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McEnroeisanartist 11-29-2006 09:00 AM

McEnroe and "true" grand slam total
 
Even though, I am only 22, I recognize that up until about the late-1980s, the Australian Open and French Open were considered nowhere near the prestige of Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Consequently, great players in the last 20 years who have been successful at the Australian Open (notably Wilander, Edberg, Agassi, and Lendl) and French Open (notably Wilander and Lendl) have had their grand slam totals inflated.

As talented and successful as John McEnroe was, it is suprising to many that he won "only" 7 grand slams, however, when one analyzes his championships
(3 wimbledons and 4 U.S. Opens) he is tied for 2nd place (with, of course, Connors and Federer) for most presigious grand slams in the Open Era.

Some tennis historians have suggested that up until the late-1980s, winning other non-grand slam tournaments (notably the now defunct Dallas WCT tournament played in Spring) was as difficult and impressive as winning a grand slam.

Consequently, for McEnroe, who won the Dallas WCT tournament 5 times (including final victories over Borg, Connors, and Lendl), his "true" grand slam total should actually be 12. What do you think?

Rabbit 11-29-2006 09:01 AM

Nope. IMO, it is more impressive that Borg won 11 which consisted solely of the French and Wimbleond AND that he won the French and Wimbledon back to back more than once; a feat which has never been duplicated in Open tennis.

And, I truly don't think the WCT could ever be referenced as a venue equal to a Grand Slam. Those tournaments were usually 8 player events I think.

drakulie 11-29-2006 09:03 AM

When you take into acount what he did in singles and doubles, I agree his accomplishments as a all-around tennis player are far more impressive than many other tennis players such as Agassi, Sampras, Lendl, Ederg, Wilander, etc.

Zuras 11-29-2006 09:13 AM

The FO was less(it still is less), but not by that much. The AO was always the most neglected and least competitive compared to the other three by a significant margin. It still is today, though the differences are fairly small now between the slams.

Moose Malloy 11-29-2006 09:22 AM

Quote:

And, I truly don't think the WCT could ever be referenced as a venue equal to a Grand Slam. Those tournaments were usually 8 player events I think.
McEnroeisanartist is right, the WCT Dallas event was bigger in significance in the 70s than either Australia or Roland Garros. It offered considerably more prize money & attracted considerably better players, even though it was only an 8 player field(best of 5 throughout though)
Remember, Laver-Rosewall in the '72 WCT Final is probably the most significant match in television history(it made tennis a viable option for television)

When Newcombe won the '74 WCT Finals he called it the biggest win of his career(& he had won many majors at the time)

That's what's tricky about this GOAT stuff, standards of greatness are different in other eras.

Borg & Evert, arguably the 2 greatest claycourters ever, both skipped the French once during their prime years in order to play WTT.
Clearly the French did not has as much significance as it does today(which isn't to say Borg's achievement isn't amazing, just on a purely tennis level, but even he would say that his Wimbledons were a far bigger deal at the time than his FOs. He never fell to the ground after winning a French. Also he was in tears after losing to Newcombe in the '74 WCT Finals, a rare show of emotion. I think we can at least agree that the WCT Dallas event was bigger then than any 'masters series' of today.

And that Dallas WCT event(on carpet) was held only a few weeks before the French in those days, which shows how hard it was to peak on different surfaces those day. Very poorly organized sport in those days, players' needs weren't valued.

Jack the Hack 11-29-2006 09:50 AM

I think the prestige of the French Open rose earlier than the Australian, which is one of the reasons why McEnroe was so distraught about his '84 loss to Lendl. After all, he did play the French 8 times between '77 and '88.

The Australian didn't get going on the same level as the other Slams until '88, when they moved it to the new stadium (on Rebound Ace instead of grass), went to a 128 member draw (instead of 64), and transistioned into the January timeslot (again). However, given that it was on grass until '88 and McEnroe was tutored by an Australian coach in his youth, you would think that he would have played there more often. The fact is that he did play in '83 (where he lost to Wilander in the semifinals) and '85 (where he lost 6-0 in the 5th set to Zivojinovic in the quarterfinals).

I do agree with drakulie that McEnroe's 70+ singles titles and 70+ doubles titles does appear to set him apart as an overall player. However, their are other similar "differential" type stats that others would use to argue that certian players are better than Mac. For instance:

Agassi, Connors, and Wilander are the only three players in history to win a Grand Slam singles title on hard, clay, and grass courts. (Wilander's '83 and '84 Australian wins were on grass, and he also won a Wimbledon doubles title in '86).

