Greatest Tennis Player of All-Time (Men)

Borgforever

Hall of Fame
Yeah Carlo -- that was another perfect post IMO!:) Great read.

And to switch to another great assessment and extremely vivid recollections of the men's singles Wimby-finals of the late 1890's, 1905, 1907-14 and super detailed and sophisticated appreciations of the subtle differences between the best of the day during this time.

I would kill to see these matches live then and there :)

Enjoy this long but extremely entertaining, witty and rewarding recollections courtesy of the genius tennis-scribe A. Wallis Myers from around 1921 -- all the God GOAT-contenders around that magical age are scrutinized at length (Dohertys, Americans, British, Australians et al) -- just jaw-to-floor stunning:

http://www.archive.org/stream/twentyyearsoflaw00myerrich/twentyyearsoflaw00myerrich_djvu.txt

:)
 

thalivest

Banned
I think Laver would have won around 15-16 majors if tennis were under todays format then. All 15 from 1964-1969, around 10 from 1964-1967 and the 5 or 6 (he won 5 anyway) from 1968-1969. Probably none from 1960-1963. His 2 calender slams would have come in 1967 and 1969 instead of 1962 and 1969 based on the pro majors results.
 
I think Laver would have won around 15-16 majors if tennis were under todays format then. All 15 from 1964-1969, around 10 from 1964-1967 and the 5 or 6 (he won 5 anyway) from 1968-1969. Probably none from 1960-1963. His 2 calender slams would have come in 1967 and 1969 instead of 1962 and 1969 based on the pro majors results.
According to my temporary list, see posts http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showpost.php?p=2840980&postcount=45 and http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showpost.php?p=2840980&postcount=46, Laver would have won about 20.
 

urban

Legend
No, Carlo, your arguments cannot convince me. Lavers rapid improvement in the pro ranks, shows that he was in the top three in 1962. According to an article by Herbert Warren Wind, Norman Brookes called him the best player - amateur or pro - after his Forest Hills win in 1962. Maybe he wasn't the best, but in the top three in every case. Every pro needed time to adjust, Gonzales, Rosewall and Hoad inclusive. But after a half year of adjustment to the different pro format, Laver rose quickly into second place in the pro race (maybe as early as the US tour in spring). Even on their first Australian tour in January 1963, where Laver had to face both Rosewall and Hoad within two days in several cities, Laver was able to beat Rosewall 6-1,6-2,6-2 at Adelaide. And Cannes wasn't a second rate event, but had one of the best pro draws of the year. And at Paris in a great match, Rosewall had to pull all his reserves, to get through in five sets. I cited Trabert and Sedgman, people, who promoted the pro game in 1963, and quite truthful resources in my view.
 
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thalivest

Banned
OK I will trust your judgement on this as you seem to be pretty much a genius on players from that era. It is interesting to see you estimate Gonzales and Rosewall to having won even more than the 18-20 you estimate for Laver though. Would it be even possible to approximate how many Budge or Tilden won as well?
 
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Yeah Carlo -- that was another perfect post IMO!:) Great read.

And to switch to another great assessment and extremely vivid recollections of the men's singles Wimby-finals of the late 1890's, 1905, 1907-14 and super detailed and sophisticated appreciations of the subtle differences between the best of the day during this time.

I would kill to see these matches live then and there :)

Enjoy this long but extremely entertaining, witty and rewarding recollections courtesy of the genius tennis-scribe A. Wallis Myers from around 1921 -- all the God GOAT-contenders around that magical age are scrutinized at length (Dohertys, Americans, British, Australians et al) -- just jaw-to-floor stunning:

http://www.archive.org/stream/twentyyearsoflaw00myerrich/twentyyearsoflaw00myerrich_djvu.txt

:)
Thanks Borgforever.
Myers wrote a book (that I own but I don't remember the title) around early 1937 where he described the most important matches he had watched (I'm not sure but the first match described in that book was one where Gobert beat Wilding in the British CC (I think in 1912) and one of the last was the 1936 US amateur final). For instance he considered that Tilden's win in the US 1924 was Tilden's greatest ever match to date, far more impressive than his previous 1923 match against the same William Johnston.
In his book, "Captain Anthony Wilding" (once again I'm not pretty sure of the title), Myers thought that Wilding at his best (that is in the 1913 Wimbledon Challenge round against McLoughlin) was even superior to the best Brookes himself better than the best Hugh Lawrence Doherty. In fact he seemed to state that Brookes at his apogee was perhaps the best grasscourter of his era but only in best-of-three set matches. When matches were played in best-of-five, Brookes's stamina was too weak and Wilding's superior physical strength (as an athlete, the Borg and the Lendl combined of his time : if Lendl learnt from Borg, Borg learnt from the Aussies and the Aussies (Hopman in reality) learnt from Kramer and Schroeder when both Americans came in Nov-Dec 1946 into Australia (few people know that Hopman "stole" some of his physical conditioning exercises from the Americans). Kramer learnt from Vines and Budge and so on ... but in tennis the first true pioneer in physical condition was Wilding (and in reality Frederick Wilding, Tony's father)) proved invaluable against many players and in particular the weak Brookes. As soon as 1908 (BC Wright in the Davis Cup) and 1909 (Wilding in the Victorian Champ) Brookes lost matches he should have won if they had been played in best-of-three.
In 1914 all the witnesses noted that Wilding was completely out-of-physical form and Brookes playing one of his best ever matches (his best one according to himself) had "no problem" to defeat Wilding. Myers stated that Wilding's poor form in 1914 was due to his lack of training. The reasons being that a) Wilding lost his envy after having won the 3 World amateur Champs in 1913, b) having beaten easily Brookes twice on the Riviera (6-4 6-2 6-1 at Cannes Beau Site and 6-2 6-2 6-2 at Cannes Carlton 2nd meeting), Wilding was overconfident and didn't train as hard as before and c) except some doubles matches, Wilding played no singles at all between his Paris' win on clay in early June and his Challenge Round against Brookes a month later while the Australian had entered the British grasscourt events and "played through" the Championships.
Wilding also forgot that a) Brookes' serve was much less effective on clay than on grass and b) that his own topspin forehand was much more effective on clay than on grass.
Anyway, Myers who knew so much Wilding (they had played many doubles together and were good friends), thought that Wilding had reached his peak in 1913 and that he declined as soon as 1914 (and would have steadily declined in years to come if WWI had not been declared).

On clay Myers thought that Wilding had no rival in the early 1910's.

About Larned it is very hard to have an opinion. E.C. Potter considered that Whitman at his best was better than Larned (Whitman's best years were around 1898-1900 and he usually beat Larned then but Whitman quit tennis quickly and came back later just for a few matches, for instance the Davis Cup 1902). If Larned wasn't a very great (debatable) he was however a very good player able to beat Brookes in straight sets in their only meeting (Davis Cup 1905) when the Australian was close to his peak (1906-1907, 1907 was Brookes' peak but 1906 was very close because Wilding in March 1907 claimed that if Brookes could keep his 1906 autumn form (when he crushed a young Wilding at the Victorian Champs) he would bettered what Europe had to offer in the British Championships : apparently this is what happened because Brookes beat the British at Wimby 1907).
Larned was in term of longevity comparable to AW Gore, Tilden, Gonzales or Rosewall. He was one of the best since 1892 (US amateur finalist) and was US amateur champ for the last time in 1911 (he could have played afterwards but he refused to play through the US champs in 1912 when the challenge round was abandoned there).
Unfortunately we can't judge William Augustus Larned from his 1911 Davis Cup performance (his possible clash with Brookes could have been very helpful to give us a comparison between those two players who met only once in 20 years).
Larned had suffered from rheumatism since he had fought in Cuba in 1898 (Spain war) and in 1911 he lost in the Davis Cup to Rodney Heath because of a rheumatism crisis and the physician told him before the match that he was unable to play in good conditions. Nevertheless Larned thought it was his duty to play and decided to face Heath in his probably last match ever.
 
No, Carlo, your arguments cannot convince me. Lavers rapid improvement in the pro ranks, shows that he was in the top three in 1962. According to an article by Herbert Warren Wind, Norman Brookes called him the best player - amateur or pro - after his Forest Hills win in 1962. Maybe he wasn't the best, but in the top three in every case. Every pro needed time to adjust, Gonzales, Rosewall and Hoad inclusive. But after a half year of adjustment to the different pro format, Laver rose quickly into second place in the pro race (maybe as early as the US tour in spring). Even on their first Australian tour in January 1963, where Laver had to face both Rosewall and Hoad within two days in several cities, Laver was able to beat Rosewall 6-1,6-2,6-2 at Adelaide. And Cannes wasn't a second rate event, but had one of the best pro draws of the year. And at Paris in a great match, Rosewall had to pull all his reserves, to get through in five sets. I cited Trabert and Sedgman, people, who promoted the pro game in 1963, and quite truthful resources in my view.
I can conclude that we won't never agree on that subject :
Laver's rapid improvement in the pro ranks in 1963, doesn't show that he was in the top three in 1962 but in the top two ... in 1963.
I don't contradict you on the fact that Laver at his best could be very impressive (for instance the Adelaide match) but in 1963 his very best feats were much more rare than in future years when he reached his apogee.
It is sure that Cannes had one of the best draw of the year but the more important event without any doubt was the French Pro. Read the French papers about Cannes and Coubertin (both located in France) and you will see that there was no comparison. Read Trabert in Tennis de France and he clearly stated that the Continental European climax was Coubertin and certainly not Cannes or Poertschach or Noordwijk.
Laver told in his autobiography (published in 1971 and a second time in 1973) that his loss to Kenny in the French Pro 1963 was his finest match ever : it is debatable but he just shows how Laver was impressed by Rosewall's performance that day. Trabert said in Tennis de France (where he wrote an article each month in the early 60's) that two reasons prevented Laver from winning in the 5th set : Laver's tiredness and Laver's bad serve since 4-1 in the 5th.

