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Greg's top ten Americans (Eurosport)

Greg's top ten Americans

In 2003, Pete Sampras returned to the scene of his final triumph to call it quits. The tears he shed on the Arthur Ashe court of Flushing Meadows made our own Grégory Lanzenberg ponder Pete's place in the pantheon of U.S. greats. Sampras the greatest of all time? See if you agree.

Since the beginning of the Open era in 1968 Americans have dominated, winning 50 Grand Slams titles and holding the top spot in the men's rankings to what adds up to 21 years, more than all other countries combined.

Number 10:

Vitas Gerulaitis

One of the most flamboyant players of his day, it seems astounding that the long blond curled wonder only won one grand slam, the Australian Open in 1977. The only one of his day to master all surfaces, his most memorable matches include an incredible 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 8-6 loss to Bjorn Borg that same year. His tragic death from carbon monoxide poisoning in 1994 cut short at 40 the life of a true American great.

Number 9:

Stan Smith

The tall Californian was the first player with real character on the court as he would joke with the crowd all the time. After graduating with a finance degree from the University of Southern California, Smith embarked on an impressive career, with an 11 year-run in the Davis Cup beginning in 1968. He won two Grand Slams, the US Open in 1971 and Wimbledon in 1972.

Number 8:

Michael Chang

At 17, the diminuitive Chang won the hearts of the French: his heroic 1989 Roland Garros triumph included wins over Ivan Lendl in a dramatic Last 16 match encounter and Stefan Edberg. The Chinese-American became the first of generation to win a grand slam.

Number 7:

Andy Roddick

It is too soon to know if Andy Roddick will be able to match the Grand Slams records of the other Americans on this list, however the fiesty Nebraska native delivered in 2003! At 21 years, 2 months, he became the youngest American to become world number one. His incredible August with wins in Indianapolis, the Canada Masters, Cincinnati Masters, U.S. Open are unprecedented.

Number 6:

Jim Courier

In the early 90s, the tall red-head tore up the circuit with the fiercest forehand in tennis. Courier won Roland Garros in 1991 and 92 and the Australian Open in 92 and 93. He may have even hit the ball too hard, admitting after his second French Open win that he had a dead arm.

Number 5:

Arthur Ashe

From his childhood in segregated Richmond, Virginia, Arthur Ashe earned a scholarship to UCLA and went on to become the first black American to win a grand slam. His wins at the US Open in1968, the Australian 1970, and Wimbledon 1975 evoke memories of an amazingly graceful player. But never were Ashe's victories and challenges limited to the tennis court. He was instrumental in the founding of the Junior Tennis Association, which to this day introduces the game to young athletes who otherwise might not be exposed to tennis.

Moreover, Ashe and several other players formed in 1969 what later became known as the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals). It is from this small and visionary beginning that today's top players enjoy the large sums of prize money for which they compete. His last battle possibly became his greatest. Contracting Aids through a blood transfusion, he tirelessly worked to increase awareness of the pandemic up to his death in 1993.

Number 4:

John McEnroe

1977. An obnoxious teenager from New York City with long hair and a bandana pushes Jimmy Connors to the limit before succombing in the semi-finals at Wimbledon. No one would forget John McEnroe after that. Wimbledon would be memorable for the man that the tabloids dubbed 'The Brat': In the 1980 match of the century, McEnroe stretched Bjorn Borg to the limit before1-6 7-5 6-3 6-7 8-6. The All-England Club also bore witness to some of his more unforgettable outbursts, including the famed "you're the pits" tirade against a chair umpire.

But the game of this skinny, not particularly athletic left-hander with his unorthodox serve, was pure genious. He served-and-volleyed his way to seven Slams: Wimbledon 81, 83, and 84 and the U.S. Open in 79,80,81 and 84. Matches seemed to inevitably follow the same scenario, Mc Enroe losing his cool with a "you cannot be serious, you j...." and then the match would turn to his favour.

Number 3:

Jimmy Connors

'Jimbo' may not have the skills of McEnroe but his will to win - or rather his hatred of losing - made him with Mc Enroe the most charismatic player of the 1980s. Connors' longevity may never be rivaled: his 20 year career ended in 1993 at 43 years old after 109 titles including 8 grand Slams. Connors enjoys the distinction of being the only player to ever win the U.S. Open on three different surfaces - grass - 1974, Clay - 1976, hardcourt - 1978, 82, 83. Add to this two Wimbledon titles in 74 and 82 and the Australian in 74.

Connors always fought to death. Take Wimbledon 1987: Connors was playing a fierce Michael Pernfors who led 6-1 6-1 5-2 and Jimbo manage to win the match at 36 years old. Even slower and older, Connors still had fire in the belly such as during one of his last French Opens in 1991 where the Illinois native won the first point of the fifth set against Michael Chang before retiring due to cramps and exhaustion.

Number 2:

Andre Agassi

Of the same generation as Chang, the Vegas Kid burst onto the world stage in similar fashion, storming into the semis at Roland Garros at the age of 18, but had to wait four more years before winning Wimbledon in 1992 against all expectations. Like McEnroe needed Connors or Borg to play at his best, Agassi needed a rival to bring out the best in him. No points for guessing who that rival would most often be. Agassi is the only active player today to have won all four majors.

After tasting glory, he would sink through injury to 141st in the world. Determined to return, Agassi came back from playing satellite tournaments stronger, and fitter than ever to win Roland Garros in 1999. Reduced to tears, he would blurt that nothing would ever rival the emotion of that win. But he wasn't done yet. Three Australian Open titles have since followed in 2000, 2001 and 2003 as well as the 1999 U.S Open. In 2003, at 33, Agassi became the oldest-ever world number one.

Number 1:

Pete Sampras

Pistol Pete go down in history as the best American player who ever wielded a tennis racquet. His seven Wimbledon titles, 5 U.S. Opens and 2 Australian Opens are marked by the trials and tribulations that he endured along the way. At the 1995 Australian Open against Courier, Pete cried and then later literally spilled his guts on court for his coach and best friend, Tim Gullikson, who was dying of brain cancer. His record-breaking Slam title at Wimbledon in 2000 will be remembered as one he won under the threat of darkness, flashbulbs turning dusk into a flutter of lights as he broke down under the watchful eyes of his reticent parents. Few remember, however, that he played nearly the entire second week on one leg, his injured left foot requiring painkilling injections.

Able to place his serve wherever he wanted, whenever he wanted, Sampras became the first player in history of ATP Rankings (since 1973) to finish No. 1 for six consecutive years&hellip Perhaps most spectacular was his last-ever tournament: after nearly two years of humiliating early round defeats, the reportedly washed-up Sampras ignored critics who said he should quit while he was behind and mustered the drive to defeat his longtime rival Agassi in the final at Flushing in 2002.

Now have your say. What would be your top 10 list?
===

thoughts/opinions?

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post #2 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-24-2003, 05:18 PM
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Re: Greg's top ten Americans (Eurosport)

pretty good list, I think. thanks!

It's tough to make a choice between Connors and Agassi, imo. Also Connors and McEnroe are pretty close. But I think the writer made sound decisions.


Lendl is an American citizen too -- but he was granted citizenship in 1992, after his slams.
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post #3 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-24-2003, 05:48 PM
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Re: Greg's top ten Americans (Eurosport)

The only problem I have is Roddick on the list. I am not saying he should not be there, it's that we really don't know how far he can be up on that list. When Sampras was at Roddick's age, I doubt he would make the top on that list!
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post #4 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-24-2003, 05:48 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Greg's top ten Americans (Eurosport)

Yea, I thought it was a pretty good list. I mean, I can't think of anyone that was left off that glaringly SHOULD be on it.... the ordering is tough... but I agree with Andre at #2, he's done a lot for the sport off the court and that's important and leads to a lasting legacy, which to me is important for a sort of "Best of" list like this, if I'm making any sense.

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post #5 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-24-2003, 05:57 PM
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Re: Greg's top ten Americans (Eurosport)

1Sampras
2Agassi
3Connors
4McEnroe

I agree

I miss: Ivan Lendl, Korda, Novak, Bruguera, Rios, Kucera, Courier, Mantilla, Costa, Santoro and Ferreira.

Good luck to:

Gaudio, Murray, Florian Mayer, Chela, Nalbandian, Radek Stepanek, Volandri, Youzhny and Verdasco.

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post #6 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-24-2003, 06:06 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Re: Greg's top ten Americans (Eurosport)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee
The only problem I have is Roddick on the list. I am not saying he should not be there, it's that we really don't know how far he can be up on that list. When Sampras was at Roddick's age, I doubt he would make the top on that list!
Yea I thought about that too.. then again, who would've gone on the list instead? And for the people listed behind him, say Chang.... he won his one slam early on in his career. Yeah, he did well at some TMS tourneys but didn't really do a WHOLE lot else... I mean, I wouldn't say he'd be considered a "great" player 20 years from now or whatever. Neither would Courier really, IMO.

I think also they're kind of assuming Andy won't just disappear. All he'd need is another good year or two to really be right up there with the people on the backend of that list. Also, the way he rose in the rankings from 158-16-10-1, that's pretty impressive and I suppose the rest is just subjective. Plus you have the recency effect and after the 2003 Andy had, which is probably the best explanation LOL

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post #7 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-24-2003, 10:00 PM
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Re: Greg's top ten Americans (Eurosport)

Stan Smith won more Slams than Roddick and Chang so he should be ahead of them both. Otherwise, it's fine.

