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Men's Tennis - Who Is The Greatest Of All Time?


Steve R.
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42 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

I got caught up in this article, and realized it should probably be here:

"No One Better than Novak Djokovic at his Best: Andre Agassi" on timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Andre has an interesting perspective. As a huge Sampras/ Fed guy this bums me out, but I can see his point. Thought about waking up early to watch the Australian open final but didn't as I don't care for Djokovic or Nadal. Then had to go back and watch once I saw the scores. What a systemic beat-down! Never see Nadal get handled like that. Makes me think Andre has a solid point.

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3 hours ago, DaveO said:

I'm not enough of a fan or tennis historian to name all these players, but per the blurb I saw on my FB feed all of the men in this photo were at one time ranked #1 in mens tennis.   Can you name them?736779632_Number1rankedtennisplayers.jpg.707c21520a23eeb1b769c7d1c2f9271e.jpg

Left to right: Mats Wilander, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors, Stefan Edberg, Ilie Nastase, Gustavo Kuerten, Novak Djokovic, John McEnroe, Rafael Nadal, Bjorn Borg, Roger Federer, Jim Courier, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt

Interestingly, just yesterday I looked up Marcelo Rios - he’s the only player in the open era to be ranked #1 without ever having won a Grand Slam.

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29 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

Left to right: Mats Wilander, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors, Stefan Edberg, Ilie Nastase, Gustavo Kuerten, Novak Djokovic, John McEnroe, Rafael Nadal, Bjorn Borg, Roger Federer, Jim Courier, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt

Interestingly, just yesterday I looked up Marcelo Rios - he’s the only player in the open era to be ranked #1 without ever having won a Grand Slam.

I know that for at least part of one year Boris Becker was ranked #1 in tennis.  He isn't in the photo.  How many other pro's going back to the earliest #1 in the photo (I'm guessing Conners or Nastase) were ranked #1 at some point and are not in the photo?

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On 4/23/2019 at 7:02 PM, DaveO said:

I know that for at least part of one year Boris Becker was ranked #1 in tennis.  He isn't in the photo.  How many other pro's going back to the earliest #1 in the photo (I'm guessing Conners or Nastase) were ranked #1 at some point and are not in the photo?

Nastase is the earliest #1 in the photo; Laver is the first #1 in the Open Era (1968 and after) - I think the only one on this list no longer alive is Ashe, and that was just due to terrible luck [DaveO's reply here] - note that the list is for year-end #1s only; people like Rios, Safin, etc. were #1 mid-year, as the rankings were updated on a rolling basis.

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1 hour ago, Tweaked said:

looks like Djokovic is playing now (8am) followed by Federer v Nadal, with an estimated start time of 10:30am.

Watching Djokovic serve at 3-1 in the first set, it seems almost unfathomable that Roberto Bautista Agut beat him twice this year on outdoor hard court. That said, despite the score, Djokovic is missing a lot of shots he normally doesn't miss.

Want to know what's cool? Djokovic lives - for the moment - in Monte Carlo (gee, I wonder why?) - 2 1/2-years ago, I ate at the restaurant he opened there. Some interesting details about it (and him) here.

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33 minutes ago, Steve R. said:

Still watching?  Can you now see how this guy can beat him?  I’d be surprised if Djokovic doesn’t win, but he better figure out a way to keep up his rhythm & concentration over the long haul in order to do it.

Yep, it's 1-all in sets now - Bautista Agut upped his game in a big way, and Djokovic is playing as poorly as I've seen him play in quite awhile. It's interesting that Djokovic doesn't seem to match up well with Bautista Agut: Djokovic's flat baseline game plays right into Bautista Agut's strengths; Nadal's topspin would give him more trouble, and Federer's net threat would also get him out of rhythm, but Djokovic's ball machine-like style isn't hurting Bautista Agut (who is hitting a *lot* of short balls, but Djoker refuses to come into net).

These two look very different, but they're actually playing a very similar style of tennis, and Bautista Agut seems perfectly willing to go toe-to-toe with Djokovic, hustling after shots, and getting a lot of balls in play - I'm certain Djokovic is hitting the ball deeper into the court, but he's not taking advantage of it.

Should Djokovic lose this match (and it's currently on-serve in the third set), the next match will essentially be the finals, and will take on an even greater importance.

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39 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

Now all Federer needs to do is beat Djokovic.

