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View Full Version : 1987 : why did Evert got crushed by Navratilova at RG but almost beat her at Wimbly ?


LightWarrior
Nov 27th, 2011, 08:31 PM
Didn't watch the Roland Garros semi but Chris must have had an off day (lost 62 62) on her favourite surface. She lost two weeks later to Nav 62 57 64 at Wimbledon in a thrilling match. It echoes 1984 when she got trashed by Nav at RG final but almost won the first set of the Wimbledon final. It's funny how Chris could be inspired on grass sometimes against Nav (even their 1988 was a great match) but not so much on clay.

austinrunner
Nov 28th, 2011, 12:14 AM
Evert felt pressure on clay versus not so much on grass. Plus, Evert was the 2-time defending champion at the 1987 French Open and was starting to lack patience on clay. Navratilova at the 1984 French Open was just too good.

justineheninfan
Nov 28th, 2011, 01:27 AM
Chris overperformed in the Wimbledon semis. Who would have ever thought at that point she would do better vs Martina on grass than Graf would at that Wimbledon. At the French she looked flat and out of it.

Rollo
Nov 28th, 2011, 12:32 PM
Chris overperformed in the Wimbledon semis. Who would have ever thought at that point she would do better vs Martina on grass than Graf would at that Wimbledon. At the French she looked flat and out of it.


I would agree on both counts. Chris and Martina both had some real swings in form as they aged.

Sumarokov-Elston
Nov 28th, 2011, 07:21 PM
Didn't watch the Roland Garros semi but Chris must have had an off day (lost 62 62) on her favourite surface. She lost two weeks later to Nav 62 57 64 at Wimbledon in a thrilling match. It echoes 1984 when she got trashed by Nav at RG final but almost won the first set of the Wimbledon final. It's funny how Chris could be inspired on grass sometimes against Nav (even their 1988 was a great match) but not so much on clay.

During the 1987-89 period:

Clay was no longer Evert's favourite surface, she no longer had the patience for longer rallies (especially against younger opponents - I would add fitter opponents, but Evert in 1987 was probably fitter than many younger rivals, such as Sabatini).

Evert was entering her "Hana phase" when she just never knew which player was going to show up. This match was one such example. In contrast, she ran through Martina in two sets at the Paris Cup final indoors and played her very close at Wimbledon in that same year (the closest Martina had been to losing at SW19 since 1981). Those were occasions when the Ice Maiden did show up. She also beat Martina on green clay in her first match of 1987.

Evert had a similar horror first set against Martina in the 1986 final (lost 6-1), but managed to pull herself together and win the next two sets back then.

Evert's body was beginning to slowly let her down - her first match of 1987 was at Houston (she skipped the Australian Open) and she was not really as match-fit as the other players (Martina was also beginning to get a few niggles around that time as well).

Chris actually made her seeding in the 1987 FO and may possibly have not wanted to face Graf in the final very much, as Graf had begun to beat her and she did not, at that point, have much of an idea how to counter Graf's power (that changed in 1988 and 1989).

samn
Nov 28th, 2011, 08:20 PM
I think that the score in the French semis also had a lot to do with Navratilova's general level of play at the French that year. She was keen to prove a point, having come to Paris without a single tournament win in the first five months of 1987. The presence of Renee Richards calmed Navratilova down and I feel that using the Graf model Dunlop racquet (painted black to look like her Yonex frame) might have also made her feel mentally ready to take on Graf. Martina really wanted to play and beat Steffi in the final, and Chris just happened to be in the way.

LightWarrior
Nov 28th, 2011, 09:50 PM
In contrast, she ran through Martina in two sets at the Paris Cup final indoors


There was no such tournament as the Paris Cup indoors in 1987.

Sumarokov-Elston
Nov 28th, 2011, 10:25 PM
There was no such tournament as the Paris Cup indoors in 1987.

Not much there wasn't such a tournament...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEH_dGGpKws

LightWarrior
Nov 28th, 2011, 11:00 PM
Not much there wasn't such a tournament...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEH_dGGpKws

The title is misleading. It's actually and exhibition in Cap d'Agde, southern France.

Rollo
Nov 29th, 2011, 01:33 AM
The title is misleading. It's actually and exhibition in Cap d'Agde, southern France.

That sounds right. The women played exos there in the 1980s for at least 2 or 3 years.

Cool video. And horrendous 80s hair!:silly:

Rollo
Nov 29th, 2011, 01:37 AM
I think that the score in the French semis also had a lot to do with Navratilova's general level of play at the French that year. She was keen to prove a point, having come to Paris without a single tournament win in the first five months of 1987. The presence of Renee Richards calmed Navratilova down and I feel that using the Graf model Dunlop racquet (painted black to look like her Yonex frame) might have also made her feel mentally ready to take on Graf. Martina really wanted to play and beat Steffi in the final, and Chris just happened to be in the way.


