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post #1 of 176 (permalink) Old Feb 25th, 2003, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
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Greatest Ever Criteria?

OK I have been reading some of the Greatest Ever threads in GM... some lists with amusement mind you... (Mo Connolley no. 16 ppfff) and so I thought I would try to set some greatest ever criteria. (with the help of you guys ofcourse)
It does annoy me when people just do the 'numbers game' or the 'I can't see past my fave game' and don't consider other factors.

Anyway (in no particular order of importance at the moment) heres some criteria that could define the greatest ever.

1- no. of slam titles
2- no. of important non-slam titles
3- depth of competition during the era of dominance
( I tread carefully here because I beleive most eras had a good number of challengers at one time)
4- longivity of dominance and career
Includes time at no. 1 or at the top. If a short time... why???
5- playing restrictions - was the player hindered by travel, association politics, wars, race i.e. Althea Gibson.
6- How did the player react to serious challengers to her mantle.
7- Any hardships to get to, or, stay at, the top.
How did the player rise there. How did they respond to personal hardships during their careers? Injuries during career.
8- Other special acheivements within a single year.
Grand slam, golden slam, winning percentages in a year, number of tournament wins in a year etc...
9- Relevance of slams at the time
Were all the grand slams the 'be all and end all' during the players career. Eg. At one stage the Virginia Slims tour took precedence over the Oz Open, players missed the French for WTT or tour ending finals were more important than both the French and Oz.
10- Legacy to the game
Did the player leave a mark on the game. Chris with her two-hander, BJK for equality for woman players, Martina's fitness, the power game etc...

I'm leaving doubles out. It throws in another variable.....

SSSoooooo many variables, and therefore I will be a basket case to ever come up with a proper list. But it's good to research further than the numbers game... and maybe even prove that with so many variables it's impossible to come up with a list.

Please give me your feedback, additions and even rank the above criteria in order of importance.


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Last edited by louloubelle; Feb 25th, 2003 at 12:20 PM.
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post #2 of 176 (permalink) Old Feb 25th, 2003, 12:36 PM
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Well, this is a tough issue

We all have our rankings, and like to twist them a bit throwing in other variables to include our favourites or move them up or down the list

To me:

1. Total No. of Grand Slams (singles)

That is the definying thing - specially for players whithin the same generation. Exceptions to this rule:

1A. The Australian Open case. For many years, this was not a GS per se. With only the Australians playing it, and considered smaller than say, the Virginia Slims for instance. But generally, you would had to consider each player individually. I think each of Steffi Graf GS count as 1 GS, but for almost everyone before her, specific considerations could be taken into account... disposablehero came up once with a ranking of points to determine greatness that was based on this idea. Not sure if it was on this board or in the other.

In the case where players have won the same No. of GS, specially if from more or less the same generation, such as the case of Majoli, Sabatini, Martinez or Novotna for instance is where I would consider other factors, the ones you talk about.

In ranking order:
- Being No.1 at some point.
- Higher ranking achieved (figure, not how many players and how many matches away from a better ranking the player was). Longetivy at the top (top10 years). Longevity of a competitive career.
- Number of other titles won in the career.
- Doubles: IMO, being a great in dubs counts a lot. To succed in dubs and in singles means the player was a true great. More matches, more competitive spirit.
- Other achievements: Fed Cup titles, Olympic success.
- All this subjective stuff about life hardships. That's one very tough issue to categorise (no. 6, 7 on your list)


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post #3 of 176 (permalink) Old Feb 25th, 2003, 12:52 PM
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where is the most important one? do I like the player or do I think she is a bitch

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post #4 of 176 (permalink) Old Feb 25th, 2003, 12:57 PM
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if you go on doubles though was steffi at her most great in 86 then? lol

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post #5 of 176 (permalink) Old Feb 25th, 2003, 01:51 PM
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Louloubelle,

I agree with most of your choices, but I'm not sure if you can quite quantify the 'depth' of the competition. I think the depth depends actually on the parity between the top players, so you could argue that in '98 and '99 there was more depth (that is, more serious candidates at the Slams) than in 2002. But I'm not sure if the level of the competition is bigger or not.

