Winner takes all. Classic series 1970-1971

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by urban, Jul 8, 2009.

  1. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    pc 1 mentioned in another thread the Classic series of 1970 and 1971, which was a one of a kind series of challenge matches for 10.000 $, which were only for the winner, while the loser got nothing. At the begin of the tennis boom, promoters like McCall, Hunt and Podesta tried to gain public support and attention on the US tv market, by using new experimental formats (or better by going back to formats used on the old pro tour). The best 10 pros of the year before were sampled. The series was played at the big indoor venues of the USA, like Madison Square Garden, Philadephia Spectrum, Boston Garden and others. The format was a bit strange, basically it was a round robin, the winner would take the next challenge by a player next in line, the winner of that match would face another challenge and so on. The loser could qualify in a qualifying match for one of the next challenges. The best four players of the competition would play a semifinal and final at Madison Square Garden, the winner of the final would get 35.000 $. In all, some 210.000 $ were on the line, an unheard sum in those days, far and away more money than to win on the majors circuit. The Wim winner got some 6.000 $.
    Here are my incomplete lists (for 1970 there were more matches played, which are not documented in the World of Tennis yearbook):

    1970 Jan-July 1970:

    New York: Gonzales- Laver 7-5,3-6,2-6,6-3,6-2.
    Detroit: Gonzales-Newcombe 6-4,6-4,6-2.
    Miami, Fl.: Emerson-Gonzales 6-3,6-2,6-3.
    Los Angeles: Emerson-Rosewall 7-5,4-6,7-5,6-4.
    Brisbane: Emerson-Gimeno 9-7,1-6,4-6,6-3,6-2.
    Dayton: Stolle- Emerson 7-5,7-5,6-4.
    Los Angeles: Okker-Stolle 6-3,6-3,2-6,6-1.
    West Orange: Laver-Roche 6-2,6-4,6-2. Laver-Gimeno 5-7, 5-7,6-1,6-3,6-2. Rosewall-Newcombe 5-7,7-5,6-1,6-2.
    New York: Rosewall -Stolle 5-7, 6-0,6-4,6-4. Okker-Roche 6-3,3-6,7-5,3-6,6-4. Rosewall-Okker 6-2,6-4,6-2.

    Semifinals New York, Jun. 2 and 5:
    Laver-Gonzales 6-3,6-3,6-1.
    Rosewall-Emerson 4-6,6-1,6-4,4-6,7-5.

    Final New York, July 16:
    Laver-Rosewall 6-4,6-3,6-3.

    1971:

    Matches were played between Jan and March. Because Laver won all the matches i give the name of the opponent:

    New York: Rosewall 6-3,6-4,7-5.
    Rochester: Newcombe 6-4,6-2,4-6,5-7,6-4.
    Boston: Roche 7-5,4-6,3-6,7-5,6-1.
    Philadelphia: Emerson, 6-2,6-3,7-5.
    New York: Ashe 7-5,6-4,7-5.
    Detroit: Okker 5-7,5-7,6-2,6-2,6-2.
    New York: Ashe 3-6,6-3,6-3,6-4.
    Inglewood: Taylor 6-3,7-5,6-2.
    New York:Okker 6-1,6-4,6-3.
    New York: Ralston 3-6,6-1,6-4,6-3.
    New Haven: Emerson 6-3,5-7,6-3,3-6,6-3.

    To decide the semifinal line-up outside the Laver-matches, the following matches were played:
    Ralston bt. Roche. Ralston bt. Ashe. Ashe bt. Rosewall, Okker bt- Newcombe. Emerson bt. Taylor.

    Semifinals, New York:
    Laver-Ralston 6-3,6-4,7-5.
    Okker-Emerson 6-4,2-6,4.6,6-3,6-4.

    Final, New York:
    Laver-Okker 7-5,6-2,6-1.

    Of the 210.000 $ prize money, Laver got 160.000 $, Okker 20.000 $, and Emerson and Ralston took 15.000 $ each.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2009
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  2. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    I remember reading that in the next to last match that Laver played against Okker that Okker claimed he played as well as he ever played, perhaps better than he ever played. Yet Okker lost the match in three sets, winning only eight games. I wish I could have seen that match.

    Great post Urban.
     
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  3. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Gonzales defeats Newk 4, 4, 2: 42-year-old grandpop versus the 26-year-old kid in 1970.

    Looks like Emmo wasn't too shabby either.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2009
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  4. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    It is to be said, that according to Newk's own account in the 1970 book 'Tennis the Australian way', he was flown in to Detroit directly from Sydney (where he played the AO), and he had jetlag and problems with changing from grass to indoor. In those days, players had no standardized schedules, and had to adapt to new surfaces from one day to another. Still the showing of Ganzales was great, and also Emmo was certainly no pushover.
     
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  5. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    One of my fantasy match ups is Federer against Gonzalez, Wimbledon final, both are 27. It would be interesting to see how Federer would try to handle the great Gonzalez serve on grass.
     
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  6. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Thanks so much for those scores, I was looking for those.

    Interesting that the New York Times mentions a tiebreak being played in Gonzales-Laver when the first set reached 5-all. They don't say what the tiebreak score was or anything else about it, just that it saved time (they do mention that it was a 12-point system).
     
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  7. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Apparently all the tiebreakers in this event were played at 5 games all, in both '70 and '71, according to articles I'm finding in the NY Times.

    And the opponents switched serve after every point, for example in the fifth-set tiebreak played by Rosewall and Emerson in '70. The tiebreak score itself was 7-5, with Rosewall taking the last four points.

