Graf's biggest strength is being one of best on all surfaces, but not the best on any - TennisForum.com

 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old Feb 16th, 2012, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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Graf's biggest strength is being one of best on all surfaces, but not the best on any

When you think about Graf and her greatness it is that on her worst surface she is better than any other women in history on their worst surface, atleast in the all surface era. She is better on all surfaces than Navratilova on clay, better on all surfaces than Seles on grass (by alot), better on all surfaces than Evert on grass, better on all surfaces than Serena on clay (by alot). She is generally regarded as just slightly better than Court on both clay and grass, I am not sure how their carpet records compare, and impossible to compare them on hard courts.

However she is not the best on any surface, and some of her main rivals are arguably better on most of them. Prime Navratilova is better than prime Graf on grass, carpet, or medium to fast hard courts. Prime Graf is better on clay and rebound ace only. Prime Seles is better than prime Graf on rebound ace and clay by alot, better on carpet. Some debate medium to fast hard courts, but before the stabbing it was Seles there too. Graf is far and away better on grass, but that would be it. Prime Evert would arguably be better than Graf on all but grass and carpet. Prime Serena would probably beat Graf on rebound ace, grass, or medium to fast hard courts, but lose on clay and maybe on carpet.

So really her greatest strength is that no women in history has been as strong on all surfaces. However surface for surface she isnt the best on any surface, and some people have her beat on most of them.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old Feb 16th, 2012, 11:26 PM
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Re: Graf's biggest strength is being one of best on all surfaces, but not the best on

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Originally Posted by Clijsters28 View Post
However she is not the best on any surface, and some of her main rivals are arguably better on most of them.
That's the point. There is lot to argue. I can't see Martina or Serena or anyone else better than Graf on hardcourts. But that's my opinion.

However, I agree with your statement: So really her greatest strength is that no women in history has been as strong on all surfaces. That is, she is the best overall. Best player in history IMHO

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old Feb 16th, 2012, 11:37 PM
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Re: Graf's biggest strength is being one of best on all surfaces, but not the best on

this is so TF 2009 - peak Graf<Peak others
but we're in 2012 now, and we've moved on now.
it's all about GOAT nowadays

best mover, slice and at times, forehand, along one the first effective serves (including second). it's not wonder she's done well against so many players of all generations.

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old Feb 16th, 2012, 11:40 PM
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Re: Graf's biggest strength is being one of best on all surfaces, but not the best on

A Graf of all trades.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old Feb 17th, 2012, 12:45 PM
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Re: Graf's biggest strength is being one of best on all surfaces, but not the best on

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A Graf of all trades.
I like that!

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old Feb 17th, 2012, 01:02 PM
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Re: Graf's biggest strength is being one of best on all surfaces, but not the best on

This is all relative. Chris Evert reached like what 10 Wimbledon finals? People think grass is her "weakness" but that's only because she had Navratilova as her rival all those years.

Seles already beat Graf in two French Open finals at age of 18. What if she wasn't stabbed, how many French Opens would Graf have actually won?
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old Feb 17th, 2012, 02:06 PM
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Re: Graf's biggest strength is being one of best on all surfaces, but not the best on

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This is all relative. Chris Evert reached like what 10 Wimbledon finals? People think grass is her "weakness" but that's only because she had Navratilova as her rival all those years.

Seles already beat Graf in two French Open finals at age of 18. What if she wasn't stabbed, how many French Opens would Graf have actually won?
True Samn, but even without Martina Chris would quickly admit that grass was not her strongest surface.

And by 1993 it was pretty easy to see that while a healthy Seles had an edge at that time over Graf on all surfaces other than clay, Steffi was still capable of winning on those surfaces vs anyone.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old Feb 17th, 2012, 02:15 PM
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Re: Graf's biggest strength is being one of best on all surfaces, but not the best on

Seles had the clear edge on rebound ace, like Graf did on grass. Seles held the edge on clay (though that could also be because she held the edge in GS finals) although it wasn't a foregone conclusion like rebound ace or grass. Carpet and hardcourts are the big question mark since Steffi was losing before finals those days.

