Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - Simply The Best?
Home       About Peter Bodo       Contact        RSS       Follow on Twitter Categories       Archive
Simply The Best? 09/10/2007 - 9:00 PM

Borg_mac_2 

[When Rosia and I first talked about this project, I never imagined that it would become as comprehensive and authoritative as this. Amazing job, Rosia. There's no way to put this without sounding self-promoting, so I won't even try. But this is a big, gaudy plume in TW's cap as a blog that takes you places where the mainstream sources simply won't, or cannot - and in a way that has little or nothing to do with me.  Many thanks for this brilliant piece of statistical work! Pete]

A few months back, Pete suggested that I might like to look at the efficiency of the Slam performances of the current top group of ATP players. The question could be framed as "How much has each of these guys done with the Slam opportunities he's had so far?".

As well as looking at the current top 25, for good measure I also tossed in Mario Ancic, one of last year’s alternates for Shanghai who has been out for months due to illness and injury, and my local hero Tim Henman, who has just played his last Slam. Marat Safin was in my sample until last week, but even though his ranking has dropped, I've left him in, as one of the small current group of Slam winners. As well, I gathered similar statistics for a number of past Slam champions of the Open era, though they are included with the obvious caution that these represent entire careers, not works-in-progress. But still, I feel that they can provide some kind of benchmark for interpreting the figures.

I kept the actual numbers simple. They have been updated to include the 2007 US Open. The most important ratio for GOAT-hunters is probably the Slams won as a percentage of Slams played in. However, most of the men in our sample haven’t won a Slam, so in addition I’ve looked at the average number of matches won per Slam played in. I also give absolute figures for Slam wins, finals, semifinals, quarterfinals and fourth round appearances – as well as first-round exits. These were used to generate a second table, which I’ve called "Slam Consistency", in which I’ve calculated the percentage of occasions on which a player reached those rounds, or better – i.e. Roger Federer has reached the fourth round or better in just under 71% of the Slams he has played in, while reaching the final or winning it 41.2% of the time. Finally, I’ve looked at the simple win/loss record of each man in the Slams he has played in.

Many of the numbers speak for themselves, but I’ll highlight a few. Rafael Nadal is the only one of the current top 25 never to exit in the first round of a Slam, a distinction he shares (so far) with Bjorn Borg. Richard Gasquet, of a similar age, has played two more Slams than Nadal, and exited in the first round in 47.1% of them. Ivan Ljubicic, so recently in the Top 10, has rarely performed at Slams, and has exited in the first round in 15 of the 32 Slams he has played to date, or 45.5% of the time. I usually have difficulty perceiving Ljubicic as a threat in most Slams, and this record is the reason; in addition he and Juan Monaco share the distinction of being the only two top 20 players with a Slam win/loss record of under 50%, but Ljubicic has had far more time in which to accumulate his record.

Looking at average matches won per Slam, only four of my current sample (highlighted in purple) have won three matches or more per Slam played. This group includes Federer, Nadal and Roddick, excludes former world number ones Safin, Hewitt, Ferrero and Moya – and, perhaps surprisingly, includes David Nalbandian. In addition, the latter's record of reaching the last 16 or better in Slams is exceeded only by Federer and Hewitt. Other than the fact that he hasn't actually won a Slam, his consistency in the Slams that he has played is up there with that of those who have won Slams - and better than some. At the other end of this particular scale, only Ivan Ljubicic, Juan Monaco and Paul-Henri Mathieu have so far managed to win less than one match per Slam played. Novak Djokovic, Sunday's losing US Open finalist, is sixth on my list in terms of average matches won per Slam, at 2.75. His contemporary Andy Murray has some way to go in order to catch him, after the progress he has made in 2007.

SeffI think it’s telling to compare these numbers with those of my list of former Slam champions, all of whom averaged more than three wins per Slam for their entire careers. Bjorn Borg’s insanely good Slam record leaps out here – his average performance was to win enough matches to be in the semifinals each time, and then some. He won over 40% of the Slams that he competed in (a number that Roger Federer, currently at 35.3% could exceed if he were to win, say, five out of the next six Slams, but he’d have to either stop playing, or post a similar average for the rest of his career, to stake a claim to that career record). I don't know whether anyone will ever surpass Borg's record of reaching or winning the final 58.3% of the time; even Federer is "only" at 41.2% on this measure, though that's well ahead of Pete Sampras, on 34.6%.

Of course, Borg’s numbers reflect the fact that he was a prodigy who began winning Slams when still young, and then effectively retired when he was in his mid-20s, before any big decline in Slam performance could be detected. To him, losing Slam finals to John McEnroe seems to have felt enough like a giant decline to call it quits. The picture heading this post is of Borg and McEnroe shaking hands after Borg lost his fourth US Open final, in 1981, having already lost the Wimbledon final to McEnroe in the same year. Immediately afterwards (before the trophy ceremony) he picked up his racquets, stalked out into the New York night, and retired from tennis (aside from a few odd and ends, and his surreal and ill-fated attempted comeback in Monte Carlo in 1991).   

Considering the length of Jimmy Connors’ Slam career, between 1970 and 1992, his average match-winning performance per Slam is astonishing – better than anyone except Roger Federer's (with only a tiny margin between the two) and Bjorn Borg’s, which stretched only from 1973 to 1981. A few others have won a higher percentage of the Slams that they competed in, and reached a higher proportion of finals, but (like Andre Agassi) Connors was notably consistent in getting through early rounds to at least quarterfinals – he reached semifinals or better in over half the Slams he played in. Given the very high numbers posted by his contemporaries at various times in his career (Borg, McEnroe and Lendl), these numbers look even more impressive - it's not as though he didn't have rivals who would fight tooth and nail over every Slam title.

Using these statistics, the only current player who stands out to me as definitively belonging in the elite group of multi-Slam champions for all time is Roger Federer, perhaps more for his efficiency of the past few years than consistency over his entire career, though he’s certainly being pulled up in these measures too by his recent performances, and on most of these measures, at this point in his career he is ahead of Pete Sampras by a small margin, though he has yet to catch Borg.

Rafael Nadal has started out his career strongly, being more efficient and consistent so far relative to his peers. However, I think it's too soon for these numbers to be definitive. He's topped the performances of all the former world number ones so far (and has more Slam titles and finals to his name than any of them), but what will his career trajectory be from here? He stands out so far as not having reached a semifinal or better in Melbourne or New York - unlike Roddick, Davydenko or Djokovic, the rest of the current top five. Borg, incidentally (to whom I can’t help but compare Nadal), reached his first US Open semifinal at age 19 – and won his first Wimbledon at 20.

