1959/60: The Greatest Season in Tennis?

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
This 1959/60 tennis season may well be the apex of pro tennis excellence and the most actual play for a tennis season ever.

The pro tennis fans were spoiled that season.

You had not one, but two world championship pro tennis tours, the 4-man U.S. tour, and the world tournament series.

A field which contained 11 Hall of Fame tennis players. Stronger than today.

More matches per season by far than today, with Hoad winning at least 105, unheard of today.

The top six players among the best 21 players on Kramer's list.

Four players arguably among the top ten all-time.

It never got better than this.
 
Last edited:

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
The final results of the 15 tournament Ampol world series, as follows, the series designed by Kramer to provide an official ranking order for the season.

Hoad 51 points
Gonzales 43 points
Rosewall 41 points
Sedgman 32 points
Trabert 28 points
Segura 14 points
Anderson 14 points
Cooper 8 points
Rose 1 point
Olmedo 1 point
McGregor 0 points
Hartwig 0 points
Giammalva 0 points
 
Last edited:

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
The final results of the 15 tournament Ampol world series, as follows, the series designed by Kramer to provide an official ranking order for the season.

Hoad 51 points
Gonzales 43 points
Rosewall 41 points
Sedgman 32 points
Trabert 28 points
Segura 14 points
Anderson 14 points
Cooper 8 points
Rose 1 point
Olmedo 1 point
McGregor 0 points
Hartwig 0 points
Giammalva 0 points
There was so much pro tennis play in that season, every player in the Top 8 gained some notable achievement.

Hoad won the tournament series, and 7 tournaments on the year, at least 105 wins.
Gonzales won the 4-man tour of the U.S., the Sydney TOC, and the L.A. Masters.
Rosewall won the two Brisbane tournaments on the world tournament series, plus a tour of South Africa, and a tour of New Zealand.
Sedgman won the Melbourne outdoor wood tournament on the tournament tour, plus the Grand Prix de Europe.
Trabert won Roland Garros Pro in strong style.
Segura won the main Israel tournament, was runner-up at Wembley (where he had match points), and beat Hoad at Kooyong.
Anderson won at Wembley.
Cooper won the Slazenger at Eastbourne.
 
Last edited:

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
The biggest tournament event of that fabled season was the Forest Hills Tournament of Champions, broadcast nationally on the CBS television network.

Here is the program from that legendary event.




The program details, probably composed by Kramer himself, give the Hoad/Gonzales hth result at that point as 18-14 in Hoad's favour, allowing Hoad "to

journey onto the threshold of tennis greatness". This presumably refers to the remainder of the world tour.
 
Last edited:

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
The pro tennis circuit of the late fifties was so strong that Hollywood celebrities gravitated to the players.

Here is Yul Brynner at Roland Garros Pro in 1959.

The only surviving footage of that fabled 1959 season was from the Roland Garros Pro, and here is Hoad winning the third place match over Rosewall,6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

Notice Yul Brynner among the spectators. The narrator announces "Loo-is Hoad...pour le connoisseur...extraordinaire"


 
Last edited:

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Yul Brynner had a dominant career in the late fifties, specializing in "costume" films. Here he is in 1959's "Solomon and Sheba", the famous chariot race to the bottom scene. Great in full-screen.

 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Here is that other great chariot race of 1959, won by a true tennis fan and amateur player, Charlton Heston, also winning the race for the Oscar.


 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
This list should be extended, as follows.

There was so much tennis play in that season, every contract professional gained some notable achievement.

Hoad won the tournament series, and 7 tournaments on the year, at least 105 wins.
Gonzales won the 4-man tour of the U.S., the Sydney TOC, and the L.A. Masters.
Rosewall won the two Brisbane tournaments on the world tournament series, plus a tour of South Africa, and a tour of New Zealand.
Sedgman won the Melbourne outdoor wood tournament on the tournament tour, plus the Grand Prix de Europe.
Trabert won Roland Garros in strong style.
Segura won the main Israel tournament, was runner-up at Wembley (where he had match points), and beat Hoad at Koooyong.
Anderson won at Wembley.
Cooper won the Slazenger at Eastbourne.

Rose extended Hoad to the limit in the South Australian Pro in Adelaide
Olmedo won Wimbledon
MacGregor won a hth series against Anderson, 3 to 0
Hartwig defeated Hoad at Perth
Giammalva won the Southern U.S. Grasscourt Pro over Budge and Riggs
 
Last edited:

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
The final results of the 15 tournament Ampol world series, as follows, the series designed by Kramer to provide an official ranking order for the season.

