Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by 90's Clay, Aug 22, 2012.
For Vines, about 1935 to 1939.
Too bad leaving out 1931-32 for Vines.
I think that you may be right, although he was whipped at Wimbledon in 1996 by Krajcek, and was clobbered in 2000 by Safin at the US Open. Between these two dates, he was tough.
Pete's best year I believe was 1994 in which he was 77-12, won the Australian and Wimbledon. Incidentally I'm glad you put Vines in there. Vines is nowadays often forgotten.
Incidentally this is one of the problems I have with Sampras. Even in his best year he was never dominant. Players like Lendl, Connors, Borg, Federer, McEnroe averaged or close to averaged over a 90% winning percentage during their best five years. Sampras in his best year wasn't at 90%. Yes you could argue that he was "up" for majors but shouldn't other tournaments factor into his record also.
Players prior to the Open Era had more dominant records than Sampras also. That is a big deal to me. It's not exactly that Sampras won every major he entered. He entered 52 majors and won 14. And I like Sampras' general style of play even though he could get kind of boring at Wimbledon when his serve was so dominant.
Very unlikely that Borg could beat Sampras at the US. His record at that tournament showed he was pscyhologically inhibited by the venue/atmosphere/facing US opponents....and I am not just talking about the greats like Connors and Mac, but lesser players like Stockton and Tanner.
This is Borg's record at the US from 1975 on - loses to a US opponent every time...
1975 - SF vs. Connors (on clay)
1976 - F vs. Connors (on clay)
1977 - R16 vs. Stockton (on clay)
1978 - F vs. Connors
1979 - QF vs. Tanner (interesting how in the cathedral-like atmosphere of Wimbledon a few months earlier, Borg held his nerve against Tanner, but could not do so in front of a raucous NY crowd)
1980 - F vs. McEnroe
1981 - F vs. McEnroe
Given this, and Sampras' awesome record in the big/night matches at his home slam, I rate Borg's chances at very low.
Again you and I differ here. No, other tournaments should not matter particularly when ranking all-time tennis greats, just like random athletics meets shouldn't rank alongside the Olympics, or friendlies/qualifiers up there with World Cup finals in football (soccer), or minor tournaments in comparison to golf Majors, etc.
Also who cares about percentage of majors won. People use that about Borg all the time, while failing to recognise (or purposefully ignoring) the fact that he had completely maxed out, psychologically and physically, by the age of 25. If he had played 20 more majors after that point, who's to say he would ever have won another one? Luckily for him he chose to retire early to maintain very high percentages and have some fawn over him.
Personally I have more admiration for Sampras who played on until well past his best to win another major at the US Open 2002.
Percentage of majors won is of course very important. This is a statistic that gives you a better insight on the player's performance in majors. Do you not include percentage in all sports? Isn't on base percentage in baseball important? Is slugging percentage in baseball important? Otherwise a singles hitter would be the same as a home run hitter. Isn't completion percentage important in NFL football? Many players couldn't enter that many majors so do you go by a fixed number of majors or also look at the percentages of majors entered? You have to look at peak years and career for percentage of majors won? Sampras in his best years wasn't that great unfortunately and we have to recognize that. Guys like Rosewall, Laver, Tilden, Borg, Vines, Federer had excellent record during their best five years. Sampras in his best five years won 40% of his majors. Federer won 60%. What is better? Tilden only played 7 majors in his best five years, 8 if you include the World Hardcourt. Tilden won 8 out of 8. Sampras won 8 out of 20. They both won 8 majors. Who looks better? I think it's a good bet that if Tilden played 12 more majors in that period he probably would have won a lot more majors than 8.
Bill James once wrote something to like this, those who say important statistics don't mean anything don't understand statistics. I don't have the exact words but the meaning is there. I'm not writing you don't understand stats but I'm writing that you should realize that this stat is important.
Incidentally you should read up on the politics going on in Borg's time. It'll give more insight on Borg's retirement.
1975-Connors was better
1976-Connors was slightly better on har tru.
1977-Bad shoulder injury. Couldn't serve or hit overheads.
