PDA

View Full Version : Would Chris Evert have won more slams if she had switched to graphite in 1982 ?


LightWarrior
Sep 15th, 2011, 11:01 PM
It always strikes that she hits the ball much harder starting 1984 (the year she switched to Wilson Pro Staff. 1982 and 83 were not great years for Chris but I believe she could have wom Wimbledon '82.

alfajeffster
Sep 16th, 2011, 05:19 AM
I think it's impossible to say. You could surmise that standard size wood frames were not only heavier to wield, but required more cognitive thought. It just wasn't possible to pull a shot out of your ass and hit winners all day. Most of the players around her had made the graphite change long before Chris picked up the Pro-Staff in 84.

laschutz
Sep 16th, 2011, 01:53 PM
kind of hard to say.. one of those 'what if's... i do find it unbelievable and amazing and odd and incredible that chrissie was wielding the wood racket playing against others (martina, king at 1982 wimby,and others) who were using not only graphite rackets, but the larger frames..as well as in 1983!

i mean imagine if a top player today was playing with a 1980's or even 1990's graphite metal racket playing another top player using the finest, most powerful, most whatever racket of 2011!..

it would be like a different sport for these 2 playing against each other.....

either a stubborn refusal and blind obsession with playing her way with a wood racket on chrissie's part or a true believe in her talent that she could still win with a wood racket... i would say both... i mean besides martina she was still beating everyone else in 1982 and 83....

i will say the 1983 wood racket that chrissie played with was not the same chris evert autograph racket she played with for years... still wilson made and i think still a "chris evert autograph" racket? it was the dark brown one... anyway,.. not sure, perhaps this "newer" wood racket that she only used for 1 year i might add was a bit more lighter and powerful than the original wooden chris evert autograph racket she used for years?... it looked thinner and lighter at least....

Sumarokov-Elston
Sep 16th, 2011, 02:33 PM
kind of hard to say.. one of those 'what if's... i do find it unbelievable and amazing and odd and incredible that chrissie was wielding the wood racket playing against others (martina, king at 1982 wimby,and others) who were using not only graphite rackets, but the larger frames..as well as in 1983!

i mean imagine if a top player today was playing with a 1980's or even 1990's graphite metal racket playing another top player using the finest, most powerful, most whatever racket of 2011!..

it would be like a different sport for these 2 playing against each other.....

either a stubborn refusal and blind obsession with playing her way with a wood racket on chrissie's part or a true believe in her talent that she could still win with a wood racket... i would say both... i mean besides martina she was still beating everyone else in 1982 and 83....

That is why I think one of Chris's greatest achievements was beating Martina really quite handily on grass at the 1982 Australian Open using wood. She ran her close at Wimbledon 1982, and do not forget that in the graphite era, Chris won three grand-slams in a row from 1982 to 1983 (on all surfaces of hard, grass and clay) when all her main rivals were playing with racket. That, of course, says more about Chris herself and what an exceptional champion she was.

The graphite gave more power, but Chris had power enough from the proper and economic way she executed the strokes. The wood gave her the touch, which was what drove opponents up the wall, especially on clay (Camille Benjamin described playing her as like "running around on marbles").

Regarding the original question: would Evert have won more slams, I am not sure, because this period coincided with Martina Navratilova when she was at her very best. Chris had more or less grown into her Pro Staff racket by the 1984 US Open, and had the crowd behind her, but Martina still eked out a victory 6-4 in the third set (rather like their encounter at Flushing Meadows in 1981).

Chris moved to graphite two years later than everyone else. I think if she had moved earlier, then she might have been improving earlier on than 1985, when she won a second Grand Slam title in a row and took back the No. 1 ranking from Martina for about half the year. Yes, it might have helped her to win the 1982 Wimbledon match (giving her a grand slam 1982-83!), but I think if she was with graphite as early as 1982, then the benefits would have been not getting such a drubbing at the 1984 French Open, winning a set in the 1984 Wimbledon final, and maybe even winning the 1984 US Open. Chris really spent 1984 growing into graphite, with the benefits appearing in 1985. But I still think that 1982-84 in any case were the golden years for Martina, because of her fitness regime and less complicated love life, whereas Chrissie was going through a parallel rough patch (marriage problems, food poisoning at Wimbledon 1983 - and even, I think, ill at the 1982 US Open).

