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Spirit
Mar 11th, 2003, 01:54 PM
I almost posted this in GF, but I thought it would be better served here.

Something I've wondered about for a while is the topic of players' careers turning on a defining match. I don't mean just a heartbreaking loss or an emotional win. I mean a match in which the loss sent the player into a tailspin from which she tooks years to recover, if ever, or a win which gave the player a new confidence that turned everything around. Matches that can be seen as a crucial linchpin, for good or for bad, within a career; reverse the result of that match and suddenly everything is (probably) different for years to come.

This topic is meant to be about players from any era, of course, from the present to way-back-when.

The only one I can think of -- and I'm not even sure about this one -- is Jennifer Capriati's SF loss to Monica Seles at the 1991 U.S. Open. JCap lost a 3rd-set tie-break, and I've heard the theory that she was under so much expectation and pressure to win a Major that that loss was the beginning of her early breakdown.

I figured the BFTP regulars would know more about this subject. :)

irma
Mar 11th, 2003, 03:02 PM
Iva Majoli french open final
I think it was to much for her

steffi hilton head 86. the first title was apparently high pressure for her because the german press put all pressure on her but unless a certain whiner years later she didn't complain but took the challenge! :worship:

Gandalf
Mar 11th, 2003, 03:02 PM
I'm not sure that the US'91 SF affected Capriati that much; surely it was painful, but she won the Olympics against Graf the following year (her first-and only- victory over her). So I don't think she lost her motivation after '91.

The match that 're-started' Capriati's career was the =Z'01 quarters against Seles. She came back from a set and 2-4 to beat Seles for the first time in a Slam, and then won the other two matches pretty easily.

For Gaby, I would have to say the '93 RG quarters against Mary Joe Fernandez. she had it in her hands, and had beaten Arantxa, who was wainting in the SF, 6-1, 6-3 two weeks before. So she had a reasonable shot at least to the final, and after Seles' stabbing, people (and me too) were expecting her to step up.

For Hingis, it seems obvious that the RG'99 final hurt her a lot, but I think that the OZ'02 final was the one that really ended her career.

Grafiati
Mar 11th, 2003, 04:27 PM
For all of people's thoughts on Iva and the 1997 RG victory, I respectfully disagree... she finished out 1997 playing decent tennis, even winning four matches at WIMBLEDON! It was 1998 that seemed to wipe her off the top 10 list, even if she had Davenport on the ropes in Paris while defending her title... maybe one of these days she will have a "career-changing match" that puts her back IN the top ten? :wavey:

steffilover
Mar 11th, 2003, 04:41 PM
i think steffi's win in the german open, '86, against martina was pivotal. she really creamed martina, with all the pressure of home fans and media, in a huge tournament. although she didn't win a slam till the following year, EVERYONE knew there was a bona fide star on the tour from that day.
hey! i just posted my 100th post. yeah me!! :bounce: :bounce:

JonBcn
Mar 11th, 2003, 09:24 PM
I always think that Zvereva's 6-0 6-0 loss to Steffi in the Roland Garros final of 1988 pretty much finished her off as a potential singles great. She seemed to take everything a tad less seriously afterwards, as if shenever wanted to be in that position again - understandably, I guess. I also wonder if it had anything to do with her ascension to being one of the doubles greats; less pressure, working as a team.

SM
Mar 12th, 2003, 01:22 AM
Jelena's demolition of Hingis at such a ytoung age was definately pivotal on her success to the top ten. It had to have done wonders for her confidence :)...ofcourse it isnt the only important win, but the most meaningful: scene Wimbeldon vs #1 seed!! cant have got better than that

Julian
Mar 13th, 2003, 10:12 PM
For Arantxa I would possible say either the 1989 French Open final against Steffi or her 1988 French Open match where she beat Chris Evert. I would normally say the 89 final but that match against Chris was definitely an eye opener considering how much history Evert had there. :)

stabelizebons
Mar 13th, 2003, 11:35 PM
S.Williams-Graf Indian Wells finals ´99. I think this match proved to the world that the 17 year old was for real. This is amazing because this was the first final Graf lost when completely healthy in her last 22! Truely impressive if you consider that this was only Serena´s second full year and to go on and beat such a legend!!

croat123
Mar 14th, 2003, 12:06 AM
iva's rg win was definately way too much for her, she would have had a better career had she lost and won a gs later.
hingis's loss to graf in fo led to her downfall. her loss to jen last year at ao ended her career as a top player

hingis-seles
Mar 16th, 2003, 06:42 PM
I think that the Seles-Maleeva QF match in Hamburg in 1993 was changed the careers of many players.

louloubelle
Mar 22nd, 2003, 09:27 PM
Some noteworthy mentions...

Jana Novotna's net rushing win over Graf at the 91 Aus Open, signalled the arrival of Jana and tarnished the invincibility of Graf to the other players. Then for Jana two losses to Graf and Rubin after having huge years, gave her that dreaded label.

Seles first match against Graf at the 89 French, a 63 36 63 loss signalled that Seles was a player in the making.

ASV win over Steffi Graf in the 89 French.

A 15 year old Chris Evert's win over Marg Court in 70, after marg's grand slam. The nerves of steel were on show during the 71 US Open in which Chris saved upteen match points to beat Mary Anne Eisel.

Graf's back2back wins over Martina and Chris in the 88Liptons, both str8 set thrashings signalled that she would soon overtake these legends.

irma
Mar 22nd, 2003, 09:41 PM
"tarnished the invincibility of Graf to the other players."


no she already lost that by blowing 7 setpoints in two grand slam finals the year before.
she had already become a choker, that match was just the ice on the cake;)

irma
Mar 22nd, 2003, 09:45 PM
no in fact she lost it already in australia 90 no matter that she won in a tier 2 field

"steffi has lost her magic"

patty fendick after the quarters

Philbo
Mar 23rd, 2003, 01:30 AM
I think in hindisight, Hingis losing to Graf in the 99 French FInal has been a definitive moment in her career, Hingis has never been the same since.

