Talk Tennis

Talk Tennis (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php)
-   Former Pro Player Talk (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/forumdisplay.php?f=37)
-   -   Please stop equating 1960s tournaments with Open Era majors (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=388691)

John123 07-12-2011 11:44 AM

Please stop equating 1960s tournaments with Open Era majors
 
When people want to argue for the greatness of present players like Federer or Sampras, they sometimes point to total victories of major tournaments (Wimbledon, FO, USO, AO), where Federer (16) and Sampras (14) top the list. This is an absurd argument, because those specific four tournaments didn’t always mean what they do today, for reasons that vary by era. To whatever degree that list matters, it matters only from the mid-1980s onward and can’t be used to compare recent players to those of earlier eras.

Similarly, when people want to argue for the greatness of past players like Laver or Rosewall, they sometimes point to total victories of the top tournaments from the professional tour of the 1960s. With all due respect, I believe that this too is completely wrong. Pro majors were different from Open majors, and they should not be treated the same way.

The three big differences between pro and Open majors are these:

1. From 1963-1967, all pro majors were played on fast surfaces.

2. Pro majors had fields of anywhere from 8 to 14 players, as opposed to 128 players.

3. Amateurs, who were among the world’s best players, could not compete in pro majors.


These things made it easier to win pro majors in bunches, which aided Laver and Rosewall in winning so many of them.

To be clear: You can only play who’s in front of you, and you can only play on the surfaces that are being used. It’s not Laver’s fault that things were like this in the mid-1960s. Also, Point #3 shouldn’t be overstated. The pro majors of the mid-1960s typically included 4 out of the 5 best players in the world, with only Roy Emerson missing. Emerson certainly wasn’t as good as Laver or Rosewall, though his absence did matter, as did the absence of other amateurs who were among the top 10 or top 15 players in the world.

To illustrate what pro majors were like, here’s an accounting of Laver’s major wins in 1967. I've supplied rough, theoretical 2011 equivalents of the opponents if Djokovic (the current #1) were substituted for Laver:

1. US Pro (field of 14): Laver beat Olmedo, Ayala, Stolle, and Gimeno
2011 equivalent: if Djokovic beat Seppi, Chela, Monfils, and Murray

2. Wimbledon Pro (field of eight): Laver beat Stolle, Gimeno, and Rosewall
2011 equivalent: if Djokovic beat Monfils, Murray, and Nadal

3. French Pro (field of 12): Laver beat MacKay, Stolle, and Gimeno
2011 equivalent: if Djokovic beat Malisse, Monfils, and Murray

4. Wembley Pro (field of 12): Laver beat MacKay, Davidson, and Rosewall
2011 equivalent: if Djokovic beat Malisse, Almagro, and Nadal



Bottom Line

Laver’s achievement in sweeping those four tournaments in 1967 was very impressive and significant, just as it would be very impressive and significant if Djokovic were to beat the equivalent players from 2011 in four important tournaments (two on grass and two on a fast indoor surface, with fields of 8 to 14 players) in a calendar year.

But that achievement was not nearly as impressive or significant as Laver’s achievement in 1969 of winning the Grand Slam.

The pro tour of the 1960s was terrific, and its best players were as great as those of any other era. But the right way to assess those players is not to count up majors from that era as if they were the same as majors of other eras. The 1960s majors were less difficult to sweep than Open majors from the mid-1980s to the present.

Pro majors ≠ Open majors

hoodjem 07-12-2011 12:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by John123 (Post 5831644)
1. From 1963-1967, all pro majors were played on fast surfaces.

Really? What was the surface at Wembley? Was it a carpet or a canvas laid down? (Just asking.)

John123 07-12-2011 01:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by hoodjem (Post 5831737)
Really? What was the surface at Wembley? Was it a carpet or a canvas laid down? (Just asking.)

Indoor wood, like the French Pro of the mid-1960s.

pc1 07-12-2011 01:28 PM

You may be correct but it's all debatable. Let's look at the first Open Era Open tournaments. The first Open era tournament was won by Ken Rosewall over Rod Laver. The first French Open was won by Ken Rosewall over Rod Laver. The first Wimbledon was won by Rod Laver over Tony Roche and Roche was a Pro. The first US Open was won by Arthur Ashe (technically an amateur) over Tom Okker. The first Australian Open was won by Rod Laver over Andres Gimeno, both pros. The second French Open was won by Rod Laver over Ken Rosewall, both pros. The second Wimbledon was won by Rod Laver over John Newcombe, both pros in 1968 although Newk (and Roche too) were amateurs in 1967. The second US Open was won by Laver over Tony Roche.

