Originally Posted by urban
The amateur-pro ranking pre 1968 is one of the biggest problems for proper evaluation. I prefer two separate rankings for each year. Before the internet age and some new books like that one of McCauley, amateur tennis often was regarded as the lone worldwide circuit, while the pros were seen as outlaws, who played only exhibitions at secondary venues. So historically, and we see this still in public polls, pro tennis has been underrated. The level of pro tennis was generally higher than that of the amateurs, all new pros confirmed this. On the other hand, really great amateurs adapted well to the new format and the difficult circumstances and reached the top of the pro game, after dealing with a rough bapstism for a half year or so.
Nevertheless i am not dogmatic in this question and would regard different time periods. In the late 50s for instance, when all top players had turned pro, there was no contest between pros and amateurs. In the early 50s however, the pro circuit was quite a mess (no valid circuit, Kramer often absent, Pancho in and out, few leading tournaments and players), and in some years like 1952, players like Sedgman could be ranked among or on top of the best pros. For the 60s, i think amateurs like Emerson or Santana had real class and would have done well at the pros. If they were better than Gimeno is a tricky question, i would put them technically quite on the same level. I have seen all three quite often on tv, Gimeno and Emmo live. I even saw a Spoga Cup final 1969 at Cologne between these two, with Gimeno winning in two long close sets. The last match i saw from Gimeno was a fine Hilversum final against Okker over 5 sets. My take is, that Gimeno technically and tactically was the most sound and consistent player of these three, but that Santana was more unpredictable and on occasion, when getting hot, more dangerous (like Nastase). Emmo was the most athletic and fit and mentally the strongest. In a big final or Davis Cup tie i would have feared him the most.