Intersting take on this particular match. A contrast with 1986 may shed light on it too. In 1986 Evert was just god-awful in the first set and then really picked it up while Martina wilted a fraction.

As any of us who play a lot know there are just days when we can't sink our teeth into a match. And days when a foe lets off the gas pedal just enough to give you room to recover-and days when they don't.

Rollo
Nov 29th, 2011, 01:43 AM
A New york Times report of the match appears to support both Samn's and Sumarokov-Elston's takes on the match....

"Navratilova, playing her best ennis of a frustrating year, dominated every aspect of the game today." The article goes on to praise her play from the baseline, noting her looped topspin forehands.

"Evert, on the other hand, was going for forcing shots and missing most of them."

austinrunner
Nov 29th, 2011, 05:32 AM
A newspaper report from the Associated Press and the Washington Post, published in the Milwaukee Journal on 5 June 1987 (http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=218aAAAAIBAJ&sjid=CSsEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4035,4104754&dq=chris-evert+and+french-open&hl=en): (http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=218aAAAAIBAJ&sjid=CSsEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4035,4104754&dq=chris-evert+and+french-open&hl=en%29:)[Chris] Evert's departure from the French Open was as stunning as [Gabriela] Sabatini's was dramatic. The seven-time champion was destroyed by [Martina] Navratilova 6-2, 6-2, in a semifinal match that lasted only 73 minutes. That was exactly half as long as it took [Steffi] Graf to beat Sabatini 6-4, 4-6, 7-5

Both matches were delayed by rain on yet another day of fluky weather, sunny one minute, rainy the next.

"I'm really not sure what happened because I haven't had a chance to think about it yet," said a confused and upset Evert. "Maybe I didn't think about the match enough. I'd been hitting the ball well and I thought I could go out and just do that again. But playing Martina is different than playing baseliners."

Evert was missing in a way Evert almost never misses - approach shots sailed long, backhands went wide, forehands cracked the net tape. Navratilova actually led, 6-2, 5-0, and had two match points before Evert salvaged a tiny piece of pride by saving those points and getting to 5-2. It was so bad that in this, their 72nd meeting, which Navratilova leads 38-34, Navratilova found her mind wandering, her thoughts turning to Evert near the end of the match.

"I couldn't help myself there near the end," she said. "I was trying to end the match and I caught myself thinking, 'My God, I'm glad it's not me losing like this but I know how bad she's going to feel.' And then I began to think that I know I'll be here next year but Chris might not be. So, I started thinking, 'Is this the end for Chris at the French?'"
A newspaper report from the Associated Press and published in the Record-Journal (Meridan, Connecticut) on 3 July 1987 (http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=hP9HAAAAIBAJ&sjid=OQANAAAAIBAJ&pg=3678,475433&dq=chris-evert+and+french-open+disappointed+and+navratilova&hl=en): (http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=hP9HAAAAIBAJ&sjid=OQANAAAAIBAJ&pg=3678,475433&dq=chris-evert+and+french-open+disappointed+and+navratilova&hl=en%29:)Chris Evert came up a loser Friday, though she played her best tennis in a semifinal match that will become a Wimbledon legend. Even Martina Navratilova, who beat her, wept for Chris.

Evert said the sorrow was misplaced.

"I can't play any better," Evert said after losing 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 to her longtime rival on Centre Court.

"This is her best surface. If anything, I feel proud of myself. Today I played really, really well and I can't ask any more of myself," Evert said.

Navratilova had tears in her eyes at the end of the two-hour, two-minute match.

"It was for Chris losing," Navratilova said. "I really wished that she could win this tournament one more time. It actually overwhelmed me. I did not expect to feel that much. Knowing that we're close to the end and that people have been writing Chris off, she comes back and plays one of the best matches of her life and still loses. We were talking as we walked off court. I didn't have a chance to get too sentimental about it. We were just talking about the match. When we shook hands, Chris said, 'I hope I didn't take too much out of you for the final.' I mean, what a thing to say. I'm just proud and thrilled to be part of this, and I honestly wish that we could have stopped at 30-all [in the last game of the match]."

The 73rd meeting between the two was one of their most exhiliarating, and it captivated a capacity crowd that included Britain's Pricess Diana and middleweight boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard.

Navratilova, serving brilliantly, angling her volleys, steady and powerful off the ground, diving all over the court, hardly made a mistake.

Evert, blasting scorching service returns and passing shots to the forehand and backhand, made just a few more.

Points came on more outright winners than unforced errors.

But one of the players had to lose and fate fell on Evert, who trails 39-34 in the long rivalry.

She pinpointed two key points that she said may have lost her the match.