    I think the tiebreak sets should be written out as 6-5 instead of 7-5; all this was new back then and one of the articles explains that a tiebreak "counted for two games."

    It makes me wonder how many "7-5" sets from that era were actually tiebreak sets.

    One tiebreak was played at 6 games all (maybe because the match itself was only best-two-of-three, so there were no concerns about time?), when Ralston beat Ashe to qualify for the 1971 semifinals.

    The score was written out as 6-2, 4-6, 7-6, and the tiebreak score was 8-6 (with the players alternating service after every point, and Ralston saving a match point at 6-5 on Arthur's serve).

    Don't know how many of the qualifying matches you have, but I found a few of them (on the other hand the Times reported nothing on the actual challenge matches in Los Angeles and Brisbane).

    On May 21 in West Orange, Laver d. Gimeno 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2.

    Rosewall d. Newcombe 5-7, 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 the same day. The first two sets were described as finishing in tiebreaks.

    The Times had this as 6-1 in the fourth.

    The first semi was on June 2, the second on June 5.

    6-3 in the first per the Times.

    Laver lost the tiebreak 4-7.

    7-3 in the tiebreak.

    7-2 and 8-6 in the tiebreaks.

    Laver lost the tiebreak 5-7.

    Tiebreak score was 7-4.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2009
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  8. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Thanks for the valuable additions, I will put them into my previous posts. I must say i am a bit surprised by the use of tiebreak in 1970. I had never suggested, that behind the 7-5 scores were in fact tiebreak scores. I know, it was used first in 1966 at Newport, where entrepeneur Jimmy van Alen put his 'baby' into operation. I think it was played at 5 all and to 5-4, resp. 5-3 or 5-2 in the tiebreak itself. For the open era, i thought it was first introduced at the Philadephia US pro indoor in 1970 (in the important event run by the Fernbergers). And it was originally played at 6 all, but to 5-4 in the breaker itself. Laver himself was the driving force, to play it to 7, and with a 2 points separation. He did himself no good (jokingly said), because under the older system he would have won the 1972 Dallas event over Rosewall.
     
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  9. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Thanks Krosero and Urban for clarifying the tiebreak scores.
     
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  10. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Just note that I made a minor correction. Ralston-Ashe was '71, not '70.
     
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  11. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    That's what I'd always heard, too. But maybe the Tennis Champions doesn't count for historical marks like that because it wasn't made of "official" matches.
     
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  12. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Maybe it wasn't "official" but it was a legit tournament, not an exhibition. It should count.
     
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  13. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    And one last note, the Times has this as 6-2 in the second set.
     
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  14. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    I've just found this in the Times, but they don't mention any tiebreak in the first set? Could it have been at 7-all? Or maybe the set was played out?

    It's the only extended set in the whole series either year, and the only match not played in the U.S.
     
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  15. jeffreyneave

    jeffreyneave Rookie

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    other matches in 1971

    to decide the semi-final line these other matches not involving laver were played

    ralston beat roche and then ralston beat ashe
    ashe beat rosewall
    okker beat newcombe
    emerson beat taylor

    jeffrey
     
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  16. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Thanks Jeffrey. Do you have the scores of the above matches?
     
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  17. joe sch

    joe sch Hall of Fame

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    That would be a very exciting fantasy match. Fed would probably return the Gonzalez serve as well as anyone did, or like he returns Karlovich and Roddick, except that Gorgo would be there for alot of those volleys with his exceptional speed and agressive game.

    The formats, scoring, and outcomes for these winner takes all classic series from 1970 to 1971 are very interesting. Thanks for posting. Are there any books written about all the happenings related in scheduling, running, and taking part in these events. Sounds like a very interesting time to be involved in tennis, sorta like a scrambing circus.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2009
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  18. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    For the political struggles of the early open era, there is the book of Richard Evans, 30 years of open tennis. Evans worked some time for the ATP and was involved in those struggles between ITF, ATP and WCT. Good reads about some aspects of this period are the books by David Gray, Shades of Gray, and Herbert Warren Wind. But a book about all the experimental formats, the implications of new material, the new big money and the different circuits and series is yet to be written. The best inside look is still the book by Arthur Ashe and Frank Deford, Portrait in Motion, about the years 1973-74.
     
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  19. SgtJohn

    SgtJohn Rookie

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    Interesting article (St.Pet. Times, 19/12/1971)

    "The astinishing string of wins over Newcombe, Rosewall, Ashe, Taylor, Ralston and Okker has been regarded as one of the most remarkable feats in tennis history, but Laver had a rather surprising reaction.
    "The money of course was astonishing", he said, " but actually the classic wrecked me. The mental strain of getting up for each succeeding match, up to a fever pitch 13 times with no left-up, affected my play later in the year. By the time we finished at Wimbledon, my nerves, my mental condition was bad. That's why I walked away from the Toronto tournament after I lost in the first round in August, and why I went home, and why I decided then and there that I would pass up Forest Hills.""
     
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  20. Tomaz Bellucci

    Tomaz Bellucci Rookie

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    Thans, me too.
     
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  21. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    This might help to explain Laver's poor comparatively poor 1970 and 1971.
     
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  22. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    What grass? former or current? there is a lot of difference, IMO...can you see the difference?
     
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  23. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    I do hope this was on the up and up because many of those so called winner take all tourneys in the late 70's and early 80's often had under the table prize money sharing going on, otherwise many of the top stars wouldn't participate.
     
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