The Equal Era Myth

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The Equal Era Myth

The 'Equal Era' Myth

I've heard people quite often claim that the 'Golden Era' is a myth, and the 'Wee Kiera' is a myth. However I think some are missing the obvious point.
It is frankly nearly impossible, and I repeat, nearly impossible, for two generations (two different time periods) to have the same difficulty in terms of competitiveness. It is much more likely that one time period will either be slightly more difficult/ slightly less difficult than another. Of course we do get extremes when there are two time periods which have a marked clear difference from one another in terms of competitiveness at the top. These examples are less common though.
So how do we judge how competitive tennis is at the top of the game?

I think we have to judge it on how many world class players are present at the top. The strength in depth within the top 100 is quite (but not as) important, as is the amount of youngsters, but I think the number of under 21 players doing well will be a mark of how strong the generation will be in the future rather than the present. So with tennis always progressing and changing, I think when judging a time period we can look at the average number of world class players who can operate at the given set of conditions and technology at the current time. Between the time period of 2008-2012 we can say this was around 3-4 players, with Murray establishing himself slightly later on.

One interesting comparison can be made to football, with the Champions League. When judging how great a League is, we can observe how the teams have done over a period of time in the Champions League. We can see the top teams, and how they compare against each other. While this 'league by league' 'generation by generation' battle is not possible in tennis we can apply common sense and our own tennis knowledge to reach our conclusion on which league would be more prolific. If one league had just one good top team, but the rest were imcompetent, the league would not be as impressive as another league with many world class sides.
Further more we can argue that winning many domestic titles in a league where the title-winning teams is the only world class team, may not be as impressive as winning less titles in a tougher league.

I often hear the phrases 'he won the slam, he deserved to win, you can only beat who you play etc.' This is all well and good, but in all honesty despite being statistically the same I believe winning a slam against tougher competition is more impressive. For example if Andy Murray won the Australian Open next year beating Ferrer and Berdych in the semis and final, but won the USO beating Djokovic and Federer; despite both slams being statistically the same I believe the US Open win would be more impressive. This can be applied to all slams, and even different eras and generations.
The idea that different generations are 'equal' in difficulty just because we cannot compare them easily (ie we do not have the power of a time machine), is simply flawed.



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The Equal Era Myth :: Comments

Post on Tue 19 Feb 2013 - 20:41 by Guest

I would agree but it is a debate I have given up on. Proving the points you make are impossible as you will be told court conditions change, equipment change, strength in depth beats strength at the top etc etc. It is a futile debate and one I won't be rejoining on 606v2 in any case for various reasons.

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Post on Tue 19 Feb 2013 - 21:04 by Guest

CaledonianCraig wrote:I would agree but it is a debate I have given up on. Proving the points you make are impossible as you will be told court conditions change, equipment change, strength in depth beats strength at the top etc etc.
No, I fully agree that all these change.
I'm not denying that in the slightest.

I also agree it's difficult to prove, which era is better than another.

My point in this article is that certain eras will be stronger, HM made a good point that it works in a cyclical manner, good then weaker etc.

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Post on Wed 20 Feb 2013 - 18:15 by Jubbahey

One argument that pervaded V2 was that Federer was born into a weak era, but that has always been flawed too. He didnt suddenly start winning everything, he grew in stature over a period of 3/4 years.

What he did do is explode onto the scene from almost a perceived obscurity in terms of accomplishments and took over the top spot from then on. This was not because the competition was rubbish, more that he superseded himself and raised the bar to such heights that no player could compete with him.

That was not a weak era but a strong era in terms of trying to win a slam with Federer in the way. Players tried and failed to beat him, they all tried to enhance/strengthen/finesse their game until eventually he was beatable, which still makes it a strong era, but in terms of available high quality players on par with Federer, they were eclipsed of course, but it lead to accusations that the era was weak.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and in that respect we all see things differently, but subjugating an era into a weak or strong era is bringing it to its extremes as an era can never be defined absolute because it is populated by more than one player at any one time and that brings in variables on an ever increasing/decreasing scale.

Dizzy Phew !

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