Originally Posted by borg number one
I tend to think it's a general bias that's prevalent out there. The very latest players, stats/records. That's the myopic focus. This would be an example. Federer does bagel opponents a lot and he wins a lot of lopsided sets), but that's in relation to his peers and among players doing the last 10 years primarily. (I wonder about Sampras in particular..how many?). Yet, it's not so easy to comprehend how dominant some past greats could be if you haven't lived it and felt it first hand. Tennis from past greats such as Rosewall, Laver, Borg, and even Sampras for many now is just not something many people have experienced directly or at least studied and read up on a lot (plus at least watch lots of video). For me, I started watching tennis seriously when Connors was at the top along with Borg and have never stopped and never will. Yet, I am still trying to learn about Laver, Rosewall and those before even today. So it's more difficult to comprehend past domination by greats among most modern tennis watchers. It's the natural bias towards the modern, latest and greatest. Just look on the grocery shelves and how everything is constantly marketed as "new and improved". Is it all really "new and improved"?
Agreed. Except I started watching Sampras, and now aspire to learn more about the past greats like Mac, Borg, Connors, Lendl...and for the past few years I'd always go to the US Open and try to watch the legends playing on the outside courts, and have seen Todd Martin, Jimmy Arias, and more. One of the best shots I've ever seen hit was a backhand return in the legends event on court 7, the same court I played my USTA match on, by a 50+ year old Guillermo Vilas.
For example McEnroe, I've always known he was a great, and of course had respect for his game, but seeing it in person is just a different experience. I wrote about how impressed in the How Good is McEnroe thread still. I've seen him play twice in the past few years at age 50 against Lendl, Pete, and Pat Rafter and I could not believe how amazing he is, still!!!
I can only imagine how good he was when he was 25, it must have been unreal, the same way people think of Fed today. The actual experience of seeing something while it happened just heightens the feeling for people, after all, seeing is believing.
Some people are naturally intrigued by what came before them, and some people spit on it.