Rosewall and Laver were interviewed by Henri Gault after their 1963 French Pro final.
Here is some extracts of Gault’s French report and my rough translations just next :
Laver “Non, Rosewall est encore plus fort que moi … cette année” “No Rosewall is still better than me … this year”.
Some time later Rosewall said « D’ici quelques années, Laver me rejoindra et, comme il faudra bien que je quitte un jour les rangs professionnels, il deviendra alors le premier joueur du monde indiscuté… » « In some years Laver will join me and since I will have to quit the professional ranks, he will then become the undisputed first player in the world »
Then Henri Gault asked Laver « Mais à 4-1 pour vous Laver au 5ème set … que s’est-il passé ? » « But at 4-1 for you Laver what did happen ?”
Laver : « Je me suis senti brusquement fatigué » « Suddenly I felt tired »
Rosewall : « Je savais qu’il serait brusquement fatigué au cinquième set. Pour me tenir tête il avait dû jouer constamment au-dessus de ses moyens, prendre des risques inouïs, qui d’ailleurs lui réussirent car il est capable des coups les plus insensés comme Hoad à sa grande époque. Mais même à 1-4 dans ce dernier set je n’ai pas eu vraiment peur. Je me suis dit qu’il fallait faire un grand effort. Je l’ai fait et aussitôt Rod a craqué. » « I know that he would feel suddenly tired in the fifth set. To stand up to me he had to constantly play beyond his means, to take amazing risks, which incidentally succeeded because he is capable of hitting the most crazy strokes as Hoad in his big time. But even at 1-4 in that last set I wasn’t really afraid. I said to myself that I have to make a great effort. I did it and immediately he cracked up ».
Henri Gault : « Comme c’est simple ! Je dois ajouter que l’attitude de champion invulnérable et fier qu’avait Rosewall pour me dire cela me surprit énormément. L’année dernière encore, le « petit maître » m’avait paru beaucoup moins sûr de lui. » « How simple it is ! I must add that the attitude of invulnerable and proud champion that Rosewall had to tell me that surprised me enormously. Only last year, the “little master” looked much less self-assured. »
Laver « Moi je crois qu’en un an j’ai progressé de cinquante pour cent…Pourtant à part le service, un peu amélioré, mes coups ne sont pas meilleurs qu’avant. Mais j’ai acquis une formidable confiance en moi. D’où une cadence meilleure, d’où mes progrès » « I believe that in one year I improved by fifty per cent … However except my serve, a little improved, my strokes are not better than before. But I have now a tremendous confidence in me which explains my better pace and my improvements ».

I have never heard of such a confident Rosewall (a little even big-headed) before or since. Kenny was even wrong when he said that Laver would be the undisputed #1 only when himself would retire.

Norman Brookes was (as Hopman was) such biased towards amateur tennis (Brookes didn't need to play pro tennis to make a living : he had been brought in a healthy family) that I'm not very confident (to say the least) in his judgment about pro players. In 1955 Brookes didn't rank Segura and Gonzales in his all-time list (featuring in Mabel Brookes's book) because he had almost never seen them play and I don't think he had much seen the pros after. Denis Lalanne in L'Équipe also stated after Rosewall's win over Gimeno in the 1962 French Pro that the only worthy match then would be a Rosewall-Laver confrontation but he hadn't yet (of course) watched or heard of the 1963 Australasian matches between both players (and apparently he had strongly underrated Hoad).

You said "Maybe he (Laver) wasn't the best, but in the top three in every case (in 1962)." Not maybe but sure Laver wasn't the best in 1962 and even in the top three I doubt because I think that you clearly underrate Segura too. In the big events (but I recognize a class below Wembley and Roland in 1962), Segura was the only one to beat Rosewall (at Zurich in the semifinals). Segura won 3 or 4 (minor) tournaments in 1962 but beat there Hoad probably each time. At Wembley Segura almost beat Rosewall, future winner. IMO Segura was the #3 pro after Rosewall and Hoad and ahead of Gimeno and Buchholz. Segura was so clever on a court that I think he could have much annoyed the young faulty Laver of 1962 and I guess that Laver wasn't even in the Top3 in 1962 but only 4th (and I can't even guarantee that).
In late June 1963 in their first encounter, at the US Pro, Segura at 42 years old then virtually retired, was able to capture one set from Laver though he hadn't played any single match in 7 months (Segura had played his last official single match in October-November 1962 and the doubles of the Kramer Cup in December 1962 while Laver had played innumerable matches since the start of the year).
And what about Gimeno and Buchholz ? Apparently Laver had a sort of Indian sign over Gimeno, Rocket beat the Spaniard in their first 3 encounters (and beat Andres very often in future years)
but Buchholz led Laver in their first pro meetings in 1963 and Earl was 2nd of the American tour for most of the first part, Laver just passed Buchholz at the very end of that first part.
So in those months (early 1963) Buchholz beat Laver who beat Gimeno who beat Buchholz (in their 2nd part of the tour) and Gimeno and Buchholz had 1962 pro records quite equivalent so it's very tough to decide between these 3 players for places 4 to 6 in 1962.
In conclusion for me Laver was at best the 4th player in 1962 (and not sure as stated above) and very probably not in the Top3.
 
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OK I will trust your judgement on this as you seem to be pretty much a genius on players from that era. It is interesting to see you estimate Gonzales and Rosewall to having won even more than the 18-20 you estimate for Laver though. Would it be even possible to approximate how many Budge or Tilden won as well?
Thanks but you don't have to COMPLETELY trust my judgment : you have to make your own yourself. In that forum we can learn much from everybody else. For instance you can see here that I disagree urban on one point (Laver's level in 1961-1962) and you can note in another thread that I disagree Borgforever on Borg's whole career level but even though we didn't COMPLETELY agree and trust each other, WE LEARN MANY THINGS FROM EACH OTHER even in those disagreements (and perhaps EVEN MORE because we push ourselves to find better arguments).
Another and last example : SgtJohn and I don't agree at 100% but at 95% ? 96% ? ... 99% ?. I talk about him because he made a greater list than mine which could answer in part to your questions about Tilden and Budge :
SgtJohn's list begins in ... 1877.
See the 4 posts from
http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showpost.php?p=3098705&postcount=41
to
http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showpost.php?p=3098705&postcount=44
 
1962

I don't think there is much between segura, gimeno and buchholz in 1962. Segura played well on clay in the minor events, but he did not do that well in the big 2. gimeno and hoad reached the finals and segura was beaten by buchholz at the us pro, in a 4 man event, where buchholz also beat rosewall, and in the 3rd place wembley match. Segura did not perform that well in fields with all the best players , only reaching the final in zurich. I would tend to put Gimeno and segura level with buchholz just behind them. Laver finished ahead of buchholz and gimeno playing mainly on a unfamilar fast indoor surface in the us tour of'63; I would thus rank Laver 3 in 1962. He then went to play well on the tournament circuit out performing Buchholz and gimeno; he won more events , reched 2 major pro finals and beat buchholz at us pro and french pro to counteract his loss at wembley. gimeno only won on clay and failed at the 2 european majors.

hoad seemed to able to peak in the years 61-63, reaching the final at Wembley in all 3 years and only just beating buchholz in two very long semi-finals. However, hoad's general level was not to good. He failed to win an event in '61 and '63, but won 2(but miles behind rosewall who won 10) in '62, probably because Gonzales (around in '61) and laver (around in '63) were not in the field.

In 1961,Hoad did not seem to be that affected by his injury in march '61; he was back by july playing in the Russian tour and before Rosewall came back from his holiday; and ended up playing more events than Rosewall. He had his moments winning 2 out of 3 with gonzales(including his big wembley performance) and winning the deisive match with trabert in the kramer cup.

Overall I would rank him in '61 about joint 5th with gimeno behind trabert(3rd) and segura(4th).The pro field in '61 was super strong; the fields for the french pro and wembley pro are great. All the players including the older ones like segura and trabert are playing as well as ever. Only sedgman seems to have decined with his 15-13 victory over Mackay suggesting he was no longer in the top 6.

Hoad' performance against laver I feel is the same as his wembley ones. he psyhed himself up and got into shape, but was not able to repeat that performance on weekly basis in '61-63. That suggest he would have been very competitive at say the australian open (australian grass is his best surface) and wimbledon(prestige) but no threat say at the the french open ,given his performances at the french pro on clay, and in ordinary events between 61-63

jeffrey
 

urban

Legend
As Carlo said, i always enjoyed these kind of debates. They centre around a dark hole in the history of tennis, which the conventional history books never fully explored. So some myths gained ground. Sure, Laver got his ... kicked in early 1963, but nevertheless he was no hacker. He quickly turned around the head to head with his idol Hoad (he needed some time to do this with his amateur idol Fraser, too), and until the end of 1963, he began to close the gap with Rosewall. Although it was his most difficult year in all of the 60s, he made a lasting impression, certainly in the second half of the pro season. And even if he ranked clear second to the dominant 1963 champion Rosewall, the writing was on the wall. Trabert, who was running the pro game as successor to Kramer, noted, after the great Paris final in 1963:" Although Rod lost, i feel he has a great chance to be our pro champion by next year".
As Jeffrey said, the biggest problem of ranking the pros in the early 60s is Hoad, whose form could be brilliant, but also was inconsistent. He needed - a bit like Becker later - the big moment to shine. Its difficult to grade, but imo he reached his pro peak in 1959, when he beat Gonzales at Forest Hills. McCauley called it the rubicon of his career.
 
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I have edited my previous post about the 1963 French Pro final report in French by Henri Gault (and not Haedens as I've wrongly said).
Just a comment, Jeffrey : the US Pro in 1962 was a 6-man event where Buchholz didn't beat Rosewall because Kenny didn't enter that event. Yes Hoad came back to the circuit in July but according to McCauley he didn't find his old form before the autumn.
 
Hello Urban,

Trabert was completely right when he predicted that Laver would probably be the new king in 1964.

Here is my own 1961 ranking explanations. I've used tables in Word (Windows) to compare pro players between them that I cannot rightly copy here so perhaps it isn't very understable. Please excuse me in advance.

When sometimes you see things like that :

Gimeno Hoad
Wembley Quarters (defeated by Gonzales) < Final (beat Buchholz, Trabert, Gonzales, defeated by Rosewall)
,

it means that the first player (Gimeno in this case) reached the quarters (at Wembley), a less good performance (the sign < ) than that of the second player (Hoad) who reached the final.

Here are my comparisons (I need 2 quotes because as often my comments are long).

