Originally Posted by justineheninfan
Obviously it goes without saying Steffi Graf was by a huge margin the best player of 1996. After that it was kind of a mix with 4 or 5 who switched back and forth power behind Graf. Novotna had Seles's number this year in the big matches, but Sanchez had Novotna's except for the Chase Championships. Seles continued to own Sanchez and Martinez. Seles and Sanchez did the best reaching some important finals, with Seles the one other than Graf to win one in Graf's absence. Martinez continued to post consistent results but struggled vs most of her rivals this year. Hingis came on late in the year and was about the 2nd best player for the final 3-4 months of 1996 after being a middling top 15 player the rest of it.
Monica Seles- won the Australian Open with Graf and Novotna (her two toughest opponents that year) absent. Lost in the quarters of the French Open and the Olympics. Embarassing early loss at Wimbledon. Runner up to Graf at the U.S Open. Retired from the Chase Championships due to injury. Other big win of year was Canadian Open. 5 titles and 48-8 record on the year.
Was 0-1 vs Graf, 0-2 vs Novotna, 3-0 vs Sanchez Vicario (counting Fed Cup), 0-1 vs Hingis, and 2-0 vs Martinez (counting Fed Cup) for 1996.
Aranxta Sanchez Vicario- Was finalist in French Open, Wimbledon, and the Olympics, coming up just short in each. Quarterfinal loser at Australian and 4th round loser at the U.S Open. I had thought at the time maybe she was the 2nd best player of the year but looking at it now with only 2 titles and a rather pedestrian 57-22 record I dont really feel that way anymore. Had she won the French Open final over Graf, which she should have closed out, I probably still would have gone with her as 2nd best player of the year but she didnt.
0-3 vs Seles, 1-2 vs Hingis, 0-2 vs Graf, 2-1 vs Novotna, and 2-0 vs Martinez for the year.
Jana Novotna- very consistent year for her standards with atleast a quarterfinal in every major event she was in. Semis of French, Semis and bronze medal match winner of Olympics, Quarters of Wimbledon (losing to Graf), Quarters of the U.S Open, and Semis of Chase Championships (losing to Graf again). 54-13 record and 4 titles.
0-2 vs Graf, 2-0 vs Seles, 2-1 vs Hingis, and 1-2 vs Sanchez Vicario for the year.
Conchita Martinez- A letdown after her best ever 1995 year, and yet like 1995 failure to take the big step in the biggest events. Semis of both the French and U.S Opens, losing again to Graf and Seles. Quarterfinals of Australia, 4th round at Wimbledon. Biggest title of year was Rome. 51-18 record. Head to head was owned by all main rivals except Hingis who she trounced in their only meeting in the Rome final, and Novotna who she didnt play.
Martina Hingis- U.S Open semis and Finals of the Chase Championships were her high points. Australian Open quarters, Round of 16 at Wimbledon 3rd round of the French. Only 2 titles and 51-6 record.
Drubbed Seles in their only meeting of the year 6-2, 6-0. 1-3 vs Graf on the year, 0-1 vs Martinez, 2-1 vs Sanchez Vicario, and 1-2 vs Novotna.
Actually reviewing all the stats I would say Seles was definitely the 2nd best player of the overall year despite the slight embarssments of her Wimbledon showing, the back to back losses to Novotna, and the bad drubbings by Hingis and a horribly slumping Capriati late in the year.
I would give the 2nd best to Sanchez because of the major finals.
I would go with Novotna next, then Hingis, then Martinez just behind Hingis.
So this would be my order for the year.
3. Sanchez Vicario
By the end (fall) of 1996 I think Novotna and Hingis were already playing a level above Seles and Sanchez Vicario which would carry over into 1997 but they werent for the overall year, despite Seles's poor showings vs both.
I would switch Hingis with Martinez, mainly because of their respective post Usopen results. Hingis trounced Seles 6-2 6-0 and lost to Graf in 5 sets at the YEC final, plus Hingis was beating pretty much the whole tour except from Jana and Graf at the end of the year.. That´s way better than Martinez Rome win IMO..
Novotna made SF, QF, Qf at slams, Hingis did Qf, 3rd, 4rd, SF, very similar records, and consider that Hingis lost to Graf as well at Wimbledon, same as Jana.
Martinez was Qf, SF, 4rd, SF, just a bit better than Jana and Hingis.
Its a toss up, probably the way they ended the year was exactly as it was.. but eventhough Martinez was 4th ranked at the end of the year, Hingis was on the way up and Martinez on her way down.. she even fell off the top ten in 1997 for instance.
It was very tough... the 4th, 5th and 6th.. not so much for you initial question thread