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mistymore
Apr 15th, 2012, 07:13 PM
Where do you think Justine Henin ranks all time on clay? I have heard varied opinions that range from 1st or 2nd best all time to way down to 7th or 8th.

gabybackhand
Apr 15th, 2012, 08:18 PM
I really don't think Justine, for all I like her game, is the 1st or 2nd best clay court player all time, no way. She was very good, but her results are greatly enhanced by the fact that she had little top quality opposition on clay in her time, not her fault, but seeing her dominance in Roland-Garros and other tournaments make you feel she was better than she actually was, from a historical perspective. Serena, the biggest player to show up since Seles, and the other top dogs (or bitches :lol:) Venus, Davenport, Sharapova, and most of the topper echelon basically sucked on the surface, and only Clijsters, Capriati and Hingis were good clay courters (Mauresmo too, but she was a different player re level in Paris); Kuznetsova too, but she is in another league to me. So Justine had to deal with a far weaker competition on clay than Graf or Seles, who had to win their French, Rome, and other top titles against some top quality clay courters who would be very tough rivals to Henin, people the Belgian probably could defeat, but surely wouldn't dominate on clay such as Sánchez-Vicario, Sabatini and even Martínez. So, I'd rank her at least behind Evert, Graf, Seles, and on par with Sánchez-Vicario and Sabatini (who didn't win the French, I know, but we are talking about best clay court players and not about best players at the French, Sabatini beat every top, I mean very top player as Navratilova, Graf, Seles, Sánchez-Vicario, and also Pierce, Capriati, Martínez,etc, several times on the surface, and gave Evert a hard time too when Gabriela was very young). And I don't think a prime Justine would end up the winner on a clay court match against prime Seles, Graf or Evert, or against the best Navratilova, whose game on clay is unfairly not given its due since long ago, forgettin how good she was in her prime and how she beat every top player including Evert and Graf on this surface, reaching FIVE finals at the French, winning two and losing in three to Evert and Graf, which was not a shame BTW!

Clijsters28
Apr 15th, 2012, 09:04 PM
So, I'd rank her at least behind Evert, Graf, Seles, and on par with Sánchez-Vicario and Sabatini

ROTFL!!!!!!!!

Sumarokov-Elston
Apr 15th, 2012, 10:59 PM
If we are talking greatest of all time, then where are all the great claycourters of the past - and not just Suzanne Lenglen, Nancy Richey, Ann Jones, but a lot of the German players, South Africans, etc. Then we have to think of the players who were very, very good, and so also good on clay - Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, Margaret Court, Maureen Connolly, Helen Wills Moody.... I am not sure Justine would even make the top twenty... Evert is clearly the "Queen of Clay", though I would have liked to see a match between her and Suzanne Lenglen. I am sure the Divine One would have thrown all including the kitchen sink at Evert, including tantrums, time-outs, but I think even at Lenglen's very best the Ice Maiden would still have eked out a victory at Roland Garros 8-6 in the third set.

justineheninfan
Apr 16th, 2012, 04:25 AM
As it is hard to compare players from different eras the simplest and most impartial way to estimate is to just look at the number of Roland Garros titles, since it became open to the non French playes in 1925:

Chris Evert- 7
Steffi Graf- 6
Margaret Court- 5
Justine Henin- 4
Helen Wills Moody- 4

Based on that I would say Henin is #4 or #5 all time on clay. Maybe raising Seles to #2 where Graf's French Open total would put her and dropping Graf down to #6 or #7 based on the stabbing which effectively switched their likely careers around with one another on clay, which would keep Henin in roughly the same area she already is.

LOL at the suggestion Jones, Richey, or a South African player (no South African has ever even won a French Open singles title) would be anywhere near Henin on clay. There is a vast difference from disrespecting the past to well overrespecting and exagerrating them which is the direction some like to take as well.

alfajeffster
Apr 16th, 2012, 08:38 PM
I had to say 8, and would've gone even lower. Hilde Sperling won 3 in a row just before WWII (correct me if I'm wrong), and all-time covers a lot of time and a hell of a lot of great players. Justine was my saving grace when Steffi retired. I admit, I did stop watching for over a year, but couldn't keep waiting to see if Graf would actually play again, but then marriage and babies came, and I knew that was it. Ironically, Justine really had a great deal of respect for Steffi, and Henin wasn't the type of player to give out compliments to the competition.

