Sampras vs. Connors: Whose the best of the Open Era??

Sampras vs. Connors: Whose the best of the Open Era??

Post by Stephen » Mon, 17 Aug 1998 04:00:00


It seems like a concensus is emerging among many tennis pundits that
Pete Sampras is the greatest player of the Open Era. I'd like to take
issue with that, and argue in favor of Jimmy Connors. Note that i'm NOT
arguing that Connors was a better player than Sampras, in the sense that
if they met, say, 20 times at each of their peaks that Connors would
have won 12 and Sampras 8 or something. I don't know who would have won
more if they met at their peaks. I'm sure each would win some of the
time! This assessment of who was the 'greatest' is based on my
interpretation of their accomplishments. Obviously, Pete is at a
disadvantage here because i'm comparing Connors' entire career with
Sampras very much incomplete career. But since many commentators are
saying that Sampras has *already* achieved more than any other Open Era
player, the comparison seems fair. Anyway...

My argument is based on 2 factors. One is the pro titles each has won,
the other their skill on various surfaces. IMO, both factors are the
most relevant ones in assessing a pro tennis player (i explain why), and
i think both favor Connors.

First, Connors won a *lot* more pro titles. If Sampras wins today in
Canada, he'd have won 56 pro titles. That's roughly half the number of
titles Connors won - 109. IMO, this comparison alone should clearly make
Connors the best ever, because the fundamental point of being a pro
tennis player is to win pro tennis tournaments. Surprisingly, it's not.
The reason, of course, is because *nowadays* the only kind of title that
seems to count (in terms of assessing a player's legacy) is the Grand
Slam title. And in that category, Sampras leads Connors 11-8.

I emphasize "nowadays" because i think this has changed over the years.
Before 1990 or so, Grand Slam titles weren't revered as much as they are
now. Sure, winning them *was* the ultimate achievement in tennis, but
not nearly to the extent that it is considered to be so today. Back in
the 1970's and 1980's, winning *any* kind of tournament was considered
important. Why? Because that's how you made money, and back then tennis
players had to work hard to make serious money. Since the late 1980's,
any champion player can make several million dollars a year just on
appearance fees and endor***ts alone, so the first-place prize money
offered by non-Slam tournaments isn't a big motivation anymore. But it
wasn't until 1988 or so - after he'd made many millions- that Ivan Lendl
started saying stuff like "all i play for is the Grand Slams nowadays,
it's how your legacy is assessed", etc. Before then, he concentrated on
winning any tournament he could. Sampras, otoh, has had the luxury of
focusing on Slams, because thanks to endor***ts and much higher prize
money he became a multi-millionaire within a year or two of his 1990
breakthrough at the US Open. IOW's, this focus on Grand Slams is a
"luxury" that Sampras has that Connors couldn't afford...

The point is, the "big lie" these days is that pro tennis is first and
foremost about winning Grand Slams. It's not. It's about winning money.
Remember, Sampras's icon Rod Laver (considered today to be the paragon
of tennis purity - i'm praying for his recovery, BTW) skipped the 4
Grand Slam events for *7 years* because he decided he'd rather *make
money* playing pro tournaments than rack up those supposedely
all-inportant Grand Slam titles as an amateur. And even Sampras has
admitted that the *biggest thrill* he got from winning the 1990 Open was
*not* that he had captured a coveted Grand Slam, it was that thanks to
the winner's check he finally knew what it felt like to have *real
money* in his bank account! If, back in the 1970's, the tournaments
Connors won had paid out the kind of prize money that they do today,
he'd be far ahead of Sampras on the all-time money list. Overall, his
record of 8 GS's/109 overall titles swamps Sampras's record of 11 slams
and 56 overall titles...

Now, let's look at surfaces. IMO, you have to, because the surface
matters so much. For example, in 1983, John Macenroe was Number 1 in the
World on Grass, and no one else was even in the Top 5 by comparison. He
was that ***. But on clay? No way. So let's compare Sampras and
Connors on the 4 major surfaces that pro tennis is played on- grass,
concrete, clay, and indoors:

Grass: Sampras, with 5 Wimbledon titles, is clearly one of the very
greatest players ever on grass. But Connors was a great grass court
player as well. He won 2 Wimbledon titles, and the Australian and US
Opens when they were played on grass. Overall, while Sampras' grass
record is slightly more impressive, there's no doubt that *both* he and
Connors were grass-court champions. Both could be considered "#1 level"
grass court players.

Concrete: Again, both players are/were champs on this surface. 6 of
Sampras' Grand Slam titles (4 US, 2 Australian) were won on concrete,
and he's won numerous lesser titles on the surface as well. Connors won
3 Grand Slam titles (all US Opens) on concrete, and more than 30 other
tournaments on that surface as well. Clearly, both players are "#1
calibre" here...