Sam L
Sep 16th, 2011, 02:53 PM
To answer the question, I don't know. I think that the transition phase would've just been made earlier and pluses and minuses would've cancelled out just in different years. Maybe she might've been able to compete better Martina in '84 if she made the switch earlier. But for my sake, I'm so glad she didn't! For this reason...

That is why I think one of Chris's greatest achievements was beating Martina really quite handily on grass at the 1982 Australian Open using wood. She ran her close at Wimbledon 1982, and do not forget that in the graphite era, Chris won three grand-slams in a row from 1982 to 1983 (on all surfaces of hard, grass and clay) when all her main rivals were playing with racket. That, of course, says more about Chris herself and what an exceptional champion she was.


Chris Evert with wood (as I've mentioned before) is one player I literally love to watch. She was still a great player with graphite but it just wasn't the same. It was even better that she won against her graphite opponents playing with wood. I love her matches in those slams. I am glad that she took as long as she did to switch from wood.

daze11
Sep 16th, 2011, 02:53 PM
I have to say, no. She had her fair share of burnout from being #1 for 7 of 9 years, and being a very close #2 the other two years... She is such a neurological wonder, it didn't show in any deep dip in play, but the lack of relative hunger sits stark against the canvas of Navratilova's greatest era of confidence and hunger and need to prove herself. Not doubting for a moment that Martina is every bit the GOAT that Chrissie is, she gets a clear nod in that time period.

That said, LETS NOT FORGET that Chris Evert swept 3 slams straight in 1982-83 with her wood racket.

The issue people still don't pick up on is that Chris was 28 & figuring she was going to retire. It has nothing to do with being stubborn about wood & envisioning the new horizon of graphite rackets. She was thinking, "Let the kids play with whatever they want to - I'm still gonna bash their skulls in" and then ride off into the sunset. She stuck around after 83 at age 29 because Martina had OFFERED HER A CHALLENGE she couldn't refuse, ie embarrassment. So instead of ducking out of town, she stayed for the fight.

Retirement got pushed out of her mind with the boost of her 1985 season & return to #1... but she didnt want to leave the game and deal with her ending marriage with Lloyd, as retirement would have meant "more time with John..shall we have babies?" She was not that happy in 1986... ended that marriage, met Andy at the start of 87, and liked being Chris Evert for Andy, though she started taking way more time off to be with him, plus 'injuries' brought on by age but which were sometimes just being off with Andy. ;) He being the endless athlete he is gave her a new mindset to work from where she took more chances and didnt have AS much attachment to being 'perfect' with fear of losing. She got a little more 'game' about taking chances and having fun by testing herself. Until she realized she really WASNT having fun with a deteriorating game and really DID want to start having those kids with this hot studly dude she was with. :cheer:

We tend to look at sports history from the outside-in, like everything relates to the SPORT and not the lifestyle choices that are going on in the background... but there were a lot more dynamics going on even by 1983 than "What is the ultimate equipment I can use to be the best tennis player ever"...which is the first proof she was no longer the Ice Maiden of the 70s. And in any case, she already figured she WAS the greatest tennis player ever, and commonly said, "Everyone's talking about Martina and pushing me aside, but she's had ONE great year - I've had 10." That might be overstating it but its hard to miss her point.

Sumarokov-Elston
Sep 16th, 2011, 11:26 PM
Yes, there was also the question of mental exhaustion. Chris had already made one comeback, after dropping to #3 in 1979-1980. I remember it at the time - it seemed so wrong. Chris, who still had the same strokes and the same style of play, behind Martina and Tracy. Martina had not become the GOAT as she is now known - she only had two Wimbledons and was really only a "talented player," soon to be overtaken by Hana (albeit briefly, but no one knew that!) in 1981. Tracy just never cut the mustard for me, and had many positive points, yes, but just no originality (the bottom line is that she was a Chrissie clone - even in the way she too stayed with wood into 1983!). Chris had overcome these two usurpers to her throne, and was well and truly back in pole position in 1980-1981. But now, in the twilight of her career, when she had broken all open tennis records, she was supposed to completely reinvest herself and play with a whole new type of racket?!? And, you know what? She did!

