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Wtaa
Oct 14th, 2007, 06:43 PM
Tennis in most cases is almost 50 percent a mental game. Evert and Seles won it out big time in this aspect in their respective generation. Just absolutely no fear whatsoever. They were just so relentless mentally, never gave you an inch, never a loose point, it was almost scary to watch.

Who is the Mentally Toughest Player/Best Clutch Player of this Generation?

Drake1980
Oct 14th, 2007, 06:51 PM
Justine!!

Kworb
Oct 14th, 2007, 06:51 PM
Serena

Wayn77
Oct 14th, 2007, 06:52 PM
Justine "unbeatable in a tie-break" Henin

Kworb
Oct 14th, 2007, 06:55 PM
I love Justine but if she were mentally toughest she would have won Miami and Wimbledon (or at least made the final).

bandabou
Oct 14th, 2007, 07:15 PM
For her career overall Serena..look at her record in finals..once she gets past the QF, she's money to go on and win the title.

G1Player2
Oct 14th, 2007, 07:16 PM
For her career overall Serena..look at her record in finals..once she gets past the QF, she's money to go on and win the title.

I agree. Nothing wrong with Serena mentally right now she just has to get herself into supreme physical conditioning and fitness. Mental is always gonna be there it's just the physical part that should come first.

homogenius
Oct 14th, 2007, 07:18 PM
Serena and Henin are pretty equal to me.They lacked some mental toughness at one moment or the other, but overall they're way above the rest.

friendsita
Oct 14th, 2007, 07:19 PM
JH... ohhh plz!!! yeah, yeah, yeah and she's the hottest too!

Bartosh
Oct 14th, 2007, 07:25 PM
What here is Sharapova doing? :rolleyes:

Look on Wimbledon or Miami - Justine is so strong ;)

Serena of course...

HenryMag.
Oct 14th, 2007, 07:25 PM
Serena

hurricanejeanne
Oct 14th, 2007, 08:00 PM
Over her career, Serena.

thrust
Oct 14th, 2007, 08:04 PM
What here is Sharapova doing? :rolleyes:

Look on Wimbledon or Miami - Justine is so strong ;)

Serena of course...

Very well put and agreeable!!

Serenidad.
Oct 14th, 2007, 08:05 PM
Serena will think she is a contender for GrandSlams @ 60 years old.

Keaka
Oct 14th, 2007, 08:54 PM
Sharapova should be here, but shouldn't win it.

She is mentally tough - how many times did she serve an risky, risky ace when she was facing BP - and then another one. I remember Srebotnik-Sharapova in Zurich, it was 65 40-30 Srebotnik, Sharapova served 2nd serve ace that just got the center line, and hit it with sooo much power.

The same happened against Azarenka in Moscow (lost that match though)

Henin should win, Williams is the biggest fighter out of these, wants it the most.

karimcartoon
Oct 14th, 2007, 09:02 PM
dementieva all the way. have you seen the way she battles? in Indian Wells 2006 she was losing 6-1 5-1 (against of all people Justine) and she won the match 16 75 75. talk about unbelievable. And why dont you also factor in all her double faults and serve problems. Justine is mentally tough somewhat but she can get frustrated and lose it.

Cp6uja
Oct 14th, 2007, 11:20 PM
Sharapova is part of 1985+ generation (with Sveta, Jelena, Ana, Anna, Nicole...) and she is Mentally Toughest Player of her Generation (Anna C. is #2). Ana Ivanovic is so far best "closer" of this generation, she never lose match when have MP and have fantastic winning stats when win 1st set - but she still must learn how to better comeback and regroup in match when things going wrong.

Serena Williams is Mentally Toughest Player of her Generation (active players older than 1985) include Justine (which is #2). Elena Dementieva is also great in this category - but she choke in both her career most important matches (RG and USO finals).

maximus82
Oct 14th, 2007, 11:34 PM
I am a juju koolaid drinker, but think Serena is mentally tougher. Juju has had some crazy bad hiccups, and has never pulled out some of the crazy come from behind wins that Serena has.

Dawn Marie
Oct 15th, 2007, 12:02 AM
I am a juju koolaid drinker, but think Serena is mentally tougher. Juju has had some crazy bad hiccups, and has never pulled out some of the crazy come from behind wins that Serena has.


