I've read the whole thread.
Obviously Johnny Groove (and Piterpol) has made a great work, esp. for the research for players of the past.
However, the method has, quite naturally I must say, the major drawback of focusing on a few numbers
, even though Johnny has made some usually proper adjustments to his early rankings based on "experts'" comments (although of course some lobbyists were more active than others like Thrust, the Rosewall activist
The problem of this method based on a few numbers is that ... you have to fit these categories to be well rewarded.
Especially there's too much emphasis imo in slams, either open era or pro-slams. It doesn't reward well players who hardly played them
, esp. between 1945 and the 60s : Kramer and Hoad especially are viewed in very high esteem by the Lavers and Rosewalls who are (fairly) among the very best of this ranking.
Gonzales is "saved" by his longevity at the other numeric criterium "years at number 1".
The too big emphasis in the number of slams has another consequence : indoor tennis is not well rewarded
despite its huge importance in tennis although declining one, until the 90s. In the pro-period, indoor tennis is a little bit saved by the fact that it was very important in the "Pro World Tour series. After 1970, mainly one "indoor factor" is left : the World Tour Final. Maybe incorporating the WCT finals there would be a good idea.
But what's worse for indoor tennis is that nowadays people have it in very low esteem because some of the very best players don't give it any importance and even want to nearly erase it. Remember the Nadal's "indoor tennis is not tennis" categoric assumption which is absolutely contrary to the history of tennis.
Let's add the disappearing of carpet, which used to be a very important surface : Borg won half of his tournaments on carpet if I remember well.
Mainly, indoor tennis stays in the rankings through the "Masters Cup" (not enough rewarded in the 70s/80s) and the number of tournaments won ... once again that's a consequence of the "purely based on numbers" method.
I think people who make these rankings mainly based on slams should wonder about the rankings which Laver and Rosewall and Gonzales, Kramer ... made, and how highly Hoad and Kramer were. On another note, I was surprised how low McEnroe was in Johnny and others' rankings : I guess it's because he "only" won 7 slams, one short of Lendl's and Connors's and others, but it's no surprise to me that Laver puts him very high on his list.
Another note on the comparison of players from different eras : I've read many comments, esp. from youngsters, that in the past "players were too small, didn't move fast, didn't hit big" etc ... arguments which have been fairly countered by people like Johnny, Sophocles or Action Jackson : playing with the equipment from the past was very tough, tennis was less physical but more technical than now (and well I think the technical dimension is really something which takes tennis apart from other sports ...), finally the training-fitness methods were the ones of that period, players nowadays benefit from new methods you can't put it only in their favour.
But there's another argument to downplay players of the past, which I've hardly read, whereas imo it's the most important one : the democratisation and globalization of the sport
! No need to say much about the Renshaws, even Tildens ... they were in an era when tennis was not democratic at all.
But if you compare with modern tennis, globalization is another decisive factor. Anybody who looks the rankings until the 60s will be amazed how many of these players came only from the USA and Australia ! European players there were some but clearly less ones, less good ones (the huge weight of the Americans comparing to the Europeans was still visible in the 70s), and in the 60s, most of them stayed amateur.
Well, the USA is a special case : it's a country which has a population not much inferior to the one of the whole European continent. But look how many European players there are now comparing to that time ! And well, tennis' popularity may have decreased in the USA, but not that much (look at youngesters' categories) : the main factor is the improvement of European tennis !
South America is also very important in modern tennis, but right after World War II, the southAmerican continent was still very poor and I guess the few SouthAmerican players in the 60s mainly were from rich families or had been to the USA.
I'm surprised how little this factor is taken into account, whereas the argument "Laver, Rosewall were small and not strong" or "pro-slams had small draws" are, fairly, poor arguments imo.
Maybe, as this forum is anglo-saxon, many posters are from anglo-saxon countries and don't realize that it's awkward how many of these players of the past were Americans, Australians or Brits
... plus the short episode of the "French musketeers".