Tennis Prose



Hall of Fame Worthy, Yes or No?

moyaNot every champion tennis player can get into the Hall of Fame but there are several candidates who curiously have yet to be inducted and enshrined into Newport. Let’s take a look…

Yevgeny Kafelnikov: The superb Russian won Roland Garros singles and doubles in the same year as well as the Australian Open, an Olympic gold medal, Davis Cup and also he held the world no. ranking. Kafelnikov’s achievements outshine those of Marat Safin who was inducted last year.

Petr Korda won the 1998 Australian Open and doubles in Australia with Stefan Edberg in ’96. Korda got to no. 2 in the world and had a chance to become no. 1 at four tournaments but lost to Rios, Kucera, Henman and Krajicek at those four ATP tournaments. Korda also won Hopman Cup in ’94 and the Grand Slam Cup in ’93 defeating no. 1 Pete Sampras and no. 2 Michael Stich in the SF and F, respectively, both in five sets. The knock on Korda is that he tested positive for banned PED Nandrolone at Wimbledon in ’98 the year he won his only singles major.

Carlos Moya is rarely discussed as a Hall of Fame candidate but the Spaniard has very similar accomplishments to Safin. Moya won the French Open in ’98 and played the Australian Open final in ’97, and won the Davis Cup in 2004. Moya was no. 1 in the world for two weeks after reaching the final of Indian Wells in March of ’99. Moya also won three Masters Series titles – in Cincy (Hewitt), Rome (Nalbandian) and Monte Carlos (Pioline). Moya always behaved with impeccable class and sportsmanship through his entire career and if it were not for Edberg, he would be worthy to have the ATP Sportsmanship Award named in his honor.

Johan Kriek won two Australian Open titles (811, 82) and reached no. 7 in the world. The South African has career wins vs Agassi, Connors, Borg, McEnnroe, Vilas, Edberg, Chang, and Gerulaitis. Kriek has also founded and operated tennis academies in Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina.

Marcelo Rios was not the best behaved or popular player on the pro tour during his ten year ATP career. Still he became the first South American to hold the ATP world no. 1 ranking when he defeated Andre Agassi in three straight sets at the 1998 Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne. This win inspired many great South American players such as Kuerten, Coria, Nalbadian, and Gaudio who saw Rios compete on the South American junior circuit. Earlier in ’98 Rios reached the finals of the Australian Open losing to Petr Korda, a loss he avenged a month later in straight sets at Indian Wells. Roger Federer said two years ago he would vote for Rios to be in the Hall of Fame.

Mary Pierce won the 1995 Australian Open and 2000 French Open in singles, also she won a doubles slam with Hingis (2000 French Open) and also the 2005 Wimbledon mixed with Bhupathi. In total Pierce played in six Grand Slam singles finals. Pierce also won the Fed Cup with France in ’97 and ’03.

If you asked me to vote, I would say yes for five and possibly all six of these great champions of tennis.

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  • Andrew Miller · June 19, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    Pierce, Kafenikov, Kriek, Moya, in that order. No to the others listed here.

  • Moxie · June 19, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    Kafelnikov doesn't have a better resume than Safin, by your accounting. Safin also won Davis Cup for Russia and held #1. I love Carlos Moya, but I'm not sure he qualifies. Along with the rest. I'd put in Kafelnikov, if you insist, but otherwise, aren't you just watering down the qualifications?

  • britbox · June 19, 2017 at 10:17 pm

    I don't think Rios belongs in the Hall.

  • El Dude · June 20, 2017 at 12:31 am

    I don't know enough about the tennis Hall of Fame to comment, but in baseball it is rather subjective and it seems there's always the problem of precedent. There are some players who have been inducted that are lesser than those listed above – e.g. Chuck McKinley, Rafael Osuna, Yannick Noah, etc.

    Given the precedents, I'd say yes to Kafelnikov, maybe to Moya, no to Korda, Kriek, and Rios.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 20, 2017 at 8:48 am

    If Chang and Roddick are in the Hall of Fame why not Moya?

