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View Full Version : Article - Monica Seles and Rafael Nadal: Similar Paths To the Top of Tennis


laurie
Jun 10th, 2010, 03:59 PM
Article I've written on Bleacher Report - Read on....

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/403746-monica-seles-and-rafael-nadal-similar-paths-to-the-top-of-tennis

Monica Seles and Rafael Nadal have similarities not only in the way both players have risen up the rankings so dramatically in their respective generations, but also how they both approach the game of tennis and their attitude toward the sport.

To recap, let's take a look at Seles first.

It's actually been 20 years since she won her first Grand Slam Title at the French Open at the age of 16. Seles turned pro in early 1989 and bagged her first title within months. In a small tournament in the United States, Seles defeated Chris Evert in the final and then went deep in the French Open later that year losing, to Steffi Graf.

In 1990, Seles defeated Graf in the final of the German Open and then went on to defeat her in the French Open final to become the youngest ever winner of the tournament.

What Seles was able to do so quickly and dramatically was break Steffi Graf’s stranglehold on the world No. 1 position and establish a rivalry at the Grand Slam level for three years, claiming the No. 1 position for two years until the stabbing incident in 1993.

Nadal had a similarly dramatic rise up the rankings as a teenager. Nadal first got people talking when he defeated Roger Federer in Miami in 2004 as a 17 year old.

A year later, in 2005, Nadal took the first two sets of the final in Miami before Federer went on to win the thriller in five sets.

That served notice to Federer because two months later, Nadal went on to beat Federer as an 18 year old in the semi final of the French Open, winning the tournament two days later on his birthday against Mariano Puerta.

Like Seles, Nadal went on to dominate Roland Garros for the next few years until his shocking loss to Soderling in 2009.

Like Seles, Nadal rose dramatically as a teenager to challenge Federer at the top of the world rankings and create a rivalry when Federer was threatening to dominate the tour by himself for years to come. Nadal eventually usurped Federer's spot as the decisive world No. 1 in 2008 before injury interrupted his progress.

The similarities don’t end there however.

Both Seles and Nadal are left handers who were a few years younger than the player they challenged. I would also add that both Graf and Federer have similar game styles based on their forehand, serve, and single handed backhand, and are seen by the tennis community as natural talents who are smoothly athletic in movement.

In contrast, Nadal and Seles were the foil, the players who were totally dedicated to improving and trained for hours on end, whilst deriving real pleasure in just going out there to play day after day.

Nadal and Seles added a different dimension to the classic style of Graf and Federer, often prompting the rather conservative media and tennis community to almost brand them as somehow anti-tennis due to their approach to the game—in terms of their never say die attitude and willingness to take on the best player in the world and overcome their rivals.

The attitudes displayed by Seles and Nadal in their respective generations has ensured that the tennis world was given a great rivalry in 1990 and 2005, just when it seemed that one player would dominate the sport unchallenged for five to ten years.

In both cases Seles and Nadal were great not just for their time, but also for the subsequent history of the game.

InsideOut.
Jun 10th, 2010, 04:17 PM
Different ways down, hopefully. :unsure:

tonybotz
Jun 10th, 2010, 05:46 PM
wanted to read this, being a longtime seles fan. however, really nothing new, interesting, or insightful here. both left handers, love tennis, challenged older players in their teens... really?

Calypso
Jun 10th, 2010, 07:36 PM
Very interesting to compare Seles and Nadal. There are more similarities and differences between these players, as well as with their respective rivalries (Nadal/Federer and Graf/Seles):-

Similarities:
- Both Seles and Nadal loved to pummel their arch-rivals 'weaker' back hand repeatedly until they opened up the court to finish the point. The pattern of play between these two pairs is amazingly similar:lol:!
- Nadal/Seles both have amazing mental strength and were never ever out of it, both won the most dramatic big matches against their biggest rivals; Nadal 9-7 in that memorable 5th set Wimbledon final triumph against Federer, and Seles 10-8 in the the 3rd set of the final of the 1992 French Open against a battling Graf :eek:
- Nadal/Seles ruled on clay, Federer/Graf ruled on grass:cool:
- Both Federer/Graf have monstrous FHs and vicious BH slices:D
- Both Fed/Graf speak German;)
- Both Fed/Graf have detractors over their GOAT candidacy:o, Graf probably more so. Federer has an underwhelming H2H record against Rafa (7-14, 2-12 on clay!). He also suffered defeats in GS finals against Nadal at the A.O '09, Wimbledon'08, AND was annihilated in the RG final in '08, winning just 4 games over three sets:o). Graf's non-GOATness has been argued to death on these boards and elsewhere mainly because of the infamous stabbing incident which removed the Slam-sweeping machine that was Seles who was a pale shadow of her self physically and mentally post stabbing, leaving the path clear for the German superstar to trigger an avalanche of slam wins she had not enjoyed while her biggest riva was on top of her game;).
- All fanbases have reasons (valid or not) to explain why their faves were knocked off their perch and were in the shadow of their respective rivals at a particular point in time; 'Mono-Fed (Mononucleosis) in '08:tape:, Peter Graf's affair with another Fraulein in the early '90s:o, the dreadful stabbing in Hamburg in '93:(, and Mr & Mrs Nadal's divorce coupled with injured knees for Rafa last year:(


