Thanks for the informative response, Data. I was edging toward giving the pre-Gonzales greats honorary mentions, and now I believe that's the best way to give them their due without rampant speculation.
And I really don't disagree with you one bit here:
Originally Posted by Datacipher
I would say, that their biomechanics, as well as the speed ratings we do have, and the fact that a good wood server can come within a few mph's of what he can do with graphite convinces me that, while they may not have had such an aggressive (ace on every first serve) mindset, they could bring the heat, in a way very comparable to today's players, when they wished. Don't let the hype about improvements in mechanics fool you. It's largely unscientific gibberish. The really important fundamentals haven't changed...they're a function of the human body....and the greatest servers always had them. In fact, if anything, I think efficiency has gone downwards, as we went towards more of a big knee bend, pause, big leap phase, rather the continuous, relaxed motion. The former is more efficient in terms of energy used, though ultimately the outcome is probably almost identical when maximized! Some players, like Vijay Amitraj, thought that players of his era, who tended towards low ball tosses with quicker motions were more deceptive (he compared it to Krajicek in one interview), and of course, Goran, arthurs, Tanner, Curren, and many others have been among the most difficult to read. I recall even Agassi saying Leconte's low ball toss, quick motion was hard to read. But again, I think ultimately a great outcome can be achieved with any of these styles....as the varied greats demonstrate!
I tell ya, I can't help but chuckle when I see the ignorant (not just on this board, alas) go on and on about how the supposedly "advanced" training, technology and nutrition have made today's players superhuman athletes compared to yesterday's. It'd help a lot if some of the prominent journos and pundits started debunking or at least challenging this myth, but unfortunately they're often the very ones riding the bandwagon. Not an encouraging situation, I must say.
Also speaking of Leconte, I can't believe I almost forgot about his fellow countryman Noah. Pretty surprising that no one has mentioned him yet. I'll definitely include his name in my next post.