Oh sure, she has made it to slam finals, but I beleive it eroded her confidence to close out those big matches in slam finals.

patricio
Mar 24th, 2003, 01:53 PM
Sabatini Seles 1993. Gaby was uo 4-2 in the third. If she had won that match she'd have become number 1. Poor Gaby...

spencercarlos
Mar 24th, 2003, 05:11 PM
Seles-Sabatini match took place in 92 Roland Garros. But if she had won over Seles she would not have been number one. It was in Roland Garros 91 semi vs Seles where she was one match again from number one. Seles beat her 6-4 6-1.

Wimbledon 91 Gaby was 2 points from being number one 6-5 30-30 serving for the match, a tricky exchange at net, where Gaby misshit a fairly easy volley to the open court that gave the chance to get back in the point and eventually win.

irma
Mar 24th, 2003, 05:49 PM
steffi could still easily have choked that point away like she had done all year including the second set of the match and she didn't look in a good position when she had to get that shot back over the net but on the moment when choking would have been a disaster and probably the last straw in a mental falling apart traject she didn't do it.

that's pretty amazing :eek:

Spirit
Mar 24th, 2003, 07:19 PM
I'm having fun reading all these replies.

To no one in particular: a few of you have identified early-career matches in which a player "announced her presence," so to speak, producing a memorable win against an established good player.

Are such matches really that career-turning? After all, if a player is exceptionally good, she's going to start winning eventually, if not this match then the next one. Specifically, I mean that when a player is beginning her career, she doesn't have far to fall so it's not hard to get back on her feet. So I'm not sure I'd really call those "crucial turning points" in a career. (Of course, there's the slow erosion effect of continually losing key matches over and over until it's a Huge Confidence Issue, a la Kournikova, so I could be missing the confidence angle in all of this.)

I don't know much about Gabby's psyche, but I'm tempted to agree with the concept that blowing her chances to become #1 in certain matches could have been crucial. If she had achieved the top ranking even for seven days, would her confidence and stature been significantly different in subsequent matches enough to alter her career arc? Was she two points away from a completely different history?

Reply to Hingis-Seles: The 4/30/93 match itself did not alter Monica's career, a lunatic did, so it's not really what I was after. If Maggie Maleeva had simply beaten Monica and caused her career to go into a tailspin, then that would apply. Parche could have stabbed Monica anywhere; it just happened to be during a match.

Now that I think about it, the "Return of the Champions" exhibition vs. Martina N., Monica's 1R win over Kim Po at the 95 Canadian, or her Final win over Coetzer a few days later might be called career-turning matches, as Monica's confidence (reportedly) was extremely fragile at that point, and she desperately needed those wins.

For a moment, I was tempted to name the 95 US Open Final vs. Steffi as a crucial match. But if Monica had won that match, she couldn't possibly have avoided her tendenitis or performed better at the Oz Open, and Steffi couldn't have avoided her bad back and tax problems, after all of which things would have been largely the same. So I nixed that one.

baleineau
Mar 24th, 2003, 09:39 PM
career turning moment ( downwards :sad: ) for conchita martinez to lose rg final against Pierce in 2000. she wasn't able to do anything decent until september 2002. she had injuries, yes, but i think it knocked her morale after a great run in the six months before that final.

selesrules
Mar 28th, 2003, 06:38 PM
Anna's loss in Keybiscayne against Venus in the final (was it 98?). Anna had beaten so many top10 players in that tournament and even had control of the match against Venus, but then she lost it. I really believe that if Anna won that match, her career right now would very different.

louloubelle
Mar 28th, 2003, 08:26 PM
I had a high opinion of Anna around that stage. That loss, along with her thumb injury against Graf at Eastbourne (after she won!!) really set her back to a point that it seems so many good players have overtaken her and her actual game is lacking the flair it had those year back.

irma
Mar 28th, 2003, 08:58 PM
I say it's eastbourne too. she got serves troubles after that and of course with a coach who starts crying when there are troubles anna became a nervous wreck too

lucky she is in good company :rolleyes:

louloubelle
Mar 28th, 2003, 09:17 PM
Which coach??? She had a few!??

irma
Mar 28th, 2003, 09:22 PM
the coach who needed to help steffi when she slammed the wall;)

no I am sure he was a nice person but sure not made to be a coach. I don't care that steffi won the slam when he was her ballboy, she didn't even communicate with him those days (that's what he told in 91)

Mark43
Mar 30th, 2003, 04:28 AM
Do you mean Pavil Slozil?

Andy T
Oct 6th, 2003, 04:17 PM
This is a great question. Some victories seem to satiate the hunger of some players - Pierce hasn't won a tourney since RG2000, Majoli took 5 years to clinch another major title after RG97 and Ann Jones never played another slam after her Wimbledon victory in 69. Evonne Goolagong never won a title after her second Wimbledon in 80 either.

On the flip side, Chris O'Neil and Barbara Jordan must rate their Aussie Open final victories as career changing (or making).

Billie Jean attaches so much importance to her victory over Evert in the US SF in 71, and Chrissie was so hungry for her SF against Austin in 80. In these cases, maybe the opposite result would've changed history more than the actual one. I wonder if Martina can identify one match that spurred her to turn herself around in 81.

alfajeffster
Oct 6th, 2003, 08:08 PM
Unseeded Margaret Smith def. #1 seed Maria Bueno (QF of 1959 Australian National Championships). The 17 year-old overpowered then world #1 Bueno in a shocking upset that would spurn Margaret on to a career that includes wins at every major tournament on the globe, as well as a terrific, if not brief rivalry with Maria Bueno from 1959-1966.

Rollo
Oct 6th, 2003, 08:17 PM
Andy-this is just my opinion-but I'd say two Martina matches in 1981 helped direct her career.

Early in 1981 Evert utterly destroyed Martina at Amelia 6-0 6-0. Now Chris was good on clay, but she wasn't THAT good! That must have been a huge wakeup call.

