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ATP GOAT Conversation
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El Dude Online
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ATP GOAT Conversation
Continued from this thread.

Kieran, it is my view that when comparing cross-generation we can't really know how a player stacks up against another. We'll never know how Sampras circa 1994 would fare against Federer circa 2006 at Wimbledon (but boy would that be fun to watch!). The best we got was a declining 29-year old Sampras against a raw 19-year old Federer (at least their respective place in their careers evened out somewhat).

What we CAN know is how well a player fared against their contemporaries, and then compare across generations. So, for instance, we can look at how Sampras did in his era, how Federer did in his era, and then compare them. My assertion before was that it is easier to compare the 90s to the 00s than it is the 90s-00s to the 50s-60s (re Laver and Rosewall).

Now of course we have to look at the field. Without looking too deeply, I think the context of both Sampras and Federer was similar, or at least close. Sampras had a much tougher field early on when he was facing Becker, Edberg, Courier, Lendl, Agassi, not to mention Chang, Muster, Stich, etc. But this was balanced out by a much easier field in the mid to late 90s.

Federer, on the other hand, had a solid but unspectacular field during his prime, which heated up towards the end of it and then moreso in the last few years. His competition seemed more even - never as intense as the early 90s, but never as light as the late 90s. The point being that, overall, the two had a similar level of competition, so we can take their accomplishments at face value, or at least close to it.

My original comment was that I don't think Pete Sampras is a serious candidate for GOAT because Roger Federer's resume is clearly superior. The comparison between them and Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall is not so clear, and that both older players remain in contention for GOAT.
01-May-2013 03:11 PM
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jhar26 Offline
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RE: ATP GOAT Conversation
In a comparison between these two I'd have to give the nod to Roger because of his superior record on clay. Also, Sampras played at a time when court surfaces were much faster than they are now. Would he have been as effective today as he was back then? Perhaps, but I don't know for sure. But todays courts don't favor Federer's first strike type of game either and he still managed to set all these incredible records. Therefore Federer gets my vote. Shy
01-May-2013 03:45 PM
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El Dude Online
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RE: ATP GOAT Conversation
In some ways Federer was the last of the great first strike/serve and volley type players - Nadal and Djokovic ushered in a different era. I imagine that at some point we'll see some new young gun come in and redefine the dominant style of play, although whether or not court surfaces change to follow suit (or vice versa) remains to be seen.
01-May-2013 03:55 PM
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Riotbeard Offline
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RE: ATP GOAT Conversation
I honestly don't believe in the goat thing, because there is no single valid unproblematic way to measure this "greatness." I would concede Federer is in the vast majority of categories the most accomplished player of all time, which I think is a more valid measurement, but prior to Federer, in the most important categories, Pete probably shared this title with laver.

As far as Federer status as closer to Sampras era as far as first strike tennis goes, I agree and disagree. He certainly carries vestages of both and would be the most comfortable of the current elite in an era with more quick surfaces. I am not convinced at all that he would have 7 wimbledons in the 90s (or even close to that). He would probably have a lot more roland garros titles, which speaks to the fact that his tennis more a product of the 2000s than the 90s. He is an all court player. For the most part, he is not a serve and volleyer and that is not his natural game. He used effectively when he was younger, and he could definitely transition into the 90s more comfortably than nadal or djokovic (or laver/rosewall) for that matter.
01-May-2013 05:04 PM
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federberg (01-29-2015)
El Dude Online
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RE: ATP GOAT Conversation
I agree, Riotbeard, that ultimately the "GOAT thing" is a fallacious proposition, although in my mind it is mainly because we just can't know how good Rod Laver was vs. Roger Federer, or Bjorn Borg vs. Nadal. I for one think that sports evolve so that players get better and better, but there is also no doubt in my mind that if Bjorn Borg was 22 right now he'd be one of the best in the game, with an adjusted play style to suit the day.

But it is a fun conversation, so I do "believe in the goat thing" as a hypothetical, as a point of discussion - just not as a study to be definitively answered.
01-May-2013 09:23 PM
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DarthFed Offline
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RE: ATP GOAT Conversation
(01-May-2013 05:04 PM)Riotbeard Wrote:  I honestly don't believe in the goat thing, because there is no single valid unproblematic way to measure this "greatness." I would concede Federer is in the vast majority of categories the most accomplished player of all time, which I think is a more valid measurement, but prior to Federer, in the most important categories, Pete probably shared this title with laver.