Hoad 51 points
Gonzales 43 points
Rosewall 41 points
Sedgman 32 points
Trabert 28 points
Segura 14 points
Anderson 14 points
Cooper 8 points
Rose 1 point
Olmedo 1 point
McGregor 0 points
Hartwig 0 points
Giammalva 0 points
The Ampol world series was actually billed officially as "The World Open Championship" in anticipation of persuading a few of the top amateurs to participate

in some of the 15 tournaments. Of course, the amateur authorities refused to consider co-operating with the idea, and it remained a strictly professional tour

for the contract pros. It would also prove to be a one-off series, rather than an annual competition as originally envisioned.

This would be the first tournament championship series to be arranged as an international set of events, the previous pro tournament championship series in

1946 being located entirely within the U.S. Of the fifteen tournaments in the 1959 tour, ten would take place in Australia, plus two in U.S. (L.A. Masters and

Forest Hills), one in Canada (Toronto Lawn Tennis Club in Rosedale), one in Paris (Roland Garros), and one in Britain (Wembley).

There would be another world series of tournaments arranged in 1964, with Rosewall (the third place finisher in 1959) edging Laver for the crown, although

there was apparently no crown or trophy awarded in 1964, or special prize money.
 
Last edited:

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
This list should be extended, as follows.

There was so much tennis play in that season, every contract professional gained some notable achievement.

Hoad won the tournament series, and 7 tournaments on the year, at least 105 wins.
Gonzales won the 4-man tour of the U.S., the Sydney TOC, and the L.A. Masters.
Rosewall won the two Brisbane tournaments on the world tournament series, plus a tour of South Africa, and a tour of New Zealand.
Sedgman won the Melbourne outdoor wood tournament on the tournament tour, plus the Grand Prix de Europe.
Trabert won Roland Garros in strong style.
Segura won the main Israel tournament, was runner-up at Wembley (where he had match points), and beat Hoad at Koooyong.
Anderson won at Wembley.
Cooper won the Slazenger at Eastbourne.

Rose extended Hoad to the limit in the South Australian Pro in Adelaide
Olmedo won Wimbledon
MacGregor won a hth series against Anderson, 3 to 0
Hartwig defeated Hoad at Perth
Giammalva won the Southern U.S. Grasscourt Pro over Budge and Riggs
Including Hoad's hth series against Cooper in August (3 wins mentioned by McCauley) and Olmedo in December (2 wins mentioned by McCauley), I now see

at least 105 wins for Hoad in that 1959/60 season.
 
Last edited:

Drob

Professional
There was so much pro tennis play in that season, every player in the Top 8 gained some notable achievement.

Hoad won the tournament series, and 7 tournaments on the year, at least 103 wins.
Gonzales won the 4-man tour of the U.S., the Sydney TOC, and the L.A. Masters.
Rosewall won the two Brisbane tournaments on the world tournament series, plus a tour of South Africa, and a tour of New Zealand.
Sedgman won the Melbourne outdoor wood tournament on the tournament tour, plus the Grand Prix de Europe.
Trabert won Roland Garros Pro in strong style.
Segura won the main Israel tournament, was runner-up at Wembley (where he had match points), and beat Hoad at Koooyong.
Anderson won at Wembley.
Cooper won the Slazenger at Eastbourne.
Dan,

Do you know anything about Sedgman being particularly renowned for going for the "volley pass" - coming into the net against the serve-volley? Anything written on it? Thanks.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Dan,

Do you know anything about Sedgman being particularly renowned for going for the "volley pass" - coming into the net against the serve-volley? Anything written on it? Thanks.
Yes, that sounds like Sedgman's technique for which he was well known, something which worked well for him against Gonzales in 1953 in three tournament

finals, including Wembley. Sedgman had to be hot to pull it off.

Essentially, he followed every shot he made to the net.

Much was written about it in coverage of that 1953 Wembley final. Try McCauley for a start.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
I´m not.

So it´s not a joke?

The notion of a pre-OE season being the greatest is either too funny or too crazy.
Why is that unrealistic? You have tennis experts today claiming that some of the best players ever were pre-OE.

Personally, I have no opinion either way, but the genuine experts, the players themselves, often point to the giants of the past as major figures.

In the 1950's, pro tennis players were the best paid athletes in the world.
 

UnderratedSlam

Hall of Fame
Why is that unrealistic? You have tennis experts today claiming that some of the best players ever were pre-OE.

Personally, I have no opinion either way, but the genuine experts, the players themselves, often point to the giants of the past as major figures.

In the 1950's, pro tennis players were the best paid athletes in the world.
Are these the same experts who declared RF the GOAT that would never be toppled or challenged or his records broken?

I am very wary of "experts".

Tennis starts with the Open Era. Before that we had the diaper years, the fetus stage.

It is unfortunate for all the talents from those eras, but that´s how it is. Tennis took very long to get organized.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Are these the same experts who declared RF the GOAT that would never be toppled or challenged or his records broken?

I am very wary of "experts".

Tennis starts with the Open Era. Before that we had the diaper years, the fetus stage.

It is unfortunate for all the talents from those eras, but that´s how it is. Tennis took very long to get organized.
Well, it was organized enough under Kramer to generate for the pro tennis players the highest incomes of any group of professional athletes, and the top tennis players of the late fifties earned more money than Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays, the top paid baseball players...and you would agree, I suspect, that baseball was a well organized and popular sport in the fifties, right?

Part of our subject in this thread was the degree of organization in that banner year of 1959, explained above.
 

UnderratedSlam

Hall of Fame
Well, it was organized enough under Kramer to generate for the pro tennis players the highest incomes of any group of professional athletes, and the top tennis players of the late fifties earned more money than Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays, the top paid baseball players...and you would agree, I suspect, that baseball was a well organized and popular sport in the fifties, right?
If baseball made less money for top players than 1960 tennis, then no, baseball must have had horrible leadership...
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
If baseball made less money for top players than 1960 tennis, then no, baseball must have had horrible leadership...
Tennis organization made great strides in the 1950's. That 1959 season described above was a high point.

Two world championship tours, including a world-wide tournament series of 15 events, and a point series to determine the standing of the players, just like we

have today. This appears to have been Kramer's invention.
 
Last edited:

UnderratedSlam

Hall of Fame
The 1959 world pro tennis tour boasted 11 Hall of Fame players in their ranks....how many HOF players do we have on today's ATP tour?
You mean how many players still have the time to prove themselves? You mean how many can there be in a unique era where 3 players won everything?

I didn´t realize eras were compared in how many HOFers it has. In other words, currently WTA has the best era ever, using this kind of logic.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
You mean how many players still have the time to prove themselves? You mean how many can there be in a unique era where 3 players won everything?

I didn´t realize eras were compared in how many HOFers it has. In other words, currently WTA has the best era ever, using this kind of logic.
If only 3 players win everything, even when they are well past prime, that is a weak field.
 

Drob

Professional
You must be joking.
You don't seem to be getting much traction on this thread. That is too bad, because the question in-and-of-itself is not ridiculous. 1959 is not the greatest year in tennis, of course. But it is a great year because it is one of, if not the greatest Pro year.

Someone mentioned 11 Hall of Famers. I don't know where they got that. But eight Hall of Famers and six Top-40. Perhaps someone is counting Merv Rose, who is probably in HoF, and who played part-time or less - that might give you nine. Rex Hartwig competed but I doubt he is HoF, I don't know.

With the two top amateurs, Cooper and Anderson (Hall of Fame) joining six immortals, each yet at various stages of their prime, this might be the most impressive Pro field. 1960 adds Gimeno (top-50) and Olmedo (and Cooper starts to play well, briefly), and '61 MacKay, Butcholz and Ayala, so the field deepens considerably, while Sedg and Trabert are declining (it is hard to say the irrepresible Segura is declining, but he must be), and, preforce, your golden boy is declining also.

So, 1959 is sweet. I think it is marred somewhat by Gonzalez's boycott of Wembley and Roland Garros. Had he been there, you probably would have the best Pro year ever.

Looking at Gonzalez, within this ultra-competitive year, he posts a 72% winning record, and clears your 50 plus criteria. Wins WCS and six tournaments despite skipping Europe.

5-2 tournament record vs. Sedgman
2-1 vs. Trabert
2-3 vs. Rosewall and 4-7 overall
6-4 vs. Hoad, and 22-22 overall, per my count using TB

So, separate from the Gonzalez-Hoad clash, Richard posted a 62-11 mark for the year, and 7 of those 11 defeats were to Muscles. 58-4 versus the rest of the field.

TB has Gonzalez world No. 1 for 1959, w Hoad a close second. That was my own evaluation as well.

1960, Gorgo waxes Kenny, posts an 86% winning percentage but is completely disengaged from the circuit beyond the WCS, which he wins (first retirement). This takes a lot away from the 1960 pro season as against 1959. Hell, Richard does not even play the US Pro.

In 1961, he is reengaged, wins WCS, of course and US Pro and four other tournaments and finalist at RG. 72.5% winning record and 50+ margin; 11-8 vs. Hoad, but Hoad wins at Wembley; 3-7 vs. Rosewall, but nice victory on clay in Geneva final.

TB has Gonzalez world No. 1 again. In order:
Gonzalez
Emerson
Laver
Rosewall
Gimeno

I would differ from TB, w Rosewall second, and would think Fraser should be in mix.

So, '61 is interesting. Gonzalez fully involved and playing very well; increasing strength and superiority of Rosewall is seen; addition of 3 new, very talented players, on top of Olmeda and Gimeno the year before brings you to a depth of 15 competitive players, something never seen before at the Pro level; Sedg, Trabert, Segura still in the mix. Darn, if 1961 might not be the all-round strongest Pro year. By '61, surely you have those 11 hall of famers, easily.

But, I think there is a strong case for 1959, in terms of the Pro game. I have thought so myself, before you brought it up. 1939 was special, but no real depth. Obviously 1967 was a strong year. And 1968 is overlooked, but should be counted in my view.
 
Last edited:

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
You don't seem to be getting much traction on this thread. That is too bad, because the question in-and-of-itself is not ridiculous. 1959 is not the greatest year in tennis, of course. But it is a great year because it is one of, if not the greatest Pro year.

Someone mentioned 11 Hall of Famers. I don't know where they got that. But eight Hall of Famers and six Top-40. Perhaps someone is counting Merv Rose, who is probably in HoF, and who played part-time or less - that might give you nine. Rex Hartwig competed but I doubt he is HoF, I don't know.

With the two top amateurs, Cooper and Anderson (Hall of Fame) joining six immortals, each yet at various stages of their prime, this might be the most impressive Pro field. 1960 adds Gimeno (top-50) and Olmedo (and Cooper starts to play well, briefly), and '61 MacKay, Butcholz and Ayala, so the field deepens considerably, while Sedg and Trabert are declining (it is hard to say the irrepresible Segura is declining, but he must be), and, preforce, your golden boy is declining also.

So, 1959 is sweet. I think it is marred somewhat by Gonzalez's boycott of Wembley and Roland Garros. Had he been there, you probably would have the best Pro year ever.

Looking at Gonzalez, within this ultra-competitive year, he posts a 72% winning record, and clears your 50 plus criteria. Wins WCS and six tournaments despite skipping Europe.

5-2 tournament record vs. Sedgman
2-1 vs. Trabert
2-3 vs. Rosewall and 4-7 overall
6-4 vs. Hoad, and 22-22 overall, per my count using TB

So, separate from the Gonzalez-Hoad clash, Richard posted a 62-11 mark for the year, and 7 of those 11 defeats were to Muscles. 58-4 versus the rest of the field.

TB has Gonzalez world No. 1 for 1959, w Hoad a close second. That was my own evaluation as well.

1960, Gorgo waxes Kenny, posts an 86% winning percentage but is completely disengaged from the circuit beyond the WCS, which he wins (first retirement). This takes a lot away from the 1960 pro season as against 1959. Hell, Richard does not even play the US Pro.

In 1961, he is reengaged, wins WCS, of course and US Pro and four other tournaments and finalist at RG. 72.5% winning record and 50+ margin; 11-8 vs. Hoad, but Hoad wins at Wembley; 3-7 vs. Rosewall, but nice victory on clay in Geneva final.

TB has Gonzalez world No. 1 again. In order:
Gonzalez
Emerson
Laver
Rosewall
Gimeno

I would differ from TB, w Rosewall second, and would think Fraser should be in mix.

So, '61 is interesting. Gonzalez fully involved and playing very well; increasing strength and superiority of Rosewall is seen; addition of 3 new, very talented players, on top of Olmeda and Gimeno the year before brings you to a depth of 15 competitive players, something never seen before at the Pro level; Sedg, Trabert, Segura still in the mix. Darn, if 1961 might not be the all-round strongest Pro year. By '61, surely you have those 11 hall of famers, easily.

But, I think there is a strong case for 1959, in terms of the Pro game. I have thought so myself, before you brought it up. 1939 was special, but no real depth. Obviously 1967 was a strong year. And 1968 is overlooked, but should be counted in my view.
For HOF members, check the Wiki bio on Hoad.

Official hth Hoad over Gonzales 24 to 23 for 1959, including the biggest final of the year at Forest Hills.

