If there’s one thing that tennis fans can argue about endlessly, it is about which era was the strongest. Inevitably, this also comes to comparing the various top players and discussing about which one was the greatest of them all. Andy Murray, who finally brought the Wimbledon title back home in 2013, is often compared to the man who achieved that feat before him, Fred Perry. The achievements are split apart by 77 years, so direct comparisons of their results are pretty hard to do, but one can nonetheless get a feeling about how things have evolved since then. This Huffington Post infographic is going to serve as the starting point for our observation.
During this career, Fred Perry amassed a record of 106 victories and 12 losses, which equals to a win percentage of roughly 90%, a truly staggering number. Andy Murray, on the other hand, was sitting at just 76% after his Wimbledon victory, with 406 wins and 128 losses. On the percentage account, one would be tempted to glorify Perry, but what the numbers show is how much busier tennis is in this era. Perry had plenty of time to prepare for the important events and matches, while Murray is playing in an age in which he has to play basically week in and week out –
This factor is also crucial if we are to compare the other numbers – Fred Perry might have won 8 Grand Slam titles, but only 14 total professional titles in total, while Andy Murray had 27, almost twice the total, to his name back in 2013 despite winning just two Grand Slams. One could say that Perry was dominating his era in a way which Murray will never be able to replicate, but the field of players he had to compete against was incredibly thinner than it is now – for example, a small dig into the history books reveals that the 1934 Australian Open, one of the Grand Slams Perry won, featured players from just two countries (!). Those are things that today’s tennis fans don’t seem to realize. Tennis bettors usually consider things like tournament situations and fitness issues these days – well, things like that didn’t really play a role back then. Another thing that needs to be taken into account and which should play into Murray’s hands is that many – and we even dare to say most – tennis players had the sport as a hobby, with other jobs filling most of their time. Can one even imagine an amateur getting into the main draw of a Grand Slam in the 21st
So, who’s the greater player of the two – Andy Murray or Fred Perry? As far as we are concerned, it has to be Andy Murray by a decent margin, especially since he still has at least a couple of good years ahead of himself. The Scot is playing in an era in which tennis is much more competitive than it was back in Perry’s days, in an era in which he has to play about 70 matches each year if he’s reasonably health, a number that was unthinkable when Perry played. The matches are longer, the demands are higher – and Grand Slam tournaments are a league of its own these days. In fact, we wouldn’t hesitate to say that reaching a Grand Slam final in this era is slightly harder than it was to win a Grand Slam title eighty years ago – and Murray, at the time of writing, already had six of those to his name.
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