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

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

  1. superman1

    superman1 Legend

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    I have tons of respect for the greats of the past, but face it, tennis is at another level right now. I was just watching Nastase vs Sandy Mayer on TTC. Pretty good tennis, Nastase was quite fast and hit some good shots, and I was quite impressed with Mayer's touch, but often times they were just playing ping pong out there. Back then you could get away with tapping the ball back. The women's match they showed (Chris Evert vs Virginia Wade) was even slower than ping pong, it was pretty laughable. These days if you take even a little bit of juice off of the ball, your opponent kills you for it. Just look at still pictures of guys hitting the ball. Back then they'd be very artistic about it with a focused look on their face, mouth closed. These days, when players hit the ball they look like they are screaming, their veins are bulging out of their neck and their face is totally contorted. It's a tougher ball game these days and that's why I admire what Agassi has done more than anyone else.
     
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  2. Arafel

    Arafel Professional

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    Technology makes all the difference. To not acknowledge what modern racquets have done for the game is to not understand anything. The players back then could hit quite hard. McEnroe and Borg routinely clocked serves in the 100s. Watch the Connors Borg match from the U.S. Open in 76; they were hitting as hard as they could, GIVEN THE STATE OF THE RACQUETS THEY PLAYED WITH.

    Watch the DVD of the 78 Evert-Navratilova match, then the DVD of their 85 FO final when they were both playing with graphite frames. The difference in pace is quite substantial.
     
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  3. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    You're completely missing the point. Tennis was different back then largely due to equipment. Chris Evert was swinging 13 ounces on court. There is no way you can swing an evenly balanced 13 ounce frame like a 10 ounce head light frame the girls use today.

    Don't let the speed of ball confuse you. Firstly, you'd have not gotten a game off the worst player on court from that match. Secondly, ping pong? Today's game resembles ping pong more than it did in 1978. In 1978, players moved forward, they hit more angles, they used the court. There was a distinct difference in style that was apparently lost on you. Virginia Wade attacking at every opportunity and Chris Evert passing her.

    Also pay attention to what the commentators said. There were 11,000 fans at that match. In a match prior, they outdrew the Oakland A's. Now you do the math, when was tennis healthier?

    Ilie Nastase hit one backhand on the dead run that would have been hard or impossible for any pro to hit today. Ilie Nastase could hit a topspin lob off a backhand on the dead run with a wood racket. Did you see any of the angles Frew McMillian hit at net? Did you even notice how much better all the pros were at net (save Chrissie) than today?

    Don't undersell the pros of the past because they played a different game. A tennis racket was about 60% smaller than it is today. They weren't custom made and balanced for each pro as they are today. The frames weren't as headlight. Before you start saying how crappy play was, get yourself a wood frame and get out on court. Try and hit three overheads in a row. You'll have some appreciation for the play back then. You'll have some idea of just how talented Ilie Nastase was.

    Also don't be so sure that today's pros would beat yesterday's. Your alleged newer, better pros didn't look so good against a 47-year old John McEnroe earlier this year, did they? As a matter of fact, McEnroe pretty much showed the guys how to get to net and what to do once they got there. His serve was broken once during the whole tournament. And he was playing guys who weren't even born when he retired. Look at Martina Navratilova who's still beating the best the world has to offer.

    With regard to Agassi and GOAT I think it best to listen to what a man who knows him better than most says. His own coach, one Brad Gilbert, said recently that he would have given Andre the nod for GOAT save one thing. He couldn't beat Sampras. Sampras was just hands down he better player. Now if Gilbert, who is clearly an AA fan can read the writing on the wall, shouldn't you be able to as well?
     
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  4. Petra Martinnen

    Petra Martinnen Rookie

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    Greatest? Andre's wife is far more signnifcant in pro history. How many times in 18 years did Andre finish in top 3 year end? Jimbo was in top 3 for 12 straight years! Lendl was in 8 straight US Open finals! Andre defeated Schuetler, Clement, Medvedev, Martin in post 99 slam wins while falling to Pete 3 times. Great yes, GOAT, no way Jose.
     
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  5. Ruud

    Ruud Rookie

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    Women are not really significant in tennis hahaha so they can never be GOAT.

    But i love al the reactions thank you all
     
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  6. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yes, I am sure this discussion would still pop up on this forum. What about if Agassi played the Australian the two years Sampras won it?

    I believe the only way this discussion would not pop up are by the following:

    1. If Sampras would have won 1 French Open=End of Discussion.
    2. If Agassi had never won the French Open=End of Discussion.
     
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  7. The Grand Slam

    The Grand Slam Hall of Fame

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    G.O.A.T.? Wow, even when he loses in the first round to qualifier Andreas Whatshisnamebecausetherearetoomanynewplayersonthetourrightnow? It seems like he's just dying to retire...
     
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  8. harryz

    harryz Semi-Pro

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    Great post Rabbit!

    Now that comes from someone who knows whereof he speaks. All these young turks talking about how much better guys are now and how they'd kill the old timers. All that's improved is cross training, and guys may be bigger and stronger (a bit) BUT they don't play good tactical tennis and very few (Federer, Nadal, Hewitt and a couple others) show heart or guts on the court.