However, as Rabbit mentioned, none of this matters in a GOAT type discussion because of the accomplishments of Borg during the same era.

Bjorn99 11-29-2006 10:18 AM

Mcenroe didn't play any good players. Borg was a mental case by the time Mac showed up. Or cyborg. And the rest of the field stunk. Vitas was partied out, and everyone else was stuck in a seventies matrix of bad technique and equpiment.

Laver was the GOAT until Federer.

Jack the Hack 11-29-2006 10:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bjorn99 (Post 1092738)
Mcenroe didn't play any good players. Borg was a mental case by the time Mac showed up. Or cyborg. And the rest of the field stunk. Vitas was partied out, and everyone else was stuck in a seventies matrix of bad technique and equpiment.

Laver was the GOAT until Federer.

Interesting discount of three decades of tennis. You're basically saying that the entire Open era was a waste. Where does Sampras rate in that timeline between Laver and Federer?

LttlElvis 11-29-2006 10:36 AM

If you were a big tennis fanatic in the the 70s to early 80s, the Dallas WCT finals was an impressive tournament for the time. Personally, I would rank it higher than the Australian Open, just a notch below the French Open and Masters Finals in MSG, and lower than Wimbledon and USOpen.

You had the top players gunning it out in a round robin format.

To me, McEnroe winning it multiple times was close to as impressive as winning a slam event. Like Moose Malloy said, the timing of this tourney was terrible, but it was supposed to be somewhat of a maverick tour competing against the regular tour.

I remember seeing McEnroe, just dominate everyone in Dallas in '84. It was like he was toying with them. I still can't believe he lost the French Open that year.

If anyone ever saw McEnroe play live in '84, you would consider him the G.O.A.T. I have seen Federer, Sampras, Agassi play live, and I am still most impressed by McEnroe. Never saw Laver play in person.

laurie 11-29-2006 10:52 AM

Interesting discussion. I heard that in decades past the Italian Open was considered as important as the French Open.

Can anyone shed any light on this?

chicagohpch 11-29-2006 10:59 AM

McEnroe has no French Open titles, NOT because he did not go. He went 8 times and did not win it. It shows his game is crippled. Borg was more impressive in winning both French and Wimbleton. If Sampras had won a French Open, he would, WITHOUT DOUBT, have been the best player ever. McEnroe, in the history of tennis, will just be a clown because of his poor court behaviors. To put things in perspective, if he were not an American, he would have been hated by most tennis fans. He happened to be in an era Americans were enjoying a much better image in the world.

Grimjack 11-29-2006 11:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chicagohpch (Post 1092792)
McEnroe has no French Open titles, NOT because he did not go. He went 8 times and did not win it. It shows his game is crippled. Borg was more impressive in winning both French and Wimbleton. If Sampras had won a French Open, he would, WITHOUT DOUBT, have been the best player ever. McEnroe, in the history of tennis, will just be a clown because of his poor court behaviors. To put things in perspective, if he were not an American, he would have been hated by most tennis fans. He happened to be in an era Americans were enjoying a much better image in the world.

You hate us because of our freedom.

AAAA 11-29-2006 11:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by laurie (Post 1092782)
Interesting discussion. I heard that in decades past the Italian Open was considered as important as the French Open.

Can anyone shed any light on this?

I guess Sampras does have a French Open title, of sorts, after all.

Newsflash : History has been interpreted, Sampras has 15 slams.

laurie 11-29-2006 11:30 AM

What an extremely funny guy. Why don't you do an audition for Broadway?

Anyway, I was actually asking a serious question. I read in a book last year that The Italian Open was considered the premier clay tournament for some time in decades past. If anyone has any info on that I would like to hear.

Not schoolkids like AAAA.

Watcher 11-29-2006 11:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by McEnroeisanartist (Post 1092620)
he is tied for 2nd place (with, of course, Connors and Federer) for most presigious grand slams in the Open Era.


Excuse me? Pete Sampras has seven Wimbledons and five US Opens.

AAAA 11-29-2006 11:43 AM

What you really want to know is, was the Italian open the premier clay court event in 1996 when Pete won it. You want someone to say it was the premier event in 1996 so Pete can have his French Open title (of sorts).

laurie 11-29-2006 11:47 AM

Ok, why don't you guy and do your school homework. I see your mum allowed you to look at the Tennis warehouse site in your leisure time. But since you are not contributing anything but rubbish, I think you can go away and do your homework now.

