OPEN ERA v PRE-OPEN ERA — The International Tennis Federation (ITF) runs the media info desk at the Slams, and does an excellent job, but can we dispense with the pretense that modern-day records should be evenly compared to the 1800s when the Slams began, rather than back to 1968, the official onset of the Open Era in tennis?
“Federer is now bidding to become the first man since Bill Tilden in 1923 to collect a fourth successive US Championships title, Tilden going on to win six in a row,” states the ITF media notes. “Only three men have won four successive titles in the history of this event: Richard Sears, William Larned and Tilden.”
The ITF goes on to note that Sears and Larned played during the “Challenge Round” era when as defending champs they only had to win one match to defend their titles.
Federer’s achievements in the super-competitive modern era are incomparable to an age where only certain players were allowed to compete, and there wasn’t such a world-wide influx of players competing at all levels, from tour to challengers, satellites and futures.
Federer winning four US Opens in a row would be a first-time feat — then if you want, throw in some asterisks from some of the years when the event was less of a worldwide phenomenon, go ahead. But let them remain asterisks rather than equals.
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