Two players have completely dominated the circuit this year : Rosewall and Gonzales.
Gonzales has come back from his seven and a half month retirement on December 30, 1960 when Rosewall tired by a ten-year career decided not to retire, as Gonzales, but to have a rest and have some good time with his family for the first half of the year. So Rosewall declined the offer to tour in the World Series with Gonzales, Hoad, Olmedo (replacing Rosewall), Gimeno and the two new recruits MacKay and Buchholz (Segura, Trabert, Cooper and Sedgman sometimes replaced the injured players). During Rosewall's absence Gonzales still dominated the pro circuit. Gonzales has won all the events he played in 1961 except the two biggest ones by far that year because there were all the best players and these events had a certain tradition and prestige : Roland Garros Pro (clay) and Wembley Pro (wood). Those two tournaments were won by Rosewall what made him probably the number one in the world by a very small margin. At Roland Garros the Australian captured the title by beating Gonzales in the final 2-6 6-4 6-3 8-6 and at Wembley he won the tournament in defeating Hoad, Gonzales's winner in the semifinals.

I give another reason that makes me think that Rosewall was better than Gonzales in 1961 :

From 1960 on Gonzales has never won a big best-of-five set tournament (he won Tuscaloosa 1960 (without any leading pro), Copenhagen 1961 and the US indoor 1964 where just the finals where best-of-five set matches) but he never won in the 60’s (and of course in the 70’s) a best-of-five set tournament as the French Pro where all the matches were played on this format.

Moreover in 1961 Gonzales has won near all his matches on indoor fast courts whereas Rosewall has won on all surfaces : Roland Garros on clay (the slowest surface), Wembley on indoor wood (the fastest surface) and the New South Wales Pro at the White City Stadium in Sydney on grass.

In head-to-head matches Rosewall and Gonzales faced each other 4 times in 1961 (twice in tournaments and twice in teams matches), each winning twice but the Rosewall's win at Roland Garros had much weight than the other matches.

So in 1961 Rosewall was stronger than the ageing Gonzales in best-of-five set tournaments and the Australian has won on all surfaces. These facts plus Rosewall’s wins of the two biggest events makes me think that he was the best player in the world by a little margin.
Three years ago I made comparisons between Gimeno, Segura, Trabert and Hoad in 1961 : here is my old work (that I will probably update or completely change in the future). I probably should have done a point system ranking but I didn’t think about it at the time.

You will be able to see below that except in Wembley, Geneva Gold Trophy and in miscellaneous minor tour matches, Gimeno was always superior or equal to Hoad :

Gimeno Hoad
Wembley Quarters (defeated by Gonzales) < Final (beat Buchholz, Trabert, Gonzales, defeated by Rosewall)
French Pro Q (b. Olmedo, d. by Trabert) > 1st rd (d. by Ayala)
Kramer Cup b. Gonzales, d. by Trabert ≈ b. Trabert and Olmedo, d. by MacKay
World Pro Series 2nd behind Gonzales > 3rd but with the help of Trabert and Sedgman
Copenhagen SF (b. Anderson, Trabert, d. by Gonzales) > Q (d. by Buchholz)
Milan SF (b. Buchholz, Hoad, d. by Gonzales) > Q (d. by Gimeno)
Vienna Q (d. by Cooper) ≈ Q (b. Ayala, d. by MacKay)
Geneva Q (d. by Segura and Hoad) < Q (d. by Trabert but b. Gimeno)
Sydney SF (b. Anderson and Hoad, d. by Buchholz) > Q (d. by Gimeno)
Tour matches (other than World Pro Series and USSR tour) b. Olmedo 3 times, Haillet twice, MacKay, d. by Hoad, Rosewall < b. Buchholz, Gimeno, Olmedo twice; even with Gonzales (1-1)
San Remo F (b. Trabert, d. by Segura) > or ≈ SF (d. by Segura)
Viareggio SF (b. Buchholz, d. by Trabert) ≈ SF
Noordwijk aan Zee F (d. by Segura) > 3rd place

Gimeno played the US Pro (SF) Hoad played the USSR Pro tour : even with Trabert (1-1) and Segura (1-1); d. by MacKay

If the previous comparisons between Gimeno and Hoad are accurate then we can state that Gimeno was possibly better than Hoad in 1961.

Now I do the same for Hoad and Trabert :
Hoad Trabert
Wembley Final (b. Buchholz, Trabert, Gonzales) > Q (b. Anderson, d. by Hoad)
Fench Pro 1st rd (d. by Ayala) < SF but 4th place (b. Buchholz, d. by Gonzales and Segura)
Kramer Cup b. Trabert and Olmedo, d. by MacKay > (? Not sure but I give Hoad slight edge) b. Gimeno and Rosewall, d. by Haillet and Hoad
World Pro Series 3rd but with the help of Trabert and Sedgman ≈ 3rd but with the help of Hoad and Sedgman
Copenhagen Q (d. by Buchholz) ≈ Q (d. by Gimeno)
Milan Q (d. by Gimeno) ≈ Q (b. Olmedo, d. by Gonzales)
Vienna Q (b. Ayala, d. by MacKay) > 1st round
Geneva Q (d. by Trabert but b. Gimeno) < SF and 3rd place (b. Hoad, Segura, d. by Rosewall)
Sydney Q (d. by Gimeno) ≈ Q (d. by Buchholz)
Tour matches (other than World Pro Series and USSR tour)) b. Buchholz, Gimeno, Olmedo twice; even with Gonzales (1-1) > b. Segura
USSR Pro Tour even with Trabert (1-1) and Segura (1-1); d. by MacKay < b. Segura, MacKay twice, even with Hoad (1-1)
San Remo SF (d. by Segura) ≈ SF (d. by Gimeno)
Viareggio SF (d. by Segura, Hoad took 7 games from Segura as Trabert in the final)) < or ≈ F (b. Gimeno, d. by Segura)
Noordwijk aan Zee 3rd place > d. by Hoad
Capetown Hoad probably played the tournament ? <? Winner (b. Rosewall)

Trabert won the minor Winter Grand Prix tournament

Both players are very hard to compare. From the World Pro Series to the bottom of the above list I would say that the whole record of each player is globally quite similar (of course can be contradicted). Now let’s compare Wembley, the French Pro and the Kramer Cup results. At Wembley, Hoad was clearly superior, winning two more matches than Trabert (and beat Trabert) while at Roland it was the reverse because this time Trabert won two more matches but Tony “just” reached the semifinals (and moreover lost the 3rd playoff match) whereas Hoad ended runner-up at Wembley. So globally for those two events I grant Hoad the advantage. To end my comparisons remains the Kramer Cup : I guess that Hoad’s performances were possibly equal or even superior to Trabert’s : the American beat Rosewall and Gimeno which was great but he also lost to Robert Haillet (not terrible) and to Hoad, the Australian in his turn losing to MacKay. So for Wembley, Roland and Kramer Hoad seemed globally better. In conclusion I consider Hoad was slightly better than Trabert in 1961.

Now I compare Segura and Gimeno :

Segura Gimeno
Wembley SF but 4th place (b. MacKay, d. by Rosewall, Gonzales) > or ≈ because defeated by the same player Quarters (defeated by Gonzales)
Fench Pro SF and 3rd place (b. Ayala, Trabert (Gimeno’s winner), d. by Rosewall) > Q (b. Olmedo, d. by Trabert)
Kramer Cup b. Anderson, d. by Rosewall < ? b. Gonzales (but at home, Barcelona and on top of that on clay), d. by Trabert
World Pro Series Segura wasn’t truly invited : he replaced injured Gonzales. Segura’s win-loss record was 3-2 and in particular 1-0 against Gimeno < or > or ≈ ??? 2nd behind Gonzales (-Segura)
Copenhagen 1st rd (d. by Buchholz) < SF (b. Anderson, Trabert, d. by Gonzales)
Milan 1st rd (d. by Anderson) < SF (b. Buchholz, Hoad, d. by Gonzales)
Vienna 1st rd (d. by Buchholz) < Q (d. by Cooper)
Geneva SF but 4th place (b. Gimeno, d. by Gonzales, Trabert) > Q (d. by Segura and Hoad)
Tour matches (other than World Pro Series and USSR tour) b. Haillet, Olmedo, d. by Trabert, Cooper < b. Olmedo 3 times, Haillet twice, MacKay, d. by Hoad, Rosewall
San Remo Winner (b. Buchholz, Hoad, Gimeno) > F (b. Trabert, d. by Segura)
Viareggio Winner (b. MacKay, Hoad, Trabert (Gimeno’s winner)) > SF (b. Buchholz, d. by Trabert)
Noordwijk aan Zee Winner (b. Gimeno) > F (d. by Segura)
Segura played the USSR Pro tour : b. Nielsen, even with Hoad (1-1), beaten by Trabert and the South American tour that he won over Olmedo, Cooper and Buchholz while Gimeno played the US Pro (SF) and the NSW Pro (Sydney) (SF, b. Anderson and Hoad, d. by Buchholz)

to be continued
 
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Continuation

At Wembley and Roland Segura was each time better than Gimeno. In the Kramer Cup I would give a slight edge to Gimeno (but not sure) because the Spaniard beat Gonzales but at home and on clay. In the World Pro Series Segura just replaced Gonzales but beat Gimeno in their single meeting. At Copenhagen, Milan, Vienna, Gimeno performed better than Segura each time but at San Remo, Viareggio and Noordwijk Segura was superior (but in less important events by far). So Gimeno seemed to be globally superior for all the 6 tournaments but the Spaniard won none of them while Segura captured the 3 minor ones. So finally Segura was possibly (but not sure at all) better for those 6 events. Moreover Segura has done better at Wembley and at Garros too whereas Gimeno has perhaps been greater in the Kramer Cup. So globally I think Segura was a little better than Gimeno in 1961 especially as the Ecuadorian has won tournaments and Gimeno not and Segura-Gimeno win-loss record was 4-0 (World Pro Series, San Remo, Noordwijk, Geneva).

To save time I will just say that I’ve done the same with Trabert-Cooper and Cooper-MacKay and MacKay-Olmedo. As you can guess my results are Trabert > Cooper > MacKay > Olmedo.

In the amateur ranks, though Laver has won Wimbledon and has beaten Emerson 9 times out of 14 (but up to Forest Hills the record was 5-5 then Laver won the 4 following matches in Australia), Rocket lost twice to Emmo in very important matches, the US and Australian Chps finals so perhaps both players deserved tied or close rankings.
Problem : how to compare MacKay, Olmedo and Emerson, Laver ? Because both pros haven’t much improved in the pro circuit I’m not sure they were better than the top amateur Aussies.
Last case : Sedgman. For me he didn’t deserve a Top10 ranking but just a Top20 one because he has played too little (he could have played more if he had wanted). In the few weeks he played he slightly dominated MacKay, in the final part of the World Series and in the US Pro.