As far as Federer status as closer to Sampras era as far as first strike tennis goes, I agree and disagree. He certainly carries vestages of both and would be the most comfortable of the current elite in an era with more quick surfaces. I am not convinced at all that he would have 7 wimbledons in the 90s (or even close to that). He would probably have a lot more roland garros titles, which speaks to the fact that his tennis more a product of the 2000s than the 90s. He is an all court player. For the most part, he is not a serve and volleyer and that is not his natural game. He used effectively when he was younger, and he could definitely transition into the 90s more comfortably than nadal or djokovic (or laver/rosewall) for that matter.

If you take Pete out of the 90's I'd like Federer's chances at 6 or 7 in the 90's on grass. Let's remember that Roger figures to be stronger on faster and lower bouncing surfaces and he used to be outstanding at getting big serves back in play.

I also disagree with the serve and volley not being his natural game. Roger grew up as a serve & volley player and won his first Wimbledon doing that. Fed simply adapted to the times and shelved what would have been a losing game plan. Modern racquet technology (and later on the slowing down of the courts) made it harder and harder to be effective with S&V.
01-May-2013 09:24 PM
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britbox Offline
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RE: ATP GOAT Conversation
(01-May-2013 09:24 PM)DarthFed Wrote:  
(01-May-2013 05:04 PM)Riotbeard Wrote:  I honestly don't believe in the goat thing, because there is no single valid unproblematic way to measure this "greatness." I would concede Federer is in the vast majority of categories the most accomplished player of all time, which I think is a more valid measurement, but prior to Federer, in the most important categories, Pete probably shared this title with laver.

As far as Federer status as closer to Sampras era as far as first strike tennis goes, I agree and disagree. He certainly carries vestages of both and would be the most comfortable of the current elite in an era with more quick surfaces. I am not convinced at all that he would have 7 wimbledons in the 90s (or even close to that). He would probably have a lot more roland garros titles, which speaks to the fact that his tennis more a product of the 2000s than the 90s. He is an all court player. For the most part, he is not a serve and volleyer and that is not his natural game. He used effectively when he was younger, and he could definitely transition into the 90s more comfortably than nadal or djokovic (or laver/rosewall) for that matter.

If you take Pete out of the 90's I'd like Federer's chances at 6 or 7 in the 90's on grass. Let's remember that Roger figures to be stronger on faster and lower bouncing surfaces and he used to be outstanding at getting big serves back in play.

I also disagree with the serve and volley not being his natural game. Roger grew up as a serve & volley player and won his first Wimbledon doing that. Fed simply adapted to the times and shelved what would have been a losing game plan. Modern racquet technology (and later on the slowing down of the courts) made it harder and harder to be effective with S&V.

Agreed. Paraphrasing a little, I think Pete and Roger discussed why Roger moved away from S&V at Wimbledon and Fed's response was that he didn't need to. I'll look it up some time but they spent some time together (maybe around the exhos they played) a few years ago.
02-May-2013 03:47 AM
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Kieran Offline
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RE: ATP GOAT Conversation
Thanks, El Dude, I always like to read your posts. I think your conclusions here are less than scientific, but we're not talking science when we talk tennis anyway, are we? Smile
02-May-2013 08:58 AM
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El Dude Online
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RE: ATP GOAT Conversation
Scientific? No - but how could they be? Reasonable? I hope so!
02-May-2013 02:50 PM
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Kieran Offline
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RE: ATP GOAT Conversation
Hope is a virtue, my friend, so hang onto it... Wink
02-May-2013 03:34 PM
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1972Murat Offline
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RE: ATP GOAT Conversation
GOAT will always come down to who you like better, because results don't mean much when you are trying to compare players of different generations. The reason I would put Roger ahead of others is that, in addition to the amazing results and the time spent as numero uno, he has done stuff on a tennis court that I have never even seen attempted...the possibility of magic happening every time he steps on the court...So, it is personal really.

02-May-2013 08:03 PM
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Mog (01-29-2015)
Riotbeard Offline
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RE: ATP GOAT Conversation
(02-May-2013 08:03 PM)1972Murat Wrote:  GOAT will always come down to who you like better, because results don't mean much when you are trying to compare players of different generations. The reason I would put Roger ahead of others is that, in addition to the amazing results and the time spent as numero uno, he has done stuff on a tennis court that I have never even seen attempted...the possibility of magic happening every time he steps on the court...So, it is personal really.