Clay: Here's the biggest difference between the players. In a word,
Connors was a champion on clay courts, while Sampras is not. Sampras has
won a few minor clay court titles, and one decent one - the 1994 Italian
Open. Overall, i'd consider him to be a Top 20 player on clay. But
Connors was a clay-court master. He won the US Open on clay in 1976, and
he won the US Clay Court championships - a big tournament in the 1970's
-  a record 8 times. True, Connors never won the French Open, but that
was because he never played it in his prime. He almost certainly would
have won it in 1974 if he had played that year. Overall, Connors was
(IMO) a "#1 calibre" player on clay...

Indoors: Again, both players have won numerous titles indoors. Sampras
has won 3 or 4 ATP championships on the indoor surface, and Connors won
WTC and Masters events indoors when they were he equivalent of today's
ATP event. Both can be considered "#1 calibre" champs on this surface.

Overall, Sampras has proven himself a champ on 3 of the 4 major
surfaces. But he hasn't proven himself on clay, and *not* just because
he hasn't won the French Open. It's because he's won very few clay
tournaments of any kind. Connors, OTOH, is the *only* player of the Open
Era who can truly be called a Champion on all 4 surfaces (Lendl, IMO,
just misses on grass). Advantage Connors.

Using these criteria, here's how i would rate the players of the Open
Era:

1) Connors - most titles, champ on all 4 surfaces
2) Lendl - second most titles, close to being a champ on all 4 surfaces
(would be if had Wimbledon title)
3) Borg - 11 Slams, over 65 pro titles, only "weakness" was concrete
4) Macenroe - Edge over Sampras based on his 20 more overall titles.    
Like Sampras, not a champ on clay
5) Sampras - just behind Mac because IMO his 3 more Slam titles don't  
outweigh the 20 more other titles won by Mac. Like Mac, his achilles  
heel has been clay
6) Becker, Wilander, and Edberg - all basically the same in terms of  
Slams and overall titles, each was weak on one surface...

 
 
 

Sampras vs. Connors: Whose the best of the Open Era??

Post by Someone » Mon, 17 Aug 1998 04:00:00

Quote:
><HTML>Subject: Sampras vs. Connors: Whose the best of the Open Era??<BR>

>Date: 8/16/98 11:42 AM Pacific Daylight Time<BR>

><BR>
>It seems like a concensus is emerging among many tennis pundits that<BR>
>Pete Sampras is the greatest player of the Open Era. I'd like to take<BR>
>issue with that, and argue in favor of Jimmy Connors. Note that i'm NOT<BR>
>arguing that Connors was a better player than Sampras, in the sense that<BR>
>if they met, say, 20 times at each of their peaks that Connors would<BR>
>have won 12 and Sampras 8 or something. I don't know who would have won<BR>
>more if they met at their peaks. I'm sure each would win some of the<BR>
>time! This assessment of who was the 'greatest' is based on my<BR>
>interpretation of their accomplishments. Obviously, Pete is at a<BR>
>disadvantage here because i'm comparing Connors' entire career with<BR>
>Sampras very much incomplete career. But since many commentators are<BR>
>saying that Sampras has *already* achieved more than any other Open Era<BR>
>player, the comparison seems fair. Anyway...<BR>
><BR>
>My argument is based on 2 factors. One is the pro titles each has won,<BR>
>the other their skill on various surfaces. IMO, both factors are the<BR>
>most relevant ones in assessing a pro tennis player (i explain why), and<BR>
>i think both favor Connors.<BR>
><BR>
>First, Connors won a *lot* more pro titles. If Sampras wins today in<BR>
>Canada, he'd have won 56 pro titles. That's roughly half the number of<BR>
>titles Connors won - 109. IMO, this comparison alone should clearly make<BR>
>Connors the best ever, because the fundamental point of being a pro<BR>
>tennis player is to win pro tennis tournaments. Surprisingly, it's not.<BR>
>The reason, of course, is because *nowadays* the only kind of title that<BR>
>seems to count (in terms of assessing a player's legacy) is the Grand<BR>
>Slam title. And in that category, Sampras leads Connors 11-8. <BR>
><BR>
>I emphasize "nowadays" because i think this has changed over the years.<BR>
>Before 1990 or so, Grand Slam titles weren't revered as much as they are<BR>
>now. Sure, winning them *was* the ultimate achievement in tennis, but<BR>
>not nearly to the extent that it is considered to be so today. Back in<BR>
>the 1970's and 1980's, winning *any* kind of tournament was considered<BR>
>important. Why? Because that's how you made money, and back then tennis<BR>
>players had to work hard to make serious money. Since the late 1980's,<BR>
>any champion player can make several million dollars a year just on<BR>
>appearance fees and endor***ts alone, so the first-place prize money<BR>
>offered by non-Slam tournaments isn't a big motivation anymore. But it<BR>
>wasn't until 1988 or so - after he'd made many millions- that Ivan Lendl<BR>
>started saying stuff like "all i play for is the Grand Slams nowadays,<BR>
>it's how your legacy is assessed", etc. Before then, he concentrated on<BR>
>winning any tournament he could. Sampras, otoh, has had the luxury of<BR>
>focusing on Slams, because thanks to endor***ts and much higher prize<BR>
>money he became a multi-millionaire within a year or two of his 1990<BR>
>breakthrough at the US Open. IOW's, this focus on Grand Slams is a<BR>
>"luxury" that Sampras has that Connors couldn't afford...<BR>
><BR>
>The point is, the "big lie" these days is that pro tennis is first and<BR>
>foremost about winning Grand Slams. It's not. It's about winning money.<BR>
>Remember, Sampras's icon Rod Laver (considered today to be the paragon<BR>
>of tennis purity - i'm praying for his recovery, BTW) skipped the 4<BR>
>Grand Slam events for *7 years* because he decided he'd rather *make<BR>
>money* playing pro tournaments than rack up those supposedely<BR>
>all-inportant Grand Slam titles as an amateur. And even Sampras has<BR>
>admitted that the *biggest thrill* he got from winning the 1990 Open was<BR>
>*not* that he had captured a coveted Grand Slam, it was that thanks to<BR>
>the winner's check he finally knew what it felt like to have *real<BR>
>money* in his bank account! If, back in the 1970's, the tournaments<BR>
>Connors won had paid out the kind of prize money that they do today,<BR>
>he'd be far ahead of Sampras on the all-time money list. Overall, his<BR>
>record of 8 GS's/109 overall titles swamps Sampras's record of 11 slams<BR>
>and 56 overall titles...<BR>
><BR>
>Now, let's look at surfaces. IMO, you have to, because the surface<BR>
>matters so much. For example, in 1983, John Macenroe was Number 1 in the<BR>
>World on Grass, and no one else was even in the Top 5 by comparison. He<BR>
>was that ***. But on clay? No way. So let's compare Sampras and<BR>
>Connors on the 4 major surfaces that pro tennis is played on- grass,<BR>
>concrete, clay, and indoors:<BR>
><BR>
>Grass: Sampras, with 5 Wimbledon titles, is clearly one of the very<BR>
>greatest players ever on grass. But Connors was a great grass court<BR>
>player as well. He won 2 Wimbledon titles, and the Australian and US<BR>
>Opens when they were played on grass. Overall, while Sampras' grass<BR>
>record is slightly more impressive, there's no doubt that *both* he and<BR>
>Connors were grass-court champions. Both could be considered "#1 level"<BR>
>grass court players.<BR>
><BR>
>Concrete: Again, both players are/were champs on this surface. 6 of<BR>
>Sampras' Grand Slam titles (4 US, 2 Australian) were won on concrete,<BR>
>and he's won numerous lesser titles on the surface as well. Connors won<BR>
>3 Grand Slam titles (all US Opens) on concrete, and more than 30 other<BR>
>tournaments on that surface as well. Clearly, both players are "#1<BR>
>calibre" here...<BR>
><BR>
>Clay: Here's the biggest difference between the players. In a word,<BR>
>Connors was a champion on clay courts, while Sampras is not. Sampras has<BR>
>won a few minor clay court titles, and one decent one - the 1994 Italian<BR>
>Open. Overall, i'd consider him to be a Top 20 player on clay. But<BR>
>Connors was a clay-court master. He won the US Open on clay in 1976, and<BR>
>he won the US Clay Court championships - a big tournament in the 1970's<BR>
>-  a record 8 times. True, Connors never won the French Open, but that<BR>
>was because he never played it in his prime. He almost certainly would<BR>
>have won it in 1974 if he had played that year. Overall, Connors was<BR>
>(IMO) a "#1 calibre" player on clay...<BR>
><BR>
>Indoors: Again, both players have won numerous titles indoors. Sampras<BR>
>has won 3 or 4 ATP championships on the indoor surface, and Connors won<BR>
>WTC and Masters events indoors when they were he equivalent of today's<BR>
>ATP event. Both can be considered "#1 calibre" champs on this surface.<BR>
><BR>
>Overall, Sampras has proven himself a champ on 3 of the 4 major<BR>
>surfaces. But he hasn't proven himself on clay, and *not* just because<BR>
>he hasn't won the French Open. It's because he's won very few clay<BR>
>tournaments of any kind. Connors, OTOH, is the *only* player of the Open<BR>
>Era who can truly be called a Champion on all 4 surfaces (Lendl, IMO,<BR>
>just misses on grass). Advantage Connors.<BR>
><BR>
>Using these criteria, here's how i would rate the players of the Open<BR>
>Era:<BR>
><BR>
>1) Connors - most titles, champ on all 4 surfaces<BR>
>2) Lendl - second most titles, close to being a champ on all 4 surfaces <BR>
>(would be if had Wimbledon title)<BR>
>3) Borg - 11 Slams, over 65 pro titles, only "weakness" was concrete<BR>
>4) Macenroe - Edge over Sampras based on his 20 more overall titles.    <BR>
>Like Sampras, not a champ on clay<BR>
>5) Sampras - just behind Mac because IMO his 3 more Slam titles don't   <BR>
>outweigh the 20 more other titles won by Mac. Like Mac, his achilles   <BR>
>heel has been clay<BR>
>6) Becker, Wilander, and Edberg - all basically the same in terms of   <BR>
>Slams and overall titles, each was weak on one surface...<BR>
></HTML>

