I wonder if Budge or Vines or Tilden fans got dissed in the 60s by Laver fans with statements like "They played a wimpy game," or "Laver would triple-bagel any of those country club geezers," or "Laver hits with so much more spin, those oldsters couldn't even keep up"?
ABSOLUTLEY! Are you kidding! And I was as guilty as anyone. When I went to Budge's camp I had already seen several pro events, including several Laver matches when he was still considered #1. I had no idea how good Budge was. There was no internet. No information superhighway. I would have laughed at the idea that Budge could even compete with Laver, much less take a set off of him. Well, Budge told me himself how much he admired Laver, and what a great champion he was. That was right before he mentioned that he split sets with Laver in an exo match the year before, 1972. Laver would have been 34 and Budge would have been 58, with a double chin, pot belly and skinny legs. This conversation occurred after I'd seen Budge dismantle a couple of his young, hard hitting, coaches in practice sets. Budge's groundies and serve were brutal. So, I didn't doubt what he said was true.
BTW, Budge was using a 16oz, 5 1/4 all wood handle (with a leather strip around the butt as a butt cap), Rawlings, custom made to be exactly like the frame he used in his prime. His groundies were classic, textbook Eastern drives, and the result was very much like Connors' groundies - hard, low clearance over the net, and always very deep and penetrating. The difference was that Budge hit a bit more topspin on both sides. His serve was equally textbook perfect. The timing and tempo of all of his shots was poetic. And the sound of the ball coming off of that wood racquet with natural gut strings was CRRRRRACK! All around, an amazing experience and education about the history of tennis.