Ranking the 90's clay courters

Flash O'Groove

Hall of Fame
So before 89, clay had been dominated by Lendl, Wilander and Borg. Since 2005, Nadal is the man. Let's discuss for a change the players who have succeeded at the FO (and those who have been fierce competitors) from 89 to 2004.

We have a few hard-courters who triumphed, namely Chang, Courier, Kafelnikov and Agassi. These guys didn't win a lot of clay court tournaments, sometime they skipped large chunk of the clay swing, but still they won the French. Who was the best of them? And how do they compare with the true clay specialists?

Among them, Kuerten has been discussed a lot has he is clearly the most accomplished (and has so many fans), and Muster likewise because of his 95-96 run and his sole FO. But Bruguera? Hardly a word for written on him. Likewise for Moya, Costa, Gaudio, Gomez, Medvedev, Corretja, etc.

Please those who followed the 90's, give us some hindsights on these forgotten players. And rank them (so the thread can go on and on for a few month).
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
Number one is definitely Kuerten, after that the next few spots have to go to Courier, Muster and Bruguera in some order. I'd rank Ferrero next after those to fill out the top 5. I might well put Chang last, his run was miraculous but he wasn't truly a great clay court player.
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
The 90's was the pinnacle of clay court specialist tennis on the men's tour. Today, everyone is the equivalent of a clay court specialist. For me, Kuerten is the obvious best clay court player, then Muster. After that, it's not so obvious. Perhaps Courier or Burguera although Courier was the better overall player. In my view, Agassi was the overall best player among the clay court specialists you've listed, but, he wasn't really a clay court specialist himself.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
So before 89, clay had been dominated by Lendl, Wilander and Borg. Since 2005, Nadal is the man. Let's discuss for a change the players who have succeeded at the FO (and those who have been fierce competitors) from 89 to 2004.

We have a few hard-courters who triumphed, namely Chang, Courier, Kafelnikov and Agassi. These guys didn't win a lot of clay court tournaments, sometime they skipped large chunk of the clay swing, but still they won the French. Who was the best of them? And how do they compare with the true clay specialists?

Among them, Kuerten has been discussed a lot has he is clearly the most accomplished (and has so many fans), and Muster likewise because of his 95-96 run and his sole FO. But Bruguera? Hardly a word for written on him. Likewise for Moya, Costa, Gaudio, Gomez, Medvedev, Corretja, etc.

Please those who followed the 90's, give us some hindsights on these forgotten players. And rank them (so the thread can go on and on for a few month).
Flash,

That's really kind of a tough question. Muster may have had the best one year in the 1990s on clay but Kuerten may have been the best I suppose overall in his career. Can you really count Kuerten since two of his three French majors were in the 2000s? Courier won the French twice in the 1990s but really wasn't a top force on clay.

Sergi Bruguera won two French Opens and was in the final of another losing to some lousy red clay player named Gustevo Kuerten who just never could smile. LOL!

Muster won a lot more clay titles in the 1990s including one French Open, a few in Rome, Monte Carlo, Barcelona etc.

I'm going with Muster whose sheer volume of top clay titles may overcome the extra French Open that Bruguera won.
 
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Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
Flash,

That's really kind of a tough question. Muster may have had the best one year in the 1990s on clay but Kuerten may have been the best I suppose overall in his career. Can you really count Kuerten since two of his three French majors were in the 2000s. Courier won the French twice in the 1990s but really wasn't a top force on clay.

Sergi Bruguera won two French Opens and was in the final of another losing to some lousy red clay player name Gustevo Kuerten who just never could smile. LOL!

Muster won a lot more clay titles in the 1990s including one French Open, a few in Rome, Monte Carlo, Barcelona etc.

I'm going with Muster whose sheer volume of top clay titles may overcome the extra French that Bruguera won.
Kuerten smiled so much, at odd times, that I thought maybe it was his way of grimacing. Then, later in his career he didn't smile so much. In retrospect, he probably was smiling because he loved playing so much, but, his hip was probably so bad, the pain took the smile away.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
Kuerten smiled so much, at odd times, that I thought maybe it was his way of grimacing. Then, later in his career he didn't smile so much. In retrospect, he probably was smiling because he loved playing so much, but, his hip was probably so bad, the pain took the smile away.
I loved everyone about that guy. He was fun to watch when he was in the zone. His disposition was impeccable. He had a very underrated serve. I think he was generally among the leaders in percentage of holding serve.

Another player whose career was too short. Guys like Mecir and Kuerten were brilliant players.

I would have loved to seen a in the zone Mecir versus an in the zone Kuerten on clay and hard court.
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
Speaking 90's acheivements alone I'd probably lean towards Bruguera..Keurten overlapped into the 2000s
Bruguera over Muster? I don't see it.

- Bruguera won 14 career titles, 13 clay titles (including 2 FO's and 2 Masters), and 1 HC title.
- Muster won 44 career titles, 41 clay court titles (including 1 FO and 7 Masters), 1 carpet title (Masters at Essen), and 1 HC title.
- From the ATP website it appears that Muster is 12-3 vs. Bruguera H2H (4-2 on clay with one match in which the surface isn't listed).
 
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Gizo

Hall of Fame
I would agree with ranking Muster over Bruguera.

RG is the most important factor here, but it isn't the only factor. Similarly when comparing overall records I don't believe in only looking at grand slam results and ignoring all other tournaments.

Muster winning 1 more Monte-Carlo title than Bruguera, 3 more Rome titles (beating him in the 1995 final), 2 more Barcelona titles (it's interesting that Bruguera could never win his home city tournament on his favourite surface) and 27 more clay court titles overall, is easily enough to offset Bruguera's 1 extra RG title (and 2 extra RG final appearances) in my opinion.
 
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Flash O'Groove

Hall of Fame
Flash,

That's really kind of a tough question. Muster may have had the best one year in the 1990s on clay but Kuerten may have been the best I suppose overall in his career. Can you really count Kuerten since two of his three French majors were in the 2000s. Courier won the French twice in the 1990s but really wasn't a top force on clay.

Sergi Bruguera won two French Opens and was in the final of another losing to some lousy red clay player name Gustevo Kuerten who just never could smile. LOL!

Muster won a lot more clay titles in the 1990s including one French Open, a few in Rome, Monte Carlo, Barcelona etc.

I'm going with Muster whose sheer volume of top clay titles may overcome the extra French that Bruguera won.
Actually the title is misleading because I intended to discuss a bit larger era that the 90's decade stricto sensu, from 89 to 2004. Starting with Chang to Gaudio there were 11 different French Open winners, in 16 years. Since 2005, we have had 4 different champions. Before that, the French Open was likewise dominated by a few players with only a few exception champion: Borg, Wilander and Lendl.

Also how can Courier win the French twice (and reach another final) and not be a top force on clay? I would say winning one of the only event that not only attracted clay court specialist but all players (including hard court specialist like Chang, Courier, Kafelnikov, Agassi, who were none the less proficient there) is pretty relevant. It's true his career was short, but when he was pretty dominating when he was there, and his success elsewhere doesn't detract from his success at the French.