When I look at the Slam career of Andy Roddick, especially in the consistency department, he doesn’t really belong among that elite group of Slam Champions, but a tier below. Roddick would very likely have at least two more Slam titles if not for Roger Federer – who has knocked him out in no less than five Slam finals or semifinals. For the record, if Roddick had won all five of those matches, he’d have an 80% Slam win/loss record. However, he still would have recorded less success statistically in reaching the later rounds of Slams. For the latter reason, Hewitt and Safin also don’t belong in the elite group. In Roddick's case, though, it's clear that one of the reasons that his Slam efficiency/consistency record is worse than those of Federer and Nadal is his record at Roland Garros. He's turned up in Paris for seven years in a row, and has only won four matches in total there.

I considered finding similar numbers for one of our herd of potential GOATs, Rod Laver, winner of 11 Slam titles, and his contemporary, Ken Rosewall, but eventually decided that the comparison would be a misleading one. Laver won his first calendar Slam in 1962, turned professional soon thereafter, and therefore wasn’t permitted to play in any of the Slams until the Open era began in 1968 (he said in his autobiography of the first Open era Wimbledon: "Newcombe, Roche, Pilic, Taylor, had never been away. They were amateurs in 1967, pros in 1968. They couldn’t know the elation of being recognized as respectable men again."). This means that in some of his best years (age 24 to 29) there were twenty Slams that he simply couldn’t play in, though he won a significant number of important professional titles during those years. Who can credibly argue that Laver (or Rosewall) couldn’t have stacked up some impressive Slam numbers in those lost years? That’s a large number of missed opportunities. We know that Laver reached the first two Open era Slam finals (he lost to Rosewall in the final at Roland Garros in 1968, and went on to win Wimbledon that year, beating Tony Roche in the final). Laver, of course, then went on to win the only calendar Slam of the Open era to date, in 1969.

SconsEven so, I might have looked up the numbers, for Laver and some other early multi-Slam winners, but there’s something else that troubles me about the direct historical comparison – the inclusion of the Australian Open. This might seem like a quibble, and perhaps it's just the beginning of a slippery slope. Even in the early years, the Australian Open was contested with best-of-five matches (and no tiebreaks), but it seems to me that the field at most of the Masters Series events today, let alone the Slams, is demonstrably much deeper. For some years up until 1981, the Australian Open was played with a draw of only 64 men. Further back, when Rod Laver won the tournament in both 1962 and 1969, the years of his Grand Slams, he played only five rounds. In 1962, when still an amateur, everyone he defeated was from Australia (he beat Roy Emerson in the final, 8-6, 0-6. 6-4, 6-2). In 1969 the field was tougher, and his five rounds included an Italian and a Spaniard (Andres Gimeno, who he defeated in the final 6-3, 6-4, 7-5). There were again three Australians in his path – Roy Emerson, Fred Stolle and Tony Roche. However, Laver said of it "Winning the Australian isn’t that big a thing. It has the weakest field…". He made clear that winning Roland Garros that year was his biggest challenge - more gruelling, with three five-setters to win from the quarters onwards, and a more international field.

The Australian Open draw was still of only 96 players from 1981 through to 1988, the year that it moved to Melbourne Park from Kooyong. In that year, it acquired a 128 draw like the other Slams, and changed its surface from grass to Rebound Ace. So for much of its history, the Australian Open hasn’t been statistically directly comparable to the other Slams.

While we're discussing "easier" Slams, some of you will be aware that the first Open-era US Open in 1968 had a draw of 96 men (128 from 1969). In the Open era there have been four years during which the US Open has flirted with best-of-three matches for the men – all rounds before the semifinals in 1975, and before the fourth round in each of the following three years. Roland Garros tried best-of-three as well, before the round of 32, from 1973-75. That was after having a draw of only 64 for just one year, in 1972, before reverting back to the original 128. But even Roland Garros had a smaller draw towards the end of the amateur era – Laver played six rounds to win it in 1962, though seven in 1969. In any event, there's certainly an argument that says that Roland Garros had less prestige before Borg began winning it in successive years in the mid-1970s, while also being the reigning Wimbledon champion, and that he helped the crowds (and players) return. Only Wimbledon has remained free of any shorter draws or reductive experiments in the period we’re discussing. And in fact, only Wimbledon and Roland Garros haven’t changed their surfaces (if we exclude slowing down the Wimbledon grass), given that the US Open was played on grass until 1975, when it switched to Har-Tru clay before settling on Deco-Turf in 1978.

Returning to the Australian Open for a moment, I’d note that even during the 1970s and 1980s, many of the big names in the sport didn’t make it a priority to compete there. Air travel was a lot more difficult back then, and it wasn’t considered as prestigious as the other Slams. Thus, the strength of the field in those years remained weaker. Jimmy Connors played there exactly twice, winning in 1974; Bjorn Borg played it only once, in 1973. He thought about playing it again later in his career, but the incentive would have been a US Open win following wins at Wimbledon and Roland Garros, to give him a calendar Slam (this was in the era when the Australian Open was played in December). This never happened for Borg, so he never made the trip again. John McEnroe played five Australian Opens between 1977 and 1992, and missed ten. Three of those he played were after 1988 (he managed to get himself defaulted in the fourth round in 1990, but that’s another story). Even Andre Agassi, for his own reasons, missed eight straight Australian Opens before going there and winning the whole thing in 1995, and three times afterwards (no doubt it’s easier when you have your own plane). But looking at current players, Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick and Roger Federer have never missed playing there so far. Rafael Nadal missed it in 2006 because of rehabilitation after an injury, not a lack of desire to compete there.

Back in the seventies and eighties, though, some of the top guys were effectively reducing their own Slam chances to three per year. We could say it’s their own fault – but this was a different era, and they couldn't have known how thoroughly the general view and actual difficulty and prestige of the Australian Open would change in the future. Whether that would have changed their behaviour, it's hard to say. After all, Bjorn Borg did quite a few things for money (and other stubborn reasons) that I couldn't imagine today's top pros doing - but then, they are less in need of money. Can anyone seriously imagine Rafael Nadal missing Roland Garros one year, like Borg did in 1977 when he would have been a virtual lock for the title, to play World Team Tennis? And then there was the 1982 Roland Garros that might have been Borg's last Slam, which he didn't play because, under new rules governing minimum numbers of tournaments to be played, he refused to go through qualifying, as he was the defending champion. (And, OK, by that stage he had all but announced he was quitting tennis anyway).

So, today’s professionals tend to turn up for all four Slams – in former years, many of them didn’t. They basically make four Slam attempts each year. More chances taken can of course mean greater absolute numbers of Slams stacked up. Sampras, incidentally, mostly played in Australia, and gained two of his Slam titles there. Nothing wrong in that. But I'd still contend that it means something different now than it did in earlier years - the further back, the less easy to compare.

