Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2 - Page 155 - TennisForum.com
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post #2311 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 15th, 2012, 12:47 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

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Unfortunately, it did go dark for me. I had these stupid thoughts in the back of my mind that she would just keep playing forever, you know, like Martina- way past her prime. I should've realized it had to come to an end, and if she was losing to a player like Amy Frazier (a player she owned), then it only would've gotten uglier, and I'm glad I didn't witness that. I don't think, being the perfectionist she was (and is) that she could've allowed herself to keep going. I, like so many people around the world, stopped watching women's tennis entirely for a few years. It took Justine's rise to the top to spark my interest again. I still think if Steffi's body could take the training, and she got herself into match shape, she could beat many of these players now.
If Sara Errani could reach the final of the French Open, it would be a pretty good bet that Steffi as a 40-something could show a lot of current players the exit. A few years ago, I remember she had a practice session with some young Next Big Thing (who wasn't after all), and afterward Steffi drolly remarked something like that her slice backhand caused the opponent no end of frustration. "Low and deep to the forehand" would probably win her even more points now than it did back in 1996.
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post #2312 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 15th, 2012, 03:19 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

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We had much the same thing here in the U.S. Bud Collins was always saying she should go to net more. It became a kind of recurring joke between Steffi and him.

Bud: Are you planning on going to the net a little more?
Steffi: No, but I'll go in a few times -- just for you. [And she smiles coquettishly at him.]

Bud: Was that *you* I saw going to the net so much?
Steffi: Yeah. Actually I was thinking about you during the match.

Bud: You played serve and volley!
Steffi: Yeah, but I made a few mistakes on it, too, I have to admit. So, uh, some good ones, some bad ones.
Priceless! Thanx for posting!

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post #2313 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 15th, 2012, 03:25 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

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Unfortunately, it did go dark for me. I had these stupid thoughts in the back of my mind that she would just keep playing forever, you know, like Martina- way past her prime. I should've realized it had to come to an end, and if she was losing to a player like Amy Frazier (a player she owned), then it only would've gotten uglier, and I'm glad I didn't witness that. I don't think, being the perfectionist she was (and is) that she could've allowed herself to keep going. I, like so many people around the world, stopped watching women's tennis entirely for a few years. It took Justine's rise to the top to spark my interest again. I still think if Steffi's body could take the training, and she got herself into match shape, she could beat many of these players now.
I think you're wrong Alfa... if her body could resist, she could beat everybody.
Of course, she could lose to some players like Serena, but I see no reason game-wise why she couldn't beat any of the current top players, no matter what the teen fans believe
The very fact that it's still debatable if the older top players could win against current ones proves how good they used to be back then. Otherwise, no one would even mention that possibility.

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post #2314 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 15th, 2012, 03:29 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

So... about Steffi, there are people like me here, who every October 24th has a moment of nostalgia a propos the retirement of Gabriela?

Witness of an Era of Grandeur
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post #2315 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 15th, 2012, 08:14 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

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Was that one of the days the CNN/SI board crashed because of too much traffic?
I am not sure actually. But I do know a lot of us Graf fans were online then to console each other. I do know that the Steffi message boards there were the busiest although a lot of the stuff being posted was kind of inane LOL. I do have to say that I was lucky enough to get a CD of Steffi's farewell song, "A Change in your Life", by Seven Sins. Heidi Graf used to post in those message boards as well and four posters including myself were luckily drawn to win that CD. I still have it with me. Here's the farewell song, if you are interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KURy1OA6rYo
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post #2316 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 15th, 2012, 08:26 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

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Unfortunately, it did go dark for me. I had these stupid thoughts in the back of my mind that she would just keep playing forever, you know, like Martina- way past her prime. I should've realized it had to come to an end, and if she was losing to a player like Amy Frazier (a player she owned), then it only would've gotten uglier, and I'm glad I didn't witness that. I don't think, being the perfectionist she was (and is) that she could've allowed herself to keep going. I, like so many people around the world, stopped watching women's tennis entirely for a few years. It took Justine's rise to the top to spark my interest again. I still think if Steffi's body could take the training, and she got herself into match shape, she could beat many of these players now.
Yeah, I had just started working then and I had grand plans of one day watching a Grand Slam event and seeing Steffi play live so that announcement ruined those plans LOL.

