Re: The Date vs Martinez rivalry
You say Martinez hardly ever lost to players lower ranked but she also has a very bad losing record to Anke Huber, who like Date, was regularly lower ranked. I think she had trouble with Iva Majoli over the years too. Pierce has a solid winning record and was most of the time lower ranked too, although she is different from Date, Huber, and Majoli, as when she got far enough to play someone like Martinez, I think you just expected Pierce to win as she had more weaponary and sheer ability.
You are right she either seems to do really well vs some people, and others she cant cope with at all. Coetzer is a player Martinez totally owned. I think she won 90% of their matches, and won their first 11. That is kind of the opposite as I often wonder why Coetzer wasnt a much tougher opponent for Martinez. Coetzer was fitter and faster than Martinez, could keep the ball in play all day, and Martinez couldnt blow her off the court with power. So how did she dominate Coetzer so easily?
At the 96 French Martinez crushed Coetzer as usual, especialy on clay, and Date lost 8-6 in the 3rd set to Davenport. It was too bad Date didnt win that match, as I would have loved to see how she would have done vs Martinez at the French Open. I dont think the 97 result you refer to means much, as Coetzer was having her career year and Martinez was in a major slump, and Martinez even blew a big lead in that match. Playing Martinez in 96 on clay would be way different, but Date is a much tougher opponent for Martinez than Coetzer is.