The semis and finals of the 81 US Open confirmed her talent IMO. Martina beat Evert in a great semi and nearly beat Austin. After the 81 US Open she was a contender in every slam for about 9 or 10 years!

Andy T
Oct 6th, 2003, 08:59 PM
[QUOTE=Rollo]Andy-this is just my opinion-but I'd say two Martina matches in 1981 helped direct her career.

Early in 1981 Evert utterly destroyed Martina at Amelia 6-0 6-0. Now Chris was good on clay, but she wasn't THAT good! That must have been a huge wakeup call.

The semis and finals of the 81 US Open confirmed her talent IMO. Martina beat Evert in a great semi and nearly beat Austin. After the 81 US Open she was a contender in every slam for about 9 or 10 years!

I thought THAT match might get mentioned! She got her revenge for that double bagel a couple of years later, though, didn't she? ;)! I reckon the Wimbledon loss to Mandlikova must have been pretty hard to take, too - losing to a younger (ex) fellow-countrywoman and all that.
Watching the 81 US final it's clear that physically she was back but mentally she was still a bit fragile at that stage. As the good results came in during that Autumn, she really got her confidence back, and with Martina, so much always came down to confidence.

Rollo
Oct 6th, 2003, 09:19 PM
with Martina, so much always came down to confidence.

So true Andy! Her serve got her out of so much trouble (a lot like Serena does now) when her confidence was there. It sure dug her out of the 1984 US title vs. Chris. Confidence made the difference vs Steffi at the 86 Open too-one of my favorite matches!

And it deserted her vs Graf at the 89 Us Open.

I'd say the 1989 US Open was a negative turning point for Martina. She was up what, 4-2 in the second with the crowd yelling for her (me too) and she put up two fingers. Two more games! She lost it there. The serve went south. After that I never thought she was a threat to win a slam outside of Wimbledon.

louloubelle
Oct 7th, 2003, 01:56 AM
I thought THAT match might get mentioned! She got her revenge for that double bagel a couple of years later, though, didn't she? ;)! I reckon the Wimbledon loss to Mandlikova must have been pretty hard to take, too - losing to a younger (ex) fellow-countrywoman and all that.
Watching the 81 US final it's clear that physically she was back but mentally she was still a bit fragile at that stage. As the good results came in during that Autumn, she really got her confidence back, and with Martina, so much always came down to confidence.

After that match I think Martina soon realised the benfit of having a full time coach. Her forehand volley was the choke shot against Austin and she wrote in her bio that if she had a coach they would've picked up her bad technique during the eariler rnds.

It's funny that Hana in slam finals is ahead 2:1. Maybe she always thought she could beat Martina whereas Chris at one stage 'hoped' she would win. She lost to her at Wimbledon, (it was a tight first set but Martina scraped through) but Hana was successful at the Aus Open and US Open final. The rough deal for Martina is that she reached more finals than Hana and so never had many shots at evening up their slam final h2h.

alfajeffster
Oct 7th, 2003, 06:00 PM
So true Andy! Her serve got her out of so much trouble (a lot like Serena does now) when her confidence was there. It sure dug her out of the 1984 US title vs. Chris. Confidence made the difference vs Steffi at the 86 Open too-one of my favorite matches!

And it deserted her vs Graf at the 89 Us Open.

I'd say the 1989 US Open was a negative turning point for Martina. She was up what, 4-2 in the second with the crowd yelling for her (me too) and she put up two fingers. Two more games! She lost it there. The serve went south. After that I never thought she was a threat to win a slam outside of Wimbledon.

I loved Ted Tinling's remark about that very moment, when Martina was up 4-2 and it looked for all the world that she was going to take the title:

"Martina saw vultures that nobody else could see!"

Andy T
Oct 7th, 2003, 10:42 PM
I never saw that match, which is probably just as well as I am a HUGE MN fan, but I often wondered whether Graf turned it up a notch as she did at Wimbledon in 88 or whether Martina threw a wobbly as happened at RG in 87.

alfajeffster
Oct 7th, 2003, 11:18 PM
I never saw that match, which is probably just as well as I am a HUGE MN fan, but I often wondered whether Graf turned it up a notch as she did at Wimbledon in 88 or whether Martina threw a wobbly as happened at RG in 87.

I have the match on tape, and have watched it carefully many times. Martina had her chances, yes, but Graf did smack a succession of winners on the lines to break Martina, and then Steffi turned up the heat on her serve, and Martina played a few careful shots at the end of the second set, and that was all Graf had to see, and she attacked the net and took the set away from Martina. The third set was a total blowout because Navratilova was so close at the end of the second, and she never recovered in time to stop the Graf juggernaught of winners. Good match to watch- it shows how a title can actually turn on just 2 or 3 shots!

That said, I've seen Graf play better.

hingis-seles
Oct 8th, 2003, 01:32 AM
I think Anna's career went into a tailspin after she lost that heartbreaker to Mauresmo in 2001.

MLF
Oct 8th, 2003, 09:52 AM
I can think of two matches for Sabatini. The Wimbledon final '91 was hers to take, she fluffed a volley that would have set her up with two match points and Graf got renewed hope and hung in to win 8-6 in the third. At that point Gaby was on a winning streak against Graf and to continue it in that final would have made a huge difference in my opinion.

Obviously the 1993 collapse for Gaby from 6-1 5-1 in the French quarters against Mary Joe left some very damamging scars. She lost from the same scoreline against Date in Miami after that and from a similar position against Sukova in Rome after that as well.

Andy T
Oct 8th, 2003, 10:22 AM
I have the match on tape, and have watched it carefully many times. Martina had her chances, yes, but Graf did smack a succession of winners on the lines to break Martina, and then Steffi turned up the heat on her serve, and Martina played a few careful shots at the end of the second set, and that was all Graf had to see, and she attacked the net and took the set away from Martina. The third set was a total blowout because Navratilova was so close at the end of the second, and she never recovered in time to stop the Graf juggernaught of winners. Good match to watch- it shows how a title can actually turn on just 2 or 3 shots!

