forget who the best was, who has done the most for tennis?

sunflowerhx

Rookie
In terms of the technical development of the men's game then I agree about Lendl's impact.

But in terms of commercial and promotion of the game it has to be Agassi.
As Pat Cash said on many occasion "Agassi saved men's tennis".

Also Michael Chang success and subsequent impact on Asian tennis cannot be under estimated.
 

superman1

Legend
But in terms of commercial and promotion of the game it has to be Agassi.
As Pat Cash said on many occasion "Agassi saved men's tennis".
Without Agassi, there would be a LOT of people out there who wouldn't give a crap about tennis. If it was just Sampras in the 90's, tennis would be in even worse shape than it is in now. New Yorkers are only now realizing that tennis kinda sucks without Agassi.
 
What sucks about post-Agassi tennis?

I love tennis, whether it's a Vegas showman with a mullett or a balding 35 year-old...or an effete Swiss guy or a kid who looks like Mowgli....whether it's Dustin Diamond/Djokovic or a pasty Irish kid with an afro....or a no-name 15 year-old from Newcombe's.
 
Superman is right here I think. Agassi wasnt just a great tennis player. He was a star. He had a force of personality and charisma that drew you in. You cant teach that, you either have it or you dont. Sampras for all his greatness didnt ever have it. Federer doesnt really quite have it either. He may do commercials with Tiger Woods but while being even more dominant in his sport the past few years certainly doesnt make fans flock to their TV sets the way Tiger does.
 

35ft6

Legend
Not a tennis historian, but Agassi, Billie Jean King, McEnroe, Kournikova, and the Williams sisters.
 

superman1

Legend
In the past 20 years, I'd say Agassi for getting kids excited about tennis.
He was the only guy who could ever get me to jump out of my seat and jump up and down in celebration after he won a point, or fall out of my seat in agony when he lost a point ('05 US Open match with Blake, and his first two '06 US Open matches). I read that there were a lot of sports bars who absolutely never showed tennis, EXCEPT for Agassi's last run at the 2006 US Open. People were apparently crowding around the TV screens for the Baghdatis match.

I wasn't watching tennis in the 80's with Connors and McEnroe, but he's been the big guy for my tennis lifetime.
 

35ft6

Legend
^ To Americans, Agassi was a true jock. For most fans raised on football and baseball, tennis players aren't really jocks, they're more like gymnasts or something. But for some reason Americans embraced Agassi as a true jock, a guy's guy, and in the end, he was even a bit of an underdog because of his age. And people felt like they grew up with Agassi, and by the end, when he had matured into a true role model, they felt like they knew the dude.

Not sure if another American tennis player will ever get a chance to morph into an Agassi like player. He was really cocky, made a lot of mistakes in public, did some stupid stuff, but in the end, it made him more relatable, more compelling, and his elder statesman status at the end even more miraculous and admirable. These days, top prospects are just too well coached, have too many handlers, and are too knowledgeable in the ways of making themselves attractive to corporate America to make the kind of spectacle of themselves that turns tennis players into folk heros (Mac, Connors, and Agassi).
 

NikeWilson

Semi-Pro
well ofcourse Billie Jean King is hard to beat. Ashe was also a great ambassador.
but in terms of elevating and popularizing the sport thru pure tennis playing... is Andre Agassi.
if there is 1 person the world would pay to see play, it's still Andre Agassi.
 

matchmaker

Hall of Fame
Agassi without any doubt. If he had not been there there would have been no legendary rivalry with Sampras. You can be in favour or against him but he has made tennis sexy. He was always exciting to watch. Came back from an all time low to win many important tourneys. Was a rebel at first but then became a respected and respectful sportman. Did away with the elitist image of tennis.
 
Time to revive this great thread.

Ivan Lendl
The Father Of Modern Tennis

The first time I heard the name Ivan Lendl was in 1979, during the US Open, my favorite tennis hero of the time, Bjorn Borg was being interviewed after an early round win, the announcer asked him who he thought is a new up and coming star that we should be looking out for, without hesitation, the tennis God of the time said, "Ivan Lendl, he's very good and will get even better". That year Ivan lost in the 2nd round to the hard serving Roscoe Tanner in straight sets. I Wonder if Bjorn knew the extent that Ivan would later dominate the tournament that he tried so hard to win and never did. No other player in the Open era has dominated the US Open like Ivan Lendl. An American born on the wrong continent at the wrong time, he not only adopted a new country, but another style of play, a love for the hard courts that was throughout his career his favorite surface to implement the utter destruction of his opponents.

