Video of Laver vs. Rosewall

pc1

G.O.A.T.
Yeah, that's the first thing I noticed when watching the highlights for the 1st time, the uncharacteristic power on Jimbo's serve, and it was good to see my impression confirmed by the numbers. Wonder why he didn't bring it more often?

As for Newk, this is only an educated guess but I suspect his BH return was similar to Sampras': capable of an impressive array of winners when on, but generally less reliable than his FH side. (Speaking of which the BH return is one of the few areas where I feel Boris had the edge over Pete, at least indoors.
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Newk tended to return defensively on the backhand. Out of curiosity what do you find as normal unreturned rates on fast grass in those days?

I think @NonP could field that one a lot better than i could.
Thing is that I've seen Newcombe crush players on grass many times and he couldn't do it without a very good return. Players knew his backhand was the weaker return and of course they generally served there but at his best he handled it very well. If we are talking about overall strokes and offensive returns than Arthur Ashe had it all over Newcombe but Ashe often went for the low percentage on the line winner which may go in but often went out. Newcombe played the percentages better than Ashe and made less errors.
 
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krosero

Legend
He should blame himself for forcing Ken to serve with his right hand then ;)

@krosero

You've made some good points. I do believe Rosewall's serve would be exposed somewhat against a truly elite returner. But I concede that his serve is probably better than I painted it as.

As far Rosewall's prime, I've seen it suggested that he was not in his prime even in 1960 before which is why I asked the question. Federer was 27 in 2008, the decline in that year was due to mono IMO. Without it I expect a step down from 2007 but not such a massive one (no HC masters finals reached) etc...I think 2009 was a better example of a decline from 04-07 while still retaining the ability to to peak and win multiple majors.

I do think Rosewall's best form might have been in 1962, IIRC he had a better win/loss record that year. Though how much of that is due to a weaker Hoad and no Laver who even as a rookie was clearly better than the rest of the pro's of that period.
I would think a truly great returner would be a bad matchup for him, undoubtedly. I've conjectured in the past that Rosewall had some difficulty with Segura's great return, though I have no direct evidence of that. Segura and Rosewall were probably the best returners of the 50s (Laver one of the best of the 60s), unless I'm missing a lesser known name.

Rosewall was definitely in his prime by 1960; but if you mean peak I'm not sure. He couldn't have been far from it, but the difficulty I find with Rosewall is that there are no clear markers delineating his peak years -- at least not to me, and maybe I need to study his '62 season a little more (I know next to nothing about it).

Some players have a breakthough year that is unmistakeable; and some drop off a cliff at the other hand, going into a sudden or steep decline. With them it's easier. Rosewall may have made more of a steady climb up the mountain and a steady climb downward. But even that is mostly an idea in my mind; I need to study his best seasons more in depth.
 

urban

Legend
PC 1 is right about Newk. And Newk could run around his backhand and drill a big forehand down the line. The servers knew this and became careful with their serve. This shot won him the Wim quarter over Emerson in 1970, and also a Forest Hills quarter over Ashe in 1974, when he drew a double fault by Ashe.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
I would think a truly great returner would be a bad matchup for him, undoubtedly. I've conjectured in the past that Rosewall had some difficulty with Segura's great return, though I have no direct evidence of that. Segura and Rosewall were probably the best returners of the 50s (Laver one of the best of the 60s), unless I'm missing a lesser known name.

Rosewall was definitely in his prime by 1960; but if you mean peak I'm not sure. He couldn't have been far from it, but the difficulty I find with Rosewall is that there are no clear markers delineating his peak years -- at least not to me, and maybe I need to study his '62 season a little more (I know next to nothing about it).

Some players have a breakthough year that is unmistakeable; and some drop off a cliff at the other hand, going into a sudden or steep decline. With them it's easier. Rosewall may have made more of a steady climb up the mountain and a steady climb downward. But even that is mostly an idea in my mind; I need to study his best seasons more in depth.
The thing about Rosewall is that while he didn't have a high peak, he tended to just move steadily at a certain level downward that was far slower than the average player. Perhaps a lot of it had to do with his very smooth style that was based on max results with minimum effects. The wear and tear on his body tended imo to be less. So while he didn't have the fabulous years that a Connors may have he didn't have a career like Newcombe's which ended very early. If you chart Rosewall on a graph the line going down from peak level would be very slow and not a steep drop.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
PC 1 is right about Newk. And Newk could run around his backhand and drill a big forehand down the line. The servers knew this and became careful with their serve. This shot won him the Wim quarter over Emerson in 1970, and also a Forest Hills quarter over Ashe in 1974, when he drew a double fault by Ashe.
I was at that match and the grandstand was mobbed. Why they had that match in the grandstand is beyond me? People were hanging on the railings to watch that match.
 
