View Full Version : One Slam wonders (Why didn't they win more?)

Jul 8th, 2002, 01:48 PM
In the Open era, most player who win one GS title, win more than that.

20 Multi GS winners
10 'one slam wonders'

This thread starts from the premise that players records are a true indicator of their talent. There's no 'should have won' or should have won more' here. Hana Mandlikova won 4 GS singles titles. Sabatini won one. Mandlikova was clearly the better player, but what was it Sabatini lacked? Why DIDN'T she win more than one?
That's my question. What's the good, athletic-related reason why each of these players only won one GS title?

No emotional control. No mental focus. Not that physically gifted. Injuries.

Here's a list

98 WB Jana Novotna - Failure of Nerve

97 RG Iva Majoli - Iva may not have been that physically talented in the first place. No one I know was expecting her to win the one she did. But she suffered a string of injuries after RG, and is only now rising up the rankings again. Can't see another GS title in her future, but she had the goods to win one, and she's still active and winning. (Charleston 02 - A Tier I)

94 WB Conchi - A wizard with the racket, but neither fast nor powerful. Martina was 36 at the time, but even so, I was surprised Conchi beat her in that final.

90 US Sabatini - Someone else should address this. I've never favored Sabatini's game, and my explanationwould be she simply wasn't that good a tennis player. Certainly I would Arantxa over her any day of the week.

Now we back up to players most of you never saw play, and I can only barely remember. But their were 6 winners in 16 GS tournaments who would never win a second.

79 OZ Barbara Jordan
78 RG Virginia Ruzici
78 OZ Chris O'Neil (Only tournament she ever won)
77 OZ Kerry Melville
77 RG Mima Jausovec
76 RG Sue Barker

The temptation is to say, "...well ______ WOULD have won more...". Forget it. They won as many as they had the health and talent and mental ability to win. More than circumstance seperates one time winners from multiple winners.

Jul 8th, 2002, 01:49 PM
Why didn't they win more?

because the players who won more where better in the long run?

Jul 8th, 2002, 01:54 PM
sabatini lacked nothing, she faced Steffi and Monica in her prime and was lucky and took full advantage of a period where Steffi even choked against novotna in a grand slam.
face it, this are the facts!

Helen Lawson
Jul 8th, 2002, 01:58 PM
You want concrete reasons based on their games, which is not possible in all instances. RG 1976-1978. One answer: No Chris Evert and no Martina Navratilova. Ditto AO. In fact, most of the top players skipped these events either because of lack of prestige, timing, or team tennis which paid more. If you drop the Top 15 right now and hold a Slam, you'd get a one-slam wonder. Not to put these woman down, but those are the facts.

The rest? Jana, head problems, some for Martinez as well. Gaby, extremely talented, but burned by Graf too much, I think lost some mo jo after Wimbledon of 1991 and was never the same, maybe head problems as well.

Jul 8th, 2002, 01:59 PM
4 RG One-timers
3 OZ One-timers
2 WB One-timers
1 US One-timer

I'd say the reason Sabatini never won more slams is because of who she was playing with. Even so, without Graf or Seles or whoever, I don't think she would have won many more slams. Being with Graf and Seles at their prime didn't help her either.

Jul 8th, 2002, 02:21 PM
irma - That arguement that Gaby didn't win more because of Steffi doesn't hold up. Han Mandlikova won 4 GS titles while competing against Chris Evert AND Martina Navratilova, BOTH in their prime. Chris won 7 GS titles after Hana's 1st, Martina won SIXTEEN. But Hana Mandlikova fought her way to 4 GS titles.

If Gaby was as good as Hana, she'd have found a way to win more. Arantxa managed to win 4 GS titles while dealing with Steffi.

Gaby only won one because she wasn't good enough to win more. What physical skills did ASV have that Gaby didn't? But one's a 4 time champ, one's a one slam wonder.

Sabatini quite clearly lacked SOMETHING. Otherwise she'd have won more, even competing in the same era as Steffi.

Helen Lawson
Jul 8th, 2002, 02:33 PM
Gaby was a little weak on strategy. She also let many tough losses to Graf and Seles wear her down mentally to the point where it seemed she was satisfied to make the quarterfinals of a slam. This is evident after 1991. Aranxta and Hana never gave up or lost hope, or at least you would never know it.

