Thursday, 23 December 2010

Advent calendar day 23 #3 Bill Tilden

We now reach the third best in a count down to the best tennis player of all time.

image found here
3rd Best Player of all time

Bill Tilden

Grand Slams won - 10
Grand Slam Finals lost - 5
Overall amount of singles titles won - 138
Overall Match Winning percentage - 93.60% (907-62)                                         
Top rank - 1

I can now imagine many people reading this will be thinking who is Bill Tilden, even though he was a great player, he is widely unknown because he dominated tennis in the 1920s, in a way no player has ever done before or after him. He was able to win 10 Grand Slams in 15 Finals, after playing in just 23 Grand Slams. In all but his first 2 Grand Slams he made it to at least the Quarter Finals and in all but 3 Grand Slams, including his first 2, he made at least the Semi-Finals. He made his first Grand Slam Final in his third attempt in the 1918 US Open at the age of 25, after entering his first Grand Slam at the age of 23 and he won his first Grand Slam 2 years later at the age of 27 in the 1920 Wimbledon. At the US Open he made an amazing feat of 8 consecutive finals, including 6 consecutive victories, and 9 Finals in 10 years. He finished his career with 7 wins and 3 runner-ups, in 14 attempts. He didn't win a single Australian Open because he didn't even play in a single Australian Open because it was too difficult to get to Australia around this time. He never won at the French Open in 3 attempts, falling at the Semi-Finals once and at the Finals twice, however he was 34, 36 and 37 during his 3 attempts. At Wimbledon his was considerably more successful, winning 3 times in 6 attempts and losing at the Semi-Finals 3 times. He won his last Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 1930, before moving to the pro-slam tour to get more money. At the pro-slams he continued consistency, winning 4 and being runner-up in 3. His complete dominance was shown by his incredible play in helping USA to 7 consecutive Davis Cup titles between 1920 and 1926, a record. In his career he was number 1 for a total of 7 years, including 6 consecutive years between 1920 and 1925, as well as being number 2, 3 times. In his career he had an incredible 93.6% winning percentage, the best in the history of the game, and an amazing 138 titles in 192 tournaments, a 71.88% of tournaments played. Tilden was not only a great player but he was a great sportsman and is said to have dropped the first set of matches on purpose to make it more interesting for both him and the audience, to give them their money's worth of good play. Before the times of challenges, what ever the umpire said would go and when Tilden disagreed with a call, he would purposely lose the point to be fair. Once he even refunded money to a promoter because the turn out for a match was bad, so the promoter would lose money. He was well known for a great ability to run down balls as well as his blistering shots and finally a cannon ball serve, which apparently was measured once at 165 MPH. This is thought to be untrue because of the poor measuring equipment and the fact that wooden racquets were used, which gave less power than modern racquets and the current record is 155 MPH. His form is quite incredible for a few reasons, one amazing thing is that part of his middle finger of the hand, with which he held his racquet was amputated, also throughout his career he had chronic knee pain. One more disadvantage he had compared to the modern era was the length of the season, which meant he could win less titles. He was not only a great player physically but his mental play was very good and he could adapt his tactics to work his opponent's strengths against him. In 1946 he played his last pro-slam and retired at a old age of 53. After retiring, he occasionally played in celebrity matches but in 1953 at the age of 60 he died, after he had a stroke. Tilden was a late starter and had to work hard to get to the top, by improving his game.

Come back tomorrow as we reach the climax, when we reveal the 2nd best player of all time.

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