Mats Wilander vs Andy Murray: Revisiting the classic debate.

Who was greater?

  • Mats Wilander

    Votes: 23 67.6%
  • Andy Murray

    Votes: 11 32.4%

  • Total voters
    34
  • Poll closed .

Sport

Legend
I was reading another tennis forum which I can't mention here, and I saw that a user called Fedjkodal posted a ranking GOAT criteria. In his ranking he not only accounts Grand Slams, but also WTFs, Olympics, Masters 1000, weeks as #1, etc. Even though his ranking was interesting and very detailed, I feel like any attempt to make an all-title GOAT ranking will always underestimate the value of Grand Slams.

According to Fedjokodal's ranking, Andy Murray is greater than Mats Wilander. Why? Because Murray has the WTF, two Olympic Medals, more Masters 1000 and more weeks as #1. Basically, Murray is better than Wilander everywhere outside Grand Slams.

But Wilander has 7 Grand Slams (having won 3 of them on clay, 2 on hard courts, and 2 on grass). Murray "only" has 3 Grand Slams (and 0 on clay). 4 Grand Slams are a giant difference, and Murray was unable to win Grand Slams on all surfaces.

I would obviously put Wilander over Murray, but I was shocked when I saw that in m*nstennisf*rum some suggested Murray could be better than Wilander.

Who do you consider greater and why?

Discuss.
 
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Sport

Legend
MuryGOAT




Idk it's a tough one. I think you can look past just slam count for a guy like Murray, because of the competition. But to say he's better than a guy with 7 slams? Hard to say that.
Wilander had to defeat Lendl, Edberg and Becker though!
 
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heninfan99

Talk Tennis Guru
Why is the question even being asked!? Wilander by a trillion. He won slams on all surfaces. He won 3/4 slams and has more than double the amount of majors than Murray. This is like asking, “who is greater, Agassi or Courier?”
Maybe he wants to get Mainad going but I don't think he'll take the bait on this one.
 

weakera

Hall of Fame
Murray has a very boring and unspectaular game. I commend him for his success despite limited talent but he's a third tier specimen in terms of all time tennis rankings.
 

BeatlesFan

Talk Tennis Guru
Yep. Some will disagree, but Murray had to deal with three tier 1 ATG.
Immaterial. Few would know who Laver’s opponents were in his matches to win the CYGS.

As if Wilander played in a weak era? He had to contend with peak Mac, Lendl, Becker and Edberg. Wilander also played when there was true differences in the playing surfaces. When indoors was blisteringly fast carpet and grass was fast. Mats won two slams on super fast grass in the AO.
 

Tiki-Taka

Hall of Fame
Murray has a very boring and unspectaular game. I commend him for his success despite limited talent but he's a third tier specimen in terms of all time tennis rankings.
In my opinion Wilander didn't really have a jaw dropping game himself.
 

True Fanerer

G.O.A.T.
Immaterial. Few would know who Laver’s opponents were in his matches to win the CYGS.

As if Wilander played in a weak era? He had to contend with peak Mac, Lendl, Becker and Edberg. Wilander also played when there was true differences in the playing surfaces. When indoors was blisteringly fast carpet and grass was fast. Mats won two slams on super fast grass in the AO.
I was saying Murray > Courier
 

Pheasant

Hall of Fame
Mats Wilander was an awesome player. As much as I respect Murray, I cannot put Murray in Wilander's league.

Wilander accomplished some things that very few players accomplished.

Wilander went to 3 consecutive AO finals, which ties Djokovic and Lendl for the most ever.
Wilander is the youngest AO champion in history
Wilander won the FO in his very first tournament. The only other person to do this was the clay GOAT(Nadal).
Wilander won two slam titles on clay, grass, and hard courts. The only other player to do this was Nadal

Wilander also won 3 slam titles in a calendar year. He did this with incredible competition.