I wonder if the wider context of this period - a lot of top players (in particular americans) disregarding the european clay swing isn't taken sufficiently into account when assessing this era. Muster may have won gazillion of tournaments, but who, of the top dogs of the time, cared? For example in the late 80's early 90's Agassi made 2 FO finals and 2 semi-finals in a 5 years span. In these 5 years, he played in 6 of the 15 "master 1000", mostly with early exits. Likewise Courier often skipped most of the clay swing, showed up for FO and...won It. From this I feel the FO should weight particularly high because it's the only clay tournament which was coveted by all.

So I would be tempted to have Kuerten but also Bruguera, Courier, Ferrero and even Agassi ahead of Muster.
 
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pc1

G.O.A.T.
Actually the title is misleading because I intended to discuss a bit larger era that the 90's decade stricto sensu, from 89 to 2004. Starting with Chang to Gaudio there were 11 different French Open winners, in 16 years. Since 2005, we have had 4 different champions. Before that, the French Open was likewise dominated by a few players with only a few exception champion: Borg, Wilander and Lendl.

Also how can Courier win the French twice (and reach another final) and not be a top force on clay? I would say winning one of the only event that not only attracted clay court specialist but all players (including hard court specialist like Chang, Courier, Kafelnikov, Agassi, who were none the less proficient there) is pretty relevant. It's true his career was short, but when he was pretty dominating when he was there, and his success elsewhere doesn't detract from his success at the French.

I wonder if the wider context of this period - a lot of top players (in particular americans) disregarding the european clay swing isn't taken sufficiently into account when assessing this era. Muster may have won gazillion of tournaments, but who, of the top dogs of the time, cared? For example in the late 80's early 90's Agassi made 2 FO finals and 2 semi-finals in a 5 years span. In these 5 years, he played in 6 of the 15 "master 1000", mostly with early exits. Likewise Courier often skipped most of the clay swing, showed up for FO and...won It. From this I feel the FO should weight particularly high because it's the only clay tournament which was coveted by all.

So I would be tempted to have Kuerten but also Bruguera, Courier, Ferrero and even Agassi ahead of Muster.
I know the Courier statement may seem weird but I never thought outside of the French titles he won that he was that great on clay. I understand the statement in itself is contradictory but that's the way I felt at the time.
 

Gizo

Hall of Fame
Courier's 'efficiency' on clay was very impressive. During his career he played in significantly fewer matches and entered significantly fewer tournaments on clay, compared to any other 'elite' player on the surface during the open era. As he was from the US, he didn't care about Monte-Carlo and Hamburg and regularly skipped both events, preferring to start his European campaign in Rome. However he still won back to back RG titles in 1991-1992 and back to back Rome titles in 1992-1993.

According to the official match records on the ATP website, which obviously will not be fully accurate or correct but still paint an interesting overall picture, he only played in 167 clay court matches in his career. Comparing that against the totals of 'other' elite players on the surface from the open era:

Vilas - 821
Muster - 549
Bruguera - 431
Nastase - 430
Nadal - 424*
Lendl - 403
Ferrero - 349
Kodes - 347
Wilander - 341
Borg - 292
Federer - 282*
Kuerten - 269
Djokovic - 235*
Agassi - 209
Courier - 167
 

KG1965

Legend
Courier's 'efficiency' on clay was very impressive. During his career he played in significantly fewer matches and entered significantly fewer tournaments on clay, compared to any other 'elite' player on the surface during the open era. As he was from the US, he didn't care about Monte-Carlo and Hamburg and regularly skipped both events, preferring to start his European campaign in Rome. However he still won back to back RG titles in 1991-1992 and back to back Rome titles in 1992-1993.

According to the official match records on the ATP website, which obviously will not be fully accurate or correct but still paint an interesting overall picture, he only played in 167 clay court matches in his career. Comparing that against the totals of 'other' elite players on the surface from the open era:

Vilas - 821
Muster - 549
Bruguera - 431
Nastase - 430
Nadal - 424*
Lendl - 403
Ferrero - 349
Kodes - 347
Wilander - 341
Borg - 292
Federer - 282*
Kuerten - 269
Djokovic - 235*
Agassi - 209
Courier - 167
Thanks Gizo.

+
Orantes 650
Dibbs 498
Clerc 389
Solomon 385
Panatta 373
Ramirez 297
Connors 259
 

deacsyoga

Banned
Are we talking about just 90s performance or their whole careers? Since I think the fairest way to do it is to consider predominant 90s clay courters but considering their whole careers (eg- consider Kuerten's 2000 and 2001, when just his 90s clay performance alone would clearly not be #1 worthy) I would go:

1. Kuerten
2. Muster
3. Courier
4. Bruguera
5. Moya

Someone mentioned Ferrero but he didnt even emerge as far as being noticeable until 2000 so I wouldnt consider him in the 90s at all. Kuerten at #1 is easy for me, considering Kuerten's 97-2001 all together. 5th was between Moya and Agassi for me, but I definitely think factoring in overall clay performance it is Moya even if Agassi was formidable at RG. Corretja or Rios would have a strong case for top 5 if they just won 1 RG, I guess Corretja even has a case for #5 considering his whole career as it is, with his 2 RG finals and everything else. Bruguera 4th was also easy for me even if he isnt far behind Courier or Muster, it isnt a tough choice at all for me to slate him behind both. Really my only tough choice was between Muster and Courier. I think Courier of say RG 92 was better than Muster ever was, and he owned Muster of course, and Muster at RG is only a 1 time winner, unlike Courier and Bruguera who are 2 time winners and in general was dissapointing and inferior to a lot of people at RG, the single most important clay tournament. Heck Agassi has a better RG record than Muster, LOL! However Muster's overall performance on clay, and his total dominance of clay for 2 straight years in 95 and 96 is hard to overlook.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
Courier's 'efficiency' on clay was very impressive. During his career he played in significantly fewer matches and entered significantly fewer tournaments on clay, compared to any other 'elite' player on the surface during the open era. As he was from the US, he didn't care about Monte-Carlo and Hamburg and regularly skipped both events, preferring to start his European campaign in Rome. However he still won back to back RG titles in 1991-1992 and back to back Rome titles in 1992-1993.

According to the official match records on the ATP website, which obviously will not be fully accurate or correct but still paint an interesting overall picture, he only played in 167 clay court matches in his career. Comparing that against the totals of 'other' elite players on the surface from the open era:

Vilas - 821
Muster - 549
Bruguera - 431
Nastase - 430
Nadal - 424*
Lendl - 403
Ferrero - 349
Kodes - 347
Wilander - 341
Borg - 292
Federer - 282*
Kuerten - 269
Djokovic - 235*
Agassi - 209
Courier - 167
I guess it shows what happens when you don't investigate the stats and go on gut feeling. Sometimes gut feeling is wrong!
 

KG1965

Legend
Different reflections

1) In the clay voice you should read red clay + har tru

2) Vilas, Orantes, Clerc, Dibbs performed their career mainly on red clay & har tru

3) In the 1970s it was mostly played on carpet and clay (including har tru)

4) Borg won very much playing a little number of matches because he preferred to change the surfaces even if the victories were not automatic (especially the early years).
 