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krosero

Legend
The thing about Rosewall is that while he didn't have a high peak, he tended to just move steadily at a certain level downward that was far slower than the average player. Perhaps a lot of it had to do with his very smooth style that was based on max results with minimum effects. The wear and tear on his body tended imo to be less. So while he didn't have the fabulous years that a Connors may have he didn't have a career like Newcombe's which ended very early. If you chart Rosewall on a graph the line going down from peak level would be very slow and not a steep drop.
Yes it's something exactly like that I was thinking of: picturing it on a graph. Thing is, for me this remains just an idea until it can be firmed up in some way. I've seen so many surprises when studying tennis and one of the biggest has been finding that Rosewall's peak level was higher than I expected -- while the consistency of stereotypically hit-and-miss players like Laver and Vines turned out to be, upon studying them, higher than I expected.
 
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krosero

Legend
Thing is that I've seen Newcombe crush players on grass many times and he couldn't do it without a very good return. Players knew his backhand was the weaker return and of course they generally served there but at his best he handled it very well. If we are talking about overall strokes and offensive returns than Arthur Ashe had it all over Newcombe but Ashe often went for the low percentage on the line winner which may go in but often went out. Newcombe played the percentages better than Ashe and made less errors.
Oh he definitely had a very good return. Anything less and he couldn't have done what he did on grass, as you said. My argument above was not that he had a bad return; I was only extending the same idea to Rosewall, namely that he couldn't have won all those grasscourt majors (and made dominating performances just as impressive as any in Newk's resume) if he had a genuinely bad serve.

All of our unreturned serves stats for Newcombe (the '69 W is new; I don't believe I've posted it yet):

1969 W final
Newcombe 30.3%
Laver 18.0%

1970 W final
Newcombe 21.5%
Rosewall 21%

1971 W final
Newcombe 38.5%
Smith 29.3%

1975 AO final
Newcombe 32.6%
Connors 27.9%

Some of these numbers make perfect sense. Smith was not a great returner so Newk got the most unreturned serves against him. Rosewall got more serves back than Laver did and Newk's rates reflect that. Rosewall drawing more return errors than Laver is a bit of a surprise.
 

NonP

Legend
I think @NonP could field that one a lot better than i could.

You called? (BTW finally posted my latest GSOAT update. Wanted to get into more depth but it should suffice for now.)

Wish I could give a better answer, but the short version: not so high compared to today's rates. I don't have all the unreturned-serve %s in one place yet (been meaning to do this forever), but the Newk %s you just posted are on the higher ends... and even those aren't over 40%! As you know 40% and even 50% aren't all that hard to break now, but back then these %s would be considered stellar. About a decade later we see some upticks, but even then something like Curren's 57.6% against Jimbo in his infamous exhibition would be exceptionally rare and I suspect even his 40% against Becker later in the final and 50% against Harmon at '83 Wimby would be well above average. My cursory observation is that the unreturned %s have been increasing steadily from the very beginning of modern tennis but probably at a faster rate over the last 2-3 decades than in any of the previous decades. Of course that's in direct opposition to what you hear about today's conditions.

1975 AO final
Newcombe 32.6%
Connors 27.9%

A slight (possible) correction: I have 45/135 or 33.3% for Newk, and I believe I got these #s from you. Which one should we go by?
 
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krosero

Legend
I imagine Rosewall having a serve like David Ferrer, not very big but reliable enough and not something most players can take advantage of. Obviously Rosewall's much superior all round game would give him a much better service game though.

Nice clip. Yes I do feel Rosewall's game would take more adjusting than most ATG's to today's game. But I'm not sure how much of GOAT requirement that is?
Sometimes I think of that as extra credit too, though I'm a little ambivalent about it. It gets into hypotheticals, which is inevitable, but I'm a bit more a stats guy.

A greater problem I have with it is that tennis has changed so much over the years. That argument can easily be used, and has been, to dismiss any great of the past as unable to play "real, modern tennis."

So I tend to fall toward judging players in their own context and judging how their games worked in their own conditions (of which there's so little awareness among newer fans; you're one of the few even interested).

But hypothetical greatness across eras is worth something for sure.
 

krosero

Legend
You called? (BTW finally posted my latest GSOAT update. Wanted to get into more depth but it should suffice for now.)

