There is a good argument to be made that Roland Garros is the most important tennis Major

FrontHeadlock

Hall of Fame
Hear me out.

The other 3 majors, and especially W/USO historically, are much more correlative with each other than RG is with any of them. (And if you're a big YEC guy, that is also very correlative). Because of this, most of the ATGs tend to be better on faster courts than slower courts. It also means that the best way to show surface diversity is by winning RG, and especially RG multiple times.

Likewise, guys who are great on clay tend to be worse overall at the other Majors, so you get more "clay specialists" who win on clay a lot but not nearly as much elsewhere. Think Bruguera, Guga, Courier, Kodes. You also get a lot of 1-timers on clay who couldn't sniff a major on another surface.

This all creates a situation where RG tends to be one of three things for the ATGs: (i) the ultimate ability to play on both slow and fast surfaces (e.g., Nadal, Borg, Lendl), (ii) the crowning achievement in the totality of a career by winning the CGS or CYGS (e.g., Budge, Laver, Agassi, Fed, Djoker), or (iii) the one title that would have done the most to elevate that player to another tier in history (e.g., Sampras, McEnroe, Connors, Edberg, Becker).

Because of this unique set of circumstances, RG, almost by accident, tends to be the most important Major for a lot of players and tends to drive their personal narrative:
  1. For the clay specialists, it gives them a chance to actually win a major and be relevant in history
  2. For the all-surface players, it gives them the ability to prove it
  3. For the crowning achievement guys, it caps their career and rounds out the resume
  4. For the near-miss guys, it is the gaping hole that is never forgotten
In some respects, tennis history is really about how well the greats did at RG.
 

BillKid

Professional
What is sure is that clay remains clay. The same cannot be said for grass. That would be great if grass could be what it was : a singular, fast surface with low bounce, to the point that playing baseline is difficult and not rewarding.
 
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Ledigs

Hall of Fame
The fact that there are 2 tournaments on hard court mean that surface arguments don't matter. If there were equal numbers of majors (1-1-1) on each of hard, clay, and grass they'd have an argument for number won on each to show versatility but if that were the case, Federer would only have 8+6+1 = 15 while Nadal would have 13+4+2 = 19.
 
Hear me out.

The other 3 majors, and especially W/USO historically, are much more correlative with each other than RG is with any of them. (And if you're a big YEC guy, that is also very correlative). Because of this, most of the ATGs tend to be better on faster courts than slower courts. It also means that the best way to show surface diversity is by winning RG, and especially RG multiple times.

Likewise, guys who are great on clay tend to be worse overall at the other Majors, so you get more "clay specialists" who win on clay a lot but not nearly as much elsewhere. Think Bruguera, Guga, Courier, Kodes. You also get a lot of 1-timers on clay who couldn't sniff a major on another surface.

This all creates a situation where RG tends to be one of three things for the ATGs: (i) the ultimate ability to play on both slow and fast surfaces (e.g., Nadal, Borg, Lendl), (ii) the crowning achievement in the totality of a career by winning the CGS or CYGS (e.g., Budge, Laver, Agassi, Fed, Djoker), or (iii) the one title that would have done the most to elevate that player to another tier in history (e.g., Sampras, McEnroe, Connors, Edberg, Becker).

Because of this unique set of circumstances, RG, almost by accident, tends to be the most important Major for a lot of players and tends to drive their personal narrative:
  1. For the clay specialists, it gives them a chance to actually win a major and be relevant in history
  2. For the all-surface players, it gives them the ability to prove it
  3. For the crowning achievement guys, it caps their career and rounds out the resume
  4. For the near-miss guys, it is the gaping hole that is never forgotten
In some respects, tennis history is really about how well the greats did at RG.
Courier while very good on clay, certainly wasn't a clay specialist. He has more titles (17 hard / 5 clay) and higher win percentage (0.706 / 0.685) on hard courts than clay. His 4 slams are 2 hard / 2 clay as well.
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
I don't care who wins the dirt court stuff, but Nadal's achievement is even greater given he has done it in a time when there are no fast courts. Virtually every player on tour is a slow court specialist.
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
Wimbledon is now less important and has less prestige than at any time in the history of tennis. Dirt tennis presigous? LOL
 

Phoenix1983

G.O.A.T.
In terms of historical importance and prestige:
Wimbledon > RG > USO >>>>>>>> AO

i say this as a Djoker fan too
Kind of agree, but that wasn't really what the OP was arguing. I don't think he was saying that RG is more prestigious than W, more that it has defined many careers (either because a player has won it many times, wins it as their hardest obstacle, or never wins it).
 

FrontHeadlock

Hall of Fame
In terms of historical importance and prestige:
Wimbledon > RG > USO >>>>>>>> AO

i say this as a Djoker fan too
As an Agassi fan I also agree with this.

That said, while I agree that Wimbledon has the most historical importance and prestige, the genesis of this thread was that RG tends to be the defining Major, the one that drives the narrative for many players' careers.
 

MugOpponent

Hall of Fame
In terms of historical importance and prestige:
Wimbledon > RG > USO >>>>>>>> AO

i say this as a Djoker fan too
This is how I'd do it:
W>>RG>>USO>>AO
I'd give Wimbledon a bigger gap over Roland Garros. Wimbledon is the prestigious tournament. The gap between USO and AO should be less as well.
This is also era dependent in many ways. During this era where you've had great European players at the top of the game, much of the intrigue revolved around whether Djokovic and Federer could win at Roland Garros. Obviously Nadal being a top player owned it.
In the 90s when Sampras and Agassi rule the sport the US Open would have been a much bigger deal because they were American players and more likely to play a big match there.

I suspect if you asked players which slam they'd like to win most if they could only choose one, The order would probably be Wimbledon, Roland Garros, US, Australian. Of course nationality could play a big role in how that gets answered but I suspect that would be the most common order.
 

Slowtwitcher

Hall of Fame
I suspect if you asked players which slam they'd like to win most if they could only choose one, The order would probably be Wimbledon, Roland Garros, US, Australian. Of course nationality could play a big role in how that gets answered but I suspect that would be the most common order.
In many, many countries RG>Wimbledon.

At least we can all agree the Australian Open is the least prestigious. That should count for something when tallying up Slam totals or who's the GOAT.
 
This is how I'd do it:
W>>RG>>USO>>AO
I'd give Wimbledon a bigger gap over Roland Garros. Wimbledon is the prestigious tournament. The gap between USO and AO should be less as well.
This is also era dependent in many ways. During this era where you've had great European players at the top of the game, much of the intrigue revolved around whether Djokovic and Federer could win at Roland Garros. Obviously Nadal being a top player owned it.
In the 90s when Sampras and Agassi rule the sport the US Open would have been a much bigger deal because they were American players and more likely to play a big match there.

I suspect if you asked players which slam they'd like to win most if they could only choose one, The order would probably be Wimbledon, Roland Garros, US, Australian. Of course nationality could play a big role in how that gets answered but I suspect that would be the most common order.
I see it like this:

W = USO >> AO > RG

That's what the TV ratings (in the U.S. at least) say as well.
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
In many, many countries RG>Wimbledon.

At least we can all agree the Australian Open is the least prestigious.
The funny part about that is despite Ash Barty being the first Aussie to win a slam in .. forever .. no-one here cares because it was the French. If she won the AO, we'd go nuts. For now, her #1 ranking is more highly regarded than winning something no-one has any interest in.
 

GabeT

Legend
Wimbledon is the ultimate goal for most tennis players. I would say: Wimbledon > RG > USO/AO.
Wimbledon is number 1, the rest are all the same. Fans have no clue what differentiates them so it boils down to what you grow up with. In South America the FO is more important because they all pay in clay courts but in the US it’s a lot less relevant
 
Wimbledon is number 1, the rest are all the same. Fans have no clue what differentiates them so it boils down to what you grow up with. In South America the FO is more important because they all pay in clay courts but in the US it’s a lot less relevant
I think you have somewhat of a valid point in terms of geographically. However, being an American and being a fan of tennis since 1987, I would not put the prestige of any other GS over Wimbledon.
 

FrontHeadlock

Hall of Fame
Wimbledon is number 1, the rest are all the same. Fans have no clue what differentiates them so it boils down to what you grow up with. In South America the FO is more important because they all pay in clay courts but in the US it’s a lot less relevant
I think you have somewhat of a valid point in terms of geographically. However, being an American and being a fan of tennis since 1987, I would not put the prestige of any other GS over Wimbledon.
Guys, not talking about relative popularity or prestige of the individual Majors.
 

Rosstour

Hall of Fame
With the way the tour is stacked to reward clay-court players and how it has enabled Rafa to dominate the second half of the season for 15 years...yeah, it is the most important Slam.
 

NADALalot

Hall of Fame
Europe and South America grows up on clay, so it will always be the highest quality slam.

Australian Open 2019, Quarter-Finals = 1, 2, 8, 14, 16, 22, 28, unseeded
Australian Open 2019, Semi-finals = 1, 2, 14, 28

Roland Garros 2019, Quarter-Finals = 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 24
Roland Garros 2019, Semi-Finals = 1, 2, 3, 4

Wimbledon 2019, Quarter-Finals = 1, 2, 3, 8, 21, 23, 26, unseeded
Wimbledon 2019, Semi-Finals = 1, 2, 3, 23

US Open 2019, Quarter-Finals = 2, 3, 5, 13, 20, 23, 24, unseeded
US Open 2019, Semi-finals = 2, 5, 24, unseeded

And the only top 8 seeds to miss the Roland Garros QF was Tsitsipas (lost to French Open Champ Wawrinka-24) and Del Potro (lost to rising star Khachanov-10).
 

Eren

Professional
In many, many countries RG>Wimbledon.

At least we can all agree the Australian Open is the least prestigious. That should count for something when tallying up Slam totals or who's the GOAT.
In France, Spain and South America the following might hold: RG > W
Rest of the world: W > RG
 
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travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
I don't care who wins the dirt court stuff, but Nadal's achievement is even greater given he has done it in a time when there are no fast courts. Virtually every player on tour is a slow court specialist.
Big difference between clay and slow hard court.