In 1998-1999, while she had a lot of great highs, she also had some bad losses that she would never have had if she was in good shape. She lost to Sabine Appelmans right after her comeback in 1998, but in her other three matches against Sabine, she never lost more than 2 games in a set! Also, that loss to Zvereva in Wimbledon 98 was tough. It put a blemish in an otherwise completely one-sided H2H that spanned more than a decade. Then there was that loss to Julie Halard-Decugis in the 99 German Open. (Although the 96-97 season had its tough moments too. I hated seeing Steffi lose to Amanda Coetzer against whom she was so dominant in the past.)
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post #2317 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 15th, 2012, 08:37 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

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I think you're wrong Alfa... if her body could resist, she could beat everybody.
Of course, she could lose to some players like Serena, but I see no reason game-wise why she couldn't beat any of the current top players, no matter what the teen fans believe
The very fact that it's still debatable if the older top players could win against current ones proves how good they used to be back then. Otherwise, no one would even mention that possibility.
Agree. While I do think that Serena at her best would be near-impossible to beat, Serena isn't always at her best. A peak Steffi, or a peak any-past-great for that matter, not only had exceptional championship mettle, they also had extraordinary consistency so over the course of a few years, the more consistent player will surely notch at least a few wins and maybe even have an edge in their head-to-head. The same is true for all the other hard hitters out there. I guess a lot of them are like Davenport and Pierce (and well, you can argue that Davenport and Pierce can hit just as hard as Sharapova, Azarenka, and Kvitova).
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post #2318 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 15th, 2012, 08:42 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

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So... about Steffi, there are people like me here, who every October 24th has a moment of nostalgia a propos the retirement of Gabriela?
I was also, well, still am, a fan of Sabatini so I was also saddened by her retirement in 1996. It did seem like she lost a bit of her mojo after that loss to Mary Joe Fernandez in the French Open. She had a lot of bad results after that and it took a long time before she won another tournament. Which is why I was really happy when she won the 1994 year-end championships. For me, if Graf couldn't win it, then it was great that Sabatini did.
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post #2319 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 15th, 2012, 08:47 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

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If Sara Errani could reach the final of the French Open, it would be a pretty good bet that Steffi as a 40-something could show a lot of current players the exit. A few years ago, I remember she had a practice session with some young Next Big Thing (who wasn't after all), and afterward Steffi drolly remarked something like that her slice backhand caused the opponent no end of frustration. "Low and deep to the forehand" would probably win her even more points now than it did back in 1996.
Schiavone did win the French Open playing a different style of tennis than most of the other current crop of women. I think a lot of players now just play the same style of wham-bam tennis, and I personally can't really fault them for that, but it leads me to believe someone who can change the pace and hit a different ball than everyone else has a good chance of throwing her opponents off.
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post #2320 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 16th, 2012, 03:32 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

I saw Serena play against Eleni Danilidou at Cincy 2 days ago. Eleni plays slice backhand quite a bit, and I could see that even Serena was quite troubled by that shot (Eleni can also hit disguised dropshots the way Steffi used to do, using her backhand). So yes, if Steffi were match-fit, she would beat many of the current players.
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post #2321 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 17th, 2012, 01:13 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

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I saw Serena play against Eleni Danilidou at Cincy 2 days ago. Eleni plays slice backhand quite a bit, and I could see that even Serena was quite troubled by that shot (Eleni can also hit disguised dropshots the way Steffi used to do, using her backhand). So yes, if Steffi were match-fit, she would beat many of the current players.
Probably Gaby and Conchita could also drive today's players crazy, at least ground stroke to ground stroke. Hard-kicking topspin followed by biting slice.
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post #2322 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 22nd, 2012, 02:37 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Might have been Steffi's own personal "longest day."