Agreed. Justine is tough but she hasn't had the amazing wins that Serena has had in her career.

I'm laughing at Maria Sharapova being in this poll. Venus has had some amazing wins that came from nowhere. Miami final vrs Capriati comes to mind. As well as that Amelie Island come from behind win over Juju.

Dan23
Oct 15th, 2007, 01:14 AM
A little off topic...but where are the generation lines drawn?

OrdinaryfoolisNJ
Oct 15th, 2007, 01:29 AM
Serena and Venus are my favorite players, but when it comes to mental toughness, I think it goes to the Mighty Midget Henin. She's a player of this generation that I'd choose to "play for my life." The girl's will reminds me of a young Tracy Austin, who I believe was the mental pitbull of tennis in her first few years. As tough as Madge and Chris and Steffi and Seles were, Austin used to scare me. Henin in like that for me.

freeandlonely
Oct 15th, 2007, 01:30 AM
I do think Sharapova is mentally strong.
No matter what the scores is, she has the guts to keep attacking aggressively.
Henin is consistant most of the time,
but she can choke and lose a match in 3 which should win in 2.
(of course she can fight back to win a match in 3 which should lose in 2.)
Venus can win an epic like Wimby Final 05,
but can be very nervous against a player who is a level behind her.
Overall, Serena is mentally strongest for me. Not always, but most compare to others.

Willam
Oct 15th, 2007, 02:11 AM
Sharapova? Mentally Strong? :haha:

Is this a joke? OMG She's so fragile..

Dementieva and Serena..

However the worst is petrova :bowdown:

RJWCapriati
Oct 15th, 2007, 03:22 AM
Henin

supergrunt
Oct 15th, 2007, 03:24 AM
rena

IanRadi
Oct 15th, 2007, 03:28 AM
Maria Sharapova??? Are you kidding me??? Pay a look on her last Grand Slam :tape: Without doubts, Serena has the toughest mentally on a court.

plantman
Oct 15th, 2007, 03:55 AM
Justine :)

mboyle
Oct 15th, 2007, 04:21 AM
I don't believe Serena has choked a match since 2001. I could be wrong, but I can't think of a time when Serena has lost after getting into an easily winnable position. When Serena loses, it is because she hasn't worked hard enough to groove her strokes or her body. She always wants it and she always believes she will win.

Justine chokes fairly often for the greatest or second greatest player of a generation. She's still much tougher than the average player, but I don't think she's quite where Serena is.

Sharapova is not in the same generation. She is mentally tougher than Justine was at 20. Don't think she's where Serena was in 2002...

Renalicious
Oct 15th, 2007, 05:50 AM
Out of those three...definitely Serena. I don't get how Justine can be mentally tough? She isn't, clearly. She often fails to close out matches because she is sometimes a choker.

micah63
Oct 22nd, 2007, 12:22 AM
Tennis in most cases is almost 50 percent a mental game. Evert and Seles won it out big time in this aspect in their respective generation. Just absolutely no fear whatsoever. They were just so relentless mentally, never gave you an inch, never a loose point, it was almost scary to watch.

Evert yes, Seles no. She often gave away matches, had a tendency to get thrashed now and then. Especially by Graf and Hingis who owned her during the bigger part of her career.

MistyGreyidiot
Oct 22nd, 2007, 12:38 AM
Evert yes, Seles no. She often gave away matches, had a tendency to get thrashed now and then. Especially by Graf and Hingis who owned her during the bigger part of her career.

Except those times when Seles was thrashing Graf before the German KNIFE intervened.

Evert yes, Seles yes, Hingis yes, Graf NO...To think that Graf could be affected by a trivial daddy-scandal for almost 3 years is laughable.:lol: :lol: :lol:

micah63
Oct 22nd, 2007, 12:47 AM
Except those times when Seles was thrashing Graf before the German KNIFE intervened.