For the first few years of Henin's career, of course I feel in love with that backhand, but so many times she would stay back after a great shot, I just wanted to reach through the TV and give her a push. When she finally did get her more complete, all-court game together, the French and other big clay titles started to give her hard-fought results. Even Martina remarked more than once that Henin was #1 because she put the work in and was the fittest out there. We're talking a 5'5" firecracker who got as fit as she could, and was winning against amazon women who didn't construct points, just hit winners off any ball, which usually were returns. Billie Jean King and Justine were/are the same size. I'm sure BJK can attest, it takes a special talent to be able to weather the storm and get the big opponent on the run. Justine would (IMO) be in the top 3 or 4 had she gotten a grip on her game earlier. I do wish Amelia Mauresmo would've been healthy for longer patches, because judging by their Wimbledon final (best of the 90s IMO), that might have been a great rivalry. It has to be said of Justine that she got the most out of her game and her body- lots of players don't.

thrust
Apr 17th, 2012, 03:02 AM
At her best, I think Justine would rank below Evert and Court. I think she would be very close to Graf and a bit better than Seles or Navratilova and definitely better tha ASV or Martinez. It is true that today's game is not geared for diversity of surfaces, so that most players do not much alter their games for clay court tennis. Justine did, which is why she was the best of her era on clay. The main problem Justine would have against Graf and Seles would be mental. I do think that, technically, she has the better clay court game than either Steffi or Monica. I also think she would give Chris and Court a very hard time too. She was a better athlete than Chris, but not as mentally strong. It would have been fascinating to see them play at their best. I do think that Court, at her best, would be Evert's equal on clay. For me, the modern game began about 1960, when competiton became much stronger than in the 20's or 30's. The 40's and 50's were tough eras too but mostly American eras, also the game was much different then too.

alfajeffster
Apr 17th, 2012, 04:25 AM
At her best, I think Justine would rank below Evert and Court. I think she would be very close to Graf and a bit better than Seles or Navratilova and definitely better tha ASV or Martinez. It is true that today's game is not geared for diversity of surfaces, so that most players do not much alter their games for clay court tennis. Justine did, which is why she was the best of her era on clay. The main problem Justine would have against Graf and Seles would be mental. I do think that, technically, she has the better clay court game than either Steffi or Monica. I also think she would give Chris and Court a very hard time too. She was a better athlete than Chris, but not as mentally strong. It would have been fascinating to see them play at their best. I do think that Court, at her best, would be Evert's equal on clay. For me, the modern game began about 1960, when competiton became much stronger than in the 20's or 30's. The 40's and 50's were tough eras too but mostly American eras, also the game was much different then too.

The big hypothetical for me would be to see how Henin would play with a standard size frame. Her biggest problem was and would have been entirely mental against Graf, who was tough as nails, and an idol of Justine's. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Henin was raised from a very early age on red clay, and that can't be taught.

daze11
Apr 17th, 2012, 05:27 AM
At her best, I think Justine would rank below Evert and Court. I think she would be very close to Graf and a bit better than Seles or Navratilova and definitely better tha ASV or Martinez. It is true that today's game is not geared for diversity of surfaces, so that most players do not much alter their games for clay court tennis. Justine did, which is why she was the best of her era on clay. The main problem Justine would have against Graf and Seles would be mental. I do think that, technically, she has the better clay court game than either Steffi or Monica. I also think she would give Chris and Court a very hard time too. She was a better athlete than Chris, but not as mentally strong. It would have been fascinating to see them play at their best. I do think that Court, at her best, would be Evert's equal on clay. For me, the modern game began about 1960, when competiton became much stronger than in the 20's or 30's. The 40's and 50's were tough eras too but mostly American eras, also the game was much different then too.
But Evert --at 15 years of age, which is evert at her worst-- beat court (having won the grand slam) in straight sets.... and the only set she ever got from evert on clay was when chris choked her 1st grand slam final away @ the french final serving up a set & 5-4, with margaret getting that title. That doesnt make a good case for her as a great clay court player

Not a knock on Court, because she fully earned those titles, but I tend to believe that Court's french open wins have more to do with being an all-time great & 'tennis giant' during a time when 3 of 4 slams were on grass & therefore built very few quality clay players...not so much that she's great on the surface.

