Reynolds Rap

Tennis Channel: Fed is the GOAT

3/25/2012 1:16 AM

Tennis Channel counted down the sport’s 100 best players over the course of a five-part special this week.

Determined by an international panel of tennis experts, the network’s 100 Greatest of all Time Presented by Ally Bank ranked both men and women together on the list.

While I didn’t get to see the show (thanks, Cablevision), I was happy to learn that my two favorite players by gender, Roger Federer and Steffi Graf, were deemed to be the ultimate first and third seeds, respectively. All-time men’s Slam leader “The Fed Express” and “Fraulein Forehand,” the wife of No. 12 seed and Tennis Channel investor Andre Agassi and whose 22 singles Slams titles are the most in the Open era, sandwiched Rod Laver. “The Rocket” is the man many of the players look up to as the GOAT.

It could be argued that Tennis Channel’s on-air analyst Martina Navratilova, whose Grand Slam resume included 59 titles across singles (18), doubles (31) and mixed doubles (10) competitions, could have finished higher than fourth. Around the office on March 23, the discussions centered on Pete Sampras, another network investor and server extraordinaire, as being the GOAT. “The Pistol” finished fifth.

Rafa Nadal, who holds an 18-10 head-to-head edge over his rival Federer and 10 Slams and counting; Bjorn Borg, the master of the French-Wimbledon double, who retired way too young; Margaret Court, she of the 24 women’s Slams titles, including 11 from Down Under and a record 62 majors overall across the three disciplines; Chris Evert, “America’s Sweetheart,” aka as “Ice Maiden” and The Queen of Clay” with the killer backhand and 18 singles Slams; and Billie Jean King, the indomitable pioneer with 20 Wimbledon crowns to her credit; rounded out the top 10.

Elsewhere, Johnny Mac, the man who truly ignited my love of the game with his high-strung genius and asbestos hands at the net, was 13th. That positioning for Douglaston’s duke of the serve and volley and lord of the tennis airwaves must have further endeared him to best bud and Tennis Channel analyst, Jimmy Connors, who ranked 15th in the poll. Serena stands in between, her 14th-place showing, no doubt a function of her various injuries and spells of on-court inactivity and indifference. With her talent, Serena could have achieved so much more. Still, she’s eight rungs ahead of Big Sis, Venus.

And when the network updates this list in, say, five years, let’s see how far a certain Djoker has risen from his current 40th-place ranking.

In the meantime, raise a glass to all the seeds and let the debates begin in earnest.

Check out the full list below. For more details, click to Tennis Channel’s website.

100 - Michael Chang, M, USA
99 - Ann Haydon Jones, F, GBR
98 - Henry Bunny Austin, M, GBR
97 - Pat Cash, M, AUS
96 - Manuel Orantes, M, ESP
95 - Thomas Muster, M, AUT
94 - Andy Roddick, M, USA
93 - Nicola Pietrangeli, M, ITA
92 - Svetlana Kuznetsova, F, RUS
91 - Shirley Fry Irvin, F, USA
90 - Bill Johnston, M, USA
89 - Dorothea Lambert Chambers, F, GBR
88 - Amelie Mauresmo, F, FRA
87 - Mary Pierce, F, FRA
86 - Tony Wilding, M, NZL
85 - Yannick Noah, M, FRA
84 - Norman Brookes, M, AUS
83 - Jan Kodes, M, CZE
82 - Yevgeny Kafelnikov, M, RUS
81 - Vic Seixas, M, USA
80 - Marat Safin, M, RUS
79 - Gabriela Sabatini, F, ARG
78 - Ashley Cooper, M, AUS
77 - Molla Mallory, F, USA
76 - William Renshaw, M, GBR
75 - Pauline Betz Addie, F, USA
74 - Tony Roche, M, AUS
73 - Jaroslav Drobny, M, CZE
72 - Gottfried Von Cramm, M, GER
71 - Maria Sharapova, F, RUS
70 - Patrick Rafter , M, AUS
69 - Louise Brough , F, USA
68 - Helen Hull Jacobs , F, USA
67 - Fred Stolle , M, AUS
66 - Bobby Riggs , M, USA
65 - Pancho Segura , M, ECU
64 - Ellsworth Vines , M, USA
63 - Lleyton Hewitt , M, AUS
62 - Hana Mandlikova , F, CZE
61 - Neale Fraser , M, AUS
60 - Virginia Wade , F, GBR
59 - Margaret Osborne Dupont, F, USA
58 - Alice Marble , F, USA
57 - Jennifer Capriati , F, USA
56 - Stan Smith, M, USA
55 - Gustavo Kuerten, M, BRA
54 - Manuel Santana, M, ESP
53 - Tracy Austin, F, USA
52 - Jack Crawford, M, AUS
51 - Doris Hart, F, USA
50 - Tony Trabert, M, USA
49 - Ilie Nastase , M, ROM
48 - Frank Sedgman, M, AUS
47 - Jean Borotra, M, FRA
46 - Henri Cochet, M, FRA
45 - Kim Clijsters, F, BEL
44 - Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, F, ESP
43 - Lindsay Davenport, F, USA
42 - Jim Courier, M, USA
41 - Guillermo Vilas, M, ARG
40 - Novak Djokovic, M, SRB
39 - Althea Gibson, F, USA
38 - Maria Bueno, M, BRA
37 - Evonne Goolagong Cawley, F, AUS
36 - Rene Lacoste, M, FRA
35 - Pancho Gonzalez, M, USA
34 - Jack Kramer, M, USA
33 - Mats Wilander, M, SWE
32 - Lew Hoad, M, AUS
31 - John Newcombe, M, AUS
30 - Martina Hingis, F, SUI
29 - Helen Wills Moody Roark, F, USA
28 - Arthur Ashe, M, USA
27 - Maureen Connolly Brinker, F, USA
26 - Justine Henin, F, BEL
25 - Stefan Edberg, M, SWE
24 - Suzanne Lenglen, F, FRA
23 - Fred Perry, M, GBR
22 - Venus Williams, F, USA
21 - Boris Becker, M, GER
20 - Ken Rosewall, M, AUS
19 - Monica Seles, F, USA
18 - Ivan Lendl, M, CZE
17 - Roy Emerson, M, AUS
16 - Bill Tilden, M, USA
15 - Jimmy Connors, M, USA
14 - Serena Williams, F, USA
13 - John McEnroe, M, USA
12 - Andre Agassi, M, USA
11 - Don Budge, M, USA

10 - Billie Jean King, F, USA
9 - Chris Evert, F, USA
8 - Margaret Court, F, AUS
7 - Bjorn Borg, M, SWE
6 - Rafael Nadal, M, ESP
5 - Pete Sampras, M, USA
4 - Martina Navratilova, F, USA/CZE
3 - Steffi Graf, F, GER
2 - Rod Laver, M, AUS
1 - Roger Federer, M, SUI

March