My above comparisons are rough : I should have done a point system ranking for the pros.
Here is my new 1961 ranking (slightly different from the Wikipedia ranking which is two years old):
1 Rosewall 2 Gonzales 3 Segura 4 Gimeno 5 Hoad 6 Trabert 7 Cooper and even less sure 8 MacKay 9 Olmedo 10 Emerson-Laver
 
Many thanks Sgt John! :)

Seems like asthma for Reggie then probably. A great handicap...

If anyone has even more info on these master brother duo I'll appreciate it greatly since I'm fascinated with tennis pre 1910... So if Carlo or anyone else has something I'm dying listen...
Reggie Doherty often said to GW Hillyard "I don't know what it is George, to feel really well.
EC Potter in his book "Kings of the court" p 41 talked about dyspepsia (I don't know what kind of disease it is, in French the term is the same "dyspepsie" and it didn't help me at all) :
"He was cursed with a dyspepsia whose recurrent attacks led him to say, resignedly that he never felt really well. / ... Laurie ... could never beat the elder when Reggie was feeling fit ... Reggie could consult his stomach . If he felt like it he could at the end of a set or two (in his private matches with Laurie). Sometimes he would say jokingly to Laurie, "If I could run like you, I'd owe you fifteen".

p 51 : "Reggie had played very little singles since 1901. His stamina was constantly failing".
Dohertys' mother watched his sons play in the 1906 Wimbledon doubles final and suffered so much because in particular Reggie was so bad that she "made Laurie promise her, then and there, that he would not defend his title the next year".

I haven't any new info about the Dohertys' diseases. In all the books I own the authors list their feats and always tell that they weren't in good health but don't precise any more what were their illnesses.

Hillyard said that the brothers were complete players mastering all the strokes, Reggie being better than Laurie in every department (in particular Reggie's backhand was superb) except the overhead (in Hillyard's view, Laurie's overhead was even better than those of the great players of the 20's) and the quickness on the court (Reggie was slow on the court)

Borgforever, Myers's book I've talked about is entitled
"Great Lawn Tennis
Pen pictures of famous matches"
 

Borgforever

Hall of Fame
Superthanks Carlo!:) Ace work as usual by you. I get back in a couple of days with my compilation and review of all the things I've analyzed with a summation.

I will believe that my coming info will have "holes" and I will greatly appreciate if someone finds faults and contradictions since I'm interested in the truth more than anything.

I've read and talked about (and been fascinated by The Doherty's) since late 70's and it's exactly as you say Carlo (quite a lot of info) -- but they never, ever really specify and nail what kind of ailments the "Great Dohey-Duo" suffered from. Maybe they didn't know excatly themselves. Or it was a family secret.

One can make a parallell with The Renshaws who also died very young -- although regarding them I've never picked up any serious info regarding their demise. I mean Mahoney -- the dashing Borg-like Irish super-fighter of the 1890's fell off a bike and broke his neck and left us -- since usually if you leave the planet before/around 40 years of age they usually comment on this -- but the end of The Renshaws and The Doherty's are shrouded in intoxicating mystery for me...
 
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reply to carlo

about buchholz, he beat segura in the us pro. he beat segura and rosewall in a 4-man event(poland) in 1962.

As to 1961 i did use a points system. The points were based on the 7,4,3,2,1 pro system of 1959 and 1964. Double points awarded at paris and wembley , and Kramer cup. Weak/4 man events were on a 4,2,1 score. As i remember, it came out clearly with trabert 3rd with 38 points.

Trabert 39
segura 30
gimeno 27
hoad 25

I tied gimeno and hoad because gimeno played one more event.

Trabert did well because he won two 7 point events (russian tour over segura and hoad) and south afican win over rosewall. he also picked up 6 points from paris and wembley in total and 7 points from the kramer cup.

Hoad was well behind; his big point scores being 8 at wembley and 7 for the framer cup, but he did not win an event or even be a runner-up at any other high points scoring event.

segura won 3 minor events, but only got 4 points for each and picked up 10 points for his efforts at wembley and paris, and 3 for his kramer cup performance.

as to laver and emerson, here is a compaison of their performance in the top 6 events

laver emerson
aus ru win
italy ru sf
france sf qf
wimb win qf
germ win L16
us ru win

Quite clearly laver has the better record. I regard wimb as > us; aus=italy and german just below.

In terms of tournaments laver won 16 and emerson 11
In terms of head to head its 9-5 to laver.

He win in all 3 categories and as usual is ranked at head of Emerson. The only year its close between the 2 is 1959 when they both derserved to ranked in the top 10, but theorder is unclear because I have not seen their minor results.


Laver throughout his career was ranked ahead of Gimeno. Gimeno was not ranked in the top ten in 1959;he might have been heading for the top in 1960, but that's not certain. a qf at paris and win at queens is not good enough and he did nothing on the pro circuit of significance either. Laver was clearly better in '60 with his great slam performance and 9 tournament win and was ranked without doubt as the no2 amateur.

both improved in 1961 and 1962. Laver though got better of gimeno at the start of '63 on the us tour and kept that edge for the tournament circuit.

Therefore laver was better 1959,60 and 63. He really has to be rated better in '61 and '62 . I would as usual rate him ahead of gimeno in '61 and place him with trabert and segura. I would tie emerson with with gimeno based on the fact they were always very close in the rankings when in the same field, but always behind laver. difficult to compare segura and trabert with laver as both were not serious players in 1963.

jeffrey
 
Hello Jeffrey,
I'm not so sure as you that Laver was better than Gimeno in 60 and 61. In particular in 61 Gimeno did well against Gonzales and I'm not sure Laver would have done as well against Pancho. As always you also know that I don't like the 7,4,3,2,1 counting.
A question : how many points did you give to Kenny and Pancho in your 1961 ranking ?
However your work (explained in your post) is very interesting and later I will have a serious look at it.
I read again your post later and I see you granted Trabert 7 points in the Kramer Cup : does it mean 14 points because you weigh the Cup by 2 ?
First I don't think that the Kramer Cup was as important as Wembley and Paris because that event was held only for 3 years and for the first time in 1961 whereas Wembley and Paris existed since the 30's. Finally in the Kramer Cup some "second class" players couldn't be selected so couldn't play the Cup while they could and entered Wembley and Paris so those tournaments had better fields than the Cup.
Moreover Trabert lost the decisive match to Hoad, so I think 7 points are too many (unfortunately all the great players, Rosewall, Gonzales, Hoad, Trabert, Gimeno, lost a match in that event so it's pretty tough to rank them).
In conclusion it is possible you give too much importance to the Cup and too many points to Trabert in that competition. What do you think ?
 
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chaognosis

Semi-Pro
The only way you are the GOAT is to win a slam on all three surfaces....
Um... in other words it would have been impossible for any player to be the G.O.A.T. for more than 80% of tennis history? That obviously cannot work as a definition. (At least, it should be obvious.)
 
reply to carlo

hello carlo,

about the kramer cup.Everybody who counted played (the top 6) and it was all 5 sets. No trabert was only awarded 7 points for his 2 wins. If a player won all 4 he would get 14. So rosewall earned 10 and hoad 7. I was also being nice to hoad, whose only 2 good performances were at Wembley and the Kramer cup. The event got lots of coverage, a very good crowd and hoad was ranked highly by the french press so it must have counted big.

I did the points from memory

Trabert had 36/40

segura had 30/34

the difference is the four man tours each won. I was not sure if to count those or not.


As to rosewall/gonzales it came out super close- a 59 to 58 win for gonzales. I have always felt Rosewall was the best but its very close. I counted the us pro as a 7; I'm not sure that's correct. In terms of field its only a 4 but it is a prestige event and that meant it was on a par with geneva, milan etc.

As to gimeno, being beaten 21-7 by gonzales is not a good result. gimeno did not win an event, nor did he perform well at paris or Wembley. Trabert in contrast had a 3-2 edge over segura,4-3 over gimeno and importantly a 2-1 edge over Rosewall. he was 1-2 against gonzales (only results shown in Macauley) and 2-4 against hoad. segura failed to win a match against either rosewall or gonzlales. Gimeno(I think) lost his only match to rosewall and lost all 3 of his matches to segura.

jeffrey
 

urban

Legend
On the pro situation there is now online available an old SI article on Laver from the year 1968 (08.26.68). Its by Kim Chapin.

http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1081522/index/htm?eref=sisf

Interesting are the opinions of former greats like Budge, Lacoste, Perry, Kramer or Borotra and writers like C.M.Jones and Tingay at a time, when Laver hadn't won the second Grand Slam. They rank him just behind people like Vines and Budge, but high on the list of post WWII players. Lacoste at that time ranks Rosewall Nr. 1 ahead of Tilden and Laver, but assumes that the latter could get even higher. Interesting are these old assesments in the light of the actual Federer debate.

Also interesting are Laver comments on his January 1963 losses to Hoad and Rosewall. He had to face Hoad one night, and Rosewall the next. That sort of match series was a complete new format for him. And he says, that he lacked form even in the last month of his amateur career in December 1962, after a gruelling last amateur season with over 160 singles matches, when he lost even to youngsters Newk and Roche.
I think that is quite important in the ranking of pro and amateur players in that timeframe. I think, that it would be fairer, to pick the Laver of June to October 1963 , to get a real measure of his amateur standard of 1962, not the January 1963 (and Dec. 1962) Laver, who was a bit on a down. As Andrew Tas showed, Laver was 40-12 in his tournament play in 1963 (June to Oct.), which more accustomed to him, while he got clobbered 43 to 56 something in the match series Jan to May 63. The rough baptism of the new pro on the first match series was the same procedure with Gonzales, who got clobbered by Kramer in 1949/50, or Rosewall, who was 85 to 87 in his first pro year in 1956. Hoad had the advantage to get a half year of pro tennis behind his back, before tackling on Gonzales for the title series in 1958.
 
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Hello Jeffrey and Urban.
Thanks for your comments.