In 1970 Rosewall won the US Open over Tony Roche and was in the finals of Wimbledon. He also won the Australian in 1971 and 1972 over Ashe and Anderson respectively. There were also a number of boycotts in which Laver, Rosewall and company did not play the majors.

Gimeno won the French Open in 1972 in a relatively weak field. But Kodes won the French in 1970 and 1971. It's debatable whether Kodes would have won the French if Laver and Rosewall were in the tournament. Considering that Laver beat Kodes easily in the Italian Open final in 1971 I would tend to think that Laver or Rosewall would have been favored over Kodes even though Kodes was an excellent clay court player.

As you can see by the results, the pros did quite well in the majors. Actually the Pros from the 1960's dominated the early majors. They may as well been the Old Pro Majors considering the results. This happened regularly in those days.

A small field with greats I think would be preferable to a large field with weaker players. Think of it this way, the YEC has been ranked as about equivalent to majors in the past and clearly above the Australian for some years. The WCT championship was clearly considered a major although not a classic major. It only had an eight man field. Arthur Ashe was ranked number one in 1975 primarily on his Wimbledon win and his WCT win.

You have a point John123 but imagine a field in the 1950's with Hoad, Rosewall, Sedgman, Segura, Trabert and Gonzalez. All at or near their primes. Might be a small field, but it definitely is an awesome tournament.

TMF 07-12-2011 01:43 PM

The pro majors consist only 8 to 14 players vs. to today's 128 is a huge difference. Even today's smallest event(atp 250) consists of at least 32 players. I'm curious to know how many countries participated in the pro majors. The pro major event can only be use against Laver's era. B/c the way i see it is...if there's a bigger pool and more matches to play, the greater chance of getting eliminated. When you have 128 players, the best players and the one who brings their A game will march into deeper round. There's no fluke performance that a player can sneak in deep. You either a better player AND can't have a bad week. As appose to 8/14 players, suppose 6 of the players don't showed up or had a bad week, that would makes it easier for Laver. Sure it would.

And while we can't equate the 60s tournaments today's slam event, but on average, the tournament today has much more weight than in the 60s.

pc1 07-12-2011 01:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TMF (Post 5831890)
The pro majors consist only 8 to 14 players vs. to today's 128 is a huge difference. Even today's smallest event(atp 250) consists of at least 32 players. I'm curious to know how many countries participated in the pro majors. The pro major event can only be use against Laver's era. B/c the way i see it is...if there's a bigger pool and more matches to play, the greater chance of getting eliminated. When you have 128 players, the best players and the one who brings their A game will march into deeper round. There's no fluke performance that a player can sneak in deep. You either a better player AND can't have a bad week. As appose to 8/14 players, suppose 6 of the players don't showed up or had a bad week, that would makes it easier for Laver. Sure it would.

And while we can't equate the 60s tournaments today's slam event, but on average, the tournament today has much more weight than in the 60s.

So TMF, how do you rank the YEC currently?

Was the 1975 Australian Open more important or the 1975 WCT championship at that time?

I'm not going to point the direction in any way but to point out there are debatable points either way.

Limpinhitter 07-12-2011 02:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by John123 (Post 5831644)
* * *

1. From 1963-1967, all pro majors were played on fast surfaces.

2. Pro majors had fields of anywhere from 8 to 14 players, as opposed to 128 players.

3. Amateurs, who were among the world’s best players, could not compete in pro majors.[/u]

These things made it easier to win pro majors in bunches, which aided Laver and Rosewall in winning so many of them.

* * *

Pro majors ≠ Open majors

Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhh! (The wrong answer buzzer).

Sorry, but your analysis doesn't withstand scrutiny. I agree that pro events of the 60's aren't equivalent to majors. Pro events with 8-16 players were like playing a major starting in the round of 16 or quarter finals with only seeded players. No easy rounds with qualifiers and low ranked wannabees. When players like Gonzales, Rosewall and Laver dominated the pro tour, they dominated 16 of the best players in the world.

Limpinhitter 07-12-2011 02:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pc1 (Post 5831914)
So TMF, how do you rank the YEC currently?

Was the 1975 Australian Open more important or the 1975 WCT championship at that time?

I'm not going to point the direction in any way but to point out there are debatable points either way.

IMO, the WCT finals of the early 70's might have been the most important tournament in the of the year.

TMF 07-12-2011 02:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pc1 (Post 5831914)
So TMF, how do you rank the YEC currently?

Was the 1975 Australian Open more important or the 1975 WCT championship at that time?

I'm not going to point the direction in any way but to point out there are debatable points either way.