In the first game of the final set, Evert dropped her serve after leading 30-0. Had she won the game, she would have moved ahead in the match.

"That disappointed me," she said. "After that, I was always down a game."

The other moment of frustration, she said, came when Navratilova served for the match at 5-4.

"I had break point and she serves a ball down the (middle), right on the line," Evert said. "But I'm just happy that I did not lose the match. Martina won it."

Evert, 32, said it was the best match the rivals had ever played on grass.

"She served unbelievably well, and I served well. Obviously, I'm disappointed because it came down to one game. But I feel I put everything on the line," Evert said. "It's too bad in a match like that, that there has to be a loser. I'm not one to break down in front of people (when I lose). I went to the back room and showed my emotion a little bit."

Evert said she preferred to lose in a tight match than be thrashed in straight sets, as she was by Navratilova in the semifinal of last month's French Open.

"This was probably the happiest I've felt after a loss in a long time," she said. "I really felt competitive, and that feeling has been in and out this year. This is Martina's best surface. She's going to do the most damage on grass. She's had the most success on this Centre Court. I felt like I put everything on the line ... especially considering it was on grass courts, which still suits her game better than my game."

Navratilova, going for a record sixth consecutive Wimbledon title, said the match was of as high a standard as any she had played against Evert.

Twice Navratilova launched herself into the air to hit winning shots.

It was dramatic theatre, and it came on Centre Court of the world's most prestigious grass-court tournament.

"That was as high as anything, if not the best, because there were just so few unforced errors," Navratilova said. "It was incredible. It was winners, just winners or forced errors. Chris never served better against me or hit the ball deeper or more consistently. It was definitely the best that she ever played that I still won."

Sumarokov-Elston
Nov 29th, 2011, 06:12 AM
The title is misleading. It's actually and exhibition in Cap d'Agde, southern France.

!!!!

daze11
Nov 30th, 2011, 03:29 PM
The title is misleading. It's actually and exhibition in Cap d'Agde, southern France.
yes, the video has that in the description actually ... it wasnt the kind of 'exhibition' where they just play each other for fan enjoyment (which they also did a few of in the last years of chrissie's career) ~ it was a full tournament, but not an official tour event.

But far more impressive than this was the real tour event in Los Angeles, which was their first meeting after the Wimbledon semi.... Chris won 6-2 6-1 in the Los Angeles Slims semi. Probably her finest win of the year, if not the best of her last 3 years on tour.

Much like the French semi, which had almost the same score in the opposite direction, it shows if one Great shows up playing their best, they can always clean the other's clock.

justineheninfan
Nov 30th, 2011, 03:33 PM
As long as Graf was waiting in the final it was far better for Martina to win. Despite that the semifinal was closer than the final, there was no way an old Evert was beating Graf in the final, as Graf is just a bad matchup for her. If say Sabatini had already eliminated Graf it would be a different story perhaps.

daze11
Nov 30th, 2011, 06:47 PM
As long as Graf was waiting in the final it was far better for Martina to win. Despite that the semifinal was closer than the final, there was no way an old Evert was beating Graf in the final, as Graf is just a bad matchup for her. If say Sabatini had already eliminated Graf it would be a different story perhaps.

better for martina to win perhaps, but chris would take a 6-2 6-1 win over martina any day ~ even if she were to lose 6-0 6-0 to graf, she wouldnt regret posting the victory.

justineheninfan
Nov 30th, 2011, 09:38 PM
better for martina to win perhaps, but chris would take a 6-2 6-1 win over martina any day ~ even if she were to lose 6-0 6-0 to graf, she wouldnt regret posting the victory.

True, but I like both Martina and Chris alot so I was thinking from my perspective what worked best in this instance. :lol: As long as Graf was waiting, Evert really didnt have much or any chance of that one last Wimbledon that Martina refers to a part of her wanting to see Chris win. Once a maturing Graf first beat an aging Evert in mid 1986 she had the noose around her neck and never let go of it. Martina though found ways to beat Graf as late as 1993, and never lost to her in straight sets after her second loss in 1987 except for their final meeting in 1994, so must have cracked the code to Graf's game after initially also being stifled by her new age power a couple times.

LightWarrior
Dec 1st, 2011, 11:20 AM
True, but I like both Martina and Chris alot so I was thinking from my perspective what worked best in this instance. :lol: As long as Graf was waiting, Evert really didnt have much or any chance of that one last Wimbledon that Martina refers to a part of her wanting to see Chris win. Once a maturing Graf first beat an aging Evert in mid 1986 she had the noose around her neck and never let go of it. Martina though found ways to beat Graf as late as 1993, and never lost to her in straight sets after her second loss in 1987 except for their final meeting in 1994, so must have cracked the code to Graf's game after initially also being stifled by her new age power a couple times.