Gimeno didn't very well against Pancho in the second part of the World Pro Tour but Gimeno led for some weeks in the first part of the tour (I don't remember well but Gonzales only reached the #1 place around the second night at Coubertin) and the Spaniard had beaten the American in their first two meetings.
I think the US Pro wasn't a great event at all in 61 : only the players who played the final part of the World Pro tour, entered the US Pro that year so not only Rosewall didn't enter but even the other players of the World Pro tour (in particular Segura who couldn't qualify for the second part because he was just Gonzales' replacement when the latter was ill or injured).

I also think that both you overrate "Laver 1962" (and possibly in the previous years).
I agree that Rocket had a very long season in 1962 so he could have been slightly handicapped early in 1963.
I also agree that in the second half of 1963 Laver was close to Rosewall but all the same Kenny dominated this second half without any doubt by winning the French and Wembley.

In one of my previous quotes I recalled that Laver told in September 1963 just after the French Pro final that he had improved by 50% in a year.

So if Rocket was right, in September 1963 he was 1.5 better than in September 1962 when he just made the amateur Slam
or in other words
in September 1962 Laver was "0.333 ..." (= 1 - 1/1.5) less good than he was in September 1963.
Apparently Rosewall 1962 was quite equal to Rosewall 1963.
So if Laver was slightly but clearly less good than Rosewall in September 1963
then Laver was more than "0.333 ..." less good than Rosewall in September 1962 (if I put as a hypothesis that Rosewall had always the same level from Sept 1962 to Sept 1963 which is a great assumption).

This is one of the arguments which makes me think that Rocket was clearly below Muscles in 1962.

But I agree that in the second half of 1963 Laver was close to Kenny and that as soon as January 1964 Laver passed Rosewall.
 
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hoodjem

G.O.A.T.
"Lance Tingay, the British journalist whose yearly world rankings are accepted as more or less official, names Tilden, Budge, Kramer, Vines and Laver as his top players of all" time, "not in any particular order. Laver is an outstanding match player, has outstanding all-round strength with a terribly good backhand."

C. M. Jones, editor of Lawn Tennis Magazine, says, "Vines, on the basis of one match, is at the top. Next in order is Budge. Then, in no particular order, come Laver, Tilden and Kramer. Laver's greatest asset is his very, very rapid speed of reaction and movement and his excellent personal attitude toward tennis. When he is in a tough spot, Laver doesn't in any way retreat. He gets bolder and bolder and uses his wide range of shots without fear. He has sheer bravery and a beautiful sense of play."

Fred Perry, the best player in England's history, puts Tilden "alone at the top." Behind him come Cochet, Vines and Budge—and Laver. "You have to put Laver in there," says Perry. "He's the best player since the war."

Jack Kramer says, "I can't rate Tilden, because he was past his prime when I saw him. From what I have seen I'd put Budge, Vines, Perry, Gonzalez and Bobby Riggs in the first echelon. I lean toward Vines as the No. 1 man in any given match. For overall consistency you have to look at Budge. In another group, just a shade below, are Frank Sedgman, Rosewall, Lew Hoad, Ted Schroeder and, believe it or not, Pancho Segura. Laver is up among that second group and vying for the first. He has no major weaknesses."

Budge ranks Vines and Kramer together at the top, then lists Perry, Laver, Gonzalez, Rosewall, Sedgman and Hoad, not in any order.

"I don't get to see very much tennis these days," Jean Borotra explains. "But I did watch Laver play briefly at Wimbledon. He was imperial!"

René Lacoste calls Laver's antagonist, Rosewall, the best ever. "He is a complete athlete who combines intelligence with dexterity. After him I'd put Tilden, with Laver third. The three are in a class apart. All the others come in at a good distance. Despite the handicap of his size and weight, he is tops in service, ground strokes and volleys.

Ken Rosewall, usually laconic, will talk at length about the mechanics of Laver's game. "He's exceptional, he's unorthodox and he's someone you couldn't copy," Rosewall says. "I don't quite know how he does them myself, but it's those wristy strokes of his that win. He has so much power in his left forearm that it obviously gives him a feeling of strength and confidence to play those unorthodox shots."

"Lefties are generally expected to have a weakness in their backhands, but that's a weakness Rod doesn't have. And the strength of his shots. Very few players on the defensive, or when running to make a recovery shot, can play as powerfully or as quickly as Rod."



This was written in 1968, before Laver won the open era grand slam.
 
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hoodjem

G.O.A.T.
Thanks Urban, a very nice article. It made my Saturday afternoon.



And thank you Roy and Melba. We are forever in your debt.
 
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"Lance Tingay, the British journalist whose yearly world rankings are accepted as more or less official, ...
My personal selfish contradiction is that I am one of the persons who don't recognize Tingay's rankings as official.

For me many of his amateur (and then open) rankings were beyond comprehension to be polite :

1) In the 50's and 60's when the Davis Cup was the most important amateur event many of the challenge rounds were played in December because Australia was often holder of the Cup. However Tingay didn't take into account the Cup results, when it was played in December, to rank the players. I can't understand that.

2) Most of the time beyond Wimbledon, tennis almost didn't exist in his mind. For instance he chose Santana as #1 amateur in 1966 but Manuel almost did nothing elsewhere that year. Emerson, Roche, and even Stolle had better records than Santana in 1966.
In 1970 Newcombe was behind Rosewall in every department (head-to-head matches (5-1 win-loss record for Kenny), "tournament won / tournament played" ratio, WCT prize money ranking, Grand Prix ranking, ...) except in the 5th set of the Wimbledon final. However Tingay placed Newcombe ahead of Rosewall (as McCauley).
Besides both Rosewall and Newcombe were probably behind Laver who therefore deserved perhaps the #1 place (as apparently all the players even Newcombe thought at the time though Rod has lost both Wimby and Forest).

Even in 1961 Tingay chose Laver instead of Emerson when he published his ranking just after the US amateur champs (Tingay just considered the results from January to September) whereas Emerson's 1961 record was probably as good as Laver's until that moment of the season (Tingay in his ranking hadn't taken into account Laver's seizure of the Australian State Championships in November and December 1961).
However if we consider the whole year as it always should have been, Laver possibly deserved the #1 amateur spot in my mind : JeffreyNeave has almost convinced me in one of his very new posts.

3) Nevertheless in a few occasions Tingay turned away the Wimby Champ as in 1953 and 1963.
In 1953 he preferred Trabert to Seixas (Wimby winner) and Rosewall (Australia and France champs winner) because the American had been impressive at Forest Hills (and hadn't play Wimby because he had just quit the Navy a few weeks before, due to Korean war) but Tingay didn't wait the Trabert-Rosewall Davis Cup clash in December to decide his world amateur ranking because it was published in late September or early October.
In 1963 he chose Osuna instead of McKinley because Osuna had beaten twice McKinley (Davis Cup and Forest Hills) but what had done Osuna in the first seven months of 1963 ? Virtually nothing. And apart from Forest Hills and his Davis Cup win over McKinley ? Almost nothing. Emerson won competitions throughout the whole year. He won his singles matches in the Davis Cup challenge round, beating in particular McKinley. He won about 12 tournaments including Roland Garros (and the Australian) that is 3 more times than Osuna (4 victories). Emmo beat Osuna in their single meeting in 1963 (Midland Counties Chps in Edgbaston UK). So how Osuna could be ranked #1 amateur in 1963 : incomprehensible.

In conclusion I have not a great respect for Tingay's rankings.

Another point : in 1953 after having watched Segura beat Sedgman at the Slazenger Chps, Eastbourne, in August, Tingay claimed that the best pro was Gonzales. Knowing that Gonzales didn't win Wembley and was crushed 3 times in as many meetings by Sedgman, Tingay was clearly wrong.
Other criticism : when you know that he watched pro matches why Tingay didn't publish pro (if not mixed rankings) rankings simultaneously with his amateur rankings (the same can be said about the previous tennis journalists, AW Myers, EC Potter, Allison Danzig, ...) ? Robert Roy, from L'Équipe, did pro-amateur rankings as soon as 1959 when he was really aware that the best pros were the top players. What a disaster that the French journalist died on the road in April 1962 !

To come back to Laver :
in my opinion it is inconcevable when a person doesn't consider Laver as one of the very best players of all time so I roughly agree all the comments selected by Hoodjem (these are rather the observers that I don't often agree with : Tingay, Kramer who sometimes could have very amazing statements. I own and read entirely his book from where comes Hoodjem's selection. Kramer clearly underrated Laver and Rosewall (for instance he ranked Rosewall #3 behind Gonzales and Laver in 1963. No comment), he also clearly overrated Riggs and I greatly suspect he did that in order to enhance himself in others' opinions).
Thank goodness that Laver was considered as a superb player in 1968 : after all he had been the best player in the world for 4 years at that period, since 1964. Not bad to say the least.
 

hoodjem

G.O.A.T.
In 1970 . . . both Rosewall and Newcombe were probably behind Laver who therefore deserved perhaps the #1 place (as apparently all the players even Newcombe thought at the time though Rod has lost both Wimby and Forest).

Thank goodness that Laver was considered as a superb player in 1968: after all he had been the best player in the world for 4 years at that period, since 1964. Not bad to say the least.
Would it be safe to say that Laver was the best (pro or am) player in the world in 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, and even 1970?
 
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timnz

Legend
Laver Number one - First 1/2 of 1971 as well - perhaps

Laver was the best player in the world at least the first half of 1971 as well. Laver won the 'Tennis Champions Classic' - winning 13 straight matches. He also won the Italian Open beating the French Open Champion. (The Italian open had a stronger field than Roland Garros that year - Laver wasn't allowed to play Roland Garros). He also made the final of the WCT finals narrowly losing to Rosewall. He was also the leader in WCT rankings.

Some people argue that a case could be made for him being the leading player for 1971 as well. (I think it is debatable). But at least he is in the discussion.

Anyway, quite an achievement being number one from 1964 through to the middle of 1971.
 

urban

Legend
1971 is a difficult year for rating. Yes, Laver was the Nr.1 player for the first half year, but with his Wim loss to Gorman fell into a slump. Nevertheless, he finished Nr. 1 in the WCT ranking list after 20 tournaments in November, leading Okker and Rosewall. He didn't play Forest Hills, as didn't Rosewall. Rosewall won the AO, a WCT event plus 3 other WCT titles and the play off at Dallas. Newcombe, the Wim winner, had a great first half year, too, with wins at 4 WCT events, but partly due to injuries faded in the second half of the season. Some thought, Stan Smith, who played the Garnd Prix, not the WCT series, was the Nr. 1 player, regarding his Wim final and Forest Hills win. In head to head, Laver lead all the other 3 players by small margins.
 