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Waspsting

Hall of Fame
@Flash O'Groove - going to tread on your toes a bit:oops: - and re-post selected portions from a thread I started awhile back in the general section. The discussion that followed... was not quite what I'd hoped for

I think its close enough to the discussion you've initiated here that it'll add - not detract or derail

----

I was looking at figures on clay for the top clay courters of the 90s... and found them suggestive

Here are numbers for selected players - the first figure is winning percentage, the second is # of titles

Agassi - 72.7 & 7

Courier - 68.9 & 5
Bruguera 68.7 & 13
Muster 76.9 & 40
Chang 64.8 & 4
Kafelnikov 57.6 & 3
Kuerten 70.3 & 15
Moya 70.2 & 16
Corretja 66.4 & 10
Medvedev 67.3 & 9
Norman 60.5 & 7
Rios 68.9 & 9
A. Costa 66.4 & 12
Sampras 62.5 & 3


By contrast, modern players include -

Nadal 91.6 & 52
Federer 75.9 & 11
Djokovic 80 & 13
Murray 69.4 & 3
Ferrer 71.2 & 12
Berdych 64.9 & 2
Tsonga 65.1 & 1
Wawrinka 67.1 & 7

As you can see - the average winning rate patterns seem to have changed drastically

Ferrero and Coria are sort of a transition between the two... and their numbers show it

Ferrero 72.8 & 13
Coria 71.9 & 8

Basically, better than most of the 90s players but worse than 'Fedalovic'

---

What i'm getting from these numbers is something changed in the game so that a very even field shifted to one with a dominance hierarchy.

Poly strings, perhaps?



Finally, a couple of 80s greats -

Lendl 81.1 & 28
Wilander 77.1 & 21

----

The discrepancy between the 90s and the moderns is stunning. What to make of it?

Few thoughts to get the ball rolling -

- The notion of Sampras being an utter failure on clay doesn't hold. He wasn't great, but wasn't all that far behind the better players of his time. His winning rate is better than French Open champion Kafelnikov and on the same plane as a number of FO champions

- Muster's 40 titles. that includes 1 slam and 6 Masters - which means 33 were what we'd call lesser tournaments

- Agassi's excellent numbers. 72.7% win rate... second only to Muster

- Rios' record. The first man to complete the trio of Masters (Monte Carlo, Rome, Hamburg/Madrid) and he never so little as made it to the French semis
 
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pc1

G.O.A.T.
@Flash O'Groove - going to tread on your toes a bit:oops: - and re-post selected portions from a thread I started awhile back in the general section. The discussion that followed... was not quite what I'd hoped for

I think its close enough to the discussion you've initiated here that it'll add - not detract or derail

----

I was looking at figures on clay for the top clay courters of the 90s... and found them suggestive

Here are numbers for selected players - the first figure is winning percentage, the second is # of titles

Agassi - 72.7 & 7

Courier - 68.9 & 5
Bruguera 68.7 & 13
Muster 76.9 & 40
Chang 64.8 & 4
Kafelnikov 57.6 & 3
Kuerten 70.3 & 15
Moya 70.2 & 16
Corretja 66.4 & 10
Medvedev 67.3 & 9
Norman 60.5 & 7
Rios 68.9 & 9
A. Costa 66.4 & 12
Sampras 62.5 & 3


By contrast, modern players include -

Nadal 91.6 & 52
Federer 75.9 & 11
Djokovic 80 & 13
Murray 69.4 & 3
Ferrer 71.2 & 12
Berdych 64.9 & 2
Tsonga 65.1 & 1
Wawrinka 67.1 & 7

As you can see - the average winning rate patterns seem to have changed drastically

Ferrero and Coria are sort of a transition between the two... and their numbers show it

Ferrero 72.8 & 13
Coria 71.9 & 8

Basically, better than most of the 90s players but worse than 'Fedalovic'

---

What i'm getting from these numbers is something changed in the game so that a very even field shifted to one with a dominance hierarchy.

Poly strings, perhaps?



Finally, a couple of 80s greats -

Lendl 81.1 & 28
Wilander 77.1 & 21

----

The discrepancy between the 90s and the moderns is stunning. What to make of it?

Few thoughts to get the ball rolling -

- The notion of Sampras being an utter failure on clay doesn't hold. He wasn't great, but wasn't all that far behind the better players of his time. His winning rate is better than French Open champion Kafelnikov and on the same plane as a number of FO champions

- Muster's 40 titles. that includes 1 slam and 6 Masters - which means 33 were what we'd call lesser tournaments

- Agassi's excellent numbers. 72.7% win rate... second only to Muster

- Rios' record. The first man to complete the trio of Masters (Monte Carlo, Rome, Hamburg/Madrid) and he never so little as made it to the French semis
The figures of Courier also indicate to me I was correct in saying he wasn't a dominant player on clay even with the wins at the French. Great accomplishment of course in winning the French twice.
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
The figures of Courier also indicate to me I was correct in saying he wasn't a dominant player on clay even with the wins at the French. Great accomplishment of course in winning the French twice.
Courier had a very short peak in general. His peak level on clay was really high though.
 

deacsyoga

Banned
Courier had a very short peak in general. His peak level on clay was really high though.
and Muster was pretty much his bee-tch, even on clay. Looking at the massive beatdown in the 95 U.S Open round of 16 you even wonder if Muster could have won his only RG had Costa not taken Courier over for Muster the round before, despite that Courier was well past his peak and overall the much weaker clay courter by that point.
 

Moose Malloy

G.O.A.T.
I followed tennis very closely in the 90s(more than most posting here I suspect), and have probably written thousands of words over my many years here on many of the players mentioned so far, so I'm not sure where to begin. Was reluctant to post about this stuff again because of the effort required.

Also I see that the OP is talking about 1989-2004, so I will be mentioning players from there as well.

I value peak play pretty highly so I would rank Courier highly. In the 90s, upsets were an epidemic on all surfaces, especially clay, so seeing Courier breeze through the titles at Rome and Paris was pretty shocking, I certainly didn't see that coming. And he destroyed Muster in the 2nd round of Paris(beat him in Rome also) and Muster won Monte Carlo that year so these results are telling. And he destroyed Mancini as well(the best player on clay from 1989) and the young sensation of the tournament - Medvedev.

Courier was up a break in the fifth set of 93 Paris, so he was close to a very significant achievement at the time - 3 straight French Opens, a pretty small group of players.

bruguera's win in 93 was one of the most significant major wins of the open era, imo. His win/loss on all other surfaces at the time was less than .500, I remember Mac being blown away by that stat when he was calling the match.
A true claycourt specialist had never won the French before and bruguera qualified(though he eventually became good on all surfaces)
I had seen so many claycourters up until that point have great clay seasons then come to the French and lose to the top players like Lendl or Wilander or even Edberg(beat Mancini in 89) and Young Agassi(beat Perez roldan in 88) so bruguera delivering on his clay promise was big.

