WORLD NO. 1 (by year)

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by hoodjem, Oct 30, 2009.

  1. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    1,963
    Here we go, again.
    The "US Pro" was not an official title during the "Cleveland years", and apparently the promoter, Jack March, acknowledged this by changing its title in 1961 (not 1962) to the World Professional Championships. I guess the title of "US Pro" wasn't big enough or grand enough for Mr. March.
    In 1959, the USPLTA granted recognition to Jack Kramer's Forest Hills Pro as the official US Pro, although Kramer cancelled the event for 1960, due to Gonzales' absence.
    It was at about this time that Jack March vacated the "US Pro" designation from his Cleveland tournament.
    In short, Cleveland was a minor tournament, not a major one.
    In the 1958 Cleveland final, Hoad was leading two sets to none when he pulled a thigh muscle, and was limping through the rest of the match.
    Hoad is usually ranked #2 for 1958 because he was the leading money-winner for the year, and defeated Gonzales at the three most important tournaments of the year, Forest Hills, Roland Garros, and Kooyong.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2012
  2. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,063
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    The US Pro is recognised as a professional major. And yes, I am aware that it went under a different title for a while when it was played at Cleveland. And Forest Hills was the Tournament of Champions between 1957 and 1959, not the US Pro. The Tournament of Champions was also the event that Kramer cancelled in 1960 due to Gonzales not playing tournaments at the time, and also absent in 1961 due to Hoad's absence.
     
  3. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    1,963
    Recognized? The recognizing body was the USPLTA, and if you consult their website you will see that there was no recognized US Pro Championship between 1952 and 1961. End of argument.
     
  4. FedericRoma83

    FedericRoma83 Rookie

    Joined:
    May 6, 2012
    Messages:
    185
    I agree for Vilas in 1977, he was the best also in my personal point-system.
    I think I disagree about Perry: it's hard to tell who was better between him and Vines in mid 30s because they didn't meet each other and the amateur circuit was still of high quality in the 30s. It was only during the War that the Pros definitely overtaken the amateurs. In his first Pro year Perry lost to Vines 29-32 in the american tour, but he won 6-3 in the british tour: the final score was a perfect 35-35.
    But with I would really like to ask you all is: don't you think that the Wikipedia page should be more flexible, since they have no official charts for these years?
    In my personal list Frank Sedgman is the no. 1 for 1953, but if a I have to write a page for Wikipedia, I admit that there are some doubts for this year, and I'll prefer a co-no. 1 ranking for both Sedgman and Kramer.
    In 1970 Ken Rosewall is the only no. 1 in my personal list, but again, Wikipedia shouldn't be a personal diary: that's why in a Wiki page I would prefer to put both Rosewall and Laver at the top.
    What I really can't understand is why the put only a number 1 player in years without a clear number 1 (1953, 1959)... and why they put some players at the top when they clearly have not arguments to put them so high (Kramer in 1947, Newcombe in 1970).
    Has someone of you in this amazing forum ever tried to change that page?
    I think that if we work together we can pick out some undeniable facts: for example, I think we all agree that Newcombe was no. 3 in 1970...


    The US Pro was a bit overrated in 1958-59 in my opinion. His field was not so strong. My four Majors for 1958 are:
    1. Forest Hills (Gonzales)
    2-3. Wembley (Sedgman) & French (Rosewall)
    4. Australian Pro (Sedgman)

    I can't consider that much the Gonzales-Hoad tour because Hoad is not necessarily the world no. 2 (the tournaments scores demonstrate that Sedgman was better in 1958 ), so beating Hoad doesn't prove that Gonzales is the absolute no. 1.
    My conclusion is:
    1) Sedgman gained 2 majors, Gonzales 1 [Sedgman advantage];
    2) Sedgman upset Gonzales 4-2 in h2h [Sedgman advantage];
    3) Gonzales won the greatest tournament [Gonzales advantage];
    4) Gonzales had a harsh head-to-head tour in the first part of the season, so he had a harder season [Gonzales advantage].
    An absolutely equal situation from my point of view: if we have to make personal lists we can choose only one of those two (you prefer Gonzales, I prefer Sedgman), but if we have to write a Wikipedia page, don't you think that a more democratic method should give voice to both opinions?

    It's very nice to talk with you, thank you very much!



    Hi Dan,
    what do you think about my suggestion? Shouldn't be nice to ask some changes for the Wikipedia page? I like your arguments, you're one of my favs around here. :D


    Totally agree, at the least for the last part of the tournament history.
    I consider Cleveland a big event from 1954 to 1957, but from 1958 to 1962 it had not so great fields.
    I would rate it as a "2nd class but still nice" event in 1958-59 and as a weak event in 1960-62.
     