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post #8 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-24-2003, 10:14 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Greg's top ten Americans (Eurosport)

well it didn't sound like he made his list based solely on slams

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post #9 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-24-2003, 10:20 PM
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Re: Greg's top ten Americans (Eurosport)

If he didn't make the list soley on the basis of slams, Mac should be ahead of Connors, imo.

Smith gets overlooked because he was so quiet. I think Smith should certainly be ahead of Chang and at this point in front of Roddick as well.
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post #10 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-24-2003, 10:49 PM
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Chang gets underrated easily because his only slam at his early stage. But during his career he actually won 34 titles, including quite a few master series win. I was fortunate to watch his farewell match at 2003 Siebel Open against Agassi. His stroke has a certain special fluent quality that you feel he never misses returning medium speed shots. I would say he is a master of consistency. But his backhand gets a bit too defensive and second serve is a bit too slow, otherwise I believe he would have been even more successful. His game was a beauty to watch for me.
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post #11 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-24-2003, 11:34 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Greg's top ten Americans (Eurosport)

The one thing I really loved about Chang was his speed. Nothing got past him, that always impressed me so much. The dude's leg muscles - just

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post #12 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-24-2003, 11:38 PM
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Re: Greg's top ten Americans (Eurosport)

I agree with most of the list.

I started thinking up a "top ten American list" in my head when I read this thread title, and I thought up pretty much the same thing....except:

I would put: 1) Chang ahead of Roddick, 2) Connors ahead of Agassi, and 3) Stan Smith ahead of Roddick and maybe Chang.


1) Chang has 34 titles to Roddick's 11. Yes I know Roddick's career isn't finished yet, but Agassi's isn't either. Chang has also reached three other slam finals to go with '89 RG win.

So to me their careers: Chang > Roddick



2) Connors has 109 career singles titles to 58 for Agassi. Connors has won the US Open on clay, grass, and hard court. Connors had 268 weeks at #1 to Agassi's 101 weeks. Connors also ended 5 years at #1, second to only Sampras. Agassi only ended 1 year at #1. The only trump Agassi has over Connors is the career Grand Slam.

So, IMO: Connors > Agassi
(If Andre wins one more slam to break their tie at 8 each, I'd give the nod to Agassi)



3) Stan Smith has won two majors, and was runner up at another one. He had 39 career singles titles.

So: Smith > Chang > Roddick



Just my two cents on how I see it so far.

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post #13 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-25-2003, 12:16 AM
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Chang gets underrated easily because his only slam at his early stage. But during his career he actually won 34 titles, including quite a few master series win. I was fortunate to watch his farewell match at 2003 Siebel Open against Agassi. His stroke has a certain special fluent quality that you feel he never misses returning medium speed shots. I would say he is a master of consistency. But his backhand gets a bit too defensive and second serve is a bit too slow, otherwise I believe he would have been even more successful. His game was a beauty to watch for me.
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post #14 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-25-2003, 12:38 AM
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Re: Greg's top ten Americans (Eurosport)

Roddick definatly should NOT be on this list Until he wins a few more majors. definatly should not be before chang, who acomplished alot more in his carrer so far.(who knows? i dont think roddick will be a tennis great! i see him winning 1 maybe 2 more majors, & his best shot is at the US Open. 2 one dementional, really, to be a great!!
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post #15 of 40 (permalink) Old 12-25-2003, 12:51 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Greg's top ten Americans (Eurosport)

Fedex, must you turn every thread into an opportunity to diss Andy?

Anyway for me, the top 6 are exactly the order I would've done. I don't even know why I would put Jimbo over Mac but I would. Then again, current accomplishments could be considered too, and Mac is still going out there and beating guys way younger than him, and he continues to give back to the sport with commentary and other things and that matters to me too. In any case, it's very close between them I'd say, even down to their extroversion on court lol!

For me, Chang isn't that memorable. Maybe his extreme open religious nature turned me off or whatever.... but all I really remember about him was him running around all over the court to run balls down lol and not much else. He probably deserves to be above Andy at this point, but to me he's far from a "great" and I guess it depends on the criteria this guy used, but at 21, it at least seems as though Andy will end up accomplishing at least as much, if not more, than Chang did (especially in terms of grand slams). But, who knows? It's this guy's opinions and hopefully he didn't become a journalist/reporter if he didn't want people to disagree with him LOL!!!

And there are a few things that show the list wasn't based solely on GS titles (and I agree with that b/c they don't tell the whole story) Courier won more but I agree with putting Ashe over him...perhaps for more symbolic reasons, but I think it's quite deserved.

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