Not sure Graf owned Evert at this point yet (Wimbledon 1987). Sure Graf defeated Chris for the first time in 1986 and again in 1987. But you can't say a player owned the other just because she was beaten the fist 6 times and won the last 2 meetings. I believe Chris could have beaten Graf at Wimbledon that year had she shown the level of play against Nav during that semi final. I also remember Chris complaining that she was in Nav's draw instead of Graf...

austinrunner
Dec 1st, 2011, 12:08 PM
I seriously doubt her complaint was based on a preference to play Graf....

alfajeffster
Dec 1st, 2011, 05:22 PM
I seriously doubt her complaint was based on a preference to play Graf....

And (correct me if I'm wrong), I seem to remember commentary at that tournament indicating that Evert actually looked forward to getting Graf on grass.

justineheninfan
Dec 1st, 2011, 05:26 PM
Not sure Graf owned Evert at this point yet (Wimbledon 1987). Sure Graf defeated Chris for the first time in 1986 and again in 1987. But you can't say a player owned the other just because she was beaten the fist 6 times and won the last 2 meetings. I believe Chris could have beaten Graf at Wimbledon that year had she shown the level of play against Nav during that semi final. I also remember Chris complaining that she was in Nav's draw instead of Graf...

Yeah it was only 2 matches at that point but we all know in hindsight it turned into 8 in a row with only 1 set loss by a couple years later. Also the nature of those two matches, losing in straight sets on clay when Steffi was only 16 and hadnt won a tournament yet, and getting destroyed badly in the Miami final (only getting 3 games).

Steffi's worst surface by far in 1987 was still grass though, she looked like a novice grass courter in many ways especialy against Navratilova's shrewd tactics and game plan in the final, but against most opponents just powered through inspite of that. It was ironic it would become her best surface in her prime years. So maybe Chris could have beaten her there. It was probably her best chance. She wouldnt have forced Graf to do the things that most bothered her to have to do on the surface like Navratilova did though (return big hooking serves off the backhand, pass someone at the net often with her backhand).

LightWarrior
Dec 1st, 2011, 05:53 PM
Yeah it was only 2 matches at that point but we all know in hindsight it turned into 8 in a row with only 1 set loss by a couple years later.



7 actually. One was a walkover.

daze11
Dec 1st, 2011, 06:48 PM
And (correct me if I'm wrong), I seem to remember commentary at that tournament indicating that Evert actually looked forward to getting Graf on grass.

Good memory!! She did indeed want to play steffi on a red clay or grass court, but on nothing in between. She thought steffi was still young & inexperienced in that regard, and that chrissie's relationship to grass was unusually strong for a baseliner. but otherwise, she was psyched out by graf in 87... not until the january 88 aussie match did the light click on that she thought she could actually win if she played exceptionally well. The 88 aussie could have been hers if she'd held tight in that 2nd set at the end, graf was unraveling a bit. Lipton 88 was very close and 89 boca, a real stunner. but 'looking forward to playing steffi' i dont think she'd say generally.

samn
Dec 1st, 2011, 07:11 PM
7 actually. One was a walkover.

Actually it was eight, not counting the walkover at the 1988 US Open

1986 Hilton Head F
1987 Lipton F
1987 Federation Cup F
1987 VS of Los Angeles F
1988 Australian Open F
1988 Lipton F
1989 VS of Florida F
1989 Wimbledon SF

samn
Dec 1st, 2011, 07:25 PM
Although Evert did suffer some very one-sided losses to Graf on hard courts in 1987, I think that her best chance to beat Graf would actually have been on cement. By 1987 I don't think that she had the patience any more to grind out a long three setter over Graf on clay, so I'd have expected Graf to prevail on clay even if Evert was the far more experienced player on that surface at that point. Hard courts, on the other hand, would have shortened the points a bit, given Evert a more consistent bounce, and made her serve less of a liability. As far as grass goes, I'm not sure that Evert would have been able to do what Navratilova did. Navratilova had some obscenely high first serve percentage (around 80% or even higher) in the final and she really exposed the weakness of Graf's backhand passing shot with her lefty hook serve out wide in the ad court. Evert had neither the advantage of being left-handed nor were her volleys in Navratilova's class. I think that Graf's overall athletic ability would have still helped her prevail on grass. I just don't see Evert's serve doing as much damage as Navratilova's did and Graf would have had more opportunities to run around her backhand against Evert.