  5. FedericRoma83

    FedericRoma83 Rookie

    Joined:
    May 6, 2012
    Messages:
    185
    I want to add: what is "recognized" is not so important from an historical point of view.
    Wimbledon was still recognized as a Major in 1973, but it simply wasn't, since only one of the top-10 players played it.
    Just look at the fields: Cleveland was good in its first four edition, then it declined. In 1958-59 it was an average tournament.
     
  6. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,063
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    Or is it because Gonzales beat Hoad twice in US Pro finals in 1958 and 1959? And yes, I have given credit to Hoad for his brilliant win over Gonzales in the 1959 Tournament of Champions final at Forest Hills, but that was the Tournament of Champions, another major, not the US Pro.

    The US Pro was at Forest Hills in 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1942, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951 and 1963.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2012
  7. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    1,963
    For me, I accept the USPLTA view (the officiating body) which states on their website that there was no US Pro between 1952 and 1961. What this means, in fact, is that the USPLTA (today the USPTA) did not participate in the Cleveland event, and the title was merely a commercial one, not an official one.
    This should mean something.
    In 1959, Kramer did not include the Cleveland event in his list of top 14 tournaments for the season to determine the number one player, which is a very low ranking for it. It was not used to determine bonus money for the season.
    I would agree with Gonzales, who stated that the 15 to 13 result in the championship tour determined Hoad as number one for 1959, and the Wikipedia should reflect that.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2012
  8. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    4,450
    Newcombe

    He certaily was no higher than number 2. Not by any logic should he be ranked higher than Rosewall that year. His showings outside of wimbledon were not strong comparitivly. Regarding laver his 5 masters 1000 equivalent victories count for a lot. I think far to much credence is given to commentators at the time. they basically gave the wimbledon winner number 1 ranking and ignored the rest of the year. Just because they were wrong at the time we dont need to replicate their mistakes.
     
  9. FedericRoma83

    FedericRoma83 Rookie

    Joined:
    May 6, 2012
    Messages:
    185
    Totally agree!

    My suggestion is: can we all try to pick out some of these undeniable facts, and then ask a change to the Wikipedia page?
    I think that the Wikipedia moderators can't ignore a request, if it comes from a forum composed by so competent and passionate people.

    If I go there and ask a change they will answer me "who are you, jerk?" (John McEnroe docet), but if I go there and I say "listen, this is the greatest tennis forum on planet Earth and I think we've found some bugs in your lists", then they probably we'll give us some consideration...
     
  10. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2005
    Messages:
    4,355
    I want to defend the original list makers, because i know them, and they always wanted to make compromises, and when doubt arose, they put 2 players commonly at the top. Questions and problems are not the fault of the list makers. All historical rankings were subjective, and the stats and data of the pro tour are still incomplete. In some years the historical rankings especially on the pro tour were a real mess. In 1959, nobody of the pro tour, even Kramer himself, gives a clear picture of the year.
    The whole list is and remains speculative, and of course all personal lists look different. I personally would rank pros and amateurs separately pre 1968. Its not a given, that the pro king, like Vines, Riggs or Kramer, was automatically better than the amateur king, like Perry, Kramer or Sedgman. In some years - as in the early 50s- the pro circuit is imo overrated, because it was played very sporadically. For 1947, Kramer had his best year, played the most dominant Wimbledon ever, and to emphazise his lone loss to Riggs in the opening night at the Garden, is somewhat unfair. He dominated Riggs in the series, and let him look older than he was.
     
  11. FedericRoma83

    FedericRoma83 Rookie

    Joined:
    May 6, 2012
    Messages:
    185
    It was not his only loss to him, he lost also four days later in Pittsburgh (december 31, 1947).
    Then he improved his game and he became clearly stronger: but a 0-2 at the end of 1947 and the fact that 14 of his 20 losses to Riggs came at the beginning of the tour, make me believe that he was a bit lower in 1947.


    Well said... so the question is: why did they put Gonzales as the lonely no. 1? Shouldn't a co-no. 1 spot for Lew Hoad be more democratic?
    (Also: what about 1953? 1958? 1970? And so on...)
     
  12. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2005
    Messages:
    4,355
    I have heard the arguments from other posters before and i stated in other various threads, that i would personally give Hoad the co Nr.1 in 1959. Gonzalez' strong point was always the mano a mano series with the new challengers, on which hit put his main focus (as he said to his family) and which was very vital in the public mind. In tournament play in 58 and 59, he was closely challenged, maybe overtaken by Sedgman or Hoad. So the ranking depends, how much weight one puts on the World Series (which excluded many pros) in comparison to tournament play. He won both series, in 1959 its especially delicate, because he trailed Hoad by a small margin (13-15 i think), but won the series overall, by losing absolutely no match to Cooper and Anderson.
     
  13. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,063
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    Okay. I'll do that.

