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Old 05-12-2012, 08:51 PM   #804
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 5,531

Originally Posted by FedericRoma83 View Post
You're correct, but the Australian Open in 1972-1982 in my opinion was much more depleted than the 1976 WCT. Moreover, even if partially depleted, the WCT had still a great media coverage that year, and a big money prize too (I think we have to consider the resonance of the event): we really can't say that about the 1972-82 Australian Open (less money, small resonance).

The AO fields ->
1972: Rosewall #3, Newcombe #4, no one else from the top-30
1973: Newcombe #2, Rosewall #6, no one else from the top-30
1974: Newcombe #2, Connors #3, Borg #18, no one else from the top-25
1975: Connors #1, Newcombe #2, no one else from the top-25
1976: Rosewall #6, Roche #12, Newcombe #20, no one else from the top-50
1977-A: only Vilas (#6) from the top-10 + Tanner, Ashe, Rosewall, Stockton (but no one of them was a top-10 at the time)
1977-B: only Gerulaitis from the top-10 (maybe Roscoe Tanner, I can't find his ranking at the end of 1977)
1978: only Vilas (#3) from the top-10
1979: only Vilas (#6) from the top-15
1980: Vilas (#4), Lendl (#6), Clerc (#8 ), Gerulaitis (#9) <- but despite the rankings, you have to agree that three of these players were not grass courters and we still have no one from the top-3.
1981: Vilas (#6), Tanner (#9), no one else from the top-10.
1982: Kriek (#10), no one else from the top-10.

As you can see, this were severely depleted fields (the only one which can be compared with the 1976 WCT Finals is the 1980 edition, but it was still worse)... on the contrary, when the field is only partially depleted, I still give to the prestige a higher credit.
For example, Wimbledon 1972 was a major in my opinion: five from the top-10, including the two stronger players of the year... add to that the Wimbledon prestige and you have a major (on the contrary, I don't consider the 1973 edition, with only one player from the top-10: I think that the difference is evident).
Anyway I also accept who propose Los Angeles for 1972: we don't have to be stiff.
We have some numbers, but there are a lot of ways to read them: some are unconvincing, some are good even with their differences. Your tennis history is definitely good. (Let me add that I'm honoured to write directly to the one who uploaded all these historical tennis videos on youtube!)
Well like you say, we don't have to be stiff about it, and that's really my main point about this. There's no need to be rigid about including the Masters and WCT Finals. I mean, what are we going to do, include the Masters as a major even in its first year (1970?), when it was just a set of round-robin matches? And include Dallas even as late as '88, when the tournament had long been in decline and the AO was back up to strength? Obviously we've got to be sensible and only pick those years when these tour-ending championships were genuinely strong.

But that's the whole problem right there. If we are going by strength of field, then why not pick a tournament like Philadelphia in those years when it clearly has a stronger field than Dallas?

Again your list is very close to what mine would be, so this is no great disagreement. But let me tell you how I think of it.

One, I would prefer to count the traditional Slams as majors, whenever it's sensible to do so. Even when they have moderately weak fields, they still carry a certain prestige and still present the unique challenge of 6 or 7 rounds to win. Arguably the only Slam events that don't make sense as majors are the AO's of the 70s and early 80s, in which often 80% or 90% of the top players were missing (in 1982 all top ten players were missing). And in fact during the weak AO years it was common to call Wimbledon, the USO and the French the "Big Three." So there's very much a precedent for dropping the AO and continuing to think of the remaining three as majors.

But if we take the step of dropping one of the Slams, placing strength of field over historical prestige, then I really don't want to pick a non-Slam tournament (Dallas) on the basis of prestige. If we're going outside of the Slams due to the problem of strength of field, then let's really go with the tournament that has the strongest field (Philadelphia). Going with the weaker field at Dallas, because of a prestige factor, just repeats the problem we have with the AO: we now have chosen yet another tournament that doesn't stack up as one of the best attended events of the year.

And in 1976 that's what I see, when Dallas is called a major and Philadelphia is not. I see Dallas getting that distinction merely because of its title; or because of great draws and matches that had taken place in Dallas in 1971-75.

Connors, arguably the greatest indoor player of the mid 70s, started playing Philadelphia in '76. That's when I think the tournament really hit top strength and was worthy of being called a major, with at least 6 rounds to play (7 for those who did not receive a bye). To me it is somewhat similar to the Lipton of the mid-80s which was a two-week event and was considered for a time as a kind of Slam.
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