At least two posters have said that a Masters tournament in January should not count for the previous calendar year, and I can't think of a better thread to debate that question.
In '83 it's critical, because if the Masters is counted as the true fourth major, then McEnroe has two majors, Wilander only one. I've already shown that a lot of people saw that tournament as huge -- and it was indisputably the biggest tournament indoors, which is an important thing to look at (particularly if Mats gets credit, as he often does, for his surface variety that year; you've also got to look at his weak surfaces).
Even it's it's only the fifth biggest tournament, that's a lot of weight in McEnroe's corner.
I'm going to make the case that a January Masters did count for the previous calendar year and that we should count it that way, but it's debateable. The ITF lists the Masters tournament of January 1984, for example, as 1984. The ATP counts it as the 1983 Masters -- and Bud Collins in his book continues to treat those Masters tournaments from January as counting for the previous calendar year.
The calendar by itself is not a decisive argument, because some Australian Opens have started in December and carried over into January. I know the 1975 final was played on New Year's Day. So just because most of the tournament was played in 1974, does not mean that that the first six rounds should be left as part of 1974 season. It was clearly a 1975 tournament: the calendar by itself can't definitely decide what season a tournament belongs to.
The problem I have with counting the January 1984 Masters as part of the 1984 season is that the players themselves went into it thinking that it could potentially settle the question of #1 for 1983. It was thought of as a season-ending championship, even if there were questions about its exact importance (it did not count in the computer rankings, for example). And a season-ending championship is what the Masters was earlier when it was held in December; that's what the tournament's successor is today, a season-ending event. Is the date of January by itself enough to make those few editions in the late 70s and 80s into season-opening championships? Not in my opinion.
And if we do treat them as season-openers according to our own choice, what I'd like to see is some source from the time that did the same. Did anyone go into the January 1984 Masters thinking that it had no bearing on the 1983 season, that the new season was simply getting underway? That would be important to know, because if Wilander, for example, thought that way, then his loss to McEnroe takes on a new light.
However that would not change the fact that both McEnroe and Wilander knew that they were in a tight race; they knew that for a lot of people (at least) the Masters was part of the 1983 season and would decide which of them was #1. So even if someone played the tournament thinking it wasn't important, that would not change the fact that expectations were on him from other people. The pressure was there, regardless of what any single player thought.
So I'd like to see more sources about the Masters, from that time period.
Last edited by krosero; 11-02-2009 at 10:37 AM.