    Best amateurs per year in the pre-open era
    1877: Spencer Gore
    1878: Frank Hadow
    1879: John Hartley
    1880: John Hartley
    1881: William Renshaw
    1882: William Renshaw
    1883: William Renshaw
    1884: William Renshaw
    1885: William Renshaw
    1886: William Renshaw
    1887: Herbert Lawford
    1888: Ernest Renshaw
    1889: William Renshaw
    1890: Willoughby Hamilton
    1891: Wilfred Baddeley
    1892: Wilfred Baddeley
    1893: Joshua Pim
    1894: Joshua Pim
    1895: Joshua Pim
    1896: Wilfred Baddeley
    1897: Reggie Doherty
    1898: Reggie Doherty
    1899: Reggie Doherty
    1900: Reggie Doherty
    1901: Arthur Gore
    1902: Laurie Doherty
    1903: Laurie Doherty
    1904: Laurie Doherty
    1905: Laurie Doherty
    1906: Laurie Doherty
    1907: Norman Brookes
    1908: William Larned
    1909: William Larned
    1910: Tony Wilding
    1911: Tony Wilding
    1912: Tony Wilding
    1913: Tony Wilding
    1914: Tony Wilding
    1915: Bill Johnston
    1916: Richard Norris Williams
    1917: Lindley Murray
    1918: Lindley Murray
    1919: Bill Johnston
    1920: Bill Tilden
    1921: Bill Tilden
    1922: Bill Tilden
    1923: Bill Tilden
    1924: Bill Tilden
    1925: Bill Tilden
    1926: Rene Lacoste
    1927: Rene Lacoste
    1928: Henri Cochet
    1929: Henri Cochet
    1930: Henri Cochet
    1931: Ellsworth Vines
    1932: Ellsworth Vines
    1933: Jack Crawford
    1934: Fred Perry
    1935: Fred Perry
    1936: Fred Perry
    1937: Don Budge
    1938: Don Budge
    1939: Bobby Riggs
    1940: Don McNeill
    1941: Bobby Riggs
    1942: Ted Schroeder
    1943: Joseph Hunt
    1944: Frank Parker
    1945: Frank Parker
    1946: Jack Kramer
    1947: Jack Kramer
    1948: Frank Parker
    1949: Pancho Gonzales
    1950: Budge Patty
    1951: Frank Sedgman
    1952: Frank Sedgman
    1953: Tony Trabert
    1954: Jaroslav Drobny
    1955: Tony Trabert
    1956: Lew Hoad
    1957: Lew Hoad
    1958: Ashley Cooper
    1959: Alex Olmedo
    1960: Neale Fraser
    1961: Roy Emerson
    1962: Rod Laver
    1963: Roy Emerson
    1964: Roy Emerson
    1965: Roy Emerson
    1966: Fred Stolle
    1967: John Newcombe

    Best professionals per year in the pre-open era
    1927: Vinny Richards
    1928: Vinny Richards
    1929: Karel Kozeluh
    1930: Karel Kozeluh
    1931: Bill Tilden
    1932: Bill Tilden
    1933: Bill Tilden
    1934: Ellsworth Vines
    1935: Ellsworth Vines
    1936: Ellsworth Vines
    1937: Ellsworth Vines
    1938: Ellsworth Vines
    1939: Don Budge
    1940: Don Budge
    1941: Fred Perry
    1942: Don Budge
    1943: ???
    1944: Bobby Riggs
    1945: Bobby Riggs
    1946: Bobby Riggs
    1947: Bobby Riggs
    1948: Jack Kramer
    1949: Jack Kramer
    1950: Jack Kramer
    1951: Jack Kramer
    1952: Pancho Segura
    1953: Jack Kramer
    1954: Pancho Gonzales
    1955: Pancho Gonzales
    1956: Pancho Gonzales
    1957: Pancho Gonzales
    1958: Pancho Gonzales
    1959: Pancho Gonzales
    1960: Pancho Gonzales
    1961: Pancho Gonzales
    1962: Ken Rosewall
    1963: Ken Rosewall
    1964: Rod Laver
    1965: Rod Laver
    1966: Rod Laver
    1967: Rod Laver

