Originally Posted by krosero
My own list would look very similar. From 1972 through '75 I think you could say the WCT Finals was the fourth most important tournament of the year, and maybe even higher.
After '75, though, I think there were other tournaments that were stronger. In '76, Philadelphia had 7 of the top ten players (including Borg and Connors), so it may have been the best-attended event of the year apart from the Big Three Slams. Dallas was missing 5 of the top ten (including #1 Connors).
Sure, but here I have to count another element: the prestige.
Philadelphia was amazing that year, as Sydney was in 1970, but they are not events comparable to the historical value of Masters and WCT Finals.
Counting Philadelphia as a substitute to a major would sound too arbitrary to me: I still prefer to choose between Masters and WCT, which are milestones in the history of tennis (obviously, I would have counted Philadelphia if WCT were totally depleted, but in my opinion they were still good, even if not perfect).
Anyway, this is only my interpretation, I think that your point of view is also definitely legitimate, and I agree that to choose the no. 1 we should also give credit to the Championship Series results: that's why I think that Connors has a big argument for 1976.
Mustard - The 1971 WCT Dallas event certainly seems bigger than the 1971 French Open. Heck, even 1971 Rome was probably bigger than the 1971 French Open. The 1971 French Open, however, is the only one of those 3 events to be a major. The politics of that era, I'm afraid.
Again? I've already admitted which ones were officially considered Majors and which one weren't. I've also reported you that I'm interested only in the tournaments' effective value (=prestige+good fields).
I don't know how many times I have to repeat that, I think my opinion is pretty clear... :P
About the 1971 French Open: it was a nice tournament, surely not big as the three other Slam that year, but not so bad. It was entered by four top-8: Smith (#1), Kodes (#5), Ashe (#7), Nastase (#8 ). The WCT Finals that year had five top-8, as they missed Smith, Kodes and Nastase.
Probably the best solution is to give them credit as semi-Majors, but as I said, WCT Finals in 1971 had some problems with media coverage: they would become THE event only in 1972. That's why in my personal view of tennis history, Roland Garros is still the 4th tournament that year.
Anyway, all that discussion definitely demonstrates how much tennis history is complicated and how many interpretations could be given, all with some solid arguments.
That's why I couldn't care less about what was official and what wasn't (even because ATP is always changing its mind... in 1990 the Grand Slam Cup wasn't official, in 2000 it was dismissed and became official... it's just laughable).
Gizo - Had Rios won the Australian Open final against Korda then 1998 would have been his year considering he won the titles at Indian Wells, Miami and Rome. Plus he won the Grand Slam Cup which was unofficial at the time but is now officially counted as part of his playing record.
Possibly you could give the year to Rafter as won 6 titles in total, including the Toronto-Cincinnati-US Open triple, and he won both of his matches against Sampras that year in Cincy and Flushing Meadows. Then again he did nothing significant at any of the other 3 slams.
Maybe 1998 was a tie between different players. A bizarre year and I don't think Sampras did enough to have that year all to himself. His level of play that year was significantly worse than his overall level during his 1993-1997 peak or his summer of 1999 resurgance.
This is a really nice post, I agree with everything you said.
To Sampras advantage: ATP official no. 1 in the chart, Wimbledon.
To Rafter advantage: 6 titles overall, including Rogers Cup, Cincinnati and US Open.
To Rios advantage: Grand Slam Cup, IW, Miami, Rome, Australian Open runner-up.
It's extremely difficult to choose. I probably would say Rafter at the very end, but I'm still sceptical because as you said he did poorly in the 3 slam out of 4.
I also agree with you about Rios: with the Australian Open victory, he would have been the undisputed 1998 no. 1 (what a great player he was!).