Graf Provides A Double Treat
Special to The New York Times
Published: August 21, 1989
New York Times

MAHWAH, N.J., Aug. 20 It was not a day of formidable opponents or close matches for Steffi Graf. Her remarkable ability seemed to dwarf the portable stadium at Ramapo College, built for the United Jersey Bank Tennis Classic.

But the modest surroundings didn't prevent the 20-year-old West German from looking every bit like the best women's tennis player in the world as she won a semifinal match this morning and the singles and championship this afternoon.

The close view provided by the small facility was a treat for the fans, as Graf's elegantly powerful game continually drew gasps of disbelief from the 4,128 spectators who watched the final.

'She's Really Something'

''Boy, she's really something,'' said Art Hansen, a 60-year-old sales engineer from Ridgewood, N.J., who, from a seat in the sixth row, was watching her play live for the first time. ''When you're here you can really see how overwhelming she is.''

It took Graf a while to adjust to the topspin play of Andrea Temesvari, but when she did, she handled the 23-year-old Hungarian easily, 7-5, 6-2, to win the championship and the $40,000 singles prize.

In the morning, Graf won a semifinal match against Linda Ferrando, 6-1, 6-2. The semifinals were rescheduled because of rain Saturday. It was the first time Graf had played a singles semifinal and a final in the same day.

And after the singles championship, Graf went on to win a doubles semifinal match and the final with Pam Shriver, 6-2, 6-4, over Louise Allen and Laura Gildemeister. Rain had backed those matches up as well. Graf started playing this morning at 10 A.M., and four victories later, she finished at 5:43 P.M.

A Whipping Forehand

She was at the top of her game in the first match of the day, whipping her signature forehand deep into the corners. Her match with Ferrando, the 47th-ranked player in the world, lasted only 40 minutes.

The 23-year-old Temesvari, however, struggled in the morning against Stacey Martin. That semifinal lasted 2 hours 23 minutes, and took its toll on the Hungarian as the ensuing championship match progressed.

Both Temesvari and Graf held serve in the first set until the West German broke in the 11th game. With the score tied, 15-15, Temesvari sliced open shots wide on two consecutive points, and then double-faulted, giving Graf a 6-5 lead. Graf held serve to win the set.

After taking the first game of the second set with an ace, Temesvari appeared to tire. Graf won 15 of the next 16 points, and went on to victory in a match that lasted an hour.

''I didn't play too well, I have to say,'' Graf said, alluding to the first set. ''I knew I didn't play close to what I can play, but I knew if I kept trying I would come back.''

Temesvari, ranked 56th, put Graf on the defensive with powerful first serves in the first set, but in the second she started missing and Graf was able to gain advantage when returning second serves. Temesvari, who is making a comeback after missing almost two years because of injuries, said she needed to develop more consistency while serving, adding that fatigue was also a factor.

''I got tired by the end of the first set, and my feet started burning,'' she said. ''I played two matches at Hilton Head this year, but a semifinal and a final is different. When you play Steffi, you run around and you don't get any easy winners.''

Graf, who has a 61-2 match record this season, went over the $1 million mark for the season with the singles victory. After winning the doubles, she had earned $1,025,905.

This was Graf's 10th singles championship of the year, the 38th of her career and her 3d here in four years.
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post #2323 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 25th, 2012, 10:20 AM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Great day at the offcie ^
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post #2324 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 26th, 2012, 12:43 PM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

Graf on Course for More Than a Grand Slam
August 30, 1988
SALLY JENKINS
The Washington Post

Steffi Graf is so utterly, charmingly 19 it is difficult to believe this same woman occupies the tennis courts of the world so adultly. Having embraced no concept more meaningful than fast food, she brusquely dispatches players whose careers are older than she is years. Moreover, this callow talent is threatening to win the ageless Grand Slam while still under parental supervision.

Graf lives at home, like most 19-year-olds with adventurous habits probably should. She has a 19-year-old's impervious taste for plasticky drive-through cheeseburgers and greasy fries. She has a typical devotion to her stereo headphones and a preference for driving rock music that sounds like the thumpity-thump of ash cans rolling down a street. She has a loyal affection for her dog Max, even when he bites her, and she sleeps in the same room she did as a child.

