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View Full Version : Conclusive proof that Steffi Graf was the Greatest


steffilover
Aug 19th, 2004, 12:10 PM
I found this reference, which is part of a much larger and very entertaining interview with Steve Flink, at chrisevert.net (brilliant site!)
Flink has long been regarded as one of the premier statisticians of the game and has worked at Tennis Week magazine, amongst others. Remember, when reading, that he was actually asked, by chris' web site fans, to place their heroine in a list of all-time greats (so you can't accuse him of bias!)

In my book, “The Greatest Tennis Matches of the Twentieth Century”, I ranked the ten best men and the ten best women of the century. I selected Steffi Graf at No. 1, Navratilova at No. 2, and Chris Evert at No. 3. The rest of the list is as follows: Helen Wills Moody 4, Margaret Court 5, Suzanne Lenglen 6, Maureen Connolly 7, Billie Jean King 8, Monica Seles 9, and Martina Hingis 10.
I made that list in 1999. I would change very little on that list now, although Hingis would surely be replaced by Serena Williams, who may yet rise higher depending on where she goes from here.

I am a big believer that all champions would succeed in any era, that they would move with the times and do what was necessary to win under any circumstances. In the final analysis, I see Graf as the best ever because of her surface mastery--- winning every major at least four times--- her athleticism, her high standards over a long period of time. She did finish only 9-9 against Navratilova and 8-6 over Evert, although Chris beat her the first six times they clashed.

In any event, Graf was awfully good when it counted the most, and despite her sometimes vulnerable backhand which could be attacked--- Navratilova kept coming in on that side behind her serve and backhand approach, while Chris would open up the court by hitting wide to Steffi’s forehand and then drill her two-hander crosscourt to break down Graf’s backhand, or she would do it in reverse and hit the sharp crosscourt two-hander to open up the forehand crosscourt--- she had the best forehand I have ever seen among the women, a very underrated serve, astounding foot speed, and steely determination. I place her narrowly ahead of Navratilova, and Martina a shade above Chris.

Chris was a good deal more reliable across her career in the majors and her record of winning at least one Grand Slam title for 13 straight years won’t be touched. The case for her is that she was a better day in, day out, year in-year out player. But Martina not only held a slight edge at 43-37 in their career series, but that included a big edge in major finals: Martina was 2-1 over Chris in Australian Open championship matches, 5-0 at Wimbledon and 2-0 at the US Open. That 7-0 record in Wimbledon/US Open finals is a critical statistic, because those were the biggest matches they ever played. Chris did beat Martina in three out of four French Open finals, which is irrefutable evidence that she was a vastly superior clay court player. Overall, Chris was 11-3 on clay against Martina. Had she managed to defeat Martina in one or two Wimbledon finals, had she prevailed in one of those Open championship matches, it would have been different. She would then have captured more major singles titles and the scales on the big occasions would have been more balanced. As it was, they each won 18 majors.

Let’s consider the breakdown: Martina won 12 of her 18 majors on grass including a record nine at Wimbledon (the world’s premier event); Chris secured 10 of her 18 on clay (including a record 7 French Open titles), took 5 on the grass, won another three on hard courts. Martina was more versatile and complete with her talent. She was not nearly as good as Chris off the ground but had a decidedly better serve and a much better volley off both sides. So for a variety of factors, I have to rank Martina just that notch above Chris. On the other hand, it is my view that Chris is a class above anyone else on the all-time list because no one has played the game that well for so long without interruption. To never miss the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open for 19 consecutive years is a tribute to how she sustained strikingly high standards.

Graf, however, had the most enviable blend of talent, temperament, and achievement. Her 22 majors is to me a whole lot more impressive than Court’s 24. Her 22-9 record in Grand Slam finals is excellent. She finished eight years at No. 1 in the world. In my book, she is the best ever and I do not give her that status lightly. At her best--- and she had a good many years when she was near the top of her game--- Graf in my judgment was better than anybody else that has played the game. Let’s look at Steffi, Martina and Chris and put them all in a time warp with all three in their primes. Graf would have lost some close clashes to Navratilova on grass, and would have lost some battles with Chris on clay. But, across the board, she would have prevailed in my view. It is a tough call to make but that is how I see it.

....and so say all of us!!!:wavey:

bandabou
Aug 19th, 2004, 12:29 PM
Hmmm...Graf´s the best all-surfacer in that she was never the best on any surface but was equally good on all of them. On grass I think a peak Navratilova or Court beats Steffi at her peak, on clay Chris or even Monica beats Steffi, but because Steffi was so good on all the surfaces, she´d still be taking her slams here and there.

Monica_Rules
Aug 19th, 2004, 12:41 PM
That proves nothing.Its one persons opinion!