Evert yes, Seles yes, Hingis yes, Graf NO...To think that Graf could be affected by a trivial daddy-scandal for almost 3 years is laughable.:lol: :lol: :lol:

Everybody has his/her ups and downs.
Evert and Graf were mentally so strong that they won at least one slam each year for 10 years or more though. But Seles won her last with 21. Comparable to Hingis who won her last slam with 19 (or Davenport with 23).

MistyGreyidiot
Oct 22nd, 2007, 01:06 AM
.
But [B]Seles won her last with 21

Seles was visibly in less-than-peak form, and that was attributable to being out and shape and depression from the stabbing.

MistyGreyidiot
Oct 22nd, 2007, 01:19 AM
Everybody(Graf) has his/her ups and downs.
Graf were mentally so strong Comparable to Hingis who won her last slam with 19 (or Davenport with 23).

What you're proposing for Graf, ebbs and flows that last for *years*, is highly unusual among top champs, i daresay unique. Evert? She hit top form around 1976 and stayed at it for the next 10 years. MN? Hit top form around 1981 and stayed at it for 7 years. BJK? Hit top form around 1966 and stayed at it for 7 years. Sampras? Hit top form in 1993 and stayed at it for 7 years. Lendl? Hit top form in 1982 and stayed at it for 8 years. Borg? Hit top form in 1976 and stayed there for 5 years. Connors? Top form i 1974 and stayed there for 9 years. Mac? Top form in 1979 and stayed there for 5 years.

Sure, within those long peak periods we can identify, for each champ, the kind of "micro-swings" that I gave examples of above, where a champ goes through a 2-3 month patch of unusually bad play, etc. But nothing like the 3-year "ebb" you claim for Graf, who was arguably the *most consistent* , in physical play and mental toughness, germ champ of them all! It beggars belief. :lol:

The obvious explanation as to why Steffi Graf's slam results were so comparitively poor during that time is that Seles was just flat-out better than Graf was.

micah63
Oct 22nd, 2007, 01:23 AM
Seles was visibly in less-than-peak form, and that was attributable to being out and shape and depression from the stabbing.

Mentally tough?

moby
Oct 22nd, 2007, 01:28 AM
On-court: Serena
Off-court: Justine, probably

micah63
Oct 22nd, 2007, 01:29 AM
What you're proposing for Graf, ebbs and flows that last for *years*, is highly unusual among top champs, i daresay unique. Evert? She hit top form around 1976 and stayed at it for the next 10 years. MN? Hit top form around 1981 and stayed at it for 7 years....


Every great player has her ups and downs.
Evert fell back to #3 in 1980, later had a 13-match losing streak against Navratilova. Same with Navratilova, was only #3 in 1981, didn' win a slam between summer 1979 and end of 1981 (was 22-25 years old).
The great come back though.
Lesser players may have some success for 2 or 3 years. But when the going gets tough they usually falter. That's why Evert, Navratilova and Graf are so great. :worship:

OsloErik
Oct 22nd, 2007, 01:33 AM
I can't think of many matches that Serena has lost because of her mental condition. Her physique is what's let her down this year, because it spills over to her technique. But the only matches that I've seen her get rattled in are the French in '03 and the US in '04, and frankly, those can't really be blamed on her.

MistyGreyidiot
Oct 22nd, 2007, 01:36 AM
Mentally tough?

Yes. It would have been perfectly reasonable for Seles to have reacted to an attempt on her life on a tennis court by *never playing again*. So the fact that she did come back after 2.4 years shows a high level of fortitude.

Then to help with the enlightenment process, please answer:

What's more likely:

a) Beginning in May of 1993, Graf immediately won 3 slams she hadn't won in between 3.5 and 5 years because she *just happened* to have recovered from slump enough to surpass Seles, such that she likely would have won them even if Seles hadn't been stabbed, or

b) because the player that had won the lion's share of those three slams during that time period -Seles - wasn't entered in those events?

I'm waiting, and i'm patient. :)

OsloErik
Oct 22nd, 2007, 01:39 AM
Here's an old thread, and it was about mental toughness EVER, but just check out which present-day names come up the most.

http://wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=319524

MistyGreyidiot
Oct 22nd, 2007, 01:47 AM
Every great player has her ups and downs.
Lesser players may have some success for 2 or 3 years. But when the going gets tough they usually falter. That's why Evert, Navratilova and Graf are so great. :worship:

a "Graf DOWN period" that lasted 3 whole years, and just happened to end when the dominant player left the tour? and a "period" that she never suffered before or after that?