By now you must be wondering why I have the audacity to call Ivan Lendl he father of modern tennis, after all he was according to Sports Illustrated the original champion that no one cared about, the cold, hard, machine, that planned the bludgeoning of his foes without mercy and without flair. He was despised by all, the media, the fans and even his fellow players. For years, it seemed the only four people that liked Ivan Lendl was his mother Olga, his father Jiri, his mentor\coach Wojtek Fibak and me, John Figaro. One of the great days in tennis history is the famed "Super Saturday" at the US Open, where the men's semis and women's finals went the distance, featuring captivating, dramatic and high quality tennis by all 6 competitors. The seasoned tennis fan will remember Ivan's heroic topspin lob over Pat Cash's head to save a match point and eventually securing a berth in the finals, but what I remember most was the crowd yelling "Ivan go home", booing when he wins a point, aggressively applauding his errors and attempting to distract him during his service toss, - no it wasn't just the NY crowd, Europeans showed their true colors also, during the famous 1988 Italian Open final with Argentinean clay court specialist Guillermo Perez-Roldan, Ivan was totally frustrated, he took out some of his anger on the umpire and lines people and even responded to the crowd who booing and heckling him with great fervor. The pesky and speedy Roldan was taking full advantage of the situation, but like he usually did, (over 1,200 times), Ivan won 6-2,4-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

So why is he the father of modern tennis? Prior to the rise and domination of Ivan Lendl, professional tennis was ruled by 2 styles, players could either be classified as Borgians (High loopy, heavy topspin, from the baseline, very defensive, waiting for the opponent to make a mistake) McEnroeseque (serve and volleyers with weak ground strokes, who rushed the net at every opportunity), then came Ivan, he brought massive power from the baseline to the game. No longer where baseliners defensive players, he attacked and took control of the outcome of the point, instead of waiting for an error.

The modern tennis game is based on the following strategy:

Big inside out forehand

Big serve

Total fitness

Speed afoot

Strong physique

Thorough preparation

Crush or be crushed

Ivan was the first champion to use and master the inside out forehand from the ad-side of the court, crushing weak replies for winners.

His forehand game was setup by his serve, during his domination, no one had a bigger, more consistent and accurate serve than Ivan Lendl. He used his powerful serve to dictate right from the beginning, and his forehand to close the point out.

Ivan was the first champion to take advantage of scientific advances in training routines. He lifted weights, did aerobics and cross- training. At his prime, no other tennis player was in better shape.

He may not have been the fastest, but his off court work and his anticipation, made it seem like there was no ball he could not reach.

At 6'2" 175lbs, he was the prototype of the modern tennis player, he was not going to pushed around.

He kept a little book consisting of notes on every player on the tour, tips on how to play them and most important, tips on how to beat them, he left nothing to chance, when he stepped on the court, the actual playing became the easiest part of the equation.
"If I don't practice the way I should, then I won't play the way that I know I can."
Ivan Lendl

Bjorn Borg never had an easy match, his style of play did not allow him to take the initiative, with Ivan the approach was, if you're not going to hit it, I will, as a matter of fact, I'm going to hit it no matter what you do.

Look at the men's a game, and to some extent, the women's game, what you will see are players, using the above formula perfected by Ivan Lendl to earn millions of dollars and entertain fans all over the world.

Next time you see Pete Sampras (whom Lendl took under his wing and spent time observing and learning how to be a champion at Ivan's home) hit his famous patented running cross-court monster forehand, think of Ivan he did it first and intimidated anyone standing across the net. - Approach with caution!

Next time you hear how fit Jim Courier & Thomas Muster used to be (two players whom Lendl has a 9-1 record against) keep in mind that they were following the example of the innovator of tennis fitness. Let's not forget Andre Agassi, whom Lendl called "A forehand and a haircut" during Andre's coming out year, he is now number one and the fittest tennis player on the planet but he too is following in the footstep of Ivan Lendl. To be a champion, one must work harder than work itself.

Next time you see players changing racquets during ball changes, next time you see racquets being delivered in plastic bags, next time you hear of players having their own personal stringers, next time you hear how precise each racquet is customized, think of Ivan Lendl, he started the whole thing, which at the time fed the fuel of him being called a machine, but instead he was well on his way to being the first true professional tennis player the world had ever seen.