Re: the doubles issue, being great in singles and doubles is better, IMO, than being great in singles and bad in doubles. But there are some top players who didn't play much doubles (like Graf and Seles) but were good when the did it (specially Graf). So I'm not sure if you should put that in the mix.

You could also include mental toughness, ability to close out matches and save match points, etc. But overall I think it's going to average with the results: a more talented player without mental toughness may have the same results than an average player who is mentally tough.

It's like the Novotna/S. Vicario debate: i think that Novotna was way more talented than Arantxa, but Arantxa was much more accomplished. If you want to measure who was the greatest player, you would probably have to say Arantxa based on results AND taking into account that she was stronger mentally than Jana. It all depends on the parameters you consider.
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post #6 of 176 (permalink) Old Feb 25th, 2003, 03:05 PM
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Great thread Louloubelle, and I'm sure it'll be one to get everyone going.

I like most of what has been mentioned already. JMHO, but I think that there are a lot of room for subjective judgments in some of your criteria, like hardships and legacy, which sort of makes it hard. I also agree with what you and Gallofa mentioned about the majors.

Being a bit of an organised and practical soul, I thought that I would offer the following for comment.


To get into the GREATS club:

* number of GS titles
* weeks ranked at number 1
* number of Year end Championships
* total number of titles won
* number of tier 1 tourneys won
* career % matches won/lost


To seperate the GREATS from the greats

* unique records like holding a Grand Slam, 125 consecutive victories on a particluar surface , number of consecutive matches won etc etc

* record in the majors, ie how many finals, SF, QF, 1st round losses

* has the person won tournaments on all surfaces, or are tournament victories weighted on one surface

* doubles record......I personally think that this is very important, not for the actual titles won, but for the physical and emotional toll that playing 2 or 3 events in the one tournament takes. I think that a person who wins 2 or 3 events at a grandslam deserves more recognition than a singles GS winner who only entered the GS singles


To seperate the GREATS from the greats from the goods

* intangibles like level of competition, racism/homophobia, etc, travel restrictions, level of dominence etc.

I think that covers it..............
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post #7 of 176 (permalink) Old Feb 25th, 2003, 03:13 PM
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Yes, Gandalf, but the thing is that "talent" might not be that hard to evaluate if you see the players play. I agree that Novotna was more talented than Arantxa, since I have seen both of them play, but was Lili Alvarez (20's player) more talented than Arantxa? I have no way of knowing, maybe she was, but I can only look at their records.

Talent is one of those subjetive things. Because isn't making the most of what you have talent too?

Great post, BCP, you have some in there that I forgot


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post #8 of 176 (permalink) Old Feb 25th, 2003, 03:36 PM
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talent doesn't say much. it's how you use what you have.

when you have two persons in school

1 does nothing then maybe reading it over one time and get's an A anyway
another person works his ass off and also gets an A

then I call the achievement of the second one greater!

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post #9 of 176 (permalink) Old Feb 25th, 2003, 04:58 PM
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This has no business in this thread... except for the fact that you people FIT THE CRITERIA for being more grounded people than in other forums! My question: what is the best way to go for Roland Garros tickets? Send an e-mail/fax/what to the FFT? Thanks
And as for this debate... don't EVEN throw in names and try to calculate point totals if you want things to be calm
I think talent does not count in the greatest ever debate, personally, as talent is an internal, static quality that needs to be put into play for it to "count".
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post #10 of 176 (permalink) Old Feb 25th, 2003, 06:01 PM
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One of the main criteria for me is a player's 'all-round' abilities.
To qualify as a Great, a player must be/have been equally at home at the net as the base line, on clay as grass, power shots or 'touch', singles, doubles, mixed doubles etc, etc. - the perfect all-rounder.

This is perhaps the only criteria that allows you to 'span the eras'.

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post #11 of 176 (permalink) Old Feb 26th, 2003, 06:41 AM
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I respectfully disagree with you ColinB.

I think that results should be a primary consideration for greatness rather than being an all court player. For example, even the most devoted Chris Evert fan could not claim that she was much of a net player, yet I think that everyone would agree that she is higher on the greatness-o-meter than say Hana Mandlikova, who is a much better all court player. Chris is also a much better singles player than doubles player, so would this disqualify her from the greatness list?