    Best players per year in the open era
    1968: Rod Laver
    1969: Rod Laver
    1970: Rod Laver
    1971: John Newcombe
    1972: Stan Smith
    1973: Ilie Nastase
    1974: Jimmy Connors
    1975: Arthur Ashe
    1976: Jimmy Connors
    1977: Guillermo Vilas
    1978: Bjorn Borg
    1979: Bjorn Borg
    1980: Bjorn Borg
    1981: John McEnroe
    1982: Jimmy Connors
    1983: John McEnroe
    1984: John McEnroe
    1985: Ivan Lendl
    1986: Ivan Lendl
    1987: Ivan Lendl
    1988: Mats Wilander
    1989: Boris Becker
    1990: Stefan Edberg
    1991: Stefan Edberg
    1992: Jim Courier
    1993: Pete Sampras
    1994: Pete Sampras
    1995: Pete Sampras
    1996: Pete Sampras
    1997: Pete Sampras
    1998: Pete Sampras
    1999: Andre Agassi
    2000: Gustavo Kuerten
    2001: Lleyton Hewitt
    2002: Lleyton Hewitt
    2003: Andy Roddick
    2004: Roger Federer
    2005: Roger Federer
    2006: Roger Federer
    2007: Roger Federer
    2008: Rafael Nadal
    2009: Roger Federer
    2010: Rafael Nadal
    2011: Novak Djokovic
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2012
  14. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    1,963
    Again, you have not referenced the USPTA website, and these are the folks who make the call on what is or is not the US Pro.
    Sure, it was often (but not always) held at Forest Hills, although sometimes the pros held a major event at Forest Hills apart from the US Pro, as in 1941. In 1941, the official US Pro was held in Chicago, but the Forest Hills event clearly had more press coverage and prestige.
    In 1951, the US Pro was held at Forest Hills, promoted by Jack March, and lost a ton of money. The final between Segura and Gonzales was a box-office disaster.
    March tried to move the event to Cleveland, but the USPLTA refused to sanction the move or to participate in the Cleveland event.
    Let me repeat: THERE WAS NO US PRO HELD BETWEEN 1952 AND 1961.
    This is a direct quote from the USPTA website. There is no debate here, friends.
     
  15. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,344
    Mustard,

    Here's an interesting subjective question. We know by qualification who may possibly be number one for a certain year but the number one for that year may not be the number one in actual tennis strength. A good example I think of this is 1975 where Arthur Ashe was the official number one but I believe in actual tennis strength that Jimmy Connors was number one. By actual strength I mean if that player played another player a number of matches on each individual surface that player would defeat the official number one and others. I think Connors would have defeated Ashe the majority of times on most surfaces if not all. You may be able to make the same argument for Laver in 1971 or Federer in 2003. I think Borg was the best player in 1977. It's all opinion because we can't prove it.
     
  16. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    1,963
    Some weight should be given to Gonzales' own perception that Hoad's hth edge established him as number one.
    Further, that the hth was over early, at 15 to 3, and that Hoad coasted the rest of the way.
    Gonzales stated that the greatest tennis ever produced was Hoad's play on the 1959 hth against himself (interview with Anderson, 1969 New York Times).
     
  17. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,063
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    I know what you mean. I agree that Connors would have beaten Ashe the majority of the time in 1975, most certainly. Ashe was a massive underdog going into the 1975 Wimbledon final, even though he the WCT Dallas champion, because Connors had been so dominant and had only lost 2 matches all year. I gave 1975 to Ashe because to be the WCT Dallas champion against strong competition (although not Connors) and then to beat Connors in the Wimbledon final after being a big underdog is a better year than being runner-up of the same 3 majors that you had won the previous year, as was the case for Connors.

    With the professional pre-open period, I have paid big attention to the pro tours, where I think the champion has to be clearly beaten, like Kramer did to Riggs in 1948, particularly how Kramer went from 6-8 behind, to drawing level at 13-13 and then racing away to win 69-20. However, by the open era, I've tended to go for who wins the big tournaments and who has the best results, week-on-week, year-on-year.

    1989, for example, Lendl had the better record on a week-to-week basis, but it's clearly that Becker has had a better year overall, winning Wimbledon, the US Open and Davis Cup. Lendl obviously envied Becker's year.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2012
  18. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,063
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    According to the ILTF, the US Championships wasn't a major before 1924. Do you take that view as well?
     
  19. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    1,963
    I was not aware of that.
    Perhaps the USPLTA did not participate before 1924? The ILTF is a separate organization.
     
  20. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,063
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    You think a 5-set match where Gonzales came back from 2 sets down against Hoad, winning a 14-12 third set and eventually the match in the 1958 US Pro final, isn't big? It sounds like an epic. I do agree that the 1962 event that Buchholz won, has a weak field, but so did some Australian Opens in the 1970s and early 1980s, but they are still majors.

    I have no problem with you saying that the Tournament of Champions was the biggest event.
     
  21. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    1,963
    Obviously, the 1958 and 1959 Cleveland finals were interesting because of the two finalists. However, the field was weak, most of the other top pros (Sedgman, Rosewall, Trabert) away, and really it was the four-man pro championship tour in Cleveland during their travels through the American mid-west of small towns and high-school gyms. The Cleveland setting was a second-rate indoor facility.
    But of course, these two guys were the big show in pro tennis in the late 50's.
     
  22. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,063
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    In 1958, Gonzales beat Armando Vieira, Pancho Segura and then Lew Hoad. In the same tournament, Hoad beat Frank Parker and Tony Trabert before losing to Gonzales.

    In 1959, Gonzales beat Jerry DeWitts, Ashley Cooper and then Lew Hoad. In the same tournament, Hoad beat Bobby Riggs and Pancho Segura before losing to Gonzales.

