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Who is the greatest tennis player of all time?

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  • #16
    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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    • #17
      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.

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      • #18
        I still think it's Laver.
        "A beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact."
        by Thomas Henry Huxley

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        • #19
          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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          • #20
            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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            • #21
              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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              • #22
                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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                • #23
                  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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                  • #24
                    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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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by cullman
                      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
                      Vines also later played professional golf, and played in the first Masters.

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                      • #26
                        Rod Laver--it's true he never won a major on a hardcourt but this may have been because none of them were played on a a hardcourt in his day.

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                        • #27
                          Bigger racket head equals bigger "sweet spot" and larger margin of error.

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                          • #28
                            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.
                            From Spin Doctors by Tom Perrotta: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200607/tennis

                            "In 1997, in a comparative test done by Tennis magazine, Mark Philippoussis, the six-foot-five, 217-pound Australian renowned for his powerful serve, averaged 124 mph when serving with his own composite racket. With a classic wooden racket, he averaged 122 mph.

                            Scientists explain this using a simple formula: ball velocity after impact divided by ball velocity before impact (the racket must be suspended freely or held firmly in hand, not clamped in place). The resulting number, called ACOR, for Apparent Coefficient of Restitution, is an indicator of how much energy a racket loses when it collides with a ball. If a ball approaches a racket at 100 mph and bounces off it at 40 mph, the ACOR is 0.4. A racket with a higher ACOR is a racket with more power. Crawford Lindsey, a partner at the United States Racquet Stringers Association and co-author of the influential Physics and Technology of Tennis, points out that wooden rackets, because of their greater weight, have a greater ACOR than most of the composite rackets on the market today (though only when struck dead center). Top players serve so much faster today not because of their rackets but because of their raw physical power. Male professional tennis players have grown roughly two or three inches taller and fifteen to twenty pounds heavier in the last thirty-five years, according to International Tennis Federation data."
                            The pros use racquets that are smaller than what the average club players uses. Pete Sampras uses a Wilson Pro Staff strung at 75 pounds. It has perhaps the smallest head size on the market and at 75 pounds has a super small sweet spot.
                            Andy Murray plays with the smaller Head MG Pro that is painted up to look like the larger MG Radical Pro...for marketing reasons.

                            cman

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                            • #29
                              Thanks, cman. Good stuff!

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                              • #30
                                Sampras concedes that Federer is now the greatest tennis player of all time. Agree with Pistol Pete?

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