Originally Posted by urban
Speculative question, and so a speculative answer. In the 90s there were many more clay specialists. So the draws would be much deeper. If i look at draws of some years by Courier or Kuerten, they had to beat a seasoned clay courter in any round from the first round onwards. So while i think, that from potential Federer and Djokovic were better than some RG winners like say Chang or Moya, it would be up to see, how they would react to 7 rounds of continuous clay battles at best of five. Rios for instance was beaten at RG not so much by a single player, but by the cumulative efforts of a dangerous row of clay courters, like Costa, Corretja and so on.
However, none of those claycourt specialist were as good as Nadal and Federer. And Djokovic can make a case to be better than almost all of them. So the big 3 today, are superior to anyone or 99% of those in the 90s and 80s. And, Ferrer is extremely underrated because he's had to deal with those big 3, and he would have been able to take care of the traditional golden retrievers. People forget how defensive the clay game was in the 1990s and earlier. And the balls were far slower in the 90s. In fact, the balls in 2011 were faster than anything we've ever seen at Roland Garros.