    Players like Segura, Trabert, Riggs, Parker and Cooper are not bad players to beat.
     
  23. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    1,963
    That says it all.
    In 1958, the four-man pro championship tour consisted of Gonzales, Hoad, Trabert, Segura. Segoo and Trabert played a hth tour as the warmup to the Gonzales-Hoad matches.
    In 1959, the four-man consisted of Gonzales, Hoad, Cooper, and Anderson, playing a round-robin format.
    These were the players who showed up at Cleveland (except Segura in 1959).
    The Cleveland event was just part of the usual circuit the four-man visited.
     
  24. FedericRoma83

    FedericRoma83 Rookie

    Joined:
    May 6, 2012
    Messages:
    185
    The question is: even if they're still nominally Major, are they Majors in fact?

    To estabilish who is the stronger player, what is more important?
    A) take in account not-so-great events, only because some associations said they were "majors", even if only a small part of the great players played them;
    B) take in account the de-facto biggest events, possibly with a great tradition (Masters, WCT Finals) played by all the greatest players, even if the associations didn't say they were "majors"?

    Yes, theorically the Australian Open in 1981 was still a Major, but I think that you have to be totally unaware of tennis history to say this Johan Kriek victory is important in some way.
    Lendl's 1981 Masters win is the de facto fourth biggest win, and it's a Major: who cares about what ATP, USPLT or ILTF said?

    Australian Open 1981: weak field, just a few of the biggest players (no one from the top-3, no more than 4 from the top-10), small tournament (pratically the equivalent of what today is a 500 points tournament), definitely non influential on tennis hierarchies, no one between tennis experts take it in account.

    Masters 1981: all the 8 best players, big tournament with big prize and great television coverage, absolutely influential on tennis hierarchies, every tennis expert gives it big consideration.

    So, look at the facts: which one was the Major? The Australian Open? Come on...

    I mean: we are not here to discuss the associations' controversial statements, we are trying to decide which player was no. 1 in a particular year.
     
  25. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,063
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    In my view, those Australian Opens with weaker fields are still majors, while events like the WCT Dallas event and the Masters are big events, but not majors, even though they had stronger fields.

    Between 1981-1984, Lendl was getting criticised for not being able to win the big ones. This clearly didn't mean the Masters or the WCT Dallas events, as he had won those in 1982.
     
  26. FedericRoma83

    FedericRoma83 Rookie

    Joined:
    May 6, 2012
    Messages:
    185
    So do you basically think that Johan Kriek won more big tournaments than Lendl in 1981-82?

    It's your opinion, but... how can I say... it's wrong :)

    The Masters was considered a BIG event at the time, just watch the old matches and hear journalists' commentary.
    In 1986 I remember pretty well that one of the speakers said "this is equivalent to a Slam. If Boris Becker win, he will be 2-2 against Lendl and he would overtake him 4-1 in head-to-head matches: so if Boris Becker win, he's the world no. 1"

    Then luckily Lendl destroyed him and confirmed his domination. :)
     
  27. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,063
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    I know it was a BIG event, but not a major. And what about the criticism of Lendl about not being able to win the big ones? They were saying this after Lendl had already won the Masters and WCT Dallas events.

    These days, the 4 majors are the biggest events, have the best prize money, greatest 4 events of the year without question. In the 1970s and 1980s, because of the politics, the best run events or the events with the best prize money, were not always the 4 majors.

    Kriek won 2 majors in the 1981-1982 period while Lendl didn't win any, but Lendl was the better player. This is one of many reasons why Lendl got criticism about not being able to win the big ones. Players like Wilander and Kriek had a major, while Lendl didn't.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2012
  28. krosero

    krosero Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Messages:
    5,579
    It's a good point, but many continued to say this after Lendl won at RG for the first time. Which I think shows that the criticism of "can't win the big ones" is not entirely defined by whether or not the player has one of the traditional Slams in his pocket. It's a general criticism that the player has yet to really prove himself.
     
  29. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,344
    The question is, was the Masters one of the top four tournaments of the year? Was it more important than the Australian Open that year? I think it probably was. Is it a traditional major? No the Masters was not a traditional major but it may actually be the fourth most important tournament of the year. Can it sort of be considered a major by the standards of 1982?
     
  30. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,063
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    That's not the point though. Yes, the Masters was considered a bigger tournament but it wasn't one of the majors. That's the politics of the age. These days, the idea of a tournament being bigger than one of the majors, yet not being a major, is absurd. Back then, it was a reality.

    I just get the feeling that because today's game has the majors as the biggest events without any doubt at all, that people think the majors are always the events with the best fields when it comes to years from decades ago.
     
  31. krosero

    krosero Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Messages:
    5,579
    It probably was the fourth most important tournament of the year. Whether that elevates it to the level of the traditional majors is another question and difficult to decide, but there's no question it was a huge tournament. I think Sports Illustrated made a point of saying that Lendl had won his biggest tournament to date, or that he had finally made a breakthrough of some kind. I don't remember the exact quote.
     