Jul 8th, 2002, 02:40 PM
I think Gaby lacked confidence. That is just my opinion but maybe the pressure of having everyone expecting you to do so well all the time got to her, and once she wasn't winning so many grand slams, she stopped believing that she could do it, and once she lost belief, she lost ability (sound familiar?) (cough cough... Anna...cough cough...Kournikova). With Conchita, she just did not work hard enough IMO. I think she would have won a lot more had she maybe gotten into better shape, practiced a little more, but I am not sure. Jana Novotna was the most famous choker of all time, and she was lucky to win the one she did. Iva was very lucky to win the one she did. Had Martina not liked horses, Iva would have been slamless.

Jul 8th, 2002, 02:40 PM
I agree with Helen. Mental toughness or lack thereof to begin with, and near the end of her career she just didn't want it as bad and was content with quarters or semis.

Jul 8th, 2002, 02:51 PM
They were good but not good enough.
Everyone has their 15 minutes.

Let me give you an example in the mens game THOMAS JOHANSSON won the AUSTRALIAN OPEN this year. Sure a good player but thats it, before he won he was not even in the top ten. how did he win?
I call it a default and an inspired win!
ALL the top players fell in early rounds and the underdog had a good day in the final against an indifferent Marat Safin!
Will Thomas johansson win another GRAND SLAM? i doublt it

Another question?
when these one time grand slam winners won their slam................ did they beat the top players in their own game?
ALSO if the top seeds fall out in the lower rounds this makes it easier for a lower seed to go through and win.
In this manner if you are a good player (not neccessarily the best) you can win a grand slam. Like Thomas johannson!

Jul 8th, 2002, 02:53 PM
I think when you are 16/17 and you lose 8 times to a person in a season and this person is only 11 months older and you can only beat this person with the help of 10000 people(Florida) or this person wants to crack the record of being choker number 1(steffi 90/91) then it gets you in the end!
Steffi played a big part in Sabatini's career imho!

Bright Red
Jul 8th, 2002, 03:27 PM
This is very interesting. I would think that a person who is capable of winning a Grand Slam (with the exception of RG) would also be capable of winning another. While I agree that a lot of it has to do with the individual, I believe that a really large portion of the explanation has to do with things beyond the individual (such as the competition, its level of performance, and the draw, etc.)

Helen Lawson
Jul 8th, 2002, 03:30 PM
I agree with irma. Someone like Arantxa will make 3 slam finals with one win playing her absolute best all three times and be motivated and inspired by the one win to keep it up. I always got the feeling Gaby was the opposite. One for three discouraged her. Constantly losing to Graf did more harm for her than the good wins she did in fact have. She ended up, in my opinion, with "who cares" attitude after 1991 where she just played and was happy with getting to the quarters. She figured she'd probably lose anyway so why try that hard. Martinez is a little of the same with a great run in 1994 through 1996 but could never beat Graf in a slam and could never get to Number 1. Again, some players try even harder with those results, others become discouraged.

Jul 8th, 2002, 04:32 PM
With the exceptions of O'Neil and Jordan,all the women with one slam were top 10ers.

As for Sabatini
First off-Gaby was overplayed IMO by her family. This was a real problem for a woman who depended heavily on grinding out matches. Heavy topspin off both sides took its toll mentally and physically. She never did fix her serve, which just got worse and worse.

At some point she lost her desire, a la Capriati. Helen is right in suggesting the Wimbledon final in 91 broke her spirit. Gaby was never the same afterwards.

Overall though I'd say Sabatini deserves more respect than she's getting these days. She was much closer than the 4 to 1 gap with Mandlikova and Sanchez suggests.

Majoli's win in 97 also gets dissed. The Hingis and her horse excuse doesn't wash with me. Hingis beat Seles, after all. had Seles won would it be because of a horse? I have that match on tape, and Hingis played just fine. Iva was "on" with her forehand, just jerking martina around the court with big babe tennis.

Helen Lawson
Jul 8th, 2002, 04:52 PM
I do not think most if any of those women were in the Top 10 when they actually won their lone slams. I read somewhere, correct or incorrect, that Sue Barker was not even in the Top 20 when she won RG. Ruzici and Jausovec played a lot at this time but I do not think Ruzici ever ended the year in the Top 10. Though, she did achieve additional fame of a sort in another way. She was the one Richard Williams saw receive a big check at a tournament, and the rest, they say, is history.

Jul 8th, 2002, 05:26 PM
Originally posted by Volcana
This thread starts from the premise that players records are a true indicator of their talent.

In that case you should do more than just count the number of GS they've won. In the end a lot of people seem to enjoy ranking players by the number of slams they won, but that kind of argument is only valid when you are comparing multiple slam winners - it's no good if you are asking 'why did player X not win any more slams.'