KV
Aug 19th, 2004, 12:45 PM
Indoor carpet or the masters is part of the game too. Though thanks to the very informative Wtatour site. It's better to use the search engine to find out something more.

spencercarlos
Aug 19th, 2004, 12:51 PM
Hmmm...Graf´s the best all-surfacer in that she was never the best on any surface but was equally good on all of them. On grass I think a peak Navratilova or Court beats Steffi at her peak, on clay Chris or even Monica beats Steffi, but because Steffi was so good on all the surfaces, she´d still be taking her slams here and there.
Graf is not the best on any surface, just because she does not own the 9 Wimbledon Titles as Martina, but she owns a SHAMEFUL 7 Wimbledons, On Clay she does not own 7 Roland Garros as Evert did, but she owns 6?. At the Usopen she owns 5, too shame compared to the 6 Usopens by Evert? This actually must be a joke.
Anyway it´s an opinion, but i think Steffi´s grass court game was actually lethal, that great serve, low slice and incredible speed to run around the court, worked on Grass better than on any surface.
She relied on pure talent to win those 5 Roland Garros, the surface she would hate to play the most.

tennisvideos
Aug 19th, 2004, 01:07 PM
It proves absolutely nothing. We all know that Graf is one of the greats. But who is the greatest? Nobody, and I mean nobody can ever truly say. There are infinite variables when trying to compare players and eras. All we can say is there are a number of legends and the uppermost tier includes the likes of Lenglen, Wills, Connolly, Court, Evert, Navratilova, Graf. And then there are many more not too far behind ... from all generations. And what about Seles who was robbed when on her way to immortality? She will always be an all time great in my eyes, but her record was cruelly damaged by extraordinary circumstances.

It isn't just about the past 20 years either. People played the sport and legends were made well before we came along.

JustineTime
Aug 19th, 2004, 01:07 PM
Who needed proof? :confused: :shrug: :p

Cybelle Darkholme
Aug 19th, 2004, 01:21 PM
I am sorry but Tennis is more than singles. Its also doubles and mixed doubles and someone like martina who not only accomplished almost as much as graf in the slam singles completely dusted her when it came to showing up for the doubles and mixed doubles.

Navritilova is THE all around greatest tennis player. Sorry that so many can't accept the truth.

bandabou
Aug 19th, 2004, 01:22 PM
Graf is not the best on any surface, just because she does not own the 9 Wimbledon Titles as Martina, but she owns a SHAMEFUL 7 Wimbledons, On Clay she does not own 7 Roland Garros as Evert did, but she owns 6?. At the Usopen she owns 5, too shame compared to the 6 Usopens by Evert? This actually must be a joke.
Anyway it´s an opinion, but i think Steffi´s grass court game was actually lethal, that great serve, low slice and incredible speed to run around the court, worked on Grass better than on any surface.
She relied on pure talent to win those 5 Roland Garros, the surface she would hate to play the most.


You said it yourself...she won 22 majors, but doesn´t hold the record for most victories at none of them, so she wasn´t the most successful in history.

Jem
Aug 19th, 2004, 01:22 PM
It proves absolutely nothing. We all know that Graf is one of the greats. But who is the greatest? Nobody, and I mean nobody can ever truly say. There are infinite variables when trying to compare players and eras. All we can say is there are a number of legends and the uppermost tier includes the likes of Lenglen, Wills, Connolly, Court, Evert, Navratilova, Graf. And then there are many more not too far behind ... from all generations. And what about Seles who was robbed when on her way to immortality? She will always be an all time great in my eyes, but her record was cruelly damaged by extraordinary circumstances.

It isn't just about the past 20 years either. People played the sport and legends were made well before we came along.
So true! The debate is really a bunch of natter. My personal belief is that Seles would have rewritten the record books had she not been stabbed and Graf would have retired early, her grand slam a memory and far fewer Grand Slams to her total credit. No one will never know! To date, though, no one has ever been a more consistent champion than Chris Evert!

morbidangle
Aug 19th, 2004, 03:11 PM
Like we already didnt know that!

Steffi :wavey:

tennisjam
Aug 19th, 2004, 03:15 PM
give me a break... :rolleyes:

mboyle
Aug 19th, 2004, 03:17 PM
Intelligent people understand that finding opinions can never prove irrefutably another person's viewpoint to be wrong. Intelligent people understand that there is no conclusive evidence that exists that can prove one's own opinion correct. Assumptuous and haughty people like yourself wouldn't even dare to commence a thread like this unless they were lacking in the aformentioned aptitude.

mboyle
Aug 19th, 2004, 03:22 PM
That proves nothing.Its one persons opinion!
forgive the unfortunate and conceited vagrants such as Steffilover who suffer from that terrible disease known as fanatic tunnel vision.:wavey:

Leo_DFP
Aug 19th, 2004, 03:38 PM
forgive the unfortunate and conceited vagrants such as Steffilover who suffer from that terrible disease known as fanatic tunnel vision.:wavey:
Now who might also suffer from that disease?

mboyle
Aug 19th, 2004, 04:12 PM
How do I suffer from tunnel vision?:confused: Please explain that one. I should remind you that I am NOT a Seles-fan.

*roddicksinme*
Aug 19th, 2004, 04:19 PM
:worship:STEFFI THE GREATEST EVER:worship: