from the Tennis Mailbag, by Jon Wertheim
The ATP Tour has a multitude of young, talented players, such as Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Roger Federer, Marat Safin, Gustavo Kuerten and Tommy Haas. Who do you think has the most potential to be the greatest player of his generation? Which player will be the greatest of his generation?
—Josh Silverman, Blacksburg, Va.
Thanks for the making the distinction, because they really are two different questions. Strictly on potential, I'd cast my vote for Safin. He hits the ball beautifully; with the exception of Roddick, he hits the hardest serve; and he doesn't really have a weak surface. If he could ever get his inner circuitry wired right, he'd retire with a trunkload of Slams. It still could happen, but right now it looks as though Hewitt will be the greatest of this generation. More than any other player you've mentioned, he has filled the breach. Guga, of course, has more Slams to date, but I'd have to say that 1 Wimbledon title + 1 U.S. Open title > 3 French Open titles.
(OK, that was just an excuse to use the ">" character, which doesn't get much play on the keyboard.)
Seriously, in addition to being a good deal younger the Kuerten, Hewitt has also spent more time at No. 1. I should note that there is still time for a lot of New Balls to make their respective moves before the home stretch. (Remember that Agassi didn't win his first Slam until he was 22.) But right now, Hewitt has a sizable lead.
What do you guys think? Is the math right and 1Wimbledon+1USOpen > 3French Opens? Please be objective and try not to base your opinions only to your fave's benefit...