That said, I've seen Graf play better.

Great description of the match! Against Steffi in 88 and 89, Martina seemed to lose it completely in the final set. I think that 91 semi win at the US Open broke the jinx though. It's too bad that those two only played three times 88-90.

alfajeffster
Oct 8th, 2003, 01:38 PM
Great description of the match! Against Steffi in 88 and 89, Martina seemed to lose it completely in the final set. I think that 91 semi win at the US Open broke the jinx though. It's too bad that those two only played three times 88-90.

It is a shame, and people get upset with me when I say this, but in my opinion, it's true: Martina Navratilova avoided Steffi Graf like the plague between 1988-1994. Their head-to-head ended up 9-9, but most of Martina's wins came prior to 1990. After that Wimbledon win against Zina Garrison, Martina avoided the Australian Open and quite a few tournaments Graf entered every year. They met twice in the finals of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, with each winning once. I firmly believe Graf would have a winning head-to-head record over Martina had she been able to play her more than 3 times between 1990-1994. Ah, well, we'll never know, but it's not fair, really. Martina Navratilova has a winning head-to-head record against Margaret Court and Billie Jean King, and Margaret and Billie were on the decline in the late 70s, but still got out there and played against the up-and-comiing challengers like Martina and Chris when they were past their primes. To me, it's a mark of greatness that they chose not to orchestrate their careers like Martina did.

Andy T
Oct 8th, 2003, 02:32 PM
These are hard words, alfajeffster. I'm a megafan of MN, so admittedly not impartial here but there are other ways of seeing it. For one thing, both women cut down on their tournament appearances around this time (13 or so each), so there were fewer chances they'd meet. Secondly, Navratilova played indoors and on grass whereas Steffi played more on clay courts and cement. Who's avoiding whom? Thirdly, Steffi naturally played more in Europe whereas Martina played more in the States. Maybe there was some commercial/political pressure on them in their choice of tournaments. Fourthly, Martina's knees were beginning to cause her problems and she missed a few months of the 1990 season because of that. Lastly, on many occasions where they were entered in the same tournament, Martina screwed up before the final! Martina did play in Oz in 88 and 89, for example, but lost to Sukova and Evert. In Jan 91, she was getting over her knee op. Did she avoid RG in 89 and 90 to steer clear of Steffi or to pursue her dream of a 9th Wimbledon? Steffi didn't stick around until the age of 38 to lose to Serena, Venus et al but retired at 30. I don't think that makes her any less of a Champion.

alfajeffster
Oct 8th, 2003, 03:38 PM
These are hard words, alfajeffster. I'm a megafan of MN, so admittedly not impartial here but there are other ways of seeing it. For one thing, both women cut down on their tournament appearances around this time (13 or so each), so there were fewer chances they'd meet. Secondly, Navratilova played indoors and on grass whereas Steffi played more on clay courts and cement. Who's avoiding whom? Thirdly, Steffi naturally played more in Europe whereas Martina played more in the States. Maybe there was some commercial/political pressure on them in their choice of tournaments. Fourthly, Martina's knees were beginning to cause her problems and she missed a few months of the 1990 season because of that. Lastly, on many occasions where they were entered in the same tournament, Martina screwed up before the final! Martina did play in Oz in 88 and 89, for example, but lost to Sukova and Evert. In Jan 91, she was getting over her knee op. Did she avoid RG in 89 and 90 to steer clear of Steffi or to pursue her dream of a 9th Wimbledon? Steffi didn't stick around until the age of 38 to lose to Serena, Venus et al but retired at 30. I don't think that makes her any less of a Champion.

Yes, you are right, Martina did have injuries and bad losses between 1990-1994, however, she did stop playing quite a few tournaments she used to play, and ones that Steffi always played along with the rest of the top players. Lipton and the Australian Open stick out like a sore thumbs (amont others). The comparison is a good one between Navratilova and Court and King at the end of their careers- Margaret and Billie had just as many (if not more) injuries late in their careers, but still got out there and played (and lost) to Martina and Chris. Steffi Graf, in comparison, spent more of her career at the top than Martina, played through and frequently won with injuries, and in her retirement year, won the French Open beating all of the best players in the world, and then made it to the final of Wimbledon before her body said "no more". By 1999 she had already played 15 years mostly on hardcourts. Martina spent the first 4 years of her career on softer surfaces. Don't get me wrong- I love Martina- hell, anybody that volleys like that is terrific in my book. I stand by my opinion that she did her best to avoid Graf during the last 4 years of her singles career. How else do you explain her skipping the Australian Open, and then showing up at the Pan Pacific in Tokyo a week later? (and no, I don't buy the Yonex endorsement thing- she stood a chance of making quite a bit more money and endorsement revenue by playing the major).

Andy T
Oct 8th, 2003, 04:37 PM
Yes, you are right, Martina did have injuries and bad losses between 1990-1994, however, she did stop playing quite a few tournaments she used to play, and ones that Steffi always played along with the rest of the top players. Lipton and the Australian Open stick out like a sore thumbs (amont others). The comparison is a good one between Navratilova and Court and King at the end of their careers- Margaret and Billie had just as many (if not more) injuries late in their careers, but still got out there and played (and lost) to Martina and Chris. Steffi Graf, in comparison, spent more of her career at the top than Martina, played through and frequently won with injuries, and in her retirement year, won the French Open beating all of the best players in the world, and then made it to the final of Wimbledon before her body said "no more". By 1999 she had already played 15 years mostly on hardcourts. Martina spent the first 4 years of her career on softer surfaces. Don't get me wrong- I love Martina- hell, anybody that volleys like that is terrific in my book. I stand by my opinion that she did her best to avoid Graf during the last 4 years of her singles career. How else do you explain her skipping the Australian Open, and then showing up at the Pan Pacific in Tokyo a week later? (and no, I don't buy the Yonex endorsement thing- she stood a chance of making quite a bit more money and endorsement revenue by playing the major).