MacEnroe - the greatest dinker of the open era.
Borg - the greatest pusher of the open era. Revolutionised tennis for the
worst.
Connors - 2nd greatest whiner of the open era next to MacEnroe.
Among the three, I think John would prove to be the best if he'd just put his
mind in the right place.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I'm not a dinker, I just lob a lot."

 
 
 

Sampras vs. Connors: Whose the best of the Open Era??

Post by Dr. Mark Craddo » Mon, 17 Aug 1998 04:00:00

Quote:

>First, Connors won a *lot* more pro titles. If Sampras wins today in
>Canada, he'd have won 56 pro titles. That's roughly half the number of
>titles Connors won - 109. IMO, this comparison alone should clearly make
>Connors the best ever, because the fundamental point of being a pro
>tennis player is to win pro tennis tournaments. Surprisingly, it's not.
>The reason, of course, is because *nowadays* the only kind of title that
>seems to count (in terms of assessing a player's legacy) is the Grand
>Slam title. And in that category, Sampras leads Connors 11-8.

>I emphasize "nowadays" because i think this has changed over the years.
>Before 1990 or so, Grand Slam titles weren't revered as much as they are
>now. Sure, winning them *was* the ultimate achievement in tennis, but
>not nearly to the extent that it is considered to be so today. Back in
>the 1970's and 1980's, winning *any* kind of tournament was considered
>important. Why? Because that's how you made money, and back then tennis
>players had to work hard to make serious money. Since the late 1980's,
>any champion player can make several million dollars a year just on
>appearance fees and endor***ts alone, so the first-place prize money
>offered by non-Slam tournaments isn't a big motivation anymore. But it
>wasn't until 1988 or so - after he'd made many millions- that Ivan Lendl
>started saying stuff like "all i play for is the Grand Slams nowadays,
>it's how your legacy is assessed", etc. Before then, he concentrated on
>winning any tournament he could. Sampras, otoh, has had the luxury of
>focusing on Slams, because thanks to endor***ts and much higher prize
>money he became a multi-millionaire within a year or two of his 1990
>breakthrough at the US Open. IOW's, this focus on Grand Slams is a
>"luxury" that Sampras has that Connors couldn't afford...

This is simply untrue. Winning Grand Slams has always been the yardstick
by which players were measured. At least since the concept was invented.
I once saw an interview with Ken Rosewall where he said that his dream when he
was young (late 1940s I guess) was to 1) Play Davis Cup for Australia, 2)Win
Wimbledon 3) win the Australian Championships 4) win the US and French titles.
This, with maybe the orders swaped around, has been the ambition of tennis
players for many years. It is not an invention of the 1990s.
 Connors was certainly a great player, but
Borg used to beat Connors like a drum.  Borg won 67 tournaments if memory
serves (I am not sure if this includes both WCT and ATP tournaments)
and retired when he was 25. (officially 27, but for practical purposes 25).
Connors played professionally till he was nearing 40. Connors won so many
tournaments by doing what Ivan Lendl, his closest rival in terms of
tournaments won, never did. Playing in events where the field was very weak.
Connors was a multimillionaire by the time he was 21. He had the luxury of
retiring if he wanted to.

[snip]

Pro tennis is first and foremost about the Grand Slams if you want to be
remembered. Laver would have loved to play the slams from 63-67, but
he needed to earn a living. He did not decide he would rather make money,
he decided he needed to make money.

If you want to believe that Connors was the greatest player of the open era,
then you are entitled to do so. He was one of the greatest of the open era,
but there are several people, including Borg and Sampras who have a much
better claim to the title than Connors does.

 
 
 

Sampras vs. Connors: Whose the best of the Open Era??

Post by Stephen » Mon, 17 Aug 1998 04:00:00

Quote:

> This is simply untrue. Winning Grand Slams has always been the yardstick
> by which players were measured.

(snip)

Quote:
> It is not an invention of the 1990s.

As i said, i agree that winning Grand Slams has always been a top goal
of and way of assessing any tennis player. So i didn't say it was an
"invention of the 90's". What has been an invention of the 1990's is
this near-total focus on Slams as the yardstick for measuring greatness.
As JP Macenroe has noted, before 1990 American players at least did
*not* pay much attention to the French and Australian Opens. It's only
been in recent years that those tournaments have pulled roughly even
with W and the US Open in terms of prize money and prestige. More years
than not, neither Mac nor Connors even bothered to play them when they
were in their prime. Borg didn't play the Aussie Open most years either.
It just wasn't considered to be a big deal then...But winning as many
tournaments as possible was.