    As for wood racquets, I saw Sampras hit a 124mph serve at an exhibition with his old Kramer Pro Staff. Colin Dibney (sp?) and a few other guys could hit serves well over 130mph with wood, as did Roscoe Tanner with his PDP. It's not about speed, but the whole game. Angles, touch, finesse, defense, offense, point construction, speed (Edberg says tennis is about legs first and foremost, and I think he's right) and the mind. As for Nastase, I couldn't agree more. The man was an incredible genius with a racquet. Too bad his temperment and mind weren't more suited for his talent.
     
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  9. ACE of Hearts

    ACE of Hearts G.O.A.T.

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    Didnt Lendl have a winning record against Agassi?Agassi got the last 2 wins when Lendl was getting up there in age.I wonder who u would have won in their primes.
     
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  10. FiveO

    FiveO Hall of Fame

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    Moose and Rabbit,

    My initial post in this thread was not intended to denigrate Laver at all. His accomplishments are stellar and if he isn't THE G.O.A.T. he's on a very exclusive short list. I was merely stating the "anti" arguments we have all seen. However the quote regarding the depth I recall Laver making himself when sometime in the late '90's he was asked to comment on Sampras's place in history at that time. Probably more attributable to the admirable pre-Hewitt, self effacing Aussie traditions which Sampras patterned himself after, than anything else. But I will try to document it.

    Additionally and to put Emmo into perspective and why his 12 majors while an accomplishment is likely properly viewed with a grain of salt.

    From:

    Happy Birthday Pete: You're the Best Ever
    By David Higdon, CBS Sportsline Tennis Writer, August 11, 1997

    Laver's two Grand Slams, when he swept all four major tennis titles, were unique,...in 1962 when the amateur ranks were devoid of top players such as Rosewall, Lew Hoad and Pancho Gonzalez. Even Laver later admitted as much. "I didn't find out who was the best," he said, "until I turned pro and had my brains beaten out for six months at the start of 1963."

    Laver did go on to more than hold his own on the "pro exclusive" tour but he won his first slam in '62 before being lured away to it. Emmo's records even Laver's accomplishments as an amateur even while singular must be viewed in the totality of the circumstances. Kramer treated the majors as MLB treats AAA ball. Every multi-slam winner was signed as a pro by Kramer thinning the amateur field every year.
    -Tony Trabert, a five time slam winner, the "last American" to have won at the RG prior to Chang and who won 3 of the 4 majors in 1955 left for the pros in '56.
    -Aussie, Ken Rosewall a 4 time major winner turned pro in '57.
    -Aussie, Hoad in '58 after having won 4 majors and coming up a US Open shy of a Grand Slam in '57. Laver described Hoad as the best player he ever faced.
    -Then 2 time major winner Mervyn Rose in '59, another Aussie
    -also in '59 went yet another Aussie player one shy of the Grand Slam (an RG) in '58 Ashley Cooper.
    -Another American, Alex Olmedo a two time major winner in '59, defected to the pros in '60.
    -still another Aussie, 3 major winner Neale Fraser retired in '63 at the age of 30.
    -then of course Laver in '63.

    All of these guys turning pro, took their turns taking beatings at the hands of Pancho Gonzales, though Laver eventually rose to the top.

    Emerson was obviously a good and the most consistent player left in the amateur ranks between '63 and '67 winning 10 of his 12 majors during those years, never being ranked as an amateur below #3 during those years and #1 in '64 and '65 and #2 in '67 the year before Open tennis began.

    The 1968 rankings, the year prior to Laver's Open Slam?

    1-Rod Laver
    2-Arthur Ashe
    3-Ken Rosewall
    4-Tony Roche
    5-Tom Okker
    6-John Newcombe
    7-Clark Graebner
    8-Dennis Ralston
    9-Cliff Drysdale
    10-Pancho Gonzales, at age 40

    Yes Emmo was 32 but Laver was 30 and Rosewall was 34. Emmo was a fine player but to drop so precipitously from #2 in 12 months seems to create at least some questions. While Laver announced himself at the onset of Open tennis Emmo was quickly relegated to the pack.
     
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  11. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Five o, there is much truth in your post. The pro -amateur segregation started ealier. Budge's original slam was won without Perry, Vines (who were pros) and especially von Cramm, who probably would have beaten Budge on clay at Paris, who was banned by the ****s. Karmer won his amteur medals without Roggs and Budge, Gonzales without Kramer, Segura and others. Trabert and Hoad made the near Slams without Gorgo, Sedman and others. Even in the amateur game the GS was a rare feat, done just twice, by Budge and Laver. Laver had to beat at Wim 1962 world class players players like Pierre Darmon, Witney Reed, Manuel Santana and Neale Fraser, at Forest Hills Osuna, Emerson among others. Gonzlea sn the aother pros were good, but had the advantage of a known format and surface. No amateur had played indoor, before turning pro. Emerson was not as bad, as the internet makes him. Look at 1970, the Pize money ranking of the pros, the only objective ranking at that time:
    1 Laver 201,453
    2 Rosewall 140,455
    3 Emerson 96,845
    4 Newcombe 78,251
    5 Gonzales 77, 365
    6 Roche 67,232
    7 Okker 61,797
    8 Stolle 43, 448
    9 Taylor 42,101
    10 Gimeno 41,375

    There were some official amateurs like Ashe, who made 140,000, but between the pros Emerson was still ranked Nr.3. He had beaten Gonzales, Rosewall and Stollee in a lucartvibe 10.000 winner takes all series in 1970.
     