Wish I could give a better answer, but the short version: not so high compared to today's rates. I don't have all the unreturned-serve %s in one place yet (been meaning to do this forever), but the Newk %s you just posted are on the higher ends... and even those aren't over 40%! As you know 40% and even 50% aren't all that hard to break now, but back then these %s would be considered stellar. About a decade later we see some upticks, but even then something like Curren's 57.6% against Jimbo in his infamous exhibition would be exceptionally rare and I suspect even his 40% against Becker later in the final and 50% against Harmon at '83 Wimby would be well above average. My cursory observation is that the unreturned %s have been increasing steadily from the very beginning of modern tennis but probably at a faster rate over the last 2-3 decades than in any of the previous decades. Of course that's in direct opposition to what you hear about today's conditions.



A slight (possible) correction: I have 45/135 or 33.3% for Newk, and I believe I got these #s from you. Which one should we go by?
I'll get back to you, I have to check

will have a look at your update too
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
Yes it's something exactly like that I was thinking of: picturing it on a graph. Thing is, for me this remains just an idea until it can be firmed up in some way. I've seen so many surprises when studying tennis and one of the biggest has been finding that Rosewall's peak level was higher than I expected -- while the consistency of stereotypically hit-and-miss players like Laver and Vines turned out to be, upon studying them, higher than I expected.
Vines in particular was very surprising because many of the books kept stating Vines was a very erratic player. They said if he was "on" he would beat anyone but if he was off he could lose to anyone. Yet I found his winning percentages very high, especially in classic majors and pro majors. It's one of the highest winning percentages in these majors of any player in history. My best guess was that he may be erratic within the match but with his awesome power weapons he could hit his way out of trouble and win. Vines' record on further examination is very consistently great.
 

BobbyOne

G.O.A.T.
Perhaps the implication is lost in translation.

I interpret "Rosewall's service was fast enough to let him win more majors than Federer" to be a strong indication that it was fast.

Yes, Muscles should be satisfied with his serve and record.

hoodjem, You could be right because my English is not that good.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
Sometimes I think of that as extra credit too, though I'm a little ambivalent about it. It gets into hypotheticals, which is inevitable, but I'm a bit more a stats guy.

A greater problem I have with it is that tennis has changed so much over the years. That argument can easily be used, and has been, to dismiss any great of the past as unable to play "real, modern tennis."

So I tend to fall toward judging players in their own context and judging how their games worked in their own conditions (of which there's so little awareness among newer fans; you're one of the few even interested).

But hypothetical greatness across eras is worth something for sure.
Of course stats are the main reality. Those who ignore stats are not using the information to it's fullest. I would have to make the assumption that some players mainly because of their competitiveness would adjust their game to adapt to today.
 
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BobbyOne

G.O.A.T.
In his book Vines says Segura's serve was "only average for his class of player but well placed" while for Rosewall his serve was the "weakest part of game" without any qualifiers. And if these player profiles didn't drive the point home he later adds in his chapter on Little Pancho that Segura's serve was "only weak in comparison to Kramer's or Gonzales's." So it does seem that Elly for one thought Segura's serve superior to Rosewall's.

Of course he also ranked Pancho over Ken overall and said (in the intro) that Connors' return was even better than the latter's. Don't let Bobby see this, LOL.



Yeah, that's the first thing I noticed when watching the highlights for the 1st time, the uncharacteristic power on Jimbo's serve, and it was good to see my impression confirmed by the numbers. Wonder why he didn't bring it more often?

As for Newk, this is only an educated guess but I suspect his BH return was similar to Sampras': capable of an impressive array of winners when on, but generally less reliable than his FH side. (Speaking of which the BH return is one of the few areas where I feel Boris had the edge over Pete, at least indoors.)

NonP, I have seen your post and, surprisingly, I did not shatter into thousands of pieces...

I agree with your assessment of Vines' possible estimation/comparison.

But Ellsworth's judgement on Rosewall's service as the "weakest part of his game" does not inevitably mean that it was absolutely weaker than Segura's "well placed" serve. Using logic it could be that Rosewall's strokes generally were so strong that even his weakest one (I agree serve was his weakest stroke) was still a good one and possibly better than Segura's. I don't claim this as a fact, but it's theoretically possible. Honestly I believe that both services were about equal good.

EDIT: If Segura was better than Rosewall, why did he achieve so much less than Muscles? Here Vines (and Kramer for that matter) obviously erred significantly.
 

krosero

Legend
A slight (possible) correction: I have 45/135 or 33.3% for Newk, and I believe I got these #s from you. Which one should we go by?
I'm not entirely certain what happened here, but in my notes I'd put in the possibility that Newk hit an ace on one of the two points missing from my DVD.

I'd say go with 44/135 serves confirmed as unreturned (32.6%).
 

Rabbit

G.O.A.T.
Just to put what is being discussed into context...

