Originally Posted by NonP
Howdy, folks. Hope y'all have been enjoying the AO so far.
I just wanted to do some thread maintenance and hopefully expand and revise the current list a bit. Here's where we stand right now:
Honorary mentions: Tilden, Vines, Kramer
So the roster remains the same as before. The million-$ question is which of the following names should be added to it.
These I believe should belong somewhere on the list or at least deserve an honorary mention:
I'm also willing to add these names or think a good case can be made for their inclusion:
And I'm leaving out these names unless one can play a convincing devil's advocate (remember, we're trying to rank the best of the best): Borg, Denton, Sadri, Lendl, Leconte, Warner, Goellner, Rafter, Dent, Federer.
Of the old-timers I think Fraser may deserve an honorable mention. Doeg and Roche, not so much. I’m still undecided on Ashe, Dibley, Smith and Vijay Amritraj.
Maybe this post above by krosero could move this debate forward a little:
Do you guys agree? Feel free to weigh in on this and more.
And for the record, I’ve seen that a lot of you have put Sampras at or near the top. Let me say I don’t actually disagree. Pete sure had a complete package, and if I had to pick one player to serve for that ultimate match I'd probably go with Sampras myself. I just think that, as a pure stand-alone shot, Goran’s and Ivo’s serve is better.
Now there are a few areas where Pete is superior, including his matchless 2nd serve and clutch (though I’d say the latter has more to do with his mental strength than his service mechanics per se). And there’s the phenomenal amount of spin (topspin in particular) he put on his serves, which not only made the ball at the time of the return higher and heavier but also sometimes made it all but impossible to return. If you carefully observe some of Sampras’ serves down the T on the ad side you can see the ball clearly moving away from the returner by as many as three feet after it hits the ground. Just imagine how demoralizing it must be, especially on a break point, for the returner to guess correctly where the serve is going but still be unable to make the slightest contact with the ball. That’s what Sampras’ opponents had to endure when he smacked cannonballs right on the center line onto the ad court. They knew it was coming but there was nothing they could do about it. Having said all that, I still think Goran’s and Ivo’s serve can bring more heat and do more damage as a stand-alone shot, and Sampras himself has admitted this (regarding Goran’s).
Top notch post.
Just a few comments. Pancho Gonzalez deserves a bit more than an honorable mention since so many have considered his serve not just the best of his time but the greatest ever. He had a very smooth effortless motion that allowed him to serve as powerfully in the fifth set as he would in the first set.
John Newcombe's serve was clearly the best of his time and very comparable to Sampras' serve, both first and second although I would gave Sampras only a slight edge. Where he belongs, I don't know but it was a superb serve. Incidentally it was far superior to Edberg's serve. Newcombe's kick second serve was legendary and the power on his first serve was superior to Edberg's also.
If we use a common foe in Jimmy Connors as an example. Newcombe played Connors in the 1973 US Open quarters and did not lose his serve once. I'm not sure if Connors even had a break point and Newcombe served a ton of aces against a Connors who I believe was at his prime or near his prime. It was a typical serving exhibition by Newcombe. Connors had a lot of problems returning the great serve of Newcombe. Connors later was able to defeat Newcombe but Newcombe was no longer serious about his tennis anymore and was over the hill.
Now Edberg, while he had an excellent serve, really relied more on his super volley to win his service games. Edberg played Connors numerous times and according to the ITF website, they were tied at six matches apiece. That's besides the point. The reason I believe Connors was so successful against Edberg, despite the fact Connors was not in his prime anymore was that Connors was able to return Edberg's serve very well despite the fact Edberg was in his prime.
It's very clear to me that Newcombe had a much superior serve than Edberg.
Yes I know there are a lot of possible flaws to this logic but I have seen some of these matches and I believe these are the reasons behind it.