1971 is a difficult year for rating. Yes, Laver was the Nr.1 player for the first half year, but with his Wim loss to Gorman fell into a slump. Nevertheless, he finished Nr. 1 in the WCT ranking list after 20 tournaments in November, leading Okker and Rosewall. He didn't play Forest Hills, as didn't Rosewall. Rosewall won the AO, a WCT event plus 3 other WCT titles and the play off at Dallas. Newcombe, the Wim winner, had a great first half year, too, with wins at 4 WCT events, but partly due to injuries faded in the second half of the season. Some thought, Stan Smith, who played the Garnd Prix, not the WCT series, was the Nr. 1 player, regarding his Wim final and Forest Hills win. In head to head, Laver lead all the other 3 players by small margins.
Hello,
answers to all.
Laver #1 from 1964 to 1969 we all agree. For 1970 I'm not sure for the simple reason that I haven't studied precisely that year but he or Kenny (and not Newk) were the best. In 71 mainly because of his injury at the US Open Newk doesn't deserve the #1 place. Smith or Laver or even Rosewall are the best but once again I haven't greatly studied that year (for the moment I'm looking at the 1900's).
 

SgtJohn

Rookie
Hello,
answers to all.
Laver #1 from 1964 to 1969 we all agree. For 1970 I'm not sure for the simple reason that I haven't studied precisely that year but he or Kenny (and not Newk) were the best. In 71 mainly because of his injury at the US Open Newk doesn't deserve the #1 place. Smith or Laver or even Rosewall are the best but once again I haven't greatly studied that year (for the moment I'm looking at the 1900's).
These are hard years to rank because the tennis world was a bit 'schizophrenic' at the time.

To some observers, the Wimbledon aura, and that of the majors in general seemed very significant, which led Tingay to name Newcombe the #1 for both these years for instance.
To others (Times rankings, etc.), it seems on the contrary that in this new Open Era, prize money should be the be-all end-all of rankings, which would make Laver an obvious leader...

My personal rankings for 70 and 71 would be Rosewall-Laver-Newcombe and Smith-Rosewall-Newcombe, but that's extremely subjective.

If some of you have memories or texts about how their respective performance were perceived at the time, this would be great obviously.
Nowadays, when Federer loses at Wimbledon his year is immediately in danger, and had he lost at Flushing Meadows too, his season would have been a failure. I wonder how Laver's defeats in majors were perceived. According to the newspaper archives it came as a shock obviously but they do not mention the bigger picture, that is, whether the majors were as important as they were today as for year-end honors, or if they were a bit overshadowed by all these exciting new WCT tournaments...

Jonathan
 
These are hard years to rank because the tennis world was a bit 'schizophrenic' at the time.
...
Jonathan
McCauley in World Tennis ranked Newk first and Laver only 4th. Next month there was a huge amount of readers who sent letters to contradict McCauley's ranking because they thought that Laver deserved the #1 spot in 1970. The panel of journalists, chosen to help the WCT organizers to invite players for the new 1971 WCT circuit, ranked Laver #1, Rosewall #2, and Newcombe #3 (and Rochey 4th). I tend to agree with them (I contradict them for the rest of the ranking, in particular Nasty was 13th and Kodes 22th or something like this). Newcombe and Ralston considered that Laver was the best. However I will look at the few World Tennis mag of 1970-1971 I own to have a better view.
Laver was again seeded #1 at the 1971 Australian Open and even at Wimby 1971 though Ken and Newk entered both tournaments (and though he had failed at Wimby and Forest in 1970).
 
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SgtJohn

Rookie
Thank you for these details Carlo!

Just another point: let's not forget that tennis, throughout all the pro era, and in the early 70s too, really carried a 'boxing' mentality, where the world champion had to be taken off this throne. From this standpoint, the fact that neither Rosewall nor Newcombe could beat Laver in 1970 was hugely important.
Today, it's obviously better, rankings-wise, for Federer to be beaten by Nadal in the finals, for instance, than losing in the 4th round. At the time I'm not sure. I suspect that if Laver had reached, say, the final of the USO and been beaten by Rosewall (a result that is 'better' in modern terms than what he actually did), everyone would have hailed Rosewall the number 1 because he beat the champion.
 

Borgforever

Hall of Fame
Well, 1970 and 1971 was very complex years and I'm looking forward to Carlo's response on this issue.

But I tend to think during these years that we have a double or triple No. 1 -- why can't that be...?

Laver underperformed at the classic majors while his main rivals did very good and great at these -- while he had a fine H2H against his prime rivals and a collection of quality results outside of these main events.

Isn't the real issue that Rosewall, Newk and Smith started to close in on Laver -- threatening his overall superiority seriously and finally in 1970-71 and after that Rocket never had the upper hand like he did from 1964-69?

I think Rod should be "punished" for his poor Wimby perf in 1970 and Kenny and Newk get serious kudos for sticking it out. And what was the context around those H2H's between Newk, Rod and Kenny in 1970-71 anyway -- H2H's, as we all know, could be very misleading...
 

Borgforever

Hall of Fame
I'm going to delve deeper into the Doherty's-GOAT-issue later but first I give a short, condensed resume of what Sir Norman Brookes discussed with a friend of mine some (almost) 50 years ago...

Some context: Sir Norman Brookes was the first non-Brit to reach Wimby-finals in 1905 (losing in three straight against Little Do) finally being the first non-Brit winning the title in 1907 (when Little Do didn't try to retain his title in the Challenge Round-match-up) and won the Wimby title again in 1914 against an unprepared Tony Wilding who probably would've won had he been more up to it.

Sir Norman was a "South Paw" who also defended his Challenge Round-title to Patterson in 1919 but lost it.

Brookes told my friend that tennis was so different at the early 1900's from what it became from the 20's and later. Brookes also quoted Arthur Gore several times during their talk since Gore had played the men's singles at Wimby every single year since 1884 to 1927 -- passing away in 1928 -- thus having a great insight into the quality levels of tennis from the Renshaws to Tilden...

The main difference, according to Brookes, was the rules that you weren't really allowed to take any rest/pauses from play during the side-changes and that very few (among them the very sickly Dohertys) took any water or anything refreshing in between these changes. Laurie Doherty sometimes swiped his forehead with a silk hankie -- that was his entire refreshing and strengthening routine however long and hot and difficult match he was into. Crazy. Especially considering his weak physical status.

During this time games and sets could go way faster than today since there was no real time rule between points and many players had a lot of tennis-balls in their hands (around 3 or 4 at the same time) rifling accurate serves -- one almost directly after the other -- until the game was over which then could go very fast (indeed!)...

(cont'd)
 
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urban

Legend
If there had been a points race in 1970 and 71, Laver probably would have won it in both cases. He did win the WCT points race for 20 tournaments in 1971. JeffreyNeave has done a points calculation on both years, and Laver came on top. I think, he played too much in those years, when there was big money in the game for the very first time. This overflow of events and money was a problem of the pro game in the early open era, which Ashe adressed in his fine book with Frank Defort.
 

Borgforever

Hall of Fame
Just as an short overview Brookes told my friend that Laurie "Little Do" Doherty should qualify into the GOAT discussion. Brookes said this before Laver and Rosewall had really put their stamp on tennis but Pancho Gonzales was already a legend when he said this.

Brookes also said that the Renshaws was clearly surpassed in quality by the Dohertys meaning that the tennis kings of the 1890's: Wilfred Baddeley, Joshua Pim, Arthur Gore and Harold Mahoney was strongly competitive with the Renshaws. Brookes said the Renshaws was 1890's players in the 1880's but the Dohertys was kings for all ages -- all according to Brookes...

Brookes also confirmed some well known things that Reggie (the older Doherty) was the better of the two but was so sick he could hardly play after the 1890's. Laurie was not a strong fellow either but much, much stronger than Reggie who, at times, had trouble standing upright (?).

Laurie refined the expertise passed on to him from his older brother taking their tennis to it's peak...

More detailed info will arrive in the next days...
 
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Borgforever

Hall of Fame
If there had been a points race in 1970 and 71, Laver probably would have won it in both cases. He did win the WCT points race for 20 tournaments in 1971. JeffreyNeave has done a points calculation on both years, and Laver came on top. I think, he played too much in those years, when there was big money in the game for the very first time. This overflow of events and money was a problem of the pro game in the early open era, which Ashe adressed in his fine book with Frank Defort.
Oh, okey. JeffreyNeave demonstrated that Laver actually was No. 1 in 1970-71 based on clear results -- okey. Any links?
 
world rankings 1970 and 1971

I did a point system based around the ATP ranking system of the current decade

Real slams = 200
super nines =100
ordinary events = 60,50, 40, 35 etc

ratio of points 100 =win ; 70 = ru ; 45=sf ; 25=qf; 15=L16

In 1970 there were only 2 realslams; aussie open and french reduced to 100.
Also there were 11 super nines. However with total free choice no player entered more than 9 ;and only okker managed that.

Its an 18 event season (4 slams+ 9 supernines + 5 best others+ bonus of masters for 6 players)

1970 ranking

1. Laver 1095
2. Rosewall 865
3. Newcombe about 700

Laver easily wins with his 15 tourament victories (some of which are not counted because of the 5 best others restrictions). 6 of these were super 9
equivlents (philadelphia, syndey dunlop open( best of 5 set event with a much better field than the aussie open), psw, london wembley, South african open (big prestige event in thelate 60s like ilalian and german open), and the champions tennis classic (the big contract pro event like the WCT finals in latter years - laver earned 70,000 dollars and rosewall 45.000 from easily the biggest prize money event in 1970). laver's wins were all quality events. He had a 5-0 edge over rosewall and 3-0 edge over necombe and beat every player in the top 10 at least twice.


rosewall only won 6 events and none of his victories was a super nine; the most ponts rosewall earned outside the slams was 70 for being runner-up at sydney and champions tennis classic. he had a 5-1 edge on newcombe.