I often find the GOAT debate somewhat pointless, and, because of the immutable differences between eras, generally prefer the idea that each of the greats was or is the greatest in his own time. Perhaps we could institute an Order of the GOATs of the Round Table? That said, looking at the Open era, Roger Federer is currently making very efficient use of his time at the Slams (four per year, as opposed to three, for some former greats, or three plus the old Australian Open, for others), and his eventual career numbers, on the measures here, look on track to exceed those of Pete Sampras, with whom any comparison is entirely fair, as the playing field hasn't changed much. We should bear in mind that Sampras played 18 more Slams than Federer has so far, and if he starts winning less efficiently at some point, these percentages can go down.

In conclusion: these efficiency and consistency stats are one extra way to frame the inevitable GOAT discussion, perhaps, in addition to absolute numbers of Slam wins, and right now, it appears that they are stacking up in Roger Federer’s favour.

-- Rosangel


283
Comments
Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.
1 2 3      >>

Posted by Novela Nadalesca/Celia 09/10/2007 at 09:04 PM

First!

Posted by CL 09/10/2007 at 09:38 PM

Rosangel - I am SO impressed by your statistical analysis. And I 100% second your idea of having an Oder of the Goat, (maybe a crest of crossed tennis rackets on a field of goatweed?), as opposed to THE GOAT. I personally can't get past Laver having a big honking hole bitten out of the middle...arguably his strongest years..of his career. Its sort of like Ted Williams losing some of his best years to military service only at least Williams was off doing something IMPORTANT...like fighting wars...and not caught in the middle of a pppp.......eeing in the sandbox contest. I think if Laver had been able to play those years, even Pete, and certainly Roger would be looking up at his records, same as if Williams had played HIS 'missing' years the 401 wouldn't be about the only stat in the record books. So the All Time in GOAT just doesn't work for me. I will happily agree however that Roger is the GORN.... Greatest of Right Now.

Besides, whether he is or isn't, whether he breaks Pete's record or doesn't, whether Nadal or the Djoker or someone else racks up their own share of GSs, you just know that somewhere there is a kid hitting a ball against a wall, driving his parents crazy, or even just a gleam in said parents eyes... that will have this debate going around again and again.

Posted by Rolo Tomassi 09/10/2007 at 09:38 PM

Rosangel,

I LOVED reading this post. For a sport that has so many intangibles, it's amazing how telling the hard, cold numbers are at the end of the day, especially when examined as thoughtfully as they are here. Thanks for taking the time to do this and share it. I'll be rereading it again very soon to more fully digest it.

Great pic, by the way - from their expressions, you'd think Mac lost and Borg won - maybe a reflection of John's respect for Bjorn?

Posted by jb 09/10/2007 at 09:52 PM

Rosangel - this is JUST what the doctor ordered to help with the lack on tennis on... we can pour over your stats and obsess about them! I may need to actually print these charts out so I can really review them.. (oddly enough - i still like paper that I can mark up and circle!)

Thanks for pulling this together - this took a tremendous amount of work to frame up and research.

I'd also like to subscribe to the idea of the Order of Goats as opposed to 1 GOAT. In deference to the players of yesteryear - I see them belly up to the bar, downing a pint or 2 and critiqueing the matches of the GOAT candidates...!

Posted by skip1515 09/10/2007 at 09:59 PM

Rosangel, this was so interesting.

I agree that any value judgements as to the difficulty of Big Four tournaments then vs now is a slippery slope; you didn't begin to touch the issue of depth of field, though your Australians in the Australian discussion hinted at it. I'd suggest, however, that at that moment in tennis history facing an Aussie was the worst that could happen to you, and not a free ride in any way, at any tournament, and certainly not in a tournament played on grass.

Oh, one other thought: I think the change in the courts at Wimbledon is matched by the change at the French from pressureless balls. (If they'd changed from Pirelli's, or whatever they used, to rocks it would have been an improvement.) That switch, to balls that actually responded to being struck, had to have been as great a sea change as the one pros recently have experienced at SW19.

An illuminating post. Thanks.

Posted by Edengrave 09/10/2007 at 10:04 PM

Very informative! if not for Nadal, Federer would already have passed the 14 slams mark, and in style, with 3 successive grand slams. but then, if not for Federer, Nadal would have 5 slams in his pocket already. as you said, He's topped the performances of all the former world number ones so far. the lad is still growing

Posted by Sam 09/10/2007 at 10:07 PM

"generally prefer the idea that each of the greats was or is the greatest in his own time"

Totally agree, Ros. That has been my feeling for quite some time.

Nice job, will have to mull over the stats further.

Posted by skip1515 09/10/2007 at 10:09 PM

P.S. Would you still have published your findings if Borg hadn't come out with such stellar stats? :)

Posted by Sam 09/10/2007 at 10:16 PM

skip: Shame on you ... for beating me to that remark. :-)

Posted by hawaii 09/10/2007 at 10:20 PM

Rafa has never loss in the first round of the GS?

Posted by rafafan 09/10/2007 at 10:22 PM

Ros- YOU are simply the best! This was mind boggling, but superb! Don't know how you do it.
You are right that the GOAT debate will never rest and there are too many variables, but forgetting the numbers and stats, IMO Roger's tennis level/game is the best. However, that too is a matter of opinion.

Roger and Rafa are the only active players who made the quarters or better in all 4 slams right? I feel I'm leaving someone out though...

Posted by AmyLu 09/10/2007 at 10:26 PM

Rosia, very interesting and illuminating! I think what I found the most interesting and surprising was Nalbandian's consistency...I think the last year or so has really made me myopic in terms of evaluating his entire career.

Posted by Bob 09/10/2007 at 10:26 PM

What an interesting and informative post. These kinds of articles should be "saved" somewhere special where they don't get lost. Thatks for all this, Roseangel.

Posted by Tim 09/10/2007 at 10:28 PM

great job Ros.. and we all need to admit that our KADness would be impossible to ignore in putting togher this kind of piece, i commend yo ufor being so fair re TMF... we all know you cant warm to Rog but that didnt affect your reporting here, well done...

can you talk with Rafa's people and arrange a FO-Wimby trade in 08? i think all camps woud be happy to oblige :)

well maybe Roger woudl object, he wants BOTH, no doubt lol

Posted by AmyLu 09/10/2007 at 10:35 PM

rafafan, I know that Nalbandian has made the quarters or better of all four slams...in fact he's made the semis of all four slams. Hewitt has also made the quarters or better of all four...he's made the quarters of the FO at least once, didn't he lose to Gaudio in 2004 in the quarters?