No, he was not the most talented, but through hard work, he achieved a thousand times more than other gifted mortals. His tennis achievements when put together in a package has not been equaled by any other tennis player.

He was not appreciated, he did not get his full merit, he did not get the love and respect that he deserved. We all remember Jimmy Connors's run at the 91 US open, Ivan's effort the following year was just as impressive if not more, in the 2nd round Lendl's victim was none other than Jimbo who quickly sniped "It's not the Ivan Lendl that I remember, he does not hit the ball hard any more, he just bunts it". If not for a rain delay the night before, Stefan Edberg would not have won the tournament, after jumping to a 2 set lead and a break, Ivan came roaring back and was leading until play was suspended. The next day, Ivan came to within a half inch to go up 5-3 in the 5th set, but Edberg broke back and went on to win the match in a 5th set tiebreak, 6-3,6-3,3-6,5-7,7-6, one of the best matches I have ever seen.

He gave the world many 5 set thrillers, like his first Grand Slam final in 1981 at the French Open against Bjorn Borg, a match that most tennis fans seem to have forgotten. By 1984 even though he had already had two Masters (Tour championships) under his belt, the media gave him the choke label, he can't win the big one they said. He had reached 4 Grand slam finals and came up empty each time, a closer look at his opponents at those finals would reveal four of the greatest names in the history of the sport, Bjorn Borg once, Mats Willander once, and Connors twice, who won his first three grand slam finals. I think Ivan would have beaten Phil Dent and the well beyond his prime Ken Rosewall (twice) with the same ease.

He could not play on grass they said, but he managed to win 89 matches on that surface, including 3 grand slam finals and two championships in consecutive years (89,90) at the Queen's Club event before Wimbledon. In 1990 en route to his victory there he beat John McEnroe and Boris Becker in the semis and finals respectively. The one aspect that always impressed me with Lendl was the fact that he served and volleyed on both first and second serves at Wimbledon all the time, he changed from a power baseliner to a serve and volleyer, could McEnroe have reached 5 semifinals and 2 two finals at the French by staying back on both 1st and second serves all the time, I doubt it, as a matter of fact he only managed one semi and one final at the French playing his normal aggressive style. Andre Agassi proved that one does not have to serve and volley to win at Wimbledon, perhaps if Ivan had maintained his regular game and not been so obsessed with winning the number one trophy in tennis, the question of who was the greatest would have been laid to rest a long time ago.
 
Here's another example of the establishment, history and his opponent not giving Lendl any respect, if you look at any tennis encyclopedia or listen to any McEnroe broadcast, you will hear how "he got tired in 1984 and lost the French", but in reality, Lendl won that match on pure guts, determination, skill and power. The eventual score does not resemble someone who ran out of gas, it is more like a player who's tactics and nerve caught up with him and tried as hard as he could to weather the storm, but could not fight the fury. Score 3-6,2-6,6-4,7-5,7-5 Lendl

McEnroe, Connors and borg are part of the greatest rivalries of all time, but one name is missing, you guessed it, the greatest rivalry of all-time in the open era is not McEnroe-Borg, but McEnroe-Lendl, but it sounds more glamorous for McEnroe to dismiss Lendl. The numbers don't lie, Ivan deserves his proper due, yes he will be inducted in the tennis Hall OF Fame, unlike Borg, I'm sure he will show up and accept his well deserve day of coronation.

Ivan reached 19 grand slam signals finals, more than any other male player in the open era, he won 8 of them, but a closer look will reveal the fact that he lost 10 of those finals to 5 of the greatest champions in the open era, Borg, Connors, McEnroe, Willander and Becker. Pete Sampras, the greatest tennis player the game has seen so far, has a total of 12 grand slams, 7 of them were against players who not only were never number one, but players who never won a single grand slam tournament, of the remaining 5, three of them were against Andre Agassi. How many slams would Ivan have won if he had faced players of that caliber? Of the 19 Grand Slam finals, Ivan faced, players who were multiple slam winners and former number ones, 15 times.