Here's Wilander's record against some good-to-great players that won a slam title during their careers:

7-15 vs Lendl(8 slam titles)
11-9 vs Edberg(6 slam titles)
6-7 vs McEnroe(7 slam titles)
7-5 vs Noah(1 slam title)
3-7 vs Becker(6 slam titles)
4-5 vs Cash(1 slam title)
2-5 vs Agassi(8 slam titles)
5-0 vs Connors(8 slam titles)
1-2 vs Sampras(14 slam titles)
4-5 vs Cash(1 slam title)

Wilander played 7 different opponents that won at least 6 career titles. Wilander had tougher competition than Murray. And he played these opponents on surfaces that were much more diverse.

This one easily goes to Wilander.
 
I put him ahead of Courier, but not someone like Wilander
Kind of obvious, really. Courier is only ahead by 1 slam and #1 stats, but Murray trounces his achievements in other categories. Courier winning two slams in a year is still not enough, too much consistency from Andy and masters wins.

Wilander, though, has more than double the slams (that's when AO stopped being terrible, Mats beat Mac and Lendl for '83 title), won RG at 17 beating four top 5 seeds in a row (that in itself should count for half a major imo, improbable feat) and had a 3-Slam winning season in 1988, beating Edberg & peak Cash (Lendl slayer) at the AO and Lendl himself at the USO in thrilling five-setters (the '88 USO final is perhaps the best USO F in Open era). Way too much of a gap for Murray's masters and WTF successful to bridge it. (OG not counted due to lack of significance in Wilander's time.)
 

True Fanerer

G.O.A.T.
Kind of obvious, really. Courier is only ahead by 1 slam and #1 stats, but Murray trounces his achievements in other categories. Courier winning two slams in a year is still not enough, too much consistency from Andy and masters wins.

Wilander, though, has more than double the slams (that's when AO stopped being terrible, Mats beat Mac and Lendl for '83 title), won RG at 17 beating four top 5 seeds in a row (that in itself should count for half a major imo, improbable feat) and had a 3-Slam winning season in 1988, beating Edberg & peak Cash (Lendl slayer) at the AO and Lendl himself at the USO in thrilling five-setters (the '88 USO final is perhaps the best USO F in Open era). Way too much of a gap for Murray's masters and WTF successful to bridge it. (OG not counted due to lack of significance in Wilander's time.)
A four slam gap is hard to make up for under any circumstances. Even Murygoat.
 

Sport

Legend
Mats Wilander was an awesome player. As much as I respect Murray, I cannot put Murray in Wilander's league.

Wilander accomplished some things that very few players accomplished.

Wilander went to 3 consecutive AO finals, which ties Djokovic and Lendl for the most ever.
Wilander is the youngest AO champion in history
Wilander won the FO in his very first tournament. The only other person to do this was the clay GOAT(Nadal).
Wilander won two slam titles on clay, grass, and hard courts. The only other player to do this was Nadal

Wilander also won 3 slam titles in a calendar year. He did this with incredible competition.

Here's Wilander's record against some good-to-great players that won a slam title during their careers:

7-15 vs Lendl(8 slam titles)
11-9 vs Edberg(6 slam titles)
6-7 vs McEnroe(7 slam titles)
7-5 vs Noah(1 slam title)
3-7 vs Becker(6 slam titles)
4-5 vs Cash(1 slam title)
2-5 vs Agassi(8 slam titles)
5-0 vs Connors(8 slam titles)
1-2 vs Sampras(14 slam titles)
4-5 vs Cash(1 slam title)

Wilander played 7 different opponents that won at least 6 career titles. Wilander had tougher competition than Murray. And he played these opponents on surfaces that were much more diverse.

This one easily goes to Wilander.
I totally agree that Wilander is greater than Murray. I also agree with everything you said, with one exception: "Wilander had a tougher competition than Murray". You are mixing quantity with quality. Wilander had to face overall more all-time greats. But none of those who you mention are better than the Big 3. McEnroe, Becker, Lendl and Edberg are not better than Federer, Nadal and Djokovic.