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 20, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Britbox; Federer said he would vote Rios in. I asked Federer this question at US Open two years ago and he said he did not know the criteria but based on his opinion of Rios he would vote yes.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 20, 2017 at 9:39 am

    Kozlov beats Johnson. Lost to Steve in Delray Beach this year in two sets. Very big win for Kozlov who plays Cilic or Isner next.

  • Jimmy the Gent · June 20, 2017 at 10:13 am

    IMO – kafelnikov & moya only..

    down goes grandpa haas !

    haas is ready to strike up conversations with cashiers at the local grocery shop and comment all day & night on LOL

  • Andrew Miller · June 20, 2017 at 11:16 am

    Lisicki still at it in Mallorca. Good to see her name in the draw

  • Andrew Miller · June 20, 2017 at 11:18 am

    Kokkinakis KOs Raonic in a pair of tiebreaks in London. That was unexpected. Raonic is arriving at Wimbledon as an after thought this year

  • Andrew Miller · June 20, 2017 at 11:20 am

    Kozlov beating Johnson is a nice win, and sorry to see Johnson lose this one. Kozlov earned his way into the draw.

    Paire is out very early.

    And so is Wawrinka! His results are poor heading into Wimbledon.

    Sorry this Wimbledon is wide open. I don’t think the usual suspects are playing well at all.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 20, 2017 at 11:47 am

    The Wawrinka and Annacone partnership is off to a poor start. Lopez looking like a serious darkhorse to do damage at Wimbledon. It's really a valuable win for Kozlov who has not won but a very few ATP main tour level matches.

  • El Dude · June 20, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    I'm not sure who you are replying to as the posts by folks other than you and Dan from the blog don't translate to the forum for some reason, but if I were to play Devil's Advocate I'd say that both Roddick and especially Chang were a bit better for a bit longer than Moya, but the difference isn't huge.

    Again, it depends upon where you draw the line. I think the baseline should be players who were more than just one-Slam wonders – meaning, players who were good to very good players who won a Slam, but weren't consistently in the elite of their era – so not players like Mark Edmondson, Thomas Johansson, Andre Gomez, Gaston Gaudio, Pat Cash, Albert Costa, etc. I'd probably include Korda in that group. Obviously Moya was better than those guys, but how much better? And if Moya why not Stich, Ferrero, or even more so, Muster? Actually, I'd say Thomas Muster is currently the most accomplished player of the Open Era who is not in the Hall of Fame, so if you vote someone else in he has to be better than Muster – and the only player on that list who was is probably Kafelnikov, and they're pretty close, I think.

    Rios is a special case because he was #1 and elite for a couple years, but never won a Slam. If you vote him in, you probably have to vote in David Ferrer and Tom Okker, who are probably the two most accomplished players of the Open Era never to win a Slam. Neither was as good as Rios at his best, but were both consistently very good for a very long period of time.

    I'd also say no to Johan Kriek, who has the dubious honor of being by far the worst multi-Slam winner of the Open Era, winning two Australian Open titles that were equivalent to ATP 500s in terms of the field.

  • Murat Baslamisli · June 20, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    I may be wrong but I think there are way more Slam winners out there than folks that made it to #1. To me, that is important. Being #1 means at some point in your career, you were the best in the world. Maybe for a short period of time but you still managed to get there. To me that is HOF worthy.

  • Busted · June 20, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    Let's be honest here – the TOF is going to have to lower their standards for inductees because the last 15 years has been dominated by 3 guys – 4 if you want to throw in Murray. You can throw in Stan if you squint really hard. Other than that? Who else would qualify?The women's side is even more sparse. Among active players you've got Serena and Venus as sure things. After that? I can't think of another active female player other than Cheaterpova – and maybe Kvitova – who deserves to get an automatic entry unless they relax the standards. Having said that – with so few current players worthy – they're going to have to start letting in some of the older players that they passed on before.

  • DarthFed · June 20, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    No way to Korda, he was a juicer and that's all you need to know. I'd say yes to Kafelnikov and maybe to Moya. Rios is best known for talent and being a volatile character in court, I don't think that should be enough to get him in.