Certainly in a h2h, I think Henin would take advantage of Court's stiff mobility & would not be intimidated by Court's pace, but rather would enjoy it quite a bit... and that would frustrate Court a LOT. So based on that, would give JH's 4 wins over MC's 5 any day. It is Henin's BEST surface, and Court's WORST.

justineheninfan
Apr 17th, 2012, 06:19 AM
At her best, I think Justine would rank below Evert and Court. I think she would be very close to Graf and a bit better than Seles or Navratilova and definitely better tha ASV or Martinez. It is true that today's game is not geared for diversity of surfaces, so that most players do not much alter their games for clay court tennis. Justine did, which is why she was the best of her era on clay. The main problem Justine would have against Graf and Seles would be mental. I do think that, technically, she has the better clay court game than either Steffi or Monica. I also think she would give Chris and Court a very hard time too. She was a better athlete than Chris, but not as mentally strong. It would have been fascinating to see them play at their best. I do think that Court, at her best, would be Evert's equal on clay. For me, the modern game began about 1960, when competiton became much stronger than in the 20's or 30's. The 40's and 50's were tough eras too but mostly American eras, also the game was much different then too.

I agree with all you said. Especialy about the part that prime Henin facing prime Graf or prime Seles on clay it would mostly come down to how mentally tough she could be, as game wise she could definitely compete with and beat either on clay.

I think it is hard to guage Henin's mental toughness as the only place it is tested is hard courts. On clay she is far superior to her peers of her era. On grass she is simply too overmatched by the Williams sisters and doesnt get opportunities to play Davenport, Sharapova, and other top grass courters ever it seems. The one place in her career I could see a possible major failing of nerves in her prime was the 2006 Wimbledon final with Mauresmo, and maybe the 2007 Miami final with Serena. She showed major conquests of nerves more often though like the 2003 U.S Open semis, 2003 French Open semis, final set of the 2004 Australian Open where she overcame briefly failing nerves, 2007 WTA Championships final. Still probably she ranks down of Graf, Seles, or Evert in that category, which could make the difference in a head to head confrontation. Court is potrayed as struggling with nerves but I think that is mostly a myth.

thrust
Apr 17th, 2012, 02:29 PM
But Evert --at 15 years of age, which is evert at her worst-- beat court (having won the grand slam) in straight sets.... and the only set she ever got from evert on clay was when chris choked her 1st grand slam final away @ the french final serving up a set & 5-4, with margaret getting that title. That doesnt make a good case for her as a great clay court player

Not a knock on Court, because she fully earned those titles, but I tend to believe that Court's french open wins have more to do with being an all-time great & 'tennis giant' during a time when 3 of 4 slams were on grass & therefore built very few quality clay players...not so much that she's great on the surface.

Certainly in a h2h, I think Henin would take advantage of Court's stiff mobility & would not be intimidated by Court's pace, but rather would enjoy it quite a bit... and that would frustrate Court a LOT. So based on that, would give JH's 4 wins over MC's 5 any day. It is Henin's BEST surface, and Court's WORST.

There were several great and outstanding clay court players in the Court era. The European players were better on clay because all their tournaments, outside of England, were clay events. The British Hard Court tournament, was actually caly. As far as Evert beating Court in 70 at age 15, that is sort of like Evert losing to a very young Seles. Neither Court or Evert expected the young players to be good enough to beat them, so did not have the mindset before play began, that they could lose. If Clay was Court's worst surface, she still managed to win many clay court tournaments. I would like to know what her winning % was on clay. Not as good as Evert's, no doubt, but probably as good as Justine's or Graf's. Court and Graf were probably the two greatest all surface players since 1960. One can only beat the best players of Their era to be the best of that era.

Sumarokov-Elston
Apr 17th, 2012, 03:20 PM
Court should not really have been surprised at Evert - she had been playing tournaments throughout 1970, albeit carefully selected ones. Also, in the round before she played Court in 1970, she had demolished Francoise Durr 6-0, 6-1!

alfajeffster
Apr 17th, 2012, 06:45 PM
Regarding Court, and to some extent Goolagong, it must be said that Australia, outside of the coastal cities, is one big, no giant red clay court. Both Margaret and Evonne had a lot of experience on what they called dirt courts. I think both Court and Goolagong could've handled Henin with the standard frame in her hands.

Evert, of course, grew up on Florida American clay courts (a surface I always despised), and developed a great game for it. We are again, comparing apples and oranges here. I doubt Justine Henin would have done nearly as well with a standard size frame. The frame alone would limit Henin's ability to hit such violent, heavily topspun groundies. She (IMO) would've had trouble retrieving Evert's relentless drives from both forehand and backhand, all hit with the same standard frame. If there is anyone here who has never hit with wood- give it a try some time, but beware your arm will be sore for a couple of days- it still amazes me how they could play all day with such a heavy racquet.

gabybackhand
Apr 17th, 2012, 07:32 PM
Well, I agree that everyone can have his/her opinion, but I don't think the French results obtained by a player should only be taken into account. In fact, this thread is about a given player's stature on clay, not in the French Open history, so ruling out any other tournamente would be highly misleading re the goal of this thread. I mean, the French is the most important title on clay, but there are other tournaments which are also important, especially when talking about clay court performance overall and considering how the French itself was regarded for some time, especially in late 70s. Of course, any good clay court player must have had some good results at Roland-Garros to be regarded like that, but it's not the only thing that matters. In that perspective, even if Justine won one more French than Seles, I'd never consider her better than Monica, simply because the level of play and dominance reached by Seles surpassed Henin's, especially considering the opposition. I really think Henin one of the best in history on this surface, around 5th or 6th overall, and accepting the fact that I don't really think I am able to compare Court equally (I have seen too little of the Reverend), but Evert, Graf, Seles and the best Navratilova (who could beat just everybody on her prime), would always be above the talented Belgian.
Regarding Sánchez Vicario, I think we've seen enough of what she could do especially on clay against some tremendous players such as Graf and Seles, the fact that she took THREE titles at the French and reached 3 more finals and won lots of other clay tournaments except Rome, how she beat everybody on the surface (not the best Seles but still the Seles that beat Henin MOST of the time, overweight and everything), so the Bumblebee has earned credit big time on this surface to be denied of respect. And just remember how many wouldn’t give a dime for her against Graf for instance, and how she ended up taking big titles, especially when her rival was in perfect health and there were no handicaps.
And Sabatini didn't win a French nor reached the finals, but reached 5 SF losing only to Graf, Seles and Evert at that stage, and also won a lot of big matches beating EVERYBODY on clay and winning all the other important clay titles several times, so she has some big results added to her big game on the surface. She may not be in the top five players, but just as some others posted about Henin, the difference between her and Graf, Seles or Evert was only mental: did you see any reason tennis-wise why she shouldn’t have one her 87 or 92 SFs at the French, or the R16 match in 1986 against Evert? What would have been her results or would she have ended up without a French title had she played any top player (Hingis, Capriati, Clijsters, Kuznetsova, Pierce, Williams, Henin herself) other than very PRIME Graf or Seles? Henin is above her or Sánchez Vicario for her results, but these depend greatly on who you have to play and of course are relevant, but as a clay court player there’s no that big a difference, if any. I’ve watched tennis many years and I just don’t take into account the results without a context; by that criteria I’d have to say that Majoli and Myskina are better clay court players than Sabatini or Martínez because they won the French and the latter didn’t, which is not the case. Not to me at least, and everyone is entitled to have his criteria. And as I stated before we’re talking about clay court players, which includes the results and level of tennis played in at least the main clay court tournaments along a career and not only the French, which would be a different topic.
I must say, though, that I can't include players before the Open Era as I really know too little about them and have hardly seen them play, and I also believe that tennis since around mid seventies is quite a different sport and I’m not so sure really old champions could do that well in the modern era. Anyway, I don’t think they’re much comparable, so I guess we could only elaborate about Open Era players GOATs.

mistymore
Apr 17th, 2012, 10:27 PM
When Seles was beating Henin, I would say Henin was even further from her best than Seles. The Henin of 2001-2002 sucked, she was losing every match to Davenport, Clijsters, Venus, even Hantuchova, as well. She was basically the weakest player in the top 10 and easy for any of the other top players to dominate. Even in early 2003 she was crushed by Venus on rebound ace, barely got games from Clijsters in a couple matches, got crushed by Chanda freaking Rubin in Miami. Suddenly in mid 2003 Henin went from losing every match to Davenport, Clijsters, old Seles, to winning every match against them, and Clijsters improved herself and still went from owning Henin to being owned by her. That shows there is an enormous gap between Justine of 2002-earlier to Justine of mid 2003-beyond, even if the span of time is only a year or two. Also just look at Henin's slam results in 2002: AO- only 5 games in quarters vs Clijstes, FO- lost 1st round to Kapros, U.S Open- lost 4th round to Hantuchova. She was about 30% the player of the 7 slam champion she would start to become next year.

Anyway Seles never beat Henin on clay. Henin won her only grass (in mid 2002, when Henin still sucked) and clay matches with Seles easily. Most of their matches were slow outdoor hard courts and indoors, where all agree Seles is a better player, so not surprisingly with neither in their primes Seles won most of them.

As for Sanchez Vicario in 1998, the year she won her 3rd French Open, she lost to VENUS WILLIAMS on clay, then was being killed by a baby Serena at the French, before Serena choked badly on the verge of an easy straight sets win. Yet we are to think Henin who is a way better clay courter than the likes of the Williams wouldnt be better than Sanchez on clay, the same Sanchez who while still near her best was being outplayed by the Williams well before their primes on clay. Not a chance. For you to also be using Sanchez beating Seles at the 98 French as showing her superior on clay to Henin, that is hilarious. If Seles was "the same Seles" according to you that only shows how far superior Henin is. Sanchez most of the time still at her best (until 1998, or perhaps even until 200) went something like 2-8 vs post stabbing Seles, and lost almost every clay match. Henin nowhere near her own best yet went 3-4 vs post stabbing Seles, and crushed Seles in their only clay meeting. If say the 2007 Henin ever got to play the post stabbing Seles on clay, Seles probably would have only gotten a few games, but then look what happened when the 96 Sanchez really at her peak was playing the post stabbing Seles on clay and other surfaces.

Ignatius
Apr 17th, 2012, 10:31 PM
[QUOTE=thrust;21278981] Court and Graf were probably the two greatest all surface players since 1960.


One of the most level-headed comments ever to appear on this forum.

gabybackhand
Apr 18th, 2012, 04:47 AM
About Seles and Henin, I don't think that a lone win on any surface (in Amelia Island '03) can't be decisive to say a player is better than the other! Moreover, in this case it was Seles last tournaments on the Tour, when she was absolutely out of any shape and got harshly beaten by Petrova in her last two matches just weeks before; by that assumption, the Russian is far better than Mónica on clay :rolleyes:
As for Henin and her win at Wimbledon, well, she was ranked 6 in the world, so that's not exactly to "suck", even if she was not at her prime yet; neither was Seles.
It's the same for ASV, as she lost a match on clay against Venus, 7-5 in the 3rd set at Rome, but that year Arantxa was nowhere near her prime at least on clay as she had a very weak season for her standards until she took the title at the French almost out of nowhere, but how can that mean that she is worse on clay than other top players? In any case that can't erase the fact that ASV was one of the best clay cour players in one of the toughest clay court fields, and got wins against some of the biggest names on the highest stages, which can't be said of the Belgian, who won big titles but against a much weaker competition on the surface. Anyway, I just try to express my mind and share for whoever might be interested, not to try to convince anyone and neither be convinced by, especially when some unnecessary adjectives are included. I'm interested in sharing thoughts and knowledge if that can be said, not in debates or arguments to "state a case" (I have enough of that in my job :lol:)

mistymore
Apr 21st, 2012, 09:28 PM
Whow she beat everybody on the surface (not the best Seles but still the Seles that beat Henin MOST of the time, overweight and everything)

These were your exact words. All I am saying is what sense does this make when Henin nowhere near her prime level went 3-4 and 1-0 on clay vs "this Seles", while Sanchez Vicario went 2-10 and 1-2 on clay vs "this Seles", and was lucky as heck to get that one win as Seles dominated the first 2 sets and by some miracle lost the 1st. Even the Sanchez Vicario who was still at her peak in 1996, which Henin never was while playing Seles (she was a 0 slam winner during all her matches with Seles) went 0-3 vs "this Seles". By contrast when Henin began to approach her prime, although still not there yet, she went 3-0 vs "this Seles". So Seles is the last example one should use to try and demonstrate Aranxta's superiority to Henin, on clay, or anywhere. Of course we all have our opinions but when you say things of course they are free to interpretation and discussion.