The US Open, on the other hand, might have been a different story. Evert managed a much better result in the LA final (3 and 4) than in the Lipton rout and her 17 years of experience playing the US Open might have come in handy, especially since Graf didn't play all that well at the Open that year. She almost lost to McNeil in the semis and Evert, had she managed to attack Graf's backhand enough, might have been able to score an upset. Plus, it was Graf's first Grand Slam tournament as a newly minted #1 player, so there had to have been some pressure that she was unaccustomed to. That to me sounds like the ideal sort of situation for Evert to exploit and even prove a point.

alfajeffster
Dec 1st, 2011, 09:08 PM
Good memory!! She did indeed want to play steffi on a red clay or grass court, but on nothing in between. She thought steffi was still young & inexperienced in that regard, and that chrissie's relationship to grass was unusually strong for a baseliner. but otherwise, she was psyched out by graf in 87... not until the january 88 aussie match did the light click on that she thought she could actually win if she played exceptionally well. The 88 aussie could have been hers if she'd held tight in that 2nd set at the end, graf was unraveling a bit. Lipton 88 was very close and 89 boca, a real stunner. but 'looking forward to playing steffi' i dont think she'd say generally.

I just watched the 87 exhibition from Paris currently on Chris' facebook page, and it's one of the best matches I've ever seen her play.

LightWarrior
Dec 1st, 2011, 09:46 PM
Actually it was eight, not counting the walkover at the 1988 US Open

1986 Hilton Head F
1987 Lipton F
1987 Federation Cup F
1987 VS of Los Angeles F
1988 Australian Open F
1988 Lipton F
1989 VS of Florida F
1989 Wimbledon SF

You're right. Weird that the WTA doesn't take the FedCup match into account in their H2H.
http://www.wtatennis.com/headtohead/steffi-graf_2255881_2718/0,,12781~2718~2188,00.html

austinrunner
Dec 2nd, 2011, 05:46 AM
... Evert, had she managed to attack Graf's backhand enough, might have been able to score an upset.

That's not how baseliners typically defeated Graf. They would patiently play her backhand until she got a bit out of position, exposing her forehand corner and making her hit it on the run. But Evert had a huge problem even with this strategy because Graf was too consistent on her backhand slices, making Evert run until Graf got the forehand she wanted.

daze11
Dec 2nd, 2011, 05:52 PM
That's not how baseliners typically defeated Graf. They would patiently play her backhand until she got a bit out of position, exposing her forehand corner and making her hit it on the run. But Evert had a huge problem even with this strategy because Graf was too consistent on her backhand slices, making Evert run until Graf got the forehand she wanted.

Entirely true, but i thought chrissie over-played that exact strategy, in fact... it saddens me to see her fold her game up like that, as it is a form of admitting defeat in advance... even though a PORTION of that is obviously the right strategy. If you make it so obvious you are only going to hit to that backhand, steffi knew to expect it & it made her more solid, but also gave her the luxury of thinking in advance exactly what to DO with that NEXT BACKHAND from chris. That's why it ended up being a way for steffi to make her run. Evert was too dynamic to limit her weaponry that drastically, and she did it with steffi for about 2 years which shows she was human and could give in DECIDEDLY to fear.

And imagine the boost of confidence it handed Steffi to see this all-time great crumble her game up into a 1 dimensional plan like that!! She must've felt pretty good about herself seeing Chris refuse to 'enable' the full spectrum of her gifts & lay it at Graf's feet like that.

But I was greatly relieved to see how she handled herself in the 89 boca match, where she really went for her OWN game, head to head, even if she played more to the backhand. She believed in her own weaponry and capacity, rather than 'playing the wall' to steffi's weaknesses. When I saw her do that, I myself did not feel she should win... it's just not a champions play to collapse your own strengths like that, and you deserve to lose if you do it. The 88 Lipton & 89 Boca make me much more proud of her.

**BY THE WAY - she enacted this same pattern with Navratilova for about 2 years -- she OVER-GRANTED the court to Martina, staying WAY too far back to return serve (as if it was a canon being shot at her) and she resorted to weak defensive lobs which Martina smashed away like flies. It was when Chris ballsed up and said, I'm going to try to pass you every time you come to net, and dared Martina to make the perfect volley that wouldnt give her a second shot at it, that she started having even results with her. Then she started using the lob OFFENSIVELY... and it was attack versus attack, as we saw in this 87 Wimbledon semi, which was a classic example of the rivalry's capacity.

justineheninfan
Dec 2nd, 2011, 07:01 PM
It seemed in the early 90s a variety of players figured out the Graf game though. Seles, Sabatini, an a now older Navratilova, all had success by incorporating differing versions of a similar game plan. Graf never in turn really made the neccessary adjustments to counter. She regained dominance only when all those players fell off or dissapeared.

newmark401
Dec 2nd, 2011, 07:47 PM
I think Chris definitely was off her game on that particular day in Paris, which was a rather damp, dark, depressing one. Nevertheless, although Martina led 6-2, 5-0, match point, Chris had enough resolution not to take a "bagel" in the second set. By that part of the season Martina had rehired Renee Richards and a drastic overhaul of her game was in the offing, which would help reboost her confidence after several early losses and no tournament wins up to Wimbledon in 1987.