Equally I would disagree with your contention that a great player must be equally comfortable on all surfaces. For example Martina Navratilova is far more comfortable on grass than she is on clay, where as Martina Hingis is probably more equally comfortable on all surfaces.......who is greater?

JMHO.
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post #12 of 176 (permalink) Old Feb 26th, 2003, 07:57 AM Thread Starter
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Too right I think it covers it!!! Great post BCP.

Just to touch on Colin's post I feel that Steffi and Seles had something that the Martinas and Courts didn't have. The ability to crack a winner from midcourt. Martina and Mags needed to push forward to finish a short ball. Steffi and Monica didn't volley much because they had this talent. So for all-round ability it sort of levels itself out. Therefore you can still sort of call them all-courters... wel nearly!!

Quote:
Originally posted by BCP
Great thread Louloubelle, and I'm sure it'll be one to get everyone going.

I like most of what has been mentioned already. JMHO, but I think that there are a lot of room for subjective judgments in some of your criteria, like hardships and legacy, which sort of makes it hard. I also agree with what you and Gallofa mentioned about the majors.

As you said the hardship part comes when it is practically impossible to separate players. I would never use it to extrapolate a players achievements like a Seles or a Gibson etc... and say: because they had some hardship then if this didn't occur they would've won 6 more graand slam titles. You eventually have to work with what has happened in their careers, not what could've been.

Quote:
Originally posted by BCP

Being a bit of an organised and practical soul, I thought that I would offer the following for comment.

Yes it's alot better than the spaghetti I put forth

Quote:
Originally posted by BCP


To get into the GREATS club:

* number of GS titles
* weeks ranked at number 1
* number of Year end Championships
* total number of titles won
* number of tier 1 tourneys won
* career % matches won/lost
It's definitely a mixture of all these. I too would use this to separate the great from the good. But as you have done, I wouldn't judge entirely on this criteria either.

Quote:
Originally posted by BCP

To seperate the GREATS from the greats

* unique records like holding a Grand Slam, 125 consecutive victories on a particluar surface , number of consecutive matches won etc etc

* record in the majors, ie how many finals, SF, QF, 1st round losses

* has the person won tournaments on all surfaces, or are tournament victories weighted on one surface
A difficult one for players pre-open particularlywhen at one stage 3 slams were played on grass. But for nowadays very applicable.

Quote:
Originally posted by BCP

* doubles record......I personally think that this is very important, not for the actual titles won, but for the physical and emotional toll that playing 2 or 3 events in the one tournament takes. I think that a person who wins 2 or 3 events at a grandslam deserves more recognition than a singles GS winner who only entered the GS singles

I have a theory on this!!!!! I'll post on another reply!!!!

Quote:
Originally posted by BCP

To seperate the GREATS from the greats from the goods

* intangibles like level of competition, racism/homophobia, etc, travel restrictions, level of dominence etc.

I think that covers it..............
Again Great Post!!!!

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Last edited by louloubelle; Feb 26th, 2003 at 08:05 AM.
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post #13 of 176 (permalink) Old Feb 26th, 2003, 08:22 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by Gandalf
Louloubelle,

I agree with most of your choices, but I'm not sure if you can quite quantify the 'depth' of the competition. I think the depth depends actually on the parity between the top players, so you could argue that in '98 and '99 there was more depth (that is, more serious candidates at the Slams) than in 2002. But I'm not sure if the level of the competition is bigger or not.
Totally agree here, thats why I said that I would tread carefully. Basically during the eras of great players at times they were dominating and had one or no rivals but then at other times they had rivals. Not sure if I can think of too many players that won titles without any competition at all. Maybe Lenglen???
Either way you get some people saying that there was no competition for the likes of Court, King, Martina, Chris, Mo. Rubbish!!
Every champion had their share of rivals, at times one or two, at others three or four. Steffi had only ASV at one stage and another time Seles, Gaby, ASV.
The truth is that throughout the years of women's tennis... from pre-open to now, top woman players usually are challenged from the qtrs or semis onwards. It was the case back then and still the case now (with the one or two exceptions of course).

Quote:
Originally posted by Gandalf

Re: the doubles issue, being great in singles and doubles is better, IMO, than being great in singles and bad in doubles. But there are some top players who didn't play much doubles (like Graf and Seles) but were good when the did it (specially Graf). So I'm not sure if you should put that in the mix.

