Originally Posted by pc1
So many choices for top level play. Question to ask, can Federer really have a top peak level for one match if you may favor at least one current player over him on many surfaces even when playing his best? To me peak level means no matter what an opponent does, the inevitable loss will happen whether you hit to the forehand, backhand, use junk or anything else.
A good example of this is how Arthur Ashe described Rod Laver from his superb book "Arthur Ashe-Protrait in Motion." "When Laver goes on one of those tears, it's just ridiculous. He starts hitting the lines, and then he starts hitting the lines harder--and harder and harder. NO ONE CAN STOP HIM."
The key words to me here is "No one can stop him."
Now if you argue for a year or a few years, I can go with that for Federer. But if you argue that then clearly Tilden, Borg, Gonzalez, Rosewall and a number of others belong in the equation.
Since many players argue for one match for their life they would pick Pancho Gonzalez I think you may have to put him in the peak level for one match category too.
The thing is, as you say, there are so many choices for top level of play. There are several champions who have achieved performances that qualify as candidates for "best tennis ever", and you listed some of them. All of them could stop one another, or at least that's what you would expect: you'd expect close matches if the best of the best met at their respective peaks.
The only person who could qualify as a "must-win," no matter who faces him, is someone who can play at a level above everyone else in history. I guess Lew Hoad is a candidate for that level of play.
But the other champions can beat each other. Laver can go on those tears and thoroughly dominate Ashe or other players, but if he meets Pancho Gonzalez at his best, or Ken Rosewall at his best, he might lose. Especially if you vary the surfaces.
Anyway Federer has gone on many such tears. I think when he beat Nadal at Indian Wells this year, Pmac said during one of Federer's best patches that when he gets into that form he's unplayable.