For 1971 there were only 6 super nines available. So there were 8 additional events counted to make up the 18. because some of these super 9 clashed with contractual obligation; the davis cup was a a replacement event for itf players like smith and nastase (eg neither nastase or kodes could play washington because of davis cup matches) and the champions tennis classic for wct players (neither laver or okker could play richmond because of classic tennis matches.). There were 5 slams for this year but only wimbledon deserved the full 200 points; aussie 150, italian 150, french 125, us open 150)
no itf players played the aussie open and hardley any top wct players played the french; therefore each group had only 4 majors to play.

1971 rankings
Laver 938
rosewall 818
ashe and smith 790
newcombe 750
nastase 725

Laver won farly easily because all his wins were in strong fields. A fact represented by the fact that he won far more matches over top players (the top 17 repesenting the top 10 of the wct and the top 7 of the itf - in all the top 10 rankings for 1971 that i have seen the WCt had 7 players and the itf only 3 confirming that the WCT circuit was the stronger one). The ratio of points for topwins was as follows
Laver 86; rosewall 57; newcombe 55; nastase 42; smith 32; ashe 30.

Nastase won 9 events and laver 7 but as you can see from the above ratios , alot of nastase's wins were from weak fields.

A different approach was to treat all events outside the majors as the same ie abandon the super 9 approach. You got extra points not for notional quality of the field, but for actually beating a top player.
The results were basically the same except nastase did better and ashe worse based on actually beating a good player.

1971 rankings were
laver 1010
rosewall 890
nastase 880
smith
newcombe
ashe

Laver's edge over rosewalll is the same under both systems.

jeffrey
 

Expired

Rookie
Don't have time to read all this..

Borg and McEnroe (They stick out the most from the past)
Federer and Nadal (They stick out the most in the present)
 

Borgforever

Hall of Fame
Jeffrey -- your work is classy as a diamond cutter's!

Well -- here we got (strange as it may seem with a back-to-back No. 1 for 1970-71 named Rod who didn't ace a single "classic major" in those years but still clearly the top man) the Laver-man who was Supremo Ono in 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970 AND 1971...

Just taste that stretch for a moment...

Eight years straight...

Eight (!)...

In arguably the toughest field of players before or since...

Sounds like a clear GOAT to me...

"For sure, no?" as Rafa would probably comment...

Now... How would Laver do against peak Gonzales and Borg do you all think?

Would the Rocket still prevail for three years straight in an imaginary play-off at AO, RG, Wimby and USO? Who would win the most? Who would win what?

Any thoughts from the other learned men here? :)

krosero? FiveO? Chaognosis? Urban? Moose? Rabbit? Hoodjem? JeffreyNeave? Carlo? AndrewTas? Sgt John? Crabgrass? CyBorg? And others I forget just now..?:) Sorry...
 
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timnz

Legend
8 Years not 7 for Laver

Jeffrey -- your work is classy as a diamond cutter's!

...the Laver-man who was Supremo Ono in 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970 AND 1971...

Just taste that stretch for a moment...

Seven years straight...


Actually that is 8 seasons not 7.

1964 - 1
1965 - 2
1966 - 3
1967 -4
1968 - 5
1969 - 6
1970 - 7
1971 - 8

All the more impressive :)
 
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urban

Legend
Thanks Jeffrey for the numbers. In my book, Laver was the Nr. 1 player from mid 1964 to mid 1971 - thats around 7 years. On an eventual computer ranking, he probably would have regained the Nr. 1 position back for a short time in early 1972.
As i said, 1971 is difficult to rank. If pressed, i probably would give the nod to Newcombe, because he won the big event, Wim, and in contrary to 1970, had some other good wins too. He won on grass, indoor, and even on clay (if Toronto was played on clay, what i believe). He impressed me at Wim; i never thought that he could lose the final to Smith, despite being down 1-2 sets. But he was the far more polished player in that final than Stan the Man. His early loss to Kodes at Forest Hills has to be put on context: Kodes was on a high tear there, reaching the final over Ashe, and barely losing it to Smith. Newk got his revenge in 1973.
 
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Reply to Jeffrey and short remarks to Borgforever

I) Thanks Jeffrey.

There are just only a few restrictions of mine about 1970 and 1971 :

- firstly I haven't studied those years as Jeffrey did so I can't have a tight OWN opinion
- second I contradict Jeffrey's countings simply because Jeffrey had more or less chose to take the modern ATP's point system (or the 1959 - 1964 pro system) which I disagree a little : I won't learn Jeffrey anything because he perfectly know my opinion about it.

Jeffrey's system is as follows :

Real slams = 200
super nines =100
ordinary events = 60,50, 40, 35 etc

ratio of points 100 =win ; 70 = ru ; 45=sf ; 25=qf; 15=L16.

Mine would be :
Real slams = 400
Equivalent of the Modern Masters Cup = 200
super nines =100
...

I think that the Slams are much more important than what the modern (and old) ATP sytem effectively grants them.
Henman had won a super nine at Paris in 2003 but he's already almost forgotten nowadays.
Safin is not famous for having won Madrid and Paris successively in late 2004 but for having won the Australian two months later (and for having won the US Open in 2000) though his wins in Madrid and Paris gave him as many points (100+100) as the Australian (200).
Nalbandian had also won Madrid and Paris in late 2007 but if he doesn't win a Slam he will be quickly forgotten.
Okker was probably as talented as Nastase but who remembers him (apart from such "foolish-stupid" guys as us). Nastase won majors and is still remembered now.
This why I think that a Slaw is worth around twice a Masters Cup and four times a Masters Series (or a Super Nine or a Masters 1000).

and ratio of points : if we suppose that draws are uniformly dense (which is of course a very strong hypothesis not to say a NON reality) then I think that points should be simply divided by two at each lower round
Thus 100 =win ; 50 = ru ; 25=sf ; 12.5=qf; and so on.

So when I have time I will do it and only then I could eventually compare it with Jeffrey's work.

In November-December 2006 in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Ken_Rosewall) Jeffrey had already given me his 1970 ranking (1 Laver 1100 points, 2 Rosewall 880 points) and when I told him what would be my point system he made a quick estimation according to my 4-2-1 system instead of the usual 2 - 1.5 - 1 system for the biggest events):
Jeffrey's new temporary estimation gave : 1 Laver 1072 points, 2 Rosewall 1028 points.

So my only slight reservation is that I haven't checked Jeffrey's estimations (in his system and in mine).
Apart from that I am very inclined to think that Jeffrey is right and that Laver was (at least at 95%, the 5% left being my "no checking") the #1 in 1970.

Because I haven't Jeffrey's 1971 estimation according to my point system I am even less sure than for 1970 but Jeffrey's 1971 ranking is probably near to the truth.

Last remark about 1970-1971 rankings.
Robert Geist is one of the rare persons who isn't annoyed to tie players.
For 1970 he considers that Laver-Rosewall-Newcombe are tied for 1st place.
And for 1971 he ranks Smith-Newcombe-Rosewall #1.

II) Thanks Borgforever about Brookes.

Here too some reservations.

Brookes couldn't judge the Renshaws from his own point of view but only from old accounts because he first came into the British Isles in 1905. He had never seen them play while he has watched (and played) the Dohertys (nevertheless Reggie was however virtually retired in 1905 and even Laurie too was not far from retirement).

About the Renshaws, according to GW Hillyard, James Ernest Renshaw played his best match ever in 1893-1894 (Hillyard was unable to give the exact year) in a handicap confrontation against W.M. Cranston played at Cannes Beau Site. James Ernest Renshaw gave the odds 1/2 40 to Cranston (I don't know what it means : did Renshaw owe 40 one game out of two ?). JE Renshaw won 26 61 61 (or 26 60 62 or 26 62 60 : it was written that JE lost two games in the last two sets). And Hillyard told (in 1925) :"I have never seen such play in handicap ... Ernest appeared inspired ... It was the most wonderful exhibition of complete control of the lawn tennis ball imaginable ...".

About the meetings between the Renshaw brothers, Hillyard wrote : "...The result was uninspiring in extreme. Ernest took no interest in the proceedings, and simply wouldn't try. As far as I know they never played in private, at any rate I never heard of them doing so." (as opposed to the Dohertys).
Hillyard picked up the best players he'd seen. In chronlogical order they were the Renshaws, Pim, the Dohertys, Brookes, Wilding, Johnston and Tilden. He also confessed that he'd never seen M.D. Whitman but wrote : "The Dohertys had the highest opinion of his (Whitman) paly, and often spoke to me about him, and always with admiration."
About Pim, Hillyard wrote : "Dr Pim then, at his best, was one of the greatest players (some think the greatest) ever seen. /.../ Complete master of every stroke on the court, there were two in particular I have never seen equalled. Indeed one of these I have never seen attempted by any other player. This was a drop volley made from any point between the service and base lines. / ... in a back of the court rally his opponent would drive a ball ... But the "Doctor", on occasion, did not let it bound. A rapid step or two forward, a snap of the wrist, and behold he had drop volleyd that ball short over the net, and left his antagonist stranded and staring, yards and yards away ! It was an amazing stroke, and one that only an absolute master fo the game could hope to bring off. Try it for yourself and see ! The other stroke I refer to was his lob ..."


In 1955 Brookes published his all-time ranking in his wife's book and he didn't rank Gonzales (and Segura) because he admitted he had almost never seen them play. So he had no opinion about Gonzales.
About his supposed statement concerning Laurie, as a contender in any GOAT discussion, I don't know what to think because in his ranking he placed Reggie ahead of Laurie.

Comparisons between Laver-Gonzales-Borg :

on fast courts I think that the very best Laver would have beaten the very best Gonzales who would have beaten the very best Borg.

But what has always amazed me was Gonzales' determination throughout his whole career. Borgforever in the AKAI thread you told that the very young Borg said pretty damn seriously (if I remember well at Wimby 72) that he would win one day on the Centre Court
but if I believe Gonzales' own autobiography, Pancho once he was enticed by tennis (when he was offered a tennis racket by his mother (or father), he didn't use it because he thought tennis was a sissy game)
his ambition wasn't to win the Davis Cup, Forest Hills or Wimbledon, but to become the best ever man who had played that game.
For once I agree with Kramer, at 5 all in the fifth set of a Slam final on a fast court, I would bet on Gonzales.
And so whenever Rocket wasn't at his very best, Gorgo would have won IMO.
The great strength of Laver was that he was able to be very good almost weak after weak (see his numerous victories still in 1970 and 1971 (and even in 1972)) but he could be beaten when he was at his very very best (see for example his losses to Kenny at the French Pro 1963 or at the WCT Finals 71-72) : I think that Gorgo would have grasped any opportunity (even his very old days he did : BBC2-Wembley 1966 and Howard Hughes Open in Las Vegas 1970). But it is very likely that on some matches Laver, being the more complete of all, would have prevailed (it seemed that only the very very best Hoad could have eventually mastered Laver).
At last I think that Borg's game wasn't as performant as Rocket and Gorgo on fast courts.