Beggars belief.

This never happened to Evert and Navratilova.:worship:

OsloErik
Oct 22nd, 2007, 02:01 AM
Yes. It would have been perfectly reasonable for Seles to have reacted to an attempt on her life on a tennis court by *never playing again*. So the fact that she did come back after 2.4 years shows a high level of fortitude.

Then to help with the enlightenment process, please answer:

What's more likely:

a) Beginning in May of 1993, Graf immediately won 3 slams she hadn't won in between 3.5 and 5 years because she *just happened* to have recovered from slump enough to surpass Seles, such that she likely would have won them even if Seles hadn't been stabbed, or

b) because the player that had won the lion's share of those three slams during that time period -Seles - wasn't entered in those events?

I'm waiting, and i'm patient. :)

Two things: First, I totally agree with you on Seles, her ability to come back after that is damn impressive, and does indicate a ton of mental toughness.

Second, I think you've missed a couple of the factors that Steffi dealt with in the early 90's. You've mentioned the tax scandal that put her father in jail, rain her name through the tabloids, etc. in a negative way that not another player I can think of had to deal with. But you've forgotten what she underwent at the end of the '92 season, which without a doubt affected her play before hand. In October, she had surgery to remove bone shards from her foot. And it bears out in her play, too. Look at her matches from 88 or 89 and compare them to her matches from '91 or '92. She was never off balance in the first years, and she was not often, but increasingly off balance in '91 and '92. While I wouldn't argue that she wasn't getting beaten by Seles because Seles was superior, it is worth noting that Graf wasn't just losing to Seles during those years. I ran numbers once, and during '91 and '92 she had something like 16 losses to players (besides Seles) who reached slam semifinals between '90 and '94, and from '93 through '94 she had something like 5. It wasn't just Seles who was beating her, it was everyone.

Seles stabbing is probably the most tragic event in tennis history, and it's doubly tragic because it didn't just affect Monica's career. It affected Steffi's, too. It unfairly tarnished her legacy. There's no way of knowing what would've happened if Steffi and Seles were both on top of their games for the '93 season, but it's not fair to take out the anger and sadness of that event on Graf.

micah63
Oct 22nd, 2007, 02:31 PM
<Graf>
Look at her matches from 88 or 89 and compare them to her matches from '91 or '92. She was never off balance in the first years, and she was not often, but increasingly off balance in '91 and '92. While I wouldn't argue that she wasn't getting beaten by Seles because Seles was superior, it is worth noting that Graf wasn't just losing to Seles during those years. I ran numbers once, and during '91 and '92 she had something like 16 losses to players (besides Seles) who reached slam semifinals between '90 and '94, and from '93 through '94 she had something like 5. It wasn't just Seles who was beating her, it was everyone. ...

Ehm ... , in 1991/92 Graf won 3 of 4 matches against Seles ....:tape:

Mightymirza
Oct 22nd, 2007, 02:45 PM
I am a juju koolaid drinker, but think Serena is mentally tougher. Juju has had some crazy bad hiccups, and has never pulled out some of the crazy come from behind wins that Serena has.

I second that except dont forget the wins of kuzzie(RG) and jencap ;)

grogom31
Oct 22nd, 2007, 02:52 PM
how could not imagine people saying henin is as tough mentally as serena?henin is tough mentally .hands down serena is the best competitor of all generations.

MistyGrey
Oct 22nd, 2007, 03:00 PM
Seles was visibly in less-than-peak form, and that was attributable to being out and shape and depression from the stabbing.

OMG! I have an idiotic evil twin :scared::lol::lol:
selesrules :spit:
Too bad it got banned again... all 4 of its new ids! :hug:

In The Zone
Oct 22nd, 2007, 04:53 PM
Either Serena or Henin, clearly.

I would argue Serena, though. Henin's talent and ability are what wins her matches. When matches get tight or tense in a big time stage, it's Henin's ability that wills her through -- not her mental toughness when compared to Serena's, but of course she is the 2nd toughest ( behind Serena ). Serena's relies more on fight and will while Henin relies on ability. I'll never forget Henin's face when she netted an easy volley on a match point against Serena at Wimbledon. I think that makes my entire argument.

shap_half
Oct 22nd, 2007, 05:00 PM
Either Serena or Henin, clearly.

I would argue Serena, though. Henin's talent and ability are what wins her matches. When matches get tight or tense in a big time stage, it's Henin's ability that wills her through -- not her mental toughness when compared to Serena's, but of course she is the 2nd toughest ( behind Serena ). Serena's relies more on fight and will while Henin relies on ability. I'll never forget Henin's face when she netted an easy volley on a match point against Serena at Wimbledon. I think that makes my entire argument.

I don't think that's entirely true. Your abilities don't mean anything if you can't get your mentality in check.

Justine's natural abilities have always been there for her, yet she managed to lose quite a bit of matches early in her career because she couldn't fight out to win.

Reuchlin
Oct 22nd, 2007, 05:07 PM
Serena. Justine is a great fighter too, but with her it took more "work"-- it did not come as natural.

Topspin2
Oct 22nd, 2007, 05:12 PM
Anna Kournikova

OsloErik
Oct 22nd, 2007, 08:41 PM
Ehm ... , in 1991/92 Graf won 3 of 4 matches against Seles ....:tape:

Right, which is exactly the point: it wasn't that Seles was markedly better (although she was the better players, since she did win the most slams in those years) but that Graf was markedly worse. She lost not to Seles, but to Sabatini, ASV, Navratilova, and a whole slew of the other so-so players that she had dominated before and would after the operation.

pigam
Oct 22nd, 2007, 09:00 PM
I second that except dont forget the wins of kuzzie(RG) and jencap ;)

myskina olympics
razzano Miami ;)

But i agree that Serena is probably more mentally strong. She's a great match finisher, whereas Ju, not so much ;)

Watching
Oct 22nd, 2007, 09:20 PM
Serena obviously. She is a great match closer...She NEVER chokes since like 2001. She has regularly over her career done those freakish wins from way behind especially when playing bad....All of her Australian Titles could easily be gone in a matter of 4 points...

Henin is good but she ain't the greatest closing out matches has had quite a few chokes. At Wimbledon she is fragile so puts her 2nd in this contest.

shap_half
Oct 22nd, 2007, 09:32 PM
myskina olympics
razzano Miami ;)

But i agree that Serena is probably more mentally strong. She's a great match finisher, whereas Ju, not so much ;)

I don't think she's less mentally strong. I think she gets bored and decides to play another sport instead of tennis for a few games.

micah63
Oct 22nd, 2007, 10:05 PM
Right, which is exactly the point: it wasn't that Seles was markedly better (although she was the better players, since she did win the most slams in those years) but that Graf was markedly worse. She lost not to Seles, but to Sabatini, ASV, Navratilova, and a whole slew of the other so-so players that she had dominated before and would after the operation.

I have read somewhere that some fans attribute this to the field peaking in 1990-92 (while it slumped before and afterwards) and Graf staying on the same level.

OsloErik
Oct 22nd, 2007, 11:15 PM
I have read somewhere that some fans attribute this to the field peaking in 1990-92 (while it slumped before and afterwards) and Graf staying on the same level.

But then the magic question is why did everyone else suddenly get worse in early 1993? Graf has a good explanation for getting better in early '93, which could very possibly explain why she didn't do well (in comparison to her best) the previous two years. She had bone spurs removed from her foot (ouch!) at the end of the '92 season.

It's harder for me to believe that 7 or 8 players all got better at the same time and slumped at the same time than for me to believe that Graf had problems and got over them. It just seems more logical for one person to fluctuate than for 7 or 8 to fluctuate identically, you know?

This isn't to say that Seles doesn't deserve those titles, because she was clearly the best in the world during those years. It's unfortunate that people assume she would have kept on winning title after title when Steffi was quickly closing the gap in '93. We can't assume one way or the other, it's unfair and there's enough evidence for both cases to seem realistic.

Geisha
Oct 23rd, 2007, 12:17 AM
If Venus kept up her mental sharpness from the 2000-2003 seasons, she would definitely be top two on this list. She had so many incredible wins, such as the '00 US Open SF vs. Hingis, '03 Wimbledon SF vs. Clijsters, and other wins where she comes out of nowhere and wins.

Henin is mentally tough, as well. I think, at Wimbledon this year, she was extremely mentally tough because of all the hype and drama that went into the match. At the end, when Serena as coming back, Henin closed it off. But, the SF doesn't prove positive for her.

I think it has to be Serena for this generation. Not only has she shown mental toughness against the lesser ranked players (Haynes, Santangelo at Wimbledon '05, '06 Los Angeles vs. Shaughnessy), it's her wins against Clijsters and Sharapova at the '03 and '05 Australian Opens, and her win against Henin in Miami this year, that put her ahead of everyone else.

frontier
Oct 23rd, 2007, 12:49 AM
Serena has proved time and time again that she is very tough,specially when she came from 5-1 to beat Kim,sf against pova,miami final against Justine,sf wimbledon against momo 2004 was a very close match and many others too numerous to mention.Justine sometimes displays some indecion specially against Serena at Wimbledon she kept looking up to Carlos for tips and he obliged.

Mistyidiot
Oct 23rd, 2007, 12:54 AM
OMG! I have an idiotic evil twin :scared::lol::lol:
selesrules :spit:
Too bad it got banned again... all 4 of its new ids! :hug:

banned in internet message board??? BIG DEAL PUNK!!!:lol: :lol::haha:


Grafan....Its obvious you are a BIG NOSE CLOWN in the real world and for you....this message board is a tool for you to be something you are not, and so it allow's you to escape your pathetic twisted little existence, and hide behind a computer keyboard and act like a tough little punk when you are not.. Its a shame, and so why I feel so sorry for you..SICKO!!!:haha: :haha: :haha: :haha: :haha: :haha: :haha: :haha: :haha:

:lol: :lol: :lol:

Mistyidiot
Oct 23rd, 2007, 01:05 AM
Ehm ... , in 1991/92 Graf won 3 of 4 matches against Seles ....:tape:

Calimero377.........Perhaps emergence of new phenomenon - Graf/knife-denier?
:haha: :haha: :haha:

Mistyidiot
Oct 23rd, 2007, 01:15 AM
I have read somewhere that some fans attribute this to the field peaking in 1990-92 (while it slumped before and afterwards) and Graf staying on the same level.

Calimero377:tape: ...If I was a German (Thank God I am not) , I would not brag about Graf's winnings after a German stabbed Seles in the back. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Adaora
Oct 23rd, 2007, 02:51 AM
How can Justine be described as that much mentally tough when she keeps looking up to her coach at the stand during matches? mentally tough my foot!

mankind
Oct 23rd, 2007, 03:18 AM
Serena.

OsloErik
Oct 23rd, 2007, 04:26 AM
If I was a German (Thank God I am not) , I would not brag about Graf's winnings after a German stabbed Seles in the back. :lol: :lol: :lol:

That's a little racist, don't you think?

Mistyidiot
Oct 23rd, 2007, 05:16 AM
Right, which is exactly the point: it wasn't that Seles was markedly better (although she was the better players, since she did win the most slams in those years) but that Graf was markedly worse. She lost not to Seles, but to Sabatini, ASV, Navratilova, and a whole slew of the other so-so players that she had dominated before and would after the operation.

Graf got the better of Seles because of the stabbing. I always felt that Graf played better after Monica'a stabbing. She relaxed more, because her most intimidating opponent was no longer a factor. Graf and Monica didn't play very often before the stabbing because Graf wasn't making the finals as consistently. After Monica was gone, Graf was consistently making finals and winning nearly all of them.

Mistyidiot
Oct 23rd, 2007, 05:20 AM
It's unfortunate that people assume she would have kept on winning title after title when Steffi was quickly closing the gap in '93. We can't assume one way or the other, it's unfair and there's enough evidence for both cases to seem realistic.

1991: seles 3 slams, graf 1
1992: seles 3 slams, graf 1
1993: seles 1 slam, graf 0

how was the gap closing Grafan ?