Also his peak level was pretty high as well imo. His game wasn't as offensive oriented as courier or Kuerten but when he was on it was hard to stop. And he could handle S&V players that were hot much better than muster(we all know muster's shock results in Paris over the years)
Bruguera's win over Medvedev in 94 RG was very impressive, Medvedev had won Monte Carlo and Hamburg that year. And his win over Berasategui was pretty impressive as well, he made the final without dropping a set(the only unseeded player to ever do that) and was hitting a ridiculous amount of fh winners, but bruguera was able to negate that weapon. Bruguera had an interesting style, most think of him as a human backboard, which he was to a degree, but he yet didn't have super human fitness like muster or courier. Had great passing shots and touch. Shades of Orantes in his game. His match with Becker in 91 Monte Carlo is one of the most entertaining claycourt matches I've seen.

I'll try to post more later, but to address @Waspsting question.
I posted some of this in response to gary in another thread. There are many reasons why there was so much inconsistency of claycourters in the 90s and why top players are incredibly consistent on clay today.
First top players today are incredibly consistent on all surfaces. We see the same players in the 2nd week of Wimbledon as the French and this has been happening for years. And it's not just the big four, guys like berdych, Ferrer, tsonga and others have had very good results on grass and clay. This sort of thing just didn't happen in the 90s on a consistent basis. Partly why Agassis career slam was such a big deal, I felt like I was watching a historic thing that may not happen again for many years.

Basically today's players play hardcourt tennis year round whether it be on clay or grass. Yeah I know there are adjustments but they arent dramatic adjustments. Nadal is a great claycourter, but he plays nothing like a bruguera or muster, hits more fh winners in a week than they hit in months. And pretty much all his points are played under 5 shots. While a bruguera berasategui match has ridiculously long rallies.

Other factors - there were unbalanced draws in the 90s on clay. I mentioned muster vs courier in 2nd round of 92 RG, when both won clay masters that year. In 98 Rios played Costa in 4th round, both had masters that year. Winner played Moya, another masters winners. Year after year you had great claycourters play each other in early rounds of French. Often the best clay courters werent even in the top 10.

Another factor of why they were inconsistent - injuries. Clay was such a physical game, the good clay courters often just had one or two good years before their body broke down. The idea of a RG final with two 30 year olds like we had this year would have been beyond absurd to me circa 1997. There were usually only two 30 year olds in the entire top 100 back then. there were multiple years in the 90s where every quarterfinalist was under 24. It was sort of the norm. Now the norm is almost everyone being 28 and over. Since top players today are having almost unprecedented longevity, it makes sense they would have higher win percentages as well I think.
 
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Druss

Hall of Fame
Bruguera over Muster? I don't see it.

- Bruguera won 14 career titles, 13 clay titles (including 2 FO's and 2 Masters), and 1 HC title.
- Muster won 44 career titles, 41 clay court titles (including 1 FO and 7 Masters), 1 carpet title (Masters at Essen), and 1 HC title.
- From the ATP website it appears that Muster is 12-3 vs. Bruguera H2H (4-2 on clay with one match in which the surface isn't listed).
I'm still baffled to this day how Muster only won one FO! He really should have won at least one or two more.

My vote goes to Muster for 90s, but if we're going by 89-04, then it has to be Kuerten.
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
I know the Courier statement may seem weird but I never thought outside of the French titles he won that he was that great on clay. I understand the statement in itself is contradictory but that's the way I felt at the time.
I think of Courier as a great clay courter. He could grind and slide with the best, and he had more power than almost all of them, especially his monstrous forehand.
 
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Mustard

Talk Tennis Guru
Thomas Muster is the best clay-courter of the 1990s, in my opinion. Anyone who watched those clay tournaments of 1995 and 1996 on channels like Eurosport will remember how he won so many tournaments, many of them after being so close to defeat in some matches. Muster won 11 clay tournaments in 1995, and another 7 in 1996. These tournaments were at all levels.

and Muster was pretty much his bee-tch, even on clay. Looking at the massive beatdown in the 95 U.S Open round of 16 you even wonder if Muster could have won his only RG had Costa not taken Courier over for Muster the round before, despite that Courier was well past his peak and overall the much weaker clay courter by that point.
In 1997, Muster was beating Courier on hardcourt multiple times. If you want to say that Courier was past his peak, then what was Muster in 1992-1993, when Courier got most of his wins against Muster?
 
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deacsyoga

Banned
Thomas Muster is the best clay-courter of the 1990s, in my opinion. Anyone who watched those clay tournaments of 1995 and 1996 on channels like Eurosport will remember how he won so many tournaments, many of them after being so close to defeat in some matches. Muster won 11 clay tournaments in 1995, and another 7 in 1996. These tournaments were at all levels.



In 1997, Muster was beating Courier on hardcourt multiple times. If you want to say that Courier was past his peak, then what was Muster in 1992-1993, when Courier got most of his wins against Muster?
Yes Muster did well against Courier in 97, but outside of that and overall he was still Courier's bee-tch. I say Federer overall is Nadal's bee-tch, despite 2017 being the complete opposite, and Muster was Courier's moreso than Federer was Nadal's IMO.
 

JasonZ

Professional
Courier >>>>> Muster. Courier of 1992 would defeat Muster of 1995 on clay 10 times out of ten times. Especially at the french open.

If Courier would have played all these kitzbühels and snt pöltens tournaments in his prime like muster, his clay title count would also be much more imposing. But he, like other americans, simply never cared about these third class joke tournaments. Same for Agassi.
 

NatF

Bionic Poster
I followed tennis very closely in the 90s(more than most posting here I suspect), and have probably written thousands of words over my many years here on many of the players mentioned so far, so I'm not sure where to begin. Was reluctant to post about this stuff again because of the effort required.

Also I see that the OP is talking about 1989-2004, so I will be mentioning players from there as well.

I value peak play pretty highly so I would rank Courier highly. In the 90s, upsets were an epidemic on all surfaces, especially clay, so seeing Courier breeze through the titles at Rome and Paris was pretty shocking, I certainly didn't see that coming. And he destroyed Muster in the 2nd round of Paris(beat him in Rome also) and Muster won Monte Carlo that year so these results are telling. And he destroyed Mancini as well(the best player on clay from 1989) and the young sensation of the tournament - Medvedev.

Courier was up a break in the fifth set of 93 Paris, so he was close to a very significant achievement at the time - 3 straight French Opens, a pretty small group of players.

bruguera's win in 93 was one of the most significant major wins of the open era, imo. His win/loss on all other surfaces at the time was less than .500, I remember Mac being blown away by that stat when he was calling the match.
A true claycourt specialist had never won the French before and bruguera qualified(though he eventually became good on all surfaces)
I had seen so many claycourters up until that point have great clay seasons then come to the French and lose to the top players like Lendl or Wilander or even Edberg(beat Mancini in 89) and Young Agassi(beat Perez roldan in 88) so bruguera delivering on his clay promise was big.