For the sake of not just judging a player on one fact alone I am providing a few stats about Sabatini since she reached her first grand slam semi final at Wimbledon in 1986 aged 16. If I added her other 26 tournament wins (including two season ending championship wins), who she has beaten in her career then the picture would only be brighter. Seems like a reasonable point to start from ...

Wimbledon 86 SF L Martina NAVRATILOVA (USA) 2-6 2-6
US 86 16 L Martina NAVRATILOVA (USA) 4-6 2-6
French 87 SF L Steffi GRAF (GER) 4-6 6-4 5-7
Wimbledon 87 QF L Steffi GRAF (GER) 6-4 1-6 1-6
US 87 QF L Martina NAVRATILOVA (USA) 5-7 3-6
French 88 SF L Steffi GRAF (GER) 3-6 6-7
Wimbledon 88 16 L Zina GARRISON JACKSON (USA) 1-6 6-3 2-6
US 88 FR L Steffi GRAF (GER) 3-6 6-3 1-6
OZ 89 SF L Steffi GRAF (GER) 3-6 0-6
French 89 16 L Mary-Joe FERNANDEZ (USA) 4-6 4-6
Wimbledon 89 64 L Rosalyn NIDEFFER (USA) 4-6 3-6
US 89 SF L Steffi GRAF (GER) 6-3 4-6 2-6
OZ 90 32 L Claudia PORWIK (GER) 6-2 1-0 Retired
French 90 16 L Jana NOVOTNA (CZE) 4-6 5-7
Wimbledon 90 SF L Martina NAVRATILOVA (USA) 3-6 4-6
US 90 FR W Steffi GRAF (GER) 6-2 7-6 :)
OZ 91 QF L Arantxa SANCHEZ-VICARIO (ESP) 1-6 3-6
French 91 SF L Monica SELES (USA) 4-6 1-6
Wimbledon 91 FR L Steffi GRAF (GER) 4-6 6-3 6-8
US 91 QF L Jennifer CAPRIATI (USA) 3-6 6-7
OZ 92 SF L Mary-Joe FERNANDEZ (USA) 1-6 4-6
French 92 SF L Monica SELES (USA) 3-6 6-4 4-6
Wimbledon 92 SF L Steffi GRAF (GER) 3-6 3-6
US 92 QF L Mary-Joe FERNANDEZ (USA) 2-6 6-1 4-6
OZ 93 SF L Monica SELES (USA) 1-6 2-6
French 93 QF L Mary-Joe FERNANDEZ (USA) 6-1 6-7 8-10
Wimbledon 93 QF L Jana NOVOTNA (CZE) 4-6 3-6
US 93 QF L Steffi GRAF (GER) 2-6 7-5 1-6
OZ 94 SF L Arantxa SANCHEZ-VICARIO (ESP) 1-6 2-6
French 94 128 L Silvia FARINA-ELIA (ITA) 6-2 2-6 4-6
Wimbledon 94 16 L Lindsay DAVENPORT (USA) 1-6 3-6
US 94 SF L Arantxa SANCHEZ-VICARIO (ESP) 1-6 6-7
OZ 95 128 L Marianne WERDEL-WITMEYER (USA) 4-6 4-6
French 95 QF L Steffi GRAF (GER) 1-6 0-6
Wimbledon 95 QF L Conchita MARTINEZ (ESP) 5-7 6-7
US 95 SF L Steffi GRAF (GER) 4-6 6-7

I'm not posting her 96 results because they are too painful (she only player 2/4 slams anyway and retired that year).

So she played 36 slams.
2 first round losses in the latter stages of her career.
1 retired injured.
5 round of last 16.
9 QF appearances.
14 SF appearances.
2 finals.
1 win.
My maths doesn't work out but you get the point that she has great slam results.

Losses to 5 players who have not won grand slam titles - 1 retired with a sprained ankle, 2 first round exits, 1 2nd round exit and a few losses to Zina Garrison (at Wimbledon) and MJ Fernandez which frankly I see no shame in because she was a multiple slam finalist.

So the majority of her losses were to quality opposition. I see nothing wrong in that - not everyone can be a multiple GS winner you know. I don't see how that suggests she 'wasn't that good a tennis player.'

IMHO the reason why Gaby didn't win more was mainly that she lacked that extra mental strength that champions like Graf, Seles etc had. That's why she lost out to them all in the tough matches. There were simply better players out there on the day. It's no big deal. If you hold everyone up to the standard of a Venus Williams or Steffi Graf then of course most people pale in comparison.

