Originally Posted by Phoenix1983
I guess the reasons I would give for the Open Era being tougher than the pro tour are:
a). To win an Open slam, you usually have to beat some lesser players to begin with, followed by the top opponents in the QF/SF/F - whereas in the pro ranks, you only had to do the latter. Yes, the average level per match would be higher in the pros. However the number of obstacles each player had to face would be lower - because they would 'only' be facing their fellow greats, not the 'lesser' players beforehand who, on any given day, could cause an upset (i.e. Rosol over Nadal).
b). Sort of related to the above is the issue of the head-to-head pro tours. It's often stated that Federer is greater than Nadal, despite his losing h2h, because of his greater accomplishments. Yet when posters talk about the old pro tour, the h2h's between the top players become of the utmost importance. The fallacy behind this can be shown because, if there had been a pro tour over the past 10 years, Nadal would have come out with the best h2h's against all his rivals. Yet we know, when playing the wider field, that Federer is greater.
Hence the h2h pro tours are not as meaningful as some make them out to be.
Tougher is different in this case from average level of play. I'm just discussing average level of play. Yes it may be physically tougher for one tournament but even that's debatable because the old time pros played virtually every day. But yes I understand your point. But still you do understand what mean when I write that the average level of play of the opponents Rosewall faced was lower. Rosewall didn't face Laver as much, or Gimeno or Gonzalez or Hoad. He faced Bob Lutz instead or players not as good as Lutz.
I'm not totally sure how one can make the assumption Federer is greater or Nadal is greater against a wide field. Nadal's winning percentage at the same age is higher than Federer. In Federer's favor he has had a few years superior to Nadal's best years. The question is if both are healthy and rested who is better? Federer's smooth style takes less wear and tear out of him than Nadal. Of course that is one of the reasons Federer is stronger at the end of the year. Maybe the question should really be, assuming a normal year at their best, who is better? We have to assume Nadal will have injuries as a result of his style.