TennisForum.com - View Single Post - The Tracy Austin - Chris Evert rivalry : eyewitness accounts needed!!

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Old Feb 22nd, 2004, 04:31 PM   #2
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Well, it's a tricky issue and needs a whole thread to address it as a topic. Good idea! Hmm...well, the shift in the rivalry toward Tracy occurred at the us open '79 and lasted through '81 to be specific (because it was the last quarter of '79, not the full year). And Tracy grew up idolizing Chris and her style of game. Chris took a liking to her, not just because Tracy idolized her, but she liked the factor in Tracy's play that is REALLY like Chris' game (a deep competitive determination to win and an unflappability under pressure...which in addition to the style of play, you could say were qualities that occurred to Tracy to have as a player by seeing them first in Chris.) With that said, Tracy took the model and 'improved' on it by hitting the ball on the rise, which added to the pace and also gave the opponent less time to react, whereas Chris waits for the ball to bounce up to her waist, which is both her power-zone and about the fact that she hits the ball very flat for those bullet-shots. Personally, while i think this added more zip to tracy's shot, this jerkier-motion adds pressure to the body and (MY OPINION) was responsible for her back-injuries and early-career end. But that's a separate topic.

So at first they got along, but the competitive issue--of both vying for the top #1 ranking and of being mirrors of each other: 'who is the REAL godzilla?!' made for a cat fight. They didn't get along until they both had babies, and even then didnt discuss tennis. They discussed baby drool.

If I had any critique of Chris' MENTAL power in her career, it is that she seemed to give certain people, who she didnt see any shame in losing to, PERMISSION to win. She did this with Martina, Graf, and Tracy--all at different points, not permanently towards any of them. This 'permission' always resulted in some kind of losing streak over a year and a half or so period. But as you watch some of her losing streaks, you can also see an energy lull that seems strangely lethargic for someone who would never 'just let it happen' against any other player on the tour. That 'fight' in her would just not bare its teeth, but then after a while she'd turn it around, and all of a sudden, she'd become very competitive again. When she got it in her mind to take someone apart, she usually did it, and with Chris --more than ANY other 'best of all-time' player-- i'd say CONFIDENCE mattered the most to her results because her game was so much about her mental ability to determine victory, since it was not athleticism that made her great.

As for how did chris feel about it, she admits she was freaked out by someone who so obviously played her exact game and was playing it at her level. It is fairly telling that Tracy denies she copied Chris' game...that's like water trying to deny it is blue because of the color of the sky. But it made Chris a bit insecure, as she didnt want to be outdone by...herself. What a weird feeling to have a doppleganger. It got into VERY strange psychological territory. I mention godzilla because I think of "Godzilla vs. Mecha-Godzilla" with these two players, where the metal-Godzilla shocks Godzilla and wins a lot at first appearance but finally explodes and the real Godzilla goes on to terrorize til the end of time.

Bottom line: i think chris would basically have gotten through the block, just as she did with Martina, and figured out tracy's game in a more consistent way. But when Chris beat Tracy 6-0 6-0 in that 82 Slims Championships, it was the SF of the year-end championships... she was healthy enough to make it that far in the tournament and to be that highly ranked, so I wouldn't say she was just a girl standing on the court with Tracy Austin's name. She got blown out. Chris' coach, Dennis Ralston, said that week, "Chris' accuracy has been SCARY" so she was playing pretty well.

I know a lot more, but it is only right to now leave room for the many others who will have their own slants on this, and who have much more information.

Last edited by daze11 : Feb 22nd, 2004 at 08:57 PM.
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