Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by 90's Clay, Aug 22, 2012.
You're not hearing me. I'm not saying Borg at his best on clay doesn't have an argument for being better than Djokovic peak for peak on slow hards, just that there's really not much in it(how could there be when you take into account Novak's semifinal perfs in 2013/16 or the level he displayed throughout most of the 2011 event).
And if your aim is to wind me up as much as possible and place yourself that bit closer to my ignore list with all this incessant "before 2011" talk, you're succeeding handsomely. Quit with that sh1t instead of being such a condescending *****.
I am not sure what you are saying here.?
In the 2013 semi Djoker lost 9-7 in the fifth. In the 2016 semi he squashed Thiem in three. In the 2011 RG tournament, he cruised till the semi against Fed (losing only one set before the semi to Delpo in round three).
Urban, McCauley's statement was more of a hint, as I described it. I once looked for it in his description of the big three pro events and could not find it myself but it appears actually earlier, at the first of the two events held at Wembley (not Wembley Pro), just after Bournemouth:
Within a week the NTL men were back on the lightning fast Wembley boards for a Pro tournament but the 6 big names drew disappointingly small houses. With the advent of Open tennis, were Pro-only events losing their drawing power?
The big three pro-only events (French, US and Wembley Pro) did have strong draws and McCauley notes that they featured both the NTL and WCT pros. As you know he makes a point of the meeting of the two troupes, asking which of the troupes would prove to be the stronger.
But he still devotes more space to Bournemouth (the first Open), the French Open and Wimbledon; for him the special importance of these events, as for everyone else, was that they brought together amateurs and pros for the first time.
The way I read McCauley's 1968 chapter, it's a consistent theme for him: the meeting of groups that had not met before. US/French/Wembley Pros were a contest to see who the best pros were; but the Open events were the more important meetings, because it was there that the whole tennis world was watching to see how pros would do against amateurs.
And that put a special kind of pressure on those tournaments, especially for the pros, who were risking their entire reputations if they could not defeat, or did poorly against, the amateurs.
The pro-only events were strong events in '68 but they were not as closely watched, nor was there as much at stake -- that is the impression I get both from reading McCauley and from the newspaper reports of the time period.
Bobby, I could have had Rowley in the back of my mind; Rowley's statement is stronger than McCauley's hint.
But actually when I read McCauley today I have in mind the articles he wrote for World Tennis back in 1968-73. You may know them: he produced world rankings, with long articles, statistics, etc. I collected them a few months ago to get Gonzalez's Open-Era records.
In his year-end 1968 article he names the top 7 events of the year:
- the GS events (he calls these the "Big Four" but he picks out only 3 for the men this year, dropping the Australian due to its weak draw)
- the German Open
- and the amateur championships in South Africa, Italy and the U.S.
Those are his top 7 tournaments, and he produces a table of H2H records among the top 10 men in those 7 events.
In his article/narrative, he says that he also takes into account the pro-only events (but he does not use them for his statistical table):
Results from these  tournaments, along with the Davis Cup, are the basis for this year's ranking lists. All other tournaments, including those in which rival Professional troupes conflicted, are taken into account but only those played under the conventional scoring system.
Then in his article he describes what happens at US/French/Wembley Pros, but as in his later book, he devotes more space to the Open events.
And it's a consistent theme in all his year-end rankings. He considers the Open events the most important.
For example in his '69 article he writes:
Emphasis was placed on victories gained in the seven Major Open Championships (see chart) but all other wins and losses have been taken into account.
His seven in '69 were:
- the Big Four
- South Africa Open
- Italian Open
- German Open
In his 1970 article:
Emphasis was placed on results from the major championships and in this respect Wimbledon was the Blue Ribbon event. It was the only major tournament truly representative of Open tennis.
He's referring here to draws weakened for political reasons and boycotts. In any case, here again is his characteristic emphasis on Open events.
His top 7 events in 1970 were the same as in '69.
I was referring to his AO performances.
Yes incidentally, McCauley writes in his year-end '68 article: "If the rankings were based on clay only, he [Rosewall] would be the No. 1 player in the world," based on his winning Bournemouth and the French Open.
