Rankings of Greats by tennis experts

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by pc1, Oct 22, 2010.

  1. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    He had a wife who was his best friend.:)
     
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  2. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    Haha, ladies loved Bud collins!
    Sad stories about two of his wives passing away, with the same disease. But, yeah, Bud was uncommonly blessed in that department, unlike most experts.
     
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  3. BGod

    BGod Hall of Fame

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    I was just reminded Agassi's ranking in his teens:

    YE #25 at 17
    YE #3 at 18
    YE #7 at 19

    Then #4 at 20.

    Show me that now.
     
  4. dwightcharles

    dwightcharles Rookie

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    Wow! took me a long time to read all 553 posts in this thread!

    As it turns out, I started a spreadsheet a few years ago for tracking the opinions of experts on who they thought was the GOAT. There's a huge amount of literature (and opinion) out there! So I've just done a partial update to my spreadsheet with the information in this thread. Many of the expert rankings I already had, and I have many more that were not mentioned here. But many in this thread were new to me.

    One thing I did was group the rankings by period or decade in which they were made. I don't always have the date, sometimes I have to make educated guesses. So in this chart, only votes for #1 (THE goat) are included. This allows us to see how the opinion of who was GOAT changed as time passed.

    Of the evidence I've been able to collect, we can see that up to 1920, Pim was most chosen as GOAT. (I think there are more votes for HDoherty out there - but haven't been able to locate them yet.) From 1921 to 1950, Tilden was most chosen. In the 1968 to 1979 period, Gonzales and Laver were both chosen. From 1980 to 2008 Laver got the most votes. Since then, Federer has been the most popular choice. Then I also summarized by decade. Please note that these totals do not include the supplemental information I've gleaned from this thread today. I will work on including that shortly.


    [​IMG]


    The orange print indicates the greatest number of choices for that period.

    The entire sheet can be accessed here. Please note that the blue font is the information I have added today based on this thread, and does not appear in the above summaries.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwrbPcD2cv5jWUV1SXlBeVliU1U/view?usp=sharing
    In order to get an XL sheet (and not a google one) I recommend hitting the download button (on my computer it's near the top right).
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
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  5. dwightcharles

    dwightcharles Rookie

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    I also did the same thing for the women, as I've done for the men.

    The torch of public (expert) opinion seems to have passed from Dod to Lenglen to Wills to Court to Navratilova to Graf to Serena.


    [​IMG]

    There was less new information to deal with here, so I've already done the update from today's new information gleaned in this thread, as follows:


    [​IMG]

    The source spreadsheet with raw info can be found here. Again, the blue font indicates material gleaned from this thread.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwrbPcD2cv5jc2pkWW0yMURVTzA/view?usp=sharing
     
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  6. dwightcharles

    dwightcharles Rookie

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    So I updated the summary of GOAT votes for the men, in light of the information in this thread, and it now looks like this.
    Note that the dates are for when the votes were made.


    [​IMG]
     
  7. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Dwightcharles,

    I think you're getting carried away with the charts my friend. A lot of these players have more votes for GOAT than you have there. I would say that right now there are more votes for Federer than any player in history.

    I think these sheets would be better served for true statistics.
     
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  8. dwightcharles

    dwightcharles Rookie

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    Thanks for the comment PC,
    not sure I understand, however. The spreadsheet (accessible from comment #554) is a compilation of documentable opinions/votes. If there are more votes, please let's add them to the sheet!

    If you mean, we should determine the GOAT on our own by looking at tennis statistics, well that is another matter entirely from what I am attempting...
     
  9. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    What I mean was that this thread was set up to give people an idea of the general opinions of tennis greats over the years. I'm not sure how much accuracy you can have with a spreadsheet because a lot of the opinions are missing. For example I could probably give a lot more opinions that Kramer or Tilden was or is the GOAT if I search for it. I just think that spreadsheet are a little better for stats. If you want to do it, that's fine.

    For example I'm of the opinion that Bill Tilden was called the GOAT by most of the media in the 1920s like Federer is now. You probably could have gotten hundreds of journalist calling Tilden the GOAT. I just think the error margin is extremely high if you look at this through 2010 plus eyes because the opinions are lost or forgetten.

    For example if you did a spreadsheet on winning percentages like you have done already that would be better because the information is there with some minor inaccuracies by some of the published information and missing matches. I think what you did with the winning percentages are excellent as a comparison because it's more complete.
     
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  10. Phoenix1983

    Phoenix1983 Hall of Fame

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    What's interesting though is to look at those players who have remained in consideration as GOAT contenders well after they were contemporary - i.e. Tilden is still considered a contender more than 80 years after his prime.
     
