Originally Posted by TomT
I think it can be argued that today's premier tennis players are generally more professional, stronger and fitter than those of the 1950s and 1960s. Maybe Hoad is an exception. Maybe Hoad was the fittest of his day, at his peak. Lots of maybes. So, let's call this even (and I think I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here) ... because I think that the pro tennis game that Federer has excelled in for the past decade is very much more physically demanding than the game that Hoad and his contemporaries played.
I don't think that the size of Hoad's playing arm really has anything to do with whether or not he would beat Federer. Players in those days had to develop muscles in their playing forearms because of the much heavier racquets and the conventional continental grip of the times. Federer's superior modern technique and comparatively lighter racquet simply doesn't require a huge playing forearm. If Federer played in Hoad's time, then he'd have a bigger forearm. If Hoad was playing today, he'd have a smaller forearm.
Based on what? I'm guessing that Hoad's bread and butter backhand was the slightly undercut backhand of his day. Not that he couldn't hit it hard and place it extremely well, but it just doesn't stack up well against the extreme topspin backhands (including Federer's) of today.
The comparative slowness of the '50s and '60s game rewarded serve and volley tennis. The speed and power of the modern game more or less precludes it. So, ok, Hoad had a better volley than Federer. So what?
We're down to the nitty gritty. References and, most importantly, videos of Hoad playing are required. I've seen hundreds of videos of Federer. Lots of videos of Laver, Rosewall, Newcombe, Ashe, Nastase, Amritraj, etc., and based on that I think Federer would beat any of them badly. Need some vids of Hoad. Otherwise any comparison between Federer and Hoad is just moot.
Because there are so many variables to consider regarding the different eras of tennis, I think it boils down to this: who is the most talented player? In my opinion, considering all aspects of the game (from what I've seen live and on tv and video), Roger Federer is by far the most talented player who has ever played the game.
TomT, Thanks that you detailed argue against my statements.
Just a few points. Both of us have watched much more current tennis than that of Gonzalez, Hoad, Rosewall and Laver. Thus there is the danger to overrate the modern game.
Federer's backhand is mostly a defensive slice unlike to those of the players of the older times, even that of slice king Rosewall's whose backhand was often a drive with a slice touch.
You overrate Federer vastly. He is not the strongest of our days: at least Nadal and Djokovic are stronger. And he is surely not by far the most talented player of all time. At least Hoad, Rosewall, Laver, Santana, Nastase and McEnroe were more talented.