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Who is the greatest tennis player of all time?

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  • bambam
    replied
    Originally posted by cullman
    My top three are Rod Laver, Don Budge and Bjorn Borg. The jury is still out on Sampras and Federer who I think are the class of the post-Bjorn Borg era.
    I'll name a top 5 and go with Laver, Borg, Sampras, Tilden, and Federer. If pressed, I pick Laver as the GOAT.

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  • cullman
    replied
    Originally posted by KDFINE
    Don't compare first and second service stats for the oversized composite rackets of today with the normal sized wooden rackets of yesteryear.
    Why not? The serve is the one area where the wood racquet doesn't make too much of a difference in terms of power spin and consistency. Maybe it makes a difference amongst us mere mortals...but not the pros. Composites have made a big difference in the pro game with regards to groundstrokes and volleys though.

    BTW, Pre-1950 greats, Ellsworth Vines and Jack Kramer are still considered to have the GOAT serves. They both got 2/3 of their first serves in and Vines averaged 2 aces per game during his peak years.

    My top three are Rod Laver, Don Budge and Bjorn Borg. The jury is still out on Sampras and Federer who I think are the class of the post-Bjorn Borg era.

    cman

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  • KDFINE
    replied
    Don't compare first and second service stats for the oversized composite rackets of today with the normal sized wooden rackets of yesteryear.

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  • cullman
    replied
    Originally posted by bambam
    Originally posted by BillVol
    Interesting quotes from Wiki on Pancho Gonzales. Sports Illustrated wrote: "If earth was on the line in a tennis match, the man you want serving to save humankind would be Ricardo Alonso Gonzalez." And Bud Collins said: "If I had to choose someone to play for my life, it would be Pancho Gonzalez."
    I have heard that quote about Gonzales's serve - but I wonder if now the answer would be Sampras. Everyone I have talked to who knows a lot about Sampras says there is one thing that in absolutely a given - Sampras had the greatest second serve ever. It was so good it effectively gave him two first serves and a huge advantage as a result.
    Pete also routinely got 70% of his first serves in. His second serve placement was better than most pros have on their first. Pancho Gonzales and most other pros of the day would have considered 55-60% a great day. Gorgo was rated very highly in a one match winner take all situation because he would do anything legal or otherwise to win.

    Pancho was considered for GOAT status recently because of his record against Frank Sedgeman, Ken Rosewall, Tony Trabert and Rod Laver during their early days on the pro tour. Similarly, Gonzales was dominated by Jack Kramer and run off the tour early in his professional career.

    cman (Warning: tennis nerd ops: )

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  • tandfman
    replied
    Originally posted by Pego
    I still think it's Laver.
    I do, too, although I have no clear recollection of having seen Gonzalez.

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  • Per Andersen
    replied
    Originally posted by jhc68


    Gonzales was so dominant that the early pro-tour changed the rules for him (a la the Lew Alcindor no-dunk rule in NCAA hoops). For a while they eliminated second serves, thinking that it would force Pancho to take some pace off his serves and level the odds a bit. Instead, he was undeterred and his opponents were the ones who got more tentative.
    Yes, that was part of the VASSS ( Van Alen Simplified Scoring System) which
    the pros used for a while.
    Basically Table Tennis scoring. Matches went to 31 points. Had to win by two points. In Some tournaments the players were limited to one serve only.
    JamesVan Alen also invented the tiebreak system that is used today.

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  • Pego
    replied
    I still think it's Laver.

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  • bambam
    replied
    Originally posted by BillVol
    Interesting quotes from Wiki on Pancho Gonzales. Sports Illustrated wrote: "If earth was on the line in a tennis match, the man you want serving to save humankind would be Ricardo Alonso Gonzalez." And Bud Collins said: "If I had to choose someone to play for my life, it would be Pancho Gonzalez."
    I have heard that quote about Gonzales's serve - but I wonder if now the answer would be Sampras. Everyone I have talked to who knows a lot about Sampras says there is one thing that in absolutely a given - Sampras had the greatest second serve ever. It was so good it effectively gave him two first serves and a huge advantage as a result.

    Leave a comment:


  • Per Andersen
    replied
    Lew Hoad with todays rackets would have been something. He had enormous strength.
    The knock on Lew, as far as I remember, was that he was a bit lazy. At least compared to Rosewall and Laver.

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  • BillVol
    replied
    Something being overlooked is the change in racket technology. How would the modern players do with the wooden racket, which emphasizes shot-making and takes some power out of the game? And vice-versa. I don't think any sport has been changed more by technology than tennis.

    Something very interesting about tennis is the different surfaces and that no player has won a grand slam since the US Open went to hardcourt. If a player can ever pull off that sweep, it would be hard to deny him GOAT, IMO.