The YEC is still below the slam event b/c you must win 7 matches and it's a 5 setters. YEC only 8 players and I know what you are trying to say. But the 8 players that are selected is base on their performance throughout the year. Which means the best players in the world competiting.

I don't know about the 1975 AO. Did all the best players in the world competiting? Or were some just didn't take it seriously?

pc1 07-12-2011 02:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TMF (Post 5831979)
The YEC is still below the slam event b/c you must win 7 matches and it's a 5 setters. YEC only 8 players and I know what you are trying to say. But the 8 players that are selected is base on their performance throughout the year. Which means the best players in the world competiting.

I don't know about the 1975 AO. Did all the best players in the world competiting? Or were some just didn't take it seriously?

The WCT for years was considered one of the elite events and clearly in 1975 it was more prestigious than the Australian. For all intents and purposes it was really a major.

The Masters for much of the 1970's was also an elite event that the top players didn't want to skip.

My point is that size of the draw doesn't not necessarily equal prestige.
Here's a video of the 1975 WCT and notice at around the 4:30 mark Heston says the WCT Championship is this years first major. It had great prestige at the time.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5sBBFQfcNU

pc1 07-12-2011 04:29 PM

John123 raises some excellent points but I just wanted to write that size of draw doesn't necessary equal prestige and strength of draw. We could have an eight man tournament today with Nadal, Djokovic, Federer, Murray, Tsonga, Ferrer and some others and it would considered terrific. We could have a 128 man tournament without the aboved mentioned and it would be awful. Is the 1973 Wimbledon that Jan Kodes won really that impressive? It's a great accomplishment but with the player boycott it really wasn't as great as in the past years.

John Newcombe in 1974 was considered number one by perhaps most for the first half of the year. Why? The reason was that he won the WCT Championship and dominated the WCT tour. Jimmy Connors won the Australian and yet was not considered at that point to have as good a year as Newcombe. That changed later of course as Connors won Wimbledon and the US Open.

So is it so unreasonable that the old Pro Tour majors may be considered very strong and prestigious? Can we so casually say these tournaments aren't considered even close to majors?

World Beater 07-12-2011 04:47 PM

question: what did you need to do in order to gain entrance into the grand slam tournies of the 60's? Did you have to establish yourself in the qualies, challengers, futures, satillites? How did it work...was the overall competitve structure as hierarchial and large as today?

John123 07-12-2011 08:07 PM

Pc1 and Limpinhitter:

There's no question that the pro majors were significant tournaments, or that the pros were better than the amateurs. There's also no question that it was a very impressive feat for Laver to sweep those tournaments in 1967. The 1950s and 1960s produced fantastic tennis: I view Laver and Pancho as two of the greatest three players of the past 80 years.

But I started this thread to disagree with what I see a lot in this forum, which is the claim that pro majors were basically like starting a modern Slam in the quarters, with the top eight players. They most certainly were not like that. Just look at Laver's draws in 1967: he won 13 total matches to sweep the pro majors, and 5 of those matches were against guys who definitely weren't top-10 players in the world (most not even close), with another 3 matches against a guy who wasn't in the top 5. Of the five matches he did play against the best competition, three were against Gimeno, who is an analogue to Andy Murray: excellent, but never a guy who really challenged for #1 or won majors (excepting the 1972 FO over Proisy).

Still, it's a great feat. But not that great. Rosewall basically duplicated it in 1963, and Pancho would have done the same in the mid-1950s if the French Pro had been played on indoor wood (or maybe just played at all) then. It's no stretch to imagine Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic doing something like that at their respective peaks.

What no one else did, by contrast, is win the Grand Slam like Laver did in 1969. That was a much, much more important and difficult accomplishment.

John123 07-12-2011 08:34 PM

TMF:

Let's suppose you like Roger Federer and think he's really great. You'd be right -- he is really great -- and it would be ignorant for anyone to say otherwise.

Rod Laver was the Federer of his day. If you'd rooted for him during his era, then you'd probably feel the same way about him that you do about Federer. And that's how those who support him in this forum feel: they like him and think he's really great. And they're right -- he is really great -- and it would be ignorant for anyone to say otherwise.

No one needs to make arguments against Laver in order to argue how great Federer is. It is indisputable how great Federer is. And no one needs to make arguments against Federer to argue how great Laver is (a point that I wish some others here would take to heart). It is indisputable how great Laver is.

Really, the two have nothing to do with each other. Sure, I'm the worst person to make this point because I just put together a GOAT list that ranked them, but the point is still true. The best approach is probably just to say that they (along with Bill Tilden and Laurie Doherty, but no one else) were the greatest of their own times and as great as anyone from any other time.