Chris only needed graphite against Navratilova (and, of course, against Graf, but by this time she was an old-age pensioner in tennis terms). Against everyone else, she was just fine with wood. Watch her grand-slam matches, especially against graphite-wielding baseliners like Andrea Jaegar (1982 US Open) and Mima Jausovic (1983 French Open). It is basically a case of Chris running them from side to side at will, just like a cat playing with a mouse, winning handily with scores of 6-2, 6-1. If you were good enough with wood, I think it made no difference back then. You watch some of the shots hit by Goolagong in the 1970s, and you would swear only graphite can hit such volleys, but no, she is playig with wood!

alfajeffster
Sep 16th, 2011, 11:29 PM
[re: daze post] Plus I think she was hoping to be the first princess with an iconic engagement sapphire. When it and Lloyd didn't pan out, and Lady Di came along, well, no Richard Burton rock could make things better, and she returned to tennis in earnest. Interestingly, she was sporting quite a rock on her hand for a few years, and I never did find out from whom it came, or if she just had a good day shopping.

PamShriver
Sep 22nd, 2011, 03:45 PM
I hate watching Chris play with Graphite, it's so...vulgar. All of those topsin forehands, all of that pace, simplistic point construction. Chris playing with wood is really a wonder to behold!

Sumarokov-Elston
Sep 22nd, 2011, 04:04 PM
I hate watching Chris play with Graphite, it's so...vulgar. All of those topsin forehands, all of that pace, simplistic point construction. Chris playing with wood is really a wonder to behold!

It's true, Pam. I recently watched a whole load of her wood matches, then switched to the 1985 French Open. I could not believe how UGLY her play looked (in comparison to wood). Because she is basically bashing the ball. I noticed with wood her racket preparation seems better, earlier, while when she switched to graphite, she also changed her tactics - less cunning dropshots, outrageous angled service returns, more net rushing and muscling the ball on passing shots. I wrote on the other thread about the comparisons between the 1983 and 1984 US Opens (saying Martina was, in my mind, better in 1984). Well, while Chris was beaten badly in 1983, I would say that when she makes the shots, especially her backhand passes, her play is nevertheless superior in 1983. The shots she made with wood were textbook classics. While in 1984, she was more like "Martina's (prettier) little sister". I understand why she had to reinvent herself, and time does not stand still, but we also lost a lot as well and she lost so much of her originality that made her Chris Evert, as she abandoned wood, muscled up and indulged in these horrible trailer-trash perms.

Edit: I have always felt the same about Martina as well. Watch her matches from the 1970s and she is so much more fun to watch, playing with wood, whether it is volleying or hitting her groundshots (Martina's forehand was one of the biggest strokes of the wood era, maybe second only to Sue Barker's monster forehand).

daze11
Sep 23rd, 2011, 05:45 PM
To answer the question, I don't know. I think that the transition phase would've just been made earlier and pluses and minuses would've cancelled out just in different years. Maybe she might've been able to compete better Martina in '84 if she made the switch earlier. But for my sake, I'm so glad she didn't! For this reason...



Chris Evert with wood (as I've mentioned before) is one player I literally love to watch. She was still a great player with graphite but it just wasn't the same. It was even better that she won against her graphite opponents playing with wood. I love her matches in those slams. I am glad that she took as long as she did to switch from wood.

agree.

I hate watching Chris play with Graphite, it's so...vulgar. All of those topsin forehands, all of that pace, simplistic point construction. Chris playing with wood is really a wonder to behold!
hear hear! <clink of glasses> the difference between art and entertainment - she certainly did both well, but one way was worthy of a tennis church, the other was efficient at fulfilling the expectations of the crowd at the time it was done, but without the lasting quality that demands a certain kind of reverence.

It's true, Pam. I recently watched a whole load of her wood matches, then switched to the 1985 French Open. I could not believe how UGLY her play looked (in comparison to wood). Because she is basically bashing the ball. I noticed with wood her racket preparation seems better, earlier, while when she switched to graphite, she also changed her tactics - less cunning dropshots, outrageous angled service returns, more net rushing and muscling the ball on passing shots. I wrote on the other thread about the comparisons between the 1983 and 1984 US Opens (saying Martina was, in my mind, better in 1984). Well, while Chris was beaten badly in 1983, I would say that when she makes the shots, especially her backhand passes, her play is nevertheless superior in 1983. The shots she made with wood were textbook classics. While in 1984, she was more like "Martina's (prettier) little sister". I understand why she had to reinvent herself, and time does not stand still, but we also lost a lot as well and she lost so much of her originality
What I most revere about those later years was just that she gave a damn, didn't get pushed out, and TRIED when others certainly would have given up. In that regard, her dignity was breathtaking. She gets 5 stars for that.

daze11
Sep 23rd, 2011, 06:02 PM
I might even suggest the original statement get edited to "Would Chris Evert have won more slams if graphite rackets had been outlawed by 1982?" in that I think the graphite did a LOT more for Martina (created added consistency, made approach shots more penetrating, added speed/power) & in fact helped the rest of the field, more than her... It robbed her of her #1 weapon - which was the ability to focus and hit the ball in the center of the racket without making an error... all of a sudden, it was easier for everyone to have that 'skill' because the racket did it for them.

