The point that Mr. Murray is a relative non-factor on clay does not belittle the fact that he has been an overall excellent player to this point. He certainly is. And his career is not over yet. He may get better, he may not. He is much like Pete Sampras in terms of his clay surface weakness relative to himself AND
others, but he is below Sampras' degree of quality (class) on the other surfaces, so far.
We can talk about other players surface weaknesses and strengths, but debating about others doesn't support or disprove the point of the original subject - Murray, it is only serves as a distortion or distraction, take your pick.
In the Open Era, there are probably only a handful of players that I would truly consider outstanding "all surface players" and in my judgement they weren't only the players who have the Career Grand Slam, and having a Career Grand Slam doesn't necessarily make one an outstanding all surface player.
An outstanding all surface player doesn't mean they are or have to be absolutely equally strong on all surfaces. They can have weaker surfaces than the others, but they still must be strong relative to the other players; within the top players in the Open Era in each category (top 15). Rafael Nadal is an example of someone that has an almost unbelievable strength on clay, but is still highly rated in the others, even though weaker than his unbelievable clay record. On the other hand, Murray and Sampras are examples of ones who have a weak record on clay compared to their record on other surfaces, AND
a poor record on clay compared to others on clay.
Also, just because one is not an outstanding all surface player, it doesn't mean one can't be an outstanding player overall. There is no shame in not being an all surface player. It is what it is.
Here is my list of 5 outstanding all surface players (others' criteria may differ Rod Laver
- played when 3 of 4 majors were on grass, but won numerous indoor (wood, carpet) and outdoor hard court tournaments and several clay titles (other than the 2 at Roland Garros - 1 in OE)
carpet: 12 titles, 8th ranked in Open Era match win pct. - .758
clay: 6 titles, 9th ranked - .771
grass: 6 titles, 3rd ranked - .849
hard: 17 titles, 4th ranked - .824Jimmy Connors
- didn't win the French Open, but won the US Open on clay, hard court and grass (the only man to do so) and won several other clay titles. Probably the best all surface player - ranked from 3rd to 6th in the Open Era on all surfaces.
carpet: 39 titles, 4th ranked - .821
clay: 12 titles, 6th ranked - .776
grass: 9 titles, 6th ranked .833
hard: 44 titles, 3rd ranked- .824Bjorn Borg
- never won the US Open - but was a 4 time finalist there, and won many hard court and carpet titles. Australian Open? Forget it. Many ignored it at the time (except Australians).
carpet: 22 titles, 3rd ranked - .826
clay: 30 titles, 2nd ranked - .863
grass: 6 titles, 4th ranked - .847
hard: 6 titles, 13th ranked - .767Roger Federer - still active
carpet: 2 titles, 10th ranked - .725
clay: 10 titles, 12th ranked - .769
grass: 12 titles, 1st ranked - .873
hard: 52 titles, 1st ranked - .829Rafael Nadal - still active
carpet: 0 titles, no ranking - .250 (only 8 matches played - I won't count this category- but some may object including him in the list).
clay: 41 titles, 1st ranked - .931
grass: 3 titles, 9th ranked - .806
hard: 12 titles, 12th ranked - .768Honorable mention goes to Ken Rosewall.
His clay (5th) and grass (11th) results were up there, but he ranks 20th on hard court and 16th on carpet. He still won 7 titles on hard court and 5 on carpet, so it's a tough call. If I changed the criteria to top 20 instead of top 15, he makes it. Hopefully, I didn't miss anyone else...
The rest usually had one significantly weaker surface (Sampras), or were mostly single surface specialists (Muster), or even though proficient on all surfaces were not ranked high enough (Agassi) in all categories to be considered outstanding by my criteria.