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

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Old Feb 22nd, 2004, 05:50 PM   #5
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This is a good idea for a thread, not just because it's a fascinating rivalry in itself but also because of the current interest on these threads in Chrissie. A few reactions to what Daze11 wrote:
I'd disgree that the rivalry started in the last quarter of 79. What really kicked it off was Tracy's victory over Chris in Rome in May 79. That was HUGE as Tracy had beaten Chris in her own claycourt kingdom. Chrissie pulled out a victory over Tracy in three at Bergen that summe and then lost to her on hard courts having held the title for four consecutive years. With Martina dominating indoors and on grass at that point, Chris' career seemed at a crossroads. Tracy was also beating Martina at this point (their h2h in 79 was 6-5 in martina's favour), so the future seemed to have Tracy written all over it, with Chris yesterday's #1.

Tracy was indeed more powerful off both wings than Chris (at this point - we know that Chris became much stronger later in her career), though Chrissie had the better net game of the two, IMO. The trouble was that Chris wasn't confident enough in her net game at that point to exploit it fully and she didn't have a serve to take her there. In the face of Tracy's returns and passing shots, she played very conservatively and, as had happened against Nancy Richey, another indomitable baseliner against whom Chris had real problems early in her career, she came off worse. I'd say that Chris was a better mover than Tracy too, not so much in terms of speed but more in the sense of diagonal and front-back court coverage. Tracy also had a rigidity in the way she hit her groundstrokes, arms out very straight, especially on the backhand, that Chris' didn't.

I fully agree with Daze11's take on Chrissie's mental frame of mind in this period. She had enjoyed a long period of dominance and azll of a sudden was being squeezed out by Martina on the fast stuff and Tracy on the dirt. Plus her focus was perhaps less intense because of her marriage with John Lloyd. In fact, she took time out in early 1980 to reassess her goals. Tracy, on the other hand was new and very very hungry and brimful of the carefree confidence of youth we later saw in Graf, Seles and Hingis.

Two other aspects of the psychological battle are, I think, these: Chris had not really faced a baseliner of Tracy's calibre for several years. King, Wade, Navratilova and Goolagong were all of a different type altogether and Fromholtz, Barker, Ruzici and Jausovec, were not in the same league and all had single-handed backhands. It took Chris a while to work out how to play this mirror-image, the first of the Chrissie-clone generation. Secondly, against any new star, the older player has much more to lose and is bound to feel defensive. Both Chris and Martina suffered from this nervousness (Martina even more so, IMO) at times.

Well that's my tuppence worth for now. I must say I always rooted for Chris against Tracy, so I may not have been totally neutral above...
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