Hoad has at least 105 wins, Gonzales 62.....quite a bit behind, but Gonzales had a chance to win the world tournament tour anyway, but skipped.
 
Last edited:

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
You don't seem to be getting much traction on this thread. That is too bad, because the question in-and-of-itself is not ridiculous. 1959 is not the greatest year in tennis, of course. But it is a great year because it is one of, if not the greatest Pro year.

Someone mentioned 11 Hall of Famers. I don't know where they got that. But eight Hall of Famers and six Top-40. Perhaps someone is counting Merv Rose, who is probably in HoF, and who played part-time or less - that might give you nine. Rex Hartwig competed but I doubt he is HoF, I don't know.

With the two top amateurs, Cooper and Anderson (Hall of Fame) joining six immortals, each yet at various stages of their prime, this might be the most impressive Pro field. 1960 adds Gimeno (top-50) and Olmedo (and Cooper starts to play well, briefly), and '61 MacKay, Butcholz and Ayala, so the field deepens considerably, while Sedg and Trabert are declining (it is hard to say the irrepresible Segura is declining, but he must be), and, preforce, your golden boy is declining also.

So, 1959 is sweet. I think it is marred somewhat by Gonzalez's boycott of Wembley and Roland Garros. Had he been there, you probably would have the best Pro year ever.

Looking at Gonzalez, within this ultra-competitive year, he posts a 72% winning record, and clears your 50 plus criteria. Wins WCS and six tournaments despite skipping Europe.

5-2 tournament record vs. Sedgman
2-1 vs. Trabert
2-3 vs. Rosewall and 4-7 overall
6-4 vs. Hoad, and 22-22 overall, per my count using TB

So, separate from the Gonzalez-Hoad clash, Richard posted a 62-11 mark for the year, and 7 of those 11 defeats were to Muscles. 58-4 versus the rest of the field.

TB has Gonzalez world No. 1 for 1959, w Hoad a close second. That was my own evaluation as well.

1960, Gorgo waxes Kenny, posts an 86% winning percentage but is completely disengaged from the circuit beyond the WCS, which he wins (first retirement). This takes a lot away from the 1960 pro season as against 1959. Hell, Richard does not even play the US Pro.

In 1961, he is reengaged, wins WCS, of course and US Pro and four other tournaments and finalist at RG. 72.5% winning record and 50+ margin; 11-8 vs. Hoad, but Hoad wins at Wembley; 3-7 vs. Rosewall, but nice victory on clay in Geneva final.

TB has Gonzalez world No. 1 again. In order:
Gonzalez
Emerson
Laver
Rosewall
Gimeno

I would differ from TB, w Rosewall second, and would think Fraser should be in mix.

So, '61 is interesting. Gonzalez fully involved and playing very well; increasing strength and superiority of Rosewall is seen; addition of 3 new, very talented players, on top of Olmeda and Gimeno the year before brings you to a depth of 15 competitive players, something never seen before at the Pro level; Sedg, Trabert, Segura still in the mix. Darn, if 1961 might not be the all-round strongest Pro year. By '61, surely you have those 11 hall of famers, easily.

But, I think there is a strong case for 1959, in terms of the Pro game. I have thought so myself, before you brought it up. 1939 was special, but no real depth. Obviously 1967 was a strong year. And 1968 is overlooked, but should be counted in my view.
Official number one for 1959/60, was Hoad, established by the Kramer ranking system, a rarity for the old pro tour, seen only in 1946, 1959, 1964.

Of course, this was only the official ranking, anyone can suggest personal ratings.
 
Last edited:

urban

Legend
It comes to a very close race between Gonzalez and Hoad. For the moment to me too close to call. More of a remis, a draw between both players (although I am no fan of co-ranking). One question is, when to end the 1959 pro season. Probably in January 1960, when this Ampol-series ended. I have no problems with that, which was common the the 1970s, when the Masters was played in January. And the second question remains, which are the exact numbers for Gonzalez and Hoad in 1959? I read, that Hoad had 100-61 overall, Dan here suggests 105 wins. Gonzalez had, according to Drob and TB, 84-33. Percentage wise, Gorgo is miles ahead, but the win-loss margin difference is not so high 51/ 50 to 39/44. Gonzalez did much better against the field (a bit like Fed in modern times), but had problems with Hoad and Rosewall. Head to head was 22-22 equally or 22-23 to Hoad, again a virtual draw. Gonzalez beat Hoad in straight 3 sets at Cleveland, Hoad took revenge in 4 clear sets at Forest Hills. The World Series is somewhat ambivalent. Overall Gorgo came on top (due to his dominance over Anderson and Cooper), but in the personal series he trailed Hoad. In the Ampol series Gonzalez skipped the last phase, so it was no absolute convincing triumph for Hoad over his main opponent. Drob is right, when pointing to Gonzalez' skipping also the big European events. I always thought and think now, that Hoad needed a Wembley win to secure the unquestioned World Pro Championships for 1959. All in all, he has a case, but its awfully close.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
It comes to a very close race between Gonzalez and Hoad. For the moment to me too close to call. More of a remis, a draw between both players (although I am no fan of co-ranking). One question is, when to end the 1959 pro season. Probably in January 1960, when this Ampol-series ended. I have no problems with that, which was common the the 1970s, when the Masters was played in January. And the second question remains, which are the exact numbers for Gonzalez and Hoad in 1959? I read, that Hoad had 100-61 overall, Dan here suggests 105 wins. Gonzalez had, according to Drob and TB, 84-33. Percentage wise, Gorgo is miles ahead, but the win-loss margin difference is not so high 51/ 50 to 39/44. Gonzalez did much better against the field (a bit like Fed in modern times), but had problems with Hoad and Rosewall. Head to head was 22-22 equally or 22-23 to Hoad, again a virtual draw. Gonzalez beat Hoad in straight 3 sets at Cleveland, Hoad took revenge in 4 clear sets at Forest Hills. The World Series is somewhat ambivalent. Overall Gorgo came on top (due to his dominance over Anderson and Cooper), but in the personal series he trailed Hoad. In the Ampol series Gonzalez skipped the last phase, so it was no absolute convincing triumph for Hoad over his main opponent. Drob is right, when pointing to Gonzalez' skipping also the big European events. I always thought and think now, that Hoad needed a Wembley win to secure the unquestioned World Pro Championships for 1959. All in all, he has a case, but its awfully close.
Kramer's office gave the Hoad/Gonzales hth as 24 to 23 for Hoad, and they had access to all the records for the season at that time. Trying to second-guess the official number at this date is asking for too much.

Again, the Ampol tour established the official ranking, which every player was aware of. Gonzales could have won it if he had won the final event at Kooyong, but he skipped and left Australia. No explanation.
I think that Gonzales was tired after giving his all to win Sydney, and could not make the maximum effort needed to win Kooyong.

The final word is probably Forest Hills, the biggest pro event by far that year, with a national CBS television contract. That was the view of World Tennis magazine.
 
Last edited:

Drob

Professional
I was really just trying to keep this thread running, because, in fact, it is high-point in the Pros in terms of quality and depth of competition. Not necessarily advocating Gonzalez, as such. The facts speak for themselves. I found it interesting that his win percentage over 1959-61 was higher than in some earlier years. It turns out he did very well 1959-61. At the least a Co-No. 1 in '59 (notwithstanding his boycott) and No. 1 in '61. As for '60, maybe not No. 1, but remained indisputable pro King. I mentioned like 10 other players. Hard to say T.O.C. main event. I agree with those who include it as a Pro Slam, but it was a three-year experiment. Dan Lobb, could you put up the World Tennis Magazine article that says that T.O.C. was the highest event? It would be helpful to we who include it as a Slam despite its unusual brevity.

I am sure the new book, The History of Pro Tennis, has some insights on this period. I bought the book, but can't find it at the moment. I will be interested to see what it says.
 
Last edited:

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
You don't seem to be getting much traction on this thread. That is too bad, because the question in-and-of-itself is not ridiculous. 1959 is not the greatest year in tennis, of course. But it is a great year because it is one of, if not the greatest Pro year.

Someone mentioned 11 Hall of Famers. I don't know where they got that. But eight Hall of Famers and six Top-40. Perhaps someone is counting Merv Rose, who is probably in HoF, and who played part-time or less - that might give you nine. Rex Hartwig competed but I doubt he is HoF, I don't know.

With the two top amateurs, Cooper and Anderson (Hall of Fame) joining six immortals, each yet at various stages of their prime, this might be the most impressive Pro field. 1960 adds Gimeno (top-50) and Olmedo (and Cooper starts to play well, briefly), and '61 MacKay, Butcholz and Ayala, so the field deepens considerably, while Sedg and Trabert are declining (it is hard to say the irrepresible Segura is declining, but he must be), and, preforce, your golden boy is declining also.