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  12. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    I know, I was just responding the general sentiment of the kids on the boards, not you(you really know your stuff)

    Laver is very respectful to generations that follow him(perhaps too much)
    When Mac won his 1st US Open(only a few years after Laver retired), Laver said "its an honor to be compared to him, he's the greatest player ever."
    He did the same with sampras in '94 & with federer last year.

    Drydsdale, Stolle & others also say stuff like this, & say how much better thae game is today, etc. But they are also in the tennis business. I think all former players realize that tennis is a sport that needs to constantly keep/grow its fanbase, esp compared to other sports(I know tennis is doing well worldwide, but it still generates far less revenue than most pro sports leagues like european soccer, nba, nfl, mlb, even golf) It really can't afford any sort of negative press, while those sports can always thrive regardless.

    So they are exceedingly humble because by sort of putting down their era they promote the current game, which is in their best interest, esp as a commentator.

    As far as the depth issue, the scores tell the story for me. Laver had so many battles during his '69 slam campaign(the dude was down 2 sets to love twice in early rounds!)
    If indeed the depth was so weak, you would think he would be destroying the competition WTA style.
    Laver may say he didn't have to worry about losing before the quarters in his time, but the facts say otherwise.
     
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  13. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    is this the prize money list, since the computer didn't start till '73?
    do you have other lists from '69-'72? do you have a link to that full article?

    urban,
    much is being made of Agassi's 16 year end top 10. This ties him with Connors. I see that Connors was ranked #3 in '73, the 1st year of the computer ranking. And I see that Connors was seeded 15 at the '72 US Open & that he won 5 titles in '72. It seems likely that Connors was one of the 10 best players in '72, what was he ranked on the prize money list that year?

    All credit to Andre, but I think Connors really has that record(most top 10 finishes) but played one of his years when there was no computer.
     
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  14. FiveO

    FiveO Hall of Fame

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    Good points. (However my sources were from print, in particular Total Tennis by Bud Collins, and regretably, some from memory). No doubt that Emmo was very good and that the pro/amateur split existed for several decades calling into question most amateur only records. And the prize money while objective is incomplete as performance at the majors has always been the measuring stick by which the a player's performance has been judged due to their very nature, 7 rounds vs. the best available during a given fortnight, magnified in the Open era, where Emmo's results were 4R's and QF instead of W. Prize money being "objective" look at what it indicates. Emmo was the third best Aussie upon Laver and Rosewall's return placing him where during the pro/amateur split? Even if Emmo is the third or fourth best of his generation which could be generous to him, the history of Open tennis, #4 may be the most volatile position in the rankings. Rarely, very rarely has the #4 broken through for major titles in any era. Again, any other of the 124 players would love to reach such a lofty ranking, even for a short stay, but winning majors, in any numbers, if at all (with some exception), from that ceiling has been next to impossible. This is also evidenced by Emmo's results before Open tennis and after at the majors.

    Yr: AO,RG,W,USO
    '62: F, F, 4R, F ---Laver's First Slam
    '63: W, W, , QF, 4R
    '64: W, QF, W, W
    '65: W, SF, W, QF
    '66: W, QF, QF, SF
    '67: W, W, 4R, QF
    -------------------
    '68: --, QF, 4R, 4R- Rosewall won RG, Laver Wimbledon and Ashe the USO
    '69: 3R, 4R, 4R, QF--Laver's second Slam

    IMO it speaks to the greatness of Laver and perhaps the second level for Emmo.
     
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  15. FiveO

    FiveO Hall of Fame

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    Pre-'73 the "rankings" were decided by tennis journalists/editors. World Tennis magazine was widely regarded as doing so "objectively". These rankings were from Total Tennis which Bud Collins edited and seem in line with the publications of the day.
     
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  16. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    In the pre computer era (ATP computer was founded in autumn 1973) the rankings were compiled on a subjective basis by journalists, the most famous by Lance Tingay of the Daily Telegraph. 'Total Tennis' by Bud Collins, p.924 gives Prize money lists of the years before 1973:
    68
    Laver (70,359), Roche, Rosewall, Newcombe, Gonzales, Drysdale, Gimeno, Emerson, Ralston, Stolle
    69
    Laver (124.000), Roche, Okker, Emerson, Newcombe, Rosewall, Gonzales, Rieessen, Stolle, Ashe
    70
    Laver (201.453), Ashe, Rosewall, Richey, Emerson, Smith, Newcombe, Gonzales, Graebner, Roche
    71
    Laver (292,717), Rosewall, Okker, Nastase, Ashe, Smith, Newcombe, Riessen, Graebner, Richey
    72
    Nastase (176,000), Smith, Rosewall, Newcombe, Ashe, Laver, Okker, Connors, Riessen, Drysdale
    73
    Nastase (228,750), Smith, Okker, Connors, Newcombe, Ashe, Laver, Rosewall, Orantes, Gottfried.
     
