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justineheninfan
Jan 16th, 2011, 06:51 PM
I was watching some old clips of Natalia Zvereva the other day in both singles and doubles. I have concluded she was really a huge underachiever in singles. She should have done alot better than she did. In fact she almost seemed to only give half a darn about her singles career, it was all about doubles. Often while playing singles you felt like screaming at the TV screen "move your darn feet you lazy girl". If she wanted it more she would have done alot better in singles.

preacherfan
Mar 17th, 2011, 02:28 AM
No doubt. Zvereva was an amazing talent. She didn't focus or work hard enough to be a top singles player. I don't know that she had the game to be a #1 player, but she should have been a consistent top tenner.

Randy H
Mar 17th, 2011, 02:40 AM
No doubt. Zvereva was an amazing talent. She didn't focus or work hard enough to be a top singles player. I don't know that she had the game to be a #1 player, but she should have been a consistent top tenner.

Pretty much my thoughts as well - Some people seem to think that she could have challenged at the very top in singles too, which I disagree with, but I do think she should have spent a lot more consistent time at least as a top 10player. Always got the sense that she was a little bit "lazy", and mentally it was obviously well known that she didn't step up often in the big moments on the singles court either, but she did have the talent to achieve stronger results. I always felt it was such a shame she missed out on the Wimbledon final in 98 being so close against Tauziat in the semis until she got tight. Would have been an interesting final between her and Novotna!

Never was a big fan of Natasha's forehand, but she was certainly creative out there and I always loved her free-spirited nature :) One of the biggest reasons she was one of my favourites of that generation

propi
Mar 17th, 2011, 02:30 PM
Yes, of course, Zvereva should have at least played a GS final and win a bunch of Master Series, I would have expected her to have a career à la Mary Joe Fernández or Anke Huber, great players, extremely dangerous and often overlooked.
Some say her awful RG defeat vs. Graf hurt her ambition, but on the other hand it also allowed us to have such a charismatic girl on tour, I actually feel sadder for the end of her amazing Wimbledon run vs. Nathalie :(

Rollo
Mar 17th, 2011, 02:44 PM
IMO she really bailed on going all out after that 6-0 6-0 shellacking she got at the French in 1988. In retrospect Wimbledon a decade later was her best shot at a slam-unlike Schiavone things didn't fall her way.

What an entertainer in doubles though. It allowed all her joie de vivre to shine through. Early on in her career Natasha had so many battles-certainly with the French Federation-which wanted to control her and her money. And I'm not sure-but didn't her father want the same kind of control?

I sometimes wonder if there was some connection between her chucking their influence and singles taking a backseat.

HanaFanGA
Mar 17th, 2011, 03:49 PM
IMO she really bailed on going all out after that 6-0 6-0 shellacking she got at the French in 1988. In retrospect Wimbledon a decade later was her best shot at a slam-unlike Schiavone things didn't fall her way.

What an entertainer in doubles though. It allowed all her joie de vivre to shine through. Early on in her career Natasha had so many battles-certainly with the French Federation-which wanted to control her and her money. And I'm not sure-but didn't her father want the same kind of control?
I sometimes wonder if there was some connection between her chucking their influence and singles taking a backseat.


Before I saw this thread I had thought of starting one about Natasha and Bettina Bunge to ask the question if anyone thought that coaching could've helped either or both players. Because both were tremendously talented and could play from anywhere on the court. But neither ever put it all together enough to give themselves a chance to have sustained success.

Natasha was so outspoken against the Soviet Federation that once she attained her freedom she resisted all forms of control including coaching. I think she clearly would've benefitted from more help. But whatever help she got had to be on her own terms. In doubles, I think Natasha felt a responsibility to someone else besides herself. Perhaps thats why she would fight so hard in a doubles match but fail to give that same effort in singles.