In his '69 chapter:
Fifth place goes to the 34-year-old Australian, Ken Rosewall, one of the fallen heroes of the game. This may sound paradoxical for one ranked so high, but there was a day when he was invincible. His grass court game this year was vulnerable, as illustrated at Brisbane, Wimbledon and Forest Hills. He was far better on clay and this he proved once more in Paris, where he beat Leclerq, Holocek, Mulligan, Gulyas, Stolle and Roche before relinquishing his title to Laver.
I haven't really looked at what TB has before the 1930s but overall it's an excellent database.
No real surprises in the Gonzalez numbers. What I posted already has basically remained unchanged, I'm just changed a few things like '64 (I added the Zurich event which I found during our debate about that year); and another poster on the board contacted me with some helpful information about '68. My win/loss record for him that year remains the same but I've been able to add a few details about his pro events.
If Pete and Mac would "do fine" with the current racquet technology, then you are saying that today's players should be capable of playing a S&V game in the majors....which we have not seen for quite some time, indeed, since Pete.
Only Raonic has made some effort this year to develop an attacking game.
technology is different from a completely different style of play
The point is, why do we see a completely different "style of play" coinciding with the newer racquet technology?
Because baseline play became much more stable with powerful and accurate shots being hit with consistency by all manner of players. It's simply much easier to play at the baseline now. I have doubts that the old Aussies would be S&V'ing much in today's era.
Thanks for the explanation, krosero. But to me it seems it from McCauley remarks on 1967, that the pro Championships had lost their (marketing) value long BEFORE the start of open Tennis, that Wembley and Coubertin didn't draw good crowds (in contrast to the Wimbledon pro Event), because everybody awaited open Tennis. There was of course a change with the advent of open Tennis, but i don't think that the status of the pro Championships was much affected by this. As said, Bud Collins always treated the US pro Championships before and after 1968 as equal, and he did this long before McCauleys book was published. I have the second Edition of his encyclopedia, which was published in 1992. And also the Encyclopedia of Tennis by Max Robertson and Jack Kramer (who knew a thing ot two about pro Tennis) treated those championships as equal. In Rosewalls entry in the Enclyclopedia Britannica, only 3 pro titles of his are mentioned: his 3 US pro Championships of 1963, 1965 and 1971. And contemporary newspaper reports of 9. September 1968, mention that Laver won his fourth US pro championship within 5 years, making no distinction whatsoever between pre 1968 and 1968.
The main problem for me and others is the pro Major or pro Grand Slam concept, initiated by Rowley. It suggests that the pros played a sort of Grand Slam schedule, likewise as todays pros focus on Slams, and this is imo not correct, although some newer Tennis fans, who are quite "Slam obsessed", jump on this train. Those pro championships, especially Wembley, were important as fix points in this vagabond shadow world of the old pro circuit, no question, but the ranking wasn't depending on them in the same way, the modern slams are centres of the game. They had not more participants, nor more prize money, not extra ranking points, nor special scheduling (this is my main objection). And in many years there were other events, at Kooyong, Forest Hills, Newport, New York, Wimbledon, which had pretty the same prestige and status,if not more. I simply don't buy it, that those pro Championships can be treated like Grand Slams, and that simply slam numbers are added, without proper mentioning the contexts.
One note on Rowley: Even Richard Naughton, Rosewalls new biographer of 2012 makes some critical remarks on Rowley, in the way, that Rowleys book reads more like a court speech in favor of Rosewall, and against other greats like Hoad, Gonzalez and Laver. He, Naughton wants to set himself apart of this try, and this is the authorized biography of Ken Rosewall. To be clear: Ken Rosewall is one of the alltime greats, and especially his longevity is second to none, and he needs no lawyers speech whatsoever.
Yes, the point is that with the newer racquet technology the game is played from the baseline...they coincide with each other.
Urban, some good points but I have a couple of objections. The articles from the time period did report Laver's win at US Pro as his fourth overall, and Rosewall's win in the same place in '71 as his third overall. But that was done, too, for example when Newcombe was reported to win his second and third Wimbledon titles in 1970-71. It's true that in detailed reports his first win in '67 would be specified as as amateur win. But the pro period, after '68, was no longer well known (in truth it was never well known) so I would not expect any journalists to make a distinction for those former titles.
I recall a poster from many years back (I think it was AndrewD) who said that when Open tennis arrived, the former pro period began to be treated as if it did not even exist. Its records -- to the extent that they existed -- were certainly not studied or collected, until McCauley and others.