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  17. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    thanks, I really should buy that book.
     
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  18. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    FiveO, let me echo Moose's sentiments. Nothing here directed at you. However, I think Emerson's role in tennis is greatly diminished and unfairly so. One of the posters (from Australia) on these boards gave the reason that Emerson didn't go pro, he thought it was the right thing to do. And, he was proclaimed a hero in Australia for not going pro. I have seen some documentaries on TTC that indicated that Hoad and Rosewall especially took some heat for turning pro. Laver, I'm sure, had the same brow beating from Down Under when he announced he was going pro. Emerson stayed the course.

    Emerson's professional record is nothing to sneeze at either. If you go back and look at his singles record, he had some very impressive wins and was a contender in anything he entered. Emerson was known for his fitness and I think that contributed to his longevity. That said, any player, Open or not who competes in Grand Slams over a long span is physically and mentally depleted; especially after double digit years of doing so. Look at the push Sampras made to break Lendl's consecutive years at #1 and what that did to him. He was basically spent and went into a slump that only ended with his last US Open. I think Emerson may have succombed to a couple of things a) not believing that he could compete and b) just plain being tired. To a world class athlete, confidence is everything (so I hear).

    By the time Open tennis got here, Emerson was 32 years old and clearly past his prime. However, he did well in the Grand Slams reaching the QF's more often than not:

    1968
    ......RG QF 5 Set loss to Pancho Gonzalez 5-7 3-6 6-3 6-4 4-6
    ......W R16 4 Set loss to Tom Okker 3-6 11-9 5-7 5-7
    ......US R16 3 Set loss to Arthur Ashe 4-6 7-9 2-6 (Ashe was eventual winner)
    1969
    ......AO R16 4 Set loss to Rod Laver 2-6 4-6 6-3 7-9 (Laver was eventual winner)
    ......RG R16 4 Set loss to Franulovic 6-1 3-6 0-6 2-6
    ......W R16 5 Set loss to Cliff Drysdale 4-6 8-6 6-0 3-6 7-9
    ......US QF 4 Set loss to Rod Laver 6-4 6-8 11-13 4-6 (Laver was eventual winner)
    1970
    ......W QF 5 Set loss to Newcombe 1-6 7-5 6-3 2-6 9-11 (Newcombe was eventual winner)
    ......US R16 4 Set loss to Stan Smith 4-6 3-6 7-5 4-6
    1971
    ......A QF 3 Set loss to Ken Rosewall 4-6 4-6 3-6 (Rosewall was eventual winner)
    ......W R16 4 Set loss to Stan Smith 6-2 1-6 3-6 7-9 (Smith was eventual winner)

    In 1973, at San Francicso, Emerson won the tournament with wins over
    QF - Roscoe Tanner 5-7 7-5 6-2
    SF - Arthur Ashe 5-7 6-2 6-1
    F - Bjorn Borg 5-7 6-1 6-4

    It should also be noted that in 1969, he lost in two Grand Slams to the eventual winner and Grand Slammer himself, Rod Laver. Emerson was very competitive and very long-lived. I think he's given a bad shake. It looks like his last year on tour was 77 and his last match recorded was 83, not bad at all.
     
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  19. rasajadad

    rasajadad Hall of Fame

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    Agassi couldn't beat Pete when it mattered. End of story.
     
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  20. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    On a lighter note about Emerson: He gave Newcombe his toughest test in Wim 1970, and had the disadvantage, that he broke a string on his shorts in the 5th set. So he had to look all the time for his pants, not to stay in front of 15ooo Brits in his underwear.
     
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  21. FiveO

    FiveO Hall of Fame

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    Rabbit,

    I am amazed by the Aussies, Emmo included. In looking back I am always reminded what an incredible tennis power Australia was and for how many decades they truly dominated the sport. His devotion to tradition and country, and the sacrifices he made to remain an amateur and elligible for Davis Cup and the majors, is admirable. I agree that his consistency at the majors throughout that five year period must have taken its toll. The pros were an incredible grind in those years as well. Anything described as "barnstorming" and "one night stands" I think qualifies. I hope those benefitting at the top of tennis pyramid today, know the history and how much they owe to the visionaries and players who labored both to make the pro game viable while players like Emerson maintained the traditions of the majors and DC at the same time. Emerson is truly one of the Aussie greats and ultimately who is to say that his peak wasn't the equal or higher than those laboring on the pro tour exclusively for those five years. He more than anyone carried the flame. This has been another enjoyable walk down memory lane and through the history books for me. Thanks to you, Moose, urban, harryz, et al, for making it so.