  • jg · June 20, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    The Rios style of play had a big impact on the game, I would think he deserves it for that reason.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 21, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    Agree jg that Rios had a very aesthetic and attractive way of playing. His play style was and his a big inspiration for many players today including Donald Young Alex Dolgopolov Yoshihito Nishioka and Roger Federer. I think anyone that Roger Federer cites as a tennis hero and inspiration/favorite player to watch should automatically qualify on that basis alone 🙂

  • MartyB · June 21, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    Exactly…We know why Roddick is in don't we?

  • Denis · June 21, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    This. Kafelnikov also played in the Agassi Sampras era whereas moya shined in the Hewitt interlude between Agassi/Sampras and the big 4. Competition matters too I think.

  • Ricardo · June 21, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    scoop said:

    Agree jg that Rios had a very aesthetic and attractive way of playing. His play style was and his a big inspiration for many players today including Donald Young Alex Dolgopolov Yoshihito Nishioka and Roger Federer. I think anyone that Roger Federer cites as a tennis hero and inspiration/favorite player to watch should automatically qualify on that basis alone :)Click to expand…

    a couple things Federer isn't good at: hawk eye challenge, he is known to be probably the worst on tour. And picking HOF worthy players 😀

  • Haelfix · June 21, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    B/c Roddick and Chang are obvious HOfers and the rest really aren't. It isn't close either.

    Kafelnikov probably will get in at some point, but I don't think any of the others should. Moya was a solid player but he's an extreme long shot. Rios could have been a HOFer but his existence on tour was like 3 very volatile years which didn't amount to a slam. So he's a definite no.

  • El Dude · June 22, 2017 at 12:22 am

    Rios can be in the Hall of Underachievers, along with Nalbandian, Mecir, Pioline, and eventually Dimitrov.

  • Todd Robinson · June 22, 2017 at 12:51 am

    Kafelnikov no doubt should be in – 2 GS titles, 1 GS R-up, 26 ATP titles, 22 ATP R-ups, but does have a glaring weakness at Masters – 0 titles, 5 R-ups, and 13 SF losses. So he did make 18 Masters Final Fours, but won only 5 of those 18 matches. But certainly combined with his dubs success, he belongs. Added bonus – 1 of just 25 Open Era guys with 600+ match wins…and the 26 ATP titles is tied for 24th in Open Era.
    Rios is my favorite player ever…and I go back to watching Borg when I was a young kid. But he’s such an underachiever, with a shortened career due to injury, I can’t say he belongs. Only made 1 GS SF in his career, had only N. Escude to beat there, then met Korda in A/O final, where he laid a massive turd. Hurt me to see, but that’s what it was. He did win 5 Masters, reach #1, and accomplish the I.W./Mia back-to-back double in 1998…and of course, a pure wizard w/ a racquet…but he needs more than 1 GS SF to make the Hall. With an 18-13 record in ATP finals, he really only needed about 2-3 more GS SF appearances to be more strongly considered.
    Moya is tight…but I lean toward induction. 20 ATP titles (24 R-ups), 575 match wins, beat Rios (the favorite) on hthe way to his French title in 1998, had 3 Masters titles, 3 Masters R-ups, and 6 Masters SF losses. Finished year end Top 10 5X in career, and spent around 17 months in Top 5. Kind of mysterious and disappointing he didn’t do more, since he had won a slam, become #1 in world, and been R-up at ATP Championships all before his 23rd b-day. But of his 6 Masters finals, 3 were hardcourt, 3 clay, so he was far more adept on hardcourt than someone like Guga, for sure.
    Kriek is a definite NO. He won 2 very watered down A/O’s in the hey-dey of Mac/Connors/Lendl in 1981 & ’82, when they weren’t playing, and so the other 3 semifinalists then were Steve Denton (both yrs…career-high ATP rank: #12), Hank Pfister (both yrs…career-high ATP rank: #19), Mark Edmondson (’81…career-high ATP rank: #15), and then Paul McNamee (’82…career-high ATP rank: #24). Denton had a losing record for his career and never won any ATP title ever, and that’s who he beat in both finals. Kriek’s highest ever ATP rank was #7, and he won just 14 titles in 27 ATP finals. He made just one other GS SF, US Open in 1980, taking the first 2 sets off Borg at 6-4, then winning just 3 more games the rest of the match. No way he’s a HoFer!!
    Finally, Korda…NO. His best year is tainted by the failed drug test, and the resume is barely strong enough to support HoF consideration even w/o that stain. 10-17 in ATP finals, just 2 GS SF appearances, though he did win both matches. Just 1-2 in Masters finals, and only 4 other times did he make a Masters SF. Only 410 match wins and a winning percentage of just 62.3%. For comparison, Rios was 67.1%, Kafelnikov 66.6%, Moya 64.3%. Kriek identical at 62.3%.
    Mary Pierce – who cares? So to recap…Kafelnikov biggest crime he’s not in…Moya also belongs…Rios and Korda not quite…Kriek NO WAY!