That's my main objection about the newspaper reports not making a cutoff distinction at '68 for the former pro majors.
As for their importance within the world of the old pro tour, well I don't know of anything McCauley wrote before '68 that would tell us what he thought of the 3 pro majors at the time. But there are some nice clues in his World Tennis article giving his '68 rankings.
At the start of his article he describes Laver's achievements (Laver was obviously his #1 for the year). After going through Rod's Open achievements in detail, he ends with Laver's "professional successes." He describes what Laver did at French Pro, Us Pro and Wembley -- and those are the only three pro tournaments he names.
He does the same with Rosewall, describing his Open-tournament achievements, and finishing with:
In purely Professional competition Rosewall was runner-up to Laver in the London Indoor Championships. He was beaten in the quarter-final of both the U. S. Grass Court and the French Championships by Roche and Newcombe respectively.
(He was using an October-to-October calendar season, that's why he references the '67 Wembley Pro rather than the '68.)
That the pro majors were not like modern Slams is absolutely true (and it might be added that the entirety of the old pro tour was unlike the modern tour). But I think it can't be doubted that French/US/Wembley were, very generally speaking, the top 3 pro events, as described not just in some newspaper reports I've posted but also in other sources like Vines' book in 1978.
Other tournaments can be named as pro majors, going from year to year (going as far back as the Berlin Pro of 1932-33). But then again that's true when we name majors in the early OE as well, right through the mid-80s. We don't always go with the 4 Slams, because they did not always have the best competition or prize money (or even consistent scheduling, in the case of the AO).
The trio of French/US Pro/Wembley would make some sense for the period 1964 to 1968, but there was no consistent status for these events before that time.
The move from Roland Garros to Stad Coubertin in 1963 represented a major loss of public status for the French Pro, and the absence of a Forest HIlls event after 1963 due to financial losses at that venue was a serious loss for the pro tour.
Although Forest Hills was a major pro event in the late fifties, the most prestigious and media-covered pro event, it was not the official U.S. Pro until 1963.
krosero, Thanks for all this information which suports some of my thoughts.
But I think that Joe layed to much emphasis on the classic three sub-GS tournament events, i.e. South African, Italian and German Championships. At that case I would prefer the old pro majors even in open era and big events like L.A. PSW, Las Vegas. Joe once told me that he would have considered Pancho's marvellous win at Las Vegas if he had covered the whole year 1969 (and would have increased Pancho's place in the top ten).
urban, Even though I know you are not interested in my opinions or find them Rosewall biased etc., here some remarks. I don't understand your attitude especially after serious poster krosero (never Rosewall biased) provided us with his valuable information (quotings).
Of course the status of the old pro majors must have been affected when the pros suddenly were allowed and able again to enter the really big events of the tennis calendar: the Grand Slam tournaments. Thus their previous biggest goals vanished and the GS events became their biggest goals (see my previous post). It's a case of logic. It's strange to consider the three open GS tournaments in 1968 plus 3 or 4 pro majors. By the way, I find it funny that on one hand you doubt the importance of the three classic pro majors prior to open era but on the other hand you put much emphasis exactly to these three events in open era even when the had lost their importance by the open GS tournaments...
Bud Collins did not consider all US Pro events equal! He just listed up all winners of US Pro as it was the oldest pro championship and still alive. One reason might have been that the venue since 1964 was the Longwood Cricket Club near Bud's home and HIS club for his own tennis.
Bud even listed that event in years where it had lost most of his prestige and was just an invitation event with weak fields in the early 1990's when once even old Borg won a few rounds against third-class players in close matches...
Another reason for focussing to US Pro more than to European pro majors might be the US-bias of several journalists.
The old pro majors were of course mentioned even in open era because they had tradition and strong fields. Nevertheless: Rosewall would have gladly changed his great Wembley win of 1968 with a Wimbledon win or the US Open win that year...
I don't think that the 3 pro majors concept was created by Peter Rowley. By the way, we should be grateful to him (he is not alive anymore) that he was the first person considering the old pro scene at all and rather detailed. Before him already Ken Rosewall had spoken about the three big pro events in a long World Tennis interview in 1963. Ken mentioned Wembley, French Pro and Forest Hills (not US Pro, but we can take F.H. in those years 1957 to 1959 and 1963 as the true US Pro). C. M. Jones in his book "The Great Ones" wrote that Paris and Wembley were the two major professional tournaments. He also writes that many other events were of exhibition nature. And "All this altered with the advent of "Open" tennis in 1968".