Strangely enough, Martina's three career wins over Chris on clay were more or less annihilations, whereas Martina never really annihilated Chris on grass, where most of their encounters went to three sets. I suppose one conclusion that could be drawn is that Chris was better on grass than Martina was on clay.

justineheninfan
Dec 2nd, 2011, 08:08 PM
Overall that would be a safe conclusion. Evert has 3 Wimbledon titles and 10 Wimbledon finals at a time nearly everyone else catered their games to grass. Navratilova has 2 French Open titles and 6 French Open finals (still excellent but clearly below Evert's Wimbledon record) at a time there was little depth in the clay court field. Overall Evert on grass > Navratilova on clay for sure.

Martina's peak levels on clay where definitely higher than Evert's on grass however though IMO.

LightWarrior
Dec 2nd, 2011, 11:59 PM
Martina's peak levels on clay where definitely higher than Evert's on grass however though IMO.

I remember Chris said after the '84 RG final loss that Nav was even better on clay because of her athleticism, her top spinned shots...something of the sort.

austinrunner
Dec 3rd, 2011, 07:14 AM
**BY THE WAY - she enacted this same pattern with Navratilova for about 2 years -- she OVER-GRANTED the court to Martina, staying WAY too far back to return serve (as if it was a canon being shot at her) and she resorted to weak defensive lobs which Martina smashed away like flies. It was when Chris ballsed up and said, I'm going to try to pass you every time you come to net, and dared Martina to make the perfect volley that wouldnt give her a second shot at it, that she started having even results with her.

Maybe. But Evert's successful strategy in the 1986 French Open final was always hit to Navratilova's backhand. Evert hit, almost exclusively, backhands down the line and forehands cross court. Navratilova's error was believing that rallying with Evert was enough to win that particular day.

austinrunner
Dec 3rd, 2011, 07:24 AM
It seemed in the early 90s a variety of players figured out the Graf game though. Seles, Sabatini, an a now older Navratilova, all had success by incorporating differing versions of a similar game plan. Graf never in turn really made the neccessary adjustments to counter.

Hog wash.

Navratilova was not a baseliner.

Seles was an entirely different category of player.

Sabatini? You have to be joking. 29-11 overall for Graf. 11-1 in Grand Slam tournaments for Graf. 11-5 on hard courts for Graf. 10-4 on clay for Graf. 3-0 on grass for Graf. 4-2 indoors for Graf.

daze11
Dec 3rd, 2011, 04:43 PM
Maybe. But Evert's successful strategy in the 1986 French Open final was always hit to Navratilova's backhand. Evert hit, almost exclusively, backhands down the line and forehands cross court. Navratilova's error was believing that rallying with Evert was enough to win that particular day.Agree - I actually have reservations about the win, in that I thought it was a cheap shot to play Martina so exclusively that way ~ the saving grace being that Chris DID play so exceptionally when she needed the big passing shots, so it allows me to fully enjoy her victory. But I wasnt nearly as satisifed with that performance as the 85 french.

(I do think this is the beginning of her showing her age however, in that she would never have isolated her arsenal that way in her younger years; she always believed playing her own game in full display was enough to triumph over her opponent if she played it well enough)

gabybackhand
Dec 4th, 2011, 12:22 AM
You're right. Weird that the WTA doesn't take the FedCup match into account in their H2H.
http://www.wtatennis.com/headtohead/steffi-graf_2255881_2718/0,,12781~2718~2188,00.html

No such kind of thing by the WTA can surprise me anymore!

gabybackhand
Dec 4th, 2011, 12:30 AM
Entirely true, but i thought chrissie over-played that exact strategy, in fact... it saddens me to see her fold her game up like that, as it is a form of admitting defeat in advance... even though a PORTION of that is obviously the right strategy. If you make it so obvious you are only going to hit to that backhand, steffi knew to expect it & it made her more solid, but also gave her the luxury of thinking in advance exactly what to DO with that NEXT BACKHAND from chris. That's why it ended up being a way for steffi to make her run. Evert was too dynamic to limit her weaponry that drastically, and she did it with steffi for about 2 years which shows she was human and could give in DECIDEDLY to fear.

And imagine the boost of confidence it handed Steffi to see this all-time great crumble her game up into a 1 dimensional plan like that!! She must've felt pretty good about herself seeing Chris refuse to 'enable' the full spectrum of her gifts & lay it at Graf's feet like that.