With Bettina I think she had the opposite problem. She had a little too much freedom and never really understood how to harness or the need to harness all of the gifts that she had. She was a player that would sometimes surprise herself when she played well. It's like she never really believed that she was as good as she actually was. There's no doubt in my mind that with the right mental attitude she could've been the Sabatini of her generation. Instead she was more like Zvereva.

The bottom line with both of these players is that as competitive as they could be at times, losing was acceptable to them. Maybe even as a coping mechanism to handle the expectations that were placed upon each.

DennisFitz
Mar 25th, 2011, 09:19 PM
IMO she really bailed on going all out after that 6-0 6-0 shellacking she got at the French in 1988. In retrospect Wimbledon a decade later was her best shot at a slam-unlike Schiavone things didn't fall her way.

What an entertainer in doubles though. It allowed all her joie de vivre to shine through. Early on in her career Natasha had so many battles-certainly with the French Federation-which wanted to control her and her money. And I'm not sure-but didn't her father want the same kind of control?

I sometimes wonder if there was some connection between her chucking their influence and singles taking a backseat.

I think Natasha bailed before and during her 1988 French final shellacking. But perhaps not after. I do recall the NBC interview where Bud asks her if she thinks she can win. And she says No. Of course she was a young player, thrust into her first major final. And going up against the seemingly unbeatable Graf. So I understand her hesitancy in stating she thought she could win. Her brutal honesty did lead me to think that not only did she feel she had no chance of winning, but she may have expected the worst. She never really relaxed at all during the final. Ok it was only 32 minutes. But she had no belief at all in her game that day, and it showed. The fact she refused to say anything and seemed reluctant to accept her RU trophy conveyed to me she felt totally unworthy of the occasion.

Still she vaulted into the top 10, reached another big tournament final that year, and prior to the 1989 French, she was considered to have a legitimate chance against anyone except Graf. I just don't think she knew how to handle the weight of expectation that comes from being a very top player. And I think she enjoyed the camaraderie of doubles, and it enabled her to more easily display all the talents she possessed. Coaching might have helped, but I don't think she was truly destined to be a superstar singles player. And I think if she was a more regular top 10'er, going deep into singles events, it would have adversely affected her doubles results. She had a marvelous career. But it would have been great had she been able to get to the 1998 Wimbledon final, after knocking off both Graf and Seles. Jana might have been more nervous playing Natasha than Natalie.

Joseosu19
Mar 26th, 2011, 07:49 PM
I think Natasha bailed before and during her 1988 French final shellacking. But perhaps not after. I do recall the NBC interview where Bud asks her if she thinks she can win. And she says No. Of course she was a young player, thrust into her first major final. And going up against the seemingly unbeatable Graf. So I understand her hesitancy in stating she thought she could win. Her brutal honesty did lead me to think that not only did she feel she had no chance of winning, but she may have expected the worst. She never really relaxed at all during the final. Ok it was only 32 minutes. But she had no belief at all in her game that day, and it showed. The fact she refused to say anything and seemed reluctant to accept her RU trophy conveyed to me she felt totally unworthy of the occasion.

Still she vaulted into the top 10, reached another big tournament final that year, and prior to the 1989 French, she was considered to have a legitimate chance against anyone except Graf. I just don't think she knew how to handle the weight of expectation that comes from being a very top player. And I think she enjoyed the camaraderie of doubles, and it enabled her to more easily display all the talents she possessed. Coaching might have helped, but I don't think she was truly destined to be a superstar singles player. And I think if she was a more regular top 10'er, going deep into singles events, it would have adversely affected her doubles results. She had a marvelous career. But it would have been great had she been able to get to the 1998 Wimbledon final, after knocking off both Graf and Seles. Jana might have been more nervous playing Natasha than Natalie.
I agree completely that Natasha had lost the match before even stepping on the court. It was almost like she didn't even want to be there or play the match. Her interview with Bud was so telling, and is even more telling when you compare it to Steffi's challenger's answer the following year...Arantxa Sanchez was asked the same thing before the 89 final, and most were expecting to hear a similar answer to Zvereva's or at best hear her saying something about how Steffi is good and it will be tough but she'll try her hardest. Instead she said somehting to the effect of "I come to play Steffi, not pray to her". Zvereva did not believe she belonged or could even stand a chance against the Steffis, the Chrissies, the Martinas of the world. She did not even believe herself good enough to be a grandslam finalist despite the fact that that was where she was.