Also while you are entitled your opinion I would bet the ranch on prime Henin over Sanchez Vicario on any surface, especialy clay. Sanchez has only 1 less French but she had to play almost 2 decades to get there. Henin played on the pro tour about 8 years total and retired at 25, and would have gone won several more French Opens had she continued, especialy with the really weak clay court field of today. Even if you disagree Sanchez never came close to dominating clay like Henin, even considering the weaker field, 4 French Opens in 4 years vs winning them 5 years apart each spread out over a decade. Henin also has none of her French Opens or slams with the asterix of the Seles stabbing unlike Aranxta. If Henin beat weak competition to win the French most times, so did Sanchez, except for the 89 final where she had a huge win over peak Graf. 1989 she had a really easy draw to the final. 1994 she again had an easy draw, nobody until the semis, her pigeon Martinez in her first slam semi and too nervous to play, and then Pierce in her first slam final and self destructing after the rain delay. That was around when the womens game was falling apart with the Seles stabbing and various physical and mental problems to Graf, Sabatini, Capriati, an already very old Navratilova. 1998 she had a dream draw to the final, then faced the post stabbing Seles who was badly owned by almost all the top players not named Sanchez. Sanchez is a great player and a great clay courter but way too lacking in offensive skills and too limited to beat a prime Henin. Anyway someone who is 2-18 lifetime vs Hingis, 3-12 vs an aging Navratilova, 3-17 vs Seles, is not a good bet to strongly challenge a player of Henin's calibre on their mutual best court. Heck you watch Hingis play Sanchez on clay and you think to yourself, even prime vs prime, Hingis would have the edge even on clay, and Henin is twice the clay courter Hingis is. Graf is just a good matchup for Sanchez, which is why she looks better than she really is vs her, similar to Capriati and Serena. That is also why more than anyone else the Seles stabbing was a huge boost to her career.

mistymore
Apr 21st, 2012, 09:43 PM
I also think Sabatini at her best was a more skillful clay courter than Sanchez Vicario. She shows it with all her tier 1 wins, titles over Graf or Seles, and her 8-3 head to head with Sanchez on clay. Unfortunately with Sanchez having 3 French titles to Sabatini's 0 that ends any debate to who is greater on clay, even looking at all the events outside the French, but I still think Sabatini at her best was better than Sanchez on clay.

tennisvideos
Apr 22nd, 2012, 01:10 AM
But Evert --at 15 years of age, which is evert at her worst-- beat court (having won the grand slam) in straight sets.... and the only set she ever got from evert on clay was when chris choked her 1st grand slam final away @ the french final serving up a set & 5-4, with margaret getting that title. That doesnt make a good case for her as a great clay court player

Not a knock on Court, because she fully earned those titles, but I tend to believe that Court's french open wins have more to do with being an all-time great & 'tennis giant' during a time when 3 of 4 slams were on grass & therefore built very few quality clay players...not so much that she's great on the surface.

Certainly in a h2h, I think Henin would take advantage of Court's stiff mobility & would not be intimidated by Court's pace, but rather would enjoy it quite a bit... and that would frustrate Court a LOT. So based on that, would give JH's 4 wins over MC's 5 any day. It is Henin's BEST surface, and Court's WORST.

