Due to the complexity of this topic this article has been divided into five parts – Enjoy!
What is the definition of greatest? The dictionary tells us it’s the “highest in quality”.
“Of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above the normal or average.”
So how do we judge who is the “highest of quality” in history when we can’t test one generation against another? Some would say that is simple, “just check the statistics”.
Unfortunately it’s not that easy.
I am not obsessed with stats and have come to realize that that statistics are often misleading. This is especially true in tennis (I’ll explain more about this later). In fact, stats can be purposely produced to be misleading. There are even book written on the topics: How To Lie With Statistics, Use And Abuse Of Statistics, etc.
However, as statistics can be good tools (when used right) to illustrate a point. I have included some articles and stats from other sources in this blog. Keep in mind that they may be a little off as my team of fact checkers were not available today;)
So how do we determine who is the greatest tennis player of all time across all eras then?
It goes without saying that to judge the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T) you need a solid grasp of tennis history. I feel I am better positioned than most to make a judgement call. I am very fortunate to have been on the other end of the court with a great range of players throughout my tennis career.
It’s been awesome to experience everything from the legendary Rosewall backhand and Rod Lavers whippy forehand to later days hitting with and seeing the pace and spin of Nadal or Djokovic. All this on top of competing with many great players in the middle during the 80’s, one of the great eras in tennis.
But truthfully unless you experienced everything; a Sampras or Roddick serve, a Borg passing shot, a Rosewall slice backhand on grass, an Agassi return on hard, a Nadal forehand on clay or even a Jack Kramer serve and volley it’s impossible to give an accurate opinion of the greatest players.
In essence this discussion really is void, which in my opinion it is. The G.O.A.T question is just so complex due to the nature of tennis and the transformation the sport has experienced. Some sports such as boxing have changed little as far as equipment and rules but some like tennis cycling or motor car racing have changed plenty.
However, I make a living talking about tennis and this G.O.A.T subject . Its one of the main topics that pops up whether I’m at coaching camp, on tv or a radio studio. It’s an interesting subject. It’s often emotional and controversial as we all have our own opinions. Who is the greatest boxer, footballer or rock band, etc?
Then how do we find out who is G.O.A.T?
I will start like most experts and ex players by saying, “its impossible to know” …..which it is. The best we can do is to understand who is the greatest at one time or another and compare for fun. Which is what I will be doing in this series of blog posts. So let’s just amuse ourselves and let me make some points for you to think over.
Thank you for reading part 1 of this blog series. You can read Part 2 here: Greatest Tennis Player Of All Time – Part 2. Subscribe (on the right) or follow me on Twitter, Google+ or Facebook to get all my articles sent straight to you.