Like if your skill was remembering everyone's phone number and now you have auto-dial and only need to remember their name to make the call. :lol:

Sumarokov-Elston
Sep 23rd, 2011, 06:46 PM
I might even suggest the original statement get edited to "Would Chris Evert have won more slams if graphite rackets had been outlawed by 1982?" in that I think the graphite did a LOT more for Martina (created added consistency, made approach shots more penetrating, added speed/power) & in fact helped the rest of the field, more than her... It robbed her of her #1 weapon - which was the ability to focus and hit the ball in the center of the racket without making an error... all of a sudden, it was easier for everyone to have that 'skill' because the racket did it for them.

Like if your skill was remembering everyone's phone number and now you have auto-dial and only need to remember their name to make the call. :lol:

That is all true - but still Chris overcame this problem and was the second woman in the graphite era to be ranked #1. She was also the second woman to win two straight slams with a graphite racket.

It is true, though, that graphite gave rivals like Martina (and Hana, Sukova, Shriver) everything, but nothing to Chris. Yet still she overcame all but Navratilova (and she did draw more or less even with Martina 1985-88).

If graphite had been outlawed, I shudder to think how many Grand Slams Evert might have won. The only losses would probably have been to Navratilova on grass (no way in 1988 - that would have been a repeat of 1980) and then the occasional loss in the twilight of her career to an upcoming German kid who was quickly dubbed "the poor man's Sue Barker". :lol:

PamShriver
Sep 23rd, 2011, 07:04 PM
If graphite had been abolished in '82 as it should've been, I would imagine Chris' career would've ended in '83 or '84. It isn't entirely coincidental that Martina's ascendancy began in earnest when she switched to graphite. Granted she was playing close with Chris and beating her with wood during the second half of 1981, but I really think that their rivalry between 82-84 had graphite been abolished would have been very similar to 1978 with a bunch of closely contested three setters with the two of them trading victories pretty evenly with Chris having the majority of the wins on clay and hard (though they rarely played on clay compared to other surfaces) and Martina the edge on indoor and grass. I figure Chris would've picked up one more Wimbledon title somewhere as well as another U.S. Open or two and called it a day with a head to head lead overy Navratilova as well as 18-20 Grand Slam titles.

justineheninfan
Sep 23rd, 2011, 11:01 PM
I agree with Sam L that is was special seeing Chris continue to play with wood a bit longer, and also what a triumph for those major titles she did win with wood while others were using graphite.

alfajeffster
Sep 24th, 2011, 09:08 AM
I think there is an even greater factor than wood vs. graphite. When Howard Head first got permission to introduce the oversized frame, it was seen as a novelty. When players finally did decide to give the larger racquets a try, they found a much larger sweet spot to go along with all that added power. To my knowledge, an oversized frame wasn't featured in any major finals until Pam Shriver (not the most nimble or crafty of players) featured one at the US Open. I submit that you can make the racquet out of whatever composite you want- but if the racquet face size is maintained to the standard size, the quality of play would remain to this day, and probably have been even better with the advances in training, etc. Can you imagine open-stance baseline bashing with a standard size frame? It would be comical!

DennisFitz
Sep 24th, 2011, 10:47 PM
That is why I think one of Chris's greatest achievements was beating Martina really quite handily on grass at the 1982 Australian Open using wood. She ran her close at Wimbledon 1982, and do not forget that in the graphite era, Chris won three grand-slams in a row from 1982 to 1983 (on all surfaces of hard, grass and clay) when all her main rivals were playing with racket. That, of course, says more about Chris herself and what an exceptional champion she was.

The graphite gave more power, but Chris had power enough from the proper and economic way she executed the strokes. The wood gave her the touch, which was what drove opponents up the wall, especially on clay (Camille Benjamin described playing her as like "running around on marbles").