Hawaii, nope, Rafa has never lost in the first round of a Slam. The first round win of his that I find the most amazing is his win over Ancic at Wimbledon in 2003 at age 17. That tournament was only the second time he had ever played a tournament on grass - he played Wimbledon once as a junior.

Posted by rafafan 09/10/2007 at 10:38 PM

Tim- Fed wouldn't agree. Forget about it. His #1 priority is winning the umpteenth Wimbledon :)

BTW, what an awkward handshake...atleast 5 feet between them.

Posted by Lucy 09/10/2007 at 10:39 PM

Rafafan, Nalbandian has reached the semis of every Slam. Another stat in which Nalbandian is, perhaps counterintuitively, a cut above most of his peers.

Great job, Rosia. Everything I ever learn about Borg makes me revere him more.

8-6, 0-6 6-4, 6-2 is some kind of awesome scoreline. Go Rocket.

Posted by Tim 09/10/2007 at 10:41 PM

AmyLu, thank you for letting me out of RKNAS prison... all it takes is a Vamos ! Rafa, you guys are total pushovers

:)

Posted by rafafan 09/10/2007 at 10:42 PM

AmyLu- no, I just remembered. It's Berdych I left out. They interviewed him (and Lucie) during AO and asked if he felt proud of that accomplishment. Nalby is in there too, not Hewitt.
I may be wrong...I'll have to look it up.

Posted by MrsSanta 09/10/2007 at 10:42 PM

Safin, Gonzalez and Ferrero have all got to the QFs or better at all the GSs.

Nice job Ros.

Posted by 09/10/2007 at 10:43 PM

CL, that kid you mentioned could be Jan Silva.

Posted by hawaii 09/10/2007 at 10:46 PM

Thanks AmyLu.. that is quite amazing that he has never lost in the first round of a slam. :)
That Luke Jensen need to check these stats before saying that Nadal would lost to Fish at this year Wimbledon first round.

Posted by Lucy 09/10/2007 at 10:54 PM

...And both Lleyton and Gonzo have the distinction of having reached the QF of all four Slams and belonging to Roger's Bunny Club. JCF can do it too, if he puts his mind to it. I'd back him over Roddick, at any rate.

By the way, if I were Bjorn Borg I totally would've thrown a diva fit about going through qualifying, too.

Posted by sophie 09/10/2007 at 10:57 PM

One other piece of information is that Federer won his first 3 Majors the first time he got to the Final (Wimbledon 2003), AO (2004) and USO (2004). And I will add, before Rosangel puts it in, that Nadal "of course" did that at RG, as we must include him........

Posted by AmyLu 09/10/2007 at 10:57 PM

*passes GE of choice to Tim*

Keep it up with the Vamoses and you just may find yourself offered a position at RNKAS.

MrsS, I am guessing that 2001 Wimbledon is one more reason for you to hate Marat? He had the chance to derail Goran's Wimby run and failed. I'd completely forgotten about that quarterfinal appearance until now.

Posted by gvgirl 09/10/2007 at 11:07 PM

Great analysis Roseangel! Thank you.

Posted by andre 09/10/2007 at 11:10 PM

...hmm... as a brazilian tennis fan, i was disapointed not to find Kuerten on the list. His career was interrupted on his peak at just 25, with 3 slams, 1 master cup, 5 master series... I always thought a good way to see how great he was (off course, not as god as the top of the class, but way better than Safin, Hewitt, Moya) would be to compare his acomplishments until his injury with these other guys. Pity it wasnt this time i could see this, but maybe i´ll do the Kuerten research myself to finally compare him to the others. Wasn´t he the last guy to dominate federer, 3 x 0, on a big game?

Posted by ptenisnet 09/10/2007 at 11:11 PM

That's impressive that hewitt has the 3rd best slam win loss record of the current crop of players.

Amylu,
You can't place the blame for goran entirely on marat.

Posted by federer fan 09/10/2007 at 11:16 PM

I suggest that there be a minimum number of matches played criteria to be included in this list. If someone like Becker (Boris) came along or even Nadal after the 2005 french open, the results would look very skewed after playing and winning only one GS....since we are looking only at percentages.
But the approach of the analysis is fantastic and reveals quite a few things. Man Ljubo with his serve, under 50%!

Posted by Lucy 09/10/2007 at 11:18 PM

Nope. I blame whoever gave Goran the damn wildcard in the first place.

Andre, Kuerten is awkward because he's neither in the current top 50 nor in the echelon of former greats Rosangel chose to include, but I'm sure plenty of people would be interested in seeing how Guga's record stacks up, if you do run the numbers.

James Blake should get props for his low percentage of first-round losses. Ditto Nalbandian and JCF. Leetle Reeshee probably needs to work on that a bit.

Posted by AmyLu 09/10/2007 at 11:20 PM

PT, I am NOT blaming Marat. I actually like him -- I'm with Lucy on this one.

Posted by MrsSanta 09/10/2007 at 11:26 PM

AmyLu you're a genius. That had never occurred to me. Marat is responsible for the largest tennis travesty of this century. Shame on you Marat!

Posted by John 09/10/2007 at 11:31 PM

Also, how do you factor in the beauty with which some of these players played the game. For example, while Nadal is exciting to watch, his strokes are pretty ugly. Likewise, while Jimmy Connors was a great player, his strokes were hard to look at. On the other hand, Federer's game is simply an absolute pleasure to watch. I realize that this does not matter, but I wish it did.

Posted by Willie the Speare Shaker 09/10/2007 at 11:34 PM

This is why I think Borg is the GOAT. Nobody else won so consistently; he would have certainly one another couple R.G.'s, and who finds it impossible to see him winning Wimbledon after '81?

Frankly, I don't put a ton of stock in either Australia or the US Open. The surface changes throws everything off. The consistency of players to succeed at Wimbledon and the French is the benchmark for a GOAT.

Posted by Sam 09/10/2007 at 11:34 PM

"Marat is responsible for the largest tennis travesty of this century. "

Yeah, Thomas Johansson winning the AO ...

Posted by Andrew 09/10/2007 at 11:35 PM

Whoah.

That's analysis.

Not the numbers. The words.

A guy I used to work for once said "I hire 10 people every year. 9 out of 10 can turn a computer on. 5 can open a spreadsheet. 3 can make it add up. 2 can make it add up correctly. Only one can tell me what it means."

Rosangel just told you what she meant.

Posted by Aussie fan 09/10/2007 at 11:38 PM

The amateur/pro split is the biggest problem in ranking the best players in different eras - Pancho Gonzales' pro record in the 50s was fantastic, as were Rosewall and Laver's in pre-68.

