Originally Posted by Dakota rube
I'd argue that the golden days you so viciously malign were, in fact, populated by more talented players than today. They played with equipment that required more finesse and technique; players couldn't simply wind up and hit the sh** out of the damn ball, aiming for corner after corner after corner. Go back and watch some old matches. Watch Mac, watch Bjorn. Hell, watch Jimmy Connors and Boris Becker. These guys poured their entire bodies into a match, diving to stop passing shots, running down lobs and crashing the net.
I am not denying there is a lot of talent on the tour today, but it is a bunch of automatons wielding spaceage racquets at hyped up balls. Roddick (as much as I love him) is a symptom of what is wrong with tennis today: big serve but only a so-so game after that. That is why Federer has had such an easy time with him.
I'm saying Federer's relative rank is lessened because he's not had to beat other "greats" week-in week-out like Mac, Connors, Bjorn, Edberg, Wilander, Becker, et al. The talent pool today may be deeper...but the number of potential champions at the start of a tournament today is far less than it was in the golden years you so snidely denigrate.
Yes Federer is an incredibly talented champion. He hasn't anyone pushing him, which means to me he is not the best of all time.
Dakato, I will respect your gentlemanly demeanour in a debate but I must confess that it will be difficult for me to continue as it seems that your knowledge of tennis is tenuous at best. To say that today's players are automatons is fairly alarming given how much time they spend honing technique and training. Tennis is a dynamic sport and no two shots are alike, and to compete at the top level you have to be consistent. In every tournament, Federer is facing amazing players. Forget the "space age" equipment. He could be doing the same thing with a 10 year old Wilson pro staff. People talk about tennis being simply about power, which is also totally false. There is a great deal of placement and finesse in the game, it's just done at a hopelessly faster pace than what Macenroe had to deal with.
I have no idea where you get the notion that the competition today is weaker... you have this idea that Federer just stomps over everyone because he doesn't have to face a "great"... Mens tennis in Mac's time was like Woman's tennis now... a few dominant players and a bunch of nothings. Actually go to a men's tournament sometime... I went to my first ATP event last year with a very good tennis player.. I should also mention that as a kid I had friends who were top competitors, one of whom is on the verge of breaking the top 100 in the world and won the junior doubles at Wimbledon. Instead of going to see Federer play like all the other sheep, go to the side courts to see the "no names" play... prepare to be astonished.
I can respect that you dearly love Pat Macenroe and all those guys, but what you're saying about them is based on nothing else but your emotional attachment. The debate about equipment is even more prevalent in golf, and Jack Nicklaus would be the first one (and I believe has said this), that most, if not all of those guys would could completely embarrass him. Yes, if Macenroe were to TRAIN today and actually learn strokes that aren't hideous, his talent would have made him great... but if you compare Mac in his prime to any top 500 ATP player or even good college player of today, and I'd be shocked if he could even hold his serve in an entire match.