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View Poll Results: Who was the toughest ever?

15. You may not vote on this poll
  • Bjorn Borg

    1 6.67%
  • Jimmy Connors

    0 0%
  • Ivan Lendl

    0 0%
  • Pete Sampras

    1 6.67%
  • Roger Federer

    0 0%
  • Rafa Nadal

    12 80.00%
  • David Ferrer

    1 6.67%
  • Other

    0 0%
Results 1 to 8 of 8
  1. #1

    Great strokes. The Mind. ATP.

    Here I will impose another caveat. Because of the mental aspect is so important, I will consider the whole career of the athlete. Not how strong he was at his peak. I will look at all the years he played. How did he handle himself? Did he ever tank? What was his approach to his craft and training? This will disqualify some players. And, for example: I would consider Henri Leconte. He never gave up in a match. He was insane, indeed, but courage he had. Try to hit a fantastic shot on every point. That takes cojones. And no, he won’t be in the list. Again, just an example.

    Bjorn Borg. The original iceberg. I never saw him break down. Regardless of the situation, he kept the same façade. Sure, in the end it brought him down, precisely because he never released the pressure. But while on court, this man was as tough as anybody ever.
    Jimmy Connors. I saw him lose it twice: AFTER the Vilas USO 77 defeat, and the infamous Lendl match at The Liptons. But for twenty years, he gave it all in every shot. Show some respect.
    Ivan Lendl. The myth that he was a choker was that, a myth. His first four slam finals losses? Against Borg at RG, Connors twice at the USO, Wilander at RG. Those guys were his peers mentally, playing on their favorite surface, at their favorite place. The mental toughness he showed on every match, never displaying emotions, was superb.
    Pete Sampras. He did not make these silly lists in the athlete’s poll. But look at his Corretja victory at the USO and the Chesnokov victory at the DC. And his defeat of Courier at the Aussie after being told of Gullikson’s cancer diagnosis. Then you come tell me he was not tough.
    Roger Federer. Have you ever seen him give up? We have seen him cry, AFTER the match. That shows us how much this means to him. Besides: no retirements ever. If he took the court, he finished the match. For twenty years? Applause.
    Rafael Nadal. I will mention just one event: the Aussie final against Stan. How many other players would have even gone out, with a busted back, and give it 100% of what he had, which that day was 50%? One thing is bravery. Another is respecting the sport. He has done that on every match he has ever been involved in.
    David Ferrer. You know what is tough? Going against a man that you have never beat, and still give it 100%. David did that in every match against Roger. And in every match against everybody. Big, small, first round, final. Courage defined.

    Honorary mention:
    Mats Wilander. He was always there. Which made it so difficult to understand when what broke down in him was his mental side, after his annus mirabilis of 1988.
    Guillermo Vilas. Silently working his trade. Very respectable.
    Michael Chang. David Ferrer Light. He was always the smallest Pitbull in the pit. But a Pitbull he was.
    Lleyton Hewitt. I hated his on-court explosions. And he did have that shameful episode at Arthur Ashe Stadium against Blake. But he never gave up on a point. Even when Roger was wiping the court with him.

    And I will mention these two guys, breaking the rule I set above.
    Andre Agassi. Included here because he learned to be mentally tough. He was all over the place early in his career. Then he learned to be a champion. Not coincidentally, he learned it after he started waking up next to somebody that had it completely in her.
    Novak Djokovic. Yes, I am perfectly aware of his early years, and some events were a disgrace. But if I am including Agassi I cannot, with a straight face, exclude Novak. Right now, at this stage of his career, if he is 4-4 in the fifth, do you bet against him? Because that is foolish. He was able to turn that corner. Credit where credit is due.
    Last edited by ponchi101; 07-20-2020 at 07:52 AM.
    Face it. It's the apocalypse.

  2. #2

    Re: Great strokes. The Mind. ATP.

    Post Script. I really don't know. This one is going to be hard.
    Face it. It's the apocalypse.

  3. #3

    Re: Great strokes. The Mind. ATP.

    I'm going with Rafa on this one since his attitude right from the start of the match is that every point counts.
    Definitely some great candidates on this list (Borg, Connors, Lendl) but I still think Rafa takes it to another level.
    My Happy Place

  4. #4

    Re: Great strokes. The Mind. ATP.

    I picked Nadal, but you are too hard on Djokovic for his early years. He made the semis of nine out of 15 slams from 2007 Roland Garros until the end of 2010, which were the four years before he started dominating tennis. That's pretty good. Plus, he had a real, scary physical issue at the beginning of his career.

    Every time he shows more guts and toughness than Nadal in big slam matches (2012 Aussie final, 2018 Wimbledon semifinal in particular) is the best feeling in tennis for me. That said, Nadal's ability to handle rough patches in matches as if they never happened is unparalleled in tennis history, and with the exception of a few U.S. Open losses early in his career and his one loss to Djokovic at Roland Garros, I've never seen him give up or even tank a set. Djokovic went away for a set as recently as last year's Wimbledon final, although that's the norm in tennis rather than the exception. Nadal's ability to focus on every match and and every set is unique. The way he overcame Medvedev in the U.S. Open final last year was remarkable when Medvedev appeared ready to take over early in the fifth set after winning the third and fourth. Then he did it again from an impossible position against Medvedev at the ATP finals.

  5. #5
    Everyday Warrior MJ2004's Avatar
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    Dec 2008

    Re: Great strokes. The Mind. ATP.

    The winner of the 2008 Wimbledon final has to take this one. Or maybe the winner of the 2009 final.

  6. #6

    Re: Great strokes. The Mind. ATP.

    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.

  7. #7
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    Jan 2010
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    Re: Great strokes. The Mind. ATP.

    Playing through pain tips this to Rafa for me. I've seen it first-hand, I don't know how he does it.

  8. #8
    Director of Nothing
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    May 2006
    New York, New York, United States

    Re: Great strokes. The Mind. ATP.

    My initial thought was "obviously Federer" because he mentally dominated opponents for so long. But thinking about it a little more, it's definitely Nadal for reasons already stated (although I came to this before reading the thread).


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