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  11. dwightcharles

    dwightcharles Rookie

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    Ah, I understand what you mean, pc1

    But I will persist. We have to start somewhere. I think the sheet overcomes the difficulty somewhat since it classifies the votes by the period or decade they were made in. Thus if the 1920's are particularly under-represented, then at least that is consistent for all pre-1920's players... The sheet doesn't need to compare Tilden to Federer directly as I see it. I see it more as: in the 30's to 60's most votes were for Tilden. Since 2009, most votes have been for Federer.

    But I think as a starting point for collecting votes of past experts, this is a valuable document. Hopefully it will become more complete as we unearth more.
     
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  12. dwightcharles

    dwightcharles Rookie

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    Great point, Phoenix!
     
  13. DMP

    DMP Professional

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    Your spreadsheet is what it is, and we all know the names of the candidates. I think the question I would have is 'who do you define as an expert?', or rather 'from what population of opinions have you gathered your votes?'.

    I think there is no doubt, in my mind at least, that tennis was a more important sport in the past. So it was more likely that sports commentators spent more time viewing and thinking about tennis. Nowadays, as I have said before, it is all about clickbait and proclaiming that what everyone is seeing is the greatest there has ever been. I don't think the quality of analysis is a patch on what it used to be. The lack of depth of knowledge of tennis history in general these days is quite shocking at times. Also how much of the opinion is English-language based. There is a swathe of the world that thinks/thought that clay is hugely important, generally they speak French or Italian or German or Dutch or Spanish or Portuguese or Swedish or a Slavic language (have I missed somewhere??!!). Have you included them among your voters?

    As I say, your spreadsheet is what it is, but I would be interested to know whose opinions you considered.
     
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  14. dwightcharles

    dwightcharles Rookie

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    Excellent points!
    Basically I have included every opinion I could get my hands on. I'm an English speaker, so mostly that's what accessible to me. I would love to get my hands on more results! When I started this spreadsheet ~8 years ago, I had like 10 votes - now there are 150. Of course it will never be completely comprehensive, but it's intention is as a collection point. We have to start somewhere, if we didn't, why would we be bothering to collect all those old match results... we have to start somewhere...

    As to whose opinions... they have to be published or in an interview, or on TV. I won't just take any old opinion out of a forum. That's why I (try to) document them.
     
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  15. Phoenix1983

    Phoenix1983 Hall of Fame

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    I'd say that the opinions of some on this forum count more than some of those who have been published/on TV.
     
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  16. dwightcharles

    dwightcharles Rookie

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    I would agree that some of the opinions on this forum are better researched and have more compelling arguments behind them, and also that people on TV sometimes make airhead and sensationalist comments.

    Rightly or wrongly, those TV comments are in the public forum. Are opinions here in the public form? Are they 'publi'shed? (it's an honest question)
     
  17. DMP

    DMP Professional

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    As the saying goes -

    if ALL the people say that you are a lion, or ALL the people say that you are a mouse, then you are a lion...or a mouse

    BUT if half the people say you are a lion, and half tell you that you are mouse - then they are telling you about... themselves.

    So - the fact that the choice of GOAT has been varying over the years tells you about who is making comments on tennis, but not much about who actually is the GOAT.

    I would say that the fact that Tilden and Laver held sway for long periods does not tell you that they are the GOAT (though they are not bad choices), it tells us that commentators in the past were not swayed by 'current era is best' syndrome. Conversely the rapid movement from Sampras to Federer to Nadal to Djokovic tells you all you need to know about who is commenting these days. As LBJ said, most are not worth a pitcher full of spit.
     
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  18. Phoenix1983

    Phoenix1983 Hall of Fame

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    That's a good point. I'm a huge Sampras fan, but I would never, if I was being completely honest, have considered him the GOAT.

    The fact that he has 'supposedly' been surpassed by three men in little over a decade is due to the sensationalist commentators of today, and also due to the recent obsession with counting of all metrics (slams/Masters/wks at No 1 etc.)
     
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  19. KG1965

    KG1965 Hall of Fame

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    The "system" has wrong to appoint GOAT Sampras, hastily.
    The "system" ha wrong now to declare that Fedalovic exceeded Sampras.
    Federer probably.
    But Nadalovic ... is very questionable.

    The 4 are phenomenal players.

    I hate the "systems" that hastily impose their thinking.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
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  20. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    That's totally true. The title of GOAT is often awarded too quickly. You have to wait a while to see how the player's career develops to eventually call a player the GOAT. Perhaps I can see people calling a player the best ever for peak level like perhaps a Vines for one year or a Federer but you have to wait at least until the player has been around for a while to make that judgment. For example three active players, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic all have been called the GOAT. That's a lot of GOATs for such a short time. Do I think they all deserve it? Who knows? They are all great players but that's a lot of GOATs over a little over ten year span.
     