The match shown in the OP was, I think, the Dunlop International at the White City in Sydney in March 1970. At the time Rosewall was 35 years 5 months old and Laver was 31 years 8 months old. Rosewall was therefore 11 months older than Federer is right now, and Laver 2 years older than Nadal is. Rosewall's best tennis years were about ten years in the past, and Laver's about 5 years (even though his best results might have been more recent). Rosewall was 3 months from appearing in the Wimbledon final, 6 months away from winning the USO, a year away from winning the 1971 WCT final, and 2 years from winning the 1972 WCT final. He was 4 years from his final appearances in the finals at Wimbledon and the USO.

I don't think this is the match you list. I think it's from much earlier. Rosewall is playing with a Slazenger frame I believe. In 1970, wasn't he playing with a Seamco Ken Rosewall? After that I believe he went to the Wilson WCT frame. Both of those frames were metal.
 

BobbyOne

G.O.A.T.
I would think a truly great returner would be a bad matchup for him, undoubtedly. I've conjectured in the past that Rosewall had some difficulty with Segura's great return, though I have no direct evidence of that. Segura and Rosewall were probably the best returners of the 50s (Laver one of the best of the 60s), unless I'm missing a lesser known name.

Rosewall was definitely in his prime by 1960; but if you mean peak I'm not sure. He couldn't have been far from it, but the difficulty I find with Rosewall is that there are no clear markers delineating his peak years -- at least not to me, and maybe I need to study his '62 season a little more (I know next to nothing about it).

Some players have a breakthough year that is unmistakeable; and some drop off a cliff at the other hand, going into a sudden or steep decline. With them it's easier. Rosewall may have made more of a steady climb up the mountain and a steady climb downward. But even that is mostly an idea in my mind; I need to study his best seasons more in depth.

krosero, Rosewall's curve of playing level might be similary to a wide plateau mountain without a clear peak whereas other greats have a shorter length of prime but a more significant peak. Gonzalez might be similary to Rosewall, rather than Laver might be.
 

DMP

Professional
I don't think this is the match you list. I think it's from much earlier. Rosewall is playing with a Slazenger frame I believe. In 1970, wasn't he playing with a Seamco Ken Rosewall? After that I believe he went to the Wilson WCT frame. Both of those frames were metal.

Well all I will say is that krosero thinks it is the 1970 Dunlop, and he uploaded it!

At the back of my mind I think I have read that Rosewall and Laver mainly used metal in the US for contractual reasons, and stuck to wood elsewhere.
 

krosero

Legend
I guess my highlights don't give the context at all, but I have the full match as well; it's definitely the Dunlop from early 1970.
 

Rabbit

G.O.A.T.
Well all I will say is that krosero thinks it is the 1970 Dunlop, and he uploaded it!

At the back of my mind I think I have read that Rosewall and Laver mainly used metal in the US for contractual reasons, and stuck to wood elsewhere.


I stand corrected! Let me add that the match is of great quality, both players move extremely well and while they probably have, they don't appear to have lost a step.
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
That's fine but I'm still not clear what they said about Rosewall's serve in his prime; you mentioned what Connors did to Rosewall.

Do you know where their comments were written?
From Tennis for the Bloody Fun of it by Rod Laver and Roy Emerson--

Roy-Attacking on the service return is the obvious strategy against good players who don't have punishing serves--if you can do it. The big reason Connors was able to run through Rosewall so easily in the 1974 Wimbledon and Forest Hills finals was that Kenny has no working margin on the serve. Most players can't hit out on their returns on both sides, so when Kenny plays, say, John Newcombe, he can concentrate on the backhand and pressure Newk with his first volley. Against Connors, though, the returns come back so hard from either side and come in so low that even Kenny, with his great volley, couldn't do anything with them. In those 1974 finals, he was either passed or was hitting such weak defensive volleys that Connors had easy putaways on the next shot. It's just a case of one guy's strength being plugged right into another guy's weakness.

It makes me wonder if Connors at his peak would not do well against Rosewall at his peak. Rosewall could hide his service weakness against most players in those days by placing his serve, usually to the backhand where they usually couldn't attack it. Against Connors it was a catch 22 situation for Rosewall.
 
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krosero

Legend
From Tennis for the Bloody Fun of it by Rod Laver and Roy Emerson--

Roy-Attacking on the service return is the obvious strategy against good players who don't have punishing serves--if you can do it. The big reason Connors was able to run through Rosewall so easily in the 1974 Wimbledon and Forest Hills finals was that Kenny has no working margin on the serve. Most players can't hit out on their returns on both sides, so when Kenny plays, say, John Newcombe, he can concentrate on the backhand and pressure Newk with his first volley. Against Connors, though, the returns come back so hard from either side and come in so low that even Kenny, with his great volley, couldn't do anything with them. In those 1974 finals, he was either passed or was hitting such weak defensive volleys that Connors had easy putaways on the next shot. It's just a case of one guy's strength being plugged right into another guy's weakness.