With regard to the Australian Open pre-1988, yes the field was smaller and many of the major international stars only travelled there occasionally, but let's not overlook that in the 60s at least the Aussies like Emerson, Stolle & Roche who were winning the AO were making the finals, and winning plenty, in the other 3 slams as well (same applies to Court on the women's side).

Posted by ptenisnet 09/10/2007 at 11:39 PM

a true goat should not only be able to climb up to the highest mountain, but also climb down in one piece.
-confucius


:-) lucy, AL.


Posted by highpockets 09/10/2007 at 11:57 PM

Ros, you never cease to amaze me with this stuff! I love studying your charts ... and what a perfect time to post this ... when we all have slam hangovers.

You are simply the best!

Posted by John C 09/11/2007 at 12:00 AM

Gonzalez has lost in 3 slam semi's? Need to nitpick on the info there... pretty sure that is not the case. I believe that the AO was his first semi. So that 14.8% is high.

Really I just want one of Koyla's boxes to be colored.

Posted by Well Left 09/11/2007 at 12:07 AM

Bricker's article in today's Baltimore Sun was accompanied by an interesting table- winning percentage in Slam finals.
Yep, Federer is on top in that category. (You can eyeball it using red over red + orange, from above)

Now that's consistency when it matters-trophy's within reach? Roger's gonna grab it.

Posted by abbey 09/11/2007 at 12:08 AM

wow, rosia. excellent stuff. thank you for taking the time to do this for tw.

i've always believed that consistency is one of the benchmarks for greatness especially since the pressure to remain on top is greater than to get there. this analysis highlights that kind of achievement well.

Posted by Miguel Seabra 09/11/2007 at 12:09 AM

Rosangel, I'm going to give you my original Fila Borg headband from 1981 -- and touched by the very same Bjorn last month when he played here...

But, considering your talent for numbers, you'll have to help me with the IRS in return...

Posted by Ali C 09/11/2007 at 12:29 AM

Ooooo...pretty colours...


Nice analysis, Ros. I'm with you on the Order of the GOAT - looking at the numbers like this shows that it's hard to crown one guy. But a standout in each generation? That begins to make a little more sense.

Posted by Sher 09/11/2007 at 12:30 AM

Wow, that's amazing. How long did this take to compile?

And also, what about won the first slam final they ever played? Who won their first GS? I think Borg did and Federer obviously did. I think Sampras did too?

Posted by Sahadev 09/11/2007 at 12:37 AM

Interesting numbers, but I agree with Andrew, it's the words that really make this piece impressive. Loved the historical perspective on the Opens.

Some statistics are more significant than others. For instance, no. of / percentage of 1st round losses is pretty worthless, it says nothing about the GS quality of a player. Percentage of GS wins, though, is quite robust, and very informative. A reliable indicator of fitness for inclusion in the GOAT debate is the "hourglass" phenomenon - low percentage of losses in the 4th rd-SF of a slam. Many of the good-but-not-great players (Connors, Agassi, Hewitt) tend to have quite a few of these mid-tournament losses.

Posted by Miguel Seabra 09/11/2007 at 12:40 AM

A glimpse of greatness earlier on...

Basel 1998 -- Andre Agassi vs Roger Federer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5C0HvYuEa6U&mode=related&search=

Posted by Ray Stonada 09/11/2007 at 12:50 AM

Amazingly comprehensive job, and a very nuanced take on what it means. Kudos.

Posted by Jenn 09/11/2007 at 12:52 AM

Rosia - this was an amazing piece! so well researched and thought out. I really like seeing these numbers in a table, and I suspect that these numbers will be referred to again and again by a lot of TWs trying to make whatever points they think are supported by these numbers... makes for a very interesting debate. I'm so proud that Rafa has never gone out in the first round!

One thing that did surprise me was the number of times that each of the legends (old timers) lost in the first round of a Slam. As an Agassi fan, I remember each of those (painful) occasions, but I didn't realize that so many other of those players had suffered the same fate. Although the first round loss may not mean that much in the big picture (unless it is a hard-to-ignore percentage like in Ljubicic's case), I found that interesting and a reminder that no GS wins can be taken for granted... Anyway, GREAT JOB!!!

Sahadev - you think that Connors and Agassi were "good but not great players"?? Wow. That's pretty harsh, don't you think? Agassi and Connors weren't Federer-like in their dominance, but AA has 8 GSs and he is the only man in the recent era to win the career GS, so I certainly don't think he and Hewitt have had the same career.

Posted by Sahadev 09/11/2007 at 01:03 AM

Jenn, yeah, I shouldn't have put Hewitt in the same category, but Sampras, Borg, Laver and Federer are surely a tier above Lendl, Connors, Agassi and McEnroe?

Posted by Jenn 09/11/2007 at 01:09 AM

Yea, Sahadev, I agree with your 1:03 statement. I don't know how to best rank those first four players as against each other. In the Tier II (or IB, or whatever), I would put Agassi first, ahead of the others you named, because of the career GS.

Posted by Sam 09/11/2007 at 01:21 AM

From the 1960s on:

Order of the GOAT: Sampras, Borg, Laver, Federer
Next level of greats: Lendl, Connors, Agassi, McEnroe

In the second level, I would put Lendl slightly ahead of Agassi due to his more consistent excellence - 157 straight weeks at #1 (270 overall) - and equal number of Slams.

Posted by Matt Zemek 09/11/2007 at 01:28 AM

Rosia -

This is analysis and perspective that should get a person a handsome amount of compensation.

What a gold mine of information and history.

Words can't express enough thanks or admiration!

Borg is the man.

Posted by Jenn 09/11/2007 at 01:36 AM

Sam - don't you even start!
*winks*

Posted by evie 09/11/2007 at 01:49 AM

Hi, Rosia,

Your research and analysis is very creative and quite original in my opinion. Thanks!

Posted by KG 09/11/2007 at 03:02 AM

Rosia,

Mucho respeto!! I salute this wonderful effort. Simply mindblowing. All hail Borg as always....=)

Posted by Dragonfly 09/11/2007 at 03:09 AM

Agree with Sahadev. I don't quite see the significance of stats for 1st round losses, except perhaps an attempt to make a connection between Borg and Nadal?

There are also some missing numbers here for the 2nd & 3rd rounds. Nadal may not have any 1st round loss but he has exited the slams prior to the R16 40% of the time. I think that is a more telling indicator of consistency.

Posted by chloe02 09/11/2007 at 03:15 AM

Rosangel - brilliant analysis and fascinating reading. Thank you for this.