Quote:
>  Connors was certainly a great player, but
> Borg used to beat Connors like a drum.

Look at their head-to-head record - hardly a drum beating. Both players
beat the other in huge matches....

 Borg won 67 tournaments if memory

Quote:
> serves (I am not sure if this includes both WCT and ATP tournaments)
> and retired when he was 25. (officially 27, but for practical purposes 25).
> Connors played professionally till he was nearing 40. Connors won so many
> tournaments by doing what Ivan Lendl, his closest rival in terms of
> tournaments won, never did. Playing in events where the field was very weak.

Actually, although Connors played through 1992, when he was 40, he won
virtually all his 109 titles before he turned 30. I believe that after
1982, the year he turned 30, he had won 105. And your last point is
silly - Connors never ducked anyone...

Quote:
> Pro tennis is first and foremost about the Grand Slams if you want to be
> remembered. Laver would have loved to play the slams from 63-67, but
> he needed to earn a living. He did not decide he would rather make money,
> he decided he needed to make money.

What? If he hadn't played pro tennis he'd have starved or something?
Nonsense. He wanted to make *good* money (for that time), and he valued
that over winning Grand Slams. It's that simple. Pro tennis is first and
formost about making money. That's why it's called "pro". The
Sampras/Lendl inspired notion that it's all about the Slams is a 1990's
fiction made possible by the incredible wealth top players can amass
these days.
 
 
 

Sampras vs. Connors: Whose the best of the Open Era??

Post by Dr. Mark Craddo » Tue, 18 Aug 1998 04:00:00

Quote:

>> It is not an invention of the 1990s.

>As i said, i agree that winning Grand Slams has always been a top goal
>of and way of assessing any tennis player. So i didn't say it was an
>"invention of the 90's". What has been an invention of the 1990's is
>this near-total focus on Slams as the yardstick for measuring greatness.
>As JP Macenroe has noted, before 1990 American players at least did
>*not* pay much attention to the French and Australian Opens. It's only
>been in recent years that those tournaments have pulled roughly even
>with W and the US Open in terms of prize money and prestige. More years
>than not, neither Mac nor Connors even bothered to play them when they
>were in their prime. Borg didn't play the Aussie Open most years either.
>It just wasn't considered to be a big deal then...But winning as many
>tournaments as possible was.

 In the mid seventies the Australian open
fell into a hole because it was incredibly badly run. But the French open has
always been one of the major goals for the top players and the Australian
open was before the mid seventies as well, particularly for the Australian
players like Laver and Rosewall. There is no question at all that winning
tournaments has always been important, but winning the Grand slams has
always been the greatest goal in tennis. Further J.P. McEnroe has never
said anything of the kind as far as I know. Or if he has he must have been
drunk at the time. American players always played the FO and until the
early seventies most played the AO as well. Besides which Americans are
hardly the be all and end all of tennis.

But look back over the history of tennis. What tournaments did Budge win
in 1938 besides the 4 GS? Which events did Laver win outside the GS
in 1962 and 1969? What tournaments did Connors win beside 3 of the
4 GS (AO, W, USO) in 1974? Who won the Lipton in 1985? Who won
the US open?

Quote:

>>  Connors was certainly a great player, but
>> Borg used to beat Connors like a drum.

>Look at their head-to-head record - hardly a drum beating. Both players
>beat the other in huge matches....

After 1977 Connors beat Borg once or maybe twice! In the 1978 US open final
when Borg had an injured hand. I can't think of another loss after that. Borg
beat Connors something like 10+ times in a row. Most of Connors wins were
before 1978. In the 1981 Wimbledon semifinal Connors won the first two sets
but Borg still beat him.

Quote:
> Borg won 67 tournaments if memory
>> serves (I am not sure if this includes both WCT and ATP tournaments)
>> and retired when he was 25. (officially 27, but for practical purposes 25).
>> Connors played professionally till he was nearing 40. Connors won so many
>> tournaments by doing what Ivan Lendl, his closest rival in terms of
>> tournaments won, never did. Playing in events where the field was very weak.

>Actually, although Connors played through 1992, when he was 40, he won
>virtually all his 109 titles before he turned 30. I believe that after
>1982, the year he turned 30, he had won 105. And your last point is
>silly - Connors never ducked anyone...

The last point is not silly, it is true. Connors never 'ducked' anyone it is
true, he was a very gutsy player. But he always played several tournaments
particulalry towards the end where the field was not all that strong or
downright weak. The point is that Borg simply walked away from the game
at 25. It makes no sense to compare 109 tournaments won up to age
31 or whatever to 67 won before age 25 and simply say that the 109 is
a better record. If you want to argue that Connors was the greatest of the
open era you are going to have to do better than that.