1978-Horrible blister. Probably would have crushed Connors imo.
1979-Just plain lost to Tanner
1980-Lost to McEnroe
1981-Lost to McEnroe but had death threats.
Several points here. If the US Open remained on har tru, Borg would have probably won many US Opens. From 1977 on he was the best player on har tru. In 1978 it was just a major injury. In my opinion and I know some disagree with me but Borg was superior to Connors on any surface.
I was at a number of those matches or saw them on television.
Wasn't this the match, before which Bergelin pleaded with the officials not to schedule it at night.
Apparently Borg had a hard time seeing the ball with the poor USO lighting back then (particularly on Tanner's big serve).
Of course you're happy because Phoenix1983 bump Rosewall from #6 up to #3. But don't expect him to bump Rosewall any higher if you keep on gloating Rosewall. For Rosewall being #3 is generous was much as Serena being #3.
Apparently if I remember correctly Bergelin discussed this with the US Open officials and they agreed to not play it at night. I could be wrong.
Injuried against Stockey
So no bad loss at all
You never watched in rage, humming, hiperconcentrated Roscoe did ya?
Nastase and Kodes: 1970-1974
I'm not sure of the purpose of this post Kiki?? I know despite your admiration for Kodes that you don't think he's top ten.
Thought just occurred to me. Nastase is a player who should have been top ten, maybe top five all time on the basis of pure talent. Maybe we should have a thread of players who were uniquely talented but wasted it to a certain degree.
An example would be Arthur Ashe, very gifted but he had other things on his mind besides tennis and you can't blame him for that. Mecir had injuries. Leconte was too wild a player.
I'm British, I don't follow US sports, so I can't answer the above examples.
But no, I don't think it's especially important in terms of tennis majors, sorry.
Are you talking about the likes of Rosewall/Gonzales etc. because if so, I account for their pro achievements in my ranking. But that would be titles, not percentages.
What nonsense. In his best 5 year spell (1993-97), he won 9 slams. This is more than the entire careers of Connors and Lendl.
I never denied Fed > Sampras.
Sampras, because he played in a much tougher era.
And also, please stop using hypotheticals ("he probably would have done this") as a way to boost someone's status. What happened, happened and we cannot award people phantom majors.
It's the same thing with Borg: let's say he had chosen never to play the US Open. People here would be writing that he undoubtedly would have won a few of them (or more), but we all know he didn't. Also, if he had chosen to play the Australian, he may have been physically burnt out by the middle of the season and thus may have lost some of those epically close matches at Wimbledon which he was renowned for winning. We simply don't know.
No, it's not.
You're basically saying it's better to dominate for a few years and burn out, rather than pace your career better, win over a longer period of time against many different generations and end up with better numbers.
Fact is, he demanded to play fewer tournaments because he couldn't hack playing a full season any longer. Whether the authorities were right or wrong not to accede to his demand is a matter for debate. However, it's fair to say he was no longer in top shape to dominate majors, certainly psychologically.
Look, the dude had opportunities to win the US Open on three surfaces and couldn't. Stop with this "he would probably have won many". There's no reason to believe that whatsoever.
From what I know of the two players, I agree. And Borg proved it in Wimbledon finals. But couldn't handle the atmosphere of winning the US Open against a home favourite, thus lost. This is a psychological flaw in his makeup which I feel you are ignoring.
That must have been an exciting time to watch live tennis.
Not really. Borg won in New York in the Masters and he was generally well liked in NY.
I used to often root against Borg because he was so good. Not that I disliked him but I wanted others to win. My point here is that I have no reason to write this because I'm not a fan of his but I do admire greatness in any player. I was there for many of his matches and imo that's not true.
If you want to see how Borg reacted to crowds, check out the 1978 Italian Open against Panatta.
It was a lot worst than what they described. The lines judges were exceptionally bad in making calls in favor of Panatta. I spoke to a good friend who was there for that match and the commentators hinted at it on television if I recall correctly.