After Rowley it was Joe McCauley and later Bud Collins who wrote about the three pro majors. About the US Pro he wrote in the 2003 issue of his big encyclopedia (maybe influenced by McCauley's book where Bud had written the foreword (without demanding any money!): "That was one of the three championships that the pros held dearest during their days as outcasts prior to opens. The others were the French Pro won by Rosewall eight times and Wembley in London won five times by Rosewall between 1957 and 1968" (His error: Rosewall won six times but maybe Bud had in mind the five titles pre-open era).
In the same issue he mostly mentioned these championships at the end of every years' descriptions.
Now please add the krosero sources for that matter.
I don't think that Kooyong was as important as the pro majors (but I'm not Dan ;-) ). Newport was not important and the pros did not like it because of the strange rules. Wimbledon Pro was held only once and therefore not a classic major (although a big event of course).
In Naughton's book you can find as many errors as in Rowley's (and in most tennis books...). Rowley's biography was also authorizised!! Only Geist's book was not authorizised.
And a personal remark: Considering some sometimes ignorant posters here (Limpinhitter, Phoenix1983, Dan Lobb and so on) Rosewall yet needs a lawyer's speech. I have tried to do my best on that field since four years. I'm glad that I probably was able to convince some of my readers that Rosewall is underrated and deserves a place among the GOAT candidates.
EDIT: Thanks, Flash, for your "likes" for krosero's and my post.
krosero, Thanks for your research.
It's probably telling that McCauley and Collins brought only championship rolls of the three classic majors because these also were the only events held for many consecutive years, at least from 1958 onward. They also had best-of-five- finals and partly BOF earlier rounds. Outside of the majors there seldom were best-of five matches.
The status of the so-called "US Pro" at the Cleveland Arena from 1954 to 1964 needs some clarification.
I have just seen on sale a program from the 1957 Cleveland Arena event, and the program bills it as "The POC World Professional Tennis Championship", no reference to the "US Pro".
This is consistent with the contemporary media reporting of the Cleveland tournament, for example, Sports Illustrated which used the term "POC World Pro" in its 1956 report, no mention of "US Pro".
The Cleveland Arena tournament was not referred to as the "US Pro" until much later, after it no longer existed.
yes, there is quite a bit of difference.
players were struggling to get games off Borg on clay - even more so than vs nadal in RG 2008 ...
Borg lost 32 games in 78 and 38 games in 80. Nadal lost 41 games in 2008.
I don't think djokovic's AO 13/16 SFs or 11 performances come near to rafa's in 08 RG. same goes with respect to comparision to borg's 78 and 80.
I don't think Novak's peak level is better than federer's on slow HC (AO 2004, 05, 07, 2010 SF?F ) and that's federer's 3rd best (after wimby and USO)... I don't think federer's peak level on slow HC is that near to borg's on clay. So how the hell can I think djokovic's peak level on slow HC is close to borg's ?
Maybe you could actually watch some of the tennis before commenting. Forget about tennis from 2000 to 2011 for a second. You sure as hell haven't watched borg at his peak on clay or even followed it much at all. So you shouldn't be commenting on that.
My original post wasn't even directed to you. You poked your nose in because you thought I was putting your dear Novak down. Well, no, I wasn't. Its just Borg's peak level on clay was that high.
OK. Sorry, I thought you were referencing FO performances.
There is no way to compare players across time. The only thing you can compare is relative dominance. That's it.
Gabe T, I must contradict. In tennis history there always were some very great players who spanned several decades and generations of players. They were dominating when being young, when being middle-aged and they were still great when being old or even very old. Look at Bill Tilden: He was best from 1920 to 1925, again best around 1930 (at 37!), about No. 8 in 1938 (when being 45) and almost won a match against pro champ, Riggs, as late as 1946 (at 53)! Or look at Segura who, at 41, had match point against eventual winner, Rosewall, at Wembley. Or look at Gonzalez who beat prime Laver as late as 1970 (at 42) three times. Or look at Rosewall who won two Grand Slam tournaments at 18, was No.1 at 26 to 30, won his last GS tournament at 37, reached the Wimbledon and US Open finals at 39 and beat the world's No.3, Gerulaitis, at 43 and gave peak Connors a tough match also at 43. You surely know the history of Connors, Agassi and Federer who all were able to cope with the next generation when being oldies.
