Just out of curiosity, I decided to watch this match on youtube. With even double-bagels nowadays taking close to an hour sometimes, I found it almost unbelievable that a match would take only 32 minutesto play. As it turns out, it really was that quick.
For the most part, Steffi did not dally between points. Especially not after short points. None of this toweling off, fiddling with strings, fussing over balls after a point that lasted 5 seconds. I think Steffi realized early on that she was not being paid by the hour, and certainly realized that the spectators wanted to see tennis being played, not two people strolling around by the backstop or performing strange rituals.
I remember talking to my friend yesterday saying how, with a 6-0 6-0 loss, there would have been 5 changeovers that would take 7 1/2 minutes so those 32 minutes were in fact 24 1/2. That is just crazy fast.
Akshully, I think it's rather crazier than that. This was still the period of changeovers after the first game. So by my count, that's six
changeovers. What's the proper emoticon to put here?
That's why that 1986 U.S. Clay Court match time versus Vermaak really astounds me (if it's correct). A 10 minute 6-0 set, a 20 minute 6-2 set. If that really does include changeover time, it boggles the mind. 10 minutes minus three 90 second changeovers equals 5 minutes and 30 seconds of actual playing time. To win six games. To play 28 points. On clay.
I think this was a case where Zvereva just really didn't play well at all. Was she "Graffed", to use a word coined by Ms. Anthropic?
To me, Zvereva had the ultimate compound case of Steffi Hysteria, Type 2 getting Graffed*, rookie nerves, and personality/occasion incompatibility (Zvereva could perform well on a "big stage" but she needed someone on the same side of the net).
She was one point away from winning her first service game, but after that, she just seemed completely in over her head. While I was upset that Graf lost to Zvereva in 1998 for the first and only time during Wimbledon, I guess Zvereva did deserve some kind of redemption after that loss. I'm curious now to see that interview where Natasha manages to just joke about this bad loss.
The bits and pieces I have of Zvereva's Wim. 1998 press conference are a riot. Paraphrasing: "Do I want to think about the fifth time she beat me or the eleventh time? Oooh, I think I won a set the seventh time, that was a good one!" Another great (serious) part was when she said Steffi looked her in the eyes as they shook hands at the net and said "Good match" (or maybe it was "Well played"). You can tell from look on Natasha's face that that was one of the most meaningful, satisfying moments in her career. She's not gloating or boasting, it's more of a "Coming from her, it's one of the greatest compliments I've ever had" look.
* There are three types of getting Graffed, which can be best described by what the opponent is thinking during certain points.
Type 1: Hah, she'll never get to that one. -- Well, even though she did, she'll never be able to do anything with it. -- What does she think she's doing? That's crazy, there's no way that can work. -- Oh, no. I lost the point.
Type 2: I know she's going to get to that one, but should I do about it? -- OK, I'll try this now. -- Nope, she's got it. -- I'm doing everything right, and I'm going to lose the point anyway. -- Oh, no. I lost the point.
Type 3: Wow, look at that! She's totally amazing! -- Wait a minute! I'm not a spectator, I'm her opponent! -- Oh, no. I lost the point.
Obviously, after enough Type 1 and Type 2 Graffing, the opponents would feel forced to "try to hit shots they can't make, to search for a game they don't have" (Barbara Potter). The opponent would feel pressured to aim for the outside edge of the lines and miss, even if landing the ball a foot inside the line would have won the point, just because of the tremendous gets and racket magic Steffi had pulled off in the past. Every flick-of-the-wrist running forehand, every back-to-the-net backhand down the line, every drop volley chased down, every half-volley-from-the-baseline backhand drop shot (with extra side spin!) would win even more points in the future, just from the fear factor. This is what Sun Tzu might call "the acme of skill."