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Old 07-14-2011, 05:13 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by John123 View Post
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.
I'd agree as has been stated in the past in the 60s, 70s and early 80s a tally count of majors wasn't really ever a huge deal. As in Australia was skipped a lot, France for a while as well. Wimbledon and US were the only two that I could say for all of the the open era were steadily played with exception to Wimbledon 73. I would go as to argue in the mid 80s to late 80s players even valued winning a complete set maybe a bit more. Lendl skipped his best major and even stopped focusing on it for the later part of his career in a never ending quest to win a wimbledon. The tally wasn't as important as the prestige of having won wimbledon. Mind you back then he didn't even seem to care so much about Australia as up until probably the start of the 90s the three biggest tournaments in the world were Wimbeldon, US and French. Australia was still just starting to catch on.

Originally Posted by John123 View Post
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.
Here is where I agree and disagree. Where I will agree with you winning a pro major is not the same as winning an open era major at the time I feel the amateur majors were much further off. Most of the amateur majors were played on pretty fast surfaces, sure Aussie grass was a bit slower than wimbledon but it still was a quick surface and with only one being played on clay that's still not a wide variety. I'm going to make my case against point 3 cause I agree with 2 in a second..

Originally Posted by John123 View Post
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.
My whole disagreement with this is when open era came about it was the pros who dominated until the young guys matured. The amateurs were very good players, but the cream of the crop were low top 10 at best with exceptions to Newk and Emerson, Newk was probably a top 5 at his best and Emerson as well. Though I'm shaky no Emerson as when the open era came around he vanished. The only big time amateurs who had real success in the open era was Newk and Roche to an extent. In the early years of the open era, Laver, Rosewall, Gimeno. I would say Roche and Newk had some good success but none of the amateurs ever were able to really control the tour with the exception to Ashe (who played very little amateur tennis and hit is prime in the open era) same goes Stan Smith. Soon enough younger new guys took over like Ashe, Smith, Nastase, Kodes leading into then Borg, Connors and Mac.

Originally Posted by John123 View Post
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
This is where again I am sorry I have to greatly disagree and this where your logic now is confusing me. Seppi in the 1950s would stand no chance at winning any major pro or amateur, yet you rank Olmedo to his level. You would argue than in 1959 Olmedo would be in contention for the top as you said above top amateurs were top players. Seppi was a player who never even made it into the top 25 let alone top 10. Olmedo in 1967 is the equivalent to say Hewitt but not Seppi. Sure I'll be first to say amateur majors had less competition than pro majors, but anyone who won multiple of either majors in a single year was top 10 for that season and if you won two I'd make a case for you being top 5. A guy who had numerous success on the pro tour and beat a couple of the big guys. He was by no means a seppi. He was easily a top 5 player from 58-62 and then a steady top 20 guy post that. Sounds more like a Hewitt, Nalbandian, Davydenko type than a Seppi.

Ayala is Chela, but then this just makes your argument seem even more stange. You argue that these guys are top players than make them into nothings. Ayala won 2 French Championships. Ayala is easily more of the Ferrer, Corretja, Robredo, Costa type than the Chela type.

I can agree with almost everyone else though Stole might be a bit underrated and Mackay might be a bit overrated...

Originally Posted by John123 View Post
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
I can agree with you there, but at the same time when equating important tournaments won pro majors should tally. Weigh them less figure out something, which is why in the earlier years I go by dominace of the tour, ranking, etc. However I would say Open majors > Pro Majors > Amateur majors. There is a reason there are tons of guy who won Amateur majors and then went pro and could never grab a pro major, it was still a level above that field at the moment. As you above compared some guys who won amateur majors to Seppi, Monfils and Chela shows that at that point in time the pro majors were truly the greater accomplishment. Yes they are not the same as the open era majors, but they were the best in their time.

Besides even when looking at open era majors a major nowdays can be looked upon as easier than won in the mid 80s to mid 90s. Just think about wimbledon before they starting seeding the top 32. Imagine a wimbledon draw this year that just went

R1: Del Potro
R2: Isner
R3: Llodra
R4: Tsonga
QF: Roddick
SF: Murray/Fed
F: Nadal/Djok

That is potentially the draw a player could have faced if they did not seed the top 32 players..and only the top 16...I feel the early rounds of majors have become a bit of a snoozish because you get all the top guys into a good rhythm before they have to play each other. However if it's your first match of the year at wimbledon and you say are ranked 8 and draw the ranked 17 guy who just missed being seeded, yea the later rounds might *lack depth* but by the QFs you'll probably still wind up with most of the top 10 and two or three upsets. However top players would be more challenged.

Last edited by egn; 07-14-2011 at 05:18 AM.
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