Also his peak level was pretty high as well imo. His game wasn't as offensive oriented as courier or Kuerten but when he was on it was hard to stop. And he could handle S&V players that were hot much better than muster(we all know muster's shock results in Paris over the years)
Bruguera's win over Medvedev in 94 RG was very impressive, Medvedev had won Monte Carlo and Hamburg that year. And his win over Berasategui was pretty impressive as well, he made the final without dropping a set(the only unseeded player to ever do that) and was hitting a ridiculous amount of fh winners, but bruguera was able to negate that weapon. Bruguera had an interesting style, most think of him as a human backboard, which he was to a degree, but he yet didn't have super human fitness like muster or courier. Had great passing shots and touch. Shades of Orantes in his game. His match with Becker in 91 Monte Carlo is one of the most entertaining claycourt matches I've seen.

I'll try to post more later, but to address @Waspsting question.
I posted some of this in response to gary in another thread. There are many reasons why there was so much inconsistency of claycourters in the 90s and why top players are incredibly consistent on clay today.
First top players today are incredibly consistent on all surfaces. We see the same players in the 2nd week of Wimbledon as the French and this has been happening for years. And it's not just the big four, guys like berdych, Ferrer, tsonga and others have had very good results on grass and clay. This sort of thing just didn't happen in the 90s on a consistent basis. Partly why Agassis career slam was such a big deal, I felt like I was watching a historic thing that may not happen again for many years.

Basically today's players play hardcourt tennis year round whether it be on clay or grass. Yeah I know there are adjustments but they arent dramatic adjustments. Nadal is a great claycourter, but he plays nothing like a bruguera or muster, hits more fh winners in a week than they hit in months. And pretty much all his points are played under 5 shots. While a bruguera berasategui match has ridiculously long rallies.

Other factors - there were unbalanced draws in the 90s on clay. I mentioned muster vs courier in 2nd round of 92 RG, when both won clay masters that year. In 98 Rios played Costa in 4th round, both had masters that year. Winner played Moya, another masters winners. Year after year you had great claycourters play each other in early rounds of French. Often the best clay courters werent even in the top 10.

Another factor of why they were inconsistent - injuries. Clay was such a physical game, the good clay courters often just had one or two good years before their body broke down. The idea of a RG final with two 30 year olds like we had this year would have been beyond absurd to me circa 1997. There were usually only two 30 year olds in the entire top 100 back then. there were multiple years in the 90s where every quarterfinalist was under 24. It was sort of the norm. Now the norm is almost everyone being 28 and over. Since top players today are having almost unprecedented longevity, it makes sense they would have higher win percentages as well I think.
Gem of a post. I look forward to part 2.
 

Mustard

Talk Tennis Guru
Courier >>>>> Muster. Courier of 1992 would defeat Muster of 1995 on clay 10 times out of ten times. Especially at the french open.
Based on what? The game had changed a bit by 1995 compared to 1992, more power and fitness. I was a bit concerned about Courier being in Muster's quarter at the 1995 French Open, but not overly worried. Muster had the form and the matches behind him like I'd never seen in his career before. Albert Costa, who beat Courier, gave Muster a fright anyway.

If Courier would have played all these kitzbühels and snt pöltens tournaments in his prime like muster, his clay title count would also be much more imposing. But he, like other americans, simply never cared about these third class joke tournaments. Same for Agassi.
But he didn't. Courier played events like San Jose, Scottsdale, Tokyo Outdoor, Hong Kong etc., taking the hardcourt route, while Muster took the clay-court route out of necessity. Courier didn't play all that many clay events. He only won 5 clay tournaments in his career, admittedly 4 of them being big tournaments.

Honestly, the snobbery that American players had against clay tournaments in those days, not using the same criteria about them playing a lot of hardcourt tournaments instead. For example, when Muster got to world number 1 in 1996, Agassi and Sampras said that Muster was only number 1 based on clay results. This was at a time when Agassi himself had only won hardcourt tournaments in 1995, while Muster had won an indoor carpet Super 9, where he beat Sampras on his way to the title.
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
Thomas Muster is the best clay-courter of the 1990s, in my opinion. Anyone who watched those clay tournaments of 1995 and 1996 on channels like Eurosport will remember how he won so many tournaments, many of them after being so close to defeat in some matches. Muster won 11 clay tournaments in 1995, and another 7 in 1996. These tournaments were at all levels.



In 1997, Muster was beating Courier on hardcourt multiple times. If you want to say that Courier was past his peak, then what was Muster in 1992-1993, when Courier got most of his wins against Muster?
Muster may have the best clay court record of the 90's. But, in my view, Agassi, Kuerten and Courier, at their peaks, played at a higher level.
 

JasonZ

Professional
Based on what? The game had changed a bit by 1995 compared to 1992, more power and fitness. I was a bit concerned about Courier being in Muster's quarter at the 1995 French Open, but not overly worried. Muster had the form and the matches behind him like I'd never seen in his career before. Albert Costa, who beat Courier, gave Muster a fright anyway.



But he didn't. Courier played events like San Jose, Scottsdale, Tokyo Outdoor, Hong Kong etc., taking the hardcourt route, while Muster took the clay-court route out of necessity. Courier didn't play all that many clay events. He only won 5 clay tournaments in his career, admittedly 4 of them being big tournaments.

Honestly, the snobbery that American players had against clay tournaments in those days, not using the same criteria about them playing a lot of hardcourt tournaments instead. For example, when Muster got to world number 1 in 1996, Agassi and Sampras said that Muster was only number 1 based on clay results. This was at a time when Agassi himself had only won hardcourt tournaments in 1995, while Muster had won an indoor carpet Super 9, where he beat Sampras on his way to the title.
Because Muster was simply a much inferior tennisplayer to players like Sampras, Agassi and Becker. He didnt even win one single match at wimbledon. His game was so limited. And many clay specialists of that era were also very limited.

Albert Costa for example. A very good clay courter, but a total failure anywhere else.

While Rafter and Krajicek reached the semis of the french open. Goran reached the quarters 3 times. And these guys never build their game around clay, played not many clay tournaments. But their natural abilities made their competitive even on clay.

So while Courier was simply a great player on all surfaces during his peak, even very good on grass, Muster could never ever reach that level.

And Couriers level in 1992 is much much higher than Musters overrated 1995 clay run.

Muster is one of the biggest overachievers regarding his limited natural tennis abilities.
 

Waspsting

Hall of Fame
The figures of Courier also indicate to me I was correct in saying he wasn't a dominant player on clay even with the wins at the French. Great accomplishment of course in winning the French twice.
He seems to have not made much effort to play on clay at his peak.