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  21. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    This is not quite what I envisioned when I started this thread but I figured it's not bad to put it here. This is from Tennis Magazine's list of greatest all time strokes in 2004.
    The greatest strokes of all time according to Tennis Magazine
    THE HOT SHOTS

    Shotmaking has always been the essence of the game

    What makes a stroke immortal? Some might say it's the ability to use that shot to dominate an era. Others will argue that it's textbook technique. Those with an eye on history will make the case that a great stroke is one that changes the way the game is played for future generations. We considered all these criteria when we decided to select the all-time best strokes. Particular attention was paid to players who built their games around one shot and ruled the court with it--a shot that opponents feared and fans loved. You'll notice the absence of a few Hall of Famers, such as Fred Perry, Roy Emerson, Helen Wills Moody, and Maureen Connolly. Before you fire off that angry e-mail, though, remember that for many all-timers, their strengths were not in any one shot but in the sum totals of their games. In addition to dusting off the history books and studying archival video footage of stars as far back as Bill Tilden, we invited seasoned tennis journalists Bud Collins, Steve Flink, L. Jon Wertheim, Allen St. John, and Joel Drucker to weigh in. We hope that our selections--like the strokes themselves--will stand the test of time. That is, until the next gunslinger comes along and shows us how it's done.

    From Pancho Gonzalez's serve to Steffi Graf's forehand, here are our picks for the best strokes of all time. --The Editors

    Serve

    Pancho Gonzalez
    There had been monster serves before (Bill Tilden's and Ellsworth Vines', to name two), but Ricardo Alonso Gonzalez's was the complete package and the foundation of a ruthless attacking game that made him the dominant force in pro tennis throughout the 1950s. Jack Kramer pioneered the serve-and-volley "Big Game," but the 6-foot-2 "Lone Wolf" from East Los Angeles turned it into a brutal art; Lew Hoad, a frequent foe, said he "swatted at the ball with a fierce, almost mean air." Gonzalez's delivery was compact, explosive, and seemingly effortless; his serves, both first and second, combined power, versatility, and consistency under pressure and kept him in the game's upper echelon well beyond his prime. In 1969, at age 41, he finished No. 6 in the world. Take that, Jimmy Connors.

    Martina Navratilova
    The numbers are stunning: 1,438 match wins, 18 majors (plus 38 more in doubles), nine Wimbledons, an 86-1 record in 1983, a 74-match winning streak. How could any woman have been so dominant? Sheer athleticism, first of all, embodied most gracefully and powerfully in her big lefty serve. The technique--back bent deeply and arms raised high, a combination that yielded maximum upward extension and launched her into the court--was flawless, the delivery natural, and the hook into the ad-court alley downright vicious. But Navratilova didn't rely just on her slice. She mixed up placement and pace so her opponents never knew what to expect. Except, of course, that if they were fortunate enough to get the return back, they knew Navratilova would be waiting, ready to put away a volley.

    Special Mention
    FIRST SERVE Ellsworth Vines: An elegant, risk-taking player from California, Vines was most famous for his howitzer-like serve--he hit 30 aces in 12 service games en route to winning the 1932 Wimbledon final. Bunny Austin, his opponent that day, said that on the final ace he didn't even see the ball go by. Margaret Smith Court: This lean, muscular pioneer of cross-training hit heavy, flat, serves at a time (the 1960s) when women simply weren't expected to crack aces.
    SECOND SERVE Pete Sampras: Many players would be happy to have Sampras' second serve as their first, and for good reason: He hits it harder and disguises the location better than anyone in the business. Serena Williams: While her sister Venus recorded the fastest women's serve ever, Serena's second delivery, which like her first begins with a stately toss and ends with a shriek, is consistently deep and accurate. It's also as lethal as many women's first serves.
    KICK SERVE Stefan Edberg: The form--he tossed the ball well behind him and arched his back into a crescent--looked painful, but the way Edberg kicked the ball high, rushed the net, and hit his first volley from well inside the service line was elegance in motion.

    Forehand

    Steffi Graf
    She didn't have textbook technique. Indeed, trying to copy her forehand would probably ruin your game or, worse, cause bodily harm. She had unconventionally late racquet preparation, which caused her to rush the stroke and hit off her back hip. But for Graf, those technical flaws meant nothing in the face of all the explosive winners she hit and the 22 Grand Slam singles titles she won as a result. She did have one technique worth emulating, though--outstanding footwork. Bouncing on her toes as if on hot coals, Graf was always ready to run around her backhand and finish off the point with one swing.

