Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by 90's Clay, Aug 22, 2012.
NatF is pretty cool about stuff.
Does this clay-courter make anyone's top 10?
FYI, the ATP didn't exist for the first 5 years of the open era, and then, only as a players union and a computer ranking system, not a circuit. The two main pro circuits were the Grand Prix and the WCT. The international circuit was administered by the ILTF. The ATP Tour started in 1990. Connors and others won many important non-ATP events in their careers, many of which the current ATP doesn't keep track of. For example, I've read sources that have Lendl, Rosewall and Gonzalez winning more than 130 titles, each. In addition to all of that, the ATP website is notoriously unreliable and incomplete, especially data that predates its existence.
Well, I have had the privilege of seeing him play, live, several times in his prime. In my view, he is about as talented as anyone. His return game, second only to Agassi's in my opinion, is testament to that.
Brett69, In open era Connors won about 150 titles. ATP did not count many of them.
NatF, I'm glad I finally can agree. But you and I and all others should try to avoid the word "silly". I concede it's sometimes difficult to do so...
Limpin, I agree.
He/she didnt say that was their rankings, just their likelihood to be GOAT. I doubt he/she would rank Sampras 10th, just that he is that unlikely to have any GOAT argument. Which I can understand since Sampras achievement and career wise is basically just a poorer version of Federer. His career is most similar to Federer than anyone else, and he is behind Federer in everything, so how could he possibly be GOAT, whether you think Federer is or not. Gonzales atleast is very tough to compare to Federer and many others due to the era he played, was #1 as long or longer than Laver, so has possible avenues to argue him as the GOAT. Not that i would but you could atleast try much easier than Sampras who is just a poorer Federer career about 10 years earlier in modern days.
As for all time rankings I would put Gonzales over Sampras easily.
1. He was #1 for 8 straight years. Sampras only 6. 6 is still mighty impressive, but this is one of the easiest points of comparision and one of the strongest points of both, and Gonzales wins comfortably.
2. He was better on clay than Sampras by a significant margin, even if both are very weak for great standards. His equivalent is better than having only 3 good clay tournaments your whole career (Roland Garros 96, Davis Cup final, Rome 1994) and losing early rounds of Roland Garros to nobodies most years of your prime.
3. He just was a more dominant and overbearing player at this best. Sampras never won 3 slams in the same year in an era all 4 are fully valued.
Clearly the best clay court player of all time. No doubt.
Because both are judged under the circumstances of their eras. As far as I now, clay was simply not a common surfaces on the pro tour, which explain why Gonzalez didn't won many importants tournaments on clay. He was none the less one of the top players on clay of his time. Disqualiying Gonzalez because of lack of clay results is pretty similar to disqualify Federer for lack of carpet results.
Sampras too is judged under the 90's circumstances, but he was outachieved on clay by many of his contemporary, many of them much lesser player than him overall.
I think Gonzalez would have made more than a single FO SF in his career if there had been open tennis...
Correct. After all, Krajicek, Becker, Rosset, Rafter, etc. aren't of Gonzalez fabric and made one FO SF in the ultra though clay specialist packed FO draw of the 90's.
Yes but maybe Becker with his 0 clay court titles would have been a dirt giant in the 50's
Gonzalez was an amazing talent, arguably the most gifted player of all time. He actually had an excellent game for clay. First of all he was very mobile and could play great defensive tennis. He had a very good touch game. He had good consistent groundstrokes with a very strong topspin forehand (not heavy topspin) in which he could put shots away. He actually was one of the few in those days who could hit a topspin backhand but his general baseline rallying backhand was a consistent slice. His return was good but not the great offensive return of a Laver, Connors, Budge or Borg. His weaker return was the backhand return but that was true of just about everyone, even Laver (Laver wrote in his first autobio that most players served to his backhand) in many people's opinions.