Yes and no:
No: Count up how many slams or other big tournaments King, Court, Navratilova and Graf played after 30 and see who got out there and played the most. Court's last year competing in 3 GS events was 1975, when she was 34 years old (comparable to Martina in 1990, when she won Wimbledon). Similarly to Martina, BJK, limited herself to tournaments on surfaces which suited her game and reduced the wear and tear on her joints.

I think her decision to skip Australia (and I so wish she hadn't) was probably a combination of things. She played a lot of indoor events in the Autumn and wanted a longer off-season - to go skiing. She was getting older and slower and didn't want to play in the Australian summer heat on a surface which, as you said, takes its toll. She'd been around for so long that mentally she just couldn't get up anymore for every "big" tournament.

By 91 it wasn't Steffi anymore, it was Monica who was calling the shots anyway, and Sabatini also had Steffi's number for a while, and I don't think Martina was avoiding all of them! I think she played Tokyo because the surface suited her both in terms of speed and conditions and it was a big tier one event.

The span between first and last slams for both players was 12 years, so I'm not sure why you seem to think that Steffi spent longer at the top.

Yes: Steffi was a victim of the switch towards hard courts (and they still haven't done anything about this!!), so she was in a state by the time she was 30. It was a great achievement for her to win the French in 99 at the age of nearly 30.

alfajeffster
Oct 8th, 2003, 06:34 PM
Yes and no:
No: Count up how many slams or other big tournaments King, Court, Navratilova and Graf played after 30 and see who got out there and played the most. Court's last year competing in 3 GS events was 1975, when she was 34 years old (comparable to Martina in 1990, when she won Wimbledon). Similarly to Martina, BJK, limited herself to tournaments on surfaces which suited her game and reduced the wear and tear on her joints.

I think her decision to skip Australia (and I so wish she hadn't) was probably a combination of things. She played a lot of indoor events in the Autumn and wanted a longer off-season - to go skiing. She was getting older and slower and didn't want to play in the Australian summer heat on a surface which, as you said, takes its toll. She'd been around for so long that mentally she just couldn't get up anymore for every "big" tournament.

By 91 it wasn't Steffi anymore, it was Monica who was calling the shots anyway, and Sabatini also had Steffi's number for a while, and I don't think Martina was avoiding all of them! I think she played Tokyo because the surface suited her both in terms of speed and conditions and it was a big tier one event.

The span between first and last slams for both players was 12 years, so I'm not sure why you seem to think that Steffi spent longer at the top.

Yes: Steffi was a victim of the switch towards hard courts (and they still haven't done anything about this!!), so she was in a state by the time she was 30. It was a great achievement for her to win the French in 99 at the age of nearly 30.

Okay, we can agree to disagree, but I do want to clarify a couple of things: the span between Martina's first and last major appearances is much greater- she was in the final of the Australian and French Opens in 1975, and her last appearance was Wimbledon 1994, a span of nearly 20 years. Graf's first major was the 1987 French (which she won), and her last was Wimbledon 1999, a span of only 12 years, most of which she spent as the #1 player in the world. She did spend more years at the top than Martina, who had a fantastic run from 1983-1987, but the years before and after that, which make up the bulk of her singles career, her ranking and performances fluctuated wildly- many times out of the top 5 and even top 10 in the world. Also, I'm not sure about the reasoning for skipping the Australian Open, and then playing the U.S. Open the same year in the heat of the New York August, but that's just me thinking again. Margaret Court was 34 in 1975 when she played her last full year of singles, and lost to Martina in the QF of the Australian Open. Two years earlier, at 32, she won 3 of the 4 majors, and but for a semi-final loss at Wimbledon to Chris Evert, she may well have won a SECOND Grand Slam. She played from 1959-1977 with a few short breaks for marriage and pregnancy, and never avoided anyone the whole time. After 1970, Billie Jean did pick and choose her schedule, and like Martina after her, made the choice to not play many of the big tournaments Margaret had entered. Billie Jean King is the one person singularly responsible for re-shaping current perceptions of women's tennis history in her autobiographies, commentary, and public persona. Sometimes, as in her less than frequent mention of the name Margaret Court, it borders on revisionist, but hey, I take that as part of her territory for having given so much of herself personally to the furtherment of the women's game, and women's rights for that matter.

louloubelle
Oct 9th, 2003, 01:45 AM
Great posts - merit to all of them but I wouldn't want to say that the major reason for Martina scaling down her schedule was Steffi Graf and only Steffi Graf.

Anyway just some things Id like to add:

Martina was never happy with the timing of the Aussie Open even before Steffi was on the scene. 1987 she spent preparing for it by skiing in Aspen!!

She didn't like the courts, being too bouncy and slow. Therefore after she became less of a contender, obviously she didn't like her chances on the surface.

Martina was very records conscious therfore playing in places she knew she wouldn't be in contention wasn't attractive to her and her record. Wimby was the be all and end all, and where she was most likely to cause trouble - therefore the French wasn't in the picture.

BJK and Court were active players in their 30's but mainly for money reasons. BJK returned on the tour after the Barnett affair because all her endoresements and post-playing money opportunities dried up. Margaret was making the most of lost time, in which during her salad days she collected pittance, but on the end of her career found that she could make good bucks on the tour.

Rollo
Oct 9th, 2003, 06:44 AM
This is what I love about the Blast-no two of us think alike yet no &#^! name calling :D


My two cents-given Martina's age I think she did quite well by the time Steffi came around. Did she avoid certain surfaces? Yes she did-but then (unlike Steffi) by 1987 she was over 30.

Skipping other slams here and there made sense for Martina to extend her career. And because she matured later the ex-Czech was still hungry after 30. Like Louloubelle says-Wimbledon was her Holy Grail.

If I were Martina I would have done the same. In her shoes my only regrets at the end would be not playing clay more in the late 70s and early 80s and skipping some Aussies then too, but even that's hindsight.

So missing the French made sense (prepare for big W)
Missing Oz made sense ( the US Open is in her home country).

