Originally Posted by thrust
When he joined the tour Laver first played Hoad. After his loss Rod said that Hoad was the best he ever played. After losing to Rosewall the next night, he said that as good as Hoad was, Ken was even better. Hoad seemed to be a bad match up for Gonzales. Hoad was inconsistant, perhaps due to back problems. Ken usually beat Hoad just before and after Lew turned Pro, the year after Ken did. Lew was usually able to beat everyone else on the Pro Tour but he usually lost to Ken in the finals. Ken's list, which naturally does not include himself, is probably based on his results against those players. Also, Ken and Lew were close friends since childhod.
Hoad's record was uneven due to recurrent back problems.
However, when his back was holding up, his record was extraordinary.
When he started his tour against Gonzales in 1958, he took the best-of-five-sets portion of the tour 8 matches to five, and led the grinding American portion of the tour 21 to 10 before his back seized up.
In 1959, he built up a lead against Gonzales of 15 to 3 in matches before his back acted up, and Gonzales won the last ten matches, making the final score 15 to 13 for Hoad. For 1959 as a whole, Hoad finished with a 23 to 21 edge against Gonzales, and won the most prestigious tournament at Forest Hills by defeating both Gonzales and Rosewall in four set matches.
Hoad won three major pro tournaments, the 1958 Kooyong Australian Pro (defeating Gonzales in the decider), the 1959 Forest Hills (defeating Gonzales in the decider), and the 1960 Kooyong Australian Pro (defeating Rosewall in a marathon final). The Kooyong professional event was more prestigious than the White City at Sydney.
In the 1963 Australian tour against Laver, Hoad won the most important match at Kooyong at 6 to 3 in the fifth set, and the next day Laver defeated Rosewall on the same court by out-hitting him in four sets. (Rosewall dropped two matches on that tour to Laver, while Hoad went 13 to 0 against Laver.)
In 1964, when Hoad was past his peak, he won a twelve match round-robin tour of New Zealand against Laver (2nd), Rosewall (3rd), and Anderson (4th). That year Hoad's foot was injured, requiring surgery to remove a large toe.
In 1967, Hoad returned from retirement to outlast Gonzales in a marathon 3 set match at the Wimbledon Pro, in what is regarded as the best match of that famous tournament.
Even without open tennis, the calibre of opposition Hoad faced was consistently high, and more challenging than the average fare on the pro circuit today.