Differences:
- Clay Monster Nadal has the edge over Grass King Federer when it comes to athleticism, while Queen of Grass Graf was the better athlete in comparison to Queen of Clay Seles.
- Federer uses both top-spin and heavy slice on his back hand, while Graf heavily favored the use of the BH slice despite being able to play BH topspin shots herself
- Graf ran Seles very close on clay before the stabbing, only barely losing the aforementioned '92 RG final and beating her once at the F.O '89, and notching another win over post-stabbing Seles at '99 F.O enroute to winning the title that year.
-On the other hand, Federer has been completely eclipsed by Nadal on clay, never beating him at RG (including losses in F.O finals). Only has 2 wins in 12 attempts against Rafa on clay, but came close to a 5th set win in the Masters Series finals in Rome some years ago, holding match-point
- Nadal was able to beat Federer in a nail-biting final at Wimbledon (2008) at the 3rd attempt having lost finals to Roger in 2006 and 2007, whereas Seles only got one chance against Graf in a Wimbledon final, a 2-6,1-6 defeat in the 1992 final. There was never to be a rematch in the final, with Seles unable to return to the finals in the subsequent years following her stabbing
-Graf had awinning H2H record against her upcoming young challenger even before the stabbing, leading narrowly 6-4, tied 3-3 in slam meetings although Seles led the H2H in Slam Final clashes 3-1;)
- Seles was Queen of Melbourne, Paris and New York prior to the stabbing, while Rafa was reigning King of Paris, London and Melbourne before his disrupted 2009.
- Rafa has reclaimed his Paris crown after making an impressive come back from physical and emotional setbacks, can he reclaim his London and Melbourne crowns, and even possibly claim the New York throne as well?:eek:
- Seles, unfortunately, and understandably, was never the same player after the dreadful attack, the mental scars were never quite overcome and led to a long exile from the sport.
- My favorite player from Seles/Graf is the left-handed Monica, while my favorite player from the Nadal/Federer rivalry is the right-handed Federer:D

What amazing players, with amazing rivalries!

laurie
Jun 11th, 2010, 08:32 AM
Calypso, nicely put.

tennnisfannn
Jun 11th, 2010, 08:50 AM
Both Graf and Federer married fellow tennis players haha!

rada
Jun 11th, 2010, 08:53 AM
I always feel sad when i read things about Monica, i miss her :(

hingis-seles
Jun 11th, 2010, 09:28 AM
Rafa came very close to breaking one of Monica's records, but Soderling stopped him.

Monica had won 33 straight matches at the Australian Open before her first ever loss at the tournament. Rafa was stopped at 31 straight matches before his first ever loss at Roland Gaorrs.

Monica's still stands as an Open era record for the most number of matches won before a first ever loss at a GS event.

Dave.
Jun 11th, 2010, 10:09 AM
Nice article Laurie. :) It's amazing how similar they both are and the similarities between their main rivalries. There should be a mixed doubles exho between the 4, or even a Hopman Cup format with singles aswell. :drool:


Thanks for posting those Calypso. Although I disagree with the last Similarities point. All fanbases can come up with an excuse, not just those 4. And unfortunately, Monica is the only one who was truly knocked off her perch. :sad: The other three "returned" to at least equal or better their previous results (Graf and Fed were not affected to any significant degree, they had just run into better players at the time, and Nadal's picked up right where he left off). This is of course because none of those other "incidents" are even comparable to what happened to Monica.

Direwolf
Jun 11th, 2010, 11:52 AM
NO!!

Seles was extremely dominant!!

Seles is a very aggressive player compared to Nadal!!

they are both amazing players in their own game...

Anabelcroft
Jun 11th, 2010, 12:04 PM
But the difference is that Nadal won 2/3 of matches against his main rival unlike Monica who lost 2/3 of the matches with her main rival...

Nadal-Federer 14:7

Graf-Seles 10-5

rada
Jun 11th, 2010, 12:10 PM
But the difference is that Nadal won 2/3 of matches against his main rival unlike Monica who lost 2/3 of the matches with her main rival...

Nadal-Federer 14:7

Graf-Seles 10-5

Please had Monica been around that number would be different and you know it. Monica in slams had it over Graf and Monica was only 19.

Sorry but Graf would not have been so great had Monica not been stabbed. :(

Kworb
Jun 11th, 2010, 01:00 PM
Poorly written article, I suggest more practice and some peer reviews before publishing anywhere.

Anabelcroft
Jun 11th, 2010, 01:25 PM
would be different


Would be???How do you know???