The US Open committee may never give him a day of his own, but as a true fan of the man's effort on the tennis court, I will not let his legacy die. Ivan Lendl was the best of his generation, his contributions to the game are innumerable. He is truly a champion of champions.
 

boredone3456

G.O.A.T.
Definitely Billie Jean for the women. I mean, she founded the WTA, has been a constant Champion for equal pay for the women, and lets not forget beating Bobbie Riggs and what that stood for Symbolically back when she did it. A constant champion and advocate for the sport, not to mention that she still shows up for the tournaments, was a fed cup captain, wtt player and I believe Captain at one point (that one I am not sure about). I mean, most people who know little about tennis know who she is....that says something.

for the men....that to me is a tougher call. but based on what lendl and federer fan said...and what I have read about him otherwise..I would give that nod to Ivan Lendl...with honorable mention to mcenroe.
 
... The numbers don't lie, Ivan deserves his proper due, yes he will be inducted in the tennis Hall OF Fame, unlike Borg, I'm sure he will show up and accept his well deserve day of coronation. ....
What was that about? It's pretty obvious to anyone who knows this sport that Lendl is an all-time great. You may not know this, but Ivan Lendl has already been inducted at the International Tennis Hall of Fame! I think that was about five or six years ago, iirc. Sorry you missed it, man!

Borg was also inducted pretty soon after the 5 yrs from retirement requirement. I was in college at the time, so I'm thinking that was back in 87?

ANyway, man, I know you totally love Lendl, but I think you're preaching to the choir as to how great a player he was, and what a professional he was.

Now, honestly, if you call that doing a lot for the game, he's in the top tier.
Now, if the spirit of this thread has ideas more about community service on the local and global scales....charity work (work not just donating money), spreading love for the game and overall character, I think the Ashes, Noahs, Gugas and Federers of the world are top tier.
 

boredone3456

G.O.A.T.
Now that I think about it....I'd put Althea Gibson and Ashe in mine as well...mainly because they were such giant symbols of progress....they were for tennis what jackie robinson was for baseball...and they deserve some credit
 
What was that about? It's pretty obvious to anyone who knows this sport that Lendl is an all-time great. You may not know this, but Ivan Lendl has already been inducted at the International Tennis Hall of Fame! I think that was about five or six years ago, iirc. Sorry you missed it, man!

Borg was also inducted pretty soon after the 5 yrs from retirement requirement. I was in college at the time, so I'm thinking that was back in 87?

ANyway, man, I know you totally love Lendl, but I think you're preaching to the choir as to how great a player he was, and what a professional he was.

Now, honestly, if you call that doing a lot for the game, he's in the top tier.
Now, if the spirit of this thread has ideas more about community service on the local and global scales....charity work (work not just donating money), spreading love for the game and overall character, I think the Ashes, Noahs, Gugas and Federers of the world are top tier.


Good points.

And for community services and charity works, I would throw in BJ King, Everts. Actually Lendl did quite a bit of community/charity stuffs too, check out what he is doing at Connecticutt.
 
for the men....that to me is a tougher call. but based on what lendl and federer fan said...and what I have read about him otherwise..I would give that nod to Ivan Lendl...with honorable mention to mcenroe.
Good for you for appreciating a true champion. :D
Good for you for not rooting some flashy heads.
 

superstition

Hall of Fame
Tilden has been credited for greatly increasing the visibility/popularity of tennis in America. He was "the Babe Ruth of tennis" and still holds the record for winning percentage in a year, or records similar to that.

His sexuality only became a negative focus at the end of his career, but a lot of people only focus on the "scandal" rather than his immense popularity during his prime.
 

HyperHorse

Banned
I'd have to say for putting professional tennis on the map..
Jack Kramer, Laver, Pancho Gonzalez, Rosewall....
Those guys that started their own off shoot pro tour in the 60s and 70s..
 

PimpMyGame

Hall of Fame
The Connors/Borg/Mac rivalry brought tennis into superstardom.

Navratilova for her staying power.

Agassi showed what talent, not money, can achieve.

Federer, who plays the game with such elegance.

I too can only comment about players I've seen in my lifetime.
 

rommil

Legend
Superman is right here I think. Agassi wasnt just a great tennis player. He was a star. He had a force of personality and charisma that drew you in. You cant teach that, you either have it or you dont. Sampras for all his greatness didnt ever have it. Federer doesnt really quite have it either. He may do commercials with Tiger Woods but while being even more dominant in his sport the past few years certainly doesnt make fans flock to their TV sets the way Tiger does.
Federer and Agassi have different approaches, two distinctly different people. Hell even Agassi younger and older are two different people lol. I agree Agassi has more superstar quality and he capitalized on it early on. Andre has a great track record but when he first started and even for a awhile there he was in a Kournikova kind of environment(he won titles though). At their younger years, I think Roger had a bit more maturity(well I know he also had his racket throwing days). So it really depends on what draws you and the kind of "entertainment" you want to invest your attention to. Looking at the big picture, I think Federer is the best ambassador for men's tennis as far as I remember.
 