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old Feb 17th, 2012, 03:08 PM
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Re: Graf's biggest strength is being one of best on all surfaces, but not the best on

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Originally Posted by hingis-seles View Post
Seles had the clear edge on rebound ace, like Graf did on grass. Seles held the edge on clay (though that could also be because she held the edge in GS finals) although it wasn't a foregone conclusion like rebound ace or grass. Carpet and hardcourts are the big question mark since Steffi was losing before finals those days.
Hmm, if we're talking about the edge Graf or Seles had with respect to each other, I don't think we have enough matches to say with any degree of certainty who the better player was on a given surface on any given day in absolute terms.

Pre-stabbing, their encounters split by surface were:

Clay: 5
Grass: 2
Hard: 2
Indoor: 1

Seles won 3 of those 5 encounters on clay and the only time they played on Rebound Ace. Graf won both of the grass matches and the lone match each on a faster hard court and indoors.

Post-stabbing, they met even fewer times.

Hard: 3
Clay: 1
Indoor: 1

Graf won four of those encounters and Seles won the only time they played on Rebound Ace.

Overall:
Clay: 6 (3-3)
US Hard: 3 (3-0 Graf)
Rebound Ace: 2 (2-0 Seles)
Grass: 2 (2-0 Graf)
Indoor: 2 (2-0 Graf)

Examined as a whole, I don't think that their personal head-to-head is a large enough sample set to be able to state that Seles had a huge edge on clay and Rebound Ace or that Graf had a similarly huge edge on grass or indoors.

To put this in perspective, the two of them played each other only fifteen times over a eleven-year period. (Although, if we exclude the times when either of them was off the tour, it's probably more like just a seven-year period when both were playing at the same time.)

Best left-right combination by a German (and that includes Max Schmeling): Steffi Graf. All she did in 1987 was knock Navratilova out of #1 and try to knock Evert out of the sport. (Mike Lupica in "The Best and Worst of Tennis in 1987", World Tennis)

"A couple of years ago, we nicknamed Steffi Graf's forehand 'Jaws'. And that music would go perfectly when she starts running in to the net, swarming on that little ball." (JoAnne Russell, during the 1988 Wimbledon final between Graf and Navratilova)
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old Feb 17th, 2012, 03:59 PM
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Re: Graf's biggest strength is being one of best on all surfaces, but not the best on

Nice breakdown Samn.

It makes me think we should have a thread devoted to their head to head matches.

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Examined as a whole, I don't think that their personal head-to-head is a large enough sample set to be able to state that Seles had a huge edge on clay and Rebound Ace or that Graf had a similarly huge edge on grass or indoors.
You make a good case for your argument. I suppose then most of our thoughts on this are based on other results.

I don't recall their other grass match. Was it close?
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old Feb 17th, 2012, 04:09 PM
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Re: Graf's biggest strength is being one of best on all surfaces, but not the best on

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Nice breakdown Samn.

It makes me think we should have a thread devoted to their head to head matches.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graf%E2%80%93Seles_rivalry

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You make a good case for your argument. I suppose then most of our thoughts on this are based on other results.
Well, even if all of Seles' post-1993 results are ignored (and I don't think they should be), I still don't think that there's enough data in the 1989-93 head-to-head to make a strong case for either. And if people want to use the argument that their 1993-99 record shouldn't count because "Monica wasn't the same player", I'd argue that the Graf of 1990-92 wasn't exactly top-quality Graf, either.

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I don't recall their other grass match. Was it close?
Not particularly. Graf won 6-0,6-1 in the R16 at Wimbledon 1989.