  32. FedericRoma83

    FedericRoma83 Rookie

    Joined:
    May 6, 2012
    Messages:
    185
    No, it was the point!

    I repeat: are we here to choice the best player for any give year or to discuss what ATP and ITF declarations?

    Was the Masters a officially a major? No, it wasn't.
    Was the New York-era Masters the fourth biggest tournament, at least from 1977 to 1982? Yes.
    Can we consider it a substitute for the Australian Open, when we are going to choose the best players of these years? Yes.
    Did the journalists and tennis experts of the time consider it a "substitutive Major"? Definitely YES, as you can hear in a lot of comments of these old matches.

    I add: for the mid 70s it's same, you can take the WCT Finals. If you listen to the 1975 WCT Finals commentary you can hear the speaker saying "this victory is the first Arthur Ashe major since 1968". Guess what? He didn't consider the Australian Open 1970! This is how much the Aussie was considered a Major back then!
    The associations can say whatever they want, but the quality of a tournament is made by two things: the prestige of the event and the quality of the players that are part of the field!
    If one of these elements is missing, why the hell should we consider the tournament an effective Major?

    Johan Kriek won two Australian Open, we all know it, we are not trying to change history or to deny that he won them. We are just trying to say "well, he won two Australian Open, but in those days they were average tournaments, not important ones like today, we consider more important Lendl's victories at the Masters".
    What's so hard to understand?

    I repeat, is not a fact of what is official and what is not. It's a fact of being able to see the history of tennis from a certain prospective. Are you happy when you hear casual tennis fans say that Roy Emerson was better than Ken Rosewall because he won more Slam? I'm not, definitely.

    Here we have one hell of a tournament (early-mid 70s WCT Finals, late 70s-early 80s Masters) against a ATP-calls-it-a-Major-even-if-it-sucks tournament (the 1972-82 Australian Open, but the 1970 edition was very weak too): which one would you consider to understand who is stronger?
    Does Kriek's 1981-82 victories against Edmondson and Denton at the AO demonstrate that he was stronger than Lendl with his 1981-82 victories against Connors and McEnroe at the Masters?
    What demonstrates more power, to win a tournament where Vilas is the stronger player or a tournament where Vilas is the fourth-fifth stronger player?
     
  33. FedericRoma83

    FedericRoma83 Rookie

    Joined:
    May 6, 2012
    Messages:
    185
    oops... I've just read some embarassing grammatical mistakes in my last posts, I apologize for that! :D
     
  34. jean pierre

    jean pierre Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2006
    Messages:
    786

    Winning a grand slam, even if a lot of the best players were not present, is a great thing. Kriek had to win several matches in 5 sets, during 15 days, in a big stadium, with a lot of pressure. I think it's greater than a Masters.
     
  35. FedericRoma83

    FedericRoma83 Rookie

    Joined:
    May 6, 2012
    Messages:
    185
    I disagree, sorry.

    My consolation is that every serious journalist and tennis historian agrees with me. ;) Better said: I agree with them.
     
  36. kiki

    kiki Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    18,715
    I agree with both versions.Even if diminished, the guys that bother to fight their asses to win the Ao in the 70´s-early 80´s, be it Vilas,Newcombe,Connors.Kriek,Gerulaitis,Tanner, also Eddo and Teacher won a major.But Dallas and MSG were majors in themselves.Just look for the right balance.
     
  37. pc1

    pc1 Legend

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    9,344
    I see what you mean. I believe you are correct that some people may not understand that the traditional majors weren't always the most important tournaments with the best fields. Too much politics in those days and also a lot of the players wanted to get the big money after toiling so many years for pennies. The big price money wasn't always in the majors at that time. Tournaments like the WCT championship offered huge price money for the time.

    I would guess that if the situation were the same with the players of today they would miss a lot of majors by choice also aside from the ones they wouldn't be allowed to enter.
     
  38. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    4,450
    McEnroe - a case in point

    It's kind of sad where McEnroe falls in this. Back in the late 1970's/early 80's did he agonize over missing the Australian Open? At the same time, did he really think his accomplishments at the WCT Finals and the Masters were big deals? (I think the answer to these 2 questions are:- 'No he didn't' and 'Yes he did'). When you look at his career now - and people make the common mistake of judging an historical career by what is considered important now - one says - 'he only has 7 Slams'. But really in terms of what were important at the time with respect to 'major' titles he has significantly more than 7.

    The important point some are saying in this debate is - don't forget the historical achievements of past players, by falling into the habit of judging them by current standards. Instead judge them by the standards they were held to at the time they played.