From his breakout 1991 French Open title to the 1993 French runner-up showing, he was 34-3 on clay

That's 2/3 French titles (and 1 runner-up) and 2/2 Rome... skipped Monte Carlo and Hamburg. Other two losses were at Olympics and a one-off minor tournament he played after Wimbledon 92 (probably to warm up for the Olympics)

I would conclude he had the potential to dominate on clay... if he'd entered tournaments at the frequency Muster did in 95-96, possibly he could have matched him. And of course, his peak and prime were both relatively short (so were Muster's actually)

I remember his battle with Agassi in 92 French semi (also the 91 final, to a lesser degree) and how he was clearly the better player from the baseliner, bossing Andre about like no one else did or could

Basically today's players play hardcourt tennis year round whether it be on clay or grass... Nadal (on clay) hits more fh winners in a week than (90s clay courters) hit in months. And pretty much all his points are played under 5 shots. While a bruguera berasategui match has ridiculously long rallies.
I agree - and put this down to racquet tech changes

90s clay court tennis was mostly a who-blinks-first affair - rally til someone makes the error - with being aggressive from the baseline being a low percentage play

Today, consistency is still important (more so than the other surfaces, however subtly) but there's a lot more potential to hit the winner.

Kuerten was ahead of his time with the aggression he showed, accentuated because he did it off the backhand as well as forehand (rare). Courier was less aggressive than Kuerten but more than the norm - I think of his clay style as "bossing" rather than "who-blinks-first"

Muster and Bruguera probably best epitomize 90s clay.

I came across a thread here that claims Bruguera hit with as much topspin - even without adjustment for equipment - as Nadal

Interesting article backed up with facts...Thought Nadal's average topspin was the highest in history as per his fans on this board....Bruguera hit with the same average topspin...and this was without the use of co-poly strings...

■ Nadal's forehand averages 3,300 rpms, which is about 18% more than the average topspin on forehands from Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Roddick, while Andy Murray comes in another notch lower.

Sergi Bruguera, who won the French Open in 1993 and 1994 before injuries impaired his career, hit with the same average topspin as Nadal, 3,300 rpms, according to
Yandell. I believe this is before co-poly strings were introduced. Bruguera lost the French Open final to Gustavo Kuerten in 1997, and Kuerten is generally cited as the first player to use Luxilon. Imagine if Bruguera in his prime hit with today's rackets and hybrid strings, on today's high-bouncing courts.


http://www.fawcette.net/2012/02/federer-hits-with-more-spin-than-nadal-.html .
(Credit - @Omega_7000 ) the whole thread is here -

https://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/index.php?threads/bruguera-nadal-3-300-rpm-average-topspin.491921/


...Now the norm is almost everyone being 28 and over. Since top players today are having almost unprecedented longevity, it makes sense they would have higher win percentages as well I think.
True, but the 90s in general - on clay and off - are a statistical oddity in terms of relatively low winning rates for the top players. @Gary Duane I believe has demonstrated this with the stats he's compiled

Why do you think the 90s had lower winning rates on clay than the 80s?

Is it as simple as the two great 80s clay courters (Lendl and Wilander) were significantly better players than the 90s bunch? (A view I would lean towards in the absence of an alternative explanation)

Or is there something more going on?

... have probably written thousands of words over my many years here on many of the players mentioned so far, so I'm not sure where to begin. Was reluctant to post about this stuff again because of the effort required.
:)

You Sir, are the Bjorn Borg of these 'ere hills - for once, I would take a Jimmy Connors ahead

Thanks for contributing!
 

Mustard

Talk Tennis Guru
And Couriers level in 1992 is much much higher than Musters overrated 1995 clay run.

Muster is one of the biggest overachievers regarding his limited natural tennis abilities.
Muster achieved what he did despite a terrible knee injury. Overachiever, indeed. Muster was 65-2 on clay in 1995, including winning the French Open, Monte Carlo, Rome, Stuttgart Outdoor and Barcelona. None of those are small. Courier did not play anywhere near enough on clay to have this resume. Even in 1992, Courier had periods off his top form, like the second half of the year.

An interesting stat is Muster's H-to-H vs Edberg: 0-10, including four on clay.
Yet 4 of those matches were very close, including one on grass and one on carpet.
 

Mustard

Talk Tennis Guru
I would conclude he had the potential to dominate on clay... if he'd entered tournaments at the frequency Muster did in 95-96, possibly he could have matched him. And of course, his peak and prime were both relatively short (so were Muster's actually)

I remember his battle with Agassi in 92 French semi (also the 91 final, to a lesser degree) and how he was clearly the better player from the baseliner, bossing Andre about like no one else did or could
Courier didn't win Kitzbuhel or the Barcelona Olympics on clay in 1992, so he wasn't at 1995 Muster levels consistently. Courier was a boom and slump player, even in his best years.
 

deacsyoga

Banned
Courier was a boom and slump player, even in his best years.
This is absolutely true but I dont think this is a horrible thing either. He was great at peaking for when it mattered most in his best years, both on clay, and outside of it. The only day this was not true was the 93 RG final which was a rare time he had an off day and mentally did not come through in a big match. Everyone expected a 3peat, and despite not being at his best he had 2-0 in the 5th set, but couldnt hang on. Olympics back then was not an important event in tennis at all btw.

92 Roland Garros is one of the best clay court displays ever, especialy considering his insanely strong draw. Yet he utterly dominated all the way through, with like 5 of the 7 people he faced being a very high quality clay court opponent.

I know Muster is your favorite player, but isnt Courier one of his your favorite players as well? So you would be familiar with his career trajectory.
 

JasonZ

Professional
Muster achieved what he did despite a terrible knee injury. Overachiever, indeed. Muster was 65-2 on clay in 1995, including winning the French Open, Monte Carlo, Rome, Stuttgart Outdoor and Barcelona. None of those are small. Courier did not play anywhere near enough on clay to have this resume. Even in 1992, Courier had periods off his top form, like the second half of the year.



Yet 4 of those matches were very close, including one on grass and one on carpet.
Muster recovered completely from the knee injury. Maybe without that injury he would not have trained so hard and would not become the machine he was.

And 0-10 against edberg is simply evidence for musters extremely limited talent. Wow, 4 matches were very close.

Muster was the best of the the 90's clay grinders like Andrea Gaudenzi. Thats it. He is nowhere near other great clay players like Kuerten, Ferrero or Courier, who were really extremely gifted players and had a very high peak outside clay also.
 

Flash O'Groove

Hall of Fame
@Flash O'Groove - going to tread on your toes a bit:oops: - and re-post selected portions from a thread I started awhile back in the general section. The discussion that followed... was not quite what I'd hoped for

I think its close enough to the discussion you've initiated here that it'll add - not detract or derail

----

I was looking at figures on clay for the top clay courters of the 90s... and found them suggestive

Here are numbers for selected players - the first figure is winning percentage, the second is # of titles

Agassi - 72.7 & 7

Courier - 68.9 & 5
Bruguera 68.7 & 13
Muster 76.9 & 40
Chang 64.8 & 4
Kafelnikov 57.6 & 3
Kuerten 70.3 & 15
Moya 70.2 & 16
Corretja 66.4 & 10
Medvedev 67.3 & 9
Norman 60.5 & 7
Rios 68.9 & 9
A. Costa 66.4 & 12
Sampras 62.5 & 3


By contrast, modern players include -

Nadal 91.6 & 52
Federer 75.9 & 11
Djokovic 80 & 13
Murray 69.4 & 3
Ferrer 71.2 & 12
Berdych 64.9 & 2
Tsonga 65.1 & 1
Wawrinka 67.1 & 7

As you can see - the average winning rate patterns seem to have changed drastically

Ferrero and Coria are sort of a transition between the two... and their numbers show it

Ferrero 72.8 & 13
Coria 71.9 & 8

Basically, better than most of the 90s players but worse than 'Fedalovic'

---

What i'm getting from these numbers is something changed in the game so that a very even field shifted to one with a dominance hierarchy.