Limpinhitter 07-12-2011 08:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by John123 (Post 5832732)
Pc1 and Limpinhitter:

There's no question that the pro majors were significant tournaments, or that the pros were better than the amateurs. There's also no question that it was a very impressive feat for Laver to sweep those tournaments in 1967. The 1950s and 1960s produced fantastic tennis: I view Laver and Pancho as two of the greatest three players of the past 80 years.

But I started this thread to disagree with what I see a lot in this forum, which is the claim that pro majors were basically like starting a modern Slam in the quarters, with the top eight players. They most certainly were not like that. Just look at Laver's draws in 1967: he won 13 total matches to sweep the pro majors, and 5 of those matches were against guys who definitely weren't top-10 players in the world (most not even close), with another 3 matches against a guy who wasn't in the top 5. Of the five matches he did play against the best competition, three were against Gimeno, who is an analogue to Andy Murray: excellent, but never a guy who really challenged for #1 or won majors (excepting the 1972 FO over Proisy).

Still, it's a great feat. But not that great. Rosewall basically duplicated it in 1963, and Pancho would have done the same in the mid-1950s if the French Pro had been played on indoor wood (or maybe just played at all) then. It's no stretch to imagine Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic doing something like that at their respective peaks.

What no one else did, by contrast, is win the Grand Slam like Laver did in 1969. That was a much, much more important and difficult accomplishment.

But, it isn't just what Laver did that made him so great. It's the way he did it. Here is part of one of my posts from the "greatest backhand" thread that I think will explain what I'm talking about. As you read this, remember that Laver used a Dunlop Maxply Fort.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Limpinhitter (Post 5697354)

Here are some excerpts from Rod Laver's Tennis Digest (1973), from an article entitled "The Rod Laver Game," by Julius Heldman, pg. 149, which confirms everyting I witnessed when I saw Laver play on several occasions. I hope you find it interesting.

"He is the only man today who can go through the last rounds of a major international tournament without dropping a set because he is the only player who can literally crush the opposition with his power."

* * *

"Rod swings at everything hard and fast. His timing, eye and wrist action are nothing short of miraculous. On either side, forehand or backhand, he takes a full roundhouse-loop crack at the ball, which comes back so hard it can knock the racket out of your hand. [An example can be seen in the Laver/Roche match at the 1969 AO SF which can be found on YouTube]. I saw Rod play Osuna in the semifinal at Forest Hills in 1962. It was murder. In the last game, Rafe bravely served and ran for the net. Rod cracked a backhand back full speed, free swing, so hard that Rafe's racket wavered in his hand. Not so amazing perhaps, but, the same scene was repeated four points in a row. Rod literally knocked Osuna down with four successive returns of serve, and Osuna was one of the quickest and best racket-handlers who ever played." [As was Roche].

* * *

"On the backhand side, Laver often uses a heavy underspin. Most players who come under the ball slow it up. Not so Rod; he is always moving in and hitting so hard that the shot is deep and attacking and has unusual pace. He often takes high backhands this way, but, he is just as liable to come over the ball with a tremendous wallop, ending with wrist turning the racket head over and the ball going with incredible speed and accuracy."

"From the ground, about the only shot that Rod does not clobber is a forehand underspin chip. I don't recall his using the shot much or at all when he was younger, but, as he matured he began occasionally to hold the ball on his racket with some underspin and place it carefully while he ran for the net. But, the next time he would literally jump and throw his racket at the ball with all the force he could muster, wrist and arm smapping over at the hit. The shot is unreturnable. It always ends the point, one way or the other, and you can never predict when lightning will strike, although you know it will be often."

"Volleying in top international tennis is more than technical proficiency. Rod is not a great low volleyer, but, he is merciless when he gets half a chance. He is competent on low balls . . . but he will cream any ball at waist level or higher. As time goes on, Laver takes fewer unecessary big swings at set-up high put-aways; he taps or punches them away. But, if he needs to, he can and does hit high volleys with all of his might as swinging drives or, on his backhand, sharp underspin angles as well. It is hard to believe a ball can be hit that hard and with that much angle, but Rod does it. No wonder he is the terror of all opponents."

"There is not an Aussie netrusher who does not have a great overhead to back his attack. Otherwise he would be lobbed to death. Rod has one of the best, quite flat, angled to his left sharply by preference but capable of being placed anywhere. While Rod is not tall, he is agile and leaps well and is hard to lob over. What is worse, if you do get a lob over him, he will run it down and, with a powerful stiff wrist, rifle a full loop past his helpless opponent. This happens so often that players have begun to say that they prefer to lob short to Rod, at least on his backhand. Actually, if Laver has a weakness, it is on his backhand overhead, on which he does err, but in a way that is silly: how are you going to get in position to play that shot to Rod often?"