Best left-right combination by a German (and that includes Max Schmeling): Steffi Graf. All she did in 1987 was knock Navratilova out of #1 and try to knock Evert out of the sport. (Mike Lupica in "The Best and Worst of Tennis in 1987", World Tennis)

"A couple of years ago, we nicknamed Steffi Graf's forehand 'Jaws'. And that music would go perfectly when she starts running in to the net, swarming on that little ball." (JoAnne Russell, during the 1988 Wimbledon final between Graf and Navratilova)
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old Feb 17th, 2012, 04:38 PM
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Re: Graf's biggest strength is being one of best on all surfaces, but not the best on

Seles recalls about that 89 Wimby match with Steffi in her book (if I am right when she brings up her 6-0, 6-0 loss to Hingis which made her more depressed and had a long effect on her for many months) saying that Steffi did give her a pretty good schooling of how a GS match is played in 89.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old Feb 17th, 2012, 07:26 PM
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Re: Graf's biggest strength is being one of best on all surfaces, but not the best on

Are we exhuming this corpse of a topic (Graf vs. Seles) long enough to perform a baptism on its resurrection? If so, I'm sure there are enough people here who know I have my opinions, and it's been argued so much, I think I'm safe in going on memory on that one. On topic, I think being the best on all surfaces is an incredible feat in and of itself. The only other player who (like her or not, her record speaks volumes) was as great on all surfaces was Margaret Court. Everyone else had weaknesses on one or more surfaces, but not those two. It does (IMO) separate them from the rest. On any given day on any surface, Graf could, and did win against everyone she came in contact with.

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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old Feb 17th, 2012, 08:05 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Graf's biggest strength is being one of best on all surfaces, but not the best on

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This is all relative. Chris Evert reached like what 10 Wimbledon finals? People think grass is her "weakness" but that's only because she had Navratilova as her rival all those years.

Seles already beat Graf in two French Open finals at age of 18. What if she wasn't stabbed, how many French Opens would Graf have actually won?
Either way Graf is clearly superior to Navratilova on clay and Evert on grass. Nobody would even argue this. On the other hand Graf is also clearly inferior to Navratilova and Evert on their "best surfaces" and arguably inferior on the majority of them.

In any era there would be someone better than Evert on grass. Court and King would have beaten her the majority of time on grass. King didnt have her first long to Evert on grass until she was 33. Even Goolagong owned Evert on grass in her prime, only losing once (8-6 in the 3rd) before 1978. Graf would have regularly beaten Evert at Wimbledon, then later Venus and Serena as well. Connolly would overpower her on grass, while Hart and DuPont probably would be atleast her equal on it. Lenglen and Wills would also be superior. There isnt any era she would win a huge number of Wimbledon titles. If anything she was lucky to have her best years where she won 3 Wimbledons in the era where the inconsistent and non dominant Goolagong was her main rival for the most of it, and not during Navratilova's prime or any of these others primes.

As for your latter question I would say something from 3 to 5, but more likely 3 or 4 than 5. She had 2 when Seles was stabbed, Seles wasnt going to win 10 French Opens in a row, so someone else would have had to win a few that decade and Graf would be by far the most likely. Seles would easily have more French Open titles than Graf though I think.

I did bring up the latter point on the best clay courters thread to why I ranked Graf lower but you didnt seem to agree with it, so I am surprised you are bringing it up now. Given that you ranked Graf #3 on clay behind only Evert and Seles, which was higher than I would have, you are already confirming even more Martina is nowhere near as she wouldnt even be top 10. I would rank Graf #5 all time on clay behind Evert, Henin, Seles, and Lenglen, but the greater consensus (which I disagree with but it is what most believe) is that she is #2 all time on clay behind only Evert. Navratilova would definitely be behind all of Graf, Seles, Evert, Wills, Lenglen, Court, Connolly, Henin, Sanchez Vicario, and several others on clay.

Last edited by Clijsters28; Feb 17th, 2012 at 08:24 PM.
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