Court coming back after 30 is amazing IMO-but lets not forget she had breaks in 1966-7-then breaks for being preggers.

Andy T
Oct 9th, 2003, 01:54 PM
As you all say, it's a real pleasure to exchange perspectives with people who are knowledgeable and receptive. At the end of the day, when you've given so much to the game as Graf, Court, King, Evert and Navratilova all did in their various ways, I reckon you've earned the right to close out your career how and when you want!

I share your regret Rollo. I so wish that all the top players had played at the French and Oz during the mid-late late 70s. We lost so many intriguing match-ups between Evonne, Martina, Chris and Tracy as a result.

alfajeffster
Oct 9th, 2003, 06:12 PM
As you all say, it's a real pleasure to exchange perspectives with people who are knowledgeable and receptive. At the end of the day, when you've given so much to the game as Graf, Court, King, Evert and Navratilova all did in their various ways, I reckon you've earned the right to close out your career how and when you want!

I share your regret Rollo. I so wish that all the top players had played at the French and Oz during the mid-late late 70s. We lost so many intriguing match-ups between Evonne, Martina, Chris and Tracy as a result.

Yes, this is a nice forum, and a pleasure to debate with courtesy and intelligence as prerequisites.

I was reading an old TENNIS magazine from January 1980 this morning, and the back of the magazine had a nice article on the recently completed Australian Open, won by Guillermo Vilas and Barbara Jordan. Vilas was the top seed, and defeated John Sadri in the final, and Barbara Jordan's opponent was Sharon Walsh, who had defeated the top seed and 17 year old Hana Mandlikova in an earlier round. I liked what Vilas had to say when asked about the absence of the game's major stars "I play here because it's a major tournament!"

louloubelle
Oct 10th, 2003, 07:23 AM
Yes, this is a nice forum, and a pleasure to debate with courtesy and intelligence as prerequisites.

I was reading an old TENNIS magazine from January 1980 this morning, and the back of the magazine had a nice article on the recently completed Australian Open, won by Guillermo Vilas and Barbara Jordan. Vilas was the top seed, and defeated John Sadri in the final, and Barbara Jordan's opponent was Sharon Walsh, who had defeated the top seed and 17 year old Hana Mandlikova in an earlier round. I liked what Vilas had to say when asked about the absence of the game's major stars "I play here because it's a major tournament!"

Vilas would be training in 35 degree heat, with the aim of getting used to the grass surface, whereas the rest of the Ausssie's and lower ranked guys from overseas would be lazing in the shade!
It was great that he valued the Aus Open. I think initially he felt that it was vital for his Wimbledon preparation even though it was months later - just to get a handle on the surface. However he gueninely regarded the tournie as something worth supporting.

Hana cracked a hissy fit during her loss. She was foot faulted constantly so on one point deliberately placed a foot on the line when serving in protest. Vera Sukova I think just laughed and said something like 'thats why we love Hana!'

Robert1
Oct 31st, 2003, 09:22 AM
mazing because this was the first final Graf lost when completely healthy in her last 22!

LOL

After any loss of Graf she was said being injured.

Robert1
Oct 31st, 2003, 09:27 AM
I agree Hingis-Seles, the Hamburg 93 match had the most impact. It not only changed the career results of all players for the next 5 to 10 years but also the whole Tennis history. Sigh.....

Robert1
Oct 31st, 2003, 09:29 AM
Rollo, is it true that top players from 75 to 78 didn't play the French because they played World Team Tennis instead which was considered more important then?

Rollo
Oct 31st, 2003, 10:55 AM
Yes-it's more or less true. When WTT first announced in 1973 the idea was players would get breaks for major events. As a summer venture though Europe had the most to lose, so the French Tennis Federation (led by Chatrier) decided to ban anyone who joined the league. Blockheads.

Wimbledon wisely kept out of the mess, but the French lost Connors and Goolagong (both had shots at Grand Slams)-not to mention King, Casals, Court, Richey, even Francoise Durr! :eek:

Only Evert, Wade, and Navratilova (not so big in 74) stayed. Goolagong
and Connors sued-and neithe returned to the French for years afterwards.

The next year Wade was in WTT, so only Evert and Martina were big. When both women joined WTT in 1976 the women's event took a real nosedive.

WTT was always shaky financially, and Chartrier got his revenge. In 1978 it was announced the women were returning to Europe in force, and prize money was dramatically raised as part of the Colgate Series.
When Chris Evert decided to bail on WTT and play Europe the league collapsed like a house of cards, never to come back big despite Billie Jeans King still trying in 2003!

In 1979 the women played Europe alone for the first time. Austin played Rome but skipped the French, Martina skipped the whole circuit. The ladies drew only 5,000 for the week in Rome and Chatrier boldly sold tickets to a women's only final in Paris. Evert and Turnbull played before 10,000. It was a rocky start, but the French was back in business as a major and a European circuit (which still survives today) was born.

Martina finally broke down and came in 1981. By 1982 The French was more or less equal to the US Open, the women's final was sold out, and it's been uphill ever since.

Robert1
Oct 31st, 2003, 11:35 AM
Thanks. Wow, I didn't know they got banned from the French when playing WTT. It's a pity Austin didn't play there, I believe in her case it was more a matter of school exams than WTT, wasn't it? She played the French for the first time in 82 (after her prime 3 years). Had she played in 77 to 81 she probably would have won a couple of times (77 and 78 possible due to the weak field). Also interesting the Australian Open, always being the GS with the weakest field. Especially in the late 70s/early 80s the women would rather play the Slims Championships. Some of them might regret them now. But back then the Championships were obviously considered more important....

Robert1
Oct 31st, 2003, 11:39 AM
Martina didn't play the Australian because she wanted a few weeks more of a break from the Tennis circuit. That didn't depend on any other player's decision.

Gaga4Gaby
Nov 3rd, 2003, 06:48 PM
Re: Gaby

I don't think the 1991 Wimbledon final bothered Gabriela that much, actually. She was very upbeat afterwards and even though she didn't win any more titles through the rest of the year, she gave Graf credit for a great match and went on playing well into 1992. She hit the infamous volley at 30-30 with the frame of her racquet, which didn't give it much penetration through the court, and Steffi made an inspired sprint to track it down. A little bad luck there.

The 1993 French Open loss is the one that stopped Gabriela. I have never seen her play better tennis than she did to gain the 6-1, 5-1 lead and I contend that, had she won one more point, Gabriela would have been the champion of Roland Garros that year. She was playing great and the only woman to stop her in the previous two years at the French, Monica Seles, was not in the tournament. After that loss, Gaby stopped coming into the net, which was the element in her game that got her the US Open title and took her so close to winning Wimbledon. When she went back to playing from the baseline, the women had already begun to hit harder and her loopy topspin wasn't as effective as it was in the late 80s because so many players were hitting harder. Gaby played some nice tennis in late 1994 and in 1995, but the tide had turned by that point. When she pulled her stomach muscle and had to skip the French and Wimbledon in 1996, I think she realized that life without tennis could be a happy one and she was ready to go.

gmak
Nov 8th, 2003, 12:24 PM
Re: Gaby

I don't think the 1991 Wimbledon final bothered Gabriela that much, actually. She was very upbeat afterwards and even though she didn't win any more titles through the rest of the year, she gave Graf credit for a great match and went on playing well into 1992. She hit the infamous volley at 30-30 with the frame of her racquet, which didn't give it much penetration through the court, and Steffi made an inspired sprint to track it down. A little bad luck there.

The 1993 French Open loss is the one that stopped Gabriela. I have never seen her play better tennis than she did to gain the 6-1, 5-1 lead and I contend that, had she won one more point, Gabriela would have been the champion of Roland Garros that year. She was playing great and the only woman to stop her in the previous two years at the French, Monica Seles, was not in the tournament. After that loss, Gaby stopped coming into the net, which was the element in her game that got her the US Open title and took her so close to winning Wimbledon. When she went back to playing from the baseline, the women had already begun to hit harder and her loopy topspin wasn't as effective as it was in the late 80s because so many players were hitting harder. Gaby played some nice tennis in late 1994 and in 1995, but the tide had turned by that point. When she pulled her stomach muscle and had to skip the French and Wimbledon in 1996, I think she realized that life without tennis could be a happy one and she was ready to go.

so true...
gaby's 3 bad losses came in almost identical fashion

6-1 6-7 8-10 against mary joe at the '93 FO ( 6-1 5-1 )
6-1 6-7 6-7 against kimiko date at the '95 Lipton ( 6-1 5-1 and kimiko had problems with her shoulder )
6-2 6-7 6-7 against sukova at the '95 Italian Open ( her favourite tournament against sukova who was anything but a clay-court specialist )

Robert1
Nov 8th, 2003, 05:43 PM
Tennis Week:

At one point, in the early 1990s it appeared Seles was on pace to produce historic career records. The two-handed titan won seven of the eight majors she played at one point and was clearly the premier player in women's tennis. At that point, Seles appeared poised to challenge for a prominent place as the greatest player of all time. It took a demented man plunging a knife in her back to derail what seemed to be an unstoppable tennis power. Prior to her stabbing, who would have believed the Seles of the early 1990s would have amassed "only" 53 tournament titles, including nine majors? Undoubtedly, these are Hall of Fame credentials, but the numbers pale in comparison to the career path Seles was on before she was stabbed. Sadly, a the sharp steel of a madman's knife robbed Monica of what may have been her peak years and leaves us wondering what she would have accomplished had she played in her prime.

Sigh...............

Rollo
Sep 7th, 2005, 10:50 PM
Speaking of career deciding matches-do you think Clijsters match with Venus has that potential?

alfajeffster
Sep 9th, 2005, 09:17 PM
Speaking of career deciding matches-do you think Clijsters match with Venus has that potential?

I think the final she's about to move into against Pierce will be.

samn
Sep 9th, 2005, 09:40 PM
I think the final she's about to move into against Pierce will be.

If she loses the third set to Sharapova, the semifinal could do to Clijsters what the 1993 French Open loss to MJF did to Sabatini.

tommystar
Sep 9th, 2005, 10:24 PM
If she loses the third set to Sharapova, the semifinal could do for Clijsters what the 1993 French Open loss to MJF did for Sabatini.

What a shame it didn't happen, oh my god! I pray for Mary to win tomorrow!

lloyders76
Sep 21st, 2005, 10:29 AM
i always felt the real turning point for sabatini was the 92 wimb semi loss in straight sets to graf

she was the leader in titles in 91 and 92 up to the 6 week period that encompasses the french and wimb, both yrs she was dominating graf and had a win over seles at the italian open and both yrs she fell short, but particularly in 92, to be dispatched in the semis was a huge dissapointment

does anyone else agree this was the point she became less of a contender, rather than the 93 french quarter, after all the final tournament b4 that 6 wk period in 92 was her last win b4 her 2 1/2 yr drought

Jakeev
Sep 29th, 2005, 11:19 PM
Pam Shriver's loss to Chris Evert in the 78 Open final and then her many doubles victories with Martina Navratilova in 1981.

I don't think anybody knew that Pam would never reach another Grand Slam singles final after losing to Chris that year. She would eventually reach more than a half dozen Slam semis, but I don't think in any of those matches, she even had match points to get to another final.

She was no slouch in singles; she did win 21 titles and had some major, memorable victories in Slams.

But it was when she first partnered with Martina Navratilova in Chicago of 81 that she was destined to end up becoming a doubles legend.

They won 10 titles that year and that was the beginning of what would be a magical doubles partnership in the coming decade.

Rollo
Sep 29th, 2005, 11:39 PM
Posted by Lloyders always felt the real turning point for sabatini was the 92 wimb semi loss in straight sets to graf

she was the leader in titles in 91 and 92 up to the 6 week period that encompasses the french and wimb, both yrs she was dominating graf and had a win over seles at the italian open and both yrs she fell short, but particularly in 92, to be dispatched in the semis was a huge dissapointment

does anyone else agree this was the point she became less of a contender, rather than the 93 french quarter, after all the final tournament b4 that 6 wk period in 92 was her last win b4 her 2 1/2 yr drought

Looking back (hindsight makes it east-doesn't it?) Wimbledon 1991 would be my candidate for Sabatini's last real shot at a slam. Steffi was far from her best and a baseline loving Gaby was still unable to beat her. The person who had mixed in net forays with topspin in late 1990 was gone after that.

she was never the same after that.

Mark43
Sep 30th, 2005, 02:51 AM
I thought she still had a very legit chance at the 1992 French Open. She rolled into that tournament fresh off a straight set victory over Seles in the Italian Open final (for the second straight year) and had beaten Graf twice that spring, once on clay. She won Amelia Island and Hilton Head on clay, in addition to Rome. She was simply the hottest player on tour going into Paris. She played a brilliant semifinal against Seles, mixing pace and spin, attacking when the opportunity arose - and she found herself up 4-2 in the third. Had she just kept her nerves in check and not played like she was afraid to win...? Of course, Seles sensed Gaby was playing it safe and she pounced like I had never seen her pounce before; throwing her body into every shot until one body slam where she nearly fell over. In barely the blink of an eye, it was over 6-4. Had Gaby continued to play aggressive tennis in that third set and made it into the final, she definetly had a great chance at the title, given her recent history with Graf. Such a shame, really.

I was watching from home and I actually used the age old excuse of not coming into work because of a flat tire, as the match wore on (it started very early on the west coast). I was so pissed when she lost that I called my boss and said it was going to take all day for AAA to come and change the tire, and I just sat there and stewed!

samn
Oct 1st, 2005, 08:01 AM
I thought she still had a very legit chance at the 1992 French Open. She rolled into that tournament fresh off a straight set victory over Seles in the Italian Open final (for the second straight year) and had beaten Graf twice that spring, once on clay. She won Amelia Island and Hilton Head on clay, in addition to Rome. She was simply the hottest player on tour going into Paris. She played a brilliant semifinal against Seles, mixing pace and spin, attacking when the opportunity arose - and she found herself up 4-2 in the third. Had she just kept her nerves in check and not played like she was afraid to win...? Of course, Seles sensed Gaby was playing it safe and she pounced like I had never seen her pounce before; throwing her body into every shot until one body slam where she nearly fell over. In barely the blink of an eye, it was over 6-4. Had Gaby continued to play aggressive tennis in that third set and made it into the final, she definetly had a great chance at the title, given her recent history with Graf. Such a shame, really.

I was watching from home and I actually used the age old excuse of not coming into work because of a flat tire, as the match wore on (it started very early on the west coast). I was so pissed when she lost that I called my boss and said it was going to take all day for AAA to come and change the tire, and I just sat there and stewed!

Mark39, the 1992 French semi was a terrific match. Sabatini conducted a virtual tennis clinic that day, playing almost every shot known to man. If she had won that match, she'd have a good shot at beating Graf in the final.

Mark43
Oct 1st, 2005, 02:22 PM
samn, I got a few more months... don't age me!

Yeah, I agree about Gaby's play that day. It was amazing and Seles played well the whole match. Just another one of Gaby's endless heartbreakers. At least my other faves, Goolagong and Mandlikova, won a few of these tight slam matches. Seemed like apart from the '90 Open, Gaby never did.

Kart
Oct 1st, 2005, 04:27 PM
Gaby had her chances even after that 1992 semi.

I know 1993 was a crisis year but I always thought that her win in tour championships 1994 gave her a new lease of life in 1995.

I know Oz was a disaster as was the French but she really could have beaten Martinez
if she'd been a bit more disciplined.

The US open against Steffi was again not a match beyond winning - particularly after she'd finally managed to actually convert a 6-1, 5-1 lead against Mary Joe the round before :tape:.

What killed her career was losing to Zvereva and Rubin in the months afterward.

Rollo
Oct 1st, 2005, 06:47 PM
Ok folks (hi there Kart:wavey: ) I'll go ahead and admit I was wrong. She sure had shots at majors after Wimbledon in 1991.

Had she won that match though it would have been some high water point-wouldn't she have been the computer #1 by winning the title? Versus Monica Gaby just always seemed to find a way to fade ever so slightly in third (or fifth, as at the 1990 Slims) sets.

I wish her family had REALLY encouraged her to play less events. My first thought when she came on tour was "she's playing too much and will burn out or get injured."

Does anyone else think she a more rested Sabatini just might have won say 2 or 3 majors rather than just one?

preacherfan
Oct 1st, 2005, 07:59 PM
I never got the feeling that the '94 tour champs were a real sign that Gaby was back. She beat a retiring Navratilova in R1, Halard (who beat ASV #2 seed), Date, and Davenport. That list includes no one in the top five. It's a nice win, but I don't think Gaby made a big statement to the world that week.

Kart
Oct 1st, 2005, 09:58 PM
Hi yourself Rollo :hearts:.

I never got the feeling that the '94 tour champs were a real sign that Gaby was back. She beat a retiring Navratilova in R1, Halard (who beat ASV #2 seed), Date, and Davenport. That list includes no one in the top five. It's a nice win, but I don't think Gaby made a big statement to the world that week.

If Navratilova had won, no one would have batted an eyelid but I take your point that the competition was hardly peak Graf.

Nonetheless, she had lost her previous matches against Halard, Martina and Lindsay going into that tournament.

For the last two years all the media had been talking to her about was her 'title drought' as I remember it described.

I didn't mean winning in 1994 meant she was back to her best but I think it gave her the confidence to believe she could string together enough wins to lift a title.

It must have taken a lot of pressure off because it was a starting block which she used to go on to win Sydney.

In fact she was rolling along quite well until the pressure started up again at Oz :mad:.