Gonzalez actually had an excellent clay court record. He won the US Claycourts twice, once over the French champion Frank Parker. He won the Geneva Gold Trophy easily over Rosewall. He won Milan over Sedgman in three straight sets. If I counted correctly he won at least 19 clay court tournaments in his career. Gonzalez reached the semis of the French in 1968 defeating the defending Champion Roy Emerson in five sets in the final even though he would be forty that year! He also defeated Laver, Segura and Rosewall numerous times on clay despite giving up many years to Laver and Rosewall.
I think sometimes we get confused a think of the old pros as having three set majors. On occasion some tournaments like the Tournament of Champions were big and you could easily argue the Geneva Gold (on clay) was a big tournaments, both of which Gonzalez won.
I might disagree about these guys being talented through tremendous hard work. They're all gifted. You aren't great at such a young age without super talent.
Both for example had incredible speed, stamina plus great power off serve and groundies. He also had super fast hands which some thought was the fastest in tennis. I believe Bud Collins was one of them. This stuff is generally innate talent.
Gonzales wasn't one of the top clay courters of his time. He was the Sampras equivalent of the pre-Open Era.
Gonzales never won a clay major though. Sampras also had fine clay court victories such as at Rome in 1994 and over Kafelnikov in the Davis Cup final in 1995. He also defeated several RG champions on clay.
I don't mind if someone ranks Gonzales ahead of Sampras, but I do feel the need to point out that the former is not in a different league to the latter, as seems to be an increasingly common opinion here.
Gonzales was #1 8 straight years vs 6 for Sampras. That is big since that is the biggest thing Sampras has. It is the only thing of any sort he is ahead of Federer in, yet Gonzales smokes him even there.
Gonzales was just a more dominant player with more longevity as well. Also while he wasnt a great clay courter indications are he ranked higher in his era than Sampras did in his. I dont believe Sampras would even make the top 15 clay courters of his era, he would probably come in 16-20 somewhere.
Sampras is generally compared to Borg and Nadal, not Gonzales. Many rank him behind one or both Nadal/Borg.
Okay. I could agree with that.
Actually both have a lot in common. Both were super athletes with great forehands, great serves and super mobility. Both were very comfortable at the net with excellent volleys. And of course both were the dominant players of their time.
Both are among the greatest all court players of all time.
Who was better on clay than him then?
I'm curious of your opinion - would you say Kramer is to Federer what Sampras is to Gonzalez? The latter two are probably closer but can you see what I'm getting at?
Kramer was more solid player than Gonzalez overall imo when he was in his prime. The groundstrokes were super solid and he became a super clay court player when he was in the pros. When he was an amateur he was fearful of clay which was silly since his forehand and backhand were so strong. He arguably had the best groundstrokes in tennis. Segura wrote that his best match was when he beat Jack Kramer in five sets on clay and he put an exclamation mark on the end! Even Gonzalez wrote that the three best baseliners he ever faced were Kramer, Segura and Rosewall.
So I guess the short answer is yes in that Kramer could be more of a baseliner than Gonzalez although Gonzalez didn't mind baseline play.
In my view, Kramer had a better forehand than Gonzalez, but, that's about it. It seems to me that Kramer's dominance over Gonzalez, in Gonzalez' first year on the pro tour, is analogous to Laver's first year. Neither were as good as the best pros. But, like Laver, Gonzalez improved, and dominated one of the best fields in tennis history for almost a decade. Had Kramer remained healthy and continued on the tour full time, I think Gonzalez probably would have probably surpassed him the way Laver surpassed Rosewall.
Don't forget Kramer had arthritis. Gonzalez himself said Kramer had a superior backhand and forehand. Yes it's possible that Gonzalez would have surpassed Kramer anyway but I'm not sure. In any rate both IMO are GOAT candidates and super players. Gonzalez was clearly the superior athlete even though Kramer was an excellent athlete.
Either way it's close I believe.
There is no doubt Gonzalez lasted longer at the top.
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