Posted by Rosangel 09/11/2007 at 03:26 AM

Re the first-round losses - this is an exercise regarding how well time at any Slam has been used. They affect the average by dragging it down, so it's useful in interpreting averages. I decided to collect this number upfront - didn't realise until later that either Borg or Nadal were alone in this category in their eras. I have collected stats for second and third round exits too - as an executive decision, I reckoned that the lowest achievement worth highlighting is reaching the round of 16, while a first round loss represents an opportunity to play a Slam which has been totally lost, in terms of results achieved. I could have stuck in some extra columns for 2R and 3R reached, but there's a limit to the size of table that typepad can comfortably accommodate, and they don't tell us much.


Posted by goat 09/11/2007 at 03:41 AM

"Using these statistics, the only current player who stands out to me as definitively belonging in the elite group of multi-Slam champions for all time is Roger Federer"

Yes, we need your statistics to know that, lol.

Posted by Nick C 09/11/2007 at 03:42 AM

You wrote "Borg, incidentally (to whom I can’t help but compare Nadal), reached his first US Open semifinal at age 21 – and won his first Wimbledon at 22."

Borg was born on June 6th 1956, so reached his first US Open semi final at the age of 19 and his first Wimbledon a few weeks after this 20th birthday.

Posted by Rosangel 09/11/2007 at 03:54 AM

Nick C - good catch. US Open SF in 1975 does mean age 19. I'll change it above.

Posted by Rich Grace 09/11/2007 at 04:22 AM

GOAT debates are kinda stupid. Few mention this, but racket technology has got to be a factor. Borg's and McEnroe's rackets were 65mm toothpicks! Imagine trying to hit the ball with one of those now. (I've tried it - it ain't fun, at least not for me.) With our current 110mm confections, more people can hit with spin than ever. Interesting to note that Fed uses the smallest racket on tour at 95mm, which looks tiny on screen.

Posted by Rich Grace 09/11/2007 at 04:24 AM

And, um, what a fabulous article. This is one for the archives.

Posted by abbey 09/11/2007 at 04:49 AM

i believe technology is just a medium. put these great players in any era, they'd still be great.

Posted by Dragonfly 09/11/2007 at 05:26 AM

Rosangel,

I agree that R16 is the threshhold in determining performance in slams. This means that results prior to this round should be reckoned the same way. Losses drag down averages, doesn't matter which round it occurs. You already have the win/loss numbers to derive it from. A column showing cumulative performance in the early rounds gives a better picture than 1st round losses alone.

Posted by shariq 09/11/2007 at 05:32 AM

Absolutely brilliant analysis. One thing which struck me is that Lendl lost in 11 finals! If he had won 6 and lost 5 of those then he would be right up there with Sampras, having a 14/5 win loss in finals to compare with Sampras' 14/4. This makes sense given their average win/slam is almost identical.

I guess this shows how important winning the big matches is to a player's place in history and that the final is considered to be a disproportionately bigger match than the semi-final.

My second point concerns Laver. IMO anytime someone mentions the 20 slams which Laver missed, there should also be a note on how the early slams which Laver won didn't feature the top players who had already turned pro e.g. Pancho Gonzalez and Lew Hoad. Laver is still one of the Order of the GOAT, but I think the 20 missed slams is slightly misleading.

Anyway's thanks again and I'm sure everyone's going to have a lot of fun with this.

P.S. Not to nitpick, but even though he used to be my favourite player, I'm sure Edberg's slam win% is incorrect as he and Becker both won 6, but Edberg played more.

Posted by ogolon 09/11/2007 at 05:41 AM

if you still can't see who is the GOAT you must be blind...remember without nadal (I don't know if I love him or I hate him for this) roger could have completed the grand slam 3 times...

Posted by 09/11/2007 at 05:48 AM

ogolon, and if it weren't for roger(I don't know if i love him or hate him for this) rafa would have won 5 slams including a Borg-esque french-wimby double- two times in a row- at the age of 21.

Posted by kingandre 09/11/2007 at 05:56 AM

though i am a big rafa fan. i am not sure whether rafa wld have won 2 wimby titles if fed hadnt been around. There are other very good grass court players like roddick who could have given him a lot of trouble. but i think it is fair to say without rafa aroound fed wd have won 11 consecutive slams.

Posted by kingandre 09/11/2007 at 06:10 AM

sebastien grosjean has made semis in 3 of the 4 slams i believe. he wld have made for an interesting sample too. Anyway fab job rosangel

Posted by Rosangel 09/11/2007 at 06:17 AM

ogolon: Isn't the point that Federer and Rafa exist in the same era? Much as did Laver and Rosewall, Borg and McEnroe, etc? "If it weren't for Menroe", or Connors who is to say that Borg wouldn't have won six Wimby titles plus a couple of US Opens?

Posted by kingandre 09/11/2007 at 06:26 AM

jankovic has won 72 matches this year 18 ahead of chakvetadze. is she wtas answer to kolya?

Posted by Moderator 09/11/2007 at 06:39 AM

kermit: your post at 1:10am didn't belong in this thread. I've moved it to the "Oye Vey, Nole" thread where it's more comfortable. Thanks.

Posted by felizjulianidad 09/11/2007 at 06:54 AM

This year, Ferrero joined that group of players who have made quarters in all 4 Slams. Of course, the "semis" list is even more exclusive. Ferrero is still missing Wimbledon semis for that group; he reached AusO semis (lost to Federer), USO finals (lost to Roddick), and twice reached FO final (won once). I doubt he'll ever make it again. Poor guy. In semis, he had to play Federer (GEEZ THAT GUY IS GOOD). Surprisingly, though, Ferrero was outplaying Roger in the first set, but the match was suspended for weather and Roger came out the next day firing aces in the tiebreak. Then Ferrero upped his game and took the second set, which pissed Roger off--what followed was an utter demolishing. Still, I would've been very curious to see what would've happened if the weather allowed Ferrero to complete the victory he was about to get in the first set, and if he had maintained the second... What the 5-setter would've looked like.

And yes, I like the point one poster made: Federer would have 15 GS by now (the 3 FO's that Nadal knocked him out of) if it weren't for Nadal, while Nadal would have 5 slams by now if it weren't for Federer. Nadal would have been the world dominating player, a-la-Borg, the last two years, had he not run into just this fantastic piece of (virtually unbeatable) work that is Roger Federer. And Roger Federer would've have Year-Slammed the circuit 3 times in a row had it not been for his antithetical warrior, who is the indisputed clay monster, but has somehow also been the second best on grass for two years in a row.

