Originally Posted by krosero
BobbyOne, I'm not sure what you mean by this. Level of play can be measured in any number of ways.
Match analysis is becoming increasingly sophisticated, and as I mentioned in some other thread there is a wealth of data for modern players.
The argument you made about Federer's peak level of play being lower than Nadal's and Djokovic's was controversial because so much is known about how these players perform and how their level of play measures statistically.
And match analysis is not the only way to judge playing strength. I can think of a handful of other methods, and you have used them yourself.
You can argue by analogy with other players, for example. To argue for Nusslein's superiority over von Cramm, you have connected them through Tilden: the argument is that Tilden defeated von Cramm in 1934, while Nusslein had an edge over Tilden in that year and in subsequent years.
That's similar to the way I connected Federer on the one hand, and Nadal and Djokovic on the other, through Roddick and Hewitt. I noted that Federer defeated peak Roddick and Hewitt more easily than Nadal and Djokovic were able to do in later years.
Then there are a player's yearly win/loss records, which all of us frequently use as a guide to judging when a player reaches his peak and when he starts to decline.
I don't know if you and PC1 saw the questions I put to you both in the other thread, about those last two methods -- but anyway my point here is that ranking players according to playing strength is not an exercise that is merely restricted to feeling. Perhaps I've misunderstood what you meant by feeled lists.
Could you give me a link to the posts you wrote that you asked me some questions?
I think when we look at a player's strength of course we look at won-lost record but even that can be deceiving as you pointed out so well in discussing Emerson and Laver. We have to back the statistics in which we analyze the records of the players along with studying the history of the time. If we were just to look at won-lost record we would think Laver in 1962 was superior to Laver in 1963 but that is far from the case. Laver at the end of 1963 was a far superior player to himself in 1962. The stats would not show it except we know from studying tennis history that he played in a far superior league if you can call it a league.
It frankly annoys me when I read some so call experts saying one player is better than another because when they played this great, the great made him feel helpless or that he had beautiful strokes. I used to read of one all time great who from the accounts in the books seemed to be all but unbeatable yet in looking at the records he did lose a lot more than I expected. Don't get me wrong, the guy's record was still fantastic but the books almost indicated that not only did he almost never lose but he crushed everyone. Brad Gilbert was not known for the best looking strokes in the world but the guy became one of the top players in the world. Some players like Leconte look great but they often found a way to lose. Heck I thought Leconte looked better as a player than either Edberg or Becker but his record couldn't even come close to the other two.