With that being said, I am not saying Wilander had a "weak era". Lendl, MacEnroe, Edberg and Becker are all of them all-time greats, but none of them are on the same league as Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. So, if anything, Murray had a tougher competition (even though Wilander's competition was tough as well).
 
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IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
My point was that Wilander also had its competition. True, Wilander didn't have to face the Big 3, but he had to compete against Lendl, Edberg and Becker which are all-time greats as well.
Lendl, Edberg, and Becker.

Plus all-time greats Agassi and McEnroe!
 

Pheasant

Hall of Fame
I totally agree that Wilander is greater than Murray. I also agree with everything you said, with one exception: "Wilander had a tougher competition than Murray". You are mixing quantity with quality. Wilander had to face overall more all-time greats. But none of those who you mention are better than the Big 3. McEnroe, Becker, Lendl and Edberg are not better than Federer, Nadal and Djokovic.

With that being said, I am not saying Wilander had a "weak era". Lendl, MacEnroe, Edberg and Becker are all of them all-time greats but none of them are on the same league as Federer, Nadal and Djokovic.
That's a fair statement, amigo. Quantity doesn't necessarily trump quality.
 

big ted

Hall of Fame
wilander is MILES ahead of murray in the mental toughness department, and thats one of
the most important factors when comparing 2 champions..
 

Towser83

G.O.A.T.
Wilander. Masters were less important back then for a start, and though you can say the first year of olympics being a medal even again, was in his best year on tour he didn't play the olympics, didn't get the chance in 1984 because it wasn't a medal event, didn't play at all in 1992, and in 1996 he was about to retire. Plus in those days olympics were so new to the tour, it wasn't seen as big as it is now.

Maybe his biggest failing is not winning the year end championship but Murray only has one of those and Wilander is much better at the slams, so yeah clearly Wilander had the better career
 

BeatlesFan

Talk Tennis Guru
In my opinion Wilander didn't really have a jaw dropping game himself.
He won 7 slams and beat legends of the game in many of his finals. Murray has a boring game to 90% of people too. I never was a fan of Mats or his game, but to compare his career accomplishments to Murray is a joke!
 

FrontHeadlock

Professional
I think Wilander has the better resume for sure, though I think two points are missing from the analysis:
  • A point for Wilander: Present day men's tennis has clearly become "entrenched" at the top, for a variety of reasons. So, when we analyze Murray's consistency outside of winning majors, we need to take into consideration that for many many years the tour has been consistent at the top (even at the "second" level as well with Ferrer, Berdych, Tsonga, Gasquet, etc -- consistent rankings), so Murray was overall more likely to excel at counting stats.
  • A point for Murray: Rote number of majors doesn't tell the whole story. Each of Wilander and Murray have reached 11 major finals in their respective careers, with Wilander winning 4 more. However, if you drill down at their finals opponents, you get the following:
  • Wilander has wins against Lendl 3x, Vilas, Curren, Cash and Leconte. Wilander has losses against Lendl 2x, Noah and Edberg.
  • Murray has wins against Djokovic 2x and Raonic. Murray has losses against Djokovic 5x and Federer 3x.
  • Murray undoubtedly had the much tougher set of finals, even though Wilander beat Lendl 3x. I'm not saying that I'd adjust by 4 majors, but it's worth considering that both were equally as good at making major finals, and what really separates them is the quality of their finals opponents.
I think it's probably fair to adjust by 1-2 majors for Murray, but it's probably also fair to adjust a bit for consistency by today's players in favor of Wilander.

Overall that leaves me with Wilander > Murray, but not by that much. I'd probably give the nod to Murray if he won at least 2 more majors.
 

Mainad

Bionic Poster
7 Slams > 3 Slams so that has to be the most important criterion.

In all other aspects, Murray fares very well in comparison. Holds a WTF title, 41 weeks ranked at #1 and a total of 45 titles compared to 0 WTF titles, 20 weeks ranked at #1 and a total of 33 titles for Wilander.
 

clout

Hall of Fame
7 Slams > 3 Slams so that has to be the most important criterion.