So, 1959 is sweet. I think it is marred somewhat by Gonzalez's boycott of Wembley and Roland Garros. Had he been there, you probably would have the best Pro year ever.

Looking at Gonzalez, within this ultra-competitive year, he posts a 72% winning record, and clears your 50 plus criteria. Wins WCS and six tournaments despite skipping Europe.

5-2 tournament record vs. Sedgman
2-1 vs. Trabert
2-3 vs. Rosewall and 4-7 overall
6-4 vs. Hoad, and 22-22 overall, per my count using TB

So, separate from the Gonzalez-Hoad clash, Richard posted a 62-11 mark for the year, and 7 of those 11 defeats were to Muscles. 58-4 versus the rest of the field.

TB has Gonzalez world No. 1 for 1959, w Hoad a close second. That was my own evaluation as well.

1960, Gorgo waxes Kenny, posts an 86% winning percentage but is completely disengaged from the circuit beyond the WCS, which he wins (first retirement). This takes a lot away from the 1960 pro season as against 1959. Hell, Richard does not even play the US Pro.

In 1961, he is reengaged, wins WCS, of course and US Pro and four other tournaments and finalist at RG. 72.5% winning record and 50+ margin; 11-8 vs. Hoad, but Hoad wins at Wembley; 3-7 vs. Rosewall, but nice victory on clay in Geneva final.

TB has Gonzalez world No. 1 again. In order:
Gonzalez
Emerson
Laver
Rosewall
Gimeno

I would differ from TB, w Rosewall second, and would think Fraser should be in mix.

So, '61 is interesting. Gonzalez fully involved and playing very well; increasing strength and superiority of Rosewall is seen; addition of 3 new, very talented players, on top of Olmeda and Gimeno the year before brings you to a depth of 15 competitive players, something never seen before at the Pro level; Sedg, Trabert, Segura still in the mix. Darn, if 1961 might not be the all-round strongest Pro year. By '61, surely you have those 11 hall of famers, easily.

But, I think there is a strong case for 1959, in terms of the Pro game. I have thought so myself, before you brought it up. 1939 was special, but no real depth. Obviously 1967 was a strong year. And 1968 is overlooked, but should be counted in my view.
The 11 HOF players on that 1959 Ampol tour were Hoad, Gonzales, Rosewall, Sedgman, Trabert, Segura, Anderson, Cooper, Rose, McGregor, Olmedo, all of whom won major singles titles. (Hartwig came close in 1954, beating both Rosewall and Trabert at Forest Hills, but losing to Seixas in the final.)

Kramer's famous list of 21 greatest of all time players includes the first six of these players, which is much higher than 1961. Gimeno did not make the cut for Kramer. That 1961 tour had only a few Top 21 players, most of them past prime and semi-retired. Sedgman and Trabert were just subbing for an injured Hoad, and played poorly.
 
Last edited:

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Gonzales did not really boycott anything in 1959/60, there was no contract dispute during that 1959/60 season. He was apparently pacing himself to win the biggest events that year, and Hoad did the same, giving less than maximum effort on the Grand Prix de Europe series (Gonzales skipped it altogether).

There were two TOC events, Forest Hills and Sydney, although Forest Hills was the much more important tournament, the biggest money event on the tour.

A national television broadcast of a sports event on CBS in those days returned about $125,000 in proprietor fees, and there were three broadcasts of the 1959 Forest Hills tournament. The money went into Kramer's Tennis Inc. to guarantee the twelve pro contracts.

Those three Forest Hills TOC events of 1957, 1958, and 1959, all of which featured a Hoad/Gonzales final match on national television, provided the funding for Kramer to expand his group of players, and monopolize the best talent in the game.

When CBS pulled the plug following the 1959 Forest Hills final, it marked the end of the glory days of the Kramer old pro tour. They could no longer command the big dollars and national broadcasts.

The other blow was the pullout of Ampol and Qantas from sponsorship after the Jan. 2, 1960 final at Kooyong, and the end of the world tournament circuit. So the Ampol World Tournament Championship series became a one-off, albeit the most distinguished tournament series ever in the game.

Check the bio link above for Hoad , look at the year "1959" for the reference to the World Tennis coverage. This Wiki source is now the definitive account of that year, some of us laboured long and hard to perfect the information and source references. And that's a fact.
In the old pro tennis world, the top players would sometimes skip major events, for example Budge skipped the 1939 U.S. Pro, where Vines was hot, and Kramer skipped the 1949 U.S. Pro, where Riggs won. Why? Because they had nothing to gain by playing, and much to lose.