You could also include mental toughness, ability to close out matches and save match points, etc. But overall I think it's going to average with the results: a more talented player without mental toughness may have the same results than an average player who is mentally tough.

It's like the Novotna/S. Vicario debate: i think that Novotna was way more talented than Arantxa, but Arantxa was much more accomplished. If you want to measure who was the greatest player, you would probably have to say Arantxa based on results AND taking into account that she was stronger mentally than Jana. It all depends on the parameters you consider.
Yeah you could consider the mental toughness and talent issue, but as you said it does level out with the results in the end. And it's subjective. Martina was never considered as mentally tough as Chris but she won more titles.
There are different talents too. Jana had more variety but Arantxa had the ability to stay concentrated for ages and counter-attack with the best. Everyone has their talents.

Another great post.

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post #14 of 176 (permalink) Old Feb 26th, 2003, 03:46 PM
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I think I agree more with Colin B on how to judge these things, although of course, most people will always use the Most Grand Slams Won type criteria, as you have to, or you would never know where you were. To calculate or determine who is the greatest is different from feeling, "This person is so great," because that reaction is more of a total sense of things, and also makes allowances, where stats don't. My own example is my favorite, Jana Novotna, and if I wanted to show you how great she was, I would play a few of her best matches, (1996 Olympics vs. Seles, 1993 Wimbledon vs. Navratilova, several things from 1998 Wimbledon, etc.), where she is so totally on, so intelligent, so quick, anticipating everything, using all skills, etc., that you really know how great she was, because here it all is. Another way of judging, then, is not "Who won the most...," etc., but, "Who had the best slice backhand, serve, drop shot, who covered the court best" etc., and other things I believe Novotna was best at. Novotna had Graf crying on the Duchess's shoulder right up until the end of that '93 Wimbledon match, and didn't lose it for any reason having to do with talent. She panicked. How are wins and losses the determinant of greatness as a player, when someone like Novotna (and Mandlikova, etc.) lost exactly because they thought TOO much? It defeats the category--not that they had one great shot and used it, but that they had so many options, that they didn't know which way to turn. Everybody know this is true of certain players. This is actually what I relate to--the "Novotna type," where you think, "God, all this talent--why doesn't she do more with it, win more?" Something or other told you she was great, and it wasn't number of wins. Study the way Novotna did these things, as opposed to just about everyone else, and know her greatness--otherwise, you might as well just throw an elbow into the face of the catcher at home plate (just kidding). Other little telling details: she had a winning record on all surfaces, and a winning record against Venus Williams, even winning her last tournament, Hannover 1999, against her. If Venus Williams is one of the GM ideas of greatest ever, then what is Jana Novotna, who had no problem with her--and how many people can say that? The problem is, she then retired, so this effect was over. Also, it becomes impossible to calculate what might have been lost by fighting against resrictions that limited your ability to get a fair shot, because if you were truly restricted, we would never have heard of you at all. Also, with a case like Meghann Shaunessy and the U.S.T.A., and lack of support--what do you do with that knowledge once you have it; what do you "credit" her with having lost? Also, you can't remove the subjective concern from your opinion: if someone you don't like does something great, you can dismiss it from your mind a thousand ways, but if your favorite does it, it was more impressive because you were cheering them on in your mind anyway. The difference between eras: Is it harder to play the great, conditioned athletes of today, or is it harder to play with one of those horrible old wooden racquets? I had an example of that a couple of years ago, old and new equipment, but with golf: I was on a driving range with somebody, used old clubs, then a new one, and the result was immediate--it was more fun to use the new one, went further, straighter, etc., and I never play golf!
Of course, the usual stats, categories, etc. will always be used, and should be, but then Jana Novotna will not be there, which makes it a fake list as far as I'm concerned. When it comes right down to it, my ultimate criterion is: "Go Jana!"

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post #15 of 176 (permalink) Old Feb 26th, 2003, 05:41 PM
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but you can hardly say sure the head to head is 29:4 but it was only because she didn't know what to do (except 4 times when her opponent didn't know it either lol) so she is greater anyway

that would be a weird criteria

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