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CGMemphis

Rookie
^ To Americans, Agassi was a true jock. For most fans raised on football and baseball, tennis players aren't really jocks, they're more like gymnasts or something. But for some reason Americans embraced Agassi as a true jock, a guy's guy, and in the end, he was even a bit of an underdog because of his age. And people felt like they grew up with Agassi, and by the end, when he had matured into a true role model, they felt like they knew the dude.

Not sure if another American tennis player will ever get a chance to morph into an Agassi like player. He was really cocky, made a lot of mistakes in public, did some stupid stuff, but in the end, it made him more relatable, more compelling, and his elder statesman status at the end even more miraculous and admirable. These days, top prospects are just too well coached, have too many handlers, and are too knowledgeable in the ways of making themselves attractive to corporate America to make the kind of spectacle of themselves that turns tennis players into folk heros (Mac, Connors, and Agassi).
Best post on this subject for the average "sports" fan, great freakin post with incredible points.

On the title of the thread, "who has done the most for tennis", I guess it depends on how you look at it:

"Who has done the most for tennis: internally?"
"Who has done the most for tennis: for the public eye?"
"Who has done the most for tennis: for the modern game?"
"Who has done the most for tennis: for the pro players?"

Thats were a lot of these posts seem to fall because they all have great points.

Lendl most definitely a cold machine or pure power thats gives us what we see in the players today, but not for the public eye unless you were a tennis junkie.

Federer yes he is bringing about a somewhat revival and he gets the most sports coverage because of what he is capable of in the future, but he was no Andre in making the public want to go to tennis matches.

Agassis popularity was far beyond American tennis. He was HUGE, Elvis like cult following in Asia. Huge everywhere he went. He had the looks, the charisma, the media-savvy, and the game. His fall and reemergence of resurrection of a new man is pretty unequaled in any sport, two different people from the mullet to the baldness that is Agassi.

No he never held consecutive number one spots like Sampras, Fed, Lendl, McEnroe or Borg. But then again, the doors he opened for public tennis, people hanging on the fence to get a glimpse, an autograph, catch a shirt, have him wave has never been duplicated before or since his arrival on the court.
 

chaognosis

Semi-Pro
I'd have to say for putting professional tennis on the map..
Jack Kramer, Laver, Pancho Gonzalez, Rosewall....
Those guys that started their own off shoot pro tour in the 60s and 70s..
Suzanne Lenglen in the 1920s was most responsible for putting pro tennis on the map.

She was also probably the most popular player in the game's history.
 

SoCal10s

Hall of Fame
Fail. This sham of a match is the biggest stain on tennis in memory.

Good things did come for women's game, but not because Billie Jean beat an overweight Riggs.
Bobby Riggs was not that much overweight but he was already in his 50's .I can tell you that the winner take all match(battle of the sexes) was lost on purpose.. Riggs, had put up a lot of money up and placed bets all over place against himself...Even at that old age he could have beaten any woman on earth,easily. He wiped out Margaret Court pior,and she was the #1 ranked woman at that time. Bobby Riggs was a known gambler and he made sure this was a sure bet...He made well over the $100,000(big money those days)on side bets...
My vote : H.Hopman for International , If not for him we would not have had all those great Aussie champions..because all those Aussie men rather get drunk and eat than be serious about their tennis....Hopman gave them focus..
And on the USA side I would say Pancho Segura and Robert Langsdorp ..without them we would not have Jimmy Conners and also influenced Agassi all those who followed .. R.Langsdorp gave us Tracy,Sampras,Davenport,Sharapova ect.....
 

hoodjem

G.O.A.T.
Here's another example of the establishment, history and his opponent not giving Lendl any respect, if you look at any tennis encyclopedia or listen to any McEnroe broadcast, you will hear how "he got tired in 1984 and lost the French", but in reality, Lendl won that match on pure guts, determination, skill and power.

Mac choked; he still has nightmares about losing that match.
 

hoodjem

G.O.A.T.
Who do you credit/blame for the current men's game?

I blame . . .
Borg for topspin
Jimmy Arias for Western forehand
Lendl for power
Agassi for the two-handed BH
 
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