On slow courts Borg would have had the best results almost without any doubt (the only doubt being that his peak didn't coincide with Laver's and even less with Gorgo's); then Laver then Gonzales (who had the less impressive ground strokes of the trio).
But I think that sometimes the very very best Laver could have rivalled Borg or even beat the Swede on clay. In 74 it seemed that Laver at 36 years old gave a lesson to Borg on clay at River Oaks (of course it wasn't the best Borg but Björn was already a good performer). Even in September 1976, at 38 years old Laver wasn't ridiculous against Borg at the WITC Hilton Head tourney (63 75). And in his prime Laver played some remarkable matches on clay (Rocket think that his 1969 final at Roland was his best ever on that surface and effectively he played pretty well in that match, even leading Kenny 5-1 in the third set). So year in year out Borg would have won most of the clay events but sometimes he would have recorded some defeats by the very best Rocket in particular if the clay wasn't too slow because of humidity (Borg could also have lost to Pancho on that surface because even on clay Gonzales at his best was able to beat anyone but Borg's win-loss ratio would have been pretty strong).
 
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Borgforever

Hall of Fame
If you have no time to read all this about such an important subject
then do not take time to write such an uninteresting and wrong answer.
Agree in full! :)

A very fine and detailed post IMO which addresses all important aspects of the issues, Carlo, in your above written response.

I agree principally with everything of what you say here -- except maybe that Jeffrey's counting seems a bit more convincing to me since JeffreyNeave have taken into account the strength of the individual tourney's respective fields which, to me, weighs heavily in Laver's favor...

Does anyone here have the entire draw/results for the Pro Wimby 1967 (played in August 1967, broadcast by BBC in color)?

Thanks for Brookes info also Carlo! Will add nuance and interesting details regarding the great Sir Norman later...
 
About 1970 and 1971 rankings (continuation)

Agree in full! :)

A very fine and detailed post IMO ...
Hi Borgforever.

JeffreyNeave's new ranking for 1971 taking into account the quality of the fields was unknown to me until last Jeffrey's post and I will have to look at it one of these days (but I don't know when because you can note that I haven't even checked what Jeffrey proposed to me 2 years ago).

About 1970 and 1971 rankings (continuation)

In 1970 the panel of 10 international journalists for the 'Martini and Rosso' Cup, ranked Rosewall number 1 with 97 points (out of a possible 100) over Laver with 89 points and Newcombe 3rd with 81 points; the rest of the top ten were 4. Roche, 5. Ashe, 6. Richey, 7. Okker, 8. Emerson, 9. Nastase, 10. Gimeno;

The panel of journalists which made the WCT draw for 1971 ranked Laver #1, Rosewall #2, Newcombe #3

Judith Elian from L'Équipe placed Rosewall first ahead Newcombe, Roche, Laver and Richey;

Lance Tingay, Joe McCauley and Bud Collins each ranked Newcombe ahead Rosewall;

Mike Gibson : 1 Newcombe, 2 Rosewall, 3 Laver, 4 Roche and 5 Richey

Bud Collins : 1 Newcombe, 2 Rosewall, 3 Roche, 4 Laver, and 5 Nastase

McCauley : 1 Newcombe, 2 Rosewall, 3 Roche, 4 Laver. McCauley considered that the most important events in 1970 were the Slam tournaments and the Italian, German and South African Open tournaments (which I don’t agree; in 1968 McCauley even considered the Australian amateur as a great event which is nonsense) and swept away the Tennis Champions Classic 1970 results.

Rino Tommasi (who at that time made only win-loss percentages to rank the players) placed Rosewall ahead of Newcombe

“Tennis” (German magazine) took into account just the Slams, the Italian, the German, the South African Open and the Pacific Southwest Open tournaments : 1 Newcombe 18 pts; 2 Ashe, Kodes, Rosewall 14 pts; 5 Laver, Nastase, Roche 12 pts (a sort of McCauley’s ranking which of course I don’t approve too).

Julie M. Heldman : 1 Laver

I’ve watched all the World Tennis magazines I own from early 1970 to early 1972 and here are some extracts :

Peter Burwash interviewed Laver at the end of 1970 (interview published in the same World Tennis as the one where McCauley published his world ranking). Apparently Burwash considered that Laver was still the #1 in 1970 and Laver thought much about Gonzales’ desire to win :
PB Who do you think will be your successor ?
RL I don’t think in those terms. However, the best players coming along are Tony Roche and John Newcombe.
PB Which of the current active players do you admire the most ?
RL Pancho Gonzalez. He has terrific ability to play the game and he has always loved tennis. I marvel at Pancho’s desire to win.

World Tennis (author unknown) after some Laver’s matches in Tennis Champions Classic 1971 “Rod Laver is the best tennis player in the world … In 1970 he … was only ranked No. 4 in the World.”

David Gray in World Tennis in early 1971 : “John Newcombe won … at Philadelphia beating the unbeatable Laver. /…/ John Newcombe … upset the normal order of precedence /…/ Laver’s friends say that one of the things which irked him last year was that many leading critics ranked him below Newcombe, who won at Wimbledon, and Ken Rosewall, the U.S. champion. He beat all his rivals more often than they beat him and he won more money than any player in the history of the game. He missed out on the biggest occasions and won the merely lucrative ones.”

About Tennis Champion Classic, Laver told in his autobiography he had understood that this event was just a sort of exhibition because of poor attendances for instance at the Boston Garden (against Roche). In World Tennis they seemed to confirm that the public wasn’t interested any more in one-night stands : “… maybe 1,000 people in the (Madison Square) Garden twice Rod Laver beat Tom Okker.”

The last time a journalist in World Tennis (he didn’t sign his report) considered Rod Laver as the #1, was in May 1971 when Rod won the Italian Champs.

In July 1971, Marilyn Fernberger (the Philadelphia tournament organizer) wrote in World Tennis about the Washington tournament : “Several players remarked that Rod (Laver) cannot win a tournament now because “he is too rich”. He …can … no longer fight his way through a major tournament … At Philadelphia last winter after losing to Newcombe, he would not remain on the court for the presentation ceremony … the frequent criticism now of Laver as “cry baby” …

In October 1971 McCauley in World Tennis ranked Laver 3rd in the world (before the WCT Finals and the Grand Prix Masters because McCauley’s year began in mid-October 1969 and finished in early October 1970 after the Pacific Coast Champs) and in another report in the same edition of World Tennis, Laver was “still the best player in the world on a given day but paradoxically, no longer the World’s No. 1.”

About overseas men’s events in 1971, World Tennis devoted just a few lines to the Australian Open, 3 pages (most of them filled with photos) to the South African Open, 4 ½ pages to the Italian Open, 8 pages to the French Open and 10 pages to Wimby. In the French Open report, though 16 WCT players (including Laver, Rosewall, Newcombe, Okker, Roche, …) hadn’t entered Roland Garros, Richard Evans named Kodes the best claycourt player in the world (though Kodes had been clearly beaten by Laver at Rome, 75 63 63). Those examples show that the supposed greatness of the traditional championships had very much importance in those times whatever the players who entered those events.

Here are some 1971 rankings

the Martini Rossi gold racquet award
In 1971 the points (out of 110) were
1. Newcombe and Smith 96 points, 3. Rosewall 91, 4. Laver 90
Newcombe, Smith and Laver all received 3 votes with Rosewall receiving the other 2.
The rest of the top 10 were: 5. Kodes 6. Okker 7. Ashe 8. Nastase 9. Drysdale 10. Riessen.

Nastase : 1 Smith, 2 Newcombe, 3 Kodes, 4 Laver, 5 Rosewall (Nastase ranked himself only 9th)

Collins : 1 Newcombe, 2 Smith, 3 Rosewall, 4 Laver, 5 Kodes

Rex Bellamy : 1 Newcombe, 2 Smith, 3 Rosewall, 4 Laver, 5 Nastase

Judith Élian : 1 Newcombe and Smith, 3 Rosewall, 4 Laver, 5 Kodes (for Jeffrey about our Gimeno-Emerson discussions : 15 Gimeno, …, 17 Emerson (Orantes 20th))

In early 1972, Henry Christian “Harry” Hopman considered that Smith was the best player in the world (but I strongly doubt many Hopman’s assertions).
In World Tennis, Neil Armdur replaced McCauley to rank world players (but still used McCauley’s statistics) and he considered that Laver at his best was still the number one but ranked him only 4th behind Smith, Nastase and Rosewall (for Jeffrey : Armdur ranked Gimeno 10th and considered that Emerson was in the second Ten; Rex Bellamy ranked Gimeno 10th and (Connors 14th) Emerson 15th (Pilic 20th)).

In conclusion :

1970
Many critics in 1970 ranked Laver at best 3rd in the world (except apparently many journalists of the Martini and Rossi panel and of the WCT panel : I would like to know who they were) because he failed in the biggest events. But as you can note in the extracts above there were different opinions for instance inside World Tennis magazine. As I’ve said in previous quotes I am very close to Jeffrey’s opinion : I think at 95% that Laver was the best in 1970 (and at 5% that Rosewall was the #1).

1971
Apart from the 3 journalists (if someone knows who they are I would be glad to have the names) who voted Laver as the #1 in the Martini and Rossi award, no critic ranked Laver #1 in 1971. Apparently the last time Rocket was considered the best was after his Italian triumph but after his second successive failure at Wimby he wasn’t considered anymore as the king.
Jeffrey, of course you have no obligation, but I would be very interested if you could make a 1971 ranking according to my own point system (Real slams = 400, Equivalent of the Modern Masters Cup = 200, Super Nines =100, …, and my ratio points : 100 =win ; 50 = ru ; 25=sf ; 12.5=qf; and so on). I've seen your post below where you only take into account the greatest events but a ranking with all the events would be very fine.
I guess it could require too much work so don’t do it if you don’t want. But it would probably help to understand why most of the critics didn’t consider Laver as the #1 in 1971.
 
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