    5
     
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  22. superman1

    superman1 Legend

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    No, I think you are missing my point. The racquet head speed they generated was crap. Even with modern racquets, with those kinds of shots they would have been crushed by today's pros. They TAPPED the ball more often than not. If a player tries that today, the other guy steps in and hits an 80 mph winner off of it.

    Racquets are better now but players are also stronger and faster. Now, I am not disrespecting the greats of the past. I think that if they had grown up in the early 80's when the game had changed, they would still be great players and would go to town with a lot of the guys out there today. However, you cannot deny that professional tennis is a MUCH tougher sport to play today than it has ever been. All of the experts in tennis can acknowledge this, surely you can too?
     
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  23. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    You really don't get. Which is understandable for someone who has never played with a wood racquet. It was incrediblly hard to get any sort of control consistently with wood racquets. Of course they could hit the ball a lot harder, but if they did they would make 100 unforced errors a match. You had to rein it in to work the point(yet Tanner was clocked at 130 mph serves in the 70s) I've seen laver, nastase crack a forehand as hard as any one today. But that would only happen a few times a match because the %s didn't favor it.
    and wood racquets would break quite a lot, because they couldn't handle extreme raquet head speed. borg's racquets broke quite a bit(& he was a pioneer in the extreme spin department, so his racquets breaking was understandable)

    I really wish they would have a wood raquet event with pros of today. You might then understand how hard it is to play with them(& how easy it is to play with modern racquets) some of todays pros would probably swing & miss a bit. and make an absurd amount of errors/mishits etc. they'd probably start "tapping" the ball as well.

    I can't believe you think Nasty had crap racquet head speed, he was crushing the ball(again not every shot because of errors)
    did you see that running backhand pass yesterday? unreal.

    and look how well the last player(Mac) to win a slam with a wood raquet is doing today. beating murray in superset & almost beating ancic. he'd probably double bagel them with a wood raquet.

    its funny you think those players had poor racquet head speed because they weren't as strong or skilled as todays players. like human beings have evolved so much in 20 years that they are now able to swing a racquet harder. yeah federer, hewitt & co are able to swing racquets harder because they are stronger. this isn't baseball, you don't need super strength to generate racquet head speed.
     
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  24. Arafel

    Arafel Professional

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    Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Was their racquet head speed "crap" because they weren't good athletes or because they were swinging the equivalent of a 2x4 with strings on it? It's not just that the racquets were usually quite heavy in comparison to what people use today; it's that they had very small heads and the shafts were much less aerodynamic than what is available today.
     
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  25. Phillip=Tennis guy

    Phillip=Tennis guy Rookie

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    Goats go bah like sheeps......right? lol
     
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  26. harryz

    harryz Semi-Pro

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    racquet head speed was crap?

    that's ridiculous, plain and simple.

    The game might have been slower, but alot of those guys hit the crap out of the ball, wood frames and all. And they could generate plenty of racquet speed when they wanted to. Were you around to see for yourself, Superman? If not, what are you basing your comments on?

    Changes in technology are much greater than changes in players' size and strength, respectively. People just haven't evolved that much in 25 or 50 years. Cross training, weight training and strengthening has changed dramatically, but at the same time I don't see many guys playing good tactical or defensive tennis. Given that, don't just assume that modern pros could easily overpower great players from the past-- it just ain't so.
     
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  27. superman1

    superman1 Legend

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    Again, I'm not dissing the players themselves. I know they had loads of talent and could have hit the ball great with modern racquets and dominate a lot of the guys out there today. That backhand passing shot by Nastase was sick, though I've seen Nadal hit a million of those.

    BUT, the game they played, with their small, weak racquets, was an easier game than today's game. That's it. That's all I'm trying to say. If they had modern racquets back then, they would have made tennis as high level as it is today. But they didn't, so instead they played more of a running game. Today it is a sprinting and hitting game.

    It is easier to hit the ball today with modern racquets, but it's a hell of a lot harder playing the actual sport of tennis because guys keep hitting harder and harder and your reflexes and footspeed are constantly being tested. It's a constant pounding on the body. Agassi has been playing since the 80's and he has said many times that the game is getting more and more physical. You go out there and you throw yourself side to side and stretch out as wide as you can. Sure, you can hit the racquet a lot harder with your Babolat then those guys could in the 60's with their sticks, but the guy on the other side of the net can hit just as hard and the ball is coming that much faster at you.
     
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  28. jhhachamp

    jhhachamp Hall of Fame

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    In my opinion, people hit harder now than with wood racquets because of technology (not evolution), but I fail to see why this type of game is easier. Is it easier to hit with a wood racquet than a graphite one? Is it easier to compete when everyone is using wood rather than graphite? In both cases, I would argue no. The game has changed for sure, but it has not gotten easier or harder.
     
    #78
  29. harryz

    harryz Semi-Pro

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    I agree with Steve

    the game is different now, that's all. It was plenty hard with wood racquets, since the equalized power. The challenges had to do with conditioning, foot speed and tactics. It was more of a complete game. Now it seems more homogenous. Where are the serve and volley players? The touch players? Few and far between. The technology, both in equipment and technique, has made the game all about hitting big. At the same time, I find it interesting how often commentators refer to the ability to play defensive tennis as separating the proverbial men from the boys, rather than big offense. That is, playing smart, percentage tennis when needed and recognizing the situation and one's limitations...
     
