Originally Posted by krosero
As TheFifthSet pointed out, the big Four have won 31 of the last 32 majors. That's an extreme case but it shows just how much a small group of players can lock up the majors, even when facing full fields.
Your list of upsets is relevant but there is no way to know whether the upset players would have won those majors, if they had won those matches. If Sampras had not faced Krajicek, I think he probably would have won the event. Nadal if he had not faced Rosol, I'm not sure.
Federer, if he had not faced Del Potro in the USO final, would have faced Nadal whom Delpo beat in the semis; and at that time I think Federer would have beaten Nadal; but the principle there is still true, he could have lost.
It's complicated because, yeah, in an open field, Laver might get upset in an early round. But then again one of his big rivals who's been beating him might be the one to get upset (like Nadal was eliminated by Soderling), clearing his way to the title.
I'm not saying you're wrong, I just think that if you imagine open fields for Laver, his major haul might be lower, or the same, or even higher than it actually is. I'm sure you're wondering how it might be higher, but the reason is that in an open field Laver would have 4 chances every year to win majors. In reality he won a lot of his majors with only 3 chances per year (from 1963-67).
Totally logical post.
Another thing I would like to point out is that it's basically mandatory for the players to play all four majors nowadays. It was not mandatory years ago so just about every top player skipped the Australian Open in the late 1970's to part of the 1980's. There were boycotts and often some majors would banned some players (like those who played World Team Tennis) from playing in their tournament. Laver's group couldn't play the Australian and French in 1970 for some reason, I think it may have been price money. Bottom line is that if you have more opportunities to play the majors you have a greater chance to win more majors, especially if you're a top player like Laver, Rosewall or John Newcombe. I think Newcombe had a great chance to win Wimbledon in several years but he couldn't play the tournament.
Also you must consider that the old pros couldn't play the majors for decades because pros were not allowed to play the majors. Greats like Tilden, Budge, Gonzalez, Rosewall, Kramer and Laver were hurt by this. I believe Tilden who was virtually unbeatable in the 1920's would have won several calendar year Grand Slams and his majors total easily would have been in the mid to high twenties area in my opinion. Tilden was hampered by the travel conditions of his day which only boat travel was available easily and it would have taken many weeks to travel to Wimbledon for example. He would be exhausted and out of shape. Despite that he still won several Wimbledons.
Gonzalez played at a high level for over twenty years. He was still winning tournaments into his forties. How many majors would he have won? This is the same with Ken Rosewall.
Right now Roger Federer has won 17 majors. That's an excellent number but we have to take it into context when we point out he won those majors in 54 attempts. Sampras, who used to hold the record won his 14 majors in 52 attempts. Considering the times I would tend to think that Federer must win a number of majors more in order for his record to be safe for a while. I think at 17 it is very vulnerable to being broken sometime in the near future. I can't see it lasting as long as the Joe DiMaggio consecutive game hitting streak for example which is over 70 years old. To put it in perspective, the Women have always been allowed to play all the majors and despite some boycotts and bans many women like Court, Graf, Evert and Navratilova have won over 17 majors. So I would tend to think Federer has to put the total into the twenties to keep it safe for a little while.
Remember the fixed number of majors is important but perhaps even more important is the amount of majors played and the winning percentage of majors win to majors entered.