    Could Nadal win a baseline game against the patient, great shot-making of Borg? Could Federer play with McEnroe's great all-around game? It's hard to pick, but I have to go with Laver. However, the comments on Lew Hoad cought my attention. I know nothing about him, but he must have been great.

    BTW I pay little attention to the claims that today's players are more athletic. The players of yesterday were plenty athletic. That is a write-off.

    Edit: Interesting quotes from Wiki on Pancho Gonzales. Sports Illustrated wrote: "If earth was on the line in a tennis match, the man you want serving to save humankind would be Ricardo Alonso Gonzalez." And Bud Collins said: "If I had to choose someone to play for my life, it would be Pancho Gonzalez."

    Leave a comment:


  • jhc68
    replied
    How to measure the GOAT of tennis???

    For pure dominance it is hard to pick against Laver... if pros had been able to play in the major tourneys when he was in his prime then Laver would surely have put the grand slam wins record out of any modern player's reach. Still, he was just a little guy ( I had the honor of meeting him a couple of times), and it is hard to imagine him matching up physically with modern stars.

    Gonzales was so dominant that the early pro-tour changed the rules for him (a la the Lew Alcindor no-dunk rule in NCAA hoops). For a while they eliminated second serves, thinking that it would force Pancho to take some pace off his serves and level the odds a bit. Instead, he was undeterred and his opponents were the ones who got more tentative.

    Sampras at his best was, I think, right in the mix with Federer and Nadal. And they are a cut above the earlier generation of the 70's and 80's.

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  • Per Andersen
    replied
    Originally posted by catson52
    Originally posted by bambam
    Here's some quotes from tennis greats not in contention for this title. Andre Agassi, when asked who were the five greatest tennis players ever, said, "Sampras, Sampras, Sampras, Sampras, Sampras." Stan Smith, former Wimbledon champion, asked about 5 years ago if Sampras was the greatest ever, "I think you still have to go with Laver." Jack Kramer, great from the 40s, said if he had to pick one man to play one match for Planet Earth in the Universal Davis Cup, said he would pick Lew Hoad.
    It would be good to check carefully over the Hoad-Gonzales matches in the Kramer circuit. I know that many people well versed in tennis, say Hoad at his best (and his form after 1955 was up and down) was virtually unbeatable. (My vote goes to Gonzales by the way, and I have seen him play, easily beating Sedgeman, the Wimbledon Champ of that time). One point of interest. I believe in his second Wimbledon Final, Hoad beat Ashley Cooper in 3 sets, giving up something like 2-5 games total. The next year (with Hoad a pro) Cooper became Wimbledon Champ.
    I never forget one sentence from an interview with Jack Kramer in the English mag World Sports in 1958. Kramer talked about the legendary Hoad-Gonzales series. "Early in that series Pancho was playing the best tennis of his life, yet Hoad was beating him regularily until his back gave out"

    Kramer himself was certainly one of the all time greats. He had a great record against Gonzales.

    One thing about Sampras. He sure did not have anybody like a Nadal around.

    Agassi can't be compared to Nadal.

    I suppose I still think Laver is the greatest but it gets hard.

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  • gh
    replied
    I didn't follow tennis all that closely when I was a lad, but from a neophyte fan's point of view, Laver certainly left the biggest impression on me. While today's guys (particularly Federer & Nadal, obviously) can get (good) returns on things perhaps unheard of in the past, I gotta think that monster racquets with huge sweet spots have changed the nature of the game mightily, swinging the pendulum a bit back in the rocket's favour.

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  • guru
    replied
    Laver a very good call.

    But when talking best all-around players, don't forget the only man in history to win a career Super Slam - the four Grand Slam tournaments, plus the Olympics - Andre Agassi.

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  • bambam
    replied
    Originally posted by Mellow Johnny
    How do you think Sampras would do against Nadal on grass?

    I think it's clear he'd get smoked against Nadal on clay so won't even ask that.

    I'm as big a Fed fan as there is but the gap is gone with Nadal (except on hard court as I hope we'll see at Flushing Meadows).
    I think Sampras on grass was the greatest ever on that surface, at his best, even better than Federer or Laver. He would have been smoked on clay, and was not a great clay-court player, but important to remember he did once win the Italian Open, the second biggest clay-court tournament, so he wasn't that bad. Remember, McEnroe and Connors never won the French either. Remember that Sampras was the best for a long time, in addition to being so superb on grass, and excellent on hard courts. Anyone who doesn't think longevity means much should go look at the boards this January when some people were ready to anoint Djokovic the next greatest ever player, but what has now become of that?

    Hoad was supposed to be almost unbeatable for about 2-3 years in the mid-50s but back injuries shortened his time at the top.

    But if I had to pick one - I pick Laver. Two Grand Slams (1962, 68) and he was not able to play the Slams from 1963-67 because he turned pro. Had he played from 1963-67, considering that bookmarked those years by winning all four of the Slams, he would probably have won another 10 or more Slams.

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