Glad I don't have any heart problems. 

So Sunday Federer has to take on still ANOTHER all time great--Djokovic.  OY

But wait-Djoker also has to take on an all TIME GREAT.

Looking forward to the match.

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44 minutes ago, Steve R. said:

Interesting.  Am I to infer that you closely correlate Grand Slam titles with the GOAT designation?

Well. Ever since Pete Sampras went on a mission to surpass Roy Emerson's record, that has become the benchmark of "greatness." The Hersch would stubbornly disagree if he were still here, but it's true that there's a definite pre-Sampras and post-Sampras measuring stick in the mainstream tennis media. 

Do I think Margaret Court is Serena Williams' equal because they each have 23 Grand Slam singles titles? *Hell no*.

And I think Rod Laver would still be ahead of Roger Federer, had he been eligible in the amateur-only years - he has 11; he was ineligible for 20 more - if he'd won half of those (and I think he would have, because he was healthy and in his prime), he'd be the Babe Ruth of tennis, if he isn't already.

Of course, if they'd started the Live Ball Era in 1915 instead of 1920, Babe Ruth would never have pitched, and he'd have 850 home runs (amazingly, that might have tarnished his legend, since we'd never have known about his superb pitching statistics).

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Okay.  I wasn’t really going after #s of Grand Slams being more important, but unattainable for others (like Laver).  I was more wondering why your “Race To Be The GOAT” title wasn’t followed by more than one graph (comparing Grand Slams won), like one of weeks ranked as #1, record/titles in secondary tournaments, # of titles on different surfaces, etc.  Not asking you to do the research.... just suggesting that stats other than Grand Slam titles would go into my definition of the GOAT. 

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As Djokovic struggles mightily to hold serve at 1-2 in the first set, it's obvious that Federer has caught him off-guard by hitting that damnable, low, slicing backhand to him.

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ETA: So, as Djokovic prepares to serve at 5-6 in the first set, without any breaks, I ask myself the same question as I did when I saw Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, and Pete Sampras, but this time *I really mean it* ... how will tennis possibly achieve a higher level than this?

One time, Jon Karl and I went to the finals of the DC tournament, and saw Andre Agassi barely defeat Yevgeny Kafelnikov - I distinctly remember saying to him that we'd perhaps just seen the finest tennis ever played, and he agreed.

I think players are up against human limits at this point.

As I type this sentence, both players are on-serve in the first-set tiebreaker. We may need Anton Chigurh to come toss a coin - this is ridiculous.

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ETA: Djokovic just won the first set - the forehand miss by Federer when he was up 3-5 in the tiebreaker was enormous - he would have had two serves of his own being up 6-3. At this point, I don't see Federer being able to come back and win three sets against the younger Djokovic.

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ETA: Federer just went up 4-0 in the second set, and Djokovic looks dejected and exhausted - his energy level has plummeted, and he needs some adrenaline, or something ... things are going to be very interesting.

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ETA: Wow. Federer totally guessed which side Djokovic was going to, in order to go up 8-7 in the fifth set.

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ETA: How on earth did Djokovic break Federer to tie it at 8-8?!

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ETA: Greatest match in history?

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Over 50 years of watching tennis & I have never seen a better match.  As aFederer fan, it will take a while for me to get over him unsuccessfully serving at double match point - so damn close to winning another major - but all credit to Djokovic for hanging in there and breaking.   They are both truly great players in every way.  I just wish that I could like Djokovic more.  But I don’t.

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Here's a thought I've never heard of anyone proposing before:

When all is said and done, if I was forced to bet at gunpoint, I would put my money on Djokovic to come out on top in terms of "Number of Grand Slam Singles Championships Won."

Nevertheless, it's highly unlikely - but not impossible - that all 3 of the Big 3 could retire with the exact same number, perhaps 20 or 21. Wouldn't that be a kick in the head!

I had an ever-so-slight preference for Djokovic in yesterday's Wimbledon final; I'm going to be pulling hard for Federer in the U.S. Open.

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On 7/15/2019 at 1:57 PM, DonRocks said:

Here's a thought I've never heard of anyone proposing before:

When all is said and done, if I was forced to bet at gunpoint, I would put my money on Djokovic to come out on top in terms of "Number of Grand Slam Singles Championships Won."

Nevertheless, it's highly unlikely - but not impossible - that all 3 of the Big 3 could retire with the exact same number, perhaps 20 or 21. Wouldn't that be a kick in the head!