In all other aspects, Murray fares very well in comparison. Holds a WTF title, 41 weeks ranked at #1 and a total of 45 titles compared to 0 WTF titles, 20 weeks ranked at #1 and a total of 33 titles for Wilander.
Murray's career away from slams is actually quite impressive, but at the end of the day, unless the slam gap was only by one (or two depending on the situation), it's hard to argue against the player with 4 more slams (which is A LOT).
 

Djokovic2011

Bionic Poster
7 Slams > 3 Slams so that has to be the most important criterion.

In all other aspects, Murray fares very well in comparison. Holds a WTF title, 41 weeks ranked at #1 and a total of 45 titles compared to 0 WTF titles, 20 weeks ranked at #1 and a total of 33 titles for Wilander.
Yeah, you could argue Murray's had the more well rounded career(he's certainly been more consistent and durable than Wilander) but 4 slams is just too big a gap for him to be considered greater. In many ways it's kinda similar to the Nadal vs Djokovic debate.
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
I think Wilander has the better resume for sure, though I think two points are missing from the analysis:
  • A point for Wilander: Present day men's tennis has clearly become "entrenched" at the top, for a variety of reasons. So, when we analyze Murray's consistency outside of winning majors, we need to take into consideration that for many many years the tour has been consistent at the top (even at the "second" level as well with Ferrer, Berdych, Tsonga, Gasquet, etc -- consistent rankings), so Murray was overall more likely to excel at counting stats.
  • A point for Murray: Rote number of majors doesn't tell the whole story. Each of Wilander and Murray have reached 11 major finals in their respective careers, with Wilander winning 4 more. However, if you drill down at their finals opponents, you get the following:
  • Wilander has wins against Lendl 3x, Vilas, Curren, Cash and Leconte. Wilander has losses against Lendl 2x, Noah and Edberg.
  • Murray has wins against Djokovic 2x and Raonic. Murray has losses against Djokovic 5x and Federer 3x.
  • Murray undoubtedly had the much tougher set of finals, even though Wilander beat Lendl 3x. I'm not saying that I'd adjust by 4 majors, but it's worth considering that both were equally as good at making major finals, and what really separates them is the quality of their finals opponents.
I think it's probably fair to adjust by 1-2 majors for Murray, but it's probably also fair to adjust a bit for consistency by today's players in favor of Wilander.

Overall that leaves me with Wilander > Murray, but not by that much. I'd probably give the nod to Murray if he won at least 2 more majors.
Wilander had tougher draws throughout his early-years GS compared to Murray, often having to face numerous slam winners, as the field was much deeper then than in the era of the "big 3"...

Wilander slam winners defeated:
1982 FO: Lendl, Gerulitis, Vilas
1983 AO: Kriek, Mcenroe, Lendl
1984 AO: Edberg, Kriek
1985 FO: (young) Becker, McEnroe, Lendl
1988 AO: Edberg, Cash
1988 FO: Agassi
1988 USO: Lendl

Murray slam winners defeated:
2016 Wimbledon: nobody
2013 Wimbledon: Joker
2012 USO: Cilic, Joker

Much tougher route to GS crowns for Wilander!
 

FrontHeadlock

Professional
Wilander had tougher draws throughout his early-years GS compared to Murray, often having to face numerous slam winners, as the field was much deeper then than in the era of the "big 3"...

Wilander slam winners defeated:
1982 FO: Lendl, Gerulitis, Vilas
1983 AO: Kriek, Mcenroe, Lendl
1984 AO: Edberg, Kriek
1985 FO: (young) Becker, McEnroe, Lendl
1988 AO: Edberg, Cash
1988 FO: Agassi
1988 USO: Lendl

Murray slam winners defeated:
2016 Wimbledon: nobody
2013 Wimbledon: Joker
2012 USO: Cilic, Joker

Much tougher route to GS crowns for Wilander!
The field was deeper because of the entrenchment and stratification at the top today.