Roddick might've taken two or three more slams had it not been for Federer, but equally if Fed wasn't around, Roddick would not have been the one standing in Nadal's way the last two years. Let us remember he was knocked out by Murray and Gasquet--not the Swiss master.

Posted by kingandre 09/11/2007 at 07:01 AM

And gasquet in the match in which he defeated roddick played close to the best tennis that was displayed in that tournament. I think Nadal is a very good grass court player but he is not 2nd best on grass whereas roger is 2nd best on clay. Last year Ancic wld have had a great shot at winning wimbledon. the match he played against fed was a brilliant one.

Posted by Andrew 09/11/2007 at 07:12 AM

Having put up a quick note earlier praising this post in general, some thoughts on specific points Rosangel makes:

a) who dat GOAT? No argument from me that "Order of the GOATs of the Round Table" or "GOAT Valhalla" or some such arrangement makes far more sense than picking some hapless hero (kinda like Serena in her infamous "Arenas"/PC advert does) and saying "he's the one." Technology's a part of it, but...

b) the Laver "gap" is another, as is

c) the whole professionalism/tour structure mess, and

d) the evolution of the Australian Open, now unquestionably a peer with the other Majors, but as Rosangel points out, not the case 30 years ago.

So comparing slams from era to era is about as fraught as comparing racquet technology (haven't even mentioned the surfaces issue). Hence, and therefore, pointing to Sampras' 14 slams as THE mountaintop in Mens tennis is, in my view, over emphasizing a single impressive record.

If no set of numbers can resolve the GOAT issue (which is fundamentally, in my view, not resolvable), numbers can give us a different and complementary view to the aesthetic view we get from our memories, and from the experience of watching live and taped matches (or hearing and reading other players' thoughts).

They do help to highlight aspects of players, and shine lights on players we thought less of. Nalbandian, as much as Roddick, stands out as a "nearly" man of Mens tennis. Had Hawkeye been in place for his semi final with Roddick at the US Open in 2003, would he have gone on to a first of many GS titles? Might the same fate await the latest sensation, Djokovic?

Roddick himself is shown again to hang tantalisingly between Tiers - not quite good enough to make Tier I, but perhaps more consistent over time than contemporaries Hewitt and Safin.

Finally, we come back to two players in our pantheon, Borg and Federer. Often linked by their on court demeanor, the two are quite different in their rise to the top. Borg's ascent was like a space rocket, Federer's a four year long apprenticeship. But once at the top, both men displayed a fantastic consistency, and also a kind of psychic wound - for Federer the French Open, for Borg the US Open.

Although history never repeats, one thing we may get to see is the kind of career arc Borg chose not to have.

Posted by kingandre 09/11/2007 at 07:18 AM

andrew nice point by david nalbandian. Becomes all the more significant now.
andy roddick 1 Slam
Daveed Nil.

Posted by Christopher 09/11/2007 at 07:27 AM

Spectacular and fascinating!

The "if not for Nadal, Fed would..." type of speculation really can't go anywhere. There's simply no easy cause and effect relationship with these things. The other side is always there: if not for Andre, maybe Pete would never have lifted his game to the heights he achieved, and so forth. That's why Ros's suggestion we look at eras makes so much more sense.

And Borg was completely justified at refusing to go through the qualies at RG in '82. Who are we kidding here? Interesting that no tournament could get away with treating a player of his caliber that way today. Of course there have only been one or two players of his caliber, but that's another story.

Another random point of interest about Borg is how thoroughly he used to destroy opponents. The number of 6-0 and 6-1 sets he won at RG or Wimbledon has got to be a record. Part of this is due to the lesser power of the serve in those days, but much of it is due to Borg's utter and complete dominance over so many players and the fact that he very rarely took a Roger-like walk-about when winning easily. It took me YEARS to get over his retirement. Difficult memories...

Posted by federer fan 09/11/2007 at 08:31 AM

heres a thought : by GOAT do we only mean greatest in the physical aspect of playing tennis? or do we want to include the mental game as well? in which case, i dunno, if Borg will stand out very well, he quit pretty early when a challenge came calling. Make no mistake, I love the genial swede but I fell Fed is doing much better than him in that dept, considering the pain Raf is causing Fed. Maybe break pts related stats or tie break related stats? or dont know how else you could "measure" mental toughness!

Posted by palecohora 09/11/2007 at 08:45 AM

That was so interesting - thank you for the enormous amount of time that must have taken.
It was a great antidote to my Grand Slam withdrawl symptoms.
Why don't you submit it to the Tennis section on Wikipedia?

Posted by Rosangel 09/11/2007 at 08:53 AM

andre: Just to explain the selection of past champions for comparison - I "arbitrarily" decided that this list should include all mult-Slam winners of the Open era with six or more Slam wins. I started calculating numbers for some others, but realised that the project could easily become overwhelming.

For what it's worth, the stats I collected on Pat Rafter were: 5.71% of Slams competed in were won (2 out of 35 a statistic we can certainly partly blame Goran for). He also had 2 finals appearances, 3 semis, 6 R16 appearances and 11 first round losses.

Meanwhile, Guillermo Vilas won 8.16% of Slams competed in (4 out of 49) and had 4 finals appearances, 4 semis, 7 quarterfinals, 6 R16 appearances, and 10 first round losses.

Kuerten would have been next on my list:)

Posted by Cono Sur 09/11/2007 at 09:01 AM

Rosangel: Excellent analysis. Just one remark. Since there are late bloomers (Federer, Kuerten) as opposed to early bloomers (Borg, Nadal), it would be interesting and perhaps more revealing to apply your data to the best five years of each player starting after the first GS final or win. I think Borg would still come out on top but perhaps TMF might inch a bit closer?

Just a thought.

Posted by Ginger 09/11/2007 at 09:10 AM

Rosangel - thank you so much for this (and other) brilliant work. I cannot even imagine how much time and effort this must have taken to complete. I love numbers and am going to save this article on my desktop and take my time, reading, absorbing and enjoying the information. There is absolutely no other place that we can get this type of high quality work. Thanks again

Posted by Sam 09/11/2007 at 09:12 AM

Ros: Thanks again for taking the time to put all of this together. Great work.

"Had Hawkeye been in place for his semi final with Roddick at the US Open in 2003, would he have gone on to a first of many GS titles? "

Perhaps he would have won that USO final against JCF, but I think it's a reach to extrapolate multiple Slam titles from that. He's had ample opportunity and has not even reached another Slam final since then. Roddick may not have won another Slam, but at least he has reached 3 more finals following the 2003 USO.

"Sam - don't you even start! "

;-)

Posted by temes 09/11/2007 at 09:19 AM

Oooh I love statistics! Thank you Rosangel.