* * *


NLBwell 07-12-2011 09:48 PM

You aren't giving Barry MacKay enough credit.

I like your analysis. Still, winning a 3 round tournament filled with guys like Nadal, Murray, Monfils, etc. is pretty impressive. I think in 90's and earlier when early round upsets were more common, playing a 128 draw was tougher, but these days with 32 seeds and everyone playing similar games on surfaces that are closer to medium in speed, the early rounds really are rarely a challenge.

pc1 07-13-2011 07:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by John123 (Post 5832783)
TMF:

Let's suppose you like Roger Federer and think he's really great. You'd be right -- he is really great -- and it would be ignorant for anyone to say otherwise.

Rod Laver was the Federer of his day. If you'd rooted for him during his era, then you'd probably feel the same way about him that you do about Federer. And that's how those who support him in this forum feel: they like him and think he's really great. And they're right -- he is really great -- and it would be ignorant for anyone to say otherwise.

No one needs to make arguments against Laver in order to argue how great Federer is. It is indisputable how great Federer is. And no one needs to make arguments against Federer to argue how great Laver is (a point that I wish some others here would take to heart). It is indisputable how great Laver is.

Really, the two have nothing to do with each other. Sure, I'm the worst person to make this point because I just put together a GOAT list that ranked them, but the point is still true. The best approach is probably just to say that they (along with Bill Tilden and Laurie Doherty, but no one else) were the greatest of their own times and as great as anyone from any other time.

Agreed. Federer is great. Laver was great. Every player has weaknesses and we don't have to lower another player to make another player look better. Both are fantastic.

John123 07-13-2011 08:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NLBwell (Post 5832898)
You aren't giving Barry MacKay enough credit.

I was hoping someone would bring this up! My reason is that in 1967, Barry was far past his prime.

Quote:

Originally Posted by NLBwell (Post 5832898)
I like your analysis.

Thanks!

Quote:

Originally Posted by NLBwell (Post 5832898)
Still, winning a 3 round tournament filled with guys like Nadal, Murray, Monfils, etc. is pretty impressive.

No doubt.

Quote:

Originally Posted by NLBwell (Post 5832898)
I think in 90's and earlier when early round upsets were more common, playing a 128 draw was tougher, but these days with 32 seeds and everyone playing similar games on surfaces that are closer to medium in speed, the early rounds really are rarely a challenge.

Maybe, maybe not. Nadal has had some close calls in early rounds (Kendrick at Wimbledon, Isner at the French), and I think Federer beat Tipsarevic 10-8 in the fifth set in the 3rd round of the Australian Open a few years ago. This is just off the top of my head. I think we should give the top guys of today some credit for how rarely they lose early.

Carsomyr 07-13-2011 09:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NLBwell (Post 5832898)
You aren't giving Barry MacKay enough credit.

I like your analysis. Still, winning a 3 round tournament filled with guys like Nadal, Murray, Monfils, etc. is pretty impressive. I think in 90's and earlier when early round upsets were more common, playing a 128 draw was tougher, but these days with 32 seeds and everyone playing similar games on surfaces that are closer to medium in speed, the early rounds really are rarely a challenge.

Really? Didn't Nadal just get taken to five sets in the first round at the French? Federer taken to five sets in the first round of Wimbledon the previous year? Nadal taken to five in both the second and third rounds of the same tournament? And as the OP pointed out, Federer's five-setter in the third of the 2008 Australian Open? His five-setter in the fourth round during his 2009 French title run? Even in his peak year of 2006, getting taken to five by Haas again in the fourth round?

TMF 07-13-2011 11:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Carsomyr (Post 5833865)
Really? Didn't Nadal just get taken to five sets in the first round at the French? Federer taken to five sets in the first round of Wimbledon the previous year? Nadal taken to five in both the second and third rounds of the same tournament? And as the OP pointed out, Federer's five-setter in the third of the 2008 Australian Open? His five-setter in the fourth round during his 2009 French title run? Even in his peak year of 2006, getting taken to five by Haas again in the fourth round?

Some people don't watch tennis these days.

I've said it before...if there's more athletes and countries competing on the tour, it's natural to have more quality players players in the draw. Of all the 128 best players made the slam draw, you can bet there's many more talented players that were left out. And these left out players could have easily qualify to play the slam from the previous era.

Just think of it..the more players trying to improve and fighting for the spot on the tour, the more difficult for a tennis player to make a living on the tour.

I heard that the average career for an NBA player's only lasted < 5 yrs. Why is that? Too many players around the world competing for the position.


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:51 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
© 2006 - Tennis Warehouse