Originally Posted by Mustard
Gonzales turned professional in late 1949. He was an amateur from 1947-1949. It was the professional game that Gonzales dominated for so long.
Gonzales was never toppled as world number 1, so if you have to choose a single world number 1 from 1954-1961, it is Gonzales, IMO, despite strong challenges from players like Segura, Sedgman, Rosewall and Hoad, not to mention other good players like McGregor, Trabert, Anderson, Cooper, Olmedo, MacKay, Gimeno etc.
Ok in this page
Hoodjem said Gonzales has "only" 6 years ending number 1 (1952, 1954-1957 and 1958 co-number 1
with Sedgman). It does not sound better than Sampras, right?
So, he had 6 or 8 years ending number 1? I want to ask. Because it seems even old times can not decide what really happen in the pre-open era.
Here is the fact: In 1960, Gonzales was called co-number 1, equally to Ken Rosewall. But that year Gonzales did not win anything important and he played only few months. He retired in May 1960 (of course he came back for money). A player retired in May called co-number 1 is a really embarrassment for pre-open era.
In the professional tour he had something like that: he played 100 matches with Tony Trabert in 1956 alone, 87 matches with Lew Hoad in 1958 alone, 80 matches with Rosewall in 1957,... What conclusion we can get from such information? He played his entire tour life with a so small bunch of tennis players.
Yes he beat them. Yes he was better than them all. But number of his opponent was so small that it does not mean anything. You spent one whole year just to play with one, two, three guys. Why this thing could happen? Because no one played tennis back then. That is it. Pancho Gonzales was the undisputed king of handicap tennis world that should not be mentioned in the same league with today's kings.
The same thing happens with every professional player. They won every thing because...no one else played tennis beside them. "No one" is a strong word but you got what I mean.
Laver won 200 tournaments. The only big tournament he never won was the WCT Dallas tournament, finishing runner-up to Rosewall in both 1971 and 1972. And the reason Federer cannot match Laver for number of tournaments won is mostly because of the number of hardcourt tournaments in modern tennis, which shorten careers. In Laver's time, grass, clay, carpet and wood predominated by some margin.
Laver is a interesting case. No, the reason why Laver won so much because there were so much small tournaments in his era, tournament with 4- 8 participants. In wiki I saw this article:
Rod Laver won: 1968, NTL 4 man event Sao Paulo, Brazil; 1968, Sao Paulo, Brazil (4-man round robin), 1971, CBS Classic (4-man), Hilton Head, South Carolina, U.S...
Federer is unlucky guy, born at the wrong time. How lucky Laver was, he won a bunch of ridiculously small tournaments that he could be so proud of.