Agreed. I see this in Djokovic's hard court slide. I also see it in Pete's serve.
02-May-2013 11:04 PM
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tented Offline
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RE: ATP GOAT Conversation


28-Jan-2015 08:36 PM
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El Dude Online
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RE: ATP GOAT Conversation
How about we just call it even and say that Federer and Nadal are the two greatest players of all time, or at least the ATP era?

Man, what are we going to do when these guys are gone? Tennis will be lesser for it.
28-Jan-2015 09:22 PM
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RE: ATP GOAT Conversation
http://espn.go.com/tennis/story/_/id/109...g.comments
Quote:SINGAPORE -- Andre Agassi says Rafael Nadal should be considered the greatest tennis player ever, not Roger Federer.

Agassi made the comments in an interview with Singapore newspaper Straits Times, saying Nadal's achievements are more impressive because he has had to deal with tougher competition.

Federer has 17 Grand Slam titles to Nadal's 13, although the Spaniard leads his Swiss rival 23-10 in head-to-head meetings.

Agassi is quoted as saying that "I'd put Nadal No. 1, Federer No. 2," adding that "it's just remarkable to me what he has done, and he has done it all during Federer's prime."

"Nadal had to deal with Federer, [Novak] Djokovic, [Andy] Murray in the golden age of tennis," said Agassi, himself a former world No. 1. "He has done what he has done, and he's not done yet."

Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press
29-Jan-2015 02:52 AM
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federberg Offline
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RE: ATP GOAT Conversation
(01-May-2013 09:23 PM)El Dude Wrote:  I agree, Riotbeard, that ultimately the "GOAT thing" is a fallacious proposition, although in my mind it is mainly because we just can't know how good Rod Laver was vs. Roger Federer, or Bjorn Borg vs. Nadal. I for one think that sports evolve so that players get better and better, but there is also no doubt in my mind that if Bjorn Borg was 22 right now he'd be one of the best in the game, with an adjusted play style to suit the day.

But it is a fun conversation, so I do "believe in the goat thing" as a hypothetical, as a point of discussion - just not as a study to be definitively answered.

It is by no means clear to me that Borg would be one of the best now. Let's be honest people are fitter and faster now, the technology is vastly different. We all like to say that stick a talented athlete in any condition and they'll prosper, but that's just an unproven statement we all like to profer as fact. Borg was hugely successful with wooden racquets. We only have to look at how difficult Macenroe found it to fully adapt to changing racquet technology to realise this issue is not as clear cut as we would like to think. I'm not saying Borg wouldn't be a good player still... of course he would. But there's a fine line between being a regular top tenner and being a multi-slam winner. It's those fine margins which make me hesitate

Anyway.. my view is well known... don't really believe in this goat thing. I'm more comfortable looking at who the most accomplished tennis players are in history. By almost all measure we have to say Roger is, but we can't really say he's the GOAT
29-Jan-2015 10:26 AM
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Broken_Shoelace Offline
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RE: ATP GOAT Conversation
I think exceptional athletes would be great in any era. Obviously, I'm talking about great players who happened to be exceptional athletes and not Gael Monfils. Borg is a once in a lifetime athlete. I think he would have adapted to any era. Ditto for Sampras, Nadal, Federer and Djokovic.
(This post was last modified: 29-Jan-2015 11:45 AM by Broken_Shoelace.)
29-Jan-2015 11:12 AM
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El Dude Online
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RE: ATP GOAT Conversation
(29-Jan-2015 10:26 AM)federberg Wrote:  It is by no means clear to me that Borg would be one of the best now. Let's be honest people are fitter and faster now, the technology is vastly different. We all like to say that stick a talented athlete in any condition and they'll prosper, but that's just an unproven statement we all like to profer as fact. Borg was hugely successful with wooden racquets. We only have to look at how difficult Macenroe found it to fully adapt to changing racquet technology to realise this issue is not as clear cut as we would like to think. I'm not saying Borg wouldn't be a good player still... of course he would. But there's a fine line between being a regular top tenner and being a multi-slam winner. It's those fine margins which make me hesitate

I like what Broken Shoelace said. But to say a bit more, I think you are imagining Borg exactly as he was in 1980 playing today. But if Borg had grown up and trained in this era, he'd be a different player than he was - he'd be stronger, fitter, and obviously not have used wooden rackets. Of course we can never know, but I think that kind of natural talent would have translated just fine.