To me it is like she played with the fear of getting put back in to that position for most of her career. I can remember at times watching her in matches where she seemingly stopped playing almost as if she didn't want to advance to the next round. I believe that it was a coping mechanism for her to avoid feeling overwhelming pressure.

Her game was fun, especially on the doubles court...and her spunky attitude and personality certainly added to the enjoyment of watching Natasha. She definitely underachieved in terms of her physical talent, but mentality is a huge part of tennis too, and Natasha simply did not have it on the singles court.

Mike25
Mar 27th, 2011, 05:48 PM
I agree completely that Natasha had lost the match before even stepping on the court. It was almost like she didn't even want to be there or play the match. Her interview with Bud was so telling, and is even more telling when you compare it to Steffi's challenger's answer the following year...Arantxa Sanchez was asked the same thing before the 89 final, and most were expecting to hear a similar answer to Zvereva's or at best hear her saying something about how Steffi is good and it will be tough but she'll try her hardest. Instead she said somehting to the effect of "I come to play Steffi, not pray to her". Zvereva did not believe she belonged or could even stand a chance against the Steffis, the Chrissies, the Martinas of the world. She did not even believe herself good enough to be a grandslam finalist despite the fact that that was where she was.

To me it is like she played with the fear of getting put back in to that position for most of her career. I can remember at times watching her in matches where she seemingly stopped playing almost as if she didn't want to advance to the next round. I believe that it was a coping mechanism for her to avoid feeling overwhelming pressure.

Her game was fun, especially on the doubles court...and her spunky attitude and personality certainly added to the enjoyment of watching Natasha. She definitely underachieved in terms of her physical talent, but mentality is a huge part of tennis too, and Natasha simply did not have it on the singles court.


Correct, Natasha lost the '88 French Final against Steffi before she ever picked up her racquet. However, in all fairness, Steffi was on a roll back then, and instilled a certain "fear factor" in most of her opponents. Having watched that match, it appeared to me Natalia was scared to death of playing Steffi, and the result proved it.

As you point out, Steffi's opponent the following year in the French final was a totally different breed. Arantxa may have respected Steffi, but she certainly didn't fear her.

Natalia missed a golden opportunity at '98 Wimbledon, falling to Natalie Tauziat, after having beaten both Monica and Steffi. If Jana had to deal with Natasha in the Final, it's quite possible Jana would have tightened up. Then we would have been referring to Natasha as a one-slam wonder, instead of Jana.

In the end, Natasha will be remembered as a talented underachiever, who belongs to the group of Sabatini, Jana, Conchita, and maybe Mary Pierce. Steffi, Monica, and Arantxa were miles ahead of Jana, Sabatini, and Natasha in the mental part of the game, and have the hardware to back it up.

Sumarokov-Elston
Mar 27th, 2011, 06:22 PM
Zvereva did not believe she belonged or could even stand a chance against the Steffis, the Chrissies, the Martinas of the world. She did not even believe herself good enough to be a grandslam finalist despite the fact that that was where she was. To me it is like she played with the fear of getting put back in to that position for most of her career. I can remember at times watching her in matches where she seemingly stopped playing almost as if she didn't want to advance to the next round. I believe that it was a coping mechanism for her to avoid feeling overwhelming pressure.

That is very astute! I think the same applies to Bettina Bunge, also talented in spades. The difference is that Zvereva could be a giant killer at times, dispatching some great players in the slams. I also agree with what Mike25 writes. Hell, in 1988, both Navratilova and Evert were scared stiff of Graf, so what is there to say of Zvereva!