Yes. Tanner wasn't fussed about playing at night, either, but he didn't mention that when he heard that Bergelin was complaining on behalf of Borg. This is also the match where Tanner's serve caused the net to collapse when he was serving for the match at 5-3 deuce in the fourth set. Borg broke back once they restarted, but Tanner won 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6.
It's not that simple. Connors only played at the Australian Open in 1974 and 1975. He also missed the French Open in his prime years from 1974-1978 (being banned against his will in 1974).
From 1974 to 1978 (5 year period), Connors entered a total of 12 majors, won 5 of them, was runner-up in 6, and a quarter final loser in the other. Connors also won the 1977 WCT Dallas title, and the January 1978 Masters title.
Phoenix, You overlook: Sampras was 31 when winning the US Open, Rosewall at 31 was not allowed to play a major...
Longevity is yet a significant measure of greatness.
Rosewall dominated at majors for four years.
In Tilden's prime there was no French championship for foreigners. He did win the World's Hardcourt Championships on clay.
We should also mention that Tilden didn't travel to Europe in 1922 and 1923 for the WHCC or Wimbledon, and I can't say that I blame him considering all the travelling by boat he would have had to do every year, while he wasn't earning a dime for playing tennis (as he was an amateur). Tilden was clearly seen as the world's best player in the first half of the 1920s, and he expected his biggest challengers from other continents to go to him. The French Musketeers (Lacoste, Cochet, Borotra) certainly answered that call with a lot of success in 1926 and the years following. Tilden started getting his own back in 1930 and then as a professional from 1931 onwards. Tilden had Cochet's number in the professional game.
I am not saying that. I am saying you have to account for both. Incidentally I was thinking of Sampras from 94 to 98 instead of 93 to 97 so I was off by one major.
I'm well aware of all this.
Here's something that people often ignore about Connors: after his first year of dominance (1974), he then went 1-6 in his next 7 Grand Slam finals. And he wasn't just being dominated by a single opponent either, he was losing against everybody he faced;
1975 Aus - lost vs. Newcombe
1975 Wim - lost vs. Ashe
1975 US - lost vs. Orantes
1976 US - won vs. Borg
1977 Wim - lost vs. Borg
1977 US - lost vs. Vilas
1978 Wim - lost vs. Borg
And this was Connors' supposedly "dominant" period, when he was ranked No 1 for most of the time!
Given that red clay was his worst surface and Borg was winning most of the FOs in this period, it is highly unlikely he would have added an FO title. As shown above, he was largely incapable of winning the majors played on his favourite venues and surfaces.
So no, don't compare Connors' best 5 year spell to that of Sampras please.
In his best five years he won 5 of 12 majors for 41.7%. In Sampras' won he won 9 of 20 from 1993 to 1997 for 45%. In his best winning percentage years Sampras won 8 of 20 for 40%. It is comparable. Don't forget Connors won WCT in 1977 during that period which really was a major.
Not going to bother arguing - I don't believe in this percentages bullsh*t.
Edit: just to say, thankfully, most tennis critics/historians/fans agree with me - that numbers of titles matter, not percentages. Sampras will be ranked well above Connors by most and deservedly so.
Whatever you want. Let's me ask you a question. Let's say I shoot free throws in basketball and I make 99 free throws. Let's say another person makes 98 free throws. Looks like I'm better, doesn't it? What happens if you found out that I made 99 out of 200 free throws and the other guy made 98 of 100? By your logic I'm better in free throw shooting.
No more mention of this from me.
Incidentally I never wrote Connors was better than Sampras.
What you are both ignoring is the question of opposition.
If I win 99% of my matches, and the opponents are Arkinstall, Palafox, Cawthorn, Bonetti, Huber, Worthington, Bottke, Fiala, Pero, Morton, Pottinger, Balestra, Lavanchy (all of whom were respected professionals from the early 1960's), and compare it to someone else's record of 70% against Gonzales, Rosewall, Sedgman, Trabert, Segura, Anderson, Cooper, Rose, Giammalva, Hartwig, McGregor, I would claim that the 70% is better than the 99% record.