    #79
  30. juani

    juani Rookie

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    For my the GOAT has to be someone who really changed the way of playing tennis.
    For example: for me the GOAT racing driver was Fangio cos his driving skills were a least 10+ years in advance in relation to the other drivers (they learned a lot following him). He change the way of drive a racing car. He was the father of modern racing techniques. He beated powerfull ferraris with crappy cars and won 5 champ titles.
    Schumy won 7 titles but only when he have the best car.......can he win a race with a crappy car????? No way.
    I know that it isn't the best comparasion.........................
     
    #80
  31. jjames

    jjames Banned

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    aren't u forgetting, as borg was to mcenroe, and mcenroe to lendl, and lendl to sampras as well? differerence is connors was #1 for 5 consecutive years.
     
    #81
  32. jjames

    jjames Banned

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    the thing is the larger racquets have allowed more players in the pro game that didn't have the precision to play a hgh level of tennis with small 70's era equipment. thus, more bigger and stronger athletes are now playing pro tennis.
     
    #82
  33. superman1

    superman1 Legend

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    Which is why it is harder to play, because you've got a big guy on the other side of the net going for broke on every shot. What is harder, running or sprinting? That's the comparison. Plus the courts are slower and balls are heavier, so the points are longer.
     
    #83
  34. AJK1

    AJK1 Hall of Fame

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    Agassi isn't GOAT because he has a 2hbh.
     
    #84
  35. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Well, history wouldn't support your theory. Matches were longer in the 70s by far. Borg and Vilas had one point on clay that probably lasted longer than some games today. Grass court points were also longer. Ivan Lendl, a guy who knows a thing or two about tennis, said that the difference between tennis then and now is that then the top guys were like marathoners and now they're like sprinters. The balls used at the French were pressureless which means they were rocks compared to the balls of today.

    As to today's courts, they have been slowed down. During the wood age grass courts were faster and clay courts (as mentioned above) were slower. Let me ask you a question. Would it then be harder to play on a slower clay court and then have to go to a faster grass court or to play a series of matches on clay that was speeded up and grass that was slowed down so they played like each other? Hard courts have always been more tunable with the amount of sand that's put in them.

    With regard to equipment I have to say, as someone who not long ago played a year with wood, that the game is harder with wood. I also think the game is more rewarding when played with wood. Why? Because it takes more effort & practice to accomplish the same thing. You have to learn technique and patiently progress. Today's frames are technologically vastly superior. That gives beginners a tremendous edge and advanced players like myself can hit harder and more consistently. Is it better? I don't think so and the declining numbers of both viewership and participation at the grass roots level might very well bear me out.

    Differences in equipment
    Head size
    This is the most obvious difference in yesterday's equipment. Head sizes then averaged around 66 sq in. Jimmy Connors' T2000 was smaller as were some Yamaha frames. Because of this, there were two axioms of tennis 1) to win you had to be more consistent than your opponent and 2) percentage tennis meant net play.

    If you watched the WTT match from '78, or better yet, if you get a chance to see it again, look closely at Virginia Wade's Dunlop Maxply Fort. You'll see a spot on her strings that is discolored and just a little bigger than a tennis ball. That spot is dead center in her racket face. Now, that's not ink, that's were the ball hits. Pros back then had to hit the ball in the center of the racket every time to get the most out of the smaller heads. In order to do this, they had to have a controlled swing. Today's frames aren't as demanding in this respect. Players routinely hit outside of the center of the stringbed. Does that make them any less than their predecssors? No, but the point of this is to demonstrate how the game was harder then.

    Balance
    Today's frames come in a myriad of balances. World class pros have their frames tuned by racket technicians who were unheard of in the wood days. Wood rackets, because of the very nature of their construction, were balanced more evenly. The sheer weight of the material made the racket head speed you refer to very hard to get. A topspin backhand required more preparation and more effort with a wood frame. One of the rights of passage from being a beginner to an advanced player was the ability to hit a topspin backhand. Many advanced players back then couldn't hit a consistent topspin backhand (see Martina Navratilova).

    I have a couple of rackets I bought from TW that were custom built for Vitas Gerulaitis. The differences? Well, there's more wood at the throat (which makes them heavier) and the grips are 4 3/4 or larger. It's a chunk.

    Flex
    Wood rackets were noodles compared to today's frames. An average frame today is in the mid 60s in flex or higher. Wood frames were in the 30s - 40s.

    When you hit the ball hard, a wood racket absorbed much of the impact. Today's frames transmit more of that shock to your arm. In the days of wood, elbow braces were far less common than today.

    String Pattern
    Wood rackets had much denser patterns, 20X22 wasn't uncommon. This was in a 66 sq in head. However, wood frames generate spin easier. The desnser patterns leant themselves to control.