Hingis was dominant player until 19 and than just vanished...by that,her last Grand Slam victory was at AO '99 and nobody expected that it would be her last because she was world number 1 and dominant player on the tour for 2-3 years prior and during '99...

spencercarlos
Jun 11th, 2010, 01:49 PM
- Seles was Queen of Melbourne, Paris and New York prior to the stabbing, while Rafa was reigning King of Paris, London and Melbourne before his disrupted 2009.

Seles already had won Paris, Melbourne and New York a couple of times in straight years before the stabbing. The more dominant player without a doubt.

As for Nadal he surely was the Paris, London and Melbourne champion going into RG 2009, but he only did win Wimbledon and the Australian Open just once..

In analogy just two weeks ago and going into Roland Garros 2010 Federer "was" the reigning "King" of Paris, London and Melbourne.


- Rafa has reclaimed his Paris crown after making an impressive come back from physical and emotional setbacks, can he rclaim his London and Melbourne crowns, and even possibly claim the New York throne as well?:eek:

Nadal´s comeback to form took him like 8 months, and got to about 11 monts without winning a single tittle. I would hardly call that impressive IMO.
And not that i don´t think its possible for him to win Wimbledon and the
Usopen this year, but i think it will be hard and difficult for him. I would not bet on that..

This won´t be the red stuff that he likes, and as you can see he is already been challenged in matches this week in Queens, an almost 4 hour three set match yesterday for instance, and the more they come, the more propense he will be to injuries, tiredness and more vulnerable he will be..

As much as Nadal is probably the strongest player outthere mentally, probably a GOAT in that department, he depends inmensingly on his fitness to win matches day in and day out.. This is a big difference to what Monica Seles brought to the table with dominating groundstrokes, consistency, and full agressiveness..

Chorophyll
Jun 11th, 2010, 02:32 PM
Seles what a true legend.

laurie
Jun 11th, 2010, 02:44 PM
"Poorly written article, I suggest more practice and some peer reviews before publishing anywhere."

784 views in 2 days with 2 likes

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/403746-monica-seles-and-rafael-nadal-similar-paths-to-the-top-of-tennis

Some people who contribute to Tennis Forum are not able to expand their thinking and can only see things in straight lines. And subsequently they think everyone should see things from their simple point of view.

If you read the article you will see its about how they challenged players older than themselves at the top. Not how they return serve or hit forehands and backhands and whether one takes the ball early and the other one takes the ball well behind the baseline.

Talula
Jun 11th, 2010, 02:58 PM
Nice article Laurie and nice post Calypso.

There are similarities between the Seles/Graf rivalry and Nadal/Federer one. Fans have commented on it for a while. It's not just their careers, but you have the sultry/fashionable/flamboyant Monica/Raffa and then the 'classical' Germanic/cool Graf/Federer. It is quite noticeable how parallels can be drawn.

The big issue for Monica fans is Wimbledon: without the stabbing would she ever have won it? We will never know. Her best chance would have been '94 probably which would have matched Nadal's Wimbledon success in the 3rd final!

The poster who referrred to Hingis' demise after Australia 99 needs to remember that Monica NEVER behaved like Martina. Monica actually won a Slam after her come back. Martina never won a slam after her return. Martina's demise was pretty much self-inflicted, Monica's wasn't and the fact Monica came back and fought 4 Grand Slam finals - 2 against Graf in quite emotional circumstances and 1 French just after her father had died, speaks volumes for her strength of character.

Anabelcroft
Jun 11th, 2010, 03:43 PM
The poster who referrred to Hingis' demise after Australia 99 needs to remember that Monica NEVER behaved like Martina. Monica actually won a Slam after her come back. Martina never won a slam after her return. Martina's demise was pretty much self-inflicted, Monica's wasn't and the fact Monica came back and fought 4 Grand Slam finals - 2 against Graf in quite emotional circumstances and 1 French just after her father had died, speaks volumes for her strength of character.

I was referring to the fact that nobody would believe after Hingis won AO '99 that it would be her last...everyone thought that she WOULD win a bunch of Slams because she was world number 1,very dominant prior to that and that she was 19...but she didn't.

That's why I am saying that should,would and such things don't work in tennis...who could have predicted prior to RG that Schiavone would win it?

None

Olórin
Jun 11th, 2010, 04:04 PM
I was referring to the fact that nobody would believe after Hingis won AO '99 that it would be her last...everyone thought that she WOULD win a bunch of Slams because she was world number 1,very dominant prior to that and that she was 19...but she didn't.

That's why I am saying that should,would and such things don't work in tennis...who could have predicted prior to RG that Schiavone would win it?

None

Exactly, who would've predict after Seles overpowered Graf in the 1993 Australian Open Final that a crazy Graf fan would stab Seles and in her absence Steffi would go on to dominate the year winning the next three four slams which Seles didn't even play. No-one.

You just can't compare that sort of crazy unpredictability with anything.