in the top 5 was 3.
     
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  44. jhhachamp

    jhhachamp Hall of Fame

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    Not sure how Agassi could be seriously considered the GOAT. He is not even the GOAT of his generation. To be considered as a possible greatest of all time type player, you need to have clearly been the greatest of your generation. Sampras was clearly the top player of Agassi's generation. He had a significant head to head advantage in overall, grand slams, and grand slam finals, finished #1 six times to Agassi's once, and won nearly twice as many slams as Agassi. Not even close.
     
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  45. hoosierbr

    hoosierbr Hall of Fame

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    Just my opinion but I think in order to be considered the GOAT one has to have won all four Grand Slams. Sampras, while certainly great, was never much of a threat on clay. Agassi reached two other French Finals, in fact the French should have been his first slam in 1991. Plus he won the Olympic gold. Not important to some but to many others.

    I think Agassi has a legitimate claim to being the GOAT along with Rod Laver. Lest we forget Sampras won so many tough matches because he had his massive serve to rely on. Andre never had that as a weapon and had to work a little harder to win points, at times. Not always.

    Again, to each his own but AA absolutely deserves to be considered a candidate for GOAT.
     
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  46. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Do you know what Laver did?

    "Until 1975 Laver remained a top ten player, in 1974 he won 6 out of 13 tournaments and ended the year as computer Nr. 4, with 36 the oldest player ever in open era, who reached the top five at years end. He is credited with a record 45 open titles for a player older than 30 years. And despite his advanced age he held an overall win-loss-percentage of around 80% in open era alone, which places him still fifth on the open era list behind Björn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe, but ahead of Pete Sampras and Roger Federer."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_Laver

    Nice work urban, did you do any other wikepedia entries on players?
     
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  47. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Here's another over 30 player who rivaled Andre's record(and who took a break from the game Andre style)

    From 1951 to 1953 Gonzales was in semi-retirement. He bought the tennis shop at Exposition Park and ran that while playing in short tours and occasional professional tournaments throughout the world. In spite of his infrequent play, he had raised his game to a higher level than before and once again was winning most of his matches. Bythe end of 1954 had clearly established himself as the top player in the world.

    Gonzales was now the dominant player in the men's game for about the next eight years, beating such tennis greats as Sedgman, Tony Trabert, Ken Rosewall, Lew Hoad, Mal Anderson, and Ashley Cooper on a regular basis. Forty years after his matches with Gonzales, Trabert told interviewer Joe McCauley "that Gonzales' serve was the telling factor on their tour — it was so good that it earned him many cheap points. Trabert felt that, while he had the better groundstrokes, he could not match Pancho's big, fluent service."

    In that period, Gonzales won the United States Professional Championship eight times and the Wembley professional title in London four times, plus beating, in head-to-head 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 in the 1950s 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, that Allen Fox has said that he never once saw Gonzales lose service when serving for the set or the match.

    Most of Gonzales's career as a professional fell before the start of the Open era of tennis in 1968, and he was therefore ineligible to compete at the Grand Slam events between 1949 (when he turned pro) and 1967.

    Later that year(1969) Gonzales won the Howard Hughes Open in Las Vegas and the Pacific Southwest Open in Los Angeles, beating, among others, John Newcombe, Ken Rosewall, Stan Smith (twice), Cliff Richie, and Arthur Ashe. He was the top American money-winner for 1969 with $46,288. If the touring professionals had been included in the United States rankings, it is likely he would have been ranked number 1 in the country, just as he had been two decades earlier in 1948 and 1949. He could also beat the clear number-one player in the world, Rod Laver, on an occasional basis. In their most famous meeting, a $10,000 winner-take-all match before 15,000 in Madison Square Garden in February, 1970, the 41-year-old Gonzales beat Laver in five sets.

    Gonzales continued to play in the occasional tournament and became the oldest player to have ever won a professional tournament, winning the Des Moines Open over 24-year-old Georges Goven when he was three months shy of his 44th birthday. In spite of the fact that he was still known as a serve-and-volley player, in 1971, when he was 43 and Jimmy Connors was 19, he beat the great young baseliner by playing him from the baseline at the Pacific Southwest Open.

    Roy Emerson, the fine Australian player who won a dozen Grand Slam titles during the 1960s as an amateur when most of the best players in the world were professionals, turned pro in 1968 at the age of 32, having won the French Open the year before. Gonzales, 8 years older, immediately beat him in the quarter-finals of the French championships. In the following years, Gonzales beat Emerson another 11 times, never losing a match to him.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pancho_Gonzales
     
    #47
  48. harryz

    harryz Semi-Pro

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    Moose, I asked my dad once

    who was the greatest player he had seen (and he was born in 1930 and played and watched all his life). Without hestitation, he said Gonzales. And he saw them all live, many times (including Sampras in Davis Cup in '99, when Pete played what he called "the greatest match he had played as a pro" to that point). My dad often said that Gonzales was quicker than any other player he had seen, had faster reflexes, a greater will to win, bigger first and second serves, and was "hungrier than hell." Isn't it amazing that us old/older timers recall what a big deal it was when a young Charlie Pasarell beat Gonzales at the Open, even though Gonzales was something like 20 yrs his senior? Tennis guys will talk about rankings and Slams won etc... but taking it all into account, I'd put money on Gonzales in his prime against anyone in theirs, this generation or any other from everything I've read and heard. I wonder what he taught his nephew Agassi.
     
    #48
  49. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    I'm not sure I'd qualify under your definition of "oldtimer"-I'm in my 20s. I'm just a tennis junkie, read a lot about it, buy old matches online etc. I don't think I'm remotely qualified to have an opinion about GOAT. I just think there's ample evidence that greats in past eras would be great in any era, when you compare head to head of previous generation playing newer generations(like Young Borg vs Old Laver, Old Connors vs Young Agassi,etc)
    But Pancho seems on another level. That he could beat Laver in 1970 when Laver was close to his peak while he was over 40 is unreal. Hungry indeed. Too bad he was broke when he died(Agassi paid for funeral), he could have offered a lot to younger generations, but I get the sense that he was a loner & a tough guy to get along with.

    He seems like a combination of Sampras(overwhelming serve) & Connors(unreal competitiveness, will, + all court ability, though I hear he wasn't that great on clay)

    My dad(around your dad's age) thinks McEnroe at his best would take out anyone in history, past or present.

    which match would that be?
     
    #49
  50. harryz

    harryz Semi-Pro

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    The Sampras match

    was against Philippousis, who had beaten Pete in their previous match (down under) 2, 2 and 2. Sampras man handled him. I was there. Pete was returning Scud's FIRST SERVES for winners off of both wings. The score was something like 2, 1 and 3 or some such. Unreal.

    I'm 43, but I remember watching Laver on TV in the famous '73 match with Rosewall and seeing McEnroe play at 18 against Orantes in '77 or so, before he broke through. I think that Mac in '81 was the best player I've ever seen, all around. Federer at his best seems untouchable, but I think that Mac may understand how to win even better. Fed seems to have more weapons from the back of the court, but Mac was simply unreal that year.

    It's a shame about Gonzales, and I've read the same stuff about his temper and about his being difficult. Given the racism he probably dealt with along with the poverty and conditions that made him turn pro early etc... perhaps he had reason. Interesting that, after was a pro for a couple of years, Jack Kramer retired from his tour. I suspect that, had Gonzales been white, he might have been revered like Jack Kramer... Who knows, huh?
     
    #50

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