Chopin, I hear what you are saying, believe me. I would agree that there is more overall depth in the game today. For example, there are more countries, such as Spain and Argentina who are producing a larger number of very good/great players, but that is besides the central point of my last post.
I am talking about who a top player must face in those final two rounds of slams only, not rounds 1-5. In that respect, I contend that most posters are overlooking this aspect when making the analysis as to who is the hypothetical "greatest player of all time". I don't think I can overemphasize enough just how difficult it was to beat BOTH Connors and McEnroe on a consistent basis in the Grand Slams. Only McEnroe really matched him head to head, and even in that case, Borg beat him in a GS final, at W, on arguably McEnroe's very best surface. Here is my central point in all this:
Just as Borg was not CLEARLY the greatest of all time without argument, arguments can be made for and against him having that hypothetical title. The same applies to Laver, Sampras, and yes, even to Federer.
I would like Laver, Sampras and Federer supporters for the hypothetical "greatest of all time" title to acknowledge this inescapable truth, that there ARE reasonable arguments to be made as to some other players, that's all.
It's like asking who was the "greatest politician" of all time. How would one answer such a question? Is there CLEARLY one right answer?
Well, the same thing applies in tennis. It's as much Art as Science. The analysis must be both quantitative and qualitative, and one must necessarily introduce a lot of theories, and subjectivity in order to try and answer such a question. So, let's recognize what this exercise is all about and acknowledge that no one has the indisputable "right" answer. It's just not that simple and we must all become comfortable with the uncertainty that is necessarily a part of this question. There are no easy answers here, but several viable ones.
In terms of "walking away" from the game, while that is technically true in the case of Borg, we both know that it's more complicated than that, in that there are also other things that are true about his "early" departure from tennis.
Yes, he "just walked away from the game" in a sense, but he was also facing burnout after about 10 years of playing a crazy schedule and facing court specialists galore, PLUS facing down an unreasonable governing body in Tennis that insisted on him continuing to play a heavy schedule and QUALIFY for grand slams potentially, instead of facilitating a temporarily lighter schedule. How would Federer have handled such a schedule for example? Would he have had the same success at GS tourneys if he had done so? Perhaps not.
Tennis' governing body did not work with him and in essence did the Game a great disservice, though Borg also made mistakes, no question. That still does not change my emphasis on peak performance rather than simple longevity when analyzing these greats.
I think you have brought up some excellent points, but I could argue that Federer also has several weaknesses when this analysis is done, as does Laver, as does Borg, as does Sampras.
No player can escape such criticisms, but as others have noted to be "the greatest of all time", without question, requires some monumental accomplishments over a sustained period. The fact that Federer has lost to Nadal at the last two GS finals on fast surfaces that are supposed to favor his game are chinks in his armor, just as Borg's departure is a weakness, just as Sampras' failure to win much on the slow stuff, just as Laver's supposed "physical limitations" compared to other great players are "chinks" in their armor.
Such credible arguments can be made against any of those four great players, so let's get used to such uncertainty and embrace it, and understand that in life, we tend to want an easy answer to everything, but that's just not reality.
Bjorn Borg defied analysis. No one could manufacture a man that won 6 French Open and 5 straight Wimbledon titles. - Andrew Longmore
Last edited by borg number one; 10-02-2009 at 05:19 PM.