Quote:

>> Pro tennis is first and foremost about the Grand Slams if you want to be
>> remembered. Laver would have loved to play the slams from 63-67, but
>> he needed to earn a living. He did not decide he would rather make money,
>> he decided he needed to make money.

>What? If he hadn't played pro tennis he'd have starved or something?
>Nonsense. He wanted to make *good* money (for that time), and he valued
>that over winning Grand Slams. It's that simple. Pro tennis is first and
>formost about making money. That's why it's called "pro". The
>Sampras/Lendl inspired notion that it's all about the Slams is a 1990's
>fiction made possible by the incredible wealth top players can amass
>these days.

It is not a 1990s fiction, nor is it as cut and dried as you make out.  It
is also not Sampras/Lendl inspired. All the great players in history have
valued there GS titles above all else.

That does not mean that winning tournaments is not a major goal. Of course it
is.Winnig GS is not the be all and end all of tennis. Players value the big
non GS tournaments they win too. They always have. But they measure themselves
by what they do in the Grand Slams.

Laver turned pro because he wanted to earn a living. Would he have starved?
Who knows. But players devoted their lives to tennis and got nothing
whatsoever in return. They recieved a little money from their national
federations and that was that. When Newcombe won Wimbledon in 1967
he recieved a 5 pound book vochure. That is hardly going to go a long way.

If pro tennis is all about money, then Sampras is light years beyond Connors.
Wanna compare their prize money? No, because there is more money
today. But there are more players. There is greater depth. I don't necessarily
believe that Sampras is the best of the open era, I don't think there is a
best player, but I think he has a better claim than Connors. I don't doubt
Connors greatness, but the best of the open era? Not when Borg used to
do him like a dinner.

Mark Craddock

 
 
 

Sampras vs. Connors: Whose the best of the Open Era??

Post by Stephen » Tue, 18 Aug 1998 04:00:00

Quote:

>  In the mid seventies the Australian open
> fell into a hole because it was incredibly badly run.

IOW's, you agree with my point here...

 But the French open has

Quote:
> always been one of the major goals for the top players and the Australian
> open was before the mid seventies as well, particularly for the Australian
> players like Laver and Rosewall.

Again, i was talking about the Open Era. And during the Open Era, it
wasn't the kind of tournament that attracted many of the top players,
Americans or otherwise (like Borg), except for the Aussies. And Connors
was clearly better than any Aussie of his era. He beat them all like a
drum....

There is no question at all that winning

Quote:
> tournaments has always been important, but winning the Grand slams has
> always been the greatest goal in tennis. Further J.P. McEnroe has never
> said anything of the kind as far as I know.

Sure he has. He said it during Wimbledon this year.

 Or if he has he must have been

Quote:
> drunk at the time.

He was perfectly sober, as far as i can tell.

American players always played the FO and until the

Quote:
> early seventies most played the AO as well. Besides which Americans are
> hardly the be all and end all of tennis.

Connors never played the French in his prime, and Borg almost never
played the Aussie...

Quote:
> After 1977 Connors beat Borg once or maybe twice! In the 1978 US open final
> when Borg had an injured hand. I can't think of another loss after that. Borg
> beat Connors something like 10+ times in a row. Most of Connors wins were
> before 1978. In the 1981 Wimbledon semifinal Connors won the first two sets
> but Borg still beat him.

I don't know what the distribution was, but so what if everything you
say here is true? The bottom line is, both beat the other in huge
events, and small ones. Their overall record against each other was
almost 50-50....

Quote:
> The last point is not silly, it is true. Connors never 'ducked' anyone it is
> true, he was a very gutsy player. But he always played several tournaments
> particulalry towards the end where the field was not all that strong or
> downright weak. The point is that Borg simply walked away from the game
> at 25.

What kind of point is that? Should we project his pre-25 record into the
future for 5 years and declare that he would have won 120 or something?
That's absurd. He has to be judged on what he *did* do...

 It makes no sense to compare 109 tournaments won up to age

Quote:
> 31 or whatever to 67 won before age 25 and simply say that the 109 is
> a better record.

Of course it does. That was his career.

Quote:
> It is not a 1990s fiction, nor is it as cut and dried as you make out.  It
> is also not Sampras/Lendl inspired. All the great players in history have
> valued there GS titles above all else.

Sure. I've said that GS titles are the single most important criterium,
but i've argued that they are only ONE of several important criteria,
not the ONLY one, as they seem to be these days....

 Not when Borg used to

Quote:
> do him like a dinner.

If you can back that up, i'd agree. But the record shows that in big
matches and small ones, they were pretty evenly matched...
 
 
 

Sampras vs. Connors: Whose the best of the Open Era??

Post by Mike » Tue, 18 Aug 1998 04:00:00

Wouldn't have made any difference. Borg would have killed anyone at that
time at the French Open. Vilas was a far superior claycourt player than
Connors, and Borg toyed with him at the FO. Borg won 5 Wimbledons, but he
wasn't really blowing the field away (except for one year). At the FO, he
was.