She wears faded though not inexpensive jeans, casually beat up suede loafers and wrinkled though not unfashionable T-shirts that hang from her massive shoulders. Her walk is a youthful slump-and-lope, she tosses longish hanks of blond hair from a roundish face. She rolls embarrassed blue eyes and ducks her head when confronted with these issues of her unseemly youth, wealth and talent. "I feel my age," she shrugged. "Maybe in a way I'm older, but I feel 19."

But Graf's occupation is admittedly not one normal for late teendom, which is to be expected because no other 19-year-old has the opportunity to sweep the Grand Slam tournaments in the same calendar year when the U.S. Open began Monday at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow, N.Y. There, Graf can collect the final trophy in the historical collection that includes the Australian and French opens and Wimbledon.

Graf would become only the fifth person to do so, and the first woman since Margaret Court in 1970 (the others are Don Budge, 1938; Maureen Connolly, 1953; and Rod Laver, 1962 and 1969). There is the sensation that should Graf do it, she could dominate the game for the next decade, because she has lost exactly one set in taking the first three legs of the Slam, on the grass of Australia and Wimbledon and the clay of Roland Garros, which aren't particularly her best surfaces. The hardcourt of the Open is. What is more staggering than her chance at the Slam is the potential breadth of her game and the idea that she could get much better.

"She says she still won't play her best tennis for two or three years," said her coach, Pavel Slozil. "That's really the goal, to satisfy the game."

Graf, still unable to measure herself as a person or player, cannot be expected to grasp what it would mean to win a Slam so early in life. In Australia she giggled when they asked her the question, and in France she shrugged. After Wimbledon, it was no longer a laughing matter but a pressing issue and, the tone of her voice sometimes suggests, it was apologized for.

"I didn't think it, I really didn't," she said. "Everybody was already asking me about the Slam after Australia, and I said, 'Well, I'm the only one who can do it now.' But I couldn't believe it, I was laughing.

"I think it's probably the best thing you could ever do. You might not realize it when you do it, but a couple of years later, you would. It's the biggest thing."

There exists the comical possibility that Graf could win the Grand Slam while she is still growing. She got a centimeter taller this year, which brings her to 5 feet 9 and 130 pounds of destructive force. Graf's game itself might be described as "the biggest thing," a massive driven entity that has kept pace with her physical growth.

Her father, Peter, a tennis coach from Bruhl, West Germany, put the first racket in her hand when she was 4, after sawing off the handle. By the time she was 12 she was playing adult tournaments internationally, setting a record she still holds for the youngest player ever to be ranked on the WITA computer. At 15, she won the gold medal in the 1984 Summer Olympics (tennis was a demonstration event) in Los Angeles, in the same year becoming the youngest player to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

Graf's hectic rise occasionally suggested that she was too driven, a child prodigy of a demanding father-coach. Her quietness combined with the constant presence of her father on tour as her chaperon for a time gave her a reputation as aloof, particularly after incidents like the 1986 U.S. Open, when she stormed past a consoling Martina Navratilova after losing a semifinal.

But as Graf has become older and more articulate, it has become evident that if anyone was doing the driving, it was the child. To suggestions that perhaps she has missed a more normal life, she replies, "Are you sure? I have to say I've never missed anything. I do everything I want."

Peter Graf has emerged as a affectionate, protective father who views himself as a buffer for any criticism of his daughter. If he has played a role in her success beyond coaching, it has been forcing her to take a few days off to do things like go water skiing in Marbella, Spain, and maintaining the most normal home possible under the circumstances. She chooses to live at home in Bruhl rather than buy her own place because, she shrugs, "It isn't necessary (to move out) yet."

"I'm not a person who likes to have the racket out of her hand," she said. "Someone has to say stop. My father has been a big part of that."