    Ivan Lendl
    He created the blueprint for today's power forehand: a versatile stroke designed to control the point and dominate the opponent. Like the man himself, Lendl's forehand wasn't graceful. It was deliberate and brutal, generated with a big backswing and pronounced shoulder turn. Although he could hit winners from anywhere on the court, he often took pleasure in pounding the ball corner to corner and running his opponent ragged before putting him out of his misery. Lendl could hit his forehand flat or with topspin, and thanks to precise footwork he was deadly on the run. It's no exaggeration to say that Lendl spent 157 consecutive weeks at No. 1 largely because of this stroke.

    Special Mention
    INSIDE-OUT FOREHAND Jim Courier: With an open stance, full Western grip, and extreme wrist snap, Courier pummeled the ball past opponents even when they knew the shot was coming.
    TOPSPIN FOREHAND Rod Laver: When you think of the historic topspin forehands, you think of 1970s longhairs like Bjorn Borg and Guillermo Vilas. The pioneer of heavy topspin, though, was a clean-cut Aussie. Laver's stroke wasn't as extreme--he used a Continental rather than a Western grip--but it was a shot that the players of his day had trouble matching.
    TWO-HANDED FOREHAND Pancho Segura: The diminutive Ecuadorian held his own against the pro-tour giants of the 1940s and '50s with this killer stroke. He often ran all the way into the doubles alley on his backhand side to get a crack at it.

    Backhand

    Chris Evert
    Her two-handed backhand was an example of form following function. Evert got the ball from point A to a precise point B with efficiency. To do that, she used a compact backswing taken with her arms comfortably extended, which allowed her to produce a long, smooth, low-to-high swing.

    The stroke transformed the way women's tennis was played. A decade after Evert made her debut in 1971, young stars emerged who copied her backhand as well as her style (they were called Chrissie Clones). Thus began the shift away from the net-rushing tactics of Evert's contemporaries (Billie Jean King, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, and Martina Navratilova) to the baseline bashing of today. Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport, Martina Hingis, the Williams sisters--they all trace their playing styles to Evert.

    Don Budge
    His first sport was baseball, where he learned to bat left-handed despite being a righty. So when Budge took up tennis as a right-hander, the backhand came quickly and naturally to him. Holding the racquet with a full Eastern grip, his thumb up the handle for extra support, he took a sweeping stroke and generated just enough topspin to keep the ball in the court. Budge, the first person to win the Grand Slam, used his powerful and accurate backhand to thwart baseliner and net-rusher alike. Jack Kramer, one of the most relentless attackers of all time, found it nearly invulnerable.
     
  22. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Special Mention
    SLICE BACKHAND Evonne Goolagong Cawley: The graceful Goolagong Cawley hit the slice backhand like a skater gliding on ice. But it wasn't just another pretty shot: The ball dug into the court and skidded, giving opponents fits. Ken Rosewall: Nicknamed "Muscles" because he was such a scrawny youth, his backhand is considered second only to Budge's. Rosewall's timing, preparation, and accuracy allowed him to hit even short-angled passing shots without ever applying topspin.
    TWO-HANDED BACKHAND Jimmy Connors: He wasn't the first to hit a two-handed backhand, but he was the first to build a ground game around it. Connors swung so hard, so flat, throwing his entire body into the shot, that it was a wonder he could keep the ball in play.
    TOPSPIN BACKHAND Guillermo Vilas: The one-handed topspin backhand takes strength, and no one had more than Vilas. His left arm was a tree trunk, and Vilas was a bull of a man. So he made a tactical decision early in his career to develop a topspin backhand that would wear down all comers even if it meant he would hit fewer winners. It worked to the tune of four major titles. Gabriela Sabatini: Flowing and artistic, Sabatini's game was best represented by her one-handed backhand. You remember the spectacular windup, but what mattered most was her timing, which produced stinging shots with a wicked topspin bite.

    Volley

    Martina Navratilova
    She learned to play in Revnice, just outside Prague, on slow red clay, a surface fit for a baseliner. But Navratilova's home was at the net, where she ruled for almost two decades. She had perfect balance and a great split-step, which gave her the ability to move in any direction quickly. With enough time, she got down to the ball in textbook fashion, but at her most inspired she was a racquet-wielding acrobat, hitting touch volleys off her shoe tops or spinning nearly halfway around to make an unlikely stab volley when she appeared already beaten.