I think you're right in the example you use Dan. However with Sampras and Connors the opponents were pretty strong. Connors had Borg, Ashe, Orantes, Tanner, Lendl, Edberg, Newcombe, Rosewall, Okker, Kodes, Vilas, Ramirez, Panatta, Stockton, Vijay Amritraj, Smith, McEnroe, Gerulaitis among others as the players Connors faced in majors. There were other greats like Nastase and Laver who Connors didn't face in majors.
Sampras faced Agassi, Goran, Edberg, Becker, Courier, Chang, Martin, Henman, Krajicek, Philippoussis, Pioline, Korda, Rafter, Kucera, Bjorkman, McEnroe, Lendl among others in majors.
I'm sure there were a number of other top players Sampras didn't face in majors.
It's subjective so the people can look and decide if either one had tougher competition.
Obviously level of play in the Open Era cannot remain the same. Some eras just have to be better than others but there is no way of measuring it.
But what were the percentages against these great players? Not 99%.
In the early rounds of majors, they played some cannon fodder.
Depends how much you value hypotheticals, I don't value them at all. We don't know if the other guy would have kept on scoring virtually every time, or on his 101st attempt would have fallen over and injured himself, thus leaving him stranded at 98 forever.
Oh and of course the situation is not analogous to tennis majors at all: doesn't account for different surfaces (most of Connors' missed majors were at the French, on his worst surface, so unsure why you are assuming he would have added to his title count there), the impact of age (Borg could not be expected to go on dominating into his late 20s etc.), and quite simply the fact that winning a tennis major one more time is not as easy as getting the ball in a basketball net one more time.
Bottom line is Sampras > Borg, and Sampras >> Connors.
However I also do not wish to discuss this any more...
That's also hard to examine as is level of play, Because for example the John McEnroe that Pete Sampras faced in the 1990 US Open wasn't the same as the John McEnroe that Borg and Connors faces in the 1970's and early to mid 1980's. Same with Lendl.
Kodes faced Newcombe in the first round of 1971 US Open I believe. Newcombe was top seed and Kodes was unseeded. But we know in retrospect that was a first round match that would be good for a major final. In fact that was the US Open final in 1973. Kodes went all the way to the final before losing to Stan Smith at his peak. Kodes probably should have been one of the top few seeds.
I think we have to look at what players were at the top of their games.
Dan, Your first list is demagogy. The pros usually did NOT play against Bottke, Fiala etc.....As always you try to belittle the early 1960s, probably to diminish Rosewall's achievements. I have already shown that Rosewall beat 15 very STRONG pros in his fantastic run 1960 to 1963 at pro majors.
Phoenix, Why so harsh towards pc1? pc1 is a Sir and you seem to be a rowdy...
eh, only connors didn't play RG, his weakest slam ... he most probably wouldn't have won that given the field of borg, panatta,vilas, orantes, ramirez, solomon etc ...
take out RG for sampras , you have him at 9/16 (56.25%)
I'll easily take that over 5/12 for Connors in his best 5 years inspite of the fact that connors faced tougher competition ...
74 , it was on grass, surely you wouldn't expect him to win there at that age ?
again, it had nothing to do with home favorite ... (pc1 already has given the example of panntta and rome 78 )
he didn't have a problem in shredding connors' game to pieces in USO 1981 - dominated him winning in straights .. ( connors took the winner mac to a close 5-setter in 1980 in the semis and would go onto win 82 and 83 USOs )
also FYI, he defeated stockton in 79 USO & tanner in 80 & 81 USO
connors was better than him on har-tru in 75 clearly and a bit better in 76 ... borg was injured in 77 and had to retire ... it was one set all when he retired ...so its not like he retired because he was losing or anything like that
had injury in 78 final as well ...though I don't agree with pc1 that borg would've comprehensively beaten him if he wasn't injured ....
If it had remained on har-tru, he would've easily have won more than one USO IMO ...
he was good enough to win atleast one on fast HC as well ... just that he was unlucky there ...just as he got lucky to win wimby 5 times in a row ...