Also, you're being misleading. See my edits

1982 FO: Lendl (not a slam winner at that time), Gerulitis (won a very weak 77 AO), Vilas
1983 AO: Kriek (won 2 AOs over freaking Steve Denton), Mcenroe, Lendl (not a slam winner at that time)
1984 AO: Edberg (not a slam winner at that time), Kriek (won 2 AOs over freaking Steve Denton)
1985 FO: (young) Becker (not a slam winner at that time), McEnroe, Lendl
1988 AO: Edberg, Cash
1988 FO: Agassi (not a slam winner at that time)
1988 USO: Lendl
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
The field was deeper because of the entrenchment and stratification at the top today.

Also, you're being misleading. See my edits

1982 FO: Lendl (not a slam winner at that time), Gerulitis (won a very weak 77 AO), Vilas
1983 AO: Kriek (won 2 AOs over freaking Steve Denton), Mcenroe, Lendl (not a slam winner at that time)
1984 AO: Edberg (not a slam winner at that time), Kriek (won 2 AOs over freaking Steve Denton)
1985 FO: (young) Becker (not a slam winner at that time), McEnroe, Lendl
1988 AO: Edberg, Cash
1988 FO: Agassi (not a slam winner at that time)
1988 USO: Lendl
Better to play a young, future GS winner, than someone like Raonic :)

Edberg, Lendl, Agassi, and Becker won GS very shortly after playing Wilander, so they were certainly in that caliber at the time...

Bottom line, Murray only had to defeat 3 slam winners in route to 3 GS victories. Wilander had a much tougher path, no matter how you measure it.
 

BGod

Legend
I'll take a bite only because of the same 11 Slam Finals and Murray's WTF and OG.

Mind you with the OG, Wilander basically had one shot in 1988 and skipped it. That said I'm not going to ignore it entirely but it's mitigated, as are the Masters accumulation by the Big 4.

So with the 11 Finals, as has been mentioned, Wilander beat past-prime Vilas, Leconte and Curren for his weaker victories but he beat Lendl-Gerulaitis, Agassi and Edberg on his way. He was also beaten by Noah, Edberg and Lendl twice.
Murray we know, never even played Nadal in a Slam Final, although probably would have lost, he did get two weak draws however in 2013 and 2016 Wimbledon runs and Novak in 2013 is yes, weaker than usual.

You also have Murray with 10 SF losses to Wilander's 3. The weeks at #1 are a wash because Wilander needed 3 Slams to even get it and lost it 20 weeks later when he couldn't keep all 3.


ALL that said, 4 Slams is a big margin. If it was 5-3 I could give it to Murray for his longevity and extras (like OG) but at 7-3 it's too much of a stretch. You gotta win all those matches. I will say though it's closer than many might assume because Wilander's 1983 AO is probably the weakest run of the total 22 finals between both guys. But at the same time, Murray's losses weren't even close so at best it's something like a 6-4 margin.
 

Bobby Jr

G.O.A.T.
According to Fedjokodal's ranking, Andy Murray is greater than Mats Wilander. Why? Because Murray has the WTF, two Olympic Medals, more Masters 1000 and more weeks as #1. Basically, Murray is better than Wilander everywhere outside Grand Slams.
For the majority of Wilander's career there was no Olympic tennis so you can't fairly use that achievement of Murray's in a h2h comparison.

There is no universe where you can make an argument with a straight face that Murray is the greater player than Wilander. Wilander won 3 majors in one season, a feat no-one achieved again until Federer in 2004.
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
So with the 11 Finals, as has been mentioned, Wilander beat past-prime Vilas, Leconte and Curren for his weaker victories but he beat Lendl-Gerulaitis, Agassi and Edberg on his way. He was also beaten by Noah, Edberg and Lendl twice.
Beating 1983 McEnroe on grass at AO and Cash in 1988 AO were two other very strong victories. Cash just coming off a 1987 AO final and 1987 Wimbledon title, and McEnroe in peak form in 1983/1984.
 
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