Quote:

> Connors never played the French in his prime, and Borg almost never
> played the Aussie...

You mean Connors never won the French because he did play. It is true
Connors didn't play the FO in 1974, but that is because he was ineligible
(most likely he would have won and be the person after Laver to win the
GS, which thinking about it, that it didn't happen was probably one of the
best thing he did for tennis). After taht year, it didn't make any
difference whether Connors played. Borg would have killed anyone at that
time at the French Open. Vilas was a far superior claycourt player than
Connors, and Borg toyed with him at the FO. Borg won 5 Wimbledons, but he
wasn't really blowing the field away (except for one year). At the FO, he
was.

--
Mike Ma  University of Cincinnati

 
 
 

Sampras vs. Connors: Whose the best of the Open Era??

Post by RLJone » Wed, 19 Aug 1998 04:00:00

I saw Connors/Krickstein on CSN last night.  It reminded me how much I hated
the guy. I will acknowledge Connors as the greatest in several categories;
shameless pandering to the crowds, delay tactics, gamesmanship and even pure
competitiveness. But "Best of the Open Era"?  No way.
 
 
 

Sampras vs. Connors: Whose the best of the Open Era??

Post by Stephen » Thu, 20 Aug 1998 04:00:00

Quote:


> Wouldn't have made any difference. Borg would have killed anyone at that
> time at the French Open.

Well, as you state further on, Connors would have probably won in 1974,
and that would have made him the only player since Laver to win all 4
grand slams. I agree, however, that Borg was in all liklihood unbeatable
at the French by Connors (and obviously, everyone else) between 75 and
80. And BTW, what people overlook is that when they talk about winning
all 4 slams, what they are really talking about is winning Slams on the
3 major surfaces. Lendl and Wilander failed at Wimbledon (grass),
Becker/Macenroe/Sampras/Edberg all failed at the French (clay). But
Connors *did* win Slams on all 3 surfaces. Again, another reason why his
record is better than Sampras's...

***********************
"If a President of the United States ever lied to the American people,
he should resign". -Bill Clinton, 1974

"The President is outraged by these allegations. He's never had any
improper
relationship with this woman.... I can say the President was quite firm
about
me making that statement". - White House Spokesman Mike McCurry, in
January

"I WANT YOU TO LISTEN TO ME! I'm going to say this again: I did not have
*** relations with that woman - Miss Lewinsky". - Bill CLinton,
January
***********************

 
 
 

Sampras vs. Connors: Whose the best of the Open Era??

Post by Lindsa » Thu, 20 Aug 1998 04:00:00


. But "Best of the Open Era"?  No way.

Have snipped most of the thread :)

Connors never won a title on European clay all his clay titles were on the
faster american clay.

A disadvantage in assessing the records of all those players from that era
is the weakness of the Aussie Open they were only playing 3 slams a year
whereas the current crop play 4 .

The problem I have with ranking Pete Sampras as the best is not even his
fault.

Connors had Borg and McEnroe among others to play against. Becker,
Lendl,Edberg, Wilander etc all had similar class players to beat to win
Slams .

By and large Pete Sampras has not had this.He beat Lendl in his prime in 90
Becker and Edberg  were passing their peaks when Pete played them at his top
and Agassi has had a very inconsistent career. As a result most of his Slams
have been won against inferior opponents and the opportunity has been there
for an elite player to amass a great record as there are no other elite
players in the mens game.

Indeed over the last 18 months the question has been why just 2 Wimbledons
?. As an Aussie I give Rafter a chance of beating all the other top players
at the US Open(tho I feel he's peaked too early), in form or not.But if
Sampras is in form I expect Pete to beat him handily.

The challengers aren't quite there which has been a shame( and part of the
reason there have been so few decent mens grand slam finals in recent years)

Lindsay Went

 
 
 

Sampras vs. Connors: Whose the best of the Open Era??

Post by David Mande » Sat, 22 Aug 1998 04:00:00

Jimmy was a great player but he never had
a serve like Sampras.

We remember all of Jimmy's great wins but
we forget his losses to Todd Witsken,
Saraguso, Kevin Curren, Luis Herrera,
Gilad Bloom, and the 19 straight losses
to Lendl.

 
 
 

Sampras vs. Connors: Whose the best of the Open Era??

Post by Stephen » Mon, 24 Aug 1998 04:00:00

Quote:

> Wilander did win GS on three surfaces like Connors. He didn't win
> Wimbledon, but he did win the Australian Open in 83 and 84 on grass,

Good point! I forgot about his wins their...

***********************
"I can state unequivocally that, as my husband has said, these
are false allegations!" -Hillary Rodham Clinton, in January, commenting
on the charges that Bill Clinton had had a *** relationship with
Monica Lewinsky

"The President will tell the grand jury the truth and the WHOLE TRUTH" -
White House Spokesman Mike McCurry on Monday, minutes before Clinton
REFUSED
to answer several questions posed by the Grand Jury

"I WANT YOU TO LISTEN TO ME! I'm going to say this again: I did not have
*** relations with that woman - Miss Lewinsky". - Bill CLinton,
January
***********************

 
 
 

Sampras vs. Connors: Whose the best of the Open Era??