Posted by Sam 09/11/2007 at 09:37 AM

"the fact that he very rarely took a Roger-like walk-about when winning easily. "

I wonder how much of that (the intensity needed to focus like that so often) factored in to his early retirement.

Posted by Suresh 09/11/2007 at 09:49 AM

Ros, that was a great piece of work - should be saved in the archives.

Posted by tina 09/11/2007 at 09:50 AM

Good morning, fellow "Nrrds"!

I was waiting for someone to do this sort of Excel chart, so thanks Ros!

Miguel, hun, I can help you with any US tax issues you might have - my strength isn't numbers, after all, but creativity - *wink*. You see, to even touch a Borg headband would make me a bit weak. I'm not nervous around celebs at all, but the Borg years were my semi-awkward pubescent years, living in a small town and dreaming of Europe. Borg was the ultimate European male for me at the time - years before I discovered Marcello Mastroianni. SO: I will fight Ros for this headband!

*just kidding*

Posted by UB 09/11/2007 at 10:13 AM

Is there a corollary between the fact that Nadal has shone so brightly before the age of 21 and can barely finish his second consecutive year. (To a smaller extent - Djokovic and his mid-match back rubs.) As a teenager, tennis pundits predicted greatness for Roger Federer, yet his lack of effort in Grand Slam events always belied the predictions. He won his first GS at the age of 22 - almost unheard of in this sport, has been nearly injury-free and has the endurance of a marathon runner.

When I see these teenagers with nagging back problems and other cronic injuries I always think of Tracy Austin, Aaron Krickstein and Andrea Yeager and wonder when is too soon, too soon? Congratulations to Roger for not falling into that trap and letting himself be a kid for those first 5 years and then making the decision as an adult to go for it.

Posted by federer fan 09/11/2007 at 10:18 AM

i forget if Rosangel is a Fed or Raf KAD, whichever it is, we need an excel from the other KAD and see what columns they come up with, highlighting their own fav! ;) just kidding.

Posted by Thomas Muster KAD 09/11/2007 at 10:20 AM

Outstanding work! Here are just a couple of small comments.

In the 2nd table you should label the column that is currently named 1R (1st round) is incorrectly labeled. It actually gives the percentage of being eliminated in the first round. If you label it 2R (2nd round reached) it is consistent with the other columns.

I second the inclusion of Kuerten as he hasn't officially retired.

Posted by Thomas Muster KAD 09/11/2007 at 10:29 AM

Sorry, I wasn't making any sense. What I meant is, either:

1) relabel the column to 2R and change the numbers 100 - x (where x is the number currently listed)

2) change the upper heading of the column to say "percentage eliminated in 1R)

Posted by federer fan 09/11/2007 at 10:31 AM

Considering most of us are more or less agreed on the list of GOAT candidates, i'd like to submit here that, some of the candidates on that list have themselves voted for none other than fed as the GOAT or the closest possible opinion to it, if my memory serves me right : Rod Laver, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras

I think Lendl said that he was definitely not the GOAT yet.

Unsure whether Borg, Connors, Agassi had anything to say in the matter yet. :)

So, the fact that without federer there would not be a debate going on right now, is proof that he is GOAT material and when 4 of the 8 at the round table vote for him (assuming Fed votes for himself! ;), 1 against him (for now) and 3 abstain from voting, tells me THERE IS A GOAT and not an order of GOATs and it is Roger!

Talk about being a KAD. ;)

Posted by Rosangel 09/11/2007 at 10:31 AM

Thomas Muster KAD - just to clarify, it is the percentage of first round exits, as you say. It's the counterpart of the 1R exits on the first table. I don't intend it to signify the second round being reached. Squashing all the data into tables small enough to appear in typepad meant that column labels had to be kept very short, so the explanation was in the text. The alternative was to make the tables larger, and host them on my own site, which is a messy solution:-)

Posted by federer fan 09/11/2007 at 10:52 AM

GOAT, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder!

Posted by Ray Stonada 09/11/2007 at 10:54 AM

Few more thoughts, from the gut:

The GOAT debate matters, otherwise we wouldn't spend this much time talking about it. And these stats are another good way to consider that debate: if not to establish who the best player is, then who belongs in the pantheon. But they're only really useful in comparing the players of the last fifteen years or so, since the four Slams have stabilized and become comparable, as noted. Before that, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open meant so much more than the others. So I believe Slam performance is a flawed way to compare Borg to Sampras, for instance.

I am not a believer in the era-transcendence theory, which holds that greats would be great in any era. In my opinion, the speed, athleticism, and technical skill of the game have improved hugely. (So have racquets and strings, but that's another story.) I'm with Bob: I think the level of play today is the best it has ever been, and that Roger is clearly a much, much better player than Rod, Jimmy, Bjorn, or Johnny. As in, he'd beat them with a wooden racquet.

Posted by Beckham 09/11/2007 at 10:58 AM

Ros: great stats!

Federer fan: LOL..Borg doesn't think he's the GOAT yet, Connors I don't think likes Fed, isn't there a rumour floating out there that Connors doesn't speak to Fed???, and I think Agassi favours Fed over Sampras...And Fed right now thinks Pete is the GOAT...following your err interesting analysis that's

4 yays, 4 nays it's a tie...;)

I myself prefer the Order of GOAT (sounds like some uber secret society), members are Borg, Sampras, Federer and Laver...Lendl's application is going through the review process...;)

Now IF Fed wins the FO and surpasses Pete's GS haul...then Fed ought to be consensus GOAT, even if he doesn't pull of the GS, NO???

Posted by federer fan 09/11/2007 at 11:01 AM

OK, here is another thought, to avoid the order of the GOATs, which I dont like frankly! ;)
The title of GOAT, i'm sure we can all agree, is NOT absolute, its almost like the #1 ranking that changes with time.
So i'm sure, Rod Laver, Borg and Sampras at their peaks were the GOATs but right now, its none of them, its the man in black.
Ofcourse, the next GOAT could be smacking winners on a practice court somewhere already (and possibly picking his butt and playing lefty).

Posted by federer fan 09/11/2007 at 11:04 AM

somebody smack the guy and tell him, when you're in politics, you show up early in the morning and you vote for yourself! ;)

1 2 3      >>

We are no longer accepting comments for this entry.

<<  US Open Picks Game - Wrap Up Monday Net Post  >>




Wild Women of the U.S. Open
Wild Men of the U.S. Open
Roddick's Imperfect World
"It's Kind of a Dance"
Nadal's Kneeds
The Racquet Scientist: Canadian Tennis
The Long and Short of It
This blog has 3693 entries and 1646148 comments.
More
More Video
Daily Spin