Gonzales withdrew from the final Kooyong tournament in the 1959/60 Ampol tour, even though he could have won the series with a win there.
Budge had claimed to be tired in 1939 after a long season, and Gonzales may have felt tired in that 1960 final period, as seen in the Brisbane final the week before, where he had lost to Rosewall.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
I was really just trying to keep this thread running, because, in fact, it is high-point in the Pros in terms of quality and depth of competition. Not necessarily advocating Gonzalez, as such. The facts speak for themselves. I found it interesting that his win percentage over 1959-61 was higher than in some earlier years. It turns out he did very well 1959-61. At the least a Co-No. 1 in '59 (notwithstanding his boycott) and No. 1 in '61. As for '60, maybe not No. 1, but remained indisputable pro King. I mentioned like 10 other players. Hard to say T.O.C. main event. I agree with those who include it as a Pro Slam, but it was a three-year experiment. Dan Lobb, could you put up the World Tennis Magazine article that says that T.O.C. was the highest event? It would be helpful to we who include it as a Slam despite its unusual brevity.

I am sure the new book, The History of Pro Tennis, has some insights on this period. I bought the book, but can't find it at the moment. I will be interested to see what it says.
The Forest Hills reference is found on the Lew Hoad bio page above under the year "1959". World Tennis, August, 1959. Article by Bobby Riggs.

Forest Hills was broadcast nationally on CBS television in 1957, 1958, 1959, three broadcasts each year (nine in total).

No other pro tennis tournament received a national broadcast, or the fees which were received for that.

The NFL games received about $125,000 per game for national broadcasts in 1959, sports was becoming that big.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
The two main attractions on those 1959 tours were Gonzales and Hoad, both of whom became famous when young players for early victories at their national tennis centres.

Gonzales won the U.S. title at Forest Hills in 1949, in a famous final.


Hoad won the key match in the 1953 Davis Cup final over Trabert at Kooyong.

 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
Dan,

Do you know anything about Sedgman being particularly renowned for going for the "volley pass" - coming into the net against the serve-volley? Anything written on it? Thanks.
Here is the bio for Sedgman, arguably among the top ten all-time.

 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
The only surviving footage of that fabled 1959 season was from the Roland Garros Pro, and here is Hoad winning the third place match over Rosewall,6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

Notice Yul Brynner among the spectators. The narrator announces "Loo-is Hoad...pour le connoisseur...extraordinaire"



Here is the only other surviving footage from that fabulous season (barring an opening in the CBS vaults of Forest Hills), the semi-final match at Roland Garros between Trabert, the eventual champion, and Rosewall.

Starts at about 3:05,

 
Last edited:

GabeT

Legend
it’s always interesting to read about the history of the sport. So thanks for that. But no, no pre OE tennis season can ever be the greatest.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
it’s always interesting to read about the history of the sport. So thanks for that. But no, no pre OE tennis season can ever be the greatest.
That sounds a bit doctrinaire, I prefer a more inductive approach.

I prefer to judge by the quality of play and players.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
it’s always interesting to read about the history of the sport. So thanks for that. But no, no pre OE tennis season can ever be the greatest.
That 1959 season of the pros included 11 Hall Of Fame players, all of whom won major singles titles.

How many HOF players do we have on the men's circuit today? Not very many.
 

GabeT

Legend
That 1959 season of the pros included 11 Hall Of Fame players, all of whom won major singles titles.

How many HOF players do we have on the men's circuit today? Not very many.
It was such a different world tennis was basically a different sport.
 

Dan Lobb

G.O.A.T.
The only surviving footage of that fabled 1959 season was from the Roland Garros Pro, and here is Hoad winning the third place match over Rosewall,6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

Notice Yul Brynner among the spectators. The narrator announces "Loo-is Hoad...pour le connoisseur...extraordinaire"



Here is the only other surviving footage from that fabulous season (barring an opening in the CBS vaults of Forest Hills), the semi-final match at Roland Garros between Trabert, the eventual champion, and Rosewall.

Starts at about 3:05,

Interesting how Hoad, Rosewall, and Trabert, the most successful clay players of that era, all rushed the net and volleyed, despite the Roland Garros clay.

Would anyone do this today?
 

GabeT

Legend
The equipment and surfaces were different from today, but you could theoretically give today's champions wooden racquets and ask them to play on traditional grass courts.
No Doubt. But today‘s players never trained in those conditions and outside of Wimbledon and a couple of other places grass is no longer a relevant surface.
 
Top