Post by Stephen » Mon, 24 Aug 1998 04:00:00

Quote:




> >all 4 slams, what they are really talking about is winning Slams on the
> >3 major surfaces. Lendl and Wilander failed at Wimbledon (grass),

> Wilander did win GS on three surfaces like Connors. He didn't win
> Wimbledon, but he did win the Australian Open in 83 and 84 on grass,

As i said in an earlier post, that is a good point. But one thing to
note would be that that was before the top players really paid much
attention to the Aussie Open - before its late '80's revival. I wonder
if Macenroe or Connors played the Aussie Open those years that Wilander
won it? At that time, Macenroe was as *** on grass as anyone i've
ever seen, including Borg in the '70's, Becker in the late '80's, and
Sampras today. If he wasn't entered in the draw, that "taints" the value
of Wilander's wins there, IMO...

***********************
"I can state unequivocally that, as my husband has said, these
are false allegations!" -Hillary Rodham Clinton, in January, commenting
on the charges that Bill Clinton had had a *** relationship with
Monica Lewinsky

"The President will tell the grand jury the truth and the WHOLE TRUTH" -
White House Spokesman Mike McCurry on Monday, minutes before Clinton
REFUSED
to answer several questions posed by the Grand Jury

"I WANT YOU TO LISTEN TO ME! I'm going to say this again: I did not have
*** relations with that woman - Miss Lewinsky". - Bill CLinton,
January
***********************

 
 
 

Sampras vs. Connors: Whose the best of the Open Era??

Post by Steph » Mon, 24 Aug 1998 04:00:00

Quote:





> > >all 4 slams, what they are really talking about is winning Slams on the
> > >3 major surfaces. Lendl and Wilander failed at Wimbledon (grass),

> > Wilander did win GS on three surfaces like Connors. He didn't win
> > Wimbledon, but he did win the Australian Open in 83 and 84 on grass,

> As i said in an earlier post, that is a good point. But one thing to
> note would be that that was before the top players really paid much
> attention to the Aussie Open - before its late '80's revival. I wonder
> if Macenroe or Connors played the Aussie Open those years that Wilander
> won it? At that time, Macenroe was as *** on grass as anyone i've
> ever seen, including Borg in the '70's, Becker in the late '80's, and
> Sampras today. If he wasn't entered in the draw, that "taints" the value
> of Wilander's wins there, IMO...

> ***********************
> "I can state unequivocally that, as my husband has said, these
> are false allegations!" -Hillary Rodham Clinton, in January, commenting
> on the charges that Bill Clinton had had a *** relationship with
> Monica Lewinsky

> "The President will tell the grand jury the truth and the WHOLE TRUTH" -
> White House Spokesman Mike McCurry on Monday, minutes before Clinton
> REFUSED
> to answer several questions posed by the Grand Jury

> "I WANT YOU TO LISTEN TO ME! I'm going to say this again: I did not have
> *** relations with that woman - Miss Lewinsky". - Bill CLinton,
> January
> ***********************

McEnroe played the Australian in 83 and 85 I believe. He was beaten by
Wilander in straight sets in the semifinals in 83. This is a surprising
result but I don't think McEnroe took the AO seriously then. Had the
Australian been considered as important as today, it would be fair to
assume that McEnroe would have won 2 or 3 more majors. He still had a
decent career though...
Stephen

--
Please remove "nospam" from address when replying

 
 
 

Sampras vs. Connors: Whose the best of the Open Era??

Post by Stephen » Wed, 26 Aug 1998 04:00:00

Quote:

> McEnroe played the Australian in 83 and 85 I believe. He was beaten by
> Wilander in straight sets in the semifinals in 83. This is a surprising
> result but I don't think McEnroe took the AO seriously then.

Still, you have to give Wilander props. Beating Mac on grass at that
time was no easy task...But i agree that the Aussie lacked the stature
it has today...

 Had the

Quote:
> Australian been considered as important as today, it would be fair to
> assume that McEnroe would have won 2 or 3 more majors. He still had a
> decent career though...

Yeah, "decent" is right!

***********************
"I can state unequivocally that, as my husband has said, these
are false allegations!" -Hillary Rodham Clinton, in January, commenting
on the charges that Bill Clinton had had a *** relationship with
Monica Lewinsky

"The President will tell the grand jury the truth and the WHOLE TRUTH" -
White House Spokesman Mike McCurry on Monday, minutes before Clinton
REFUSED
to answer several questions posed by the Grand Jury

"I WANT YOU TO LISTEN TO ME! I'm going to say this again: I did not have
*** relations with that woman - Miss Lewinsky". - Bill CLinton,
January
***********************