So, if anything pushes Graf, it is her own obsessive lust for playing tennis. There is an odd sense that she doesn't play for money or victories so much as the sheer sensation of hitting the felt cover off the ball. She hasn't bought anything with her money, beyond a plain car and a new Sony Walkman. "It's nice to know I'm secure," she said. "But I'm not spending my money on crazy things. I never will. I'm not that kind of person." Her titles are just so much coal for the furnace, tournaments merely an excuse to pull Slovil onto the practice court.

"I think I never met someone who loves the game more than she," Slovil said. "It's never happened yet that I said, 'It's time to go practice.' Until she is late or doesn't want to go out there, I'll have to say she loves the game more than anyone."

She plays with a sort of brevity, an impatience that seems almost dismissive of her opponents. She has a cold, unfeeling backhand and an injurious forehand that might the single hardest stroke around, along with her right-handed serve. She carves out whole swatches of open court, leaving the opposition humiliatingly vulnerable to easy volleys. "Sometimes," she said, "if my opponent is easy or not playing well, I get a little angry because I wish they would play better."

But Graf is not callous so much as she is intent on her own purpose; she seems to greet every stroke with the sentiment, "Look, a ball!" In the Australian, she whipped Chris Evert in the first set, 6-1, and had her down by 5-1 in the second before Evert lost respectably, 7-6. In the French, she defeated Natalia Zvereva by 6-0, 6-0 to complete the first shutout ever in a final at Roland Garros. "I was blown out," Navratilova said incredulously after her three-set loss in the Wimbledon final, in which Graf took 12 of the last 13 games for a 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory.

Graf has brought sheer power to women's tennis, much in the way Navratilova first brought pure athleticism to it. She is threatening to develop the sort of thrall Navratilova held over the game when she won six straight grand slam events in 1983 and 1984 (she did not win a Grand Slam because the four did not come in a calendar year). Graf has held the No. 1 spot without interruption since August of last year, and has now won four grand slam events in the last 13 months. She has played in six straight grand slam finals and won four.

The turning of the tide is now painfully evident to the 33-year-old Evert and 31-year-old Navratilova, both of whom acknowledge they won't be in the game much longer. "I'll be back next year if my aching body holds up," Navratilova said at Wimbledon after Graf halted her streak of six straight titles. As long ago as last year's U.S. Open, Evert had already delivered her benediction. "I think a lot of people wondered what would happen when we retired, and now they don't wonder anymore," Evert said then. "Steffi will be a good No. 1 for women's tennis."

There is one significant drawback to Graf's tennis idyll, however, and it is fame. She sometimes flees to her second home, a condo in Boca Raton, Fla., because going back to West Germany has turned into an unrestful strain since becoming a national hero there. They drive slowly by her house, knock on the door for autographs, demand her opinions on international matters. She longs for some small amount of time in which to enjoy her accomplishments before the clamor for more begins.

"The tennis," she said, "is much easier than what's around it."

But as her victories increase, the problem compounds, and she remarks dolefully on the fact that her interview commitments now take take more time than her matches. Those have become a sort of refuge, where she can play with a sort of unthinking nervelessness that perhaps only a 19-year-old possesses.

"It's very difficult to do it right for everybody," she said. "If you play fast, they say you are too fast. But once I got down, 3-0, and someone said they wanted their money back. They don't know what they want. So I do it for me, I do what I want and what's best for me.

"I don't really like not having so much time. Like when you win Wimbledon, you can't really do what you feel. A few years ago, I could feel it much more. Now, I have to worry about winning the next tournament."

There is a "next tournament" at the Summer Olympics in Seoul (tennis is reinstated as a medal sport this year), where Graf is expected to win another gold medal, and she will have just three days to get there from New York. But for the moment, the next tournament is the Open, and that means the Slam. Graf has questioned Court about it, and received an interesting reply: "She says not to think about it too much."
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post #2325 of 6247 (permalink) Old Aug 27th, 2012, 03:00 AM
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Re: Steffi Graf Admiration Thread Vol 2

VERY nice reading! Tennis greats from a couple of decades ago... oh those were the days...

Witness of an Era of Grandeur
Chris the Ice Lady - Martina Grace&Power
Fraulein Forehand - The Divine Argentine
Merciless Monica - Barcelona Bumblebee
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