(29-Jan-2015 10:26 AM)federberg Wrote:  Anyway.. my view is well known... don't really believe in this goat thing. I'm more comfortable looking at who the most accomplished tennis players are in history. By almost all measure we have to say Roger is, but we can't really say he's the GOAT

But then you're just talking semantics. Maybe your definition of GOAT is "most accomplished player in history." Why are the two different in your mind?

To me the question of "Who was the greatest player in a given match in the history of the game?" is unanswerable, and you'd get a wide variety of answers. That seems to be a confusing variant of the whole GOAT question. But what is answerable, or at least what is approachable is the question of who compiled the best record in tennis history - that is, who has the best resume. And then you really have three candidates: Rosewall, Laver, and Federer, with nods to Tilden, Gonzales, Borg, Sampras, and Nadal, who may join the first three in another year or two.

Either way I think those are the eight greatest players who ever played the game. But there are other players who were capable of playing at as high a level, or were as good as those eight for short periods of time (e.g. Vines, Kramer, Hoad, McEnroe, Djokovic, Nalbandian...Tongue). But the eight above combined an unearthly peak level with longevity, which is what a "GOAT" should be (and why Borg is probably #8 of the eight).
(This post was last modified: 29-Jan-2015 11:31 AM by El Dude.)
29-Jan-2015 11:29 AM
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federberg Offline
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RE: ATP GOAT Conversation
I like what Broken Shoelace said. But to say a bit more, I think you are imagining Borg exactly as he was in 1980 playing today. But if Borg had grown up and trained in this era, he'd be a different player than he was - he'd be stronger, fitter, and obviously not have used wooden rackets. Of course we can never know, but I think that kind of natural talent would have translated just fine.

No I'm not. My point is that while we can say with a degree of confidence that Borg would be a very good player under the conditions that exist in this day and age. What makes a player become a great in any era is a rather more uncertain variable. I have no problem agreeing that Borg would be a top 10 player, what I have a problem with is saying he would now be competing for the highest honours against the current mob..

But then you're just talking semantics. Maybe your definition of GOAT is "most accomplished player in history." Why are the two different in your mind?

Those are two hugely different things in my view... GOAT implies you stick him on a court in any era and he'll most likely win. I just don't see how anyone can know that. It's a puerile debate in my opinion. What you can talk about are accomplishments. Those are real world things, that can't be disputed
(This post was last modified: 29-Jan-2015 11:52 AM by federberg.)
29-Jan-2015 11:48 AM
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El Dude Online
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RE: ATP GOAT Conversation
(29-Jan-2015 11:48 AM)federberg Wrote:  No I'm not. My point is that while we can say with a degree of confidence that Borg would be a very good player under the conditions that exist in this day and age. What makes a player become a great in any era is a rather more uncertain variable. I have no problem agreeing that Borg would be a top 10 player, what I have a problem with is saying he would now be competing for the highest honours against the current mob..

Fair enough, but that could be said about anyone from the past playing in their future, and perhaps even a player from now playing in the past. Who knows, maybe Rafa would be all confused by the trickery of a Rosewall or Laver, and of course not know how to wield a wooden racket.

(29-Jan-2015 11:48 AM)federberg Wrote:  Those are two hugely different things in my view... GOAT implies you stick him on a court in any era and he'll most likely win. I just don't see how anyone can know that. It's a puerile debate in my opinion. What you can talk about are accomplishments. Those are real world things, that can't be disputed

To me your definition of what GOAT implies is so beyond the realm of possibility as to be completely worthless and unattainable as a concept, so we might as well use the term in a different way! I actually don't think anyone is using it that way or having that argument. In other words, considering how you are understanding the term I can see why you would think all GOAT discussion is puerile - but I don't think anyone else is using the term thusly, but more along the lines of your "accomplishments."

So maybe we can talk about the Greatest of All Time According to Their Accomplishments, or GOATATTA...or how about just GOAT for short? Wink
29-Jan-2015 12:09 PM
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