But I was greatly relieved to see how she handled herself in the 89 boca match, where she really went for her OWN game, head to head, even if she played more to the backhand. She believed in her own weaponry and capacity, rather than 'playing the wall' to steffi's weaknesses. When I saw her do that, I myself did not feel she should win... it's just not a champions play to collapse your own strengths like that, and you deserve to lose if you do it. The 88 Lipton & 89 Boca make me much more proud of her.

**BY THE WAY - she enacted this same pattern with Navratilova for about 2 years -- she OVER-GRANTED the court to Martina, staying WAY too far back to return serve (as if it was a canon being shot at her) and she resorted to weak defensive lobs which Martina smashed away like flies. It was when Chris ballsed up and said, I'm going to try to pass you every time you come to net, and dared Martina to make the perfect volley that wouldnt give her a second shot at it, that she started having even results with her. Then she started using the lob OFFENSIVELY... and it was attack versus attack, as we saw in this 87 Wimbledon semi, which was a classic example of the rivalry's capacity.
Great post Daze, and some others too, I love when some olders than me share their knowledge about some matches I couldn't see back in time and make you feel the atmosphere of those times in tennis!

gabybackhand
Dec 4th, 2011, 12:34 AM
It seemed in the early 90s a variety of players figured out the Graf game though. Seles, Sabatini, an a now older Navratilova, all had success by incorporating differing versions of a similar game plan. Graf never in turn really made the neccessary adjustments to counter. She regained dominance only when all those players fell off or dissapeared.
That`s an interesting point of view. I guess Navratilova, Sabatini, to an extent ASV had more flexible games that Steffi, whose winning combination of weapons were probably more devastating, but also more limited, while Seles, as the new kid on the block with the new game was the one the other players had to adapt to, and not conversely.

gabybackhand
Dec 4th, 2011, 12:50 AM
Hog wash.

Navratilova was not a baseliner.

Seles was an entirely different category of player.

Sabatini? You have to be joking. 29-11 overall for Graf. 11-1 in Grand Slam tournaments for Graf. 11-5 on hard courts for Graf. 10-4 on clay for Graf. 3-0 on grass for Graf. 4-2 indoors for Graf.

Austin, I guess you missed the point, as Justinh didn't mean these players had a similar game to Graf's, but that they made adjustments to their game plan, keeping it similar but improved, to try to beat Steffi, which was logical as you have to try to find a way to beat the dominant player to stay a contender to her. That meant that they could beat Graf in early nineties while Steffi was very little keen to change her game, even though Martina got a couple of wins and Sabatini enjoyed her winning streak over Graf in that time, yet of course their overall record is pretty lopsided, but not in those years.

austinrunner
Dec 4th, 2011, 05:22 AM
Didn't miss the point at all. I was talking about the typical baseliner, which was not Seles or Navratilova. You'll have to ask j-fan why she/he responded to my post with a discussion of those two players.

The so-called "winning streak" by Sabatini was 1 match at the year-ending tournament and 4 matches at minor tournaments, all in a 5-month period. Most significantly, Sabatini never beat Graf in a Grand Slam tournament after the 1990 US Open final.

Sam L
Dec 4th, 2011, 05:27 AM
That's not how baseliners typically defeated Graf. They would patiently play her backhand until she got a bit out of position, exposing her forehand corner and making her hit it on the run. But Evert had a huge problem even with this strategy because Graf was too consistent on her backhand slices, making Evert run until Graf got the forehand she wanted.

Are you talking about ASV types here? I'm so sure that's how she won the '89 FO. But it's been a long time since I've seen this match.

alfajeffster
Dec 4th, 2011, 12:02 PM
(I tried to import the YouTube video, with no success.) Anyway, just go watch it on Chris Evert's facebook page. It's great. This is the best I've ever seen Chris play- and I've seen quite a few of her matches, no TONS of her matches. Martina isn't playing that badly, but Chris' angles and returns of difficult serves is amazing. I find myself watching it over and over, it's that good.

DennisFitz
Dec 5th, 2011, 03:17 AM
It seemed in the early 90s a variety of players figured out the Graf game though. Seles, Sabatini, an a now older Navratilova, all had success by incorporating differing versions of a similar game plan. Graf never in turn really made the neccessary adjustments to counter. She regained dominance only when all those players fell off or dissapeared.

WHAT?!?!?! This thread is not about Graf or Seles. But I gotta say it. Navratilova and Seles played no where near the same or similarly! And Seles managed to "figure out the Graf game" a grand total of 5 times in 10 years! Sabatini and Graf played often. And for a short period, fall 1990-spring 1992 Sabatini definitely had the upper hand. But over the course of their careers, it was very clear who was the superior player, and who had the upper hand, and who figured out whose game. Apart from Sabatini winning 5 matches in a row against Graf, no other player ever strung together that many consecutive wins. (And don't forget Chris Evert lost 13 times in a row to Martina. And Martina lost many times in a row to other players.) Graf definitely figured out how to make the necessary adjustments against every opponent she ever faced. And she usually did it very quickly, and methodically!