I had an ever-so-slight preference for Djokovic in yesterday's Wimbledon final; I'm going to be pulling hard for Federer in the U.S. Open.

For those who consider "Number of Major Singles Titles" to be the benchmark in determining the GOAT:

"Rafael Nadal's Decision To Miss Wimbledon, Olympics, Part of Larger Gambit To Prolong Career" by Steve Tignor on tennis.com

I'm not one of these people, but it's impossible to deny that the Big 3 are surely the three-greatest men's singles players in history, on absolute terms. It's also becoming easier to see how Djokovic (19 Majors) will slide past both Federer (20) and Nadal (20) as the two elder statesmen are now skipping tournaments in order to prolong their careers. For awhile, it seemed like the reign of the Big 3 would never end, but it's ending - or, at least, it will end when Djokovic steps down, probably in a few years: Nole is going to find it very, very quiet at the top if he has 21+ Majors, and Federer and Nadal have both retired.

Although it seems like "20+ Majors" is a number that may never be reached again, I suggest that it's since Pete Sampras when that statistic became important, and the Big 3 have divied up (currently) 59 Majors amongst themselves - sometime in the future, when there's one dominant player instead of three, it's easy to see someone getting 30.

One thing that has always favored Djokovic that nobody ever mentions: Nadal is the King of Clay, Federer is the King of Grass, but 2 out of the 4 Grand Slams are on Djokovic's favorite surface, hard court.

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On 7/14/2019 at 8:08 PM, Steve R. said:

Over 50 years of watching tennis & I have never seen a better match.  As aFederer fan, it will take a while for me to get over him unsuccessfully serving at double match point - so damn close to winning another major - but all credit to Djokovic for hanging in there and breaking.   They are both truly great players in every way.  I just wish that I could like Djokovic more.  But I don’t.

Djokovic is really annoying me.  I just don't want him to be this good.  He actually seemed to wear Nadal down in the French semis (another of the greatest matches I've seen) and then came from 2 sets down to calmly win the finals.  It would be nice for Federer to win Wimbledon and I wouldn't mind if Djokovic lost an early rounder.  It would also be nice if I lost 50lbs overnight and grew a full head of hair.

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On 6/17/2021 at 11:13 PM, Steve R. said:

Djokovic is really annoying me.  I just don't want him to be this good.  He actually seemed to wear Nadal down in the French semis (another of the greatest matches I've seen) and then came from 2 sets down to calmly win the finals.  It would be nice for Federer to win Wimbledon and I wouldn't mind if Djokovic lost an early rounder.  It would also be nice if I lost 50lbs overnight and grew a full head of hair.

Timing has meant a lot also - Federer came first, then Nadal stymied Federer. Both men are now worn down - Federer mostly by age, and Nadal by his extreme style of playing. Djokovic is not only a bit younger, but also seems built for longevity with both his rivals now at the end of their careers. 

Why *not* Djokovic? I love all three of these guys, and am content for history to take me wherever it may lead.

Again, I must emphasize the fact that 2 out of the 4 Grand Slams are on Djokovic's favorite surface.

It's not impossible that the U.S. Open will have three 20-Grand Slam winners playing (and this doesn't even include Serena).

I think it's so cool that I dined at Djokovic's (now-closed) restaurant in Monaco, Eqvita, almost surely conceived so he could fine-dine outside his doorstep with raw, vegan, gluten-free cuisine.

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This US Open has been interesting on a lot of levels, not least of which is that Djokovic is going to win and there's absolutely nothing anyone can do about it. Really bums me out.

Solid showing by Francis and Reilly Opelka though, so some reason to hope for the future.

Very distressing that Felix A-A is now coached by Uncle Tony. Not looking forward to seeing his beautiful, nuanced game changed and having to listen to him explain how he added 20 lbs of muscle a year from now...

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2 hours ago, Keithstg said:

Because I’m not a fan? Pretty much as simple as that.

Fair enough!

For the record, I’m a *huge* fan of Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic - pretty much equally.

That said, you’ll *never* hear me say who’s the “greatest ever” based on the total number of majors (*). That’s a new “thing” that started with Sampras in the late 1990s.

(*) Take away any one of the Big 3, and one of the other two would have 30 majors. It isn’t inconceivable that a single dominant player (think: Lance Armstrong) might have 40 before 2050.

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