Slow hardcourt rewards players with compact strokes who like to take the ball on the rise, because the slowdown makes it so easy to take it on the rise. Agassi and Djokovic are good examples of players who have style well-suited to “easy-to-handle-the-bounce” surfaces.

In a way, clay is the opposite. It favors rough-court specialists like Nadal and Thiem. Clay rewards players who have heavier spin, because the explosive bounce is more unpredictable on the rough court and very difficult to play on the rise. It also rewards players who prefer to back up and take the ball way behind the baseline on the way down.

It’s not a coincidence that both Nadal and Borg have good records on grass but not hardcourt, because they are both rough-court specialists.
 

FrontHeadlock

Hall of Fame
With the way the tour is stacked to reward clay-court players and how it has enabled Rafa to dominate the second half of the season for 15 years...yeah, it is the most important Slam.
How is the tour stacked to reward clay court players? Clay is a very popular surface world-wide.

In some respects, the tour over-rewards grass, even though it's counter intuitive. Nobody grows up on grass or trains regularly on grass. The footprint of grass worldwide is minimal. (Personally I'd like to see a lot more grass tennis worldwide, which could then translate into a better grass ATP season)
 

Eren

Professional
You're gonna have to do a lot more edits... clay court tennis is very popular in Europe and South America.
You might be right. AFAIK, Wimbledon is considered to be the most prestigious tournament one can win in tennis by many people in Europe. IMO, the majority of countries would say that W > RG.
 

Slowtwitcher

Hall of Fame
You might be right. AFAIK, Wimbledon is considered to be the most prestigious tournament one can win in tennis by many people in Europe. IMO, the majority of countries would say that W > RG.
And by majority of countries you mean the US and UK. Got it.
 

Rosstour

Hall of Fame
How is the tour stacked to reward clay court players? Clay is a very popular surface world-wide.

In some respects, the tour over-rewards grass, even though it's counter intuitive. Nobody grows up on grass or trains regularly on grass. The footprint of grass worldwide is minimal. (Personally I'd like to see a lot more grass tennis worldwide, which could then translate into a better grass ATP season)
Are you serious? This is the most ridiculous thing I have read on TTW in 2020 and that is saying a lot.

No Masters on grass, and Queen's & Halle are the same week.

The clay run-up to the French Open is what...5-6 tournaments, 2-3 of which are M1000s?
 

Slowtwitcher

Hall of Fame
Are you serious? This is the most ridiculous thing I have read on TTW in 2020 and that is saying a lot.

No Masters on grass, and Queen's & Halle are the same week.

The clay run-up to the French Open is what...5-6 tournaments, 2-3 of which are M1000s?
You just made his point ;)
 

Eren

Professional
And by majority of countries you mean the US and UK. Got it.
No not really. Clay being a more occurring surface doesn't necessarily mean that those people would value RG over W. Grass courts are very rare these days, even if someone would like to play on grass, it's hard to do so.

I live in a country where clay courts are the main surface, yet I think W > RG (I don't live in US/UK).

If you want to be completely sure, the answer is that no one really knows.
 

tonylg

Hall of Fame
Big difference between clay and slow hard court.
Shades of grey.



Valencia is different to naval, but next to an apple they are both oranges. There's a big difference between a performance longboard and a noserider, but you don't do aerials with either of them.

You are inflating small differences, because true variety is gone.
 

FrontHeadlock

Hall of Fame
Are you serious? This is the most ridiculous thing I have read on TTW in 2020 and that is saying a lot.

No Masters on grass, and Queen's & Halle are the same week.

The clay run-up to the French Open is what...5-6 tournaments, 2-3 of which are M1000s?
I mean it in the sense that there isn't really grass play in general. Do any juniors "grow up on grass"? Or do they all play 99% of the time on clay/hard?

I'm all for having more grass play on tour, but i ALSO think that needs to be in response to having more actual grass tennis, and people who become grass players by playing on grass most of the time.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
Shades of grey.



Valencia is different to naval, but next to an apple they are both oranges. There's a big difference between a performance longboard and a noserider, but you don't do aerials with either of them.

You are inflating small differences, because true variety is gone.
I respectfully disagree. I don’t really think I’m inflating differences. In the super slow gritty hardcourt that has become ubiquitous in the US in the last 15 years, an in-prime Johnny Mac, Edberg, or Rafter would have had trouble getting past the first round. But put them on clay, and they can still S&V effectively and go deep.

When I am home in Seattle, most indoor courts now have slow gritty surfaces that make it easy to return but but very difficult to win in singles by attacking the net.

In contrast, I spent most of last year playing on red clay last year, and made a couple of trips to the Carolinas and played on green clay. My most successful strategy on both types of surface was to get to the net (as I don’t possess a good rough-court high-energy forehand). For me, these rough surfaces favor styles that avoid on-the-rise hitting, making them almost polar opposite to playing on Seattle indoor hardcourt.

Also, I played many times last year against players much better than me (former ATP pros). Against these players, my limited forehand cannot hang in rallies long on clay, but I can stay in the point and hold my own much better on slow hardcourt because I’m not having to defend heavy bad bounces on the rise.
 
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