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Also, I wrote in a performance bonus. Hoad's percentage was to go up 5% every time he won a match. You see, I didn't think it ever hurt Hoad to lose. He just didn't seem to care enough. I wanted him to want to win.
Of all the players I've seen, the best two were Vines and Budge. I'd put Perry, Riggs, Gonzales and Laver in the second echelon, and then Hoad, Rosewall, Sedgman, Segura and Schroeder. Borg and Connors are still too young to evaluate. But of them all, the three who could do the most were Vines, Hoad and Laver. On their best days, nothing was impossible: the sky was the limit.
Vines and Hoad were very strong guys, and both succeeded at a very young age. Vines won Forest Hills when he was 19, and Hoad beat Trabert and Seixas in the Davis Cup Challenge Round when he was 19. Both were also very lazy guys. Vines lost interest in tennis quickly—he switched to golf—and Hoad never did seem very interested. And both had physical problems. I can remember going on court to practice with Vines when he was still in his 20s and he had to hang on to some iron poles and twist to stretch his right shoulder into shape before he could start. Hoad was heavy in the thighs and got groin pulls regularly, and his back did him in completely.
Hoad had tremendous potential, but was easily the most inconsistent of all the top players. The reason he is held in such high regard is that he won back-to-back Wimbledons, and he was so popular with everyone that people came to believe he was better than he really was.
I didn't throw Hoad to Gorgo right away. When he turned pro after Wimbledon in '57, I used him in a couple of round robins in the States, and then I made myself into a sparring partner and, with Rosewall and Segura, we took off on an around-the-world tour to get Hoad into shape for Gonzales. If Hoad could beat Gonzales, this was my chance to get rid of that tiger. Gonzales knew what I was doing, too, and he was furious.
We played a brutal death march, going to Europe, then across Africa, through India and Southeast Asia, all the way to Manila. I was impressed by how strong Hoad was. He was personally as gentle as a lamb, but on that trip his body could tolerate almost anything. Once, he went from Nairobi to Karachi to Lahore—more than 2,700 miles, 48 hours, two long plane trips, four tennis matches—and he never had anything to eat. Just some beer and tea on the planes and the Cokes they brought him on court. It didn't seem to bother him at all.
Unfortunately, he was just as casual about tennis. Hoad had the loosest game of any good kid I ever saw. I'd marvel at the shots he could think of. He was the only player I ever saw who could stand six feet behind the baseline and snap the ball back hard, cross-court. He'd try for winners off everything, off great serves, off tricky short balls, off low volleys. He hit hard overspin drives, and there was no way you could get him to temporize on important points. Segura went crazy trying to get him to lob a little more.
But was he something when he cared. On that tour, Rosewall beat me something like 22 matches to four. I was 37 years old, and Rosewall and Hoad were approaching the height of their powers; 22-4 was about right. But I beat Hoad 13 matches to 12, because he didn't give a damn when he played the old man. Same thing with Segura; Hoad lost to Segoo. But against Rosewall, he cared—and he beat him about two-thirds of their matches.
Well, we had Hoad ready for Gonzales when we opened their tour early in '58 in Australia. They sold out in all the big cities. We played best of five, and it invariably went five sets. Then we flew to the States and started in on the West Coast. They kept playing close matches and Gonzales was playing beautifully. He was playing beautifully—and he was getting beat. They flew into L.A. one day and I went out to touch base with them at the airport, and when Gorgo got off the plane you could see he was a beaten man. It was in his eyes.
You see, kid, it's like I said: when you go head to head night after night, somebody takes command. Even if the scores are close, the pattern is set. Hoad could serve with Gonzales, and he was just as quick, and much stronger. And he had a tougher overhead and he had better ground strokes. And they both knew it. I had a new champion.