Regarding the original question: would Evert have won more slams, I am not sure, because this period coincided with Martina Navratilova when she was at her very best. Chris had more or less grown into her Pro Staff racket by the 1984 US Open, and had the crowd behind her, but Martina still eked out a victory 6-4 in the third set (rather like their encounter at Flushing Meadows in 1981).

Chris moved to graphite two years later than everyone else. I think if she had moved earlier, then she might have been improving earlier on than 1985, when she won a second Grand Slam title in a row and took back the No. 1 ranking from Martina for about half the year. Yes, it might have helped her to win the 1982 Wimbledon match (giving her a grand slam 1982-83!), but I think if she was with graphite as early as 1982, then the benefits would have been not getting such a drubbing at the 1984 French Open, winning a set in the 1984 Wimbledon final, and maybe even winning the 1984 US Open. Chris really spent 1984 growing into graphite, with the benefits appearing in 1985. But I still think that 1982-84 in any case were the golden years for Martina, because of her fitness regime and less complicated love life, whereas Chrissie was going through a parallel rough patch (marriage problems, food poisoning at Wimbledon 1983 - and even, I think, ill at the 1982 US Open).

I like this post. As for Evert's play w/graphite vs wood, of course it would be different. But it's part of the game. And what it made all the more amazing is that Evert had to make the switch late in her career. Just think, Tracy Austin may have used graphite (and I don't even remember what Tracy was using in 83 and 84), but circumstances prevented us from seeing how she had to adapt. Other players, such as Hana Mandlikova, were much younger and at the start of their careers. For Evert, who played with an amazing amount of control, it was more or a challenge to play with a graphite racquet, which could generate more power on her strokes. And so while the game evolved, Evert's play had to as well. Maybe she didn't hit as many drop shots, or other more delicate shots. But she was never a brainless ball basher, as many of today's pros are. Chris always had a game plan. She would never just go for a broke, because she just wanted to let the racquet do the work for her. She hit with purpose, whether wood or graphite.

Navratilova's ascendancy coincided with graphite. It's possible that if graphite didn't come into play until 5 years later, Chris might have eeked out a few more wins. But Martina was determined in 1981 anyway. If using graphite gave Martina more confidence and spurred her on even more, well she was playing within the rules.

I still think Evert, in her later career, was a joy to watch. It's impossible to say what her results would have been if she switched to graphite earlier. But no matter the player, or the era, it's never been about the racquet. But always about the player wielding that racquet that ultimately determines the result.

Sumarokov-Elston
Sep 25th, 2011, 10:16 PM
While Evert was undoubtedly the queen of wood in the open era, the scores below show she was no slouch when playing the other top players of her era with her graphite racket. Plus la change!

1984 Beat Mandlikova 6-1, 6-2 (Wimbledon)
1985 Beat Graf 6-2, 6-1 (Hilton Head)
1986 Beat Mandlikova 6-1, 6-1 (French Open)
1987 Beat Navratilova 6-2, 6-1 (LA)
1988 Beat Navratilova 6-0, 6-4 (Houston)
1989 Beat Seles 6-0, 6-2 (US Open)

DennisFitz
Sep 25th, 2011, 10:52 PM
While Evert was undoubtedly the queen of wood in the open era, the scores below show she was no slouch when playing the other top players of her era with her graphite racket. Plus la change!

1984 Beat Mandlikova 6-1, 6-2 (Wimbledon)
1985 Beat Graf 6-2, 6-1 (Hilton Head)
1986 Beat Mandlikova 6-1, 6-1 (French Open)
1987 Beat Navratilova 6-2, 6-1 (LA)
1988 Beat Navratilova 6-0, 6-4 (Houston)
1989 Beat Seles 6-0, 6-2 (US Open)

Just substitute that 1985 Hilton Head match w/Graf for their 1986 Boca final, won by Chris 6-3,6-1. In 1985, Graf wasn't top 20, but was top 6 for the Boca match.

Also think the 1985 VS Florida win over Martina was a huge psychological boost for Chris. Her 1st win over Martina (in a real match) since using graphite.

trivfun
Sep 30th, 2011, 08:17 PM
She lost her first step of getting to balls. She was susceptible to drops and misdirections particularly off the serve. I think the reason is that she didn't get cheap points off her serve which took a toll on her legs and ankles.

I don't think graphite would have done her good because she still served the ball in. She went to graphite when she lost her first step and used it to power her shots. If she worked on a serve and used graphite then yeah.