Or, have you been drinking too much Tetleys Bitter recently? Do you have that alcoholic bevergae in the States? It tastes terrible but some people like it.

Besides this comic, does anyone else have any info?

Condoleezza 11-29-2006 11:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rabbit (Post 1092626)
Nope. IMO, it is more impressive that Borg won 11 which consisted solely of the French and Wimbleond AND that he won the French and Wimbledon back to back more than once; a feat which has never been duplicated in Open tennis. ....

Nonsense.
Graf did it in 1988, 1993, 1995, 1996.
Last time I checked that was in the open era.

Condi

LttlElvis 11-29-2006 11:54 AM

Laurie,

In the 70s, the Italian Open was a prestigious tournament. Probably just as big as the French Open at one time. It just didn't have a title as one of the Grand Slam tournaments, and the importance of the tournament has seemed to decline every year.

Moose Malloy 11-29-2006 12:01 PM

In the tennis hall of fame website, for older players, they list the Italian Open results for the players as well as their results at the majors.

Here are some comments from Mac that may help explain how different the tour was in his time:

"You know, we used to have a big tournament that was played in Dallas. It was maybe the biggest event other than the French and Wimbledon and the US Open and the Masters, and this was even considered as big or bigger than the Australian Open at the time. That went into the early part of May and that was indoors. So you only have like a turnaround of like three weeks. All these other tournaments were either after the US Open or just before the French. Like Rome used to be the week before the French. Some people probably weren't even born that are, you know -- a few people are here that know that the French Open has done a great job of becoming a bigger and bigger event. But when I first started playing, it was, you know -- the biggest priorities were Wimbledon and the US Open for me."

Q. In retrospect, did you give yourself the best chances to win in Paris?

JOHN McENROE: In retrospect, it would have been approached, you know, and prepared more for the clay courts, you know, if I was completely fanatical about tennis or was able to spend ten straight weeks in Europe, say. Sometimes you don't realize you're maybe more spoiled or you have to make even more sacrifices.

A couple times -- I was five points away from winning the French, so it's not as if I wasn't there. You know, the tournament was mine, I had it. The next year I lost in the semis, but I felt like, you know, I got unlucky there, too. I felt like I could have won that even. I didn't play in -- you know, I'm not going to bore you with details, but, yeah, the short answer is yes, I would have liked to have prepared more.

Q. You were serious for the French how many times, would you say?

JOHN McENROE: I mean, I thought I was serious when I was first starting, but I'd say five or six maybe. But after having kids, it just seemed like it was really tough to stay away for a really long time. And then it was just difficult to, you know, figure out what to do exactly. That's what I had to deal with.

It's always easy to look back and go, "Yeah, yeah, I wish I had done that." It would have made sense, obviously. Times when, you know, I chose to go home to be with my family instead of, you know, playing some matches which I needed to play, I would have been much sharper.

http://www.asapsports.com/tennis/200.../051406JM.html

Q. We're on the eve of the Australian Open. The four slams are the big marquee events. Could you comment what do you like the very best about each of the slams and what do you like the very least?

JOHN McENROE: Well, I think the scheduling of the Australian Open is really weak ultimately. Some people don't mind it. I think training over Christmas and New Year's is something -- I mean, I just think this is another thing that is another important issue that's sort of been overlooked for many years. I don't know why.

Q. Best side of the Australian?

JOHN McENROE: The best part about it is the fact that they were the first people to put the roof over the top, to allow themselves to have the luxury of having matches played now on two courts. I think that's a great advantage to have. I think that they've done a great job improving their event. Until the mid '80s, I was offered guarantees to go to Australia. It wasn't in the same league.

http://www.asapsports.com/tennis/200.../011206JM.html

lol at the Australian giving out appearance fees to players. Don't forget, until a few years ago, the official title was the "Ford Australian Open." Doesn't sound that impressive, huh? And it used to be called the "Marlboro Australian Open"-not kidding.

Had Borg, Connors, Mac concentrated on winning as many majors as possible(they skipped quite a few during their prime) they'd all have a lot more. Prize money was a big deal in the 70s/80s to top players because it virtually exploded over night. You'd be stupid not to chase bucks, when that was what got the most attention, rather than winning the French in front of an empty stadium, which offered less prize money than some regular tour events. If suddenly the French or Australian cut their prize money in half, I wonder what those events would look like in ten years. The players would gradually lose interest, tv networks would cut coverage, etc.


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