Poly strings, perhaps?



Finally, a couple of 80s greats -

Lendl 81.1 & 28
Wilander 77.1 & 21

----

The discrepancy between the 90s and the moderns is stunning. What to make of it?

Few thoughts to get the ball rolling -

- The notion of Sampras being an utter failure on clay doesn't hold. He wasn't great, but wasn't all that far behind the better players of his time. His winning rate is better than French Open champion Kafelnikov and on the same plane as a number of FO champions

- Muster's 40 titles. that includes 1 slam and 6 Masters - which means 33 were what we'd call lesser tournaments

- Agassi's excellent numbers. 72.7% win rate... second only to Muster

- Rios' record. The first man to complete the trio of Masters (Monte Carlo, Rome, Hamburg/Madrid) and he never so little as made it to the French semis
Thanks for your answer Waspsting. I think the difference in winning percentage not convincing, because it can be easily explained by another factor: length of top level career. The modern players you listed have ALL had long careers at the top. They have escaped severe injuries and have been able to maintain a top 10 level, top 20 level for most of their (long) careers. The players of the 90's, it's the opposite. 5 years at the top is a long time span for these guys. Injuries have taken their toll. If you take Soderling, he stands at .62 on clay, but following his illness he never played again. Courier played a long time after his short peak, as did Bruguera. Moya and Ferrero injured themselves as soon as they rose to the top, Medvedev I believe had several injuries too, etc.

If we could have the winning percentage for these guy healthy years, it would be a more meaningful comparison.
 

deacsyoga

Banned
Muster recovered completely from the knee injury. Maybe without that injury he would not have trained so hard and would not become the machine he was.

And 0-10 against edberg is simply evidence for musters extremely limited talent. Wow, 4 matches were very close.

Muster was the best of the the 90's clay grinders like Andrea Gaudenzi. Thats it. He is nowhere near other great clay players like Kuerten, Ferrero or Courier, who were really extremely gifted players and had a very high peak outside clay also.
In fairness I think Mustard knows full well Muster isnt the most "talented" player and I think that is a large part of the reason he is such a huge fan of him.
 

Flash O'Groove

Hall of Fame
I followed tennis very closely in the 90s(more than most posting here I suspect), and have probably written thousands of words over my many years here on many of the players mentioned so far, so I'm not sure where to begin. Was reluctant to post about this stuff again because of the effort required.

Also I see that the OP is talking about 1989-2004, so I will be mentioning players from there as well.

I value peak play pretty highly so I would rank Courier highly. In the 90s, upsets were an epidemic on all surfaces, especially clay, so seeing Courier breeze through the titles at Rome and Paris was pretty shocking, I certainly didn't see that coming. And he destroyed Muster in the 2nd round of Paris(beat him in Rome also) and Muster won Monte Carlo that year so these results are telling. And he destroyed Mancini as well(the best player on clay from 1989) and the young sensation of the tournament - Medvedev.

Courier was up a break in the fifth set of 93 Paris, so he was close to a very significant achievement at the time - 3 straight French Opens, a pretty small group of players.

bruguera's win in 93 was one of the most significant major wins of the open era, imo. His win/loss on all other surfaces at the time was less than .500, I remember Mac being blown away by that stat when he was calling the match.
A true claycourt specialist had never won the French before and bruguera qualified(though he eventually became good on all surfaces)
I had seen so many claycourters up until that point have great clay seasons then come to the French and lose to the top players like Lendl or Wilander or even Edberg(beat Mancini in 89) and Young Agassi(beat Perez roldan in 88) so bruguera delivering on his clay promise was big.

Also his peak level was pretty high as well imo. His game wasn't as offensive oriented as courier or Kuerten but when he was on it was hard to stop. And he could handle S&V players that were hot much better than muster(we all know muster's shock results in Paris over the years)
Bruguera's win over Medvedev in 94 RG was very impressive, Medvedev had won Monte Carlo and Hamburg that year. And his win over Berasategui was pretty impressive as well, he made the final without dropping a set(the only unseeded player to ever do that) and was hitting a ridiculous amount of fh winners, but bruguera was able to negate that weapon. Bruguera had an interesting style, most think of him as a human backboard, which he was to a degree, but he yet didn't have super human fitness like muster or courier. Had great passing shots and touch. Shades of Orantes in his game. His match with Becker in 91 Monte Carlo is one of the most entertaining claycourt matches I've seen.

I'll try to post more later, but to address @Waspsting question.
I posted some of this in response to gary in another thread. There are many reasons why there was so much inconsistency of claycourters in the 90s and why top players are incredibly consistent on clay today.
First top players today are incredibly consistent on all surfaces. We see the same players in the 2nd week of Wimbledon as the French and this has been happening for years. And it's not just the big four, guys like berdych, Ferrer, tsonga and others have had very good results on grass and clay. This sort of thing just didn't happen in the 90s on a consistent basis. Partly why Agassis career slam was such a big deal, I felt like I was watching a historic thing that may not happen again for many years.

Basically today's players play hardcourt tennis year round whether it be on clay or grass. Yeah I know there are adjustments but they arent dramatic adjustments. Nadal is a great claycourter, but he plays nothing like a bruguera or muster, hits more fh winners in a week than they hit in months. And pretty much all his points are played under 5 shots. While a bruguera berasategui match has ridiculously long rallies.

Other factors - there were unbalanced draws in the 90s on clay. I mentioned muster vs courier in 2nd round of 92 RG, when both won clay masters that year. In 98 Rios played Costa in 4th round, both had masters that year. Winner played Moya, another masters winners. Year after year you had great claycourters play each other in early rounds of French. Often the best clay courters werent even in the top 10.

Another factor of why they were inconsistent - injuries. Clay was such a physical game, the good clay courters often just had one or two good years before their body broke down. The idea of a RG final with two 30 year olds like we had this year would have been beyond absurd to me circa 1997. There were usually only two 30 year olds in the entire top 100 back then. there were multiple years in the 90s where every quarterfinalist was under 24. It was sort of the norm. Now the norm is almost everyone being 28 and over. Since top players today are having almost unprecedented longevity, it makes sense they would have higher win percentages as well I think.
I'm very glad you took the time to answer, it's exactly the kind of insights I hoped for.

I remember a few years ago I argued on the subject of Jim Courier with NonP. What I recall from this discussion and now what you are saying is that Courier really can't be called a clay courters (he didn't play enough on it and at the end didn't win enough quantity of tournaments) but was none the less damn good on it, as he was able to use his huge ground strokes effectively and hit through the defence of more consistent players (so that he has the quality of tournaments victories).
I wonder if Courier's abilities on clay may be still insufficiently acknowledged because he didn't play enough on it AND he didn't had the stereotypical clay game of a Muster. A bit in the same way that today you can have guys arguing that Roddick is a better grass courter that Djokovic because he won more Queens AND has a game more stereotypically compatible with grass? But let's not open this chapter and keep focused on clay.