    Because of the smaller heads, there were some shots that were harder to hit. In my opinion, the hardest to hit effectively was the second serve. Today's frames give you much more room for error. In the days of wood, there was a distinct difference between first and second serves. You were more than welcome to hit a big first serve. Many players reined in their first delivery to up their percentages because a second serve was harder to hit. Another tougher shot was volleys. You really had to focus on your volleys and use more technique when volleying. That said, because of the smaller head, angles were easier to generate due to the longer axis from the handle to the head of the frame. Overheads also presented a challenge. It's a daunting task indeed to hit a series of overheads with a wood frame.

    I think that the 70s boom was directly attributable to the personalities who played the game then. Equipment and the challenge of learning a game which was hard also helped tennis. I've said if before, they've figured tennis out now. They've taken equipment and really perfected it, they've changed tactics. So now, everyone plays the same game. Is tennis better? Well, at our level it is. We can play a higher level than with wood. At the pro level? I don't think so. When 99/100 of the top pros play the same game, which truly does represent ping pong with the combatants standing on the table, I don't think it's as good as before. Tennis with wood meant that you had a Virginia Wade playing S/V against Chris Evert playing baseline. Tennis with wood gave us the great contrast of Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. Tennis with wood promoted net play and finesse and shot making.

    If you like power tennis, then today's game is what you enjoy. However, there has to be something lacking when Roger Federer who plays with variety is deemed a genius. Had he played in the 70s, he'd have been a top player for sure, but his game and tactics would have been more in line with the majority of players on tour, not the minority. My point is that Federer is set apart from the rest of the tour because of his game but his game is an advancement of what used to be common on tour. Federer sets himself apart from the Academy tennis that dominates the tour by using tactics from the days of wood.

    And you may have seen Nads hit 100 shots like the one Nastase pulled off, but you've only seen Nastase in a one set match. I remember watching him hit unbelievable shots time and time again, shots behind his back, gets that no one else could make. Your comment, unintentional as it was, still trivialized his ability. Trust me, Nastase has hit shots that would marvel anyone. What everyone here is telling you is that you can't watch one match and make a generalization about an entire era of tennis. Much like members of these boards can't take one match between Federer and Sampras an extrapolate who was better. And, Nastase hit the ball you saw with a wood racket on the dead run strung with nylon.
     
    #85
  36. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    No, the players you mentioned did not dominate the other like the ones I mentioned. McEnroe won two matches off Borg which sent him into retirement. McEnroe and Lendl were basically 7 matches different head to head and that difference was pretty much the last 7 they played against each other when McEnroe was walking retired. Lendl/Sampras is not a fair comparison since Lendl was #1 and Sampras was 19 and coming out. Plus, Sampras went on career wise to eclipse Lendl.
     
    #86
  37. jjames

    jjames Banned

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    connors, borg were only 10-7, with borg being 4 years younger, and retiring before connors could regain the edge. most of borgs wins were after connors had his reign and entered married life. connors was number #1, 5 years, borg only 2. mcenroe had beaten borg in 3 straight slam finals prior to borg saying "no mas". think if borg had kept playing.

    lendl, mac only 7 matches different? lol. lendl dominated from 1985 on.
     
    #87
  38. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    I was wrong, they are only 6 matches different. Lendl won the last 6 encounters from 1989 - 1992. Prior to that they were tied at 15 - 15.

    And in 1983 and 1984, McEnroe was 10 - 2 with Lendl. After '84, McEnroe was not the same player and basically going through the motions. To be fair after the '84 French, Lendl forever the bridesmaid of Grand Slams and never the bride, was a different player as well. Difference was, he found motivation to play and McEnroe lost his. McEnroe basically played tennis because he was 26 and had nothing else to do.

    Anyway, my point is that the players I referenced paralleled the experience of Sampras/Agassi. They were rivalries and while one was better in the head to head, both were great players. One was just a little better than the other. Connors was never going to get the edge back on Borg, Borg was eating Connors' lunch.
     
    #88
  39. jackson vile

    jackson vile Legend

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    Becasue tennis is fickle and America is superficial, we as American's don't have a idea about true achievments, only instant gratifiction.

    People don't work for things anymore, they just want to be a millionair all of a sudden with no work.

    We used to be a country based on hard high quality work for life at all costs.

    AA is amazing, I have a feeling he will achieve legendary status as time goes on, more people know him and his accomplishments.
     
    #89
  40. jhhachamp

    jhhachamp Hall of Fame

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    You are precisely correct when you say that the game is harder because your opponent can hit tougher shots and can hit them more often. This makes the game harder now. However, it is also true that you can hit tougher shots and you can hit them more often. This makes the game easier. In the end it is exactly even.
     
    #90
  41. Arafel

    Arafel Professional

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    For a while, yes. But Connors took Borg to 5 at Wimbledon in 81. Don't forget that Connors had a resurrection in 82. He started playing more aggressively, attacking the net behind his serves. I think he might have taken Borg in that year and turned the tables again.
     