Mistyidiot
Oct 23rd, 2007, 05:22 AM
But then the magic question is why did everyone else suddenly get worse in early 1993? Graf has a good explanation for getting better in early '93, which could very possibly explain why she didn't do well (in comparison to her best) the previous two years. She had bone spurs removed from her foot (ouch!) at the end of the '92 season.

.

During a wta match telecast in 2002, Evert noted that before Seles's stabbing, she was clearly the best player in the world, and that Steffi hadn't won many slams in the 2-3 years before then. Then, after the stabbing, Graf went on a tear winning several more in the later years.

Evert reminds us of a key point. We can't know for sure what would have happened, but it is likely that Steffi won at least 8-9 additional slams that she wouldn't have won as a result of the Seles stabbing. That should be kept in mind when evaluating Graf vs. the likes of Evert and Navratilova.

OsloErik
Oct 23rd, 2007, 06:28 AM
During a wta match telecast in 2002, Evert noted that before Seles's stabbing, she was clearly the best player in the world, and that Steffi hadn't won many slams in the 2-3 years before then. Then, after the stabbing, Graf went on a tear winning several more in the later years.

Evert reminds us of a key point. We can't know for sure what would have happened, but it is likely that Steffi won at least 8-9 additional slams that she wouldn't have won as a result of the Seles stabbing. That should be kept in mind when evaluating Graf vs. the likes of Evert and Navratilova.

If we take Seles's (sorry if that's not grammatically correct, I have trouble with English apostrophes) and Graf's performances in that time frame, it does show that Graf was improving as soon as the '93 season started. Seles was NOT the player beating Graf left and right in '90, '91, or '92. Graf was barely #2 in the world at the time. Her losses in between the '90 German Open (Seles first win over Graf) and before the '93 Citizen Cup (the event where Seles was stabbed) were to:

'90: Seles, Seles, Garrison, Sabatini, Sabatini
'91: Novotna, Sabatini, Sabatini, Sabatini, Sabatini, Sanchez-Vicario, Navratilova, Novotna
'92: Novotna, Sabatini, Sabatini, Seles, Capriati, Sanchez-Vicario, McNeil
'93: Seles, Navratilova, Sanchez-Vicario

In the time that Seles was gone, her record against these 7 non-Seles players was 22-4. Now, it's possible that she was so petrified of playing Seles that she was losing earlier in tournaments, but her 3-4 record against Seles in the '90-'93 timeframe doesn't really indicate that she was intimidated. If you add up sets and games won, it's pretty close between the two.

Evert isn't really saying anything revolutionary or brilliant. She's absolutely right, and nobody really denies that Seles was the best player in the world in that period. Graf was barely the 2nd best. If Sabatini actually won some slams, she would've been #2. But to say empirically that Seles was the reason Graf didn't win tournaments doesn't really bear out. Sabatini had an 8-4 record against Graf from '90 through '92. Navratilova was blitzing Graf, whom she hadn't beaten in almost 5 years. Graf clearly had problems winning matches in that time frame, but her progress in early '93 was obvious; she re-established her chokehold on Sabatini, she was beating Sanchez-Vicario handily on clay at Hilton Head, she won 12 straight sets at the Australian open against pretty solid opponents, only losing in three tight sets to Seles. Yes, she went on a 49-2 tear after Seles was gone. But the seeds for her domination had already been sown; she'd improved significantly at beating her rivals. She hit her 2nd peak.

Is it likely that Seles would have won some of the slams that Graf won in those years? Yes. Is it likely she would have won all of them? No. Graf was still far and away the favorite on grass, was re-establishing her supremacy on clay in '93 (she'd come close in '92), and had played Seles much tighter on Rebound Ace (Graf's worst surface by her own account) than ever before. She was making strides. To say that she won 8-9 slams that she certainly wouldn't have is to be blinded by anger at Seles career being ruined.

I'm not a Graf fan, not by any stretch. I didn't even like watching her play. The serve, the forehand, the backhand, were ugly ugly ugly. But I would never argue that she wasn't the best singles player of all time. Fact is, she managed to be the best in the world during three separate time periods, from 87-90, 93, and 95-96, overcoming injury and intense opposition to do so.