    John McEnroe
    His volley, like almost everything else about his game, was eccentric. McEnroe beat stronger, bigger opponents with an instinctive net game built around soft hands and a feathery touch. McEnroe's anticipation allowed him to dispense with conventions like the knee bend and punch follow-through and to blanket the net, where he hit volleys at seemingly impossible angles. Yes, he lashed out with his tongue, but McEnroe mocked opponents best with his racquet. Time and again he lunged for an opponent's blast, tilted the racquet face ever so slightly, and sent the ball almost parallel to the net before it died with some voodoo backspin.

    Special Mention
    FOREHAND VOLLEY John Newcombe: He bludgeoned the ball on his forehand volley, a textbook shot that he expertly used to follow up his cannonball and twist serves. Margaret Smith Court: She played a physical brand of tennis that relied heavily on her net skills and, in particular, her forehand volley. Court could hit decisive winners or deep underspin volleys with equal panache.
    BACKHAND VOLLEY Billie Jean King: She's only 5-foot-4 1/2, but at net she loomed like a giant. For that you can credit her backhand volley, which was a study in disciplined technique. She used an exaggerated split-step, emphasized the punch at contact, and always followed through. Tony Roche: Injuries kept him from scaling the same heights as his fellow Aussies of the 1960s, but Roche's backhand volley is still the gold standard. A lefty, he used his powerful forearm to hit with great control, alternating firm, deep volleys with wristy touch shots.
    DROP VOLLEY Maria Bueno: This three-time Wimbledon champion, nicknamed the "São Paulo Swallow" by Bud Collins for her graceful movement, used superior touch and footwork to conjure winning drop volleys.

    Return of Serve

    Andre Agassi
    No one ever thought they'd see a more devastating return of serve than Jimmy Connors'. Then a dyed-blond, neon-covered teenager showed up with a bigger one. Like Connors, Agassi has turned what was once a defensive shot into an implement of war, and he's done it against bigger servers. Blessed with outstanding hand-eye coordination, Agassi can punish the serve off both wings. His technique is as simple as it is effective, based on a short, sharp backswing that allows him to take the ball on the rise and put a guy who just hit a 130-m.p.h. serve on his heels.

    Monica Seles
    She has a return of serve that John Madden would love. Seles squints, squishes her face, then . . . boom! She lets out a trademark grunt and shoots the ball back. It's tennis as contact sport. But what makes Seles' return the finest ever is that even though she goes for broke she rarely misses. No matter how hard it's hit or where it's placed, the serve comes back, often as a winner. Seles' style is unorthodox: She hits with two hands off both sides for more power and consistency. She also plants herself inside the baseline--think of her racquet tapping the ground, hungry for the ball--to cut off angles and rob the server of time to recover. As Nick Bollettieri has written, "Her return made you think that you needed lessons on your serve."

    Special Mention
    CHIP RETURN Jack Kramer: Opponents who hit short second serves never stood a chance against Kramer. His forehand return was especially effective: He attacked down the line, taking the ball early and hitting with withering sidespin that made the ball bounce low and away from the server. Billie Jean King: Never one to linger on the baseline, King loved to pounce on short second serves with an underspin chip that set up an easy volley into the open court.
    BACKHAND RETURN Venus Williams: For her, no shot comes more naturally than the return, especially when she has two hands on it. This shot has never been used so offensively.

    Drop Shot

    Manuel Santana
    Adept on both clay and grass (he won Roland Garros and Wimbledon), Santana was a master improviser who could do anything with the ball. He moved opponents out of position with sharply angled strokes and killed them softly with his drop.

    Chris Evert
    The drop shots that Evert employed were created with a blend of simplicity and guile. At the end of a standard backswing, she would raise the racquet head slightly and then drive it forward and down with a brisk chop. The combination of light contact and underspin caused the ball to float just over the net and die after one bounce, catching opponents flat-footed and out of position.

    Overhead

    Pete Sampras
    His signature shot, the jump overhead, isn't just an outrageous display of athleticism. It's also a not-so-veiled message to his opponent: I'm going to wipe the court with you and enjoy doing it. Sampras, who has said he doesn't like to get "analytical and stuff," once broke down the Air Sampras thusly: "When I hit a big serve and see the return floating, I just take off, jump as high as I can, and boom!" Yet it's his everyday overhead that really makes him a menace. When a lob goes up, he backpedals, turns sideways, keeps his head up, and cocks his wrist as he starts to swing up at the ball. He doesn't go for Mach I power--he knows where his opponent is, and he hits the ball in the other direction. Not as much fun to watch as the jump, but just as effective.

    Martina Navratilova
    With cat-like quickness, Navratilova could backpedal, leap, and get in position to hit just about any ball, a rarity among today's baseline bashers. She had an uncanny ability to anticipate when her opponent was about to throw up a lob, but if she did get caught off guard, she had enough strength in her forearm and wrist to muscle the overhead. Because she was so confident hitting smashes, Navratilova had the luxury of getting on top of the net, closing off openings for passing shots, and daring opponents to get the ball over her.
     
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  23. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Special Mention
    BACKHAND OVERHEAD Stan Smith: While nearly everything about him was traditional, from his orthodox strokes to his neatly parted hair, Smith's backhand overhead was stylish and daring. Maybe it was his way of telling us that he had a wild side after all. Evonne Goolagong Cawley: Often tempted to go for the spectacular when the ordinary would suffice, Goolagong Cawley delighted crowds by striking impossibly angled winners with this stroke.
    SKY HOOK Jimmy Connors: He developed this unusual stiff-armed overhead because he crowded the net so closely that he often couldn't get back in time to hit a standard smash.

    Lob

    Bobby Riggs
    While this famous hustler and gamesman is best remembered for competing against Billie Jean King in the 1973 Battle of the Sexes, Riggs was the world's No. 1 player in 1939, when he won Wimbledon (singles, doubles, and mixed) and the U.S. Nationals. A cagey player, he knew how and when to hit every shot, and he used the lob to devastating effect. Whether he was lofting a defensive shot to buy time, sending it high as an alternative to a passing shot, or changing the pace of a baseline rally, Riggs struck lobs with pinpoint placement, last-second disguise, and superb depth. The shot, which Riggs could hit flat or with a little underspin, often helped him aggravate and ultimately defeat his bigger and stronger rivals, Don Budge and Jack Kramer.

    Tracy Austin
    When she appeared on the tour as a 14-year-old in pigtails and pinafores, Austin wasn't yet 5 feet tall. But already she was augmenting her clean, deep ground strokes with perfectly placed lobs whenever she was pulled off the court or when pressed by a net-rusher. Often employing the much maligned moonball, a ground stroke that was more of a semi-lob than a drive, she would test the patience of any player. In 1981, Austin won her second U.S. Open by using deftly struck lobs to drive Martina Navratilova away from the net.

    Special Mention
    DEFENSIVE LOB Jimmy Connors: His ability to scramble and send the ball sky-high and deep was unrivaled. Just ask Paul Haarhuis, who's probably still trying to recover from losing an amazing (and much replayed) point to Connors at the '91 U.S. Open. Aranxta Sanchez-Vicario: With her speed, tenacity, and racquet-head control, Sanchez-Vicario made opponents feel as if they were playing against a demonic ball machine that just kept spitting balls over their heads.

    Passing Shot

    Bjorn Borg
    Just how amazing was Bjorn Borg's passing shot? A baseliner, he won five consecutive Wimbledon titles on the fastest of surfaces, and one notorious for producing bad bounces, while using a Western forehand grip best suited to slow clay. But it wasn't until John McEnroe crashed the party that fans got to see Borg's passing shot in all its glory. His speed enabled him to track down Mac's approach shots and volleys, and his powers of concentration helped him rip topspin passes off either side to within inches of the lines.

    Chris Evert
    Her strong suit was precision under pressure--just what you need to hit an effective passing shot. Evert didn't rely on heavy topspin to get the ball at her opponent's feet; rather, she kept serve-and-volley rivals like Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova at bay by hitting line drives right past them. Evert wasn't the fastest player, and she didn't hit the pass the hardest. She simply found a way to get the ball by her opponent.

    One-of-a-Kind

    There are great strokes, and then there are the one-of-a-kinds

    Boris Becker The big man, at 6-foot-3, had an animal's instinct, recklessly diving for many volleys. His knees were often a bloody mess, but it was a price he was willing to pay.

    Alberto Berasategui His Western forehand grip was so extreme that it could double as an Eastern backhand, allowing him to hit forehands and backhands with the same side of the racquet face.

    Françoise Durr The 1967 Roland Garros champion and a Top 10 player nine times, Durr hit all of her strokes, including her serve and backhand, with a bizarre forehand grip in which her index finger pointed toward the head of the racquet.

    Gabriela Sabatini The "Sabatweeny," popularized by Gabriela Sabatini and, on the men's side, by flashy Frenchman Yannick Noah, required tremendous coordination, perfect timing, and a willingness to risk bodily injury.
     
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  24. KG1965

    KG1965 Hall of Fame

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    These are very interesting analysis of experts on the strokes, and I thank you.

    But completely lack the reports of matches of the great champions 40 years, 50, 60.

    For this reason we have been forgotten.

    Lack the stories, the experts where were they?
    There were no. There wer no. Damn.
     
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  25. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    I think a lot of it was off but I thought it was interesting to see the opinions now in 2004. I would think now that Federer's strokes as well as Nadal's and Djokovic's strokes would be up there. These players are still in our minds now and easy to remember.

    For example in 2004 very few really knew Borg had a great forehand. He was just known at the unbeatable baseliner and a great athlete with super stamina. They didn't know much about his great strokes.
     
  26. KG1965

    KG1965 Hall of Fame

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    You tube helped the champions 70years and 80years.
    Without youtube would ... die.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017
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  27. KG1965

    KG1965 Hall of Fame

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    The ranking of the great experts is of two types:
    1) on strokes
    2) with numbers, no explanations/reasons

    But there is never a report on a tour of 50 years, a tale of some great match between Riggs and Budge or between Kramer and Segura.

    There is not story.
    Why they are all dead.

    They live here only for searches of some posters.

    A cemetery of champions killed by the untold stories of the experts.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017
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  28. Gary Duane

    Gary Duane G.O.A.T.

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    In a phrase, "recency bias"...
     
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  29. 70sHollywood

    70sHollywood Professional

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    1941 interview with Alice Marble, she (and Eleanor Tennant) named Vines the best for one match, Budge the best over a year and Tilden the best "over the years".
     
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  30. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    I'm not sure if Alice ever saw Tilden at his best but she was good friends with Tilden. She would mention how on the Tilden/Budge tour that Tilden would mentions things to Marble like how he would give Budge a lesson and of course most the time Budge would win.
     
  31. Phoenix1983

    Phoenix1983 Hall of Fame

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    Interesting. In a modern context, is this like talking about Safin, Djokovic and Federer?
     
  32. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    I guess so but I think you could always argue Federer for one year but then again you could write the same for Tilden.
     
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  33. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Legend

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    Gonzales also made this same distinction in his ratings, putting Kramer at number one all-time for a long hth series, and Hoad at number one for a big match.
     
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  34. 70sHollywood

    70sHollywood Professional

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    Yeah, I read this. Tilden was apparently always confident he could win. Marble thought Budge played at a high level when Tilden beat him though.

    The way people always talked about Vines gives that impression, but his results clearly show he was far more consistent than Safin. I have to say though I would consider putting Safin in my top 30 all time.

    I do wonder how much of Tilden being so highly rated in the past was down to his longevity and not his preak/prime level.
     
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  35. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    His peak level had a lot to do with it also. At one point he only lost three matches in three years! Some writers wrote he was able to rise to unassailable heights in level of play. In other words, no one could match him if he was playing well!
     
  36. thrust

    thrust Semi-Pro

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    Picking Sedgman, Riggs, Vines or Segura over Rosewall is absurd. Vines, on a certain day, could beat anyone but like Hoad seemed rather inconsistent. IMO, comparing players pre WWII and after is unrealistic, as the game and competition was so different. Having a powerful flashy game is very impressive, but overall accomplishments IMO, should count more to a players greatness than game style.
     
  37. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Legend

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    I have just been reading the TennisBase statistics for the late fifties, Hoad was actually very consistent, and rated ahead of Gonzales for the 1959 season, when the pros were playing over 150 matches per year.
     
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  38. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Vines was NOT inconsistent! If you look at his Pro records and amateur records his winning percentages were very high. Vines was World Champion for many years. There are good reasons why some considered him the GOAT.

    I'm not saying those guys (aside from Vines) belong over Rosewall but they were great and not that far off.
     
  39. thrust

    thrust Semi-Pro

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    No doubt Hoad was great and consistent in 59 and 56 and a very good 58, after 59 though he became less and less consistent. Lew never won a pro major, though he did win the TOC in 59. From 60-63 he lost 4 pro major finals to Rosewall as well as the 58 French Pro. I had not realized how impressive Vines pro career was, as I have not been very interested in tennis players of the twenties and thirties. As I said before, it is very difficult to compare players pre and post WWII
     
  40. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Thrust,

    You're repeating the same mistake. There were no Pro Majors and I can say that because I was one of the people who wrote it in error in various articles. I realize that mistake now and I'm trying to correct it. The Pros of that time didn't call them Pro Majors. This was a term used after the fact by myself, Robert Geist, Peter Rowley who wrote a biography on Rosewall as did Geist if I recall. Perhaps others also. This was incorrect. Even Joe McCauley didn't really use that term. McCauley writes in a section in the back of his book, "Past Results of the Three Major Pro Events." Major in this case means important not a major tournament like Wimbledon in the way we think of it now. These was the Major Pro Events played regularly in those years but other tournaments could be considered more MAJOR like the 1967 Wimbledon Pro.

    Bud Collins calls the US Pro, Wembley and the French Pro prestigious events. He does NOT call them Pro Majors.