DennisFitz
Dec 5th, 2011, 03:26 AM
Although Evert did suffer some very one-sided losses to Graf on hard courts in 1987, I think that her best chance to beat Graf would actually have been on cement.

DISAGREE. In 1987 Evert might have beaten Graf on grass, if Chris was in an exceptionally good competing mode and Graf was off. I actually think the best opportunity for Evert to beat Graf was Rebound Ace. A slower, higher bouncing hard court, True, they played in the 1998 Australian Open final. And it was sort of close, Graf annihilating Chris, until Steffi choked a bit and Chris took advantage. The hard courts in the US were just a bit too fast, and that was an advantage for Steffi. By 1987, Graf's game was just better.

DennisFitz
Dec 5th, 2011, 03:38 AM
Didn't watch the Roland Garros semi but Chris must have had an off day (lost 62 62) on her favourite surface. She lost two weeks later to Nav 62 57 64 at Wimbledon in a thrilling match. It echoes 1984 when she got trashed by Nav at RG final but almost won the first set of the Wimbledon final. It's funny how Chris could be inspired on grass sometimes against Nav (even their 1988 was a great match) but not so much on clay.

I agree Evert felt less pressure on grass, and went into matches against Martina knowing exactly what she needed to do. I think because she wasn't expected to win, she went in a bit looser, and went for her shots.

And the 1987 Roland Garros loss was just one of those days, when even the best of them can stink up the joint! ;)

Apart from Martina's 3 clay victories, two in 1984 when she was in total domination of Chris - and I think both of them expected Martina to win, Martina just couldn't beat Chris on clay.

gabybackhand
Dec 5th, 2011, 04:13 PM
Didn't miss the point at all. I was talking about the typical baseliner, which was not Seles or Navratilova. You'll have to ask j-fan why she/he responded to my post with a discussion of those two players.

The so-called "winning streak" by Sabatini was 1 match at the year-ending tournament and 4 matches at minor tournaments, all in a 5-month period. Most significantly, Sabatini never beat Graf in a Grand Slam tournament after the 1990 US Open final.
OK if you got the point. About the Sabatini streak, no matter if it were for 7 months, more and less, it was definitely a streak as she was dominating Graf in that period, winning 7 out of 8, unheard of for Graf. Of course Graf dominated their H2H throughout their careers, that's why it was a winning streak for Gabriela, otherwise, if you want someone winning most of the times along the years, that would be a dominance and that's clearly what Graf had over Sabatini, and over almost any other player in truth.

gabybackhand
Dec 5th, 2011, 04:22 PM
WHAT?!?!?! This thread is not about Graf or Seles. But I gotta say it. Navratilova and Seles played no where near the same or similarly! And Seles managed to "figure out the Graf game" a grand total of 5 times in 10 years! Sabatini and Graf played often. And for a short period, fall 1990-spring 1992 Sabatini definitely had the upper hand. But over the course of their careers, it was very clear who was the superior player, and who had the upper hand, and who figured out whose game. Apart from Sabatini winning 5 matches in a row against Graf, no other player ever strung together that many consecutive wins. (And don't forget Chris Evert lost 13 times in a row to Martina. And Martina lost many times in a row to other players.) Graf definitely figured out how to make the necessary adjustments against every opponent she ever faced. And she usually did it very quickly, and methodically!
I see your point, but I still think some players made the necessary adjustments to beat Graf more consistently. That's the whole point here, while Steffi was less flexible in her game and more reluctant to try different things when she faced a different rival, but it's quite understandable: if you are so dominant and win 98% of the time, why should you care to change your game? It's for the others to try smthg different to beat you.
Interesting topic, but this is not the thread topic so I won't post about this anymore.

DennisFitz
Dec 12th, 2011, 06:28 AM
I see your point, but I still think some players made the necessary adjustments to beat Graf more consistently. That's the whole point here, while Steffi was less flexible in her game and more reluctant to try different things when she faced a different rival, but it's quite understandable: if you are so dominant and win 98% of the time, why should you care to change your game? It's for the others to try smthg different to beat you.
Interesting topic, but this is not the thread topic so I won't post about this anymore.

I think Martina made some necessary adjustments to beat Chris on clay, at the 1987 French. Just as Chris adjusted her game to push Martina on grass at Wimbledon.

But about some players making adjustments to beat Graf more consistently? Sorry, apart from the Sabatini streak 1990-1991, no player in history ever made necessary adjustments to beat Graf consistently. In fact, I think it was the other way around. Graf was able to adjust her game to overcome those players who did have the game to beat her - the Navratilovas, Seles, Sabatinis, Sanchez, Hingis, etc.