Originally Posted by Dan Lobb
But what were the percentages against these great players? Not 99%.
In the early rounds of majors, they played some cannon fodder.
That's also hard to examine as is level of play, Because for example the John McEnroe that Pete Sampras faced in the 1990 US Open wasn't the same as the John McEnroe that Borg and Connors faces in the 1970's and early to mid 1980's. Same with Lendl.
Kodes faced Newcombe in the first round of 1971 US Open I believe. Newcombe was top seed and Kodes was unseeded. But we know in retrospect that was a first round match that would be good for a major final. In fact that was the US Open final in 1973. Kodes went all the way to the final before losing to Stan Smith at his peak. Kodes probably should have been one of the top few seeds.
I think we have to look at what players were at the top of their games.