  • Ricardo · June 22, 2017 at 2:19 am

    Pioline? how was he known so much as an underachiever? if anything he bagged more than fair share of what his tennis ability allowed.

  • DarthFed · June 22, 2017 at 6:53 am

    Yeah I was thinking the same. The guy made 2 major finals and watching him play it felt like two more than he should've made.

  • Ricardo · June 22, 2017 at 7:31 am

    Pioline was like Gasquet with lesser backhand, good solid player but simply doesn't belong in the group of the top players. Kafelnikov i thought was equivalent in terms of his game to Davydenko, and after watching both for many years id even say Nicolay at his best was better than Kafelnikov. I think it's fair to say if Yevgeny played in the Fedal era, he wouldn't bag a single slam… fact its almost a certainty. In Sampras-Agassi era, he could sneak through some but really no chance with the big 3 being present.

  • Ricardo · June 22, 2017 at 7:41 am

    Rios, like Nalbandian on his best days, was dangerous and unpredictable. Maybe David's backhand was even more wicked, and i thought Nalbandian when everything strings together for him is a step ahead of Federer (even when he plays great) and i am yet to see anyone who comes close to producing the same performance when he outplayed Nadal years ago….it was pure baseline wizardry (not the dog fight kind of match between Rafa and Novak or Federer) Unfortunately for David his frequency of A-game level is too narrow.

  • Ricardo · June 22, 2017 at 7:58 am

    imo for HOF unrealised potential should not weigh much, as onus is on players to perform to their capability……it's a huge part of champion's quality. I think people talk up too much of the Mecirs and Rios, based on what they imagined what they could've been…..while looking down at the Hewitts, Changs and Roddicks, guys who actually earned it.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 22, 2017 at 8:42 am

    No such thing as a "weak era" of tennis as if it was easier to win a GS during the "Hewitt interlude" – It's always hard and it was equally hard then because Hewitt was the king of the sport – Kafelnikov did not win his GSs during a weak or weaker era that is fiction and myth. Sure it could be a little harder now because we have four kings who are brutally greedy and hungry and driven to win more GSs but this weak era theory holds no water.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 22, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Todd I think any player who holds the no 1 ranking deserves to be in Newport. The best in the world is one heckuva prestigious honor to hold in anything and especially tennis. Think about all the tennis players on earth – anyone who gets to the top of the tennis mountain is one remarkable genius.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 22, 2017 at 8:47 am

    Davydenko was an incredible player and a forgotten great but he did not achieve anything close to what Kafelnikov did. Davydenko would probably be a great coach for a player like Kozlov or even Djokovic.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 22, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Ricardo that is true but like in boxing the better player or boxer does not always win. Nalbandian and Rios were indeed incredibly great players but they did not win on the level of Chang Andy and Hewitt.

  • Bryan · June 24, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    Bryan writes:

    Yevgeny Kafelnikov has enough accomplishments at majors he should certainly be in the HOF. The others, probably not.



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