It makes me wonder if Connors at his peak would do well against Rosewall at his peak. Rosewall could hide his service weakness against most players in those days by placing his serve, usually to the backhand where they usually couldn't attack it.
Thanks for finding that excerpt, can't disagree with anything in it.
 

Moose Malloy

G.O.A.T.
Krosero/NonP, I have another one for Newcombe, the 73 USO final. Unfortunately I'm missing at least 2 points on his serve, it was deuce, game 7 of the 3rd set. Kodes ended up breaking. If you have any articles about that game, maybe I can figure out how many points are missing. Regardless, this was the unreturned rate I calculated.
Newcombe 39.2%
Kodes 24.2%

Based on this high rate for Newk, you might think Kodes returned poorly, but it was really the opposite. he was returning so well(even Kramer was impressed) that Newk had to go for bigger serves. I'm not sure I've seen him serve that big before, even the commentators said something to that effect. I gave him 12 aces, 15 service winners, and 26 other return errors. The 15 service winners is a pretty high number for any era(includes returns that are barely touched, basically near aces) and I think by far the highest I've seen for the wood racquet era. So maybe that is more evidence of how big Newk was serving that day. It felt like if he didn't win the point outright with his serve that Kodes had a 50/50 shot of winning the point(haven't crunched the numbers yet)
Overall it was an incredibly high quality match, I had both players with single digit unforced errors(not counting double faults), maybe I'll post full match stats sometime.
 

krosero

Legend
Krosero/NonP, I have another one for Newcombe, the 73 USO final. Unfortunately I'm missing at least 2 points on his serve, it was deuce, game 7 of the 3rd set. Kodes ended up breaking. If you have any articles about that game, maybe I can figure out how many points are missing. Regardless, this was the unreturned rate I calculated.
Newcombe 39.2%
Kodes 24.2%

Based on this high rate for Newk, you might think Kodes returned poorly, but it was really the opposite. he was returning so well(even Kramer was impressed) that Newk had to go for bigger serves. I'm not sure I've seen him serve that big before, even the commentators said something to that effect. I gave him 12 aces, 15 service winners, and 26 other return errors. The 15 service winners is a pretty high number for any era(includes returns that are barely touched, basically near aces) and I think by far the highest I've seen for the wood racquet era. So maybe that is more evidence of how big Newk was serving that day. It felt like if he didn't win the point outright with his serve that Kodes had a 50/50 shot of winning the point(haven't crunched the numbers yet)
Overall it was an incredibly high quality match, I had both players with single digit unforced errors(not counting double faults), maybe I'll post full match stats sometime.
This is great info. Deserves its own thread.

One report: Kodes "went ahead by winning the third set 6-4, achieving the only service break in the seventh game. Newcombe fought off three break points before yielding the game and the lead in the match with two back-hand volley errors."
 

pc1

G.O.A.T.
Yes Segura served and volleyed. Generally people thought Segura's serve was better than Rosewall's but some may have thought Rosewall's was better. Segura was considered to have an average serve but the rest of his game was superb with the exception of his one handed backhand. Segura had a superb volley, especially the forehand volley.

Here's a quote from Frank Sedgman on Segura's serve from the article "The Service" in the Fireside Book of Tennis-There were two serves that have not looked impressive to the spectator but which were reasonably good when all factors were considered. Pancho Segura is a little fellow who gets the most out of his height. He holds the racket at the very end, with the butt hitting the middle of the palm.

Here's a little vid that shows the service form of Segura.
http://www.britishpathe.com/video/perry-shines-at-professionals-wimbledon/query/Tennis+pancho+segura

He also writes about Rosewall earlier in the article--Many of the Aussies seem to have acquired a peculiarity native to our country. Rex Hartwig, Ken Rosewall and Lew Hoad keep their elbow close into their side just before the hit. Lew has a good ser and an excellent action despite this, but I feel Ken and Rex could improve their delivery by raising that elbow above the right shoulder as do Gonzalez and Trabert.
Found some serving and volleying of Segura here. Segura also hit some of his famous forehands against Sedgman.

http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/v...-pro-tennis-tournement-news-footage/594665767

Any opinions based on just service form on how Segura's serve compares with Rosewall? Segura's volleying form seems excellent as it was reputed to be.

Below is Ken Rosewall at his peak in 1963 serving to Laver.

 
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