Thanks for mentioning what a great champ Kodes was
Coming back to Borg, it is false he wasn' t great on hard just because of his unluckiness at Flushing Meadows
The next two best HC events of that time were Las Vegas and Toronto
In 79 Borg demolished Lendl & Mac in the semis and final of CO
That same year he demolished Connors to win Vegas and in 1980 he outgunned Vitas for another Vegas title
He completely destroyed the 4 best hardcourters of his time in two consecutive yrs
No, nothing against Rosewall.
My point was that you cannot compare the winning percentages of, for example, Borg and Federer, about 95-99% winning record, to the old pro percentages because the more recent champions have faced minimal opposition most of the time. Certainly in the early rounds of tournaments.
In the old pro days, there was a tough opponent every day, and a winning percentage of 70% was great.
I would not call them VERY strong. Perhaps a little long in the tooth.
Rosewall certainly did well in 1963 Stade Coubertin against Laver, who, in his own words, played the greatest tennis of his life in that match.
Kodes was an excellent player and frankly he was the perfect example of how it's tough to judge the strength of a player by early round matches in those days. The seeding committee could be very off in their judgements sometimes.
Next year Kodes were one of the top seeds.
When you judge great players we have to judge them on how great they were on all surfaces, not this recent nonsense that a great HAS to have won all the majors. That's recent stuff to promote players like Agassi for example who was a great player but I believe they wanted to push him more. Sure to win all the majors is good but it's not the end all.
Rosewall not winning Wimbledon doesn't not eliminate him from greatness. It's the circumstances of the times. It's not hypothetical but fact that Rosewall wasn't allowed to play all the majors for many years. These were years in which he probably would have won many classic majors.
Borg also was great on all surfaces.
Some players can't win on some surfaces like grass or red clay. It shows that they couldn't adapt and perhaps, just perhaps there was a flaw in their style of play or perhaps physically. I don't think that was a problem with Borg and Rosewall.
Dan, Thanks for the clarification. I agree.
Dan, Most of Rosewall's opponents were actually very strong: Laver, Gonzalez, Sedgman, Hoad etc. I concede that players like MacKay and Ayala were not quite as strong but still strong. Even Mike Davies and Robert Haillet were fine players.
pc1, I agree. Rosewall lost 13 years at Wimbledon including his best years. Imagine Samras and Federer would have lost 13 years at Wimbledon and the other Grand Slam tournaments. Their balance would be almost a disaster.
I've seen posters complain about hypothetical situations but unfortunately the situation in the past is different from today and it affects the tournament records of past players. So often in discussing the difference situations you have write about it when you have to answer certain questions.
There you go: Fed banned from Wimbledon 2001-2014.
I wonder what his record would be then?
But you know they only count majors for greatness. That wouldn't be fair, wouldn't it? Oops, sorry I'm talking hypotheticals again.
Pancho Gonzalez was banned from 1949 to 1968. That's a little bit of time in his career also.
But tennis was so much easier back then--it was only fat, old men playing betwen beers on Sundays.
hoodjem, To be honest I must say that your 2001-2014 are 14 off-years. And Rosewall did enter Wimbledon after a 11 years gap for four years before he again missed two years because of WCT politics and boycott.
But yes, Federer and many other greats would not have any significant career.
The same disadvantage as for Rosewall was given also for Pancho Gonzalez.
Davies and Haillet in the early sixties could be compared to perhaps Giammalva and McGregor in the late fifties. I think that Hartwig and Rose were playing above this level.
Gonzales, Sedgman, and Hoad were already past peak by 1961, and Segura, who provided Rosewall's toughest opposition at Wembley, was 40 years old by this time.
Kramer could not put a tour together for 1962, as Laver had refused to sign after Wimbledon, and there was literally no one left to play.
If Laver had not turned pro, the pro tennis circuit would have ceased to exist.
hoodjem, I would say that athletes like Sedgman , Hoad, Laver and Emerson were as tough as the best now are. Even Rosewall had a rather voluminous playing arm...
Not completely a joke. Look at the field for 1967 Wimbledon Pro. Budge and Riggs played on into the sixties.
Separate names with a comma.