I don't agree. There is a way. It takes experience, knowledge of the game and well reasoned, rational assumptions. Observers and players alike have been doing it for many decades.
Sports arguments comparing players or teams throughout the decades is one of the fun discussions and often the most heated. At the same time it's usually very fun to discuss also.
I do think there are ways to compare them as long as we can research it carefully. You have to know the way tennis was viewed in past eras and a ton of other thing aside from the numerical stats. Unfortunately there aren't set numbers like in horse racing to compare the times the race was won in the past.
Fun to do. But useless as there is no way to adjust for different conditions, competition, etc. so all we can do is compare relative accomplishments.
I disagree. You can compare players that you have personally seen play. If you are comparing players who used different equipment, it helps if you have used both kinds of equipment yourself.
But what are we comparing?
It's hard enough to compare peak Nole and peak fed say, even though their careers overlapped quite a lot. How do you compare Fed, or Nole, with Laver? Different techniques, different technology, different competition.
I find the debates very interesting and most of the posters here know a lot, reading what they write expands my knowledge of the sport. But I don't see how you can compare across eras and determine who was better. The only hard numbers we have are on relative dominance, how well any player did against his or her contemporary peers.
I suppose you can use the old six degrees (or more in this case) of separation approach (although I really don't think it's valid) with past greats. Example-Bill Tilden beat Don Budge who beat Pancho Gonzalez who beat Jimmy Connors who beat Edberg who beat Agassi who beat Federer who beat Nadal who beat Djokovic. LOL.
Or I like this path--Bill Tilden beat Don Budge who beat Bobby Riggs who beat Margaret Court. In this case I am reasonably certain Bill Tilden would beat Margaret Court. That would be worth putting money on imo. LOL.
Of course I can do it in reverse. Chris Evert beat BJ King who beat Bobby Riggs who beat Budge who beat Tilden. Therefore Chris Evert beats Bill Tilden. I think this may be a little flawed.
That looks like eight degrees of separation to me.
Level of play, shotmaking ability, athleticism, conditioning, intensity, competitiveness, mental toughness. Hard numbers are not competent to make those comparisons.
None of that can you compare across time. There is no method for that.
Unless you're like John McEnroe who played Borg and Roddick.
6-3 with Roddick taking it easy on the old man
I'd be willing to bet he could handle Serena.
Is this an exho? Neither player looks all that sharp here.
So would Mac
Any match where Roddick plays McEnroe is an exho
Could it be Team Tennis? (Roddick plays for the NY Empire.)
Not really I think. There was a WTT match a few years ago where the set came down to one point and Roddick won it.
They have played in WTT against each other.
Limpin, I agree.
Yes you can, if you've seen them play.
Gabe T, Usually it is said by current experts that the modern players are much better than the Tildens, Rosewalls, Lavers and so on. Sure, the current players are playing with more power, but, as you rightly say, they use better technology. I still claim that Hoad and Laver had stronger arms than most or even all modern players (with Nadal a possible exception). Thus we can say that the great players of the past would do well in any era.
hoodjem, Yes it was WTT.
Then that's just your opinion, which is fine. But it doesn't prove anything, nor can you back it up with anything other than your opinions.
What you can prove is relative dominance. For that we have hard numbers. That we can compare across time easily.
Maybe. When I watch I reach a different conclusion.
I was looking at the 1969 finals Laver played and was not impressed at all. And that was supposed to be his best year. Compared to how tennis is played today they looked, to me, significantly less athletic and moved much less.
Yes, it is my opinion, but, no, not just my opinion. As for proof, it seems that you are conflating proof with conclusive proof. Is an eye witness account proof according to your definition? Is expert opinion proof? The answer, of course, is yes. It may not be conclusive proof , but, it is proof nonetheless.
10. Newcombe/Rosewall/Edberg/Becker/Fred Perry/Rene Lacoste/Connors/JohnnyMac/Wilander (7-8 slam territory)
Please click to expand at post 4099!
Separate names with a comma.