    Sorry, the WCT finals and the Masters were a much bigger deal than the Australian Open in the 70's and early 80's. (Having said that I still think that the 1970, 1972-1982 (weak era) Australian open winners should be credited with major wins. You can't judge a tournament too much by fluctuating fields - otherwise you would have to not count Wimbledon 1972 and 1973 as a major).
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2012
  39. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    4,450
    The way ahead

    To me the solution is to use the Word 'And' rather than 'or'.

    Instead of debating whether the Australian Open or WCT finals/Masters were a major in the 1970's/early 80's and why not use the following concept:

    All Grand Slam tournaments are Majors

    Not all majors are Grand Slam tournaments

    So one could work out what tournaments were worthy of 'major' status outside the normal Grand Slam tournament eg WCT finals, Masters; and then give players the appropriate description as a result eg McEnroe won 7 Grand Slam tournaments and 15 Majors in all (5 WCT finals + 3 Masters). And keep that consistent - so it would be legitimate to say that Federer has won 16 Grand Slam tournament and 22 majors in all (with his 6 Masters Cups) as at May 2012. Also Kriek still gets credited with having 2 majors.

    Yes, that would scale a lot of players up - but it would give a more accurate picture of their accomplishments. (Because - let's face it the WCT finals and the Masters were regarded as being majors at the time on the 70's and 80's).

    Then the debate would only be on what tournaments deserve the 'Major' title that aren't part of the 4 traditional slams. (My initial suggestions are the World Hard Court championships + WCT finals + Masters Cup).
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2012
  40. krosero

    krosero Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Messages:
    5,579
    The problem I see with this is that it will leave many individual years in the 1970s and 80s with more than 4 majors. Then it becomes a problem comparing the greats of that time period with other eras in which players had, at most, 4 opportunities per year to play a major. You wouldn't be able to compare McEnroe fairly to Budge, or to Federer. You couldn't even compare him fairly to Laver.

    However I agree with you that not all majors are Grand Slam tournaments. The pro majors were obviously not Slams, but they were the majors of the pro tour; and not counting them as majors would leave large numbers of alltime greats, like Pancho and Trabert and Rosewall, playing numerous years without any majors at all.
     
  41. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    4,450
    Better that than what we have at the moment

    I feel that it is better to have more than 4 majors a year in some years compared to what we have at the moment which is that Pancho Gonzales only won 2 majors. Does that fairly represent his career? Should he be regarded as achieving similarly to Johan Kriek? I don't think the number 4 is sacrosanct. Yes, there is the issue of fairness but I think that is a far better situation than what we have at present.
     
  42. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,063
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    Gonzales is way above players like Kriek.

    Gonzales won 2 US Championships in a row as an amateur, but why would we ignore Gonzales' professional achievements? He won 7 world pro tours in a row against the toughest competitors, won 8 US Pros in 9 years, won 4 Wembley Pros (3 of which were consecutive) and won 3 Tournament of Champions in a row as well. If there's a criticism to make of Gonzales', it can only be his failure to win Wimbledon in 1949 and not winning the French Pro title. We can hardly criticise anything he did in the open era, as he was in his 40s by then.

    Gonzales the amateur seems a very different person, almost like an easy going Kuerten personality. His crushing loss to Jack Kramer on the 1950 world pro tour changed him as a person and he became a loner, a scowler, and a winning machine, and the sacrifices Gonzales made on top of what he felt was under payment for his profession, obviously made made him even more bitter and even more determined to carry on winning.

    It's a shame for him that open tennis didn't come in 1960, as it very nearly did.

    Pancho Segura and Hans Nusslein are other great professional players who had big achievements years before the open era. Segura did last until the open era, but he was 46 when it arrived and he had been in semi retirement for nearly 6 years by then.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2012
  43. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2004
    Messages:
    10,026
    Kriek's family would even agree. That's like comparing Green Day to the Beatles.
     
  44. krosero

    krosero Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2006
    Messages:
    5,579
    Pancho won far more than 2 majors, if his pro majors are counted -- and as I said, I have no problem with counting pro majors. What I'm referring to is when a player has more than 4 opportunities to play a major in a single year, which is how you gave McEnroe a total of 15 majors: by counting all his WCT Finals and Masters titles, on top of the Slams. Under that system, McEnroe gets as many as 6 opportunities per year to play a major. And that's inherently unfair to most players in tennis history, because in most eras, at least from the 1920s onward, no one had more than 4 opportunities to play a major in a single year.

    Pancho, for example, never had more than 4 opportunities per year. He either had opportunities to play amateur majors, or pro majors, but never both in the same year. Amateurs and pros played separately, so no one could win more than 4 majors per year.

    But you gave McEnroe 15 majors by counting all of his WCT Finals and Masters titles. That means in every year of his career he had 4 opportunities to win majors, at the Slams, plus two more opportunities in Dallas and New York. He gets to play 6 majors per year. That's inherently unfair to players from most other eras in tennis history -- at least since Tilden's era.

    That's why I think it's important to designate the 4 most important tournaments of the year, at most, as majors. It's not because there's anything sacroscant about the number 4, but simply because you can't compare champions from different eras unless you put them all on a level playing field.