    #91
  42. jjames

    jjames Banned

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    connors was beating borg in exhibitions just prior to borgs retirements. i actually got to see them play in one. connors also went on to regain the #1 ranking and beat lendl and mcenroe at the uso and wimby. had connors retired at 26, i guess he'd a never has a losing record to anyone either.

    and my point is connors and borgs carreers were not parallel wth borg being 4 years younger, there primes did not coincide. agassi and sampras were basically the same age. agassi never beat pete in any match for #1 or at the us open. while connors did beat borg in 2 us open finals where #1 was on the line.
     
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  43. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    Rabbit, props for post 85, great stuff.

    I like this part, "What everyone here is telling you is that you can't watch one match and make a generalization about an entire era of tennis."
     
    #93
  44. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Thanks. My dorsal fin does go up when I read some of the stuff that folks write based on seeing one set of singles or the results from one match. Nastase was about as talented as they come. He had great hands, a set of wheels that would make Chang envious, and above all anticipation and court sense.

    Read what you just wrote. Borg, after the 81 US Open final, was done. Borg was 13 - 8 against Connors and won the last 8 including a straight set semi over Connors at the Open.

    OK, Borg was notorious for dialing it in at everything except the Grand Slam venues. Borg got his appearance money from exhibitions and couldn've cared less about who won it. There is a story that McEnroe tells about an exhibition he and Borg played in New Orleans. McEnroe went on a tirade and Borg called him to net and said "John, it doesn't matter. It's only a tennis match."

    Again, read what you wrote. Connors went on to regain the #1 ranking after Borg retired. Certainly he was in his prime as the #1? I mean he did, according to you, eclipse a peaking Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe (pre-1984) to become number 1. Connors went through several slumps.

    With regard to a parallel career, Connors turned professional in 1972. Borg's first match on the ATP was in 1971. It appears he played a full schedule on the ATP in 1973 and won Roland Garros in 1974, arguably Connors' best year. I'd say that's fairly parallel.

    No, Borg beat Connors at the US Open in 1981 semis 6-2, 7-5, 6-4

    And Connors never beat Borg at Wimbledon and Sampras never beat Agassi at Roland Garros. So what's your point?

    The computer rankings were skewed back then. It is inconceivable today that a player like Borg who won two Grand Slams in the same year wouldn't be number one. I don't believe that players defended points then. In other words, the way they calculate #1 has changed. Had they used the same system, Borg would've been number 1.
     
    #94
  45. jjames

    jjames Banned

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    rabbit-connors beat borg on clay at the us open in 1976. connors destroyed in the 1978 us open final. both matches had the #1 ranking on the line. and when u have a ranking system, u do what it takes to become number 1 based on the current system, not makes ecxuses years later.

    and in 1981 connors lost in 5 at the usopen to mcenroe. borg never did beat connors at the us open. so connors and borg faced each in two slam events. connors had the edge at the us open, borg at wimby.
     
    #95
  46. joesixtoe

    joesixtoe Rookie

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    talent wise i would choose agassi, but mentally like i always say, i dont think agassi has it to be the best of all time. he chokes or looses confidence or something a lot when he is on the court.
     
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  47. Jack the Hack

    Jack the Hack Hall of Fame

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    Why do people make arguments based on things that can be easily checked and refuted?

    Borg beat Connors in the semifinals of the 1981 US Open 6-2, 7-5, 6-4. Here's there head-to-head if you want to check:

    http://www.atptennis.com/3/en/playe...rs,+Jimmy&player2=Borg,+Bjorn&playernum2=B058

    As for whether the #1 ranking was on the line when Connors won the US Open in '76 and '78, how do you know? Do you have the articles or computer printouts that show the point totals at that time?

    In '76, I suppose the US Open final could have been for #1. Borg had "only" won 6 tournaments that year, including Wimbledon. Connors won 12 that year. The other two slams were won by Edmonson and Panatta. So Connors winning that final may have been the clincher.

    As for '78, Borg had already won the French and Wimbledon titles, along with 7 other titles. Connors won 10 titles that year, but only the one major. Winning 2 of the 4 slams and making the finals of the US Open would seem to have made Borg #1 for the year no matter what happened. If winning that match is what made Connors #1 for that year, I agree that the system was flawed then... especially considering that Connors didn's even play the Australian or French that year. (However, I suspect that there was more to it than that one match.)
     
    #97
  48. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    I'm not making excuses for anyone. You're the one who compared today's system featuring Agassi/Sampras to yesterday's and Borg/Connors. I was merely trying to point out the differences which in turn would flaw your argument.

    I listened to Connors' commentary on the BBC at Wimbledon this year and he was uncharacteristically very self-effacing regarding Borg. He made it clear that he thought Borg to be the best, possibly ever. Connors has said that he could never pick up anything from Borg's demeanor on court and that was a factor in why Borg held an edge over Connors. The other reason, IMO, was that Connors' game fit into Borg's toward the end of Borg's playing career. Borg's game adapted more than Connors' did and Borg ate Connors' lunch at Wimbledon on more than one occassion. Other players like Tanner would up giving Borg more problems than Connors. This is not a reflection on Connors who is truly a great, but Borg had his number. Why else would Connors make the statement "I'll follow him to the ends of the earth" if not to challenge the preimmenent player of the day?
     
    #98

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