    Lew Hoad won many an important tournament like the Tournament of Champions which were bigger than what you call Pro Majors which were simply Important Tournaments played every year. Actually the French Pro and Wembley often wasn't played, especially the French Pro.

    I'm glad you understand that Vines was a great consistent player. I think it was the style of his game which was a high risk power game. He may be off perhaps in one match but he could pull out matches with his great power and ability much like a Laver could win matches in the same way despite being off.

    Edit-Don't forget that the Old Pro Tour could not have a regular set group of majors because they didn't even know where they would be playing the next year. Sometimes tournaments would not be played for various reasons, probably financial the following year. You confuse (and I did also) the old system with the current system with a set of majors, Masters Series Tournaments etc. It was not that way in the past before the Open Era.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
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  41. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Actually when you think about it, the misleading term Pro Major can be very confusing. For example did Jack Kramer won the Pro Grand Slam in 1948 if there were Pro Majors? There was only the US Pro in 1948 and Kramer won in over Bobby Riggs. Since he won the only "Pro Major??" he would have won the Grand Slam in the Pros. I'm writing this in a semi-joking manner by the way.

    The term "Pro Majors" leads many current fans of tennis to believe that the system on the Old Pro Tour is the same as today but with different types of tournaments considered majors in the way they are thought of today. That was not the case so I believe the term Pro Major is incorrect and leads people to false conclusions about the past history of tennis.

    This doesn't hurt the prestige of players like Laver, Tilden and Rosewall. We just have to change the numbers and put less importance on what was called Pro Majors. By my count by using Tennis Base, Rosewall won 50 important tournaments and I'm not including his amateur career. The number 50 certainly sounds better than 23 don't you think? That's a huge amount. However I didn't triple check the numbers yet so I could be slightly off.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
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  42. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Legend

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    Thrust, I guess you have missed the "thrust" of our conversations over the "pro major" issue, and some of the problems with accepting some of the so-called 'Pro majors" as equivalent to other important pro titles.....Hoad had some dominant years, including a number one ranking for the 1959 period, which does not happen to an inconsistent player.
     
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  43. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Legend

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    Thanks for your review of these issues, PC1, I agree completely with you on these issues.
    I am very interested in the TennisBase ratings, which also give some weight to amateur events in the old split era, which is reasonable.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
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  44. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    By the way I think Vines identified a lot with Lew Hoad. They both were great players with huge talent and immense power. Both great players when they were young and many felt Vines and Hoad were the greatest ever for one match. Some argue either one was the greatest ever.
     
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  45. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    Pc1, thanks for cutting and poasteng tennis ragazine's list of hot shots. All awesome examples.
    If i may add a few I have seen Personally as a tennis player and avid fan since the mid seventies...

    Backhand overhead: pat rafter. Saw him pound one down in the service box and it cleared the side fence on the indian wells practice courts.

    Overhead: mcEnroe could read and get to the rough lobs from jimmy, chang, and even borg.
    Yannick Noah had some legendary range, power and placement on his Smash. Edberg, boris, Smith, ashe and Newk deserve a mention. But the answer is Noah, imho.

    One handed Backhand topspin lob: manolo santana and his violent spin.

    One handed Backhand swing volley: rod laver in the almaden grand champions tour at over forty. What a freak. Well before his time.

    Movement: borg and nastase could read a volley, run it down and banana pass even the quickest or rangiest volleyers like ashe, mac, and smith.

    Sampras, goran, becker, roddick, dibley, tanner, and feaver can join kramer and pancho in the serving hall of fame.

    Backhand volley: tony Roche. Edberg and rafter get a mention. But the answer is tony Roche.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
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  46. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Legend

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    ............
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2017
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  47. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Legend

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    One thing for sure...Vines and Hoad were the only players of their era who could challenge the acknowledged top player, Budge and Gonzales respectively.
    Hoad was the only contemporary of Gonzales who claimed a lifetime hth edge in play on grass, 16 to 13.
     
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  48. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    It's my opinion Vines could have beaten Budge if he wasn't hurt and was more motivated. He was a little burnt out and didn't want to travel all the time.
     
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  49. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Legend

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    Yes, that sounds reasonable.
    Hoad had a hth edge over Gonzales in 1959 on the four-man tour of 15 to 13, and on the year as a whole of 24 to 23.
    However, that 24-23 score is a compilation of matches from a variety of tours and formats, so it is not a number which represents an established event or tour. Rather a composite number which is difficult to interpret meaningfully.
     
  50. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Vines had a horrible shoulder problem. He on occasion had to serve underhand according to sources.
     
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  51. pc1

    pc1 G.O.A.T.

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    Actually Vines versus Hoad would be some match. Many believe these two had the highest top level of any tennis player ever.
     
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