Also can you tell us a bit more about Bruguera? The man has a quite puzzling records, with 2 French Open but only 14 total titles? What's going on with the lack of success at smaller tournaments?

As for the second part of your answer, I came to believe that the late 90's and early 00's have been relative weaker years because an absurd number of players have suffered career altering injuries. Maybe the game became more physical at that time but the training regimen of the many players didn't adjust swiftly enough. Safin, Hewitt, Ferrero, Coria, Johansson, Kuerten, Norman, Enqvist, Rafter, Krajicek, Moya...and I'm missing 2/3 of them! Since then, I believe Del Potro, Davydenko and Soderling are the only marquee players who suffered career altering injuries!
 

Mustard

Talk Tennis Guru
This is absolutely true but I dont think this is a horrible thing either. He was great at peaking for when it mattered most in his best years, both on clay, and outside of it. The only day this was not true was the 93 RG final which was a rare time he had an off day and mentally did not come through in a big match.
Courier lost to Sampras at the 1992 US Open, and to a qualifier ranked 193 in the world at 1992 Wimbledon named Olhovskiy. I've already mentioned that he didn't win any of the clay tournaments he played in the summer of 1992, as dominant as he had been a few months before.

In 1993, a similar pattern. An amazing start to the year, then Sampras catching him, an up and down period where he started to lose a few big matches mixed in with the odd brilliance, and then a slump in late 1993.

Everyone expected a 3peat, and despite not being at his best he had 2-0 in the 5th set, but couldnt hang on. Olympics back then was not an important event in tennis at all btw.
Yes, we all expected Courier to win a third French Open in a row, because he had won the tournament before and had never lost a set to Bruguera in 4 previous meetings. However, we should have been more alert to the fact that Bruguera was playing brilliant at the time (beating Sampras and Medvedev, triple baggling Champion), while Courier was a notch below his best despite playing well. Courier did brilliant to get to 2-0 up in the fifth set after being under pressure for so much of the match, and to still lose would have been tough.

Regarding the Olympics, my comparison was to show how Courier wasn't dominating clay in 1992 with a 1995 Muster sort of dominance. One can make the case that Courier's 1992 French Open run is the best, but for the whole year on clay, no.

92 Roland Garros is one of the best clay court displays ever, especialy considering his insanely strong draw. Yet he utterly dominated all the way through, with like 5 of the 7 people he faced being a very high quality clay court opponent.

I know Muster is your favorite player, but isnt Courier one of his your favorite players as well? So you would be familiar with his career trajectory.
Yes, I like Courier. Only Goran Ivanisevic troubled him at the 1992 French Open in any problematic way.

Muster recovered completely from the knee injury. Maybe without that injury he would not have trained so hard and would not become the machine he was.
It depends on what you mean by "recovered completely". He still can't fully bend the knee.

And 0-10 against edberg is simply evidence for musters extremely limited talent. Wow, 4 matches were very close

Muster was the best of the the 90's clay grinders like Andrea Gaudenzi. Thats it. He is nowhere near other great clay players like Kuerten, Ferrero or Courier, who were really extremely gifted players and had a very high peak outside clay also.
Muster has a superior clay court resume to all of them, and he won 18 clay titles in a period of 2 calendar years in 1995 and 1996, a win-loss record of 111-5. Only Nadal and Borg have such dominance on clay, and Muster played more on clay than even them in those years. Nadal in 2005 is the closest. Muster only has 1 French Open yes, but 3 Italian Opens, 3 Monte Carlos, other big clay titles like Barcelona and Stuttgart Outdoor twice a piece.

Also can you tell us a bit more about Bruguera? The man has a quite puzzling records, with 2 French Open but only 14 total titles? What's going on with the lack of success at smaller tournaments?
The same reason why Muster had the edge on Bruguera in their head-to-head. Muster focused all the time, point after point, relentlessly. Bruguera was streaky with his focus, and only on rare occasions did he keep up focus all the time for a long match. They had a lot of close matches, each of them winning at least one match after saving match points against the other, but Muster leads the head-to-head 12-3. The French Opens that Bruguera won, he was playing at a very high level, won decisively both times against Medvedev, despite their career head-to-head being equal, and Bruguera beat Courier twice for the only times in his career.
 

Mustard

Talk Tennis Guru
By the way, the OP doesn't mention Alberto Berasategui, who was in excellent form himself at the 1994 French Open. The famous Hawaiian grip, where he hit the forehand and backhand with the same side of the racquet. He drove Goran Ivanisevic crazy in the quarter finals (Berasategui's only win over Ivanisevic), and beat Kafelnikov in straight sets (as always, without fail).
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
Because Muster was simply a much inferior tennisplayer to players like Sampras, Agassi and Becker. He didnt even win one single match at wimbledon. His game was so limited. And many clay specialists of that era were also very limited.

Albert Costa for example. A very good clay courter, but a total failure anywhere else.

While Rafter and Krajicek reached the semis of the french open. Goran reached the quarters 3 times. And these guys never build their game around clay, played not many clay tournaments. But their natural abilities made their competitive even on clay.

So while Courier was simply a great player on all surfaces during his peak, even very good on grass, Muster could never ever reach that level.

And Couriers level in 1992 is much much higher than Musters overrated 1995 clay run.

Muster is one of the biggest overachievers regarding his limited natural tennis abilities.
The topic of this thread is about the best clay court players of the 90's. Not the best overall players. Muster probably had the best clay court record of the 90's - 41 total titles, 1 FO title, 7 Masters titles, all on clay.

PS: It's hard to justify calling a former #1 player and major champion "much inferior," to anyone.
 

cataclysm

Rookie
I'd have to say Kuerten is certainly the best out of the three. With Bruguera a close second and Muster being third.


If Bruguera actually enjoyed tennis and took it a little more seriously, who knows how many FO titles he would have had. Insane topspin.
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
I'd have to say Kuerten is certainly the best out of the three. With Bruguera a close second and Muster being third.

If Bruguera actually enjoyed tennis and took it a little more seriously, who knows how many FO titles he would have had. Insane topspin.
Perhaps you missed my post above:

Bruguera over Muster? I don't see it.

- Bruguera won 14 career titles, 13 clay titles (including 2 FO's and 2 Masters), and 1 HC title.
- Muster won 44 career titles, 41 clay court titles (including 1 FO and 7 Masters), 1 carpet title (Masters at Essen), and 1 HC title.
- From the ATP website it appears that Muster is 12-3 vs. Bruguera H2H (4-2 on clay with one match in which the surface isn't listed).
 

Limpinhitter

G.O.A.T.
Perhaps I don't care.

Bruguera's work ethic and attitude to tennis was worse than Safin's ever was. That pretty much speaks volumes considering he won 2 FO titles and pretty much didn't give a crap about the sport.
If you don't care, why post at all? In any event, none of that is any basis to rank Bruguera above Muster as the better clay court player.
 
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