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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
First, a question: who do you think was the greater tennis player?

Rosewall or Laver?
Evert or Navratilova?
Borg or McEnroe?

If you went with common consensus, you answers would have been: Laver, Navratilova, Borg.

Second, arithmetic.

The best tennis age - in which most grand slam titles have been won - is 21-27. This is a statistical fact. Before 21, only a few early prodigees win slams, after 27 the win percentage rates tends to drop sharply. Some pundits say that in the modern game, these age bands are shifting a little towards older ages.

What this means is that with two players of roughly equal strenght, and with the older player remaining active until well into his 30s, the younger player will have the better h2h record. This is follows necessarily, from arithmetic.

Now Rosewall is (about) 4 years older than Laver. Evert is 2 years older than Navratilova. Borg is 3 years older than McEnroe. Federer is 5 years older than Nadal.

Third, a look at career stats.

Rosewall won 23 slams in his career (amateur, professional, and open era), 19 against the strongest competition (pro and open). Laver won 19, and 14 against the strongest competition.
1960-63, i.e. for 4 full years, Rosewall won every major tournament he entered. Laver did so in 1967 and 69 (also 62, but on the second-rate amateur tour).
At end-1963 - when Rosewall was 28 and Laver 24 - Rosewall led Laver 34-12. There after - Rosewall being 29 or older - Laver had a h2h addvantage of 68-30.

Evert's grand slam score is 18 wins, 16 (lost) finals, 18 semifinals. Navratilova's score is 18-14-12. 1976-78 - i.e. during her peak - Evert did not play the FO, 1975-80 she did not play the AO (as did many other players at the time). Otherwise her slam win record would arguably be in the 20s. Navratilova played all slams during her peak in the early 1980.
Between the FO 1974 and the FO 1979, Evert won 9 out of the 13 grand slam tournaments she entered. This is identical to Navratilova's best streak, 9 out of 13 between FO 82 and WB 85.
1973-78, the Evert-Navratilova h2h score is 23-6. At end-78, Evert was 24 and Navratilova 22. Thereafter, the score is 37-14 in favor of Navratilova.

Fourth, some conclusions.

From these numbers I would conclude that, Rosewall had an as good career as Laver or even slightly better - at an extremely high level, of course. And same with Evert vs. Navratilova.

But we remember Laver and Navratilova as the greater players. Why? Because the older player was dominated by the younger player in the later stages of his/her career, and that is what mainly sticks in collective tennis memory.

There is one exception: Borg vs. McEnroe. But this is because Borg retired at age 25, at the very moment when he was being overtaken by McEnroe.

But Federer is like Rosewall and Evert, not like Borg. He plays on well into his 30s (as he should, imo). I wonder whether collective tennis memory will play the same trick on Federer vs. Nadal as it does with the earlier cases. In fact, I believe it's already happening.
 

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i wonder if anyone here was around when Lever/Rosswell were playing so you can only make judgement based on results

plus tennis changes so much, we don't even need to go back to 50s 60s therefore is absurd to compare, best thing is to do 'era's best'
 

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First, a question: who do you think was the greater tennis player?

Rosewall or Laver?
Evert or Navratilova?
Borg or McEnroe?

If you went with common consensus, you answers would have been: Laver, Navratilova, Borg.

Second, arithmetic.

The best tennis age - in which most grand slam titles have been won - is 21-27. This is a statistical fact. Before 21, only a few early prodigees win slams, after 27 the win percentage rates tends to drop sharply. Some pundits say that in the modern game, these age bands are shifting a little towards older ages.

What this means is that with two players of roughly equal strenght, and with the older player remaining active until well into his 30s, the younger player will have the better h2h record. This is follows necessarily, from arithmetic.

Now Rosewall is (about) 4 years older than Laver. Evert is 2 years older than Navratilova. Borg is 3 years older than McEnroe. Federer is 5 years older than Nadal.

Third, a look at career stats.

Rosewall won 23 slams in his career (amateur, professional, and open era), 19 against the strongest competition (pro and open). Laver won 19, and 14 against the strongest competition.
1960-63, i.e. for 4 full years, Rosewall won every major tournament he entered. Laver did so in 1967 and 69 (also 62, but on the second-rate amateur tour).
At end-1963 - when Rosewall was 28 and Laver 24 - Rosewall led Laver 34-12. There after - Rosewall being 29 or older - Laver had a h2h addvantage of 68-30.

Evert's grand slam score is 18 wins, 16 (lost) finals, 18 semifinals. Navratilova's score is 18-14-12. 1976-78 - i.e. during her peak - Evert did not play the FO, 1975-80 she did not play the AO (as did many other players at the time). Otherwise her slam win record would arguably be in the 20s. Navratilova played all slams during her peak in the early 1980.
Between the FO 1974 and the FO 1979, Evert won 9 out of the 13 grand slam tournaments she entered. This is identical to Navratilova's best streak, 9 out of 13 between FO 82 and WB 85.
1973-78, the Evert-Navratilova h2h score is 23-6. At end-78, Evert was 24 and Navratilova 22. Thereafter, the score is 37-14 in favor of Navratilova.

Fourth, some conclusions.

From these numbers I would conclude that, Rosewall had an as good career as Laver or even slightly better - at an extremely high level, of course. And same with Evert vs. Navratilova.

But we remember Laver and Navratilova as the greater players. Why? Because the older player was dominated by the younger player in the later stages of his/her career, and that is what mainly sticks in collective tennis memory.

There is one exception: Borg vs. McEnroe. But this is because Borg retired at age 25, at the very moment when he was being overtaken by McEnroe.

But Federer is like Rosewall and Evert, not like Borg. He plays on well into his 30s (as he should, imo). I wonder whether collective tennis memory will play the same trick on Federer vs. Nadal as it does with the earlier cases. In fact, I believe it's already happening.
BEST POST EVER! ACCURATE, FAIR AND BALANCED. WELL DONE. THANKS!
 

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i wonder if anyone here was around when Lever/Rosswell were playing so you can only make judgement based on results

plus tennis changes so much, we don't even need to go back to 50s 60s therefore is absurd to compare, best thing is to do 'era's best'
I never saw Laver live, but did see Rosewall several times at Forest Hills in the early 70's. The year he won the USO in 70 he came out to play Raul Rameriz, in an early round carrying a few rackets in a paper shopping bag! I did see him beat Laver in that incredible WCT final in Dallas in 72 on TV. Of course, the game was much different then, especially on grass. For me, Rosewall was a smaller version of Federer. Not so much in their shot making, primarily because Ken played with a wood racket. Like Roger though he had great anticipation, movement and perfect balance and great stamina. Both were great volleyers with outsstanding groud strokes. Neither tried, especially Ken, to overpower the ball. Both had one handed backhands. Ken won his first 2 slams at 19 and won his last at 37. Besides the fact that he could, Ken played as long as he did to finally make good money, for those years. Roger does not need money, but in that slam court is more important today, he is still playing in order to get further ahead of Rafa, as well as his love of the game and competition. Laver, several inches taller than Ken, had a more powerful game, a great lefty serve, volley, and very good ground strokes. Their 72 WCT final is a perfect example of their abilities and game style. Laver came out blazing, winning the first several games rather easily. Gradually, Ken workd his way into the match to only lose the first set at 6-4. Ken then won the second set, 6-0. From then on it was a very close battle, with Ken outlasting Rod in the final set, despite the fact that Rod had match point with two serves. Still, Ken managed to win, much to Rod's shock. Ken, at 37, could barely lift the trophy and left his $50,000 check on the trophy table. As Bud Collins said at that time, Rod wins most of their matches these days, but Ken usually manages to win the most important matches.
 

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Another example of Rosewall's game was a quote by Tom Okker, who was a top player then. He said that he would rather lose to Laver than Rosewall because Laver could blow you off the court with his powerful shots, therefore, you did not have to run a lot as you knew his shots were out of reach. Ken's shots though were such that you thought you could return them, you could reach and return them, but he was at the net to put your return away. Thserefore one spent a lot more energy losing to Ken than Rod.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
plus tennis changes so much, we don't even need to go back to 50s 60s therefore is absurd to compare, best thing is to do 'era's best'
I thought this is what the post above was doing.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
BEST POST EVER! ACCURATE, FAIR AND BALANCED. WELL DONE. THANKS!
Thanks mate. I envy you for having experienced Rosewall and Laver. My active tennis memories start in the late 70s.
 
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