    There's no way McEnroe is only 1 major behind Federer. McEnroe's number, like Federer's, has to be calculated from 4 opportunities per year -- if you're going to compare the two players in any meaningful sense.
     
  45. FedericRoma83

    FedericRoma83 Rookie

    Joined:
    May 6, 2012
    Messages:
    185
    Definitely agree.
    In my rankings the fourth Major is:
    WCT Finals from 1972 to 1976
    Masters from 1977 to 1982 (in 1977 the Masters went to New York and became a classic, staying there until 1989. In addition, that year its field slightly overtaken the WCT Finals in quality).
    [Translating that in numbers: McEnroe 8 Majors overall (7 Slam + 1978 Masters), Connors 8 (8 Slam, excluding the 1974 AO + 1977 Masters), Lendl 11 (8 Slam + 1981, 1982, 1986 Masters), Borg 14 (11 Slam + 1976 WCT Finals + 1979-80 Masters). Obviously this is only my personal vision, but I think it's pretty accurate]

    I really can not count the 1972-82 AO as an effective Major.
    I prefer to judge tournament's effective value, because my target is to estabilish who were the stronger players, not to give credit to the ATP foolishness.
    Watch its fields: they seem an equivalent to today's ATP 500 fields (even worse, because in the ATP 500 tournaments you can also find the no. 1 player sometimes, while back in 1972-82 only Connors in 1975 entered the tournament as the world no. 1).
    It was really a laughable tournament back in the days (no one of the sport commentators considered it. I repeat, just go and watch the WCT Finals 1975 movie, the speaker cleary said that it was Ashe's first major victory from 1968: he didn't mentioned the 1970 AO at all!
    They couldn't care less about AO in the 70s, that's history! No big money, no big fields, no big media coverage, nothing at all!)
     
  46. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,063
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    The 1975 Australian Open final was big, though, with Newcombe finally getting to meet Connors after it failed to materialise in 1974. And what's your view of the 1971 WCT Dallas event?

    I'm sorry, but I stick by my belief that the majors with weaker fields were due to the politics of the age, but they were still majors. The WCT Dallas and Masters events were big events that were more professionally run and up to date with open tennis, but they were not majors. But I also have no problem with someone using these big events to bolster a person's claim to a great calendar year.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2012
  47. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    4,450
    McEnroe vs Federer

    I wasn't saying that McEnroe (at 15) was 1 behind Federer. I said that Federer was on 22 (16 + 6 masters cups). And when you think about it - that's feels about right yes? 15 vs 22.
     
  48. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    4,450
    Yep

    I can understand that point of view. (I do think the 1972 and 1973 Wimbledon's should be counted as Major even though they had relatively weak fields). I don't agree with your view, but I understand the logic of what you are saying. My only question is why do you recognize Pro Majors as Majors but not WCT Finals and Masters Cup? Why do Pro Majors qualify but WCT finals and Masters Cup not?
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2012
  49. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    4,450
    1986 Masters - Lendl

    So you include 1986 Masters because there was no Australian that year - correct?

    I'd also be interested in your cut off date of 1977/1978 between the WCT finals and Masters. I know the 1978 WCT field was weaker. But that seemed an aberation. The WCT finals seemed to have great fields for many years afterwards eg consider the great final of 1983 between McEnroe and Lendl.

    For those who say 4 is the limit of majors per year - what do we do with 1977 - which Australian Open should count?
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2012
  50. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25,063
    Location:
    Cwmbran, Wales
    Because the professionals before the open era were forbidden to play at the Australian Championships, French Championships, Wimbledon and the US Championships, which were amateur only tournaments.

    The WCT Dallas and Masters events are year-end championships. Okay, they were much bigger back in their heyday than they later became, but the four majors of amateur/open tennis have always been the Australian, French, Wimbledon and US going back to 1924/1925.

    Although, it's also true that the contracted professionals missed many majors in the early 1970s for one reason or another, usually due to disputes the WCT had with the ILTF, or the issues the ATP players had with the ILTF, or WTT vs. the French Tennis Federation, but the personal opportunity for an individual to enter was always there. That wasn't the case before the open era, where if a player turned professional, he had burned all his bridges with the tennis mainstream (i.e. amateur tennis). They were fighting for their professional lives back then.

    When Gonzales was thrashed 96-27 by Kramer in the 1950 world pro tour, the promotor, Bobby Riggs, told Gonzales that he was "dead meat" as an attraction for future tours, and that he didn't want Gonzales near future tours. Gonzales could have crumbled under that pressure, and he couldn't have gone back to the amateurs because all the bridges had been burned. He would either fold, or play in some tournaments and patiently wait another chance. When it eventually arrived, Gonzales made sure he'd never fail again. Other players, like Ashley Cooper, didn't respond quite so positively.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2012

Share This Page