Oh Daze, I rarely disagree with you but IMO the claycourters that Court came up against in the 60s were some of the greatest of the modern era - Nancy Richey (who also gave Evert hell for many years), Anne Jones who was at her best on clay, Lesley Turner (who at one stage was world #2 in an era dominated by grass court tournaments) an then you had a great supporting cast like Durr, Melville, Masthoff etc, It was a rich era for claycourters, And so for Court to win 5 x French from 10 attempts was a phenomenal performance IMO. She also dominated much of the European clay court tourneys and was once banned from the Italian I think because of her dominance :worship:

As for Courts stiff mobility - she had the speed of an Olympic sprinter at the time and was incredibly quick about the court. Have you seen her running down King's drop shots and lob assaults in the amazing 1970 Wimbledon Final - yes the one that Chriisie poo poos :lol: Amazing athleticism.

alfajeffster
Apr 22nd, 2012, 07:09 AM
I'd have to agree with TV on this one, Daze- there is such precious little footage available of Court on clay from the 60s, when women's tennis was a secondary, afterthought- especially in Italy. All we really have are player memories and bios to go by. I think you sell the 1973 Roland Garros final a bit short. I've watched a lot of that match, and there are some really good points, and it was hotly contested. Evert was clearly the crowd favorite (everyone was who played against the dominating Court), and didn't put in a bad performance. I just get the feeling she was used to opponents rolling over, and when Court didn't, it rattled her a bit. The match was good.

Regarding Justine- we are forgetting the very important factor of a standard size frame. She just wouldn't be able to hit all those winners with a standard (and very heavy) frame. Hypothetically, I can imagine Henin being at the net much more- a la Rosie Casals and Billie Jean. All the signs of her becoming a great volleyer were evident before injuries caught up with her body. On clay, she would've been very easy to lob.

gabybackhand
Apr 22nd, 2012, 06:16 PM
I also think Sabatini at her best was a more skillful clay courter than Sanchez Vicario. She shows it with all her tier 1 wins, titles over Graf or Seles, and her 8-3 head to head with Sanchez on clay. Unfortunately with Sanchez having 3 French titles to Sabatini's 0 that ends any debate to who is greater on clay, even looking at all the events outside the French, but I still think Sabatini at her best was better than Sanchez on clay.
I happen to agree, as Gabriela most of the time dominated Arantxa on slow courts, and she had a harder time on hard courts against the Spaniard; they never played on grass and of course on carpet there's no comparison. Sánchez won 3 Frenchs and reached another 3 finals to none for Gabriela, and results wise this is so relevant, but Sabatini got a bunch of big titles against TOP opposition on clay (both red and green), and she was clearly a major threat to everbody who is mentioned among the 3 all-time greats but Court, as she challenged Evert when she was very young (Amelia Island 85, RG 86) and never got the chance when she was bigger and stronger, and we know her battles against Graf and Seles. On her side, Arantxa beat Evert, yes, but to an injured champion in her last tournaments so that's something to be taken into account (or Asa Carlsson would be a better player than Sabatini because she beat Gabriela in two of her last three tournaments!); she beat Graf twice (a major accomplishment even if one was in probably the worst game by Graf ever), and only beat Seles in 1998, when she was far from her peak form (ASV's win in 1992 was on hard court, and Seles had an injured ankle). So, Gabriela and Arantxa are closer than their results in one tournament, even if the most important, suggest, and if you consider their respective best ever game, I'll always think Gabriela is the better player, IMHO.
And it's interesting what you say re Justine, yet I don't think and won't ever that she is so much above ASV ON clay; she maybe would win, at her peak game, say 55 to 60% of their matches, but to me she is not a superior player, I mean, she wouldn't own ASV as you apparently think, and you need to play your best against the Spaniard ALL the time, or she'll get you destroy yourself. But, well, it's interesting when everybody has his point of view.

mistymore
Apr 23rd, 2012, 03:22 PM
Oh Daze, I rarely disagree with you but IMO the claycourters that Court came up against in the 60s were some of the greatest of the modern era - Nancy Richey (who also gave Evert hell for many years), Anne Jones who was at her best on clay, Lesley Turner (who at one stage was world #2 in an era dominated by grass court tournaments) an then you had a great supporting cast like Durr, Melville, Masthoff etc, It was a rich era for claycourters, And so for Court to win 5 x French from 10 attempts was a phenomenal performance IMO. She also dominated much of the European clay court tourneys and was once banned from the Italian I think because of her dominance :worship:

As for Courts stiff mobility - she had the speed of an Olympic sprinter at the time and was incredibly quick about the court. Have you seen her running down King's drop shots and lob assaults in the amazing 1970 Wimbledon Final - yes the one that Chriisie poo poos :lol: Amazing athleticism.


I agree but I think the Graf-Seles era was overall the deepest and toughest clay court era ever, even with the Seles stabbing (I know that contradicts some of my comments on Sanchez but in her case she majorly lucked out with how her draws panned out much more than any other top clay courter of her era there). Court's would be second deepest maybe. Evert, Navratilova, and Henin all have nowhere near the overall competition on clay of Graf, Seles, or even Court.

Sumarokov-Elston
Apr 23rd, 2012, 10:49 PM
Surely Navratilova's age was the hardest - she was always up against Evert! I mean, she only won the French Open twice - without Evert she would surely have walked away with lots more. 1975, 1985, 1986 for starters... Seriously, however, it has to be Court's era - Ann Jones, Nancy Richey, Chris Evert?!? And even Billie Jean King showed she could play on the clay with her '72 win at the French (ok, without Court and Evert, but still...).

mistymore
Apr 23rd, 2012, 11:23 PM
Margaret Court and Chris Evert played the French Open once together. In no way are they real contemporaries. Graf and Evert were closer to being contemporaries and clay court competitors than Court and Evert.

As for Navratilova, I assume you are saying that as sattire. Other than Evert, who was already well past her clay court best by the mid 80s, she faced nobody on clay. I guess Hana was a decent clay courter, then after that scary scary bad in the 82-86 period. Graf and Sabatini at only 14 to 16 were already light years better than anyone then except Chris and Martina on clay. Not sure what you mean when you say 1975, 1985, and 1986 for starters. Those were the only years she even lost to Chris at the French (before 1981 she barely even played it), so there are no other possabilities. Those are the only years she might have won the French without Evert, and other than 1985 not even certain. 1986 she might have lost to any of Graf, Mandlikova, Sukova (who she nearly lost to in the semis), even baby Sabatini possibly with a rearranged draw. Graf's loss to Hana in the quarters after having a match point was basically a fluke anyway, and she probably would have won for sure even with Evert in the draw, let alone without, if that particular matchup that day didnt take place, particularly when she spanked both Martin and Chris on clay that year. 1975 the field was the first of a long run of years with nearly everyone in the top 20 out (well 1974 to a degree too but Evert would have won both years anyway), and if Martina had won that year without Evert that would have been the only reason why, as she wasnt even a really competitive clay courter with the best in the World until 1982.

DennisFitz
Apr 27th, 2012, 07:33 AM
Henin was the best clay court player of her generation. Which is why she was so dominant from 2003-2007, hardly ever losing on clay. She should certainly get a mention in best clay players of all time. Then again, when you consider who was second and third behind her on clay in that era: Serena, Clijsters, maybe Kuznetsova.....you realize this wasn't the strongest clay court periods either.

I think Henin could have held her own against Graf or Seles. Some of the same things Graf could do to Seles on clay - use exceptional speed, mobility, and defense, plus a good slice backhand, would have made it difficult for Seles. Even if Monica scored wins over Justine early in her career, I believe Justine would have fared very well against Seles on clay. same for Sanchez, Navratilova, Martinez, and Sabatini. A match against Graf and Evert would come down to nerves.

And for me, that was always the hardest thing about watching her play. For a player as talented and athletic as she was, once her nerves entered into the sway of a match, it was painful to watch her. I also could never understand her constant need to look to her coach's corner after every point. For someone proclaimed to be as independent and mentally tough, she had demons swirling in her head all the time. She was better than all the other women on clay, so even if she went through a bad patch, and was losing, she knew deep down she could always come back and win. On other surfaces, her mental frailty came out.

mistymore
Apr 27th, 2012, 07:32 PM
Nerves definitely cost Henin the 2006 Wimbledon title, 2010 Australian Open title, and maybe the 2007 Wimbledon and 2006 U.S Open titles. Too bad, such a talented player should have won much more than she did, not just on clay.

tammywilson52
Aug 30th, 2012, 11:12 AM
In my opinion, she ranks second behind Steffi Graf. Hands down the best woman I've ever seen play on clay tennis court surfaces (http://www.decoturf.com). Serena giving her a run for her money these days, though.