Goosehead, I heard Bud Collins mention the "tabernacle of tennis" in that 1978 Wimbledon final video. I do agree that players like Gonzalez, Rosewall, Laver, Borg, Lendl, Connors, McEnroe, and even Agassi and Sampras, would be helped in many ways by the new racquets, strings, shoes, etc. Then, you have the different court dynamics with slower hard courts, grass courts at the AELTC which now tend to tilt the odds in favor of aggressive baseliners, fewer big indoor events, and fewer big "unofficial" matches played in addition to the official events. Connors and Borg had very heavy total match schedules and they spread tennis throughout the world. You have different tennis balls, grips and advanced shoes, easier travel conditions and the list goes on. How would each benefit and have to adapt? They were all so skilled talented and many underestimate their fitness level. It is more about the legs these days though, but what about the hands and skill? Yet, with the conditions the past players played under, in many ways, players like Connors, Rosewall, Borg, Laver, and Gonzalez had it tougher than the players of today. No player faced the media frenzy, without all the cushion players have today, like Bjorn Borg did. I'll say it again, you would not want to face prime Rod Laver or Bjorn Borg aided by modern conditions, especially if they had 1 year to get used to the conditions. They would be so tough and dangerous. If you've only seen the modern game and think they would be easy wins, I would say that respectfully you are wrong. If you played back then, you understand how great those players actually were. What great temperament too with players like Rosewall, Laver, and Borg (after his junior days). With them you saw no excessive celebration, hardly ever any real complaints about calls/crowds/opponents/conditions/tournaments. Also there was no negative demeanor and a lot of modesty and deference to the opponent. They exuded quiet grace combined with steely resolve. Such tough customers as well. Let's put it this way, there is a lot of "marketing" of the current players and game. I do enjoy the top players today, but I'm looking forward to having Nadal back in the mix. I've been watching pro tennis closely since about 1977 so I have had the opportunity to watch many of the Open Era greats.
Ivan Lendl vs. John McEnroe in the 1982 U.S. Open semifinal:
(See 11:47 with McEnroe and the cameraman! Then Lendl with some great answers post match.)
(Lendl at the Orange Bowl with a Dunlop)
(Sampras with a wood frame!)