Ditto for Conchita really she has had a pretty illustrious career as well if you look at more than just a single slam result.

Re: Iva Majoli - she was always a promising player. To say that she only won the French because Martina had that horse riding accident is a joke, she looked fine in her semi against Monica. In the final Iva was simply the better player. I think that winning that slam actually worked against her career, she was struggling for a long time afterwards to cope with the expectation that people had of her afterwards.

Jul 8th, 2002, 05:32 PM
Originally posted by irma
sabatini lacked nothing, she faced Steffi and Monica in her prime and was lucky and took full advantage of a period where Steffi even choked against novotna in a grand slam.
face it, this are the facts!

Steffi had no problem beating anyone else at that time ... anyway she took full advantage of Sabatini choking in a slam so it all evens out in the end :).

Jul 8th, 2002, 05:45 PM
Jana: Her desire was Wimbledon. I don't think she ever wanted another slam. It was ALL Wimbledon and she got it. Add the fact her nerves were absolutely shaky and you see why she didn't win more than one slam.

Iva: Iva played great tennis and Martina underestimated her. But I still feel that this win was like Johansson winning the Aussie. She never repeated that form. I think her passion for tennis is not at the same level as the other top players.

Conchita: Extremely talented (in terms of producing spins) but she never had power or speed as an asset. Plus at times she seemed mentally weak too. Conchita just did not seem focused enough to win 7 matches in a row.

Sabatini: I never saw her play, but I get the impression she also choked.

3/4 of the above players all had mental problems. Someone said that sport is more mental than physical, which I agree with.

Kart: It is good to look at a players whole career to sum up their ability, but when comparing their performances at Slams, you need to see what was missing. The reason why Arantxa reached 12 GS finals and winning 4 was because of the fact that Arantxa was mentally tougher and determined.

Looking at a GS, you have to win 7 matches, most likely having to defeat the best players in the world. Physically, you have to be in great shape, but mentally is where it all counts, believing you can defeat your opponent and winning the points.

This mental edge was missing from Jana, Sabatini (from what I know) and Conchita.

Arantxa was defeated many times by Steffi and Monica, but was always determined as ever. Thsi explains why Arantxa won Slams in 3 different era's (1989, 1994, 1998).

Volcana, to answer your question, more often than not, the one slam wonders were lacking in mental ability to close out matches and points. The fact that they even won one slam is a celebration in itself.

Jul 8th, 2002, 08:03 PM
if sabatini had won wimbledon 91, steffi would have been the choker afterall she was a set and a break up before totally falling apart for a while!

Jul 8th, 2002, 09:06 PM
I didn' know Sue Barker won a GS. Well done Sue Barker. :bounce:

Jul 8th, 2002, 09:22 PM
Originally posted by irma
if sabatini had won wimbledon 91, steffi would have been the choker afterall she was a set and a break up before totally falling apart for a while!

Good answer :cool: .

Still think that Sabatini deserves more credit than you're giving her though - after all beating Steffi eleven times is not easy, irresepctive of Steffi's state of mind and however many times they've played. You could argue that Sabatini's state of mind against Graf was never the same after Wimbledon 1991 so Steffi was taking advantage of Gaby after then ... (I'm not saying that BTW, in the end when you step onto court if you win the match then you're the better player on the day).

Jul 8th, 2002, 09:42 PM
okee that's true, she deserves credit for winning the us open and beating steffi 5 times in a row!

btw after wimbledon 91 Gaby won the next two matches they played in Florida(where else) so it can't have had that much influence;)
I think when Steffi finally broke the florida jinx in 93, that was the turnaround!;)

Jul 8th, 2002, 09:46 PM
that's why I argue Gaby's decline started after wimbledon 91, the first half of her 92 season was as succesfull as the one she had in 91. man can easily say it was her match against Monica at the french that started it all, she seemed flat after and stayed that way!

Double Fault
Jul 8th, 2002, 09:49 PM
Sue Barker was the Wimbledon Champion that never was. Had she defeated Betty Stove in the '77 Semi she was widely predicted at the time to win the title. Many "experts" said she would have defeated Virginia Wade in the Final. She fell apart in the semi and who knows what would have happened had she won Wimbledon that year. Strange that as the French Open Champion Sue Barker decided not to even go to Paris the following year to defend her crown. She has made up for it now though. She's more famous NOW than she ever was during her